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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Billing ready for new challenge

Philip Billing has admitted that he is keen to leave Huddersfield Town this summer as it is time for a new challenge.

The 22-year-old Dane has featured in 81 league games for the Terriers since making his debut for the club in April 2014.

He helped Town secure promotion from the Championship via the play-offs in the 2016/17 campaign and to safety in their first season in the Premier League.

However, this season has been dreadful and Town are rooted to the foot of the table and all but certain to be relegated.

Billing said: "I have been in Huddersfield for a long time, so this summer it is time to try a new challenge.

"I'll try something new. The Premier League is great and I love the English football culture. I know there is interest from others in the UK and abroad."

Billing has hinted that he may not play much in the closing two months of the campaign, adding: "I think the coach is betting on those who will continue to play in the Championship next season."

Earlier in the week, goalkeeper Jonas Lossl also suggested he was keen to leave the John Smith's Stadium at the end of this season.

Huddersfield are 13/2 to win their next match against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on 30th March and 14/1 to score a penalty in the encounter.

They lost their last game 4-3 at West Ham United on Saturday despite leading 3-1 at one stage.

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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Guardiola: We need everybody

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hopes he does not lose any of his players to injury during this month's international break.

City, who have already won the EFL Cup this term, are currently second in the Premier League table, while they have reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and last eight of the Champions League.

Guardiola's team are scheduled to play eight fixtures in 29 days after the international break and the City boss wants all of his squad members to play their part in the last two months of the campaign.

"I pray that they come back fit," he said. "They have to go to their national teams… enjoy and play for their country, but I hope they can come back fit like they are now.

"I just want them fit and here… With the fixtures we have in April we need everybody, it's crazy."

Meanwhile, Guardiola said of his injured stars: "Everybody is going to play and Kevin (De Bruyne), Fernandinho, John (Stones), Benjamin (Mendy) – they are all going to be back soon and we need them. Even if some play 10 or 15 minutes here and there.

"We need everybody because we have got to this stage where we are still in with a chance of winning three more trophies because of everybody. Not just 11 players, but everyone."

City's next game is at Fulham on 30th March and they can be backed at 8/1 to win 2-0 at Craven Cottage. They are 10/1 to win the quadruple of Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League and EFL Cup this season.

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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Winning is a must Klopp warns

Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp says his side have no option other than to keep on winning if they are to edge out Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title.

The Reds moved two points clear at the top of the table with a hard-fought 2-1 at Fulham on Sunday, with James Milner converting a late penalty to secure a crucial three-point return.

Afterwards, Klopp admitted that his team had not been at their fluent best, but he was keen to stress the importance of continuing to put wins on the board – with the Merseysiders having claimed three victories in the last week in all competitions.

The German told reporters: "I think we fully deserved to win the game. It was an average game, massive result. We want to stay in the title race and that's what we did.

"First is the best position you can be in. City don't look as if they drop a lot of points, so we have to win, to win and to win.

"I am not in any doubt about my players' nerves. It is about intensity. We go for perfection, but it is rare that you get it.

"People will say we need to be more convincing, but we are at the start of a development, not the end."

Next up for Liverpool is another tough fixture, with Tottenham Hotspur the visitors to Anfield on the final day of March.

The Reds are 8/13 to win that game, with the draw priced at 14/5, while Klopp's men are 2/1 to be crowned Premier League champions this season.

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Rafa looking for one more win

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez believes one more victory could be enough to ensure that his side preserve their Premier League status at the end of the season.

The Magpies have lost only one of their last six league games to move seven points clear of the relegation places, with their latest outing seeing grab a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth thanks to a superb volley from Matt Ritchie against his former club.

However, Benitez thinks that is still a little more work to do before he and his players can celebrate top-flight survival.

He told reporters: "We have to keep going, the job is not done. We have to keep winning games.

"I think it could be 38 points, it depends. Obviously, 40 is guaranteed for me. I think 38 will be enough, so we have to keep winning if we can."

Of the battling qualities of his team, he added: "The players showed character. They were working really hard until the last minute.

"In the end the team showed what we were expecting in this kind of game. We tried and we got the point, but maybe it could have been even more."

Following the international break, Newcastle return to action on Monday 1st April when they face testing trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal.

Earlier this season goals from Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil secured a 2-1 win for the Gunners at St James' Park, with the lone reply from the hosts coming from Ciaran Clark.

Newcastle are 7/2 to earn a point at the Emirates, with the Tynesiders 1/1000 not to be relegated this season and 150/1 to suffer relegation to the Championship.

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Guardiola praises Citizens spirit

Pep Guardiola hailed the mentality of his Manchester City side after they hit back to secure a 3-2 victory at Swansea City and reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

The Citizens were 2-0 behind at half-time at the Liberty Stadium, before they launched a stirring comeback, with a Bernardo Silva drive and an own goal drawing them level, before Sergio Aguero headed in what proved to be the winner.

And Guardiola was delighted to see such a strong response from his players, with City still in the hunt for a possible quadruple this season.

He told BBC Sport: "Fighting for everything is the most important thing for the club.

"People say we are going to win three or four titles and the day we drop one competition they say it's a big failure for Manchester City.

"The most incredible thing after what we achieved last season, is in this stage we are fighting for everything.

"So, most important for the club – more than winning one title – is having the mentality to be there until the end and fight for the titles in this stage of the season.

"That's important because for the future, for the new players and managers who are coming, they will learn from this group of players, and this group of people – that we never give up and fight for every single game and title until the end.

"That is the best lesson."

The Citizens can be backed at 2/5 to lift the FA Cup this season, while they are 4/11 to retain their Premier League title and 2/1 to triumph in the Champions League for the first time in their history.

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Big step backwards concerns Ole

Interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer accepted that Manchester United had taken a big step backwards as they were beaten 2-1 at Wolves in the sixth round of the FA Cup.

The Red Devils were well below their beats at Molineux on Saturday evening and Solskjaer offered little in the way of excuses for the performance he had witnessed.

He told reporters: "Quite a lot was missing, it was the poorest performance we've had, it was a big step backwards.

"We never had the urgency and quality on the ball, even though without the ball in the first half we did okay.

"We felt too comfy in possession, we never managed to put their keeper or defenders under pressure. We had a couple of balls in behind for (Marcus) Rashford but not enough quality.

"I think it's something natural, you cannot perform to the top of your level every single time.

"It's still against a good team, they've done really well against top teams. Don't take anything away from them, even though we under-performed."

United now have two weeks to try and put things right, with their next game coming on Saturday 30th March when they play host to Watford in a Premier League clash at Old Trafford.

The meeting of the two sides at Vicarage Road earlier this season ended in a 2-1 victory for United, with Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling their goalscorers.

United are 4/9 to defeat the Hornets at Old Trafford and are 13/2 to secure a 2-0 victory, with the Red Devils 11/8 to claim a top-four finish come the end of the season.

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