Chelsea v Newcastle United - Premier League

Jose Mourinho plays down Chelsea going top, how long will he keep doing this?

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After Chelsea’s thumping 3-0 home win against Newcastle On Saturday, inspired by a fired-up Eden Hazard who bagged all three goals, Blues boss Jose Mourinho continues to play down his sides title chances.

Speaking after yet another win, Chelsea’s seventh in their last nine games and they’ve failed to lose in any of them, Mourinho was once again in a devilish mood and refused to push his side forward as PL title contenders. Following the win against Manchester City on Monday, the Portuguese boss called his side “the little horse behind two big horses (Man City and Arsenal) that needs milk and needs to learn how to jump. Maybe next season we can race.”

(Latest Premier League Standings)

Why can’t they race for the title this season?

Here’s the ‘Special One’s’ latest attempt at masquerading Chelsea as the also rans, as the Blues now have a one point lead at the PL summit.

“I know today we are top of the league but I look to fifth place. I look to Tottenham v Everton and Manchester United v Fulham tomorrow and I want to be far from fifth. When we are far from fifth and have a Champions League position under control, then it will be time to look at Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool and see where they are and see the distances. From that point, we can start thinking about other things.”

(MORE: Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle – Hazard’s hat trick sends Blues top)

The thing is, it’s all mind games with Mourinho. It always has been and it always will be. He even admitted that in a press conference early this week.

“Everything I say and do are mind games,” Mourinho admitted. “The only thing that is not mind games are the results.”

And those results are very good. With Chelsea unbeaten in nine games since their narrow loss to Stoke City in December, the Blues have looked unbelievably solid at the back and always look like scoring at least one. Saturday’s shutout win over Newcastle marked their ninth clean sheet in their last 11 matches in all competitions. That’s Championship form, whether or not Mourinho admits it.

Will the Portuguese maestro ever let down his guard and state his side are title favorites?

I doubt it. Unless Chelsea are leading by 12 points with four games to go… then he may just blurt out that his team will win the league. But right now, he’s keeping his young squad, and everybody else, on their toes as Chelsea’s title bid continues to slot into place seamlessly.

You won’t hear it from Mou, but the Blues from West London have all of a sudden became the favorites for the 2013-14 PL title.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia