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Chelsea’s Conte belittles Tottenham’s title hopes

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Antonio Conte may have just provided Tottenham’s players with some inspirational material to pin up in their dressing room for the Premier League’s run-in.

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Ahead of Chelsea’s game against Manchester City on Wednesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) Conte discussed the expectation levels for Chelsea and their London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

With Chelsea leading the way in the PL and having a seven-point lead over Spurs heading into the final weeks of the season — that lead can be cut to just one point by the time they kick off on Saturday evening at Bournemouth if results go against them — it’s safe to say Conte doesn’t believe Spurs will be long-term threats to Chelsea’s success.

“I think the difference between Chelsea and Tottenham is this: if you stay in Chelsea and win it’s normal. If you stay in Tottenham, if you win it’s great, great, but if you lose… it’s not a disaster, no? Not a disaster,”Conte said. “Because you find a lot of situations to explain a good season. But, I repeat, in this season, us and Tottenham stay in the same level. Chelsea were underdogs at the start of the season, but now we are top and we want to keep this position.”

It wasn’t the most brutal of comments from the calm, collected figure Conte usually is in front of the media but it was a little reminder to Tottenham’s fans of their aspirations. Chelsea spend more money, have won more trophies and are in a better position than Spurs to win the league this season. All of this we can all accept.

Conte has praised Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham throughout this campaign and there is undoubtedly respect between the duo. Yet reading between the lines Conte’s comments are intriguing for a man who doesn’t usually get involved in mind games in the media room. Is the pressure starting to build on him after Chelsea’s shock loss to Crystal Palace and a tough test ahead against Man City?

For Spurs, Pochettino’s young side are on a roll, securing the most points in 2017 in the PL and with Harry Kane and Danny Rose to return from injury soon they may just make this title race interesting if they can keep winning and Chelsea slip up against Man City, Bournemouth this weekend and then with a tough trip to Everton to come.

It’s true that the chips are still heavily stacked in Chelsea and Conte’s favor but this kind of comment may just the kind of thing thrown back at the Italian boss if Chelsea somehow collapse and it is Spurs who pip them to the PL title this season.

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Long-term absentee Santi Cazorla will leave Arsenal

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Santi Cazorla hasn’t played a match for the Gunners since suffering a gruesome Achilles injury back in October 2016.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Spanish Chelsea trio ]

And unfortunately for the Spaniard, Cazorla won’t feature for Arsenal again after six years at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal released a statement on Monday revealing the veteran midfielder won’t return to the club in 2018/19, which isn’t unexpected given the extent of his injury.

In his time with the Gunners, Cazorla made 180 appearances in all competitions for the club, and helped Arsenal win two FA Cups.

Cazorla was also a member of the Spanish national team squads that won back-to-back UEFA EURO competitions in 2008 and 2012.

Wolfsburg keeps Bundesliga spot with playoff win

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Wolfsburg managed a 1-0 win (4-1 on aggregate) over Holstein Kiel on Monday in the second leg of its German promotion playoff as the Bundesliga side kept its place in the top flight.

Robin Knoche scored the game-winner in the second leg, which ensured Wolfsburg’s stay in the Bundesliga ahead of the 2017/18 season.

The hosts boasted a number of quality chances in the first half, including David Kinsombi’s close-range shot that tested Wolfsburg keeper Koen Casteels with a save, however, Holstein couldn’t break through.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender John Brooks went the full 90 minutes for Wolfsburg, after the 25-year-old made nine starts this season for the German side in league play.