Willian

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Willian willing to play for free to finish season with Chelsea

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Willian is coming down to the final few months of his contract at Chelsea. In normal circumstances, he’d likely be playing his final three months of the season, before departing for greener pastures in July.

However, due to the global sporting stoppage as a result of the new Coronavirus, Willian, and countless other players may face a situation where their contracts will run out as leagues are trying to finish the current season. According to Willian, he has no problem with that.

 [ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“I want to finish the (season) and be loyal to the club, like they did with me,” Willian said in an interview from home with Esporte Interativo. “As always, I am ready to give the best for my team, whatever my contractual situation, even for free.”

UEFA is reportedly currently considering different options as leagues hope to restart in the future once the spread of the virus is contained. The best case scenario is to finish by June 30, when most contracts in Europe expire, but there could also be the possibility of extending contracts to July 31 or August 31.

It’s a big ethical issue for most players. If their contract is set to run out, or it does in the run up to finishing their season, do they have any motivation to play hard, or play at all? What if the player has been offered a pre-contract at another club, and doesn’t want to lose that opportunity? It’s a huge legal quandary that UEFA and the European leagues will have to handle, if we can even resume the leagues in the first place.

In any case, though, it looks as though Willian is happy to put off a future contract to stay with Chelsea and lead them into a top four position yet again.

In other related news, Willian has reportedly asked Chelsea to go to Brazil to be with his family. The 31-year-old winger has been in quarantine along with the rest of the Chelsea squad for the past week, but with the league now being suspended through at least the end of April, Willian has asked the club if he can leave to return home to spend time with his family.

It’s unclear whether he’d be approved of that request, and the health impacts of his departure. Will he have to be quarantined upon arrival in Brazil, and then return to London in a month or two? There’s plenty of questions that have few answers.

Simulating the 2019/20 Premier League finish

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April 30, am I right?

The Premier League season piledrives forward from August until May most seasons. The pause in this, due to the coronavirus, has left us looking for matches.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

With Liverpool so close to its first Premier League title, uneven giants battling for European places, and three clubs tied for 18th place on the table, well, we needed somewhere to turn.

We went with FIFA20 to see how the table will play out, who will claim the FA Cup, and which Premier League sides might thrive in the Champions League and Europa League.

Let’s follow the path, starting with two postponed matches.

Postponed matches: City pulls back within 22 points of Liverpool, as Mikel Arteta doesn’t come close to outfoxing his old boss Pep Guardiola. Meanwhile, Mbwana Samatta strikes late to steal a point for Villa and pull them within a point of West Ham, Watford, and Bournemouth.

Man City 4-1 Arsenal
Villa 1-1 Sheffield United

Matchday 30: A historic kind of day, as Man City is the only host to win a match. Spurs’ Jose Mourinho gets a draw versus Man Utd, while Liverpool crushes Everton behind a Sadio Mane hat trick.

Norwich City 0-0 Saints
West Ham 0-1 Wolves
Bournemouth 2-2 Palace
Brighton 1-2 Arsenal
Everton 1-3 Liverpool
Spurs 1-1 Man Utd
Villa 0-2 Chelsea
Watford 1-2 Leicester City
Newcastle 1-1 Sheffield United
Man City 2-0 Burnley

Matchday 31: Arsenal moves four points clear of Spurs, who fall to an inspired West Ham. The Irons pull out of the drop zone… for good.

Newcastle 2-0 Villa
Burnley 0-0 Watford
Wolves 2-1 Bournemouth
Liverpool 2-0 Palace
Leicester City 3-0 Brighton
Norwich City 1-1 Everton
Spurs 0-2 West Ham
Southampton 1-3 Arsenal
Man Utd 3-0 Sheff Utd
Chelsea 2-4 Man City

Matchday 32: Liverpool wins the league in stunning style. A draw is all the Reds need to take the trophy. Raheem Sterling gives City a 1-0 lead in the first half, only to see a Trent Alexander-Arnold free kick supply the league-winning point.

Nigel Pearson‘s Hornets move out of the drop zone with 31 points.

West Ham 1-2 Chelsea
Arsenal 4-1 Norwich
Everton 1-0 Leicester City
Palace 2-0 Burnley
Brighton 1-5 Man Utd
Bournemouth 0-3 Newcastle
Watford 2-1 Saints
Man City 1-1 Liverpool
Sheffield United 1-2 Spurs
Villa 0-4 Wolves

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images,)

Matchday 33: Norwich City gets within a win of Brighton by beating them at home behind an Emi Buendia penalty. Arsenal draws Wolves to pull within three points of the top five.

Burnley 2-1 Sheff Utd
Leicester City 2-2 Palace
Saints 1-5 Man City
Spurs 0-3 Everton
Wolves 1-1 Arsenal
Liverpool 4-0 Villa
Norwich 2-1 Brighton
Newcastle 2-2 West Ham
Man Utd 0-0 Bournemouth
Chelsea 4-0 Watford

Matchday 34: It’s getting congested in the top four, with third-place Leicester winless in four following a loss at Arsenal. Palace draws Chelsea, allowing victorious Wolves and Manchester United to pull within two points of fourth.

Norwich City wins again, passing Aston Villa and joining 18th-place Brighton on 29 points.

Sheffield United 0-2 Wolves
Watford 1-2 Norwich City
West Ham 4-1 Burnley
Bournemouth 2-0 Spurs
Everton 2-2 Saints
Man City 3-1 Newcastle
Palace 0-0 Chelsea
Arsenal 1-0 Leicester City
Brighton 0-2 Liverpool
Villa 0-2 Man Utd

Matchday 35: Sheffield United snaps a four-match losing streak with a draw against Chelsea, but the top seven hopes are dead.

Burnley takes a point at Anfield as City moves back within 20 of the Reds.

Brighton 1-4 Man City
Norwich City 1-2 West Ham
Villa 1-1 Palace
Watford 2-3 Newcastle
Wolves 2-1 Everton
Spurs 0-2 Arsenal
Sheffield United 1-1 Chelsea
Bournemouth 1-2 Leicester City
Man Utd 2-1 Southampton
Liverpool 1-1 Burnley

Matchday 36: Villa surprises Everton to move within a result of safety in a five-horse race to avoid the drop. Chelsea, Manchester United, and Wolves all win to hit the 62-point mark, two back of third-place Leicester City.

Leicester City 0-0 Sheffield United
Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool
Everton 1-2 Villa
Man City 3-0 Bournemouth
Newcastle 0-4 Spurs
Burnley 0-2 Wolves
Chelsea 3-0 Norwich City
West Ham 2-0 Watford
Palace 0-2 Man Utd
Saints 1-1 Brighton

Matchday 37: All of the top five combatants stumble except Wolves, who jump into third with a win over Crystal Palace at the Molineux.

Spurs 2-0 Leicester City
Wolves 2-0 Palace
Brighton 0-4 Newcastle
Bournemouth 0-3 Southampton
Villa 0-3 Arsenal
Sheffield United 0-3 Everton
Norwich City 0-2 Burnley
Man Utd 1-1 West Ham
Watford 1-3 Man City
Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea

Matchday 38: Talk about a dramatic final day, all things considered!

Manchester United gets a leaping Bruno Fernandes penalty to send Leicester City tumbling into sixth despite most of the season in the top three! The Red Devils climb into third because of what happens at Stamford Bridge.

Hosts Chelsea need a win over Wolves to take back fourth, as the visitors enter the day three points ahead with a one-goal advantage in differential. Christian Pulisic sets up a Willian winner to give Chelsea fourth by virtue of total wins (19).

Liverpool takes the league with a 2-0 defeat of Newcastle at St. James’ Park, completing the season with a 20-point advantage on Man City. Arsenal completes the European picture, havng been settled in seventh for some time.

The relegation scene is pretty nuts, with five teams finishing the day within three points of the bottom. All five lose, with Bournemouth and Watford staying up despite season-ending losing streaks. Nigel Pearson’s Hornets finish the season with 31 points, the same total they had after Matchday 32.

Arsenal 3-0 Watford
Burnley 2-1 Brighton
Chelsea 1-0 Wolves
Palace 2-1 Spurs
Everton 3-0 Bournemouth
Leicester City 0-1 Man Utd
Man City 1-0 Norwich City
Newcastle 0-2 Liverpool
Saints 3-1 Sheffield United
West Ham 3-1 Villa

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

STANDINGS

  1. Liverpool — 105 points (UCL)
  2. Man City — 85 points
  3. Man Utd — 66 points (UCL)
  4. Chelsea — 65 points (UCL)
  5. Wolves — 65 points (UCL)
  6. Leicester City — 64 points. (UEL)
  7. Arsenal — 62 points (UEL)
  8. Spurs — 51 points (UEL)
  9. Everton — 51 points
  10. Burnley — 50 points
  11. Crystal Palace — 49 points
  12. Newcastle United — 49 points
  13. Sheffield United — 47 points
  14. West Ham United — 44 points
  15. Southampton — 43 points
  16. Bournemouth — 32 points
  17. Watford — 31 points
  18. Brighton and Hove Albion — 30 points
  19. Aston Villa — 30 points
  20. Norwich City –29 points

FA Cup: A Manchester derby ends 4-0 to City, Leroy Sane scoring twice to join Gabriel Jesus and Aymeric Laporte on the score sheet. Two assists each for Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez.

Europa League: Manchester United gave Roma permission to use loanee Chris Smalling, and the defender powers a 13th-minute header home that stands until Anthony Martial delivers a goal three minutes from time. David De Gea is the star in penalty kicks, as United wins 4-3.

UEFA Champions League:  Pep Guardiola leads Man City into its final UCL game for two seasons, and it’s against his old pals Barcelona. Quique Setien’s side flusters City’s attack, and Lionel Messi wins it at the hour mark for the Blaugranas.

Barcelona prepared to meet $124M release clause for Martinez

Barcelona
Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images
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Lautaro Martinez’s incredible season is paying off big time for Inter Milan.’

The Serie A side reportedly resisted big money overtures from Barcelona this summer, pointing to his approximate $124 million release clause.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Now Barca is said to be prepared to meet that clause in order to land Martinez.

Football-Espana says that a cash-plus-player deal is the other option. Barca would be willing to send Arturo Vidal or Ivan Rakitic, while Antonio Conte would prefer Nelson Semedo or Arthur.

Signing the 22-year-old Argentine could help sate the concern of countryman Lionel Messi, who’s watched Barca fail to provide him adequate reinforcements as Real Madrid stockpiled young talent. Messi was reportedly disappointed that the Blaugranas failed to pony up for Neymar this summer.

Martinez has 16 goals and four assists in 31 matches this season, including a goal against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

He’s Inter’s second-leading scorer behind Romelu Lukaku, and the Serie A side has nine points insulation on the UCL chasing pack with a match-in-hand.

Barca is going to have get rid of some players to pay big for Martinez, with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele challenging the club on different levels. And who knows who else may want to leave Barcelona given its messy season (maybe really messy is a better choice)?

Lampard reacts to Chelsea’s win v. Everton

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Frank Lampard was a happy man after Chelsea recorded their biggest Premier League win under his guidance.

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An injury-hit Blues side hammered Everton 4-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and the game was over early in the second half as Lampard’s side eased to victory.

Speaking to the media after the game, Frank Lampard praised the focus of his team after a great week which saw them beat Liverpool in the FA Cup on Wednesday and then dish out a pasting to Everton to cement their spot in the top four.

“The whole attitude and focus of the team felt really strong today after Liverpool. There was pure focus in the group. Maybe the injuries helped out in that respect. The application was spot on. Now we have to work to show we can finish the season strongly,” Lampard said.

Lampard described the win as Chelsea’s ‘most complete’ home display of the season as they kept a clean sheet and for once finished off many of the chances they created. In truth a 6-0 scoreline wouldn’t have flattered them as Olivier Giroud held the ball up superbly and the likes of Billy Gilmour, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount, Pedro and Willian were always threats breaking from midfield.

Chelsea are now five points clear of fifth-place Wolves with nine games of the season to go and finishing in the top four would be a magnificent achievement for Lampard and his young side given their transfer ban for the first half of the season, injuries hitting them hard and a huge dip in form over the last few months.

The most impressive thing about this pivotal week for Chelsea has been their hunger and desire to win the ball back and make runs into the final third. With injuries to Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, Mateo Kovacic and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Lampard has been forced to shuffle his pack and it has resulted in increased intensity in Chelsea’s display.

The aforementioned quartet may struggle to get back in this Chelsea team when they are fit as Lampard has found a formula which works. With tough games against Liverpool and Man City remaining in their last nine games, the other seven look winnable and Chelsea’s youngsters look rejuvenated.

Chelsea smash sorry Everton

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Chelsea battered Everton 4-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday to cement their spot in the top four of the Premier League table.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Frank Lampard‘s side were rampant from start to finish as Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud all scored and in truth the 4-0 scoreline flattered an extremely lackluster Everton side as Carlo Ancelotti did not enjoy his return to Chelsea.

With the win, their biggest in the Premier League under Lampard, Chelsea opened up a five-point gap to fifth-place Wolves and are now just two points off Leicester who are in third place. Everton are in 12th place on 37 points.


3 things we learned

1. Chelsea’s defensive work ethic the difference: Buoyed by their midweek FA Cup win against Liverpool, Chelsea were flying from the start and never let up. Going forward they ripped Everton apart but one of the most impressive things about this display was how hard they worked to win the ball back. Injuries have hit them hard but the so-called ‘second string’ players performed well and their hunger and desire to make the most of slip ups by Wolves and Spurs this weekend spurred them on to cement their place in the top four. Champions League qualification for this young side under Lampard would be a fine season, especially after their considerable slump over the last few months.

2. Giroud, Gilmour make everything tick: Billy Gilmour was starting his first Premier League game and is 18 years old. It looked like it was his 200th PL game and he was 30. The “Irn-Bru Iniesta” has taken his chance with Kovacic injured and Jorginho suspended and he has shown Lampard he can do it in back-to-back games against Liverpool and Everton. As for Giroud, well, he scored and was influential in the attacking unit as his hold-up play knitted the attack together. Without so many first-choice players, Gilmour and Giroud made sure everything went very smoothly for Chelsea.

3. Everton shambolic: Chelsea were very good but Everton were woeful. Carlo Ancelotti had a face like thunder on the sidelines throughout as the Toffees stood off Chelsea, gave them too much respect and didn’t deserve anything. They are still in the battle for the Europa League spots but any faint hopes they had of pushing themselves into the Champions League places are now gone. This was a reality check for Everton who weren’t nasty enough to disrupt Chelsea’s rhythm.

Man of the Match: Billy Gilmour – The Scottish midfielder had the most touches on the pitch and look so calm and assured in possession. A star in the making. Willian also played extremely well but Gilmour gets the nod.


Chelsea came flying out of the traps and Mount fired a superb volley just wide as Everton couldn’t handle the pace of the Blues attack.

Moments later Mount scored a fine goal as he controlled, turned and finish all in one motion to send Stamford Bridge wild as the 21-year-old scored his first goal since Dec. 4.

Wave after wave of Chelsea attack then arrived as Willian was set free but his low drive was denied by Jordan Pickford but Everton didn’t learn their lesson.

Giroud held up the ball and played it back to Barkley who sent a perfect through ball to Pedro who was clean through and finished with ease to give Chelsea a deserved 2-0 lead.

Moments later Everton were almost gifted a way back into the game as Kurt Zouma was caught in possession by Richarlison who teed up Calvert-Lewin but the in-form striker clipped the ball wide of the post as a great chance came and went for the Toffees.

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The same pattern continued in the second half as Willian drilled home a low shot from distance after being given too much space from the Everton defense.

Pedro then had a shot deflected just over as Chelsea poured forward time and time again and from that resulting corner they made it 4-0 as Giroud flicked home at the back post.

Pickford then denied Pedro a second goal of the game with a fine stop as Everton were stunned and Chelsea eased to an extremely important victory.