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England playmaker Joe Cole retires

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Joe Cole has announced his retirement from the game at the age of 37.

Cole won 56 caps for England, scoring 10 times for the Three Lions, as he became a Premier League star with West Ham United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

He made 716 appearances in his career, scoring 104 goals.

The silky midfielder won three Premier League titles, a League Cup and two FA Cups with Chelsea and excelled at the 2006 World Cup for England before injuries hit his career hard.

A second spell at West Ham, plus time at Lille, Aston Villa and Coventry City followed in Europe before he moved to the U.S. in 2016 to play for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL and USL. He has recently played and coached with the Rowdies in Florida and hinted at moving into coaching as his next step.

A graduate of West Ham’s academy, Cole released the following statement on social media.

“After 20 years as a professional, the time has come for me to hang up my boots. It has been a dream come true. All of it,” Cole said. “My favorite thing about being a professional footballer was the feeling you enjoy after coming back into the dressing room after a win. It will be difficult to replicate that but I’ll always remember all of my former team-mates who I shared that experience with. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have played with some of the very best players of my era and even more fortunate to call a lot of them friends.

“As a fan, I loved watching wholehearted, skilful players and this is what inspired me. I remembered what was special for me when I was sitting in the stands watching games and I tried to replicate this. I hope I was able to do this for some of the fans and people who have watched my games over the years. Winning trophies at Chelsea was particularly special for me. Those memories will live with me forever, as will the chance I had to share them with my family.”

Cole was truly one of the most gifted players England has ever produced and at Chelsea during Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge, and under Carlo Ancelotti, he was a huge part of their all-conquering teams. Cole played in the UEFA Champions League final for Chelsea in 2008 as they lost to Manchester United on penalty kicks in Moscow.

The Londoner had tricks and flicks galore but he often delivered goals and assists at crucial moments and he could play out wide just as comfortable as he was in central areas.

He will be remembered as a maverick with the ball at his feet and he certainly brought enjoyment to fans across the world with stunning goals and sublime pieces of skill.

2 Robbies: Manchester Derby, Liverpool win, draws for Chelsea, Arsenal

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle look back at a defining derby match between Man City and Man United (00:30), Liverpool’s comfortable win against Fulham (25:45), the stalemate between Chelsea and Everton (31:30) and a hard fought match between Arsenal and Wolves (41:30).

[ VIDEO: An unprecedented goal ]

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Sarri reacts to setting record, Chelsea’s scoreless draw

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Maurizio Sarri is the first manager to start life in the Premier League with a 12-match unbeaten run, but that’s only bringing a little comfort to the Chelsea boss following a scoreless draw with Everton at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

[ MORE: No Pogba for Man Utd ]

The Blues are set to finish the day below Liverpool and Manchester City, and Sarri credits that to a slow start (although the first half was much more about baiting or being baited by Everton in a series of hard fouls).

“I think we have to sort out the problem of the approach of the match because in the last two or three matches we haven’t been approaching the games right,” Sarri said.

As for the streak, Sarri credits what was provided to him by Chelsea when he arrived at the Bridge.

“I am very proud of my record, but I have to say thank you to the club because they gave me a strong squad and I have to say thank you to the players and the staff. I am happy with everything but I would have preferred the three points.”

Chelsea goes to Tottenham after the international break and has a big visit from Manchester City on Dec. 8. That doesn’t leave much time to get the Blues sorted to fire at will.

Watch Live: Chelsea vs. Everton

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Maurizio Sarri‘s Chelsea looks to go atop the Premier League table with a win over rising Everton on Sunday at Stamford Bridge (Watch live at 9:15 a.m. ET and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Alvaro Morata starts up top for the Blues, who will have Pedro and Olivier Giroud amongst their reinforcements on the bench.

Everton has Richarlison up top a dangerous attack.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Hazard, Morata. Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Zappacosta, Fabregas, Barkley, Pedro, Giroud.

Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gueye, Gomes, Walcott, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Richarlison. Subs: Stekelenburg, Baines, Jagielka, Davies, Lookman, Calvert-Lewin, Tosun.

Chelsea’s Hazard feeling ‘wear and tear’ of frequent fouling

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The best, most skillful players are always the ones who suffer the greatest physical harm by way of constantly being fouled, so it’s little wonder Eden Hazard admits to “feeling the wear and tear” as he approaches his 28th birthday.

[ SUNDAY PREVIEW: Manchester derby; Chelsea, Liverpool go for 12 ]

Hazard ranks second among the most frequently fouled players in the Premier League — behind only Wilfried Zaha, who has played more minutes — over the past two-plus seasons (since 2016-17). First Zaha, and now Hazard, have made public pleas for referees to better protect players from frequent, hard fouling, even in the game’s opening seconds or minutes — quotes from the Guardian:

“For me that would be better. For the referee, though, it can be hard to show a yellow card in the first minute. Everywhere it is the same for me.”

“I’m 27 now and starting to get older, so I have to take more care of my body. I am feeling the wear and tear. I have been playing football as a professional for more than 10 years now. It is part of the game, I guess. I am not happy but it’s part of football. The referee tries to do his job and I try to do mine. I guess when I am on the floor I can win free kicks, so every free kick with Chelsea is a chance to score more goals.”

To Hazard’s point, he has missed plenty of time over the years due to various mildly serious injuries. Fortunately for the Belgian superstar, he’s managed to avoid the kind of serious, career-threatening injury that might otherwise rob the world of his brilliant play-making and goal-scoring talent.