Archive for the ‘premier league’ Category

Carlo Ancelotti says “I need to have pressure” as title race hots up

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Ancelotti spoke at Chelsea's training ground before their game against Stoke

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti admitted today that he’s revelling in the pressure of Chelsea’s late push for the Premier League title, referring to tomorrow’s game away to Stoke as “the first of nine finals”.

The Italian has seen his side force their way back into contention with the Blues now lying only nine points behind league leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.

With United travelling to Upton Park for what could be a tricky game against a West Ham side that beat them 4-0 in the Carling Cup back in November, the onus is on Chelsea to produce the goods against Tony Pulis’s physical Stoke side.

“In my opinion, I need to have pressure to focus, to stay concentrated on my job. I need to have pressure on my shoulders. It doesn’t mean that I’m not able to manage this pressure,” said Ancelotti.

“I want to have pressure. When I’m too relaxed it’s not good.”

Ancelotti could be excused for having one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League tie where Chelsea will welcome Alex Ferguson’s United but he insists that his team are focused on tomorrow’s game.

“We have to put out the best team against Stoke, after that we can think about Manchester United. The most important thing is to win Saturday’s game,” he said.

The former Milan and Juventus manager also expressed his enthusiasm for the end of the season, or what his opposite number in the title race would refer to as ‘squeaky bum time’.

“It’s a very exciting end to the season because a lot of teams are involved: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and at the bottom it’s going to be an exciting fight too,” he added.

Elsewhere in the title race, Arsenal, who also have a game in hand over United, host Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates while Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur have the chance to close the gap on Manchester City to one point  if they beat bottom of the league Wigan.

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The joy of six

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Football went goal mad last weekend with Chelsea, Arsenal, Newcastle and Rotherham (unfortunately) all scoring 6 against the unfortunate Wigan, Blackpool, Villa and Cheltenham respectively.

This posed a number of questions, especially in relation to the premier league.  Are we seeing a drop in the competitiveness which the English top flight used to pride itself on? Are Chelsea favourites to retain their premier league crown? And have Blackpool got a chance of staying up this season?

Malouda celebrates during Chelsea's 6-0 trouncing of Wigan

First up, Chelsea V Wigan, a game where the fact that Chelsea scored 6 goals wasn’t actually the biggest talking point. Yes, Chelsea looked their normal ruthless selves but Wigan dominated the majority of the first half which could be seen as a positive, but equally, if they play well and concede 6, god knows what will happen when they have an off day. The game was also notable for its lack of corners – not one corner was conceded throughout the whole game, a record that dates back to… oooooooh at least 2004 (when corner statistics began).

"Look at me Fabio!"

Arsenal V Blackpool also had a certain 6 appeal with the enigma that is Theo Walcott scoring a hat-trick – bringing the tangerine dream of Blackpool back down to earth with a bump. Walcott can often be wasteful and go missing for large parts of a game but against Blackpool he was at his rampaging best – something which can only improve his England cause. As for Blackpool, after their opening day win against a dire Wigan side they had reason to be hopeful for their trip to the emirates, however, the team that turned up on saturday were less Johann Cruyff’s Oranje but more like that fat guy off the Tango advert .

A Newcastle pile on (it was either this or Joey Barton's dodgy 'tache)

Newcastle’s sixy football was probably one of the more surprising results of the weekend with Martin O’Neill leaping from the claret and blue plane just before it began it’s nosedive and Andy Carroll surprising anyone who didn’t pay attention to the Championship last season. The sale of Milner to Man City for a princely sum and Stephen Ireland to boot appeared, to be a good deal, but a rudderless Villa looked lost considering the players were meant to be carefree and happy (apparently they celebrated O’Neill’s exit by sending pictures of champagne bottles to each other). As for Newcastle, they played like a team who deserved to be in the premiership, not like a team who thought they were too big to go down, a la 2009. If they can turn St James’ Park into the fortress it was, then it won’t be long before that fog on the tyne lifts.

Adam Le Fondre - here's hoping we've seen the last of him

Cheltenham, was a whole different story. We scored 4 away from home and lost 6-4. There are some redeeming aspects to take from the performance however. Firstly Adam Le Fondre is waaaaaaaay too good to be playing in league two and the sooner he gets snapped up the better to be honest. Secondly, we are playing good attractive football which is great for the fans and the diamond formation we are employing seems to be working. And finally, the referee gave a very very soft penalty (watch it and see for yourself). This said, you cannot concede 6 goals and the defence and in particular, Scott Brown, need to have a look at their own performances and start concentrating on defending set pieces (there, Cheltenham rant over).

So there you have it, the only question now is how the hell can this weekend live up to it’s predecessor ? Will there be more goalfests or a string of 0-0 bore draws? Have Chelsea and Wigan forgotten how to take corners? And will Cheltenham Town continue to play like they’ve forgotten how to defend them? All will become clear this weekend and strong on paper will be there – whatever the outcome.

Let me know what you think about last weekend’s results and if you have anything to add or any suggestions for my next post let me know!