Jose Mourinho warns Chelsea players to not underestimate Manchester United

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On Sunday at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea host Manchester United with the West London club looking to close the gap on league leaders Arsenal.

The Blues sit just two points behind Arsenal, and alongside Manchester City, the three aforementioned teams make up the front-runners for this seasons Premier League title.

However the reigning Champions, Manchester United, are nowhere to be seen.

If you scan down the PL standings, you will see the Red Devils in seventh place as David Moyes’ first-season in charge at Old Trafford has hardly been ideal. Taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to be difficult and its proved that, and then some, for Moyes.

But Chelsea Jose Mourinho, who many thought would get the nod to succeed Fergie, is sending out a stark warning to his Chelsea side ahead of Sunday’ blockbuster clash: Underestimate the Red Devils at your peril.

“We will play against a team that is 11 points behind the leader, we will play against the champions, we will play against Man United,” Mourinho said. “On many occasions the team looks to be in the most difficult situation is the team that appears stronger inn that match. That’s why I consider this game is especially dangerous to us.”

If Mourinho’s Chelsea win on Sunday, the Portuguese maestro will be the quickest manager to reach 100 PL wins as he will have achieved the feat in just 142 matches. He will overtake Sir Alex Ferguson’s record of bringing up 100 win in 162 games, as the links between Mourinho and United continue to blossom up during his managerial career. It wa sof course with FC Porto back in 2003 that Moruinho burst onto the managerial scene and stunned United with his sides last-gasp win and his extravagant celebrations.

(MORE: RVP and Wayne Rooney out of Manchester United’s clash with Chelsea)

Back to the present day, Chelsea are in fine-form after winning four in a row and eight of their last ten. Those results has seen Mourinho’s young squad surge back into title contentions, but the ‘Special One’ is playing it cool when it come to talk of another PL title heading to Stamford Bridge.

“We are not desperate to win the title,” Mourinho said. “We think that we are building a future. Step-by-step we are going, the team is getting some fine results, the team is improving and we are going to fight for the title until the end.”

Way back in August 2004 Mourinho’s first home game in charge of Chelsea yielded a win against Manchester United, thank to Eidur Gudjohnsen’s strike, and he still has an unbeaten home record in the Premier League. During his two separate spells with the Blues, his PL home record reads: 55 wins, 15 draws, 0 defeats.

Will Mourinho’s incredible 70-game unbeaten run at home come to an end against the team it started against?

Beware of the wounded animal, Jose.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”

Report: Chelsea planning Hazard, Courtois pay raises

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Eden Hazard has returned to his old self under Antonio Conte this season, and now Chelsea is hoping to lock down their star attacker.

[ MORE: Lukaku says decision has been made on Everton future ]

According to the Mirror, the Premier League leaders are planning on offering up a pay raise to Hazard, who has 11 league goals this season for the Blues.

Hazard signed a nearly $250,000 per week deal two seasons ago, but the Belgium international will likely rake in significantly more under the reported deal as Chelsea hopes to keep the 26-year-old away from Spanish giants Real Madrid and others.

The Mirror is also reporting that goalkeeper and Hazard’s Belgian teammate Thibaut Courtois is likely to be handed a raise is salary as well.

The shot-stopper is set be handed a deal roughly in the range of what Hazard is currently making after allowing just 21 goals in 28 PL matches this season.