Sports Xtra


Chelsea cruise to win at Huddersfield

Manager Antonio Conte defended his remarks that Chelsea are out of the title race after his side bounced back from defeat against struggling West Ham to comfortably win away to Huddersfield Town.

The Blues were criticised after losing to the Hammers on Saturday, a result which led Conte to concede the 2016-17 champions could not win the Premier League.

However, they moved level on points with second-placed Manchester United after goals by Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willian and Pedro ensured Huddersfield lost for the fifth time in six games.

Chelsea are still 11 points behind leaders Manchester City, a gap the Italian still believes is too large to bridge.

"You must be realistic. I prefer to tell the truth rather than a good lie," said Conte after Tuesday's game.

"Sometimes I can be too honest but I like to speak honestly with my players and our fans. It doesn't mean we don't want to try to catch them.

"Our path is a great path but for sure there is a team that is in this way. It is very hard, now, to stop them."

France midfielder Bakayoko, substituted at half-time in the surprise defeat to West Ham on Saturday, set Antonio Conte's side on their way by clipping the ball beyond Jonas Lossl after the Huddersfield keeper had slipped in the wet conditions making a clearance.

Brazil midfielder Willian doubled the lead before the interval with a header before teeing-up Pedro to hammer the third goal.

Substitute Laurent Depoitre headed a late consolation but Huddersfield were well beaten.

"It could have been a really horrible night after the third, but our players reacted and got the goal at the end," said Terriers boss David Wagner.

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Chelsea lose at West Ham

West Ham won for the first time under David Moyes as Marko Arnautovic's first goal for the club proved enough to beat a disjointed Chelsea at London Stadium.

The Hammers scored the only goal after just six minutes when Arnautovic curled a deft strike into the bottom corner after exchanging passes with Manuel Lanzini on the edge of the area.

Chelsea responded well before the break but were repelled by an organised West Ham defence and two solid saves from Adrian, retaining his spot in place of the dropped Joe Hart.

Both sides became increasingly ragged in the second half but West Ham desperately held on, with Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata firing wide when clean through late on.

Despite victory, the hosts remain in the bottom three, though they have drawn level on points with 17th-placed West Brom, who face fellow strugglers Swansea at 15:00 GMT.

Defeat means champions Chelsea will finish the weekend 14 points behind leaders Manchester City if Pep Guardiola's side beat rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte suffer £8,000 fine for sending-off

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has been slapped with an £8,000 fine after he was sent off in Chelsea 1-0 defeat of Swansea.

The FA charged Conte with misconduct last week after he was sent to the stands by referee Neil Swarbrick for protesting about the awarding of a Swansea goal kick at Stamford Bridge.

There were initial fears from Chelsea that the Italian would be handed a touchline ban, but he has been handed a fine for his misconduct in the 43rd minute of Chelsea’s win. Conte, who watched the second-half of the clash from the dressing room, apologised for his behaviour. ‘I was frustrated for this situation,’ he explained.

‘I tried to tell again, but then the referee took this decision. ‘I repeat, I apologise for this. For sure I made a mistake.’


Written by Kelvin Agbanyo

Conte claims Chelsea fixture conspiracy

Manager Antonio Conte has suggested there is a fixture conspiracy against his Chelsea side.

The Italian has previously questioned the scheduling of Premier League games, particularly the disparity in rest between his side and their opponents.

On Saturday, Chelsea host Newcastle, who played a day earlier this week.

Conte said: "It's difficult to think it's a coincidence. This is the fourth time. If someone wants to joke with me I'm not the right person to joke with."

The 48-year-old recently queried why his side had to play Liverpool three days after a trip to face Qarabag in Azerbaijan.

He has also brought up the matter in relation to fixtures against Manchester City and Watford, which came after European games.

The champions are currently third in the table - 11 points behind leaders Manchester City - going into the 12:30 GMT kick-off at Stamford Bridge.

Conte added: "Once it can happen. Twice it can happen. The third time, you start to be perplexed. In only 14 games [it has happened] four times.

"Every team has this type of situation. But from start of the season, I don't know, I see only Chelsea to have this type of situation.

"I don't want advantages. If we have to play every two days, I'm ready. But we need to have the same rest as our opponents, then we see what happens.

"Is it difficult to do this? I don't think so. It is a strange coincidence."

Chelsea have previously made representations to the Premier League, and a spokesman told BBC Sport they would not be responding to Conte's latest comments.

More trouble on the horizon?

Premier League between Dec 2 -Jan 3
Club Games Days Club Games Days
Arsenal 10 33 Man City 10 31
Bournemouth 9 30 Man Utd 10 31
Brighton 8 31 Newcastle 8 31
Burnley 8 31 Southampton 8 31
Chelsea 10 33 Stoke 8 31
C Palace 8 32 Swansea 8 32
Everton 9 31 Tottenham 9 32
Huddersfield 8 31 Watford 8 32
Leicester 9 31 West Brom 8 32
Liverpool 9 31 West Ham 9 31

Starting with Saturday's game, Chelsea will play 10 times in the next 33 days.

That includes the Champions League visit of Atletico Madrid - which is followed by another early Saturday kick-off - and an EFL Cup quarter-final against Bournemouth, as well as eight Premier League ties.

Arsenal have a similar schedule - but both Manchester clubs have to play 10 games in two fewer days.

Looking at the four festive fixtures in particular, Chelsea will more rest between the start of their first game and the end of their fourth than any club except Arsenal.

That is because their New Year's Day fixture against the Gunners was pushed back to 3 January.

Credit: BBC

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Conte sorry for dismissal as Chelsea beat Swansea

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte apologised to referee Neil Swarbrick after being sent off for protesting to the officials during his side's narrow win over struggling Swansea City at Stamford Bridge.

The Italian spent the whole of the second half watching from a television feed in the dressing room after disputing Swarbrick's decision not to award a corner when the game was goalless.

Chelsea dominated the game but had to wait until the 55th minute for the breakthrough, Germany defender Antonio Rudiger heading in his first Premier League goal after N'Golo Kante's shot was deflected into his path.

"I apologise for this," said Conte when asked about his dismissal from the touchline.

"I was frustrated. For sure I made a mistake. During the game I suffer. With my players I suffer. It's a pity."

Swansea offered stubborn resistance but did not have a shot on target as they fell to a fifth defeat in six Premier League games.

"We're so desperate for points at the moment and on another night, a little bit more quality in the final third we might get something," said Swans boss Paul Clement.

Chelsea remain third in the table while Swansea stay 19th, three points from safety, after a ninth league defeat in 14 games this season.


Written by Gideon Sarpong

Hazard says Conte tactics left him isolated v Liverpool

Eden Hazard claims that with Danny Drinkwater on the pitch for Chelsea at Anfield, he had no choice to dribble past Liverpool players.

The Belgian managed a wonderful ten dribbles against Liverpool and created five chances, one of which brought an assist.

Hazard and Alvaro Morata have formed an excellent partnership for Chelsea but without Cesc Fabregas on the pitch until the 73rd minute, they had to create their own chances.

“We changed the system, Danny Drinkwater was on the pitch and then we were a bit more defensive,” Hazard told the Evening Standard.

“The only player around me was Alvaro Morata, so if we wanted to win we had to do something together, just me and him.

“That’s why I tried to pass my opponent [by dribbling] every time, and in the first half we did well.

“In the second half it was more complicated but we scored, so I am happy.”

Hazard revealed in the same interview that he likes to ‘rest’ in training rather plat at match pace.

“Do I protect my legs in training? Yes, yes, yes! To be fair, in training I don’t give everything. When we have drills some people go crazy, but I don’t want to be kicked in training. I try to have a break.

“We don’t have many breaks in the season, so I try in training to have more of a rest and then in games I give everything.”

Written by Gideon Sarpong