Chelsea

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Everton

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  • Chelsea have scored more goals against Everton than any other team in their history: 261
  • Mourinho’s side have earned a league-high 14 points from losing positions
  • Everton haven’t won any of their last 4 away games, not scoring in their last two

With Chelsea top of the Premier League and Everton pushing for the top four, this game should be a real cracker on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN, 7:45am ET and online via Live Extra) at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho’s side lost 1-0 to Roberto Martinez’s Everton team back in September, as the Portuguese boss suffered his first defeat in charge of Chelsea in his second spell. Chelsea are top of the standings and have the chance to extend their lead to four points if they beat the Toffees at home this weekend.

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Chelsea are still unbeaten at home in the league under Mourinho, with that streak now extended to 73 games. Against Everton on Saturday they will come up against a talented side that will cause them plenty of problems with their fluid attacking play under young Spanish coach Martinez. But Everton have not beaten Chelsea away in the league for 20 years, so Chelsea must fancy their chances. But will Mourinho’s men have one eye on their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash against Galatasaray on Wednesday? Time will tell, but this match should be one to savor.

In teams news Chelsea will welcome back captain John Terry after injury, but David Luiz is ruled out with a hip injury. Everton forward Romelu Lukaku is fit but unable to face his parent club Chelsea.

What they’re saying

Jose Mourinho on facing Everton: “They are a very good team, they’re playing well and getting good results. They are in a position in the table that reflects the quality of their team and obviously it will be a very difficult match for us. They defend well and are dangerous on the counter attack. They have a very experienced midfield with players like Barry and Osman who give them stability to their game. They are a team with good balance and they are a difficult opponent.”

Roberto Martinez on the challenges vs. Chelsea: “Stamford Bridge is one of the hardest places to go and get three points, and I think it’s going to be a terrific measurement for ourselves after the disappointment that we had at White Hart Lane. It’s something we need to correct, to use that experience that when you are the better side, you need to win the football game. Chelsea have got terrific home form with this manager, and not just this season. It’s an incredible challenge but probably internally we need that.”

Predictions

With Chelsea’s incredible home record under Mourinho still intact, it’s games like these that seem very dangerous. Chelsea are top of the league, but lost 2-0 to Manchester City last weekend in the fifth round of the FA Cup and the Blues also have the distraction of a Champions League knockout game coming up. Everton narrowly lost 1-0 away at Tottenham in their last trip to London, but played well and they can definitely cause Chelsea issues. If I was a betting man, I’d go for the draw. But something tells me Chelsea will grind this one out.

Bremen beats Wolfsburg to leave Bundesliga relegation zone

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Serge Gnabry of Germany reacts during the Men's First Round Football Group C match between Germany and Fiji at Mineirao Stadium on August 10, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Midfielder Serge Gnabry scored twice as Werder Bremen moved away from the Bundesliga’s relegation zone with a 2-1 win at fellow struggler Wolfsburg on Friday.

Bremen and Wolfsburg are level on points and two above Hamburger SV, which is in 18th place and in the relegation zone.

It was a fifth defeat in six games for Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael, who won the league and cup double as a player with Bremen in 2004.

Gnabry fired the visitors ahead with a deflected shot in the 10th minute and made it 2-0 eight minutes later, controlling the ball with his chest before prodding home on the volley.

Striker Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Real Madrid, scored with his chest following a Wolfsburg corner as Wolfsburg hit back moments later.

Midfielder Daniel Didavi struck the post with a free kick as Wolfsburg kept pushing for an equalizer.

Mancini reportedly not interested in Leicester City, De Boer says no

GENOA, ITALY - APRIL 20:  Head Coach of FC Internazionale Roberto Mancini looks during the Serie A match between Genoa CFC and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on April 20, 2016 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Two top candidates to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City have reportedly turned down any interest in the job.

Roberto Mancini, the heavy favorite out of the gates after Ranieri’s dismissal, tweeted his support for Ranieri after the news broke. “I am sorry for my friend Ranieri,” Mancini said. “He will be in the history of LCFC, in the hearts of Leicester fans and all football lovers.”

However, the fellow Italian has rebuffed Leicester’s informal advances towards his services. According to Sky Sports, Leicester sent “intermediaries” to “sound out” Mancini’s feelings towards the position, but came back empty-handed. The report states Mancini was turned off to the club after a short and unsuccessful spell there as a player in 2001.

That leaves a host of other names who have been linked to the job, with no clear favorite. One person mentioned was Dutch legend Frank de Boer, who is unemployed after an unusually short stint in charge of Inter Milan. However, De Boer’s agent went public to say he was not ever in the running.

“There is zero possibility that Frank could go to Leicester,” agent Guido Albers told Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb. “I too heard these rumors, but that’s all they are – rumors. I can affirm without doubt that Frank will not become the Leicester City manager. This will 100 per cent not happen.”

Albers explained that De Boer is only interested in joining a club in the offseason, preferring to enter a project with a blank slate rather than joining midseason with particular goals already clearly laid out. With Leicester, it seems De Boer is turned off by the notion of a relegation battle.

Win over Las Palmas again has La Real on edge of CL spot

GETAFE, SPAIN - DECEMBER 11:  Xavi Prieto of Real Sociedad in action during the La Liga match between Getafe CF and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium on December 11, 2015 in Getafe, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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All it took was one mistake. Real Sociedad’s Xabi Prieto capitalized, and has La Real once again on the verge of next year’s Champions League.

La Real finished 7th in 2013/14, and 9th in 2015/16, and this year, they’re closer than ever. Preito’s goal on the mistake by Las Palmas goalkeeper Javi Varas gave Real Sociedad the 1-0 road win and has them just a point off a Champions League place.

[ MORE: Antonio Conte pulling from experience to keep Chelsea on top ]

That could be even closer next week, as fourth-placed Atletico Madrid has to welcome Barcelona to the Calderon tomorrow, leaving the door open for La Real to make another move next weekend.

The goal down the stretch is not just to win the games they should, but make the teams above them work. La Real has won seven of their last ten matches, but the three losses came to Real Madrid, Villareal, and Sevilla, all teams fighting at the top of the table. They still have chances down the stretch, with matches against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Eibar coming up, with the latter on the docket next weekend.

Conte pulling from prior experience as title race pushes on

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea looks on during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at Molineux on February 18, 2017 in Wolverhampton, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Antonio Conte has recalled some painful memories to push himself and his players forward despite their commanding lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Chelsea sits eight points clear of Manchester City, and has the chance to go even further in front with many of the top teams off this weekend, but that won’t give the Italian any better sleep at night.

In the 1999/2000 season, Conte was nearing the end of his 13-year Juventus tenure. He’d won three league titles already, plus two league cup trophies and a Champions League title with the Serie A giants. With a comfortable nine point lead after 26 matches, the club became complacent. They would lose four of their final eight matches, collapsing on the final day in the pouring rain, allowing Lazio to come roaring back to win the title.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks for Week 26 ]

“I was captain of the team,” Conte said. “I remember after this game I must go to the European Championships with the national team. I didn’t sleep for six days because it was a shock for me to lose the title.”

Clearly, that still haunts him. “I have experienced this,” Conte continued. “When I continue to repeat that there are 13 games, there are 39 points… there is a long time before we can say we won the title. We must be focused, we must go step by step.”

The Blues host Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday before a trip to West Ham next weekend. If anyone believes the Chelsea players are complacent holding such a significant lead with 13 matches to go, it’s clear that’s not nearly the case. Anything can happen in three months.