Chelsea’s Barkley an­tic­i­pates hos­tile re­cep­tion from Ever­ton’s vis­it­ing sup­port­ers

Bangkok Post - - FOOTBALL -

>> LON­DON: Chelsea mid­fielder Ross Barkley is braced for a hos­tile re­cep­tion when his old club Ever­ton visit Stam­ford Bridge to­day.

Barkley left Ever­ton to join Chelsea in Jan­uary af­ter 13 years at Good­i­son Park and this week­end faces the Tof­fees for the first time since that con­tro­ver­sial move.

The 24-year-old did not play for Ever­ton in the last seven months of his time on Mersey­side due to a ham­string prob­lem and even­tu­ally moved to Chelsea in a cut-price £15 mil­lion deal.

With his con­tract wind­ing down, Barkley had ini­tially been linked with Tot­ten­ham be­fore the Chelsea switch and his de­sire to fur­ther his ca­reer away from Ever­ton, com­bined with the pro­tracted na­ture of the trans­fer, soured his time with Tof­fees fans.

Barkley ex­pects those Ever­ton sup­port­ers to make their feel­ings known when he comes face to face with them in west Lon­don, but although he ad­mits it will be a “strange” ex­pe­ri­ence he is de­ter­mined not to be in­tim­i­dated.

“I don’t think the re­cep­tion will be the best,” Barkley told the Evening Stan­dard.

“I’m not ner­vous, I’m ex­cited to play against my for­mer club and team­mates. I un­der­stand how some of them play, so that could be an ad­van­tage for me.

“On the day I might get a few nerves as it will feel a bit strange. I’m look­ing for­ward to catch­ing up with some of the staff there who I used to get on re­ally well with.”

Af­ter strug­gling to break into the Chelsea team un­der pre­vi­ous boss An­to­nio Conte last sea­son, Barkley has im­pressed new man­ager Mau­r­izio Sarri.

The Eng­land in­ter­na­tional has be­come a reg­u­lar un­der Sarri, scor­ing three goals in his last five Chelsea ap­pear­ances.

“I was ap­proach­ing 25 and I felt look­ing back I could have im­proved a lot more [at Ever­ton],” Barkley said.

“At Chelsea I knew I’d im­prove a lot quicker around bet­ter play­ers, world­class play­ers.”

Sarri must de­cide whether to use Al­varo Morata up front af­ter the Spain for­ward’s brace in last week­end’s 3-1 win over Crys­tal Palace.

The Ital­ian de­scribed Morata as “frag­ile” af­ter some dif­fi­dent per­for­mances this term and Sarri could keep faith with Olivier Giroud, who ended a six-month bar­ren streak with the de­ci­sive strike in Chelsea’s 1-0 Europa League win at BATE Borisov on Thurs­day.

France striker Giroud quipped he con­tem­plated seek­ing re­li­gious help, prior to end­ing a run of 794 min­utes with­out a Chelsea goal.

“It’s true I’ve been look­ing for­ward to it. I kept work­ing hard in train­ing, kept the faith. I al­ways score goals,” Giroud said.

“I’m happy for the team and for my­self I hope I will have the op­por­tu­nity to score more.

“I was think­ing shall I see a priest or some­thing like that? No, I’m jok­ing.”

Chelsea’s Ross Barkley, right, in ac­tion against BATE Borisov.

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