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Zaha talks wonder goal, asks whether refs will look out for him

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Wilfried Zaha scored another beauty on Saturday, but his mind was on another necessary part of his game: His health.

[ RECAP: Huddersfield 0-1 Palace ]

“I feel like I’d have to get my leg broken for anyone to get a card,” Zaha said, according to the BBC. “That’s why I lose my head. Why am I getting different treatment from other players? It is every week. I don’t know what to say.”

Zaha and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were joint-most fouled players in the Premier League last season at 2.6 times per game, and that figure was up to 2.8 before Saturday’s 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town.

Not known as a terrible diver, Zaha would still like to see more calls and has been vocal in his displeasure. Now he’s taking it to the microphones.

“I don’t know. I have tried to speak to the referees. there’s nothing I can do any more. It is hard. It doesn’t make you want to go on a run because someone will come through the back of you and it doesn’t allow you to express yourself. At the same time, I have to let my feet do the talking which I did today.”

As for his wonderful solo goal?

“I had one thing in my mind when I went on my run. I don’t think we had many shots but I managed to connect with it well and scored.”

Mourinho accuses journalists of ‘obsession’ with him

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Jose Mourinho is playing games in the media again.

There’s been plenty of talk about Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford in the last few days, with some debating how good he truly is, how much playing time he’s earned, and whether he’s rotting away on the Old Trafford bench. So, the Manchester United manager has resorted to the oldest deflection trick in his book to take the pressure off his young England international – make it all about the boss instead.

When asked if he believes Rashford has earned more playing time after scoring twice for England over the international break, Mourinho gave a sarcastic response, making his feelings towards the media well known. “I think I can expect that Sunday I’m going to be highly criticized for not playing him,” Mourinho said, knowing that Rashford is suspended this weekend due to his sending off last time out, “because some of the boys are really obsessed with me and some of them have a problem with some compulsive lies.”

“I can expect that Sunday some of them will wake up in the morning and the first thing they think is Jose Mourinho, so I can imagine on Sunday I am going to be criticized for not playing Marcus but it’s not my fault, he’s suspended,” Mourinho said. “Probably you should remind them he is suspended and cannot play.”

Mourinho came with a prepared list of statistics he read off to the media highlighting his belief that Rashford has played a significant amount of time. He noted that Rashford eclipsed 3,000 minutes in the 2016/17 season across all competitions, and then accumulated another 2,676 minutes in the 2017/18 season. Last campaign, Rashford made 35 Premier League appearances – 18 of them starts – completing at least 80 minutes just 10 times. He also appeared in all eight of Manchester United’s Champions League games, although he started just three of them and averaged just 43 minutes a game.

The Manchester United boss also took an interesting shot at a trio of Chelsea youngsters who happened to at one time be England youth international teammates of Rashford, seeming to subversively criticize Chelsea’s sparing use of its youth products. “Marcus Rashford is not Dominic Solanke. He is not Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he is not Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He is Marcus Rashford, a Manchester United player, with an incredible number of appearances and an incredible number of minutes played at the highest level in the best possible competitions. So Manchester United supporters, for you and just for you, to know what we are doing with Marcus Rashford, that’s what we are doing here.”

Mourinho says he felt the need to read off numbers because the media doesn’t paint a fair picture of Rashford’s role within the squad.

“But for the Manchester United supporters it is important they have the right idea of how things are in reality but the most important thing of all is that the kid is a good kid, a good player, knows what Manchester United did for him. Since I was here, he was never one day out of selection because of my decision, only if he was injured or suspended. He was never ever out of a selection, so he knows and that’s the most important thing.”

Loftus-Cheek says return to Palace “possible”

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek knows the hurdles he must cross to see playing time at Chelsea, it’s just a matter of execution at this point.

The England midfielder told the media that he has kept in constant contact with Blues manager Maurizio Sarri both while at the club and over the international break, and has specific instructions on how to improve.

“I’ve spoken a lot with Sarri in the past couple of weeks and he’s told me I need to learn tactically and his ways in training,” Loftus-Cheek said ahead of Chelsea’s matchup against Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge. “The quicker I get that then the more opportunities I will get to play.”

Still just 22 years old, Loftus-Cheek spent all of last season on loan at Crystal Palace, and earned a spot on the England World Cup squad. He was fantastic over the summer as Gareth Southgate deployed him in a true two-way central midfield role, utilized in distribution and attacking progression. However, he has yet to earn a consistent place in Sarri’s Chelsea first-team.

“There are a lot of games coming up,” Loftus-Cheek said, “so I think there will be more opportunities coming for players that are not playing every week. But I’m not sure when I am going to play. It is just down to me working hard in training.”

The 22-year-old has 34 career appearances for the Blues, but only six of those have been Premier League starts, and he has completed the full 90 minute in league play just twice. Eventually, playing time may become more important than where it comes from. It’s plausible that Loftus-Cheek could go looking for minutes back at Crystal Palace, as the Eagles have an open domestic loan slot available.  “Possibly, but it is still far away,” Loftus-Cheek said about the possibility of returning to Palace. “There are still a lot of games to play and I just have to see what happens. Right now I am at Chelsea and my focus is at Chelsea and learning at Chelsea. That is in the future and we will deal with that when it comes.”

Shaw, Gomez, McCarthy in latest England squad

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Gareth Southgate has called his first England roster since this summer’s successful World Cup run, with a few changes to the pack.

Manchester United left back Luke Shaw has earned his long-sought Three Lions recall, while Alex McCarthy of Southampton is the lone uncapped player on the 23-man list.

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James Tarkowski of Burnley is in the fold, taking the place of retired Gary Cahill. Manchester United’s Ashley Young and Phil Jones are absent, with Liverpool’s Joe Gomez among the defenders.

Southgate also had this very interesting quote regarding the challenges of an deeply international Premier League:

“I can’t rule out players in the Championship now as our pool is getting smaller and smaller.”

A wink to Jack Grealish or Nick Powell, perhaps, as well as an explanation for the inclusion of Stoke backstop Jack Butland.

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Alex McCarthy (Southampton), Jordan Pickford (Everton).

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea).

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United),  Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

Report: Schalke hoping to snag Loftus-Cheek on loan

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With his immediate future up in the air at Stamford Bridge, a German club could be pouncing on the potential availability of a Chelsea youth product.

According to a report by The Mirror, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is coveted by Schalke and could move to the Bundesliga on loan before the close of the German transfer window on August 31. Even thought the English window has shut, clubs can still offload players, only unable to register new players to sign after the deadline on August 9.

The 22-year-old impressed enough at the youth level to earn a place on Gareth Southgate‘s World Cup squad, and performed well in his limited role this summer. He played in four England matches in Russia, including three starts.

The interest from Schalke would leave Chelsea with a curious decision. While they would love to keep Loftus-Cheek this season given his recent development, they also have a very crowded midfield. The Blues started Ross Barkley at CM in the season opening win over Huddersfield Town, with Jorginho and N'Golo Kante behind the former Everton youngster. They also have Mateo Kovacic on loan from Real Madrid, the currently injured Cesc Fabregas, and Danny Drinkwater in the squad.

Meanwhile, Schalke’s only true central midfielders on the roster are 21-year-old Suat Serdar and 19-year-old American Weston McKinnie. They do have a host of defensive-minded midfielders in Nabil Bentaleb, Omar Mascarell, and Johannes Geis plus a number of midfielders who specialize more on the edges of the pitch.

Loftus-Cheek’s impressive recent development could be hampered if he rotted on the Chelsea bench, and might benefit playing at a club where he could earn European playing time with Schalke taking part in the Champions League this season.

However, according to The Guardian, it’s possible Loftus-Cheek could turn the loan offer down and stay at Chelsea hoping to earn playing time. It would be tough for the England international to leave Chelsea given how much praise manager Maurizio Sarri has received from players for his enjoyable system, but given the benefits of playing in a less crowded squad, he might consider the offer should it arrive.