Conte urges Chelsea to carry aggression into new season
New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has urged his players to retain the aggressiveness they have shown during the pre-season, saying that the combative nature of the game was essential to the style of play he is looking to impose at the club.
Six players were booked, while midfielder Cesc Fabregas was shown a red card, in Chelsea’s feisty 1-0 victory over Liverpool on Thursday after Gary Cahill’s early header condemned the Merseyside club to their first pre-season defeat.
Fabregas will now be suspended for Chelsea’s friendly clash against Champions League winners Real Madrid on Saturday but Conte was not ready to criticise the Spaniard.
“I like my teams to be aggressive and I like if my team plays with great aggression and high intensity. We train to prepare for that because I want that my team has an identity,” Conte told British media.
“I always gave an identity to my teams. I am searching to transfer this to my players. I am pleased because I see a great attitude. I want to continue in this way because this is the only way to come back very soon for the title.
“Not to speak, but actions. Now is not the moment to talk.”
Conte has already strengthened his squad with two major signings in striker Michy Batshuayi and midfielder N’Golo Kante.
The former Italy and Juventus coach will begin his tenure in England with a London derby against West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on Aug. 15.
Sturridge hopes intense pre-season will stave off injury
Daniel Sturridge has said manager Juergen Klopp has put the Liverpool squad through the “most intense” pre-season of his career with the England striker pushing himself to the limit in a bid to avoid another injury-disrupted campaign.
The 26-year-old scored 13 goals in 25 appearance last season but failed to have a major impact on the Merseyside club’s campaign, as his playing time was limited following a succession of debilitating injuries.
Sturridge joined up with the majority of his team mates at the club’s training base in California last week, as Liverpool continue their pre-season tour of the United States.
“It has been a lot of hard work, running sessions and tactical sessions. Pre-season is about pushing your body to the limits and it is one of those things where you have to battle and push yourself through the sessions,” Sturridge told LFC TV.
“It is probably the most intense (pre-season) I have experienced at any club. It is certainly something everyone is getting used to and something which will hopefully put us in good stead for the rest of the season.”
Klopp has added seven players, including midfielders Marko Grujic and Giorginio Wijnaldum, and forward Sadio Mane, to his squad during the close season and Sturridge hopes the new recruits can help them challenge for the title.
“I am looking forward to the season and I think the signings we have made will help us push on to the next level,” the England international said.
“We are looking to be successful and win trophies, that is something I have not tasted yet with Liverpool.”
Liverpool, who finished eighth in the league last season, will start the new campaign with a trip to Arsenal on Aug. 13.
Eriksen hopes Wembley pitch works in Tottenham’s favour
Midfielder Christian Eriksen says Tottenham Hotspur will need to adjust quickly when they play their Champions League home games at Wembley next season but hoped the larger playing area at the national stadium will work to their advantage.
Tottenham are redeveloping White Hart Lane by building a 400 million pounds ($526.64 million) 61,000-seater stadium next to their existing ground and will have a reduced capacity next term as a result. They need to use Wembley to meet UEFA requirements.
“I think it will be weird the first few times because we have to get used to the pitch, which is much bigger than at the Lane,” Eriksen told Sky Sports.
“But it will be a nice experience to play there and hopefully we will do well because how we play, I think a big pitch will suit our game.
“It will be brand new for us to play in the Champions League, so for the team and everyone it will be a really good year to see how far we have come. We must keep our level.”
Spurs, who are aiming to open their new stadium for the 2018-19 campaign, will play at least three European matches at Wembley, which has a seating capacity of 90,000 for soccer matches, having finished third in the Premier League last term.
Tottenham begin their new campaign with a trip to Goodison Park to face Everton on Aug. 13
MLS wants to be ‘guinea pig’ for video reviews
Major League Soccer in North America is fast-tracking plans to use video reviews to aid referee decisions, commissioner Don Garber said.
Garber has long been a proponent of using video to ensure crucial calls are correct, and the league recently hosted a visit to New Jersey by officials from the international rule-making body IFAB for the first ever live trials.
The technology was tested during games between local youth teams, with the referee in constant communication with a video assistant referee.
“I’ve always believed we need to have some video replay,” Garber told ESPN. “Fortunately, new leaders at FIFA are pushing this and it’s happening.
“It’s going to happen in our league in the next year or so. We want to be a guinea pig.”
Soccer is one of the last major sports that does not use video reviews, other than goal-line technology in a handful of leagues that determines whether a goal has been scored.
The proliferation of close-up slow motion television replays that have highlighted numerous mistakes by officials in recent years has created an impetus for change.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in March that video replay would start by the 2017-18 season “at the latest” for goals, direct red cards, mistaken identities and penalties.
And to those traditionalists who want to keep the status quo, Garber has a response.
“We’ve got to change the way the game’s perceived from an officiating perspective and technology’s going to help us to do that.”