Barca pre­dict thriller against Arse­nal

Lesotho Times - - News -

LON­DON — There’s no way th­ese Chelsea play­ers can con­tinue work­ing un­der Jose Mour­inho and hope to be suc­cess­ful again, ac­cord­ing to Jamie Car­ragher.

The Blues are sit­ting in 16th af­ter their ninth de­feat of the Premier League sea­son on Mon­day- a 2-1 re­verse at the hands of new lead­ers Le­ices­ter City - just seven months af­ter lift­ing the ti­tle with an al­most un­changed squad.

And Sports­mail’s Car­ragher, speak­ing on Sky Sports, be­lieves that owner Ro­man Abramovich now has a cru­cial de­ci­sion to make; ei­ther change the man­ager or get rid of a lot of the be­lea­guered stars.

“There’s ob­vi­ously a big di­vide be­tween the play­ers and the man­ager and it’s up to Ro­man Abramovich. Whose side does he pick?” Car­ragher said on Mon­day Night Foot­ball.

“They can’t come back to­gether now and make Chelsea a great team and win things. i’d be very, very sur­prised if that hap­pens next sea­son.

“Ei­ther the man­ager won’t be there, or they’ll have to com­pletely change the play­ers be­cause i don’t think there’s any way th­ese play­ers and man­ager can work to­gether for a long pe­riod of time.

“He’s nor­mally al­ways tak­ing the side of the play­ers and it’s the man­ager who is gone. This can’t con­tinue, some­thing has to change.”

Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez scored the goals for the hosts at the King Power Sta­dium, and Mour­inho claimed in his post­match in­ter­view that he had been be­trayed by his play­ers, who he says he took to a level that was “not their level” last sea­son as they romped to a league ti­tle.

For­mer Liverpool de­fender Car­ragher, who spoke along­side Chelsea leg­end Frank Lam­pard, be­lieves the Por­tuguese will feel he was jus­ti­fied in mak­ing the pub­lic out­burst.

“i think what he meant by the word he used in be­trayed, is that some of them have chucked it. This qual­ity of player shouldn’t be per­form­ing like that.

“You can have a bad run - we’ve all had that as play­ers - four or five games, some­times it may be longer, once or twice in your ca­reer.

“When you look at the per­for­mances, he may think he’s right. Be­cause if you look at them now, this is not a team be­ing un­lucky. They›re in the bot­tom six for goals scored and they›re in the bot­tom six for goals con­ceded. They are where they should be.

“in terms of the play­ers, how they feel, i don’t think what he’s said tonight will af­fect that, i think that’s gone be­fore.”

Car­ragher said that the only way Chelsea can ex­pect an im­me­di­ate im­prove­ment is by chang­ing the man­ager as there is no way to do ma­jor busi­ness in terms of player re­cruit­ment in Jan­uary, and also spoke about Mour­inho’s strug­gle to lift his side out of this rut. Mour­inho signed a new deal at the start of the sea­son which should take him up un­til BARCELONA — Hold­ers and Span­ish league lead­ers Barcelona will play Premier League lead­ers Arse­nal in the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League, 10 years af­ter the sides faced each other in the fi­nal, fol­low­ing Mon­day’s draw for the first knock­out stage.

Span­ish league lead­ers Barcelona, chas­ing a sixth ti­tle, pre­vailed 2-1 in the 2006 fi­nal at the Stade de France in Paris and also tri­umphed in the knock­out phase in 2010 and 2011.

Chelsea, who are en­dur­ing a tor­rid time in the Premier League, will face French league lead­ers Paris St Ger­main in the knock­out stages for the third year in suc­ces­sion af­ter the French cham­pi­ons tri­umphed at the same stage last sea­son and the Lon­don club had the up­per hand in the quar­ter­fi­nals the pre­vi­ous year.

An­other clash be­tween big guns will fea­ture for­mer win­ners Ju­ven­tus and Bay­ern Mu­nich, while 10time cham­pi­ons Real Madrid were drawn against AS Roma.

it is the game be­tween the pace­set­ters in Spain and Arse­nal which most catches the eye, how­ever.

“We are cer­tain to see a sport­ing spec­tac­u­lar,” said Barca di­rec­tor Al­bert Soler.

“Arse­nal and Barcelona have a sim­i­lar style of play. The fans will en­joy them­selves, we’re two sides with a sim­i­lar un­der­stand­ing of the game. They will be two great matches. We must have max­i­mum re­spect for Arse­nal. 2019.

But Car­ragher be­lieves this should not be an is­sue.

“Maybe Chelsea are look­ing to what Arse­nal and United have done. You’ve got one of the most suc­cess­ful man­agers in world foot­ball over the last 10 or 15 years, he’s our fig­ure and we want him as the man­ager.

“But this is a man who’s never done that. He’s never ever been any­where three or four years, never mind be­ing any­where in a run they’re in right now.

“We keep think­ing Mour­inho, this great man­ager, will turn it around. The rea­son he’s strug­gling to turn it around is be­cause he prob­a­bly doesn’t know what to do. He’s never been here be­fore, he’s never lost games. He’s not used to los­ing a home game for four or five years, never mind los­ing nine games.

“Barca are used to play­ing un­der pres­sure in ev­ery sense. But we are the reign­ing cham­pi­ons and that gives you an edge.”

Arse­nal club sec­re­tary David Miles said: “it is not easy and the one to avoid at this stage, but it is up to us and we will give them a

“What’s he go­ing to say at the train­ing ground to­mor­row, what he hasn’t al­ready done? He’s prob­a­bly had team meet­ings with the play­ers, one-on-ones, given them stick, then the car­rot af­ter the Spurs game [0-0 draw last month]. Where does he go from here?”

How­ever, Lam­pard was in­sis­tent that his for­mer boss, who he won two ti­tles with him­self, should be given time be­cause of the longterm plan.

Week­end fix­tures Dec 19: Stoke v Crys­tal Palace, Ever­ton v Le­ices­ter, Manch­ester United v Nor­wich, Southamp­ton v Tot­ten­ham, Chelsea v Sun­der­land, West Brom v Bournemouth, New­cas­tle v As­ton Villa.

Dec 20: Wat­ford v Liverpool, Swansea v West Ham. — dai­ly­ game.

“Messi, Ney­mar, Suarez... you could go on, but we have our own world-class play­ers and i am sure they will be fan­tas­tic games in Lon­don and Barcelona.”

There is also a fa­mil­iar feel about the Chelsea v PSG tie.

“There is not much we don’t know about Paris,” said Chelsea gen­eral sec­re­tary David Barnard.

“You only know if it’s a good draw af­ter the tie. We are am­bi­tious, we have two-and-a-half months to pre­pare,” PSG sports di­rec­tor olivier Le­tang said.

Real Madrid and Roma have also seen a lot of each other in the com­pe­ti­tion, though not since 2008 when the ital­ians won 2-1 home and away in the last 16.

“You have to be very much on your guard. if we see our­selves as favourites things won’t go well for us,” said Real di­rec­tor Emilio Bu­tragueno.

“We know what can hap­pen if you have 10 poor min­utes on a Euro­pean night.”

Ju­ven­tus could come to re­gret hav­ing blown their fi­nale in the group stage, leav­ing Manch­ester City, who will take on Dynamo Kiev, with the bet­ter draw on pa­per.

“Ev­ery­body wanted to avoid Barca and Bay­ern so we are not so lucky but Bay­ern will not be glad they drew Juve,” said Ju­ven­tus am­bas­sador Pavel Nedved.

Manch­ester City di­rec­tor of foot­ball Txiki Be­giris­tain said: “They have a good side (Kiev)and it will be dif­fi­cult for us. They are grow­ing in the com­pe­ti­tion and it will be a big chal­lenge but we hope to be ready.

“They are a strong side, but they like to play foot­ball and it is just 11 v 11. We are im­prov­ing and gain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the com­pe­ti­tion so we hope to do well.”

PSV Eind­hoven will take on Atletico Madrid and Ben­fica will be against Zenit St Peters­burg.

Gent, in their first par­tic­i­pa­tion in the com­pe­ti­tion, will take on Ger­many’s VFL Wolfs­burg.

The first legs of the ties are spread over four days in Fe­bru­ary, with the re­turns on March 8, 9 and 15, when there are two matches. — Su­per­sport

Chelsea play­ers troop off the pitch af­ter Mon­day’s de­feat by le­ices­ter City.

lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (left) du­els for the ball against To­mas Rosicky of arse­nal dur­ing their last meet­ing in 2011.

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