Daily Archives: January 22, 2018

Eden Hazard: Chelsea playmaker insists club does not need new strikers

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Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard has insisted that the club does not need to buy a new striker in the January transfer window.

The Blues have already made enquires in the interest of signing several forwards with tall stature despite their age, including Roma’s Edin Dzeko, 31, West Ham’s Andy Carroll, 29, and Stoke’s Peter Crouch, 36.

However, Hazard, 27, has backed the Blues’ current pair of Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi to flourish at Chelsea, instead claiming that the signing of tall target men may not fit into the Premier League champions’ style.

“I think we’re happy with the team we have. It depends how you want to play,” he said. “We have two very good strikers in Alvaro and Michy. If they are not ready to play I can play striker, so I don’t think we need [another one].”

“Football is simple — keep the ball on the ground and try [to play] like we did [against Brighton]. Because we are missing chances people are saying we need another striker, but if we are scoring goals, we are the best attack in the league and no-one can say we need a striker.”

Chelsea have scored 45 league goals this season — the same as London rivals Arsenal, but fewer than the rest of the top six Premier League sides. They are understood to be in advanced talks with Roma about a £44m deal for Bosnia striker Dzeko and left wing-back Emerson Palmieri.

But Hazard, who scored twice in his side’s 4-0 win over Brighton on Saturday, says the arrival of a big man could affect their current playing style.

“Who is the best team this year? Manchester City. The strikers, [Gabriel] Jesus and [Sergio] Aguero, are not big,” added Hazard. “It’s simple. If you want to play with long balls you need a target man, if you want to keep the ball on the floor you need a small guy.”

Watford: Javi Gracia appointed manager after Marco Silva

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Watford have sacked their manager Marco Silva following the club’s 2-0 defeat against Leicester on Saturday, with his replacement Javi Gracia appointed just hours after.

The Watford board of directors cited the “unwarranted approach” from Everton last year as “the catalyst” for the decision to sack Silva, after the Portuguese became a target for Everton when they were seeking a replacement for Ronald Koeman.

Despite an excellent start at Watford, a run of one win — after the aforementioned approach — in 11 matches has now cost Silva his job.

“This has been a difficult decision and one not taken lightly,” read a club statement. “The club is convinced the appointment of Silva was the right one and had it not been for the unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival for his services we would have continued to prosper under his leadership.”

“The catalyst for this decision is that unwarranted approach, something which the board believes has seen a significant deterioration in both focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford has been jeopardised. For the security and success of the football club, the board believes it has to make a change.”

Stepping into his shoes is Spaniard Javi Gracia, who signed an 18-month contract at Vicarage Road after being out of a job when he left Russian club Rubin Kazan last June.

Gracia, 47, who will be the 10th manager to work for Watford under the Pozzo family since 2012, says restoring confidence to the squad will be one of his first tasks.

“The team has played some good matches this season and I think they can do it again,” he told the club website. “It’s not easy arriving in the middle of the season, but you must be ready and I am grateful and have plenty of energy to win the rest of the matches. It is a big challenge, but it is also a dream.”

Gracia will also be the eighth Premier League manager to lose his job this season, following changes at Crystal Palace, Everton, Leicester City, Stoke, Swansea, West Brom and West Ham.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti defends players amid winless run

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Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti has came to the defense of his players after Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Roma extended the Milan club’s winless run.

Roma led just past the half-hour mark at San Siro, Stephan El Shaarawy pouncing on a Davide Santon error after the full-back badly misjudged a long kick from goalkeeper Alisson.

It was thanks to Matias Vecino’s late header that Roma only snatched a point for slumping Inter, whose streak without a victory extended to six matches in Serie A.

The result also left Inter fourth and 11 points behind leaders Napoli, with Spalletti left defending Santon and the Nerazzurri.

“Santon doesn’t have to apologise to anyone. It’s easy when you’re sitting on your comfy sofa, quite another when running for 90 minutes alongside El Shaarawy,” Spalletti said.

“He’s a good lad, he trains well and mistakes can happen, especially on a ball that came that far. Nobody else helped him on that either, so it’s not as if he was alone. He has no reason to apologise.”

“The real issue here is that we are Inter and we must have the courage to fight it out with sides like Roma, Lazio and Napoli for a top-four finish. We have to take responsibility and make things happen. We can’t just wait for the train to go past and grab it. I won’t see us timorous or apologetic.”

“Samir Handanovic didn’t make the saves that Alisson did, so we played well. We made some errors in the quick passing and knew that Roma would be aggressive in their pressing game.”

“We practise these things in training, but if they don’t come off in a match situation, that will inevitably damage self-esteem. We have to work on what we are and what we do best, not losing the ball cheaply.”