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Mourinho reveals reason for Shaw’s absence; Zlatan on his future

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Luke Shaw‘s career at Manchester United has stalled this season.

[ MORE: Conte v Mourinho brewing ]

Shaw, 21, joined the Red Devils as a teenager in the summer of 2014 from Southampton and at that time the left back became the most-expensive teenager in the world after moving for over $37 million.

However, after impressing at Old Trafford his fitness was called into question by Louis Van Gaal and then he suffered a horrendous leg break in the UEFA Champions League at PSV Eindhoven which cost him the entire 2015-16 campaign.

Since Mourinho arrived at United, Shaw has not been first choice at left back with Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and others used in that position.

“The only thing I can say is that Luke is working well,” Mourinho said. “I don’t have any problem and he’s working well. He’s fighting hard, there is no problem with him. He has to work and wait.”

Mourinho also revealed that Darmian has been on the bench ahead of Shaw recently as he only wants one defender among his substitutes and with Darmian able to play in both full back slots, he is included ahead of Shaw. With Mourinho’s comments about Shaw’s fitness in November following a win at Swansea City, plus appearing to criticize his display in the 3-1 defeat at Watford in September, the England international has been on the outside looking in.

Yet, with a congested fixture schedule coming up — United play against St. Etienne in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg on Thursday, Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup on Sunday, then the return leg at St. Etienne on Feb. 22 and the EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley on Feb. 26 — Shaw could get plenty of minutes under his belt.

He needs them to regain his form, match fitness and kick on his extremely promising career as the best marauding left back in Europe 21 and under. He has the talent. He just has to stay fit and impress Mourinho. That’s the tough part.


Staying with United, the future of their top scorer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, appears to still be up in the air.

Ibrahimovic, 35, has scored 20 goals in 34 games in all competitions for United this season, but his contract expires at the end of this season.

The Swedish striker has revealed he has met the terms of triggering a new one-year deal to his current contract and Mourinho has confirmed multiple times that United plan to keep the veteran forward at Old Trafford for another season.

Speaking to the media, Zlatan joked when asked if he’d met the extension clause in terms of goals and appearances.

“Something like that. I have to score 100 goals,” Ibrahimovic said. “The option is already fulfilled. But there’s nothing done yet. From my side. We’ll wait and see. Let’s see what happens.”

So, Ibrahimovic seems a little coy but he certainly seems to have enough in the tank for another season at United. He’s already proved all of his critics wrong who said he couldn’t cut it in the PL after spending his entire career away from England’s top-flight before this season.

But after proving his quality, should he walk at the end of this season after winning a trophy or three (Europa League, EFL Cup and FA Cup still up for grabs) plus finishing in the top four, or better, of the Premier League?

Conte: Chelsea “ready to fight to the end”

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Following Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Spurs and Tuesday’s blowout of Southampton — the 4-2 score line didn’t tell the story of the second half — Antonio Conte is fired up for Chelsea to complete its Premier League title run.

The manager admits that his side was under pressure after Spurs narrowed the table gap to four points last week, but the wins have eased the Blues’ burden.

Chelsea had lost two of four PL matches before the weekend.

From Football.London:

“I think we passed a big, big psychological step after the defeat to United. We lost three points and had to prepare a semi-final against Tottenham and then another tough game in the league. In that moment we had a really important test and our answer was very good.

“We must think that this race is open, we have reached the final of the FA Cup. The situation in the league is totally open. We are ready to fight to the end. We must be proud for the job we are doing and to fight to the end.”

Spurs can bring the gap back to four with a win at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, but have a tougher run-in with five matches to play. As long as the gap is within six points, anything is possible, but the Blues have certainly answered the bell over the past four days.

Chelsea: Big win “feels like a massive step” to title

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“It feels like a massive step to be honest,” said game-changing goal scorer Gary Cahill of Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea’s Premier League lead stands at seven points after the win, which saw a dominant second half from the hosts.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Perhaps it was cued up by Cahill’s first half stoppage time header, which boosted the Blues to a 2-1 lead just before the whistle.

Cahill darted in front of Diego Costa‘s scissor kick attempt to power a header past Fraser Forster.

“(Costa) tried to claim it afterward as well,” Cahill said. “When the ball’s just lofted over, it’s dying to be attacked. We went into halftime with our tails up and it was a big boost for us.”

Cesc Fabregas said Southampton surprised the Blues tactically, leading to an entertaining first half that could’ve seen either side ahead before half.

“We needed a little bit of time to adapt to what they did because we prepared for something else,” he said.

Fabregas said the win was big with second-place Spurs watching at home. Tottenham plays at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

“We needed a good response after the Man United game. We have to keep going with five games to go, to keep it up and make the last push. It would be a big shame if now we relaxed. We just have to push now more than ever,” he said.

“It’s a statement for (Spurs), for us, for everyone, but most of all for us.”
Eden Hazard agreed.
“We scored four beautiful goals,” said the Belgian, who scored the game’s first goal. “It’s good to play before and put pressure on them.”

Chelsea 4-2 Southampton: Blues send message in win

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  • Costa nabs two goals, assist
  • Hazard, Cahill score
  • Chelsea ups table lead to seven

Gary Cahill‘s first-half stoppage time marker was a momentum shifter as Chelsea topped Southampton to increase its Premier League table lead with a 4-2 win on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Cahill, Hazard, Fabregas react to “massive step” ]

Diego Costa scored twice and Eden Hazard also scored for the Blues, and Cesc Fabregas moved into second place on the Premier League’s all-time assists list with a helper on Costa’s first goal.

Former Chelsea men Oriol Romeu and Ryan Bertrand scored for Saints, as Southampton remains ninth with 40 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There were early lively moments for both sides, as Saints’ Manolo Gabbiadini attempted to back up Antonio Conte‘s pre-match praise as one of the best left foots in the world.

Chelsea found the opener through Hazard, as Costa held possession into the right of the box before cutting back to find Belgian. Fraser Forster couldn’t get low quick enough to stop Hazard’s low shot, and it was 1-0.

Romeu, clearly buoyed by JPW’s feature piece earlier this week, bagged an equalized off a corner kick. Gabbiadini sidled up to the ball at the back post, and pushed it off Thibaut Courtois into the path of the former Chelsea man.

Sofiane Boufal was also dangerous for Saints, and won a free for James Ward-Prowse that amounted to a corner kick from the edge of the 16. Courtois flew forward to put the ball free.

N'Golo Kante had his turn to start a threat, and Forster’s block of his cross only queued up a pair of opportunities between Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic.

Cahill made it 2-1 in stoppage time, darting in front of Costa’s scissor kick attempt to nod Marcos Alonso‘s headed pass into the goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Chelsea added to its lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half, with Saints allowing Cesc Fabregas a bit too much room inside the box. The Spaniard chipped a pass to countryman Costa to make it a two-goal lead.

Forster made a good save on a tricky Costa attempt in the 71st minute.

Corner kicks were not easily defended by Chelsea, and Steven Davis came close to pulling a goal back in the 79th minute. A moment later, Forster came out to stop Kante with a wild arm save after Hazard led a lightning counterattack off the ensuing corner.

Bertrand headed a goal home in stoppage time when he got in front of Cahill, but the damage was done.

AT HALF: Chelsea strikes twice to build 2-1 lead over Saints

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Gary Cahill‘s stoppage time goal has Chelsea leading Southampton 2-1 after 45 minutes at Stamford Bridge.

Eden Hazard scored the match’s first goal, with Saints’ Oriol Romeu equalizing in the 24th minute.

A win would send Chelsea seven points clear of second place Spurs, which has played one less match than the Blues.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There were early lively moments for both sides, as Saints’ Manolo Gabbiadini attempted to back up Antonio Conte‘s pre-match praise as one of the best left foots in the world.

Chelsea found the opener through Hazard, as Costa held possession into the right of the box before cutting back to find Belgian. Fraser Forster couldn’t get low quick enough to stop Hazard’s low shot, and it was 1-0.

Romeu, clearly buoyed by JPW’s feature piece earlier this week, bagged an equalized off a corner kick. Gabbiadini sidled up to the ball at the back post, and pushed it off Thibaut Courtois into the path of the former Chelsea man.

Sofiane Boufal was also dangerous for Saints, and won a free for James Ward-Prowse that amounted to a corner kick from the edge of the 16. Courtois flew forward to put the ball free.

N'Golo Kante had his turn to start a threat, and Forster’s block of his cross only queued up a pair of opportunities between Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic.

Cahill made it 2-1 in stoppage time, darting in front of Costa’s scissor kick attempt to nod Marcos Alonso‘s headed pass into the goal.