Barca predict thriller against Arsenal
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. — dailymail.co.uk 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.