Chelsea manager Frank Lampard this afternoon provided fitness updates on a number of the club’s stars, ahead of their crunch meeting with Tottenham this weekend.
Chelsea back in action
The Blues are set to visit capital rivals Spurs on Sunday evening, for a crucial Premier League clash.
As things stand, Chelsea occupy the final top-4 berth in the English top-flight.
What was previously a comfortable advantage for the Pensioners over the chasing pack, though, has largely-evaporated over recent weeks.
A dismal run of form on the part of Lampard’s men has seen them fall to defeat in 4 of their last 5 league outings.
The latest of these came last weekend, when Chelsea were downed by a goal to nil at home to struggling Bournemouth.
This, coupled with the upturn in form being enjoyed by Tottenham since Jose Mourinho’s appointment, has seen Spurs close the gap to their capital rivals to just 3 points.
As such, another victory for the Lilywhites on Sunday would see them oust Chelsea from the top-4.
As a result, Lampard’s Blues are no doubt desperate to get back to winning ways this weekend, to put some daylight between themselves and the likes of Spurs and Manchester United.
And their hopes of doing so have today been aided by a positive update on the personnel front.
Speaking this afternoon in anticipation of his side’s trip to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, Chelsea boss Lampard confirmed that, aside from long-term injury absentee Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he has a fully fit squad to choose from, with the likes of Fikayo Tomori and Ross Barkley back in contention to feature:
‘Ruben’s making good progress which is really positive, but he’s nowhere near contention for matchplay yet.’
‘Other than that, we’re all pretty good. Ross, Tomori and Giroud are fine. We’ve got a fit squad. Nice selection problems I suppose.’
Frank Lampard reports Ruben Loftus-Cheek is making good progress but is not close to being ready for selection yet. All the other players are fit and available for Sunday.#TOTCHE
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 20, 2019
Wolves vs Manchester United
Manchester United take on Wolves this Saturday in the FA Cup quarter-final.
To reach the last eight Man United have seen off Reading, Arsenal and Chelsea.
As for Wolves, they have beaten Liverpool, Shrewsbury and Bristol City.
United will also be looking to use this tie to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat to Arsenal last weekend.
Romelu Lukaku injury update
Wolves head into the game on a decent run of form and on the back of a 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
So, it will be no easy task for United and it looks as though they may have to do it without one of their top goalscorers.
Belgium are expected to name their squad for the upcoming international fixtures on Friday afternoon.
However, Romelu Lukaku is expected to be left out due to an ankle problem. As a result, he is also likely to miss Saturday’s FA Cup tie.
Roberto Martinez will name his #BEL squad for the upcoming @UEFAEURO qualifiers around midday, but Romelu Lukaku is expected to miss out due to an ankle injury. The #MUFC striker aggravated the problem during last weekends’ defeat at Arsenal. @EmiratesFACup
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) March 15, 2019
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has also provided an update on his squad, including Lukaku.
Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera are edging closer to a return while Lukaku will be assessed before the game:
“They’ve [Lingard and Herrera] been training better this week. Romelu got a sore foot so he’ll be assessed to see if he can join in.
“Jones is back, so we’re looking stronger. Mason has been ill – he’s not trained this week. He might this morning, so let’s see how he is.”
“They’ve [Lingard and Herrera] been training better this week. Romelu got a sore foot so he’ll be assessed to see if he can join in. Jones is back, so we’re looking stronger. Mason has been ill – he’s not trained this week. He might this morning, so let’s see how he is.” #MUFC
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) March 15, 2019
Arsenal’s Joe Willock is injured
As confirmed by Joe Willock on his Instagram Stories, the Arsenal midfielder is now injured.
Willock started Arsenal’s opening three matches of the season against Newcastle, Burnley and Liverpool.
However, the youngster was left on the bench for last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham.
Willock has since confirmed that he’s been forced to withdraw from international duty with England U21 due to injury.
What’s wrong with Willock?
According to Football London reporter James Benge, Willock “has inflammation of the calf”.
The expectation is that Willock will be fully recovered by the end of the international break.
Joe Willock has inflammation of the calf. As I understand it it's nothing major (obviously he was fit enough to be on the bench on Sunday) but FA and Arsenal agreed best for him to sit out England U21 games.
— James Benge (@jamesbenge) September 2, 2019
Arsenal’s £45m saving after Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s Roma move
On Monday, Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined Roma on loan from Arsenal.
The Times on Tuesday have delved into the financials of the loan deal. Reporter Gary Jacob have revealed:
Arsenal have now saved £45 million on their annual wage bill after Henrikh Mkhitaryan became the latest player to leave the club this summer.
He follows other significant departures from Arsenal this summer: Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Mohamed Elneny, Alex Iwobi, David Ospina, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Carl Jenkinson. Their wages added up to nearly £900,000 a week.
On Mkhitaryan’s wages, it’s revealed that Roma agreed to pay all of his £180,000-a-week wages.
Moreover, it’s claimed Roma have an obligation to buy Mkhitaryan if he plays 25 matches for the Italians this season.
Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer has this afternoon moved to take aim at those in charge of his former club, following the departure of Rafael Benitez.
59-year-old Spanish tactician Benitez first took charge at St. James’ Park in the summer of 2016.
And, given the circumstances, few would argue against the suggestion that Benitez since went on to do a stellar job with the Magpies.
After guiding Newcastle back to the Premier League at the first attempt in 2017, the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss subsequently secured respective 10th and 13th-placed finishes in the English top-flight.
This came despite Benitez having been forced to work on a shoestring budget.
Amid constant drama and fan protests regarding Mike Ashley’s running of the club, Benitez remained one constant positive for the Geordie outfit, with his tactical nous and calm under pressure having proven absolutely crucial to the club’s fortunes over the last couple of seasons.
WATCH: Newcastle fans protest in the town centre against owner Mike Ashley ahead of today’s game v Spurs. pic.twitter.com/snrmAcWr3D
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) August 11, 2018
As such, when the news arrived earlier today that the Spaniard and Newcastle would be parting ways upon the expiration of his contract at the end of the month, it represented a collective blow to Magpies’ fans the world over.
And one of the most high-profile supporters of the Geordie club, legendary hitman Alan Shearer, has this afternoon taken to social media to react to news of Benitez’s departure, labelling Newcastle a ‘shambles’:
A world class manager. A manager who performed so well in very difficult circumstances. A manager who understood the fans. Thanks and good luck @rafabenitezweb you were brilliant for the Toon. #SHAMBLES
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) June 24, 2019
Shearer also slammed his former side in a column in the Sun, as outlined below:
‘What the hell is going on at Newcastle United Football Club?’
‘It looks complete and utter chaos and the lack of communication from the club has been embarrassingly bad.’
‘Their world-class manager now walks away in a week’s time for nothing.’
‘Nothing surprises me at Newcastle any more.’
Wenger & Mourinho linked
On potential replacements for Benitez at St. James’ Park, meanwhile, a number of tacticians have been linked over the last couple of hours.
First off, Manchester City assistant manager Mikel Arteta was labelled as ‘early favourite’:
The news many Newcastle fans were dreading – Rafael Benitez to leave after 3 years as manager. Anger towards owner Mike Ashley + uncertainty around team & takeover saga only set to increase. Mikel Arteta early favourite with most bookmakers but understand no contact as yet #NUFC pic.twitter.com/ikQM3omu17
— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) June 24, 2019
Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has also been touted as a potential arrival:
What next for Newcastle? I’m hearing Arsene Wenger will be sounded out over a role. Also told Anthony Hudson in the mix for head coach job
— Dean Jones (@DeanJonesBR) June 24, 2019
Even more surprising, though, has been the massive odds drop on Jose Mourinho being named as Rafa Benitez’s replacement:
📈 MARKET MOVER 📈
Jose Mourinho has gone from 12/1 to 13/2 to become the next Newcastle United manager.
— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) June 24, 2019
MOBILE AND PHONES
Arsenal beaten by Leicester
Arsenal’s latest clash saw them take on highflying Leicester City in Saturday’s late Premier League kick-off.
The Gunners headed into the tie in fairly dismal form.
The North London outfit were winless in their previous three league outings prior to kicking off at the King Power.
And their lackluster performances once again continued vs the Foxes with Jamie Vardy and James Maddison striking as Leicester emerged with a 2-0 victory.
After going four league ties without a single win, Arsenal’s top-four hopes look to be deteriorating with each passing week.
They are now down to 6th in the English top-flight and a staggering eight points adrift of 4th place Manchester City.
Highlights: Leicester 2-Arsenal 0
Arsenal to give Emery time
With Arsenal currently on course for another season of outside of the Champions League, you may think Unai Emery’s days in North London are numbered.
However, for the moment, the Spaniard looks to be getting some time to prove his worth.
According to the Evening Standard, while concern is said to be growing over elements of Emery’s management, Arsenal are determined to give the former PSG man time to turn things around.
The report from the Standard also cities Arsenal’s next six games as an opportunity to fix the current decline:
One report over the weekend suggesting Arsenal’s head of football, Raul Sanllehi, had met Luis Enrique to discuss the possibility of replacing Emery was privately dismissed and the club’s next six matches are seen as an opportunity to arrest the present decline.
Arsenal’s next six games are against Southampton (PL), Eintracht Frankfurt (Europa League), Norwich(PL), Brighton (PL), West Ham (PL) and Standard Liege (EL).
Man City blow two-goal lead
Manchester City traveled to Wolves on Friday evening in what looked to be a pivotal tie in the 2019/20 Premier League title race.
After Liverpool demolished 2nd place Leicester the day before, Man City headed into the Wolves clash sat a staggering 14 points adrift of league leaders, Liverpool.
So, a win vs Nuno Santo’s side was of paramount importance to the Sky Blues if they wished to keep their slim title hopes alive.
However, things didn’t get off to a great start at Molineux for City as their main shot-stopper Ederson was shown a straight red 12 minutes into the clash.
Despite their man disadvantage though, the Manchester powerhouse would take a two-goal lead in the tie thanks to a brace from Raheem Sterling.
But whether it be due to Wolves’ quality, City having 10 men or a combination of both, Nuno Santo’s side completely changed gear after going 2-0 down and were simply too much for a frail City defence to handle.
Adama Traore was instrumental once again as Wolves fought back to clinch a 3-2 victory.
Highlights: Wolves 3-Manchester City 2
Guardiola on title race
After their collapse vs Wolves, Man City are still 14 points adrift of Liverpool with the Merseyside powerhouse possessing a game in hand on their rivals.
So, given Jurgen Klopp’s side could be 17 points clear of City, if they win their game in hand, the title race is surely all but over for Manchester City?
Guardiola would be asked if the title race is over after the Wolves defeat with the Spaniard admitting the advantage is too big and that it is unrealistic to think about Liverpool:
“The advantage is too big, yes.
“It’s unrealistic to think about Liverpool, we think about Leicester.
“We have the chance to recover second place. I know the quality of my team but that’s the situation.” As quoted by BBC Sport.
NEW YORK 2014
Abraham shines for Villa
Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham spent the 2018/19 season on loan with then Championship side, Aston Villa.
Abraham would feature in 37 of Villa’s Championship fixtures this past season.
In those 37 games, the young Englishman would score a very impressive 25 goals and also earn three assists.
Abraham’s goal-scoring prowess was a big part of why Villa were able to finish the season in 5th place.
They then beat West Brom and Derby in the playoffs to secure their return to the English top-flight.
Abraham would find the back of the net in the first leg of the semi-final vs the Baggies.
Where will Abraham end up?
After such an impressive loan spell with Villa, their fans may be hoping to have Tammy back for at least another season as they look to secure their place as a Premier League club.
Abraham has recently been asked about a potential return to Villa, to which he replied:
“You can never say never.
“Chelsea is obviously the club that I have been at since a young so the aim is to try and breakthrough there.
“Like I say, you can never say never. We’ll see how things look.
“It’s good to see Aston Villa in the Premier League so I still follow them on social media – I always look out for them as well.”As quoted by Sky Sports News.
While Abraham does seem open to a return to Villa his priority does look to be Chelsea and with Maurizio Sarri reportedly set for Juventus, Abraham may be hoping for some more first-team chances under a new boss.
Villa have also just recently signed a new striker from Belgium.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) June 13, 2019
Man United’s £70m Harry Maguire bid
Are Man United about to increase their outlay on defenders to 120 million pounds.
Having signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace in a 50 million pound deal, Sky Sports have today confirmed United have posted a fresh offer for Harry Maguire.
Leicester have been offered 70 million pounds for the England international centre-half.
Manchester United have moved ahead of Manchester City in the pursuit of Harry Maguire after upping their bid to £70m for the Leicester City defender, Sky Sports News understands.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) July 2, 2019
Where is Harry Maguire?
Sky Sports aren’t exactly sure.
Maguire’s last social media update was on June 22.
View this post on Instagram
Leicester’s first team squad returned to pre-season training on Monday, but the defender was a no-show. Sky Sports report:
Maguire – along with all of the club’s other international players – was not in the group who returned to begin Leicester’s pre-season training schedule on Monday at their Belvoir Drive training complex.
It is not yet known if the England defender will join his team-mates on Sunday when they head to Évian-les-Bains for six days of training in the French Alps.
Man City also linked to Maguire
Sky Sports also suggest that Man City are keen on signing Maguire from the Foxes.
City are a player down at the back following Vincent Kompany’s move to Anderlecht.
The UK broadcaster also note that Nicolas Otamendi is a transfer target for Atletico Madrid.
Big decision for Harry Maguire to make if Leicester decide to sell. He’d probably play more at Man United. At Man City he gets Champions League football and chance to work with Pep
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) July 2, 2019
What happened to Harry Maguire’s gentleman’s agreement?
After few weeks ago, the Mirror on Sunday claimed that Maguire has a “gentlemen’s agreement” to leave Leicester this summer.
The Mirror said that Maguire reached that agreement with former Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
There was no mention of this supposed agreement in Sky Sports’ update.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) June 15, 2019
As per a report from the Times, Spanish giants Real Madrid have lined up Jose Mourinho as the club’s next manager, in the case that results don’t quickly improve under Zinedine Zidane.
Mourinho’s recent struggles
Portuguese tactician Mourinho was relieved of his duties at Premier League giants Manchester United last December, following a dismal start to the season which saw many call into question whether the 55-year-old has what it takes to manage at the top-level anymore.
Manchester United has announced that Jose Mourinho has left the Club.
We would like to thank him for his work during his time at Manchester United and wish him success in the future. #MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 18, 2018
The earlier years of Mourinho’s career saw the one-time midfielder secure a number of high-profile trophies, including the Champions League with Porto, back-to-back Premier League titles with Chelsea, and even the treble with Inter Milan.
However, though he has since clinched another Premier League title during a second stint with Chelsea, the La Liga crown with Real Madrid and the Europa League with Manchester United, Mourinho has actually been sacked from his last 3 managerial positions.
Mourinho joins Sky
As such, work in the dugout has since proven hard to come by for the legendary tactician.
This resulted in Mourinho taking on a new role last month, with the Setubal native now a member of the Sky Sports punditry crew.
✍️ NEW SEASON, NEW SIGNING ✍️
Three-time Premier League winner Jose Mourinho will join the Sky Sports team as part of its biggest ever season of football. pic.twitter.com/0XuJgwe0TT
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) August 10, 2019
Mou to replace Zidane?
As per the aforementioned report from the Times, though, Mourinho could soon find himself back in charge of one of Europe’s top clubs.
The outfit in question are Real Madrid, where the former Porto boss of course previously spent 3 years between 2010 and 2013.
Los Blancos are currently led by Zinedine Zidane, who made a return to the club this past March.
Results during the Frenchman’s 2nd stint at the Bernabeu, however, have proven largely-underwhelming.
All told, Real have managed wins in just half of their fixtures since Zidane retook the reigns in the Spanish capital.
As such, Los Merengues could soon be on the lookout for a replacement for their former midfielder.
And, according to Duncan Castles of the Times, Jose Mourinho has been identified as the ideal solution.
Real president Florentino Perez is said to have the Portuguese tactician ‘lined up’ as Zidane’s successor, with Mourinho himself ‘ready’ to return.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is lining up Jose Mourinho to replace Zinedine Zidane.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) September 29, 2019