Chelsea to face Arsenal in the F.A cup semi-final.

Arsenal’s new-found resilience was underlined as Arsene Wenger’s side staged a late rally to win an ill-tempered clash with Hull and book a Wembley FA Cup semi-final date with Chelsea.

Nick Barmby’s 13th-minute strike had given Hull hope of performing an encore to their September victory at the Emirates in the English Premier League. But Robin van Persie and William Gallas both found the net in the final quarter-hour to send the Gunners through to the last four of the world’s oldest knockout competition, as well as ensuring the club’s first appearance at the new Wembley.

Gallas will not have the chance to lead Arsenal out at the national stadium, having been stripped of the captaincy earlier this season, but the France defender underlined his value to the club with his headed winner, six minutes from time.

Arsenal had received a pre-match boost with Andrey Arshavin being passed fit to start. The Russian playmaker had been unplayable against Blackburn on Saturday, but neither he nor Arsenal were to perform with the same fluency as in that 4-0 romp and it was little surprise that Hull took the lead through Barmby, an erstwhile star for their north London rivals Tottenham.

Arsenal’s defence hesitated when confronted with a long ball from Andy Dawson, allowing Barmby to find the net with a volley and the help of a deflection off Swiss internationl Johan Djourou. Gunners goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, offered a chance to impress in place of the rested Manuel Almunia, then produced a fingertips save to prevent Hull’s Brazilian playmaker, Geovanni, from doubling the lead from a free-kick.

Gradually the Gunners began to assert themselves and efforts from Arshavin and Abou Diaby went close before van Persie forced Hull keeper Boaz Myhill into a fine save with a perfectly-executed free-kick from 25 yards. The Dutch striker was not to be denied, however, finally finding the net with 16 minutes left thanks to the persistence of substitute Nicklas Bendtner.

The big Dane’s dogged determination enabled him to work the ball to Arshavin who provided the cutback from which van Persie fired Arsenal level.  Bendtner then had a close-range shot blocked behind by Michael Ricketts but Arsenal avoided a replay with six minutes left, with Gallas heading home the winner despite Hull protests that he was in an offside position.

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Chelsea boss feeling confident about title race!

Premier League leaders United currently hold a four-point advantage and a game in hand on Hiddink’s side.

But the Dutchman claims the Blues will not give up on the title — even if it appears destined to remain at Old Trafford.

He said: “The task we are facing is extremely difficult.

Hiddink believes his rejuvinated side are good enough to beat manchester united and claim the league title since jose mourinho left!!

Hiddink believes his rejuvinated side are good enough to beat manchester united and claim the league title since jose mourinho left!!

“Don’t forget that Manchester have a game in hand and, moreover, they have a lot of experience of winning the league.

“But all I can promise is that Chelsea will fight to the bitter end.”

Hiddink has already guided the Blues to four Premier League wins since replacing Phil Scolari.

And Russia’s national coach insists his methods have been fully embraced by his Chelsea players.

He added: “Everybody knows my way — work, work and more work.

“That has been the principle since my first day in London and so far it is working.

“We started in fourth place in the Premier League, now we are second.”

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Chelsea VS Manchester City. Full time score : chelsea 1 manchester city 0

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, Cole, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Deco, Anelka, Drogba. Subs: Hilario, Mikel, Malouda, Quaresma, Kalou, Alex, Belletti.

Man City: Given, Richards, Onuoha, Dunne, Bridge, W-Ph’lips, Ireland, Zabaleta, Elano, Robinho, and Caicedo. Subs: Hart, Bojinov, Garrido, Fernandes, Evans, Etuhu, Berti.

Ref: M Riley

 

Michael Essien scored on his league return to give Chelsea the advantage.

Micheal Essien scores against Manchester city who have been struggling to find form. Essien scored the only goal of the match.

Micheal Essien scores against Manchester city who have been struggling to find form. Essien scored the only goal of the match.

A solitary strike from Michael Essien, on his first Premier League start since regaining full fitness, proved to be enough to secure the points and keeper Guus Hiddink’s unbeaten record intact.

On a glorious afternoon in west London it took less than two minutes for the hosts to find the back of net.

Frank Lampard’s early effort was chalked off by a linesman’s flag, but it offered an early warning to City.

Mark Hughes’ men failed to learn their lesson, though, with Nicolas Anleka and Ricardo Carvalho going close before Essien forced the breakthrough on 17 minutes.

The Ghanaian midfielder was left wide open on the edge of the box and, after being spotted by a Lampard free-kick, looped the ball over the stranded Shay Given in spectacular style.

Felipe Caicedo did scuff a good opportunity narrowly wide on a rare occasion City threatened, but Petr Cech remained untested at the break.

Chelsea began the second half much the brighter and were unfortunate not to build on their lead.

Didier Drogba was proving to be a constant menace and was only stopped from keeping his fine scoring run going by some fantastic defending from Nedum Onuoha and an impressive reflex stop by Shay Given.

City did pose more of an attacking threat as the game wore on, but it was Hiddink’s side who came closest to forcing a second.

Anelka drilled into the side-netting after bursting into the box and substitute Florent Malouda saw a low drive hacked off the line by Richard Dunne as the clock ticked down.

 

 

Chelsea should have won by a bigger margin but a combination of poor finishing and fine goalkeeping by Shay Given kept the scoreline more than respectable for disappointing City.

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The players want Guus Hiddink to stay at Chelsea

The campaign to keep Guus Hiddink at Chelsea continues to gather pace.

The Dutchman insists he will quit the Blues in the summer to concentrate on his job with the Russian national side, but there is growing pressure on him to stay.

“I would love for him to say he is staying for three years,” said Michael Ballack. “Everybody in the club and around the club can feel he is a great manager.”

Goalkeeper Petr Cech added: “He is a very good coach and we want him to stay. But it is a difficult political situation and we will have to wait to see what happens.”

 

Guus Hiddink has underlined his intention to honour the terms of his initial agreement with Chelsea and leave the club at the end of the season – regardless of any success he might have in the meantime.

The fine start to his temporary stint at Stamford Bridge, encompassing a sequence of victories only ended by the midweek Champions League draw with Juventus has led to an increasing clamour for the Blues to extend their partnership with the Dutchman to next term and beyond.

But Hiddink has frequently stressed the importance of his role with Russia, a job he intends to continue in a full-time capacity at the end of his Chelsea contract. He said: “I made it very clear a few weeks ago – and again recently – what the future will be (for me) after May 30th. I don’t have to do that again.”

Senior stars Petr Cech and Michael Ballack have this week joined the chorus for Hiddink to stay on, insisting they would welcome a permanent deal.

Hiddink said: “They might change their minds about me when I put them on the bench or not even in the squad

“But there is a good atmosphere of work here and we are very demanding of each other. If they are happy with the way we are working and it’s going well with results it’s all okay.

“I have been very happy not just with the regular starters but with all the other players, who I’ve been watching and observing. Everyone is committed.

Hiddink’s side take on Manchester City on Sunday, while Liverpool attempt to keep their own title bid afloat against pace-setters Manchester United on Saturday.

By the time the Blues kick off, the trophy race may be down to just two – with defeat for Rafael Benitez’s side signalling the end of their realistic interest in the title.

Chelsea players train with hiddink

Chelsea players train with hiddink

The Dutchman previously predicted that Chelsea would need to win every match to have any chance of catching Manchester United and, while he has duly delivered with nine points from three matches, it has made no impression on a gap to United that could be 10 points by Sunday morning.

“Our first concern is our game of course against Manchester City,” said Hiddink. “We have the possibility to watch. It will be a beautiful clash to watch and if Liverpool can do some harm then great because it will make for a more exciting end to the season. But United look very determined and if they win then they can do the same to Liverpool.

 

“When I said we could win the league we were on schedule at that time but United have not made any mistakes since and neither are we. Until it is impossible, then we will fight.”

With senior Chelsea players, including Peter Cech and Michael Ballack, having expressed their hope that Hiddink will stay, the 62-year-old again reiterated his intention to return full-time to the Russia manager’s job at the end of the season.

“I have made very clear a few weeks ago and more recently what will happen after the 30th May and we stick with that,” he said. “If there is a good atmosphere then we like that and the attitude of players towards me is good.

“I didn’t find any isolated group of players within the team. It’s easy when you have won games to say as a manager that it has improved but I have not seen what happened before. It is more interesting to see the reaction when things have not gone well in one or two games than it is when you have won a few.”

Of a rejuvenated Didier Drogba, he added: “I don’t know what is different. I only saw him in the World Cup and after not so much in person but he is very committed for the team, he has responded very well to the team and contributes very well in the team.”

 

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Chelsea V.S Manchester City

Chelsea v Manchester City

Sunday 15 March 2009, Stamford Bridge

Kickoff: 13:30                                                            

Chelsea beat Portsmouth 1-0 away in their last league outing, continuing a run of four straight Premier League matches without a loss.

In their last five matches, Chelsea have won three, drawn one and lost one, earning themselves ten points from the latest fifteen on offer. Te Blues found the back of the net four times and conceded three times in these matches, as they currently sit 2nd in the league, seven points behind leaders Manchester United and equal on points with 3rd placed Liverpool.

Chelsea may be without Deco due to his hamstring injury, as well as Joe Cole on a long-term injury.

Manchester City defeated Aston Villa 2-0 at home in their last league outing, their first league win in four matches.

In their last five, Man City have won two, drawn one, and lost two, picking up seven points from the fifteen available. Manchester City scored four and conceded four in these matches, as they find themselves 8th in the league, four points behind 7th placed West Ham and equal on points with 9th placed Wigan.

Man City have a lenghty injury list, and will be without Bellamy (knee), Petrov (knee), Johnson (groin), and Sturridge (groin), although Benjani Mwaruwari, Micah Richards and Robinho could all be fit for this clash.

Chelsea beat Man City 3-1 earlier this season, and in last season’s Chelsea vs Man City fixture, the Blues were victorious with a massive 6-0 margin.

Chelsea will be on a high after their midweek aggregate win over Juventus to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals, and will have had more time to rest and prepare than Man City, who face Danish side AaB Aalborg in the last-16 first leg UEFA Cup tie on Thursday evening.

The Blues haven’t lost a match since new manager Guus Hiddink took over in February, and on current form this streak looks to continue against Man City. Although they have posted some shaky results at home this season, Chelsea currently holds the 5th best home record in the league whilst Manchester City holds 5th worst away form, having only won once away all season.

With a great run of recent form and the home crowd behind them, Chelsea will go into this match as strong favorites. Although Manchester City posted an impressive victory over 4th placed Aston Villa a week ago, their recent inconsistent form – especially on the road – Manchester city might give Chelsea some problems here and there but Chelsea will surely grab the win as Guus realizes the importance of the last few fixtures in the league and will most certainly grab the victory, but Manchester city cannot be counted out and could lead the match to a draw which is not good for Chelsea’s title chase.

We will have to wait and see what really happens.

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Jose Mourinho could be headed towards spain!!

Jose Mourinho wants to take over at Real Madrid after deciding to quit Inter Milan at the end of the season. Sources in Italy have told Standard Sport that the 46-year-old does not believe the time is right for a return to English football and will reject any approach from Chelsea or Manchester City.

Relations between Mourinho and the Inter board have become strained as the club’s hierarchy demand instant success in Europe.

The situation will have intensified after Inter were knocked out by United after a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash.

The Portuguese has also had an ongoing battle with the Italian media ever since taking charge at the San Siro last summer and feels he will have nothing left to prove should his team win the League, regardless of their exit in Europe.

Jose Mourinho could go to spain after not having the perfect relations with italy's Inter Milan.

Jose Mourinho could go to spain after not having the perfect relations with italy's Inter Milan.

Mourinho also faces being interviewed by Greater Manchester Police after they received a complaint from a fan who claimed he had been punched by the coach as he was standing by the Inter team bus outside Old Trafford, although the club insist nothing untoward happened.

Although City are likely to offer Mourinho a fortune in salary and transfer funds should Mark Hughes depart in the summer, the Portuguese has now set his sights on a return to Spain as he looks to continue to build a successful career in a variety of countries.

Chelsea insist Russiacoach Guus Hiddink is only in temporary charge until the end of the season and a significant section of the Blues faithful would want their former boss back in charge.

Mourinho won four League titles, a Champions League and a UEFA Cup in his time with Porto and Chelsea, who sacked him in September 2007 amid rumours of a falling out with owner Roman Abramovich. His Inter side are currently seven points ahead of Juventus in Serie A.

A source said: “It is not about money with Mourinho – Chelsea made him a very rich man when they sacked him. He wants titles and does not think he should be undermined by the board as could happen in Italy. Despite his links with Barcelona, he would have no problem taking over at Madrid.”

Mourinho worked under Bobby Robson at a variety of clubs during the 1990s including Barcelona, where he earned the nickname ‘The Translator’ before embarking on a coaching career. It is thought Mourinho’s ideal return to England would be to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at United.

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Drgoba on fire! Chelsea through to the quarter finals of the champions league after defeating Juventus 3-2 on aggregate.

Drogba strikes again!! For Chelsea.

The Blues went into the last-16 return leg with a one-goal advantage but that was soon wiped out by Vincenzo Iaquinta’s 19th-minute strike.

But the visitors levelled moments after referee Alberto Undiano had ruled that a free-kick by Didier Drogba had not crossed the goal line in the 44th minute

The debate became academic in first-half stoppage time as Frank Lampard’s shot came down off the underside of the bar for Michael Essien to bundle home.

But Juventus restored their lead on the night when Undiano awarded the Italian side a 74th-minute penalty for handball by Juliano Belletti.

However, Chelsea battled back for a second time when Drogba prodded home a cross from Belletti in the 83rd minute to give the Blues a 3-2 aggregate win.

The Serie A giants knew an early goal was a requirement if they were to get themselves back into a tie that kicked-off in Chelsea‘s favour thanks to Drogba’s match-winner at Stamford Bridge.

Pavel Nedved was twice down injured in the opening eight minutes. The first time after a collision with Essien and the second when he came off worst in a clash with Nicolas Anelka

Essien made a classy return after scoring against juventus and knocking them out of the champions league!

Essien made a classy return after scoring against juventus and knocking them out of the champions league!

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He was replaced in the 12th minute by Hasan Salihamidzic after failing to respond to lengthy treatment on the sidelines.

Dissapointing end for Gianluigi Buffon and Juventus as they lose to chelsea 3-2 on aggregate.

Dissapointing end for Gianluigi Buffon and Juventus as they lose to chelsea 3-2 on aggregate.

Nedved’s loss as a bitter blow to the Juve cause as he had been the architect of their fine start.

But

Chelsea‘s worst fears were realised in the 19th minute when Iaquinta put the Italians level on aggregate.

The Juve forward was put clear by David Trezeguet and lashed an angled dive beyond Petr Cech.

Guus Hiddink’s side were guilty of far too many misplaced passes as they tried to get themselves back on level terms on the night.

Instead it was Juve who continued to set the pace of the game and John Terry had to be alert to keep Trezeguet from getting on the end of a Del Piero pass in the 39th minute.

However, in the 41st minute, Anelka found himself with the perfect chance to test Buffon when the ball fell at his feet on the edge of the penalty area.

But despite having the luxury of time and space, the Frenchman’s effort almost hit the corner flag.

It had been a dreadful display by the English side who had shown a complete lack of ideas and invention in the opening half. But it was all to change inside two crazy minutes.

Chelsea were at the centre of controversy in the 44th minute when a free-kick from Drogba was clearly over the goal line but not given by Undiano or his assistants.

But seconds later it was immaterial as Frank Lampard’s shot hit the underside of the bar and Essien, playing his first game since being injured last September, bundled the ball home for the equaliser.

Essien’s goal had capped a fine comeback for the midfielder who ruptured his knee ligaments on international duty with Ghana last September.

His goal left Juventus needing to score twice to progress to the quarter-finals at Chelsea‘s expense.

Chelsea were understandably put under pressure by the Italians when the second half began.

Former Blues boss Claudio Ranieri stood inside the technical area as his side toiled away without success.

The Stadio Olimpico had lost its first-half fervour and Chelsea took advantage of the change in atmosphere to put more pressure on the home side.

In the 54th minute, Giorgio Chiellini was shown a yellow card for upending Ballack but this time Drogba’s free-kick fell kindly into the waiting arms of Buffon.

The home crowd then voiced their disapproval when Ranieri replaced goal-scorer Iaquinta with Sebastian Giovinco in the 61st minute.

Cech was then shown a yellow card after a shot from Giovinco deflected off Jose Bosingwa.

The Chelsea ‘keeper handled the ball outside the penalty area as he tried to prevent it going for a corner.

In the 65th minute Cech atoned for his error with a flying save to keep out a header from Trezeguet.

Del Piero’s cross had eluded the Chelsea defence and although Trezeguet found power with his header, Cech was equal to the task.

Moments later Chelsea replaced hero Essien with Juliano Belletti. The Ghanaian midfielder was clearly not fit enough to finish the game.

Juventus hopes were hampered further when Chiellini was sent off for a second bookable offence after fouling Drogba.

But referee Undiano was then at the centre of more controversy for awarding a penalty to Juventus in the 74th minute after Belletti was adjudged to have handled a free-kick by Del Piero.

The Juve striker sent Cech the wrong way from the spot to give the Serie A side renewed hope.

But it was soon crushed by Drogba who side-footed a low cross from Belletti into the net in the 83rd minute to cap a fine night for Chelsea.

Teams

Juventus Buffon, Grygera, Mellberg, Chiellini, Molinaro,Tiago, Marchisio, Nedved (Salihamidzic 13),Iaquinta (Giovinco 61), Del Piero, Trezeguet (Amauri 79).

Subs Not Used: Manninger, Zebina, Poulsen, Ariaudo.

Sent Off: Chiellini (71).

Booked: Salihamidzic, Chiellini, Del Piero.

Goals: Iaquinta 19, Del Piero 74 pen.

Chelsea Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Alex (Carvalho 88),Ashley Cole, Mikel, Ballack, Essien (Belletti 66), Lampard, Drogba, Anelka.

Subs Not Used: Hilario, Malouda, Deco, Kalou, Mancienne.

Booked: Cech, Drogba, Ashley Cole, Anelka.

Goals: Essien 45, Drogba 83.

Agg (2-3)

Att: 28,500

Ref: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain).

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