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☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆



Ozil & Sanchez? Arsenal´s most important renewal is Wenger, claims Pires

24 March 2017 13:30

Arsenal need Arsene Wenger to sign a new contract in a move that would be more important than renewing Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, according to Robert Pires.

Wenger is out of contract at the end of the season and is coming under intense pressure to leave from some sections of the Gunners' support.

The 67-year-old says he has made a decision on his future, but is yet to announce that verdict publicly.

And Pires, who was part of Arsenal's Invincibles team in 2004, thinks Wenger staying would be the best possible scenario for his former club.

"I hope even they [Ozil and Sanchez] extend the contracts - the negotiation is very difficult and maybe complicated, but most important is to see Arsene Wenger extend," Pires said to Sky Sports.

"I think Arsenal need more stability. Wenger is very, very important for Arsenal for now and for the next season.

"I believe in Arsene Wenger because for me it was a privilege to work with him over six seasons.

"The team was not perfect but it was good because we won some titles. I am a privileged man because I am still training with the team. I can give some advice for the players, can talk with Arsene Wenger every morning. Now I think he needs to put some stability on the club.

"There are two objectives for Arsenal now – the first is to finish in the top four to play again the Champions League next season and of course the FA Cup it is very important to win this trophy.

"Lots of fans talk about Arsene Wenger but I think he is the man. He is the manager for Arsenal. Wenger and the players need to fight."

#ElNinoMaravilla pic.twitter.com/Y4xgFPkE0J
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 24, 2017

Pires thinks the quality is good enough in Arsenal's squad to compete for major honours, but agrees they are lacking in leadership qualities.

He also pointed to the long-term injury for Santi Cazorla as one of the reasons for the Gunners' struggles in the second half of the season.

"It is very strange - sometimes you play good, sometimes it is not good," Pires said of Arsenal's form.

"Some players need more spirit because the quality is there. When you see the names on paper on the pitch I think they are great players like Mesut Ozil, Sanchez, but for me the most important is that we have missed Santi Cazorla.

"I think he is one of the best players at Arsenal, I think it has been over four months and this is a problem.

"The quality is there in the squad but we need - when you play in the Premier League especially - spirit, fight, commitment.

"[My team winning titles] was a long time ago for Arsenal unfortunately. I remember I played with Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, so this is a good example. Maybe we need the same or similar players for Arsenal. But for now the most important is to finish in the top four."




Suarez agreed to join Arsenal from Liverpool, claims Wenger

24 March 2017 14:42

Arsene Wenger claims Luis Suarez agreed to join Arsenal from Liverpool in 2013.

The Arsenal manager explained why his side made a bizarre bid of £40,000,001 for the forward, the Gunners having been wrongly advised over a clause in his Anfield contract.

Suarez eventually joined Barcelona one year later for £65million, but Wenger insists a deal was effectively done and challenged any doubters to ask the Uruguay international personally.

"He was very close [to signing]," Wenger said to beIN Sports.

"We had an agreement with the player. We had been wrongly advised that he had a clause, with a minimal clause, but we had an agreement with the player. You can ask him.

"I'm convinced he wanted to join us and then they sold him. They kept him one more year, improved his contract and promised to sell him the year later to a club abroad."

Wenger praised Suarez for improving his on-pitch behaviour after biting controversies earlier in his career, the striker having already won eight trophies at Camp Nou.

The Arsenal boss added: "It is not normal. You cannot accept that. He had some behaviours that were shocking but I think as well you don't see them anymore since two, three years.

"He got rid of all the things that were a handicap for him and today you don't see that anymore. He's still on borderline with what the strikers do well, you know, go down in the penalty box but you want that from an intelligent striker.

"Overall I think he got rid of all the rest and rightly so and he deserved to be punished before and now you don't even expect it anymore from him."




Fuchs rubbishes reports Leicester players asked for Ranieri sacking

23 March 2017 02:41

Christian Fuchs strongly denied Leicester City players came together to have Premier League-winning manager Claudio Ranieri sacked.

Ranieri was sensationally relieved of his duties in February, just nine months after leading Leicester to a remarkable Premier League title.

The English champions were unable to replicate that form this campaign amid the threat of relegation, while reports emerged that the players asked for Ranieri's departure.

Leicester defender Fuchs - whose team have won four consecutive games since Craig Shakespeare took control as they prepare for the Champions League quarter-finals - rubbished speculation of a dressing-room revolt.

"This is completely far-fetched," Fuchs told German magazine 11Freunde. "I can assure you there was no meeting between the players and the owners in the days before the sacking.

"Of course, the owners talked to us after the games but they take decisions on this level on their own. They are businessmen who lead big enterprises, they know what to do.

"Afterwards he [Ranieri] came to the training ground, shook everyone's hand and wished us all good luck for the rest of the season.

"It might sound matter-of-factly but let me tell you, in my 16 years as a professional I have had 15 different managers. I am very grateful towards Ranieri and the trust he put in me but in the end the players have to accept the owner's decisions."




Manchester City accept FA charge for failing to control players

24 March 2017 16:37

Manchester City have accepted a Football Association charge of failing to control their players during last weekend's 1-1 draw against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.

The charge related to City's reaction after a penalty was awarded against them - referee Michael Oliver penalising Gael Clichy for a foul on Roberto Firmino.

Some members of Pep Guardiola's side continued their protests after ex-City man James Milner converted the spot-kick.

The FA is yet to consider a sanction. Manchester United pleaded guilty to the same charge last week in an incident relating to their FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Chelsea and were fined the standard £20,000 penalty.

Sergio Aguero netted a second-half equaliser at the Etihad Stadium to keep third-placed City one point ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League table, with a game in hand.




Arsenal must consider ´different class´ Rodgers to replace Wenger

1 April 2017 18:33

Arsenal must consider Celtic's Brendan Rodgers as a candidate to replace Arsene Wenger as manager, according to Charlie Nicholas.

Nicholas, who played for both clubs in his playing career, thinks the former Liverpool boss has boosted his reputation since taking the Celtic job ahead of the 2016-17 season.

Wenger is facing an uncertain future at Emirates Stadium, with his contract due to expire at the end of the campaign. The Frenchman says he has made his decision on his future, but is yet to announce it publicly.

Whether or not Wenger ultimately goes this season or in the future, Nicholas thinks Rodgers should be in the conversation to replace him when the time comes.

"I apologise now to Celtic fans because they will be on my case, but of course he would [be a contender]," Nicholas said to Sky Sports.

"He has been different class. He is on a decent salary and he has deserved it and merited it. But absolutely, if Arsenal are looking at a list of names to replace Arsene, Rodgers would be on it.

"He plays the Arsenal way. He played the same style at Liverpool and he probably should have won the league. Everything is there for me to say 'absolutely'."

Celtic are unbeaten in all 29 of their Scottish Premiership matches this season and still in with a chance of winning the treble for the first time since 2001.

"He is building his stock back up," Nicholas said of Rodgers.

"It has been interesting because Celtic have won the title without really working hard for it. He has impressed. He has got good energy.

"He went to win things at Celtic and he has got two trophies in the cabinet already, potentially a third is staring him in the face with the Old Firm derby [in the Scottish Cup semi-final] coming up."

Final training before #AFCvMCFC pic.twitter.com/CDoEGCcD6d
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 1, 2017

Nicholas thinks Rodgers deserves credit for his work in the transfer market and his development of the players who were already at Celtic before his arrival.

He continued: "Scott Sinclair was struggling in England and he has made him grow again and Moussa Dembele for £500,000 was good value for money.

"But it is the progress of young talent, players like Stuart Armstrong, who for me is the player of the year in Scotland this season.

"He is the most improved player I have seen and it has been such a quick turnaround under Rodgers. Compliments to the players but Brendan has been absolutely fabulous."




Klopp wants Liverpool fans to stop chanting his name

1 April 2017 17:26

Liverpool's fans proved a source of irritation to Jurgen Klopp, as the Reds manager took exception to hearing his name sung before the end of Saturday's Merseyside derby win.

Goals from Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi beat Everton 3-1 at Anfield on Saturday, cementing the Reds' position in the Premier League top four.

A first Anfield derby since the stadium's renovation had a raucous soundtrack, but Klopp responded to a late chanting of his name by pointing to his watch.

Asked about a crackling derby atmosphere, Klopp instead opted to point out his concerns about complacency.

Jurgen Klopp screams at the Kop to celebrate at the final whistle @LivEchoLFC #LFC #Klopp #Liverpool @JamesPearceEcho @AndyK_LivNews pic.twitter.com/pPKdrQGE59
— Colin Lane (@snapperlane) April 1, 2017

He said: "The crowd can do what they want but I thought in this moment, I don't know why, the game is still five, six minutes to go, so how can they start now singing this?

"Actually it's difficult for me to understand and I really think it's important. For me it's kind of a sign that we think it's done and the game is done. It's done at the final whistle not a minute earlier."

A typically fierce derby contest had plenty of hefty challenges, Ross Barkley attracting attention for a studs-up tackle on Dejan Lovren which earned a booking.

Klopp praised his players' ability to remain composed amid a frantic contest.

"In all three derbies we played until now we were exactly like this," he said. "I know people from other clubs think I'm crazy because I look like I look, I'm sorry for this.

"I'm really emotional but my teams are always top of the fair play table because aggressiveness is to hurt yourself. Being hard means to be hard against yourself. I thought we dealt really well with the importance of the game."




Champions League spot like a title – Guardiola on message with Wenger

1 April 2017 23:30

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola agrees with Arsene Wenger's belief that securing Champions League qualification from England's top flight is comparable to winning a trophy.

Wenger's Arsenal entertain City at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, with the Frenchman's proud record of finishing inside the top four during every season of his 20-year reign in London under threat.

Victory for Guardiola's men, who came back to win the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium 2-1 in December thanks to goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, would leave the Gunners 10 points shy of City and nine behind Liverpool, albeit with two games in hand on the Merseysiders.

Wenger placing such a high stock on finishing in the Champions League spots when his team's last Premier League title dates back to 2003-04 has become a source of ridicule in some quarters, with an increasingly vocal contingent of Arsenal's fanbase calling for the 67-year-old to step down when his contract expires at the end of this season.

Guardiola, a serial trophy winner at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, will tackle Arsenal later this month in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but he feels sealing a return to the Europe's elite competition – City were knocked out by Monaco in a last-16 thriller this time around – would be an achievement to be celebrated.

"Here in England, yes," he said when asked if reaching the Champions League is akin to claiming silverware.

"I'm not saying that it's more important than winning the FA Cup, but it is like winning a title, definitely. There are so many strong teams."

As such, Guardiola acknowledges Arsenal's two-decade long qualification streak will be tough to replicate when it finally ends.

"I don't know if in the past the six top teams were there like this season. In the last 10 or 15 years it was always one or two," he said.

"I think every year will be tougher and 20 years in a row is a lot to qualify for the Champions League.

"It can happen, in sport everything in sport can happen. But 20 years is a lot of years."

Earlier this season... Who's ready for Sunday!? #mcfc pic.twitter.com/EWNtRGMbbr
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 1, 2017

Of more immediate concern for the chasing pack behind Chelsea – even allowing for the leaders' shock defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday – is the fact that six into four does not go.

Sunday's match and a midweek trip to Stamford Bridge could go a long way to determining whether Guardiola's City will be able to dine at Europe's top table next season and the manager is unsure over what impact missing out on the top four might have on transfer targets.

Guardiola is expected to face a busy close-season at City, with six senior players out of contract in June and five more returning seeing out season-long loans while seemingly surplus to requirements.

"I think you are able to seduce players not just about [the Champions League] – the salaries, the idea of how you want to play, the Premier League," he added.

"For many reasons people can accept to come, but, I don't know. I cannot answer for that in this moment."




Wenger admits top four will be tough for Arsenal

2 April 2017 20:26

Arsene Wenger admitted it will be tough for Arsenal to finish in the top four after they had to settle for a 2-2 Premier League draw with Manchester City on Sunday.

The Gunners remain sixth in the table following this weekend's results and are trailing fourth-placed City by seven points, although they have a game in hand.

Wenger's side have 10 games left to secure Champions League qualification, but the Frenchman fears there may be too much work to do.

"It will be tough [to reach the top four]," Wenger told Sky Sports.

"Because everybody is in there. I think Pep Guardiola has said to be in the top four is a trophy because in England it is so difficult. We will fight for it.

"The first thing for us was to stop [losing], the second is to build up our confidence again and the third step will be to win on Wednesday night [against West Ham]."

How it stands at the of the #PL pic.twitter.com/Qe471ptKJW
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 2, 2017

Arsenal fell behind twice, but fought back on each occasion to salvage a draw and Wenger was pleased with his side's response.

"We started very nervous. We played without discipline, being put under pressure. We conceded early as well," he added. "But we showed strong mental resources. You could see the team was ready for a fight.

"On the technical front we can do better. You could see they scored the 2-1 just before the break. For us the test was mental, not so much tactical. Not to feel sorry for ourselves, stay compact and be ready for a fight.

"Mathematically it is not good for them or us. But we have come out of such a stressful period. When you come out of a few disappointing results, the first priority is not to lose. We could not afford to lose, no.

"We went forward and exposed ourselves to counter-attack. They are very good in transition. On the whole, it was a very good defensive performance. The first goal was a surprise and for the second goal we lacked a bit of focus.

"We went for it. [Alex] Iwobi had a good chance in the box. The best chance came to Mesut Ozil. He has not played for months. Everybody was cautious in the last few moments. But we wanted to win the game and finished with plenty of offensive players on the pitch."




Ozil bottled it! – Neville slams Arsenal star, Koscielny & Walcott

3 April 2017 00:18

Gary Neville targeted Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Theo Walcott for criticism in an astonishing rant after Arsenal's 2-2 draw with Manchester City.

The former Manchester United captain believes Ozil "bottled it" when Willy Caballero beat him to the ball in a second-half opportunity.

Neville also slammed Koscielny for failing to battle on after suffering an injury prior to his half-time substitution and criticised Walcott for his negative reaction to being substituted for Olivier Giroud midway through the second period.

Sunday's draw at the Emirates Stadium left Arsenal sixth in the Premier League table, seven points behind City, and Neville felt the trio should take their share of the blame.

@MesutOzil1088 #AFCvMCFC pic.twitter.com/KVydecyMBK
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 2, 2017

Pundit Neville said to Sky Sports: "Arsene Wenger has touched on the chance Mesut Ozil had and I might be being a bit harsh with three things here, but I'm going to say them anyway.

"Mesut Ozil goes through on goal and bottles out of a challenge when his manager's backside is on the line. Go for a 50-50 or nick in front and get the penalty – win the ball.

"Mesut Ozil should go for a 50-50 with the goalkeeper. That would help, wouldn't it?

"Koscielny – he always goes off. He is a centre-back. He plays to half-time and then goes off.

"He might have a bit of a problem with his Achilles and I might be being very harsh, but he went off against Bayern Munich and went off in this big game.

"Arsene Wenger deserved for Koscielny to at least have a go for five minutes in the second half. 'Go on mate, have a go for us'. No, he didn't.

"Walcott trudges off the pitch. He hasn't played well, but his attitude is, 'I have scored a goal, you shouldn't take me off.' Yes you should, because you were poor and that is a matter of fact.

"Theo Walcott should sprint off the pitch and shake the manager's hand and say, 'Thanks very much for giving me a game today. I'm lucky'.

"There is three instances and I'm being harsh, but if you are talking about throwing the cat among the pigeons, let's do it. Let's throw it out there."




Mourinho braced for lengthy Mata absence

Iain Strachan
Apr 3, 2017 01:39:04

Manchester United fans hoping for positive news on the midfielder were left disappointed by the manager's update

Jose Mourinho expects Juan Mata to join Phil Jones and Chris Smalling among Manchester United's long-term injury absentees as the team approach a crucial period in their challenge to qualify for the Champions League.

Spain international playmaker Mata underwent groin surgery last week, with no specific timescale given on his anticipated return to fitness.

Defenders Jones and Smalling suffered leg and toe injuries respectively while on international duty with England and are also not expected back in the near future.

United are at home to Everton in mid-week as they attempt to improve on a frustrating 0-0 draw against West Brom at Old Trafford, a result that has left them five points behind fourth-placed Manchester City in the race to qualify for UEFA's elite competition next term.

"I think a long time," Mourinho told a news conference when asked about the duration of Mata's probable unavailability.

"I think Mata, Jones and Smalling for a long time."

Of world-record signing Paul Pogba, who has been out with a hamstring strain, Mourinho added: "Pogba I cannot say is ready for Tuesday because I don't know but Pogba is not such a long-term injury as the others."

The Portuguese also denied suggestions that star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has missed the past two league matches through suspension, would have made the difference against West Brom.

"I don't know," he said.

"We had matches here with Zlatan that we drew. He lost a penalty in the game 2-1 [against Bournemouth], he lost chances like other people did too, so I cannot say now that if Zlatan and Mata played on Saturday we win the game, I cannot say that."




Wenger: Arsenal will announce my future – but I don´t know when

7 April 2017 11:18

Arsene Wenger says it will be down to Arsenal to announce whether he will remain at the club beyond the end of the season.

Wenger is out of contract at the end of the season and has come under intense pressure to end his 20-year reign, with the FA Cup now Arsenal's last chance of winning silverware this season.

The Frenchman has revealed a decision has been made on his future, but has consistently refused to announce it publicly despite huge debate over his next move.

And with under two months to go until the end of 2016-17, Wenger could not even confirm the announcement will be made before the season's conclusion as he spoke ahead of Monday's Premier League trip to Crystal Palace.

Asked whether the announcement would come from him or Arsenal, Wenger said: "From the club.

"I have nothing to add. Of course [I am planning for pre-season games], but no [that does not suggest anything] - that suggests that I do my job, which is to plan for the future of the club.

"I cannot tell you now [if the announcement will be before the end of the season] because I don't know. I'm focused now on the next game."

Wenger was then asked on three consecutive occasions whether he could confirm the existence of a two-year contract offer from Arsenal, but the 67-year-old refused to budge.

"I have spoken enough about that," he said. "I have nothing to add on that. I cannot tell you anything more than I said many times.

"I can understand that the subject is maybe of an interest but to me what is of interest is what is happening on the football pitch.

"Sport is about your next performance. It is down to you to change things.

"What is to be professional is to focus on what is important - that means performance."




Mane ruled out for the season as Liverpool´s top-four hopes are rocked

7 April 2017 14:34

Liverpool's Champions League hopes have been rocked after manager Jurgen Klopp revealed Sadio Mane will not play again this season.

Mane is set to undergo knee surgery after sustaining the injury in an awkward tangle with Leighton Baines in last Saturday's Merseyside derby victory over Everton.

The attacker had to be replaced by Divock Origi after it became clear he was not able to walk on the injury having earlier scored in the match.

Mane has been in electric form for Liverpool this season, scoring 13 Premier League goals and adding five assists in 27 appearances.

"It is clear Mane's season is over," Klopp told reporters.

"It will be pretty much impossible for him to play again this season. He will have a long break until next season.

"Sadio we are pretty sure will need surgery. I am not 100 per cent sure when it will happen.

"That is what I expected. I thought he was lucky more did not happen. He will be ready for the next season and that is the only good news."

His absence comes as Klopp's men have seven matches to try and seal a return to the Champions League amid a fierce battle with the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Injury update:

- "Lallana's better. Not an option yet."
- "Henderson on a good way."
- "Sadio needs surgery. His season is over." pic.twitter.com/ipCiBGXUrf
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 7, 2017

The first of those games comes away to Stoke City on Saturday, with Jordan Henderson (foot) and Adam Lallana (thigh) definitely out, while there are doubts over Philippe Coutinho (illness) and Daniel Sturridge (hip).

"Phil is still ill," added Klopp. "He was not at Melwood Thursday or Friday. He feels much better but we will give him all the time he needs. He will be really close and we will have to see.

"Lallana is much better but isn't yet back training and we need a few more days because it is a shooting muscle.

"Similar with Henderson, he is in a good way but we do not know when he will be training again. Sturridge is training with no major issues and we will see."

Klopp is finding it difficult to cope with key players being out through injury.

"If you take the players we have missing out of other teams, I would be surprised if they played their best games," he said.

"I can't remember last time I had everyone available and on top form. That is life. My thoughts are only about the players who can play.

"All the injuries don't make life easier. But as long as we have 11. Now we are just thinking about the line-up against Stoke, which is a real challenge.

"I would love to replace an injured player with the player of same quality - maybe his brother or twin."




Klopp: Liverpool can cope without Mane

8 April 2017 04:27

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted his side can cope with the loss of injured forward Sadio Mane, who will miss the rest of the Premier League season.

Mane will sit out the remainder of the campaign due to a knee injury, which requires surgery following an awkward tangle with Leighton Baines during last week's Merseyside derby victory over Everton.

The news has come as a blow to Liverpool's top-four hopes, having watched Mane scored 13 goals and add five assists in 27 appearances.

However, Klopp believes Liverpool have shown they are capable of performing in the Senegal international's absence – pointing to the chances created without Mane in the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth.

"I know everyone was talking before about how we miss Sadio Mane and we do miss Sadio Mane but he doesn't help us too much in defending and we created enough chances to have scored more," Klopp said ahead of Saturday's trip to Stoke City.

"Again, around the second goal, Sadio would not have been too much involved in defending so the influence of missing Sadio was not too big.

"That's why it felt like it did at the end. It could have been good. It could have been the perfect game in terms of the result, a bad start, coming back at this stage of the season with a sick Phil [Coutinho] and a tired Roberto [Firminio], all that stuff.

"It could have been the perfect result but unfortunately between perfect and difficult to accept – sometimes it is only a second. That's how it was in this game."




Pochettino turns up heat on Premier League leaders Chelsea

7 April 2017 19:35

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino claims Chelsea would find it difficult to accept if they failed to win the Premier League this season.

Antonio Conte's side hold a seven-point lead over second-placed Spurs as they head into their final eight matches of the 2016-17 campaign.

Conte claimed this week there is greater pressure on Chelsea than their London rivals to win silverware, and Pochettino has suggested the Blues would have few excuses if they surrendered their lead at this stage.

"When you are seven points above the second-placed team with eight games to go, it is normal in the end to win the league," Pochettino told a news conference ahead of his side's clash with Watford on Saturday.

"It is difficult enough to affect your own team, even when you are with them every day.

"Now it is up to them to win the league. We are in a position where we need to do our job, win games and put pressure on them.

"But it's true that if after the last eight games of the season they haven't won the league, it will be tough for them to accept."

Pochettino was quick to stress, however, that he was not attempting to engage in a mind-game battle with their title rivals.

"I don't believe in mind games," he said. "The 'mind game' is to provide my team with belief and character, which we showed at Swansea [in a 3-1 victory].

"So it is very difficult to affect other teams or managers by playing mind games, as you call them in England. We are strong enough. We are the closest team in the league to Chelsea – that is the reality.

"We are in a different project [from Chelsea], we are a different club. Our history is massive, bigger than many other clubs' in England.

"From when we arrived [in May 2014], the mentality has improved every single day. Many good things have happened here in the last two and a half years. I am so happy and feel very proud of our club and our fans.

"Maybe after all the work we have done, one day we will start to be rewarded for the way we play football. That is the way we believe we can win in the future."




Inter speculation no surprise for Chelsea boss Conte

7 April 2017 15:19

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte says it is no surprise to hear his name being linked with the head coach position at Inter.

Speculation has mounted in Italy that the former Juventus coach is a prime target for Inter for next season, as they look to rebuild a team capable of challenging for the Serie A title using the financial power of their Chinese owners.

Andrea Pastorello - brother of Federico, as well as an agent and Conte's friend - suggested recently that the 47-year-old could be tempted to move to San Siro after only one season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Although Conte says it is not unusual for his name to be linked with a return to Serie A, where he won five titles as a player and three as a coach with Juve, he has made it clear that his focus is on guiding Chelsea to a Premier League triumph and a return to the Champions League.

"I read this interview about Andrea Pastorello. I don't know why this person has spoken about me," Conte told a news conference on Friday.

"I stay here, I'm very happy to stay here. I don't like it when I hear another person speaks about me.

"I have two more years of contract with Chelsea. This is the truth.

"I don't know why [I'm linked with Inter] but it's normal to try to involve my name in this situation. I was in Italy and they want me to come back to Italy. It's not easy to listen to a lot of things in this moment.

"But it's normal for me. The present is more important than the future. I prefer to be focused on the present and try to finish this season so it is a great season, not a good season.

"It's important to get three points and then to reach our target. When we started the season, to come back into the Champions League was our first target. Chelsea must play the Champions League every season.

"Then, we'll talk with the club, to try for the best solution for next season. But it's important to be focused on this season."

Conte also dismissed talk that Andrea Pirlo could join Chelsea as a coach next season, insisting that the former Juve and AC Milan star is not ready to retire from playing.

"I'm listening to a lot of things in this period," he said when asked about the rumours surrounding the New York City midfielder.

"It's very strange because Andrea Pirlo is playing and he wants to continue to play. I don't know why someone wants to put this type of situation for me."




Giggs: Man United need to be more like Liverpool

8 April 2017 07:05

Manchester United must be more like Liverpool and find goals from all over the pitch amid their reliance on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to former assistant and player Ryan Giggs.

Ibrahimovic has starred since arriving from Paris Saint-Germain, scoring 16 Premier League goals and 27 in total for United, who are struggling to finish in the top four having drawn 12 matches and nine at Old Trafford following the 1-1 stalemate against Everton last time out.

The 35-year-old, however, has lacked support up front with midfielder Juan Mata (10) the only other play to reach double figures for Jose Mourinho's men.

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba have netted seven goals apiece this season, while out-of-form captain Wayne Rooney has five.

It is frustrating statistics for United, who are sixth in the standings and four points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City, and Giggs said goals should come throughout the team as they did during Alex Ferguson's time at the Theatre of Dreams.

Giggs also highlighted the spread of goals at Liverpool, who have netted a league-high 66.

"They're getting in those positions, but it's concentration when it falls for you," Giggs said via the Daily Mail. "Jose's said it, hasn't he?

"It's frustrating. You're dominating games and have so many draws. You look up and it's like 'what could have been?'

"There's luck too. [Paul] Pogba's hit the bar nine times. If he scores those then he's got 15. It's that, it's confidence - all of those need to come together.

"You can't just rely on one person because they can have an off day. Leicester last year. OK, Jamie Vardy scored a lot of goals, but Riyad Mahrez got 17. That's what you need.

"That's how the United teams I played in were like. I'd chip in with seven or eight, [David Beckham] Becks would, [Paul Scholes] Scholesy would. Four centre forwards would. The centre halves. Denis Irwin too. The goals came from everywhere.

"You only have to look at Liverpool. I questioned them — they've not got a centre forward who can score 20 goals. But they just come from everywhere and they are the leading goalscorers. That's what United need to get back.

"My target was always to get double figures and then 15 assists. That's 25 goals. If Becks is doing the same, you've got a lot there.

"Sir Alex Ferguson would say 'this is what I expect from you'. It put pressure on but you knew what the expectations were. If you were left out, you'd know why."




Hazard, Ibrahimovic lead PFA Players´ Player of the Year nominees

13 April 2017 10:06

Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic are the leading candidates on a six-man shortlist for the 2016-17 PFA Players' Player of the Year award.

After a disappointing campaign last time out, the resurgent Hazard – the winner of the accolade in 2014-15 – has been integral to Chelsea's return to the top of the Premier League table, contributing 14 goals and five assists in 29 appearances.

Since joining on a free transfer in July, Ibrahimovic has established himself as the spearhead of United's attack under Jose Mourinho – the 35-year-old Swede scoring 28 goals in 43 outings in all competitions.

The Premier League's leading goalscorer Romelu Lukaku of Everton, Tottenham striker Harry Kane, Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez and Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante have also been nominated for an award that was won by Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez last year.

#PFAawards | PFA Players' Player of the Year nominees: @hazardeden10 @Ibra_official @Hkane @nglkante @RomeluLukaku9 @Alexis_Sanchez pic.twitter.com/cZUC7KePQE

— PFA (@PFA) April 13, 2017

There is the prospect of a double for Lukaku and Kane, the prolific duo also finding themselves up for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

Tottenham midfielder winner Dele Alli and Manchester City forward Leroy Sane are also in the running for that accolade, along with Burnley defender Michael Keane and Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Alli claimed the gong last season, while team-mate Kane took it in 2014-15 after an impressive breakout season for Tottenham.

#PFAawards | PFA Young Player of the Year nominees: @Dele_Alli @Hkane Michael Keane @RomeluLukaku9 @JPickford1 @LeroySane19 pic.twitter.com/Js0Et3ZWWV

— PFA (@PFA) April 13, 2017

This year's winners will be announced at the 2017 PFA Awards, which will be held in London on April 23.




Klopp confirms new Liverpool role for Gerrard

13 April 2017 14:04

Steven Gerrard is expected to take charge of Liverpool Under-18s next season after manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed he will be moving into a new role.

Gerrard, who scored 186 goals in 710 appearances in a 17-year playing career at Liverpool that included nine major trophies, returned to the club as an academy coach in January after a stint at MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy.

It has been reported this week the 36-year-old will be put in charge of the under-18 side next season and, when asked about the plan for Gerrard, Klopp said: "There's no announcement to do at this moment... but what I can say probably is... yes.

Klopp on Gerrard: "No announcement, but he's doing a really good job at the Academy." pic.twitter.com/WrrSFhLjqw
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 13, 2017

"He is doing a really good job at the academy at the moment with his presence and everything. He enjoys it a lot.

"Yes he will be a coach of the youth team next season. I'm pretty sure. But we will tell you exactly which team when we want to tell."