Conte enjoys first Chelsea victory as new identity develops

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LONDON – Chelsea’s new manager Antonio Conte jumped into the stands to celebrate with the home fans at Stamford Bridge as his managerial debut in the Premier League ended in dramatic, glorious fashion.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Diego Costa calmly found the bottom corner of the net in the 89th minute to send Conte and Chelsea’s fans wild, as the Italian manager marked his opening game as a coach in England with a memorable moment and three points in a 2-1 win against West Ham United.

[ MORE: Bilic plays down Costa incident ]

Speaking to reporters after the game, Conte revealed the moment he walked out at the Bridge was just as special as when he saw Costa’s low shot hit the back of the net.

“It was fantastic,” Conte said. “I have to say thanks to Chelsea’s fans because the welcome was fantastic. To see the Italian flag in the stand, I had a bit of emotion with me and my wife and my daughter. It was fantastic, this welcome. I hope that with the work with my players, to repay this welcome.”

New signing N’Golo Kante improved as the game wore on for Chelsea and Conte made a point of going up to the French international midfielder and hugging him at the final whistle.

ProSoccerTalk asked Conte about Kante and the Italian midfielder revealed just how important he is to the Blues.

N'Golo Kante is a great player, a great buy and is important for the team,” Conte told ProSoccerTalk. “He is a player who has a good technique but fantastic stamina. He is able to cover a lot of space in the pitch and he is able to help always the teammates. We are happy for his performance but I am happy with the performance of all the Chelsea players.”

It wasn’t just Kante he hugged at the final whistle, he hugged most of his Chelsea players as the passionate former Juventus and Italy boss is already showing signs of fostering a real togetherness with his players after just a few months in charge.

That new identity and fast counter-attacking style is already developing.

“I think every manager, when he arrives at a new club, he tries to bring his football philosophy. We are working only one month with the players but I am pleased. Tonight I saw the right intensity and the players always tried to find the situation that we can find during the training session,” Conte said. “It is important to bring something different compared to last season. I think every manager brings his football philosophy. For this reason, I am very happy for the behavior and attitude of the players. They are putting themselves in the team. I think to have a great team this is important. The players with great talent have to put themselves in the team.”

Chelsea played a 4-1-4-1 formation with Eden Hazard cutting in from the left and Willian dangerous on the right. Nemanja Matic and Oscar played just in front of Kante and Conte was incessantly screaming at his central midfield duo to get on the ball and turn as soon as they could. Costa delivered the winning moment and has boss said that he didn’t feel like his striker deserved a second yellow for a late challenge on West Ham’s Adrian late in the game. Conte, of course, praised Costa’s passion as the Spanish international dug deep to grab Chelsea the win.

Fast transitions when winning the ball back are one of Conte’s most recognizable traits and that was evident from his Chelsea team on his PL bow.

ProSoccerTalk asked West Ham’s manager what he thought of Chelsea under Conte and the Croatian manager was mightily impressed with what his counterpart has created in just a few weeks at in west London.

“I was impressed,” Bilic revealed. “We started better the first 15 minutes but then it was exactly what we expected, for them to be on their toes and be aggressive and to use that individual class, especially on the half counter attacks in a situation where we lost the ball and gave the ball to them in a part of the pitch where you simply can’t do it. It was a very energetic Chelsea.”

Chelsea could be set to add to their squad too, with Conte revealing the club is working hard behind-the-scenes to try and bring in new players, while he revealed he is “happy” with Cesc Fabregas’ attitude despite the Spaniard being named on the bench but not brought on against the Hammers.

The likes of Romelu Lukaku have been linked with a $80 million move to Chelsea and Conte called the current market “crazy” as they look around for new additions.

“About the transfer policy, it is important to have a contact every day with the club. This is a very crazy market. Very crazy. The club knows my idea. It is important to find the right solution to improve this team. Not to buy only for buying,” Conte said. “Now we are awaiting for the right solution to improve the team but I am very happy to have these players because they show me every day great attitude, great work rate, great behavior. I am very glad. With two weeks until the end of the transfer market, we pay attention and if we find the right solution to improve the team it is okay.”

UEL, LIVE — Man Utd, Wolves faces Kazakh, Portuguese opposition

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The Europa League group stage begins play on Thursday, with Arsenal in Germany and taking care of 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt.

A younger Arsenal took the lead on a deflected shot from Man of the Match candidate Joe Willock, before Bukayo Saka took the MOTM mantle with a late goal and assist.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Manchester United and Wolves are set to kick-off their respective matches against Astana and Braga at 3 p.m. ET.

Lineups are out for both sides. United will be very young against Kazakh side Astana ahead of a Sunday visit to West Ham United, while Wolves start Raul Jimenez and Patrick Cutrone up top in Portugal versus Braga.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow

Top Premier League storylines: Week 6

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Of the seven Premier League sides to handle midweek Europeans challenges, only two face-off and that predictably is the hallmark of the weekend in England.

[ MORE: Silva to Inter Miami? ]

What else is cooking? Smell the aromas of the weekend ahead, below.


How will Frank Lampard attack Liverpool?

  • Chelsea v. Liverpool, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The Blues’ 5-2 defeat at Wolves last week did not help spin a win over Valencia in the Champions League, and Frank Lampard’s next chance to make a statement comes against a team that is perfect in PL play and finds itself licking its wounds from a subpar performance at Napoli. Can a very fresh Christian Pulisic make the difference for Chelsea? Will Callum Hudson-Odoi take the positive vibes from his new contract and solid PL2 appearance into the fray?


Will Fernandinho help stabilize Man City against improving Watford?

  • Man City v. Watford, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

City went to Ukraine and blanked Shakhtar Donetsk with Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho at center back, and the Brazilian center midfielder says he’s been preparing for his possibility for some time. If Watford looks anything like it looked in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal, we could see a very decent test for City’s back line.


Weary Spurs get top-half test from Leicester City

  • Leicester City v. Tottenham Hotspur, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Inconsistent Tottenham meets a Leicester City side with Top Six ambitions, licking its wounds from a 1-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford which probably deserved a point. Spurs aren’t feeling great following another blown 2-0 lead in a big spot away from home. How will they react in Leicester?


Will Solskjaer’s midweek rest risk reap rewards on Sunday?

  • West Ham United v. Manchester United, Sunday, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to hand heavy minutes to youngsters and second-choice players against Kazakh side Astana on Thursday at Old Trafford. Will that pay off when trying to stop Sebastien Haller, Felipe Anderson, and Manuel Pellegrini‘s Irons on Sunday morning?


Early season six-pointer at St. James’ Park

  • Newcastle United v. Brighton and Hove Albion, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Look, it’s Week Six and normally we’d say anything can happen in a Premier League season, but let’s be reasonable: If you’re looking at the teams for Newcastle and Brighton, this result will matter as many as any down the stretch in determining Premier League status for 2019/20.

Hudson-Odoi signs new deal with Chelsea

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Man, is Bayern Munich gonna feel like it wasted its time.

Chelsea starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi has re-upped with the Premier League side to the tune of five more years, inking a deal through at least the 2023-24 season.

[ MORE: Silva to Inter Miami? ]

Hudson-Odoi, 18, made his breakthrough with Chelsea last season and was heavily recruited by the German giants.

He joins Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic as young wingers committed to the club for the long-term, but is still away from the Blues first team after an achilles tear late last season. He registered an assist in 61 minutes for Chelsea’s PL2 side last week.

Here’s manager Frank Lampard, via ChelseaFC.com:

“I have seen Callum come through and he’s a fantastic talent. He is going to be central for us on the pitch and that is the opportunity in front of him now. There are things as a young player that he will want to improve but he can be central to this team and for England. I want to work with him, I want to drive him forward and I want to improve him as a player.”

Hudson-Odoi has five goals and five assists in 28 appearances for the Blues and isn’t 19 until November.

American eyes can’t help but wonder how this will affect Christian Pulisic, himself a big investment for Chelsea. One thing’s for sure: Chelsea has depth on the wings.

Report: Man City’s David Silva in ‘likely’ Inter Miami move

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Arguably the greatest player in Manchester City history could become the first star player of Inter Miami.

That’s the story coming out of England, where The Independent reports that David Silva will “likely” join Inter Miami CF for its inaugural MLS run in 2020.

It’s well-known that Silva is leaving Man City this summer after one last-go at his first UEFA Champions League title.

[ MORE: Man City bests Shakhtar ]

David Beckham has been recruiting some of the top names in the game, and has been linked with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Silva, 33, checks all the boxes. The Spanish star won two EUROs and a World Cup, and is still playing at a very high level. He has five assists in six matches for City this season.

If healthy, it would be foolish to expect anything but dominance out of Silva, though beware the think pieces out there about how he “might find it tougher than he thinks.” We’re talking about a world beater who posted 10 goals and 14 assists for City last season.

Even at his age, he’d carry one of the top resumes of any player to join Major League Soccer (Beckham, Steven Gerrard, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic would like a word).

He has 71 goals and 134 assists in 402 matches for City, and would eventually line up against fellow City Football Group club NYCFC.