Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic Names the Former Man Utd Player He Idolises & Discusses Where He Can Improve

?Chelsea loanee Mateo Kovacic has admitted to watching videos of former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes to help him improve his game and prepare for life in the English top flight.

Kovacic joined the Blues on a season-long loan from Real Madrid this summer and has already featured five times for the Premier League club.

West Ham United v Chelsea FC - Premier League

Speaking to ?Sky Sports, the Croatian star said: “Every player has to be himself — but for me Scholes was one of the best ever.

“He was amazing. I still enjoy watching his videos on YouTube. Sometimes I go home and watch him to learn something new.

“He had everything, he was the modern midfielder — scoring goals, defending well, tackling.

“I don’t copy anybody but I do like to watch Scholes. I also watch other players to see what I can do better. Players like ?Luka Modric and Andres Iniesta, too.”

?Kovacic did admit that at least in one area he was a long way behind his idol Scholes; goalscoring.

While goals aren’t the most important element of a player like Kovacic’s game, the ?Chelsea midfielder does still have a surprisingly poor record of finding the net.

Scholes netted 155 times in 718 appearances for ?United, while Kovacic has scored just three in 110 appearances in all competitions. That gives him a goals per game ratio of just 0.02, compared with the 0.16 of Scholes.

Chelsea FC v Cardiff City - Premier League

Kovacic said: “That is the problem in my career, I have not scored enough — and it’s something I need to improve on.”

Despite his lack of goals, the 24-year-old has still already had an illustrious career, having moved to ?Real Madrid in August 2015 where he has won the Champions League three times.

Kovacic was also part of the Croatia team that reached the World Cup final this summer, losing to France in the end.

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West Ham 0-0 Chelsea: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Blues Drop Points for the First Time This Season

West Ham and Chelsea were made to share the points in their first encounter of the season in a 0-0 draw at the London Stadium on Sunday.

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The Hammers grabbed their first win of the campaign against Everton at Goodison Park last weekend and were hoping to hand Manuel Pellegrini a second straight win in this contest.

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Maurizio Sarri’s Blues had won all of their previous matches in impressive fashion but were held scoreless in the first half, with West Ham having a right go at the visitors’ goal themselves.

West Ham were able to keep things level in the second half as well and actually got the best chance of the match, with Andriy Yarmolenko contriving to put a free header wide from point-blank range.

They were also handed two big chances in the first half but Michail Antonio put the first way off target and Kepa Arrizabalaga stuck out a foot to save his next shot from a few meters out.


WEST HAM

Key Talking Point

The Hammers did well to absorb the pressure and keep the Blues out as Chelsea controlled possession. However, they will rue their missed chances, especially the one thrown away by Yarmolenko who was the hero for them against Everton last time out.

Pellegrini’s men were able to defend well for most of the game and also sprang some neat counters with great pace when they nicked the ball off Chelsea. They will go into the week feeling like they should have topped the Blues on this particular occasion, given the glaring opportunities they were presented over the course of the match.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Fabianski (8); Zabaleta (7), Diop (8), Balbuena (7), Masuaku (8); Noble (7), Obiang (7), Rice (7); Anderson (7.5), Yarmolenko (6); Antonio (6.5)

Substitutes: Adrian, Cresswell, Snodgrass, Sanchez (N/A), Ogbonna, Fredericks, Perez (N/A)


Star Man

Lukasz Fabianski: Sure Alvaro Morata’s goalbound shot bounced off his face. But the fact is it was goalbound and the Blues would have likely nicked a 1-0 win if he hadn’t bravely rushed out to get in the way.

Fabianski also made a late dive to stop a very good shot from substitute Ross Barkley to keep a point for his struggling side and his overall performance was indeed encouraging.

Worst Player: Overall, Yarmolenko had a decent outing for the Irons, yet he has to go down as their worst player after missing such a sitter.

How he managed to get such a clear, unmarked aerial strike off target certainly baffles and it will probably dwell on his mind for some time.


CHELSEA

Key Talking Point

Chelsea dominated in the early going but took their foot off the gas approaching the end of the first half and allowed the Hammers the best chances in the period. They could have been behind 2-0 at halftime had Michail Antonio been more clinical.

Having started the match brightly, the Blues – possibly hung over from their Europa League exploits and delayed flight in midweek – looked a bit laboured heading into the second half.

West Ham United v Chelsea FC - Premier League

Eden Hazard was expected to have another great performance leading up to the match but the Belgian seemed more intent on giving Alvaro Morata a goal after the Spaniard came on in the second period.

Sarri’s insistence on playing N’Golo Kante out wide has finally proven somewhat ill-advised as the Frenchman did not look himself at all this time around and even spurned two good chances in the box.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Kepa (7); Azpilicueta (7), Luiz (7), Rudiger (8), Alonso (6.5); Jorginho (8.5), Kante (7), Kovacic (7), Willian (8); Hazard (7); Giroud (6)

Substitutes: Caballero, Cahill (N/A), Zappacosta, Moses, Fabregas, Barkley (7), Morata (6)


Star Man

Jorginho: The Brazilian was the man for Chelsea on a day when they played their poorest. Sarri’s summer signing controlled things in the middle of the park for his side and was helped by the fact that he was afforded loads of space.


Jorginho worked several impressive passes to unlock the Hammers’ defence and made a concerted effort to keep play moving forward. It’s very unfortunate that none of his remarkable passes did not end up being an assist.

 

Worst Player: Olivier Giroud had a terribly poor game up front for Chelsea and will look back on this one wishing he had done better. He was made to fight for scraps, admittedly, but he did fail to convert a good chance after being played in by Jorgino and hardly linked up with the rest of the attacking line as he has been known to do.

West Ham United v Chelsea FC - Premier League

The French forward was eventually taken off for Morata and didn’t look at all pleased. But he only has himself to blame after giving such a poor account of himself.


Looking ahead

The Hammers can feel pretty confident heading into their upcoming matches and can build on their defensive showing against the Blues.

As mentioned above, they will rue their missed opportunities, yet they should be proud of their efforts against a team such as Chelsea, who have been near perfect this season – barring Sunday’s performance.

West Ham United v Chelsea FC - Premier League

The Stamford Bridge side have a tough week ahead, with back-to-back fixtures against Liverpool coming up next week. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are the only team who haven’t dropped any points so far this season and will be playing Chelsea in the League Cup on Wednesday and in league action on Saturday.

Sarri will surely be concerned after being held by West Ham and it will be interesting to see his reaction in the next few games.

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Pedro Sends Out Clear Warning to Rivals Ahead of West Ham Clash & Believes Chelsea Can Be Champions

Pedro has sent out a clear message to all Premier League clubs, claiming he believes Chelsea can be champions ahead of their clash with West Ham on Sunday.
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?The Spaniard is now in his fourth season with the Blues and already has a Premier League title and FA Cup win to his name, although he would’ve been disappointed last season – with his side having finished 30 points behind league winners Manchester City.

Chelsea FC v Cardiff City - Premier League

However, ?Chelsea look to have put last season behind them after making an electrifying start to the 2018/19 season, having won all of their opening five games so far. On an individual level, ?Pedro has also made a fast start, having already bagged himself three goals in five appearances.
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?It looks as though the Blues mean business this season and speaking with the ?Daily Mirror, Pedro admitted that whilst he and his side have made a 100% start to the season, they still need to do more if they are to challenge for the title. 

He said: “We couldn’t have started better, because we have won all the matches and we’re fulfilling all our best dreams.
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?”From the first day, we have shown we want to be ­champions. But we know we need to do more ­because you have to keep going. This game at ?West Ham is ­important. It’s a derby with a special character, which makes it ­complicated. 

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“We need to show that this team can endure pressure and cope with difficult environments. It’s a good test to stay top of the table and let the other teams know that Chelsea are here.”
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?It already looks as though Chelsea will face stiff competition for top spot early on in the season with Liverpool winning all of their first six games whilst ?Manchester City have only dropped two points so far.

Cardiff City v Manchester City - Premier League

It has been a shaky start to the season for the reigning champions City after dropping points against newly-promoted Wolves then losing their opening Champions League group game midweek against Lyon, and Pedro went onto send a clear message out stating he believes that Chelsea can be champions this term.
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?He added: “Man City were champions last season and deserved to be, but that does not guarantee anything in this league. It will be up to us and Liverpool and Man Utd to respond and there will be a big battle to be the champions this time.

Chelsea FC v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League

?“People were talking about City winning the title for many years in a row but I only worry that Chelsea play well. We believe that we can be champions – so what happens to others does not affect us much.
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?“Chelsea are a great club with a great squad. We are trained and ready for everything and above all we have come out this season like lightning. Everything is going well and we have to keep that going.”

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?They’ll be looking to make it seven successive wins in all competitions to start the season when they travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham on Sunday, and Pedro will certainly be hoping to make an impact for his team should he get the chance.?

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Barcelona Chief Hints at Ivan Rakitic Contract Renewal Next Season With PL Giants Interested

Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are all reportedly monitoring Ivan Rakitic’s situation at Barcelona after the La Liga club’s president revealed they may look to renew the Croatian’s contract next season.

According to talkSPORT, Chelsea are among a host of clubs interested in the Croatian, with the two Manchester clubs also keeping an eye on the situation along with French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

UEFA Champions League'FC Barcelona v PSV'

It’s understood that Rakitic is looking for a considerable pay rise as well as an extension to his current contract which is due to run out in 2021. 

However, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has said that the Croatian will not be getting a new contract any time soon, leading to the interest in the player.

Bartomeu has explained his reasoning as being finance related, in an interview with Onda Cero as quoted by talkSPORT he said: “For this campaign, we will not be able to go through with the gesture that Rakitic is asking of us. Next season we can look at it in relation to our new revenue.”

FC Barcelona v PSV - UEFA Champions League Group B

The interest from some of Europe’s top clubs suggests that Barca would be making a big mistake by not agreeing a new contract with ?Rakitic, who starred for Croatia during the 2018 World Cup as they reached the final, ultimately losing to France.

Rakitic moved to the Catalan club from Sevilla in 2014 and has since become a mainstay in Barca’s midfield, something that isn’t to be sniffed at given the glut of talent the club have had in that area in recent times.

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3 Key Battles That Could Decide West Ham United’s Premier League Clash With Chelsea on Sunday

Maurizio Sarri’s team face a weekend trip across the capital in a bid to keep their 100% record alive.  

Chelsea won’t have it easy however, as they’ve failed to pick up a single win in their last three visits to the London Stadium. Their opponents, West Ham, will be buoyant after a victory away to Everton last time out, as star players start to hit form.

 

Atop of the Premier League table on goal difference, one slip up from the Blues will allow Liverpool to take control. Needing big characters in this game, 50-50s must be won all around the pitch.   

Here’s three key battles that could decide Sunday’s clash: 

1. Eden Hazard vs. Pablo Zabaleta

You’ll find it difficult to identify a better winger in the Premier League than Eden Hazard. When in full flow, the Belgian is near impossible to deal with. Speed, trickery and an outstanding dribbling ability, Chelsea’s no.10 is a true savant of the game. 

On Sunday, he’ll be up against one of the most experienced full backs in the league. Pablo Zabaleta may be in the twilight years of his career, but previous achievements speak for themselves. A mainstay of Manchester City’s side for nine seasons, the Argentine was there for that fateful day in May 2012. 

This scrap should be decided by Hazard’s movement, and if he can find a way to beat Zabaleta for pace. With the Irons likely adopting two deep lying banks of four, Maurizio Sarri’s main man will need to be patient when choosing his moment to strike.

2. N’Golo Kante vs. Felipe Anderson

One of the nicest and most talented footballers around, N’Golo Kante is adored on the Stamford Bridge terraces. An integral piece of France’s all conquering World Cup side, the diminutive midfielder won the ball more times than anybody else in the tournament. This week, his sights will be firmly set on a certain Brazilian. 

Felipe Anderson has been brought in by the Irons from Lazio, and he wasn’t cheap. Smashing their transfer record, the east London club spent a total figure of £42m on the attacking midfielder. Gifted with an ability to drop opponents, his quick feet could prove a problem for Kante.

Likely starting out on the left flank, Anderson will drift in centrally as Mark Noble drops deep to help out Pedro Obiang and Declan Rice. Whether he decides to drift away from Chelsea’s water carrier or take him head on, the trickery of West Ham’s no.8 is to be on show throughout.

3. Olivier Giroud vs. Issa Diop

With Alvaro Morata only netting once in four Premier League games, it’s likely Maurizio Sarri moves on with Olivier Giroud. 

Tasked with neutralising the Frenchman’s impact is compatriot Issa Diop. Transferring from Toulouse this summer, the 21-year-old is to have a properly physical duel this Sunday. Hoping to be helped out by defensive partner Fabian Balbuena, Diop will have seen Giroud prove himself in Russia this summer. 

As the forward isn’t best known for his goal scoring prowess, it will be an interesting battle to see how Chelsea try and breach West Ham’s back line. Whether they wish for Giroud to out-muscle his opponent at set pieces or tire them out for a late game surge, an unwavering focus will be needed from Manuel Pellegrini’s troops. 

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