Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 23rd 2017 Contents sports A47
Thursday, February 23, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Hazard: Home comforts for Chelsea
Eden Hazard reckons Premier
League leaders Chelsea already
have some teams beaten before
they run out at Stamford Bridge.
Antonio Conte's rejuvenated
squad head into this weekend's
fixtures looking to extend an eight-
point gap at the top of the table
when they host relegation-battlers
Chelsea swept Arsenal aside 3-1
in their last home match, which was
an 11th successive victory in all
competitions in front of the Blues
supporters since losing to Liverpool
on September 16.
Belgian playmaker Hazard be-
lieves such dominant form at Stam-
ford Bridge can prove the backbone
of a successful assault on the Pre-
mier League title.
"Yes, it's significant. It's diffi-
cult for the opponent to come here
and win games," Hazard said in the
London Evening Standard. "Do I get
that feeling that some teams are
beaten before kick-off? Yes. We
are playing better than last season.
"It's a little like two years ago
when we won the league.
"I remember the second part of
the season back then - sometimes
the team didn't play well, but we
always scored at least one goal and
Thibaut Courtois would make at
least one good save, like against
"We are in full confidence here
on this pitch. You know the fans
bring everything, they support us.
"I remember against Tottenham
[the 2-1 win] earlier in the season
when they scored, but the support-
ers kept going, they kept singing.
"It's great and we feel very good
on this pitch. We know everything
can happen in football, but we have
self-belief and that is very impor-
tant in football."
Hazard called for Conte's squad
to remain focused on delivering the
required results from their remain-
ing 13 league games.
A potential league and FA Cup
double could also be on the cards
should Chelsea see off Manches-
ter United in their quarter-final at
Stamford Bridge next month.
"We just need to keep the same
concentration. It's more difficult
to play away because of the fans,
but we are ready, we are profes-
sional. We can deal with
Everything is going good," Hazard
"We know if we want to be cham-
pions, in our home stadium we have
to win most of our games.
"We can't say all 19 because we
have already lost to Liverpool, but
we have to win 16 to 17 because it
is our place and we are ready to
Aguero: 'We get on
Sergio Aguero insisted his rela-
tionship with Pep Guardiola was
strong as he restated his com-
mitment to Manchester City af-
ter spearheading their stunning
comeback against Monaco.
The striker grabbed two goals
as City twice came from behind
to beat the Ligue 1 leaders 5-3 in
a sensational Champions League
clash on Tuesday.
It was a welcome return to form
for the 28-year-old, who is back
leading the City attack following
injury to impressive new signing
Aguero briefly lost his place to
Jesus, raising questions over how
he fitted into manager Guardiola's
plans and whether he had a long-
term future at the club.
Speculation over Aguero's fu-
ture has recurred throughout
the season but all parties
have repeatedly ex-
pressed desire for
who is contracted until 2020, to
stay at the Etihad Stadium.
Asked about Guardiola, Aguero
said: "The truth is we get on very
"What he wants, above
everything, from all the players
is that we push a little more. He's
always asking me for more, more,
more. Obviously it's a sacrifice I
have to make, that we all have to
make, and fortunately tonight it
worked and we'll see if it keeps
working in the next game."
On his future, he added: "I've
always said I want to be here at
the club, I've always said that at
the end of the season it won't be
"The truth is that with these
things it's the club that handles
everything, and obviously it's
always my intention to stay."
Aguero's double strike
took his tally for the sea-
son to 20 and perhaps
made a point to Guardi-
ola after he was forced
to settle for a substi-
tute's role in three
But Aguero said:
"The truth is that
those things are for
the manager to de-
cide. The only thing I
can do is keep fighting
to be able to play.
"Fortunately he counted on me,
now I have to help the team and
show what I can do."
City will now be favourites to
advance to the Champions League
quarter-finals but after such an
open first leg against Monaco, their
last-16 tie is not yet over.
Aguero said: "It's not over but it's
important that we're two goals up.
If it was one obviously it would be
Poch: Spurs need
time for titles
Mauricio Pochettino has said
he knows within 50 seconds of a
game whether Tottenham will be
off their game.
Spurs host Gent
at Wembley in the
today, looking to
overturn a 1-0
display in the
first leg in
of Fulham in
the FA Cup on
Sunday saw Tot-
tenham back at
full pelt, but incon-
sistency has been a
form in recent weeks.
They have won three out of their
last seven in all competitions and
Pochettino believes his side often
set the tone at the start.
"When we start a game, if you
only watch 50 seconds, you don't
need to be a genius to know we may
struggle and have some problems in
that game," Pochettino said.
"In that moment it's too difficult
to change. We changed the forma-
tion at half-time to try and lift them
but it was impossible.
"The problem is when you start
not in a good way, it's too difficult
to change that perception and then
you give a very good signal to the
opponent that you are not focused
on the game.
"You need to change that men-
Tottenham are still favourites to
progress but Gent know if they can
score one away goal, their oppo-
nents will need three.
Crashing out of the Europa
League would come as a bigger
blow than in previous seasons, giv-
en Spurs have a genuine chance of
winning the competition and ap-
pear unlikely to catch Chelsea in the
The club have not won a Euro-
pean trophy since 1984 - or any
silverware since lifting the League
Cup in 2008 - but Pochettino says
there is no short-cut for a club of
Tottenham's financial muscle.
Former UEFA boss
Platini attends 1st
president Michel Platini has
returned to a soccer stadium
for the first time since being
handed a four-year suspension
The France great watched from
the stands as Saint-Etienne was
knocked out of the Europa League
by Manchester United yesterday.
Platini, who played for Saint-
Etienne from 1979-82, is suspend-
ed from football-related activities
for conflict of interest over a $2 mil-
lion payment he received in 2011
Platini did not go to any Euro
2016 games in his native France
last summer despite the FIFA
ethics committee say-
ing he could attend
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