Chelsea dispatched Fulham 3-1 at Craven Cottage on Saturday, as Jose Mourinho’s side went clear at the top of the standings
Andre Schurrle bagged a hat trick for the Blues and coupled with Arsenal’s defeat away at Stoke, Chelsea are now four points clear at the summit.
But Mourinho, once again, has played down Chelsea’s title chances as he aims to easy any pressure on his side. Coming off the back of a long midweek trip to Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea looked sluggish in the first half but Mourinho praised his side for a terrific second half display.
“The second half was one of the best performances of the season. We moved the ball around well. If I could’ve made 11 changes, I might have done, but I could only make three – so I did nothing. Schurrle is cold in front of the goal. We have have four points more than Arsenal. The gap to Man City is a fake advantage. If they win their games in hand, they’re top of the league. We’re behind them.”
(MORE: Fulham 1-3 Chelsea: Spectacular Schurrle extends Blues lead at the top)
So Mourinho is up to his old tricks again as he believes City will surge to the top of the standings when they play their games in hand. In the first half Chelsea didn’t look like title contenders but they came surging back after the interval. Afterwards Mourinho was asked what changes he made or what eh said to his time to change the outcome of the match.
The eccentric 51-year-old boss gave the following answer.
“At half-time, I told them nothing – nothing – not a word. I walked in, then I walked out,” Mourinho said.” I don’t know if anyone else gave a team talk. I was not inside the dressing room. The second half was a great reaction to the worst performance of the season.”
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday