Mourinho rules out internationals

Jose Mourinho expects that he will return to management this summer, but he is ruling out taking a step into international football next.

The Portuguese was sacked by Manchester United in December following a poor start to the season by the Red Devils.

He says he already dismissed "three or four" job offers since he departed Old Trafford and is preparing himself for the next move of his career.

Having managed Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid before taking the reins at Man United for two and a half year, the two-time Champions League-winning boss says he knows exactly what type of job he'll be accepting next.

"I would like to be back in the summer in June for a new club and a new pre-season," he told BeIn Sports.

"I know exactly what I don't want. I know what I want, in terms of not the specific club but the nature of the job, the dimension of the job."

Mourinho was linked with a return to Madrid recently before Zinedine Zidane returned for a second stint at the Bernabeu, though he has since stated he didn't hold talks with the Spanish giants about a return.

Mourinho says he misses "nothing at all" but is "not on holiday or bored with nothing to do" before adding: "I am working, preparing myself for the next one."

His former Manchester United side are 20/1 to win the Champions League this season ahead of their quarter-final showdown with Barcelona. Man City meanwhile are 9/4 to give Pep Guardiola more European glory, with Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo 10/3.

One move Mourinho says he won't be making is a step into international football, as he prefers the day-to-day nature of club football.

Asked whether he would be managing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, he said: "I don't think so. I like daily football, daily work, many competitions. I like matches and I want to stay in football club level."

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Kovacic looking for fine finale

On-loan Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic is confident that the Blues can enjoy a successful conclusion to what has been an inconsistent season so far.

The 24-year-old Croatia international has made 40 appearances for the Londoners since arriving on a season-long loan from Real Madrid, with Chelsea currently battling to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League.

They are also still involved in the Europa League, where they will face Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals, with head coach Maurizio Sarri still trying to fully implement his own preferred playing style.

Kovacic told Chelsea TV: "When players are used to playing (differently) and then come here and change everything, it's difficult.

"But he (Sarri) has his football in his mind and that's a great personality. He just wants to play his football and that's what we're trying to do and trying to win a trophy.

"In the end the most important thing is to win trophies and the players know it. The players are used to winning trophies and I'm sure we will have a great year this season."

Chelsea currently lie in sixth place in the Premier League standings, three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal and only one point further adrift of Tottenham, who occupy third place.

The Blues return to action following the international break with a trip to South Wales to take on Cardiff City on Sunday March 31st.

Earlier this season the meeting of the two sides at Stamford Bridge ended in a 4-1 win for the hosts, with Eden Hazard scoring a hat-trick.

Chelsea are available at 2/5 to win the game a week on Sunday and are 15/2 to do so by a 2-1 scoreline, with the Blues 2/1 to finish in the top four come the end of the season.

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Griezmann happy at ‘home’

Alvaro Morata doesn't envisage talisman Antoine Griezmann departing Atletico Madrid any time soon.

The French international has often been touted for a move away from the Spanish capital, with Barcelona heavily interested in his services last summer, before Griezmann announced via an elaborate documentary that he wanted to stay.

Morata, who joined Atletico on loan from Chelsea in January, can't see the key forward leaving this summer.

"I'm not worried. In general I see Antoine very happy with us. This is his home and I think he's happy here," said the Spaniard.

Morata is thankful to be involved with Spain after a tough spell at Chelsea saw his career stalling under the stewardship of Maurizio Sarri.

He says he now feels ready to get back to his very best form, for both club and country, suggesting he finally feels trusted again by his coaches.

"I needed trust, that's for sure," he added. "I came from a bad time but that's in the past, let's leave all that behind.

"Right now, I'm where I've wanted to be for a very long time and that's what matters. I'm very grateful to my new coach as well as to the national team coach for their trust because it's thanks to them that I'm reaching my highest level again and I'm enjoying the pitch."

Spain are 2/11 to defeat Norway in their Group F opener on Saturday. The visitors are 12/1, with the draw priced at 6/1.

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Giroud hints at Blues exit

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud has admitted that he may well have to consider his future at Stamford Bridge, as he is frustrated at a lack of starting opportunities.

The 32-year-old France international has scored nine goals in nine appearances in the Europa League this season, but has been restricted to just six starts in the Premier League, with the January arrival of loanee Gonzalo Higuain hampered his chance of gaining further game-time.

And Giroud says that that situation is starting to frustrate him, with the former Arsenal frontman having just 12 league starts to his name since his move from the Gunners in January 2018.

He told RTL: "Of course it is frustrating. Today I have the impression that there is clearly no competition since January.

"I know that I will only play in the Europa League. I try to do what it takes to be the most effective and the most important for the team.

"My future may be hectic this summer. I am not afraid to go down a level to have more playing time and it could be that I end my career in France."

Chelsea and Giroud have been drawn to face Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, which currently offers the Blues a route back into the Champions League next season.

In the league they currently stand in sixth place, three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.

The Blues are available at 2/1 to finish in the top four come the end of the season, while they are 7/4 to go all the way and win the Europa League.

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Coleman calls for consistency

Everton defender Seamus Coleman has challenged his team to show better consistency and build on their 2-0 Premier League win at home to Chelsea last time out.

The Toffees had won just one of their previous six league games before they saw off the Londoners at Goodison Park on Sunday, with Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson their goalscorers.

And Coleman says the challenge after the international break will be to back that performance up with another when they visit West ham on Saturday 30 thMarch.

He told his club's official website: "We are capable of results like the one against Chelsea, but it is about being consistent and I think that is the next step for us, because we want to be challenging the top six in future.

"The frustration this season has come from having one or two good results and performances, but then slipping away in the next game.

"We want to build on these three points and that is the challenge for us now.

"We needed the result against Chelsea – it was important to win against one of the top six in front of our own fans and show we are capable of beating those teams."

Everton can be backed at 7/4 to win at the London Stadium a week on Saturday, while the Mereysiders are 5/6 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table come the end of the season.

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Hazard reveals Blues target

Eden Hazard is adamant that he is not thinking about his future beyond this season because he is targeting Europa League success with Chelsea.

The 28-year-old Belgium international playmaker has been linked with a possible summer switch to Real Madrid on the back of coach Zinedine Zidane's recent return to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Hazard will enter the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season and Chelsea have already rebuffed one bid from Real Madrid for his signature.

If he fails to pen an extension between now and the summer it is likely that the Londoners would cash-in, but Hazard is refusing to contemplate his long-term future as the side battle to qualify for Champions League football via the Europa League and a top-four Premier League finish.

When asked about Real Madrid, Hazard told VTM News: "I'm not working on that right now.

"I want to shine with Chelsea for a few months and try to win the Europa League. This week I think about the Red Devils [Belgium] and then back to Chelsea. Then we'll see."

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri has said he is "not worried" about the possibility of Hazard leaving, saying he only wants players "who want to play for Chelsea".

He added: "We can win the Europa League – we must win the Europa League, or finish in the top four to play in the Champions League next year.

"The supporters expect that, the staff expect that and the players expect that as well.

"When I am back at Chelsea I just think about that. I don't think about what can happen in two, three, four, five months. I don't know, we'll see."

Chelsea are 7/4 to win the Europa League and are priced at 2/1 for a Premier League top-four finish.

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Sarri questions Blues mentality

Maurizio Sarri accepted that his Chelsea players are still struggling to show a consistently tough mentality after seeing the Blues beaten 2-0 by Everton at Goodison Park.

The Italian head coach has voiced his concerns about the same problem on several occasions this season, and Sarri was again to play down suggestions that the defeat was due to tactical issues.

He told reporters: "We played probably the best 45 minutes of the season and then suddenly at the beginning of the second half we stopped playing – I don't know why.

"The situation was clear, it's clear the problem is not a physical problem – if it was physical you would go down gradually, not in one second. It's probably a mental block.

"The problem was mental on the pitch, so the system and the tactics are not important. And it wasn't about motivation because we started very well.

"We have to play eight matches now and we have to fight for our possibilities."

The reverse on Merseyside left the Londoners three points adrift of the top four, with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United all involved in a four-way battle for a Champions League spot.

Chelsea could also qualify for that competition by winning the Europa League, in which they have reached the quarter-finals and been drawn to face Slavia Prague.

The Blues are available at 7/4 to win the Europa League, while they can be backed at 2/1 to finish in the top four in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are 8/15 to earn a top-four spot and 5/1 to claim Europa League glory.

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Premier League: Chelsea Come Unstuck by The Toffees

Everton 2-0 Chelsea

There is a long-held saying in football which many us fans will not have heard of.

It was invented long before the Premier League was established but remains as true today when first uttered.

‘Fail to take your chances and it will come back to haunt you’.

Now I don’t know who was first responsible for making the point but this encounter was a prime example.

For when the Premier League highlights are compiled, Chelsea will feature in probably more stand-out moments than Everton but it is the Merseysiders who have the points.

The Premier League betting odds on who will claim a top four spot have taken yet another twist.

Highlights of the game

From the first whistle it was clear Chelsea weren’t going to get a warm welcome. Or rather Ross Barkley, a boyhood Evertonian, wasn’t on his first return to his former club following his £15 million transfer in January 2018.

He was handed a place in the starting line-up, while the Toffees namedan attacking line-up with Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all included.

Chelsea started on fire and could easily have been two goals to the good.

Jordan Pickford, making his 100th top flight appearance, kept out Eden Hazard after fine play by Marcos Alonso.

Then Gonzalo Higuain fed the Belgian whose shot hit the post before the ball was worked to Higuain almost immediately, only for Pickford to produce a smart save.

Although both keepers were tested, there was little else to write home about in terms of clear chances but the visitors were clearly the better side.

Pedro went close just before the break and then did see an effort find the net but was offside.

The past two league meetings had ended 0-0, most recently in November, so could there be another one?

Only four fixtures in Premier League history had finished goalless in three consecutive games.

At the break there was always the feeling, Maurizio Sarri’s men may rue missed chances, whereas Everton – who needed to lift the gloom after failing to score in their last five league matches against Chelsea – surely would improve.

There was to be an immediate answer.

Andre Gomes’ curling shot from the edge of the box called Kepa Arrizabalaga into action and, moments later, the Toffees had the breakthrough.

Arrizabalaga did well to keep out Calvert-Lewin’s header but Richarlison was on hand to pounce and head home from close range.

As Sarri told his men to calm themselves, Goodison roundly booed Barkley as he had to leave the fray early.

Then the key moment.

Everton shocked Premier League betting odds after winning vs Chelsea

Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates with Everton after scoring against Chelsea

Alonso clipped Richarlison in the box and, while Arrizabalga saved Sigurdsson’s penalty, the rebound came straight out to the influential Icelander who wasn’t going to pass up the second opportunity.

Chelsea were totally frustrated, Everton totally fluent on the counter as substitute Theo Walcott – who has scored six goals in all competitions against Chelsea (finding the net at all four grounds he has faced them on until today) – nearly made it three.

That would have been harsh on the visitors who threatened a late scare when sub Callum Hudson-Odoi unleashed a stinging shot which Pickford had to push over the crossbar.

Even in stoppage time they were to be denied when David Luiz nodded a corner back across goal and substitute Olivier Giroud was stopped by Pickford.

For Everton, who had only won one of their previous six league games, a first home win in nine weeks and eight matches.

In contrast, it’s matches like this when it’s clear to see why the Blues remain the lowest scoring of the Premier League’s top six clubs with 50 goals in 30 matches.

Key statistics

This was only the second Everton win against Chelsea in 11 Premier League encounters.

This was also their first victory against one of the established top-six sides in the league since January 2017, drawing seven and losing 18.

Chelsea have lost four of their last five away games in the Premier League, conceding 14 goals in those four defeats.

The Blues have kept only one clean sheet in their last 10 away league matches, in a 1-0 triumph at Crystal Palace on 30 December.

Chelsea have hit the woodwork 20 times this season, more than any other side in the top flight.

What’s next?

Everton have only seven games remaining this season.

They are next in action at West Ham on March 30 followed by a trip to Arsenal on April 7. Five of their last seven matches are against London clubs.

Chelsea have a busier programme.

They face Cardiff a fortnight today and then host West Ham before a two-legged Europa League quarter-final against Slavia Prague, sandwiched between a return to Merseyside to face Liverpool.

 

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Chelsea falter at Goodison

Chelsea's top four credentials suffered a blow at Goodison Park after they were beaten 2-0 by Everton.

Chelsea had the better of the first half but failed to make their superiority count and two second half goals, one from the penalty spot, leaves them sixth in the Premier League table.

Chelsea almost went in front on just eight minutes, Gonzalo Higuain putting in Eden Hazard whose shot hit the woodwork and Higuain himself had a chance in the same move but Jordan Pickford was able to make the save.

Ross Barkley, facing his old club, was involved on the 20-minute mark, putting in a cross which Higuain reached and put in Jorginho but again Pickford was equal to it.

Andre Gomes had an effort for Everton but it was the visitors who went closest to breaking the deadlock just before half-time, Pedro getting the ball into the net but he was well offside.

So, half-time came with Chelsea the better side but failing to make their superiority count.

Everton had to improve for the second half and they did, having the first effort on target in the second period, Gomes with a smart shot which Kepa Arrizabalaga palmed away for a corner.

However a minute later they took the lead from a corner. Dominic Calvert-Lewin's header from close range was kept out by the keeper but it fell invitingly to Richarlison who nodded home.

It was a blow to Maurizio Sarri's side who had been much the better side up to that point.

They were the next to threaten, Marcos Alonso getting a shot in which hit the side netting.

However, they fell further behind with about 20 minutes remaining, Alonso adjudged to have fouled Richarlison in the box and Gylfi Sigurdsson took the penalty which was saved by Arrizabalaga but the ball fell kindly back to the Everton man who tucked it away.

Everton are back in action after the international break on 30th March when they play away at West Ham. They are 9/5 to come away from the London Stadium with three points while the Hammers are 6/4 and the draw 9/4. Everton are 9/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Premier League: Can Toffees Lift Goodison Gloom?

Everton vs Chelsea

It’s seven games and more than two months since Everton last won at home.

In that time, they have drawn three games, including the recent Merseyside derby, and lost four.

The Toffees have also won only one of the last 10 Premier League encounters (drawn three, lost six).

Boss Marco Silva hardly needs any us pundit to tell him that is not good enough for a club of Everton’s stature.

A win against the 2017 champions, though, would go some way to lifting spirits amid the Goodison Park gloom.

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Talking Points

So Premier League 2019 news does not make great reading for the Merseysiders.

Everton have lost four of their last six league games, have not beaten one of the established top-six sides in the league since January 2017 – drawing seven and losing 18 – and have failed to score any of their last five league matches against Chelsea.

The good news for home fans is surely this has to change?

Silva will also demand a reaction after they let slip a two goal lead at Newcastle last time out – a defeat which angered the Portuguese manager who confronted the official Lee Mason at the full-time whistle, for which he has been subsequently charged by the Football Association.

Although he is likely to select him for his 100th Premier League appearance, Silva will also expect more from his goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after his erratic showing in that game attracted intense media scrutiny and prompted England boss Gareth Southgate to jump to his defence.

Pickford was fortunate to escape a red card for conceding a penalty, which he then saved, parried a long range shot which led to Newcastle’s equaliser and appeared to be distracted by abuse from the home fans who took delight in baiting the former Sunderland keeper.

There will likely be a reunion at Goodison Park.

The talented Kurt Zouma, who was prevented from fulfilling his potential at Stamford Bridge due to injury, is ineligible against his parent club but Ross Barkley will come up against his boyhood club – where he spent 14 years of his life – for the first time at the place he called ‘home’.

Seamus Coleman is set to return after illness and Leighton Baines is in contention after a back issue but Phil Jagielka is an injury doubt.

Gonzalo Higuain could return to contention for Chelsea's Premier League trip to Everton

Everton drew 0-0 with Chelsea in the reverse fixture

For Chelsea, Gonzalo Higuain could be available again after missing the midweek Europa League trip to Dynamo Kiev with illness.

The likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, and Eden Hazard, who were rested for that match, are set to return.

Hazard has been directly involved in 24 of Chelsea’s 50 Premier League goals this season (13 goals, 11 assists), the highest ratio in the division.

Despite coming under recent criticism, the team has 57 points after 29 Premier League matches, four more than they had at this stage of last season under Antonio Conte.

They have also had spells of misfortune, hitting the woodwork 19 times, more than any other side in the top flight.

Indeed, Marcos Alonso and Willian have both hit the woodwork six times each.

Before you consider the Premier League 2019 betting odds, however, just think of a few more pointers.

Chelsea may have won three of their last five league matches but they have lost three of their last four away games in the Premier League, conceding 12 goals along the way, and have kept only one clean sheet in their last nine away league matches, in a 1-0 triumph at Crystal Palace in late December.

Moreover, some players will have had little time to recover from their trip midweek European exertions.

Time for Everton to make amends?

History

The past two league meetings have ended 0-0, including in November when Everton put up a really spirited resistance at Stamford Bridge. Only four fixtures in Premier League history have finished goalless in three consecutive games.

Overall, Chelsea have a total of 72 victories compared to 54 Everton wins and 54 draws.

Betting Tip

??
Everton vs Chelsea 1X2 draw @ 3.35
March 18, 00:30(GMT+8)

Chelsea start as firm favourites, priced 1X2 @ 1.97 with Everton adrift @ 3.85.

If another tight, low scoring affair is expected, you can get odds on under 2.25 goals @ 2.21, total goal 0-1 @ 3.40, total goal 2-3 @ 1.95 and correct score 0-0 @ 10.00.

The Double Chance Everton or Draw @ 1.77 certainly appeals to me, as does Asian Handicap Everton +0.25 @ 2.28 or Asian Handicap Chelsea -0.75 @ 2.29.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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