December -15- 31-
Chelsea bounced back to winning form with a 3-0
victory over Portsmouth yesterday.
Wayne Bridge broke the deadlock with his first Premiership goal for
Chelsea, Frank Lampard struck the post in the first half and then
scored with a powerful right-foot shot in the second and Geremi wrapped
it up with a stunning volley from 25 yards.Blues boss Claudio Ranieri
said: "In the first half we were a little anxious and Portsmouth
started well."We played Jesper Gronkjaer
and Geremi too wide and suffered in the middle. The second half was
much better and I think we deserved to win."I was waiting for
this result and this performance. We knew December had been a bad
month for us. We are sure the new year will be better."On the
pressure surrounding his job, Ranieri added: "I work very well
here and will continue here."In Italy when Chelsea win, it is
'Chelsea win' or 'Abramovich win' or 'Gudjohnsen win'. When Chelsea
lose it is 'Ranieri loses' but that is normal."Are we like Manchester
and Arsenal?" he mused. "No. Our pedigree is not like them.
They must win the title, we must fight with them."
Real Mallorca striker Sammy Eto'o has again
hinted this will be his last season with the club. A target for Arsenal
and Chelsea, Cameroon ace Eto'o said yesterday: "I want to be in a
team with the possibility of winning titles, it is not only a money
subject although this year I have learned that if you can earn a billion
then you should stick around. "When you leave football nobody remembers
you, I have a contract here until 2007, I am calm and very happy in
Claudio Ranieri has told England manager
Sven-Goran Eriksson that John Terry could step into the shoes
of Rio Ferdinand for the Euro 2004 finals in Portugal.
Manchester United defender Ferdinand is set to
miss the rest of the season and the showpiece summer tournament unless
he succeeds in his appeal against an eight-month ban for missing a drug
test.Terry was as commanding as ever in the Blues'
1-0 west London derby success at Fulham on Saturday, producing a performance
which Eriksson witnessed first hand from the Loftus Road directors'
Ranieri said: "I don't want to compare John
to Rio Ferdinand - but I love my players and think they're the best.
John deserves to play for England even without what happened to Ferdinand."He's
good in the air, good with his feet and understands when he must stop
opponents. John's improved a lot and is one of the best centre-backs
in England."He gets strength from playing
with Marcel Desailly, who is our rock. He is calm and assured and gives
that to John. But, even without Marcel, John continues to play very
well."Ranieri is convinced Terry will become
an even better player through representing his country.Citing
the example of the October 11 Euro 2004 qualifier in Turkey, which England
drew 0-0 with Terry a tower of strength in defence, Ranieri explained:
"When you take another step higher you gain experience and confidence
from that."John came back a stronger player
after the game in Turkey. Now he is getting experience in the Champions
League - and that's important for him, Chelsea and England."
20 Dec 2003
Fulham 0 v
Aston Villa 2 v 1 Chelsea - Carling
|Claudio Ranieri conceded that Aston Villa
were the better side on the night after watching David O'Leary's team
knock his out of the Carling Cup to reach the semi-final. |
Chelsea looked to have salvaged the tie when Joe Cole equalised Juan Pablo
Angel's stunning opener, but Villa regrouped after that set-back and found
a winner through Gavin McCann. But Ranieri was both honest and gracious
in defeat, saying Villa deserved their victory.
"In this period everything is wrong for us," said Ranieri. "We tried to
win the match but Villa played better than us. "It wasn't because of our
system - Angel played fantastically.
We put them under pressure in the second half and when we equalised I
was sure we could win, but Villa had a very big heart and won the match.
"In future I hope to start better. We knew Villa would start very strongly
in the first 15 minutes. We did not want to concede so early because then
it was very difficult to play well and find space." '
Ranieri will be without several first-team
players at Villa Park, with Adrian Mutu having joined Juan Sebastian
Veron, Emmanuel Petit and Eidur Gudjohnsen on the sidelines.
Carlo Cudicini could also be rested, while Ranieri may decide not
to risk full-back Glen Johnson, who sustained a slight ankle injury
during the 2-1 defeat by Bolton last Saturday. However, the Chelsea
coach will still field a strong line-up, with the likes of Jimmy Floyd
Hasselbaink, Mario Melchiot, William Gallas and Joe Cole looking to
return to freshen up the side.
Ranieri admitted his team were ``tired'' during the second-half against
Bolton, but insisted: ``It's another day and now I want to see our
reaction after the bad defeat we had against Bolton. ``It's an important
competition for us and also for Aston Villa. David O'Leary said at
the start of the season that he could not win the league, so everything
was about the two cups. ``We know that and we are ready to fight.''
Chelsea have revealed that they would
be prepared to spend �60m on Ruud van Nistelrooy if the Manchester
United striker became available.
They added that they would also be willing to shell out up to �100m
on a single player if the need arose.
However, the Blues have still made it abundantly clear that despite
Roman Abramovich's incredible financial resources, they will not be
ripped off when the transfer window opens next month. Chelsea's acting
chief executive, Paul Smith, revealed that a central defender and a
midfielder are the club's main priorities in the new year sales.
"If Ruud van Nistelrooy was priced at �60m and we considered
it a good investment, then we would probably pay that. "It's not about
the fee but about getting good value. We want the right quality and
the right value
Chelsea have decided to appeal against
Joe Cole's two-match ban which was imposed for an incident that
occurred last season when the England international was with West Ham
The midfielder was fined �15,000 and suspended for two matches by the
Football Association after becoming involved in a fracas after the Hammers'
defeat at Bolton. Cole will make a personal appearance before an FA
disciplinary panel in the new year.
"We're being punished for something that happened over 230 days ago
when Joe wasn't even a Chelsea player," Chelsea's acting chief executive
Paul Smith told the London Evening Standard.