Maurizio Sarri Defends Decision Not to Start Eden Hazard After Chelsea Secure Frankfurt Draw

?Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has claimed he dropped Eden Hazard to the bench for their Europa League semi-final first leg draw at Eintracht Frankfurt to keep the Belgian fresh.

The Blues looked in trouble when Luka Jovic put the Bundesliga side ahead, before Pedro equalised on the stroke of half time following good work from Ruben Loftus-Cheek – giving Sarri’s side a vital away goal.

Pedro,Olivier Giroud

Hazard was brought on with half an hour to go with a much-improved Chelsea pushing for a winner, but they ultimately had to settle for a 1-1 draw, despite Frankfurt looking out on their feet by the end.

“For a player that has 70 matches in a season, starting him from the bench is a normal reaction,” Sarri said in his post-match press conference, as quoted by BBC Sport, adding: “We have to play again in 62 hours.”

The 28-year-old winger has only started twice for Chelsea in the Europa League this season, but also been the subject of intense speculation regarding a potential transfer to Real Madrid.

Eden Hazard

The Italian did not inform his talisman that he would not be starting at the Commerzbank Arena.

Sarri said: “I don’t speak with the players that I want to put on the bench.

“He is a player, so I have to do it otherwise I have to speak to everyone. He was a normal way, joking as usual. He knows the truth very well.”

“We have to play five matches in two weeks with the same importance. We don’t know yet which is the right way. We want both, the Champions League and the Europa League win.

“This time we don’t want to just play the final, we want to win it.”

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Man Utd Hand Juan Mata ‘Final Offer’ in Bid to Agree One-Year Contract Extension

?Manchester United are said to have made one last effort to keep Juan Mata at Old Trafford beyond the end of the season by offering the 2010 World Cup winner a ‘final offer’ on a new contract.

Mata is due to be out of contract in June and is on course to leave United as a free agent after spending five-and-a-half years in Manchester.

Juan Mata

The Spaniard, a popular figure among fans, has been linked with the likes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in recent months and has been eligible to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs since January, when he entered the last six months of his current deal.

Mata had previously been unable to come to an agreement with United over an extension – the length of the proposed deal is rumoured to have been the sticking point – but the Manchester Evening News has now reported that United have submitted one last offer in a bid to keep him.

The story claims that Mata has been offered a fresh one-year contract with the option of an additional 12 months, potentially tying him to the club until 2021. It is also said that Mata is ‘calm’ about the situation and that United are ‘more hopeful’ he will agree to the deal.

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Speaking last month, Mata’s father, who also doubles as his agent, confirmed that United ‘have offered to renew’, while also stating that his son is ‘happy’ at the club.

Whether that offer is the same as the one now being reported by the MEN is unclear.

Mata Sr. additionally confirmed at that time that there have been proposals ‘from Champions League teams’, while the only clubs he ruled out were Liverpool and Manchester City.

“There are two options that do not [appeal]: Liverpool and City. We have to respect the Manchester United fans, he is held very dear here,” Mata Sr. said.

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He has only started 15 Premier League games this season, although he did score his first goal in any competition since January in last weekend’s draw against former club Chelsea.

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Liverpool Unveil New Training Kit Emblazoned With Fresh AXA Sponsor

?Liverpool have unveiled a brand new training kit for the 2019/20 season, emblazoned with a new brand new sponsor: AXA. 

The French multinational corporation struck up an agreement with the ?Premier League club last October, becoming their first official global insurance partners. Part of this deal involved sponsorship of the club’s forthcoming training kits, with this now realised going into the 2019/20 season.

The shirts are available for pre-order on the club’s official online ?store, ahead of their official release on Thursday 9 May, timed with the release of the club’s official home kit for next season. 


The training kit batch includes a stylish new shirt with a beguiling pattern, tracksuit tops, tracksuit bottoms, jackets, polo shirts and sleeveless hoodies. 

The description on the store of the Reds On Pitch Jersey reads: “Train hard and stay cool in the ?Liverpool FC On-Pitch Jersey. Developed with movement and agility in mind, it’s lightweight, comfortable and engineered with NB DRY technology which helps wick moisture away from the skin – all you need to do is keep your head in the game.”

Features include ‘mesh panels’ on the sleeve and shoulders, ‘back neck darts’ and ‘New Balance Dry Technology for releasing moisture away from the body and fast drying’. 

As for the official kit, it contains a brand new yellow pinstripe design, in homage to the Reds’ famous side of 1982/83, and has been dedicated to legendary manager Bob Paisley.

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Everton vs Burnley: Sean Dyche’s Best Available Clarets Lineup

?Burnley make the journey to Goodison Park this Friday to face an in-form Everton team as the Premier League season draws to a close.

The Clarets lost by the slenderest of margins last time out, Sergio Aguero’s scrappy effort bouncing a mere 29mm over the line to gift Manchester City the win. Despite the defeat, Sean Dyche’s side have ensured their place in the top flight for next year, a strong run of results over the past month securing their survival.

The hosts were held to a stalemate away to Crystal Palace on Saturday, though they have won four of their previous six matches in the league. They sit in ninth place in the table, Europa League qualification still on the cards if they can hunt down Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Here’s the team Dyche could field against the Toffees for Friday’s ?meeting.


?Goalkeeper & Defenders

Thomas Heaton

Tom Heaton (GK) – The England international was bombarded against ?City, facing a total of 25 shots. He made one outstanding stop from Bernardo Silva with the scores still level, parrying a venomous drive from point-blank range.

Matt Lowton (RB) – At 29 years of age, Lowton is now a well-established ?Premier League

player, with over a century of appearances in the division. A consummate professional and industrious worker, Dyche can always rely on his right back.

James Tarkowski (CB) – After a place in Gareth Southgate’s England World Cup squad slipped agonisingly through his fingers, Tarkowski’s confidence could have taken a major knock. However, he has avoided a downturn in form, continuing to shine at the back for the ?Clarets.

Ben Mee (CB) – A wondrous block on the line prevented Gabriel Jesus from killing Burnley off on Sunday, Mee intelligently reading the play before setting himself in the perfect position to deny the Brazilian.

Charlie Taylor (LB) – After coming through the ranks with ?Leeds in the lower divisions, Taylor made a switch to Turf Moor in 2017 and hasn’t looked back since. Though not the flashiest of players, he can more than hold his own in the Premier League.


Midfielders 

Dwight McNeil,James Maddison

Jeff Hendrick (RM) – The Irishman is a tireless worker and an underrated passer of the ball, making him a fine fit in Dyche’s lineup. He is another who is proving his abilities in the top flight.

Jack Cork (CM) – Into his third spell in claret and blue following two loan spells, Cork has found a place where he is adored by fans for his slick distribution and defensive solidity following stints at Southampton and Swansea.

Ashley Westwood (CM) – It has been a splendid 2019 for Westwood, the midfielder having found a rich vein of form. He has been a key force in driving Burnley up the table and expelling any lingering concerns about relegation.

Dwight McNeil (LM) – Still a fresh-faced teenager, McNeil was fearless against the league leaders, as he has been since being handed an opportunity in the team by Dyche. His purposeful dribbling, pinpoint crossing and the ability to glide past defenders mark him out as a threat to Everton’s defence.


Forwards 

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Ashley Barnes (ST) – ?Liverpool supporters were desperate for Barnes to sink the Citizens, but it was not to be. With eight goals this calendar year he poses a very real threat to Marco Silva’s backline.

Chris Wood (ST) – The Kiwi is a bruising, vigorous striker, capable of keeping even the greatest defences busy with his physicality and aerial prowess.

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Everton vs Burnley: Marco Silva’s Best Available Toffees Lineup

?Everton host Burnley at Goodison Park on Friday night as they aim to continue their strong finish to the Premier League season.

Marco Silva’s side played out a goalless draw away to Crystal Palace last time out, though they did humiliate Manchester United 4-0 the week prior. They have won four of their last six matches in the top flight, losing just once in that run.

The visitors were narrowly edged out 1-0 by Manchester City last weekend having claimed an impressive 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge six days before, their survival now guaranteed.

Here’s the lineup Silva could choose for Friday’s ?meeting.


Goalkeeper & Defenders

Lucas Digne

Jordan Pickford (GK) – England’s number one has struggled for form since returning from Russia, though he now looks to be getting back to his best. That is demonstrated by the fact that he has kept seven clean sheets in his last nine ?Premier League appearances. 

Seamus Coleman (RB) – The Irishman possesses lightning speed and is always a willing runner, constantly providing an option for teammates. One of the most underrated defenders in the division, Silva will be mightily pleased to have Coleman at his disposal.

Michael Keane (CB) – Inclusion in the latest England squad was just reward for Keane’s fine showings this term. Whereas before he was shaky and indecisive, now the 26-year-old appears fully assured of his own abilities.

Kurt Zouma (CB) – The ?Chelsea loanee is a fierce force at the back for the ?Toffees, dominating opposition attackers and valiantly protecting his goal. Chris Wood may be a combative striker up front for ?Burnley, but he will struggle to overpower Zouma.

Lucas Digne (LB) – Everton have splashed the cash rather lavishly in recent transfer windows, yet arguably their finest bit of business was bringing Digne to Goodison Park for around £18m last summer. He has bagged some marvellous goals this campaign, including a sumptuous double in the reverse of this fixture at Turf Moor.


Midfielders 

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Idrissa Gueye (CM) – Links to Paris Saint-Germain emerged over the winter, but Gueye stayed put. Silva and the club’s supporters will be thankful for that, the Senegal international having developed into a superb all-round midfielder.

Morgan Schneiderlin (CM) – The Frenchman has never quite been the same since leaving ?Southampton for ?United, becoming something of a scapegoat at Old Trafford. Though he is now performing soundly, he is yet to rediscover the form he showed in red and white stripes.

Gylfi Sigurdsson (CAM) – This man is lethal from long-range. With remarkable technique and awe-inspiring power, keepers are powerless to stop Sigurdsson piledrivers. He got on the scoresheet against the Clarets in December, though that was actually from the spot.


Forwards 

Richarlison

Richarlison (RW) – Eyebrows were raised when Everton chose to pay ?Watford £50m including add-ons for Richarlison. Well, he’s starting to justify that gargantuan fee, his dynamic displays ?allegedly catching the eye of treble-chasing ?Barcelona.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (ST) – At just 22 years of age, there is still plenty of time for the youngster to become a top level marksman. With eight goals in all competitions this campaign, he’s not exactly setting the world alight, though it is a reasonable base to progress from.

Bernard (LW) – Deft, jinking dribbles from Bernard have left many a Premier League defender back-peddling. The nimble winger is so slippery, offering an excellent attacking outlet for his side.

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