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☆ Barclays Premier League Season 2016-17 ☆



Wenger admits top four is ´massive challenge´ for Arsenal

14 April 2017 11:18

Arsene Wenger admits that he is facing a "massive" challenge to salvage success from Arsenal's season.

The Gunners are in sixth place in the Premier League and seven points off the top four following Monday's 3-0 loss to Crystal Palace, although they have played a game less than fourth-place Manchester City.

The prospect of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since Wenger became manager in 1996 has fuelled angry protests from some Arsenal fans, who have called for the club to replace 67-year-old.

Wenger concedes that his side is facing a tough task but he has called on his players to take risks in their performances in order to get the results they need.

"It's massive," he told a news conference when asked about the scale of the challenge. "We might get there, we might not but we have to believe we can do it. It's not the fear to fail, it's the desire to make it.

"It's a big challenge, of course. In football, you have to accept that you can win, lose or draw but you have to give everything to win the next game.

"It's not been very enjoyable but those moments are part of our job. You focus and prepare and make sure the next game doesn't go the same way.

"Playing with restriction doesn't help the performance. We are under pressure to deliver and the best way to play is to accept the risk."

Wenger confirmed that goalkeeper Petr Cech and centre-back Laurent Koscielny are in line to return for Monday's league meeting with Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

Cech has missed the last three league games after being forced off against West Brom with a calf problem, while Koscielny missed the matches with West Ham and Palace with an Achilles problem.

"We have a chance to get Petr Cech back in the squad and Laurent Koscielny is training. If the tests are positive then they will come back in the squad," Wenger said.

"[It's an] 80 per cent chance. At the moment it's pretty good but sometimes the 20 per cent plays the villain part in preparation."

Wenger added that David Ospina and Lucas Perez are still sidelined with respective muscle complaints.




European advantage not behind Chelsea's Premier League march, Conte insists

Dom Farrell
Apr 14, 2017 16:16:33

The Blues boss believes his side's lack of European football is not the only reason for their success in England this season

Antonio Conte believes it is wrong to attribute Chelsea's dominance of the Premier League to their absence from European competition this season.

Chelsea are seven points clear of Tottenham at the top of the table heading into the Easter weekend fixtures and travel to Manchester United on Sunday.

United boss Jose Mourinho has regularly complained of fixture congestion this season, with his EFL Cup winners currently in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Mourinho and his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola have both cited the advantage afforded to Conte by being able to implement his tactics across unbroken midweeks on the training field.

But the former Juventus and Italy coach noted third-placed Liverpool have enjoyed similar benefits on the back of a poor league finish last season and he insists a return to the Champions League next term will be a preferable state of affairs at Stamford Bridge.

"I listened to this story from when I was the coach at Juventus in my first season," Conte said at a pre-match news conference on Friday – the Turin giants having finished seventh in Serie A under Luigi Delneri before Conte led them to glory in 2011-12.

"I can tell you Liverpool are the same. For sure, we had more time to work with the team. This is my first season with a new club, and it's important to have more time to work and transfer your ideas of football.

"But if this is the only reason you [think Chelsea] stay on top of the table, it's a great mistake. We are doing a great job.

"We hope in the future to play the great competitions like the Champions League. I prefer this."




Klopp slams questions over tactics

15 April 2017 04:39

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp slammed suggestions his team were inflexible and lack a plan B.

The German has been questioned over his tactics during the season, with his side having fallen out of Premier League title contention after a poor start to 2017.

Klopp, whose team are on a six-match unbeaten run and sit third ahead of a trip to West Brom on Sunday, said he was tired of those querying whether he had alternative plans for his side.

"If somebody speaks to me about plan A or plan B, I don't really understand this. It was never the case – actually I lose a bit of respect if people say things like this," he told UK newspapers.

"In this season we had a lot of possession and won games against teams like Hull and Leicester. Brilliant football, was not the highest intensity, pressing or whatever. It was football at its best or whatever.

"When you go back and look at my teams with [Borussia] Dortmund in 2012 or 2013 it was not all pressing and counter-pressing, we played football and won games and all that stuff. This season [we lost] not because we didn't have a plan B but it was about having difficulties in different games."

Meanwhile, Liverpool will pay their tributes to the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough tragedy on Saturday, on what is the 28th anniversary of the disaster.

"We will mark the occasion as a team," Klopp said. "I know, at the wish of the families, this is the first year where the service doesn't take place at Anfield.

"There is a memorial at Melwood with the names of the 96 people who lost their lives. We, as a team, will pause, show our respect and remember them.

"Their story will always be our story."




Guardiola understands if City owners are not happy

21 April 2017 18:24

Pep Guardiola says it would be understandable if Manchester City's owners were not happy with the club's performances in various competitions this season.

City are fourth in the Premier League, 11 points behind leaders Chelsea, while they exited the Champions League to Monaco at the last-16 stage.

The FA Cup represents City's last chance for silverware in Guardiola's first season at the Etihad Stadium and he accepts billionaire owner Sheikh Mansour may have expected to see more from the side.

"I don't think they will be happy," Guardiola told reporters ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley.

"The expectations of the club are as high as possible and are to win all the titles - and we were not able to do that.

"So if they are not happy, I can completely understand. And we could have done better in terms of the results and even in the way we played because we wanted to be in title the race and Champions League until the end.

"Despite the fact that I am happy with what we've done, it is still not enough. But they have to decide. They are my bosses. The chairman and the owner have to decide whatever they want.

"But you are here asking every few days asking my opinion and I am honest. Because I'm a guy who if we don't play well I say we don't play well."

Good news on @gabrieljesus33! Team news update #mcfchttps://t.co/X4Fabf13Yc
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 21, 2017

City face a crunch derby clash against Manchester United in the Premier League on Thursday, with their top-four hopes on the line, but Guardiola does not think his team's next two games will define the season.

"My season was good," Guardiola said. "I'm so happy. I'm happy here. I was so happy all the season, with up and downs.

#PEP: This is a fantastic club and team, I’m so proud of what we’ve done, and how we’ve overcome bad moments,
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 21, 2017

"Of course, in terms of that, to achieve a final, it doesn't matter which one. It's so important. All clubs in the world want to win titles. It's important. But I think winning or not winning isn't going to change too many things about the perspective of our future, what we are going to do.

"Titles help to win confidence, that the club is good enough to do great things. Winning titles give you the self-confidence to think 'okay, we are good enough to still compete'. What we have to do in the next years, nothing changes if we win or don't win the title."




Arsenal boss Wenger not feeling the pressure against Man City

22 April 2017 10:05

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he is excited about a "special opportunity" rather than feeling the pressure ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City.

The Gunners face Pep Guardiola's men at Wembley on Sunday as they bid to take the penultimate step towards winning a third cup crown in four years.

Wenger is under intense pressure from supporters with his contract due to expire at the end of the season and Arsenal sitting down in sixth in the Premier League.

But Wenger says he felt under more strain in 2014, when Arsenal were hoping to end a nine-year trophy drought, and stresses league form will count for nothing against City.

"In 2014 it was special pressure," Wenger told reporters.

"We had not won a trophy for a long time. People questioned us about winning a trophy.

"This time, there is special opportunity. It is really a 50-50 game. If you ask the neutrals, maybe they will say City are favourites.

"It is a different competition [to the league]. Every competition brings a psychological atmosphere.

"We have seen many times teams not doing well in the championship and suddenly they are playing very well when it is a different competition.

"They don't carry the negative vibes of bad experiences in this competition."

#AFCvMCFC pic.twitter.com/dA9ZBVkV60
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 22, 2017

The match will be a record 11th FA Cup semi-final for Wenger, who is eyeing a seventh triumph in the competition - also a record.

"I'm very proud because you have many strong managers in England for many periods," Wenger said of his FA Cup achievements.

"It is not easy to do. I always thought the cup is special. The championship is more of a marathon and this is more condensed and a quicker reward.

"When I was a kid, I watched the games at Wembley on television. It is still massive and what is great at Wembley is that you see your fans coming in and it is a unique experience for them and their children in life that they never forget."

Wenger insists he has not thought about the prospect of playing the final against rivals Tottenham, who face Chelsea in Saturday's semi.

"No, not at all," he said. "If we had played a Championship team, I would honestly say yes, but because we play City, I don't think about it like that.

"It would be absolutely stupid to speculate. Let's first deal with City and see what happens there."




Chelsea v Tottenham: Perfect 10s Hazard and Eriksen take centre stage

22 April 2017 09:01

Amid the noise, colour and passion of an all-London Wembley occasion pitting the two best teams in England against one another, expect two men to cut coolly through the cacophony.

Antonio Conte's refined and clinical Chelsea lead Mauricio Pochettino's vibrant Tottenham by four points at the top of the Premier League and the two sides meeting in an FA Cup semi-final marks an intriguing break in the plot.

Four players apiece from each club were named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year this week, underlining neither are short of men who have excelled this term, but their lofty positions owe much to a pair of mercurial playmakers

Eden Hazard is firmly in the running to scoop his second PFA Player of the Year award in three years. The Belgium international has been liberated to wreak havoc by Conte's 3-4-2-1 system and has plundered 14 top-flight goals, alongside five assists.

At Tottenham, Christian Eriksen is responsible for the same amount of Premier League goals – 12 assists outweighing seven the Denmark international has netted himself.

Eriksen has 11 goals and an astonishing 18 assists across all competitions, with his cumulative total of 29 standing nine better off than Hazard's and exceeding any comparable player in the Premier League.

Of course, there are a fair number of those. English football, with its historical attachment to 4-4-2, physicality and 100 mph games, has learned to love and embrace the men scheming waspishly between the lines.

The creative number 10, for so long an exotic preserve of continental Europe and Latin America, is now the must-have accessory for teams chasing glory in England.

For Hazard at Chelsea and Eriksen at Spurs, read David Silva at Manchester City, Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool, Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Manchester United's Juan Mata. All of this dazzling dozen are comfortably into double figures for goals and assists combined this term, while England international Ross Barkley is filling a similar role for Everton – scoring five and setting up eight in the process.

Here's a look at training this week... pic.twitter.com/pTpl9RAMsP
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 21, 2017

Bringing in beguiling foreign talents is far from a new phenomenon in the Premier League. The first flushes of television cash following the breakaway from the Football League brought an assortment of unforgettable mid-90s cult heroes, the likes of Juninho, Georgiou Kinkladze and Sasa Curcic.

Even so, before the "cold Wednesday night at Stoke" had been established as the ultimate barometer for such things, these men could still roundly be dismissed as "luxury players".

Alex Ferguson's dominant Manchester United teams were an irresistible force with their 4-4-2 – midfield power and precision, thrilling wing play and goals by the bucketful.

When Ferguson sought continental playmaking refinement in the form of record signing Juan Sebastian Veron in 2001, the results were mixed and palpable scepticism left the media faced with one of the Scot's most famous hairdryer moments.

"Veron is a f****** great player" he said. "And you're all f****** idiots."

Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are men whose passions rarely seem far from the surface and have also, from time to time, indulged in colourful press conference language. But it is hard to imagine either having to go in to bat for their men in such a blazing manner were Silva or Coutinho to experience a slump in form.

Players once viewed as luxuries are now a fundamental. Conte, Pochettino and Guardiola, as proponents of positional play, along with gegenpressing master Klopp, base much of their game plans upon exploiting the half space and pockets in which these skilful specialists thrive.

When Diego Costa grapples in his interminable style with the Spurs defence and Dele Alli thunders towards the Chelsea backline with bad intentions at Wembley, inevitably Hazard and Eriksen will not be far away. Stop them and you stop their team. Antonio, Mauricio… good luck with that.




Conte flummoxed by Chelsea schedule

22 April 2017 23:00

Antonio Conte does not feel Chelsea's 4-2 FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham will hinder their rivals in the Premier League title race because this week's fixture schedule puts his men at a disadvantage.

A second half-strike from Eden Hazard and a stunning long-range effort from Nemanja Matic sealed victory for Chelsea after Harry Kane and Dele Alli pegged back Willian goals from a free-kick and the penalty spot respectively.

Spurs made life as uncomfortable for the Blues on the Wembley turf during a pulsating contest as they have with their domestic chase over recent weeks.

Mauricio Pochettino's side are four points behind Chelsea with six games to play and both teams are in midweek action as Southampton visit Stamford Bridge on Tuesday and Spurs travel to Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

This is a clearly unsatisfactory state of affairs for Conte, who explained his decision to leave Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench was informed by Tottenham having an extra day of rest before tackling a Palace side in action on Sunday at Liverpool.

Claude Puel's Southampton should be comparatively refreshed 10 days on from their 3-0 defeat at home to Manchester City.

Well played, lads! #CHETOT pic.twitter.com/Icyt8g0jkm
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 22, 2017

"I told you it is 50/50 because I think this," Conte told a post-match news conference when asked about the state of play in the title race.

"In this week they have an advantage – we have to play after two days and a half; they have to play against Crystal Palace and Crystal Palace have to play Sunday. Tottenham have one more day to rest.

"We have to play in two days and a half against a team who can rest for 10 days. This is a very crucial moment for us. Sometimes it is very difficult to accept this dynamic of the officials but we have to accept it."

Conte was visibly irked by a topic he returned to for a third and final time at the end of his briefing, having been asked about the Manchester derby being unusually scheduled this Thursday in light of City and United being in action on Sunday.

"In this situation it is not easy to understand why," he added. "In this part of the season, at the end of the season, you must try to have balance to try to understand the situation and put both teams in the same condition to fight.

"But I repeat, we have to accept this decision and then have the best answer on the pitch. But it is not easy to accept this."




Guardiola: I'm a better manager since joining Manchester City

Ahead of the derby with Manchester United in the Premier League, Manchester City's Pep Guardiola insisted he is improving as a manager.

Published 28 April 2017

Pep Guardiola believes he has become a better manager since joining Manchester City, despite ending his first season at the club without a trophy.

City went out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Monaco and lost in the semi-final of the FA Cup to Arsenal, while they are fourth in the Premier League, 14 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Guardiola's side face a derby clash with Manchester United on Thursday that will be crucial for their top-four hopes, and the City boss, irrespective of his impressive CV, claimed he is still learning.

"I am not a worse manager because I didn't win the title," the City boss told Sky Sports. "I feel as though I'm a better manager than before because I learned a lot and am more experienced. I've learned to handle situations better than before.

"Normally when something happens for the first time you know why it is the first time, so for it to happen after nine years is amazing. That is what I learned from that - I tried but I was not able.

"In Spain there are fantastic teams that are not going to win anything this year but that is going to happen across Europe. I am expecting to have a long career as a manager and it will happen again one year."

Guardiola noted City are not yet at the level of Europe's giants, with the club having won two Premier League titles since the takeover by billionaire owner Sheikh Mansour.

"I am not at a club who have won a lot of titles like Barcelona, Bayern, Madrid, Inter, Juventus or AC Milan," Guardiola added.

"So that's why you have to discover something new and you have to be better and better to win that amount of titles like United, Chelsea and Liverpool - clubs with more history than Manchester City.

"That is why I decided to come here, it's been a big lesson for me. That's why I think about what we have not done well and take the right decision to make be better next season."

Guardiola is seeking to become the fourth manager to win both home and away Manchester derbies in his debut top-flight season and the Catalan insisted the competitiveness at the top of the Premier League has not surprised him.

"From my point of the view, the pitch is the same size so the football [in England, Spain and Germany] is quite similar," former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach Guardiola said.

"The better teams and players win and, in the case of this season, Chelsea and Tottenham were better - the same thing happened at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. They were the better managers, better players and they beat us. We tried and I do not regret what we did.

"Another team was better than us in that moment and I congratulated them, they deserved it and [we] aim to improve the next season. I leave this season with a good lesson to improve next season. I did not come here expecting it would be easy, or expecting to win everything."




Liverpool present new kit and crest to mark 125th anniversary

27 April 2017 11:49

Liverpool have presented their new home kit and a redesigned crest to mark the club's 125th anniversary.

The strip is a darker red as an ode to the famous sides of the 1980s, during which time Liverpool won six domestic league titles, two FA Cups and two European Cups.

There is also a commemorative '96' close to the collar, in recognition of the 96 fans who were killed in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.

The kit will be used in the 2017-18 season.

General Manager of New Balance Football, Richard Wright, said: "This kit is a testament to the periods and events that have made Liverpool FC the club it is today. This year's home kit is the perfect blend of heritage and modern technology, creating a look that is visually stunning and performs at the highest level."

The badge contains the dates 1892 and 2017 either side of the distinctive Liver Bird emblem, with '125 years' written beneath.

"A pure, uncluttered approach was taken, applying the dates of the anniversary and '125 Years' to the existing crest in a simple format, highlighting the historic milestone for the club," Liverpool said in a statement.

A unique history. An unforgettable journey. Our new home kit, celebrating 125 years of Liverpool FC: https://t.co/lcgZrhL3rg#PureLFC pic.twitter.com/TskOoyhrFH
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 27, 2017




My heart is in Italy, says Chelsea boss Conte

Antonio Conte claims that his "heart is in Italy" and has hinted at interest from Inter and AC Milan.

by Omnisport

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has hinted he would love the chance to return to Serie A.

The former Juventus and Italy head coach took charge at Stamford Bridge last year and has guided the club towards a possible Premier League and FA Cup double in his first season.

However, Conte has been linked with a move back to Italy at various times in the past year, with speculation suggesting that Inter are eager to tempt him to San Siro as part of their long-term project to revamp the club.

The 47-year-old has admitted that would be tempted to go back to his home country and even hinted at interest from Inter and AC Milan, both of whom are now bankrolled by Chinese investment groups.

Asked if he would return home, Conte told TV show Emigratis: "Yes. My heart is always in Italy."

When it was suggested that his wages would be too high for Serie A clubs, he replied: "Haven't the new owners come in now?"

Conte's Chelsea are four points clear at the top of the Premier League ahead of Sunday's trip to face Everton.

They will meet Arsenal in the FA Cup final, having overcome Tottenham 4-2 in the last-four clash at Wembley last week.




Barcelona and Real Madrid would find Premier League tough, says Klopp

28 April 2017 10:01

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp believes Barcelona and Real Madrid would find it difficult to cope with the intensity of the Premier League.

The 49-year-old has the Reds, third in the table with four games remaining, on track for Champions League qualification in his first full season in England's top flight.

Liverpool had looked set to mount a title challenge when they won 13 of their first 19 matches, but a run of one victory in seven at the start of 2017 brought those hopes to an end.

Klopp, who lifted successive Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund, claims the difficulty of England's top flight would even be felt by Spain's powerhouse clubs.

"Even for the great Spanish teams, it would be difficult to win the Premier League," he told Marca. "Of course, Madrid and Barca would be fighting for everything, but it would be very difficult.

"In the Premier League, nothing is certain. The intensity is very high and many things can happen in matches. There's not a single game where you can win 4-0 comfortably and rest your first XI. It doesn't exist in the Premier League. It's not possible in the Bundesliga, either, unless you're Bayern [Munich].

"Chelsea are having a great season but there are many games where they have won 1-0 and had to defend until the end. I've experienced two leagues and I can say that this one is really tough. Ask Pep [Guardiola of Manchester City], he'll say the same!

"We're up there, fighting for the Champions League positions, but I can say: five more points, and everything would look different. There are a few games left and we'll fight to the utmost."

We will keep going, right until the very end. pic.twitter.com/M6TOio3BeU

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 24, 2017

Klopp remains confident Liverpool can win their first title since 1990 under his guidance, however.

"Of course. It's always possible. Is it likely? I don't know, but it's possible and that's enough for me," he said. "There are several teams that fight for the title each season and maybe, at this moment, some have more chances than us, but I'm not interested in that.

"That's the key to this job: to find the right solutions for the problems that are presented to you. The goal is to win a competition but the fight is already exciting."

Klopp went on to reveal that he feels a positive atmosphere among his players is key and highlighted Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo as an example of why talent is not always enough to succeed.

"I don't try to be nice every minute of the day," he said. "I tell them things when it's necessary. I like to be their friend, but not their best friend. A friend tells you things clearly at the right time.

"I always tell a footballer that 50 per cent of their success is my responsibility and 50 per cent is theirs. I always say that I don't know if he's a great player until I know if he's a good or bad type. He can be a genius but if he only helps me three times a year and in the rest of the games, creates problems for me...

"I use the example of Cristiano and [Lionel] Messi. Cristiano fascinates everyone, but I'm sure he works harder than anyone else."




Manchester derby draw changes nothing for Liverpool - Klopp

Liverpool's Champions League hopes have not been unduly affected by the draw in the Manchester derby, according to Jurgen Klopp.

Published 17 hours ago

Jurgen Klopp says the draw between Manchester City and Manchester United has not changed much in Liverpool's pursuit of Champions League qualification.

The derby clash at Etihad Stadium on Thursday finished 0-0, meaning Liverpool remain third in the Premier League table, a point above City and two clear of United, having played a game more.

United boss Jose Mourinho claimed afterwards that fourth place is likely to be a straight fight between Liverpool, Arsenal and his own side over the closing weeks of the season.

Klopp, however, says his side simply need to focus on their own results in their quest to return to Europe's elite tournament.

"Last night didn't change a lot," the Liverpool boss told a news conference. "It's all about us. We don't have 100 per cent influence but it makes sense to focus on your own games and win as much as you can.

"It's interesting and exciting and we're in the middle of it. We have to do our job four times. We will see."

Liverpool face Watford on Monday knowing that they could be down in fifth by the time the match kicks off, should City win at Middlesbrough and United beat Swansea City on Sunday.

A shock 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace has left Liverpool needing a response but Klopp is confident in their form away from home of late.

"I cannot change the results we had. It's the situation. If we win, which will be difficult, we are probably in third again. So that's all we think about," he said.

"We won the last two away games, even if the last result wasn't good but when I watch again it is not easy to create chances against Palace and we did.

"We still could have won the game, that's how it is. We will learn, we are working on strengthening the squad, that's clear."

Klopp confirmed that Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge have returned to team training and have a chance of being involved at Vicarage Road, although captain Jordan Henderson is still out.

He also revealed that Mamadou Sakho could be back in action this season after the Palace loanee's knee injury was shown to be not as severe as first feared.

"When we saw the pictures it looked awful. But now we know that there are no ligaments involved," he said of the centre-back, who picked up the problem in the Eagles' 1-0 defeat to Tottenham.

"In a situation like this, maybe not for Palace, but for the player the best thing he could get. I think he's out for a few weeks but that is good in the end."

Liverpool confirmed this week that Steven Gerrard has taken over as manager of the Under-18 side and Klopp is delighted with the appointment.

"Starting at a club like Liverpool is a fantastic opportunity but not all former world-class players are ready to do this," he added. "It's the classic win-win situation. For the youth players it's a fantastic opportunity to work with him.

"My door is always open, he knows that. He will be good."




Pochettino sets Spurs sights higher than finishing above Arsenal

28 April 2017 19:07

Mauricio Pochettino takes no heart from the possibility of ending Arsenal's "St Totteringham's Day" celebrations and insists title-chasing Tottenham should not define themselves in comparison to their north London rivals.

Tottenham host the Gunners on Sunday as the only remaining challengers to Premier League frontrunners Chelsea, lying four points in arrears of Antonio Conte's men.

This is where Pochettino wants Spurs' focus to lie, not on the fact that victory against Arsenal on Sunday would guarantee a higher finish in the table than their neighbours for the first time in 22 seasons.

Arsenal supporters mockingly refer to the day when it is mathematically impossible for Tottenham to finish above them in the table as St Totteringham's Day, although the joke would be on them if Pochettino's men win this weekend to go 17 points better off with five games remaining.

"This, for me is not a motivation. The motivation for me is to win because it's a derby and I know what it means to play a derby," Pochettino told a pre-match news conference.

"It's not a motivation, that thing you explained now to me. My motivation is to win, my motivation is to try to win with Tottenham some titles, my motivation is that my players every day can improve and show that we are better than our opponents.

"I really don't care about that silly celebration that you explain now to me.

"The advantage is that my English is so bad and I don't read too much or listen too much. We are here to try to help this club achieve things – to be better every day, to be better every season.

"We want to win and we are focused on that, not on other things."

A moment of magic from @HKane in the last north London derby at White Hart Lane... #COYS pic.twitter.com/dwzerhmMYn
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 28, 2017

Pochettino is delighted with Tottenham's efforts this season but insists finishing above Arsenal would not be a consolation if they fail to deny Chelsea Premier League glory.

"My feeling is now, when you are so close, only four points [behind] – only, but it is massive when there are only five games to play – I will be very disappointed if we don't win the title," he added.

"In that moment I will start to think of all the good things that have happened this season and then be realistic in analysing the season.

"I really don't think in which position is Arsenal. Our focus is to try and win every game and try to win the Premier League. Then we will have time to be happy and different things that make our fans happy.

"We are professional. It is important for us to think for ourselves, to try to achieve our aim and don't think about what happens next to us with our opponent."

Midfielder Mousa Dembele will be assessed before the derby having sustained an ankle injury at Crystal Palace.

Left-back Danny Rose (knee) is stepping up his work in training but will be unavailable, although back-up goalkeeper Michel Vorm (knee) returned to training with the Spurs squad on Thursday.




Conte can´t guarantee Hazard stay as Madrid circle Chelsea star

29 April 2017 02:07

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte cannot guarantee Eden Hazard will be at the club next season amid links with European champions Real Madrid.

Hazard has enjoyed another fine Premier League campaign as Chelsea close in on the title and it has reportedly alerted LaLiga giants Madrid, who are ready to take the Belgian star to the Santiago Bernabeu.

The 26-year-old is contracted to Chelsea until 2020 but Conte knows anything is possible in football.

"I think that it's impossible for me to take this responsibility, but not only for Eden but for every single player," Conte said ahead of Sunday's trip to Everton.

"In this situation it's the club who have the final decision.

"I don't think that this idea is in the mind of the club [to sell Hazard]. I think we have to improve the team, to reinforce the team. But you know that, in football, there is also the will of the player. The future, I haven't a crystal ball, no."

Conte added: "I think that everything is possible, everything is possible in football."

"I think Eden is very happy to stay with us and work with us," he continued. "I think his family is very happy to stay here and play for this team, for this club.

"The fans love him and I think there are a lot of positive things that bring him to stay here and to try to reach the best with this club.

"Don't forget, the target of this club is to try to win in every competition we play in."

In the Premier League this season, Hazard has scored 15 goals and tallied five assists for table-topping Chelsea.




Mourinho confirms he will rest Manchester United stars at Arsenal

Matthew Scott
May 6, 2017 08:55:18

The Europa League continues to take precedence over the Premier League at Old Trafford after the Red Devils put one foot in the Stockholm final

Jose Mourinho has confirmed that he intends to rest key players when Manchester United travel to Arsenal in the Premier League.

United sit five points above Arsenal in the table ahead of Sunday's visit to Emirates Stadium, while the Gunners have a game in hand in the fight for a top-four finish.

However, a 1-0 win at Celta Vigo on Thursday put one United foot in the Europa League final and winning Europe's secondary competition will guarantee a place in the Champions League next term.

Having taken charge of nine matches in April, and with one eye on United's semi-final second leg at Old Trafford next Thursday, Mourinho will make changes to his tired squad.

He said: "The players that will play in accumulation and the players that are with a lot of minutes – because we played nine matches in April and this one, so 10 matches in four and half weeks – the players that are in accumulation will not play next weekend."

Marcus Rashford limped off after scoring the only goal of the game at Balaidos with a curling free-kick, while Ashley Young also departed with an apparent hamstring injury 11 minutes after coming on.

With Luke Shaw, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo out for the season, Mourinho's options have thinned considerably for the run-in.

Rashford's form has been a recent positive for Mourinho, with vital goals in Europe against Anderlecht and Celta helping fill the void left by Ibrahimovic.

"He worked really hard and he was creating problems," Mourinho said of the England international.

"He had a fantastic shot in the first half with that beautiful save and then the free-kick is work. He works every day, he loves to work.

"Sometimes the training session will finish for the group and he keeps doing individual work with my assistant so the free-kick is really well taken. I think the goalkeeper has no chance because it was a really fast goal."




Guardiola: Mourinho won't gift Arsenal a win

Jose Mourinho and Manchester United will be eager to win at Arsenal, according to Pep Guardiola.

6 May 2017

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola dismissed suggestions Jose Mourinho and United would gift Arsenal a win on Sunday.

Mourinho has said he will rest stars for the trip to the Emirates Stadium due to a busy run of fixtures and with his side outsiders to claim a top-four finish.

Manchester United are fifth in the table and just a point and place behind City, who host Crystal Palace on Saturday.

But Guardiola believes Mourinho would never give up on an encounter, expecting United to target victory against sixth-placed Arsenal.

"I am pretty sure United are going to go to London to win the game," he said.

"What I know a little bit from the times I faced my colleague, Jose Mourinho, he is never going to drop one game."

With Chelsea clear at the top and Tottenham well-placed in second, Liverpool (69 points, 35 games), City (66, 34), United (65, 34) and Arsenal (60, 33) are looking to finish behind them.

However, United are on track to reach the Europa League final, having beaten Celta Vigo 1-0 away from home in the first leg of their last-four tie.




Mourinho: There are no problems between Wenger and I

6 May 2017 15:02

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says there are no problems between him and Arsene Wenger anymore and claimed the Frenchman will be "really happy" with him for fielding a weakened team at Arsenal on Sunday.

One of the Premier League's longest-running feuds, stretching back to Mourinho's time at Chelsea, has thawed in recent months with Wenger telling a news conference on Thursday he was "open to peace" between the two.

Mourinho, who has labelled Wenger "a voyeur" and a "specialist in failure" in the past, was equally happy to let bygones be bygones when asked about their relationship ahead of United's trip to the Emirates at the weekend.

He told reporters: ""He doesn't need to [make peace] because there are no problems.

"At the last match at Old Trafford we shook hands before and after. I remember that I met him in the corner of the room for the press conferences and we shook hands again.

"When there is peace I don't have any problems. I am a big boy, I've been in football all my life. I know that [when there are] problems on the pitch, the next day is not a problem anymore. So for me, no problem at all."

Mourinho is set to make a raft of changes to his starting XI for the game as he prioritises success in the Europa League, a tournament that also grants a place in next season's Champions League for the winners.

He added of Wenger: "I think he will be very pleased with me that I am going to be changing my team to play against Arsenal, he will be really happy with me."




7 May 2017 - 1:24pm

Klopp out to defy doubters as Liverpool fight image problem

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp (Getty Images)

Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool are suffering from an image problem in England despite edging closer to UEFA Champions League qualification.

Source: Omnisport

7 May 2017 - 1:24 PM UPDATED 55 MINS AGO

Liverpool occupy the fourth and final Champions League place, four points ahead of challengers Manchester United in the Premier League, but doubts still linger.

There is a perception that Liverpool struggle against teams who opt to defend behind the ball after dropped points to the likes of Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Hull City, Swansea City and Sunderland having beaten Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur this season, but Klopp insists his side must be doing something right ahead of Sunday evening's welcome of Southampton.

"Of the last few games we have played against teams lower down the league we have won three and lost one and we still have the image that we lose all the time," Klopp said.

"If that were the case, how would we have 69 points? You cannot be fighting for a Champions League place without picking up more points than you lose over the course of a season.

"We might have been doing better against the top sides than those below them but we are in the top four. We must have been doing a lot of things right."

After the visit of Southampton to Anfield, Liverpool close out their season with matches against West Ham United and Middlesbrough.

"We are not talking about winning all three games; our job is simply to win the next one," Klopp added. "It's a funny thing.

"I really love the atmosphere at home; it's number one. And if you are playing Manchester City, say, and you lose a challenge, or make a chance and don't score, the reaction is not that negative. But if you are playing Crystal Palace and you make a chance and don't score, it's like the end of the world. You can practically feel the stadium going: 'Oh my God, here we go again.'

"But what we all have to learn, even in the hard moments, is that creating a chance is always positive; it shows you are playing in the right way. Every team have to learn to build on these moments.

"Chelsea are not always bothered about excitement in the game. They are a wonderful football-playing side but they can also defend for 90 minutes, score one goal and enjoy it like hell."