Chelsea's Ramires and Stoke City's Steven Nzonzi appeal to the referee during their English Premier league soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London

Ramires confident Chelsea can win Premier League title

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After winning five-straight games and positioning themselves rather nicely just behind Arsenal and Manchester City at the top of the table, it’s no wonder Chelsea’s players are confident of winning the Premier League title.

Up until now it’s been a case of quite optimism from Jose Mourinho’s camp, but now Brazilian midfielder Ramires has stated his belief that the blues can take home the PL crown this season.

Ramires, 26, hailed the 3-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday and threw down the gauntlet to Chelsea’s title contenders.

“I love to be on the pitch in big games like the one against Manchester United,” Ramires told Globo Esporte. “The derbies make you feel butterflies in your stomach, make you more motivated to win and I am happy that we have managed to play well. We are now even more confident after that game that we can reach our goal of winning the Premier League, that would be even more special to me as I have never won that title.”

After playing for Benfica in Portugal and Cruzeiro in Brazil, Ramires seems desperate to help Chelsea become the PL champions for just the fourth time in the clubs history. He has already won the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup with the Blues, alongside the FA Cup during his first two seasons in West London.

Now he wants domestic success, with the Blues in devastating form since the turn of the year.

(MORE: Mourinho bags 100th Premier League win, but are Chelsea title favorites?)

This campaign the Brazilian midfielders lung-bursting runs from deep have seen him become a regular in Mourinho’s side as he epitomizes the high work-rate and drive his Portuguese manager demands. Against United on Sunday Ramires was part of a Brazilian central midfielder duo as he and David Luiz dovetailed superbly to win the ball back high up the pitch, allowing the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian to hurt Man United in and around the box.

Ramires has added five goals and four assists in his 29 appearances so far this campaign and with the World Cup approaching in his native Brazil, expecting the tireless two-way player to keep on striving for success as the final months of this season run down.

That’s good news for Ramires, Chelsea and the Brazilian national team.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.