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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.

In-form Morata leads Chelsea past Palace

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  • Chelsea lead 1-0 at break through Morata
  • Sides split last season series
  • Blues go 2nd

Alvaro Morata scored in each half as Chelsea overcame a second half scare to waltz past Crystal Palace 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday

Pedro scored Chelsea’s other goal to put the Blues second on the table, two points back of Man City and ahead of Liverpool on goal differential.

Andros Townsend scored Palace’s goal as the Eagles stay 14th with eight points.

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Wilfried Zaha showed some threat inside the Chelsea box in the third minute, but that was the visitors only moment of real early threat (and even possession).

Chelsea knocked on the door over the next stanza of play before Morata knocked it off its hinges when Pedro bounced a pass to the top of the six.

The second half was Chelsea with a wealth of possession and dominance, only to be undone in a way that defines the cliche “out of nothing.”

Townsend got past David Luiz and onto a James McArthur through ball to stun the Blues with a 53rd minute drive.

Luiz tried to make amends when an on-target header in the 63rd minute, but Wayne Hennessey pushed it out for a corner. Luiz popped the ensuing header over the table.

Morata continued his redemption tour of sorts with a smooth finish across goal in the 66th minute, Eden Hazard getting an assist moments after subbing into the game.

Pedro scored minutes later, and Morata missed a hat trick in stoppage time when his chipped breakaway attempt failed to clear Hennessey’s reach.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Reports: Martinez the new front runner for Real Madrid job

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Florentino Perez likes to make a splash, but appears to be taking a measured approach when it comes to appointing the next big name to run Real Madrid.

Former Champions League winner Santiago Solari is currently running things for Perez, as Real looks to steady its ship following the firing of Julen Lopetegui.

[ MORE: To Real Madrid from the NCAA ]

But a new name has emerged in multiple reports, and like Antonio Conte it was also be familiar to Premier League fans.

Claims that the Real Madrid room isn’t too keen on Conte, have been followed up by some clued-in folks saying Belgium boss and former Everton manager Roberto Martinez could be the free-flowing man to get Real out of ninth place in La Liga.

With Real continuing to chase the signature of Eden Hazard, hiring his Belgium boss could help sway the Chelsea man the way of the Bernabeu. And considering how things ended with Conte, the Italian’s hiring would have the opposite effect.

Europa League preview: Arsenal’s biggest test yet; Chelsea to rest stars

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Arsenal has a very tricky few days ahead of itself, facing the toughest test of its Europa League group stage before returning home for a London Derby against Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Champions League Weds. wrap ]

A trip to Sporting Lisbon is first, with Bruno Fernandes and Nani poised to knock Arsenal of its perch atop Group E. Both sides have defeated Vorskla Poltava and both have knocked off Qarabag, with Arsenal leading its Portuguese opponents on goal difference.

Unai Emery is very, very focused on Thursday. From Arsenal.com:

“This is a very, very big match and important for our confidence and to try to continue working tactically on the things  with the players with a lot of respect for them. We want to win against Sporting.”

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is keeping the Premier League fixtures in the forefront as his Blues host BATE Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday.

The Blues will face Burnley at Turf Moor, and will be looking to keep their undefeated league record in tact following a 2-2 draw with Manchester United. Sarri will be giving some rest to his stars’ legs. From ChelseaFC.com:

“We need to think and be careful. For instance Jorginho needs to rest now as he played two 90 minutes in two match for the Italy national team and then nearly 100 minutes in our last game, so it is time to rest for him. Tomorrow Eden Hazard is out for sure. He has a back problem,’ the boss continued. ‘We are trying to solve the problem for Sunday,’.”

Other key matches include Celtic seeking a big result at RB Leipzig, AC Milan and Real Betis squaring off for Group F’s driver’s seat, and Rangers hosting Russian opposition in a bid to keep up a surprise run through Group G.

Elsewhere

12:55 p.m. ET kickoffs
AC Milan vs. Real Betis
Copenhagen vs. Slavia Prague
Zenit Saint-Petersburg vs. Bordeaux
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Rosenborg
Zurich vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Anderlecht vs. Fenerbahce
Sporting Lisbon vs. Arsenal
F91 Dudelange vs. Olympiacos
Qarabag vs. Vorskla Poltava
AEK Larnaca vs. Ludogorets Razgrad
Spartak Trnava vs. Dinamo Zagreb
RB Leipzig vs. Celtic

3 p.m. ET
Villarreal vs. Rapid Vienna
Sevilla vs. Akhisar Belediyespor
Marseille vs. Lazio
Rennes vs. Dynamo Kiev
PAOK vs. MOL Vidi
Standard Liege vs. FC Krasnodar
Chelsea vs. BATE Borisov
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Apollon Limassol
Besiktas vs. Genk
Jablonec vs. Astana
Sarpsborg vs. Malmo
Rangers vs. Spartak Moscow

Mourinho admits criticism, rumors have taken toll on him

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Jose Mourinho has two ears and a heart, which means two things.

  1. He probably likes Phil Collins.
  2. He’s stung by rumors and the media’s criticism.

The Manchester United manager opened up a bit ahead of his latest return to Stamford Bridge, talking a bit about Chelsea and also what the last few weeks of rumors have been like for him.

[ PL PREVIEW: Huddersfield vs. Liverpool ]

Those weeks including rumors of his being fired, and of an impending firing win, lose, or draw against Newcastle (The Red Devils came back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2).

“No I am not happy,” said Mourinho. “Honestly I am not happy. But if somebody has to be the man, I’d prefer it to be myself than my players. Yes it bothers me, because I am a man like you are.”

Mourinho had his problems at Chelsea, too, especially when Eden Hazard went off the boil for a season. And hearing Mourinho speak about the Belgian wizard is a bit like hearing his recent takes about Paul Pogba.

“He was a good kid in my time and now he is a good man, three or four years more maturity he was a kid and now is a man,” Mourinho said. “I think he knows how good he is. I think he knows how much he can influence the destiny of his team in the course of a season.”

“In my first season he was voted the best player in the Premier League and the team was champion. In my second season he was not very good, but we were not very good. Then Antonio comes, he was the best player in the Premier League and they won the title again, and he knows that with his talent he can influence the destiny of his team.”

Fair to draw that line?