Hazard on Chelsea’s struggles: “Our season starts now”; praises “Willi Beckham”


After clean sheets and two wins in their last three games, Eden Hazard believes Chelsea’s so far disappointing season has turned a corner.

He has one simple message with Chelsea 12 points off the top four: “Our season starts now.”

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Join Chelsea Fan Club Plus now to read the full matchday programme from Stamford Bridge featuring notes from the manager and captain. Members also gain access to Chelsea TV for behind-the-scenes action from the Chelsea training ground and exclusive interviews with Jose Mourinho and his players.

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Below is the feature article on Hazard — Jose Mourinho told ProSoccerTalk that the Belgian played his best game of the season last week — from Chelsea’s magazine.

Moving in the right direction – By Chelsea Football Club 

November produced plenty of positive signs as the Blues secured some confidence-boosting wins and Eden Hazard wants the improvement to continue

A rare break from midweek match action these past few days gave Eden Hazard the chance to reflect on recent results and consider today’s game, and our No10 is feeling optimistic about the signs of improvement since the last international break.

Hazard is cautious about talking our last three performances up too much, using phrases such as “step by step” and “bringing confidence back” as he discusses wins over Norwich and Maccabi Tel Aviv as well as the goalless draw at White Hart Lane last Sunday. However, he sees reasons to be hopeful about the direction the team is moving in.

“Things feel better,” he says. “It’s always good to win and, before the draw at Tottenham, we won two consecutive games, but when you play for Chelsea you have to win every game – we know that.

“I think everyone is happy now. We didn’t start the season very well, we know, but we need to keep getting one step better each game. Even though we didn’t win at Tottenham, we played a good game and we drew, so we still feel we have a good opportunity to continue bringing confidence back to the team.”

It is a pragmatic outlook and the facts back up Hazard’s assertion that the team has steadied its form over the past month: three wins from five games, plus an away point against one of our rivals, just two goals conceded (none in the last three matches) and seven goals scored at the other end. He even makes a point of referencing our sole defeat in November, stating the only thing our performance at Stoke lacked was the finishing touch.

“Our form has changed a little bit in the last three games, but I remember the game against Stoke, which we lost before the international break, and even though we played well we didn’t score,” he says.

“Against Maccabi, it was a different situation because after we scored one goal we were able to score more. I think we just need to win games now to bring the confidence back and this is what we did in two of our last three games.”

Eden Hazard, Chelsea FC

The comparison of the away games against Stoke and Maccabi is an intriguing one. One game ended in a frustrating defeat, while the other was a comprehensive 4-0 victory, yet Hazard believes the first goal was the key in both games. It didn’t arrive in Stoke, but who knows how many goals would have followed if we had taken an early chance at the Britannia Stadium?

It is a valid point. Chelsea had 19 attempts on goal at the Britannia Stadium, just two less than in the convincing win over Maccabi two weeks later. In fact, from open play, we managed to carve out more opportunities in the 1-0 defeat than we did in the 4-0 victory. In short, the result doesn’t tell the full story.

Fortunately, the all-important winning goal was forthcoming in our last home game, against Norwich, and Hazard reckons the final flourish in front of goal will be the next thing to return.

“We need to improve our last pass or our last shot, to run into space, and these are things we need to work hard on in training,” he says. “We want to create more chances because if we do that we can score more goals, but if you play against a compact team it’s not easy to do that, so it’s something we think is coming game by game.

“Everyone’s performances have improved. We have brought confidence back to the whole team and we just have to keep going like this. There is a good dynamic with the players around me at the moment. We try to change, try to switch because none of us like to stay in one position, so we have this understanding on the pitch.”

The connection between the players and the supporters remains strong as well, which was in evidence during the win over Norwich here two weeks ago, when each of the three players substituted – including Hazard – left the field to rousing applause from the stands.

“Maybe this is the most important thing when you are down,” he says. “The fans can bring your confidence back up. Even when we drew or lost games at home, they were singing all the time and that is so good for us.

“This is why we like to play at Stamford Bridge – we want to win every game for them now. Chelsea fans know football has ups and downs and when you are down – as players and as fans – you need to do everything you can to help the team improve. You have to keep going and that is what we are all doing now.

“Against Norwich, every player who was substituted, the fans gave us a standing ovation, and it’s always good when you play a good game and you feel the crowd behind you as you leave the pitch.”

Willian was among the other players applauded off the pitch that afternoon, and in current form the Brazilian deserves all the praise he is getting from the stands. Since discovering his incredible knack for striking a dead ball, he has scored six free-kicks this season – more than any player in the top five rated leagues in Europe – and his team-mates are as pleased about that as anyone.

“Willi’s free-kicks this season have been amazing,” Hazard says, shaking his head in admiration. “I call him ‘Willi Beckham’ now! When you don’t find the solution in a game, a corner or a free-kick can be the answer. This is an important part of the game for us and he has been fantastic.”

Of course, having a set-piece specialist like Willian in the side is even more useful when you have players like Hazard running at defenders, flitting between the lines and forcing opposition defenders to take desperate measures. With each foul they commit, they risk being on the end of another Willian master stroke, but their only alternative is to let the likes of Hazard have a run at goal and he certainly seems to relish forcing that issue.

“I am enjoying my football. Every time I am on the pitch I try to be me – I want the ball, I try to do some skills to open up the game and, even when I don’t play well, I try something to make the game change.

“We are almost there. We are not yet the Chelsea of last season, but things are going better. Step by step we need to improve, I think I can say the confidence is back and this is the key.

“We have some wins in the recent games and our season starts now – we will see where we are at the end of it.”


Italy vs England: How to watch live, stream link, team news


England will begin their EURO 2024 quest the same way they finished their heartbreaking EURO 2020 campaign: facing Italy, now two-time champions of Europe, on Thursday.

[ LIVE: EURO 2024 qualifying scores – Italy vs England ]

The two European giants faced off in the 2020 final (in the summer of 2021) at Wembley Stadium in London, and it was the Italians who triumphed in the penalty shootout after playing to a 1-1 draw after regular time and extra time.

Italy and England are joined in Group C by Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta. The sides that finish 1st and 2nd in the group will qualify for next summer’s tournament in Germany.

[ MORE: USMNT upcoming schedule – Nations League, friendlies, Gold Cup ]

Here is everything you need for Italy vs England. 

How to watch Italy vs England live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3:45pm ET, Thursday (March 23)
Stadium: Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Napoli

Italy squad

Goalkeepers – Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), Alex Meret (Napoli), Claudio Carnesecchi (Cremonese), Wladimiro Falcone (Lecce)

Defenders – Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Inter Milan), Francesco Acerbi (Inter Milan), Emerson Palmieri (West Ham), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma), Alessio Romagnoli (Lazio), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta), Giorgio Scalvini (Atalanta), Alessandro Buongiorno (Torino)

Midfielders – Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain), Jorginho (Arsenal), Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Matteo Pessina (Monza), Sandro Tonali (AC Milan), Davide Frattesi (Sassuolo)

Forwards – Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Gianluca Scamacca (West Ham), Vincenzo Grifo (Freiburg), Wilfried Gnonto (Leeds), Simone Pafundi (Udinese), Mateo Retegui (Tigre)

England squad

Goalkeepers – Jordan Pickford (Everton), Fraser Forster (Tottenham), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)

Defenders – Kyle Walker (Manchester City), John Stones (Manchester City), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Reece James (Chelsea), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)

Midfielders – Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Declan Rice (West Ham), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea)

Forwards – Harry Kane (Tottenham), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Phil Foden (Manchester City), James Maddison (Leicester), Ivan Toney (Brentford)

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Ivan Toney – Video of all his Premier League goals in 2022-23


Ivan Toney has proven himself a bona fide Premier League striker, as he chases a 20-goal season and closes in on 30 scored across two top-flight campaigns, after just one (record-setting) season in the Championship.

Toney bagged a sensational 31 goals in 45 second-division games as Brentford won Premier League promotion in 2020-21, but there were (reasonable) questions about those goals translating to the best league in the world.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

He finished 11th in the PL with 12 goals last season, and now Toney is up to 16 goals through the Bees’ first 27 games this season — 3rd-most currently, behind only Erling Haaland’s 28 goals (WATCH HERE) and Harry Kane’s 21 (WATCH HERE).

Below you will find every Ivan Toney goal video from the 2022-23 Premier League season so far.

Goal vs Southampton – March 15, 2023

Goal vs Fulham – March 6, 2023

Goal vs Arsenal – February 11, 2023

Goal vs Bournemouth – January 14, 2023

Goal vs West Ham – December 30, 2022

Goal vs Tottenham – December 26, 2022

2 goals vs Manchester City – November 12, 2022

2 goals vs Brighton – October 14, 2022

Goal vs Newcastle – October 8, 2022

Hat trick vs Leeds – September 3, 2022

Goal vs Fulham – August 20, 2022

Goal vs Leicester – August 7, 2022

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New deadline looms for Manchester United bids


A new deadline is looming for potential new owners of Manchester United, as our partners in the UK at Sky Sports say the deadline for second offers is Wednesday, March 22.

They add that up to eight bids are expected, while INEOS owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has told The Wall Street Journal he won’t pay a ‘stupid price’ for the Red Devils.

The Glazer family continue to explore either the full or partial sale of the Premier League giants.

It has been widely reported by ESPN and Sky Sports that two bids, one from Ratcliffe and another led by Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, are the frontrunners as the Glazers look at all of their available options.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

Over the last few months the American family have been seeking potential investors in Manchester United and they have not been short of suitors.

Presentations have been taking place between potential new owners and investors and the Man United hierarchy over the last few weeks.

The latest updates

Two bids have now taken center stage as they arrived before the first, well-documented, deadline.

One is from INEOS owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who failed to buy Chelsea last year but was always said to prefer a bid for his boyhood club Manchester United.

“How do you decide the price of a painting? How do you decide the price of a house? It’s not related to how much it cost to build or how much it cost to paint. What you don’t want to do is pay stupid prices for things because then you regret it subsequently,” Ratcliffe told The Wall Street Journal.

Another bid is led by Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, who is seeking full control of the club and is the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank as his father was the former prime minister of Qatar.

The Glazer family bought United in 2005 for $1.4 billion and it is believed they are now asking over $7.3 billion for a full sale of the club.

Statement from INEOS

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS confirmed they have ‘submitted a bid for majority ownership of Manchester United’ and went into more detail on their plans.

“We would see our role as the long-term custodians of Manchester United on behalf of the fans and the wider community. We are ambitious and highly competitive and would want to invest in Manchester United to make them the number one club in the world once again.

“We also recognise that football governance in this country is at a crossroads. We would want to help lead this next chapter, deepening the culture of English football by making the club a beacon for a modern, progressive, fan-centred approach to ownership. We want a Manchester United anchored in its proud history and roots in the northwest of England, putting the Manchester back into Manchester United and clearly focusing on winning the Champions League.”

Statement from Qatari bid

The Qatari bid, led by Sheikh Jassim, promised that their offer is ‘completely debt free’ and they want United to become ‘the greatest football club in the world’ during their stewardship of the club.

“The bid will be completely debt free via Sheikh Jassim’s Nine Two Foundation, which will look to invest in the football teams, the training center, the stadium and wider infrastructure, the fan experience and the communities the club supports.

“The vision of the bid is for Manchester United Football Club to be renowned for footballing excellence, and regarded as the greatest football club in the world.”

USMNT roster for Nations League features Gio Reyna, no Tyler Adams


The USMNT will be without captain Tyler Adams when they play a pair of CONCACAF Nations League games later this month, but they will have 13 members of the 2022 World Cup squad, including Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, as confirmed by U.S. Soccer on Wednesday.

The Yanks will also not have Timothy Weah, who suffered a scary concussion for Lille versus Toulouse on Sunday. He’s been replaced by AZ Alkmaar’s Djordje Mihailovic.

[ MORE: USMNT to face rivals Mexico in April friendly ]

Adams will miss the games against Gernada (March 24) and El Salvador (March 27) after suffering a hamstring injury during a recent training session with Leeds United.

Reyna’s place within the team and program had come into question in the weeks and months since the World Cup, with events and an investigation transpiring involving former/a candidate to remain USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter and Gio’s parents, Claudio and Danielle. Interim head coach Anthony Hudson explained Reyna’s inclusion as a decision to “move forward.”

[ MORE: USMNT upcoming schedule – Nations League, friendlies, Gold Cup ]

“It became a bit more complex in the months since the World Cup, but as far as we’re concerned Gio is a part of our program,” Hudson said. “He’s a good guy and a top talent, and he is evaluated like any other player. We made the roster decisions based on what gives the team the best opportunity to win these games, and we brought him in because we think he can help us do that.”

Full USMNT roster for 2022-23 CONCACAF Nations League

Goalkeepers (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town), Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough), Matt Turner (Arsenal)

Defenders (8): Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Tim Ream (Fulham/), Bryan Reynolds (Westerlo), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach/), Auston Trusty (Birmingham City)

Midfielders (7): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Weston McKennie (Leeds United), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Alan Sonora (Juárez), Djordje Mihailovic (AZ Alkmaar)

Forwards (6): Taylor Booth (Utrecht), Daryl Dike (West Bromwich Albion), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Alejandro Zendejas (Club America)

EDIT: Tim Weah (Lille) was originally called up, but exited due to a head injury.

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