EPL

Chelsea cancel Drogheda friendly as COVID-19 precaution

By Sports Desk July 22, 2021

Chelsea's pre-season preparations in Ireland took a hit on Thursday as they had to cancel their friendly with Drogheda United due to one of the Blues' players becoming a coronavirus concern.

The Champions League winners were settling into their third day near Dublin when they had to tell the League of Ireland Premier Division team that one of their players had returned a possible positive COVID-19 test.

A Chelsea spokesman said: "Earlier today, we had a possible positive coronavirus case which we are investigating. The individual has been isolated from the rest of the group.

"We also decided, as a precaution, to cancel tonight's behind closed doors game against Drogheda."

Instead of the 90-minute workout, Thomas Tuchel held another training session as he attempts to combat an already poor pre-season due to many of his players being delayed in returning after Euro 2020 and Copa America duty.

Peterborough United provided the Blues' only pre-season preparation so far behind closed doors at Cobham, which Tuchel's men won 6-1, but Chelsea still have significant work to do before their European Super Cup clash with Villarreal on August 11.

Chelsea do, however, have additional friendlies scheduled against Bournemouth, Arsenal and Tottenham as they race the clock to get into shape for their first competitive game of 2021-22.

Chelsea head coach Tuchel is yet to strengthen this transfer window, instead watching the likes of Fikayo Tomori, Olivier Giroud and Victor Moses seek new challenges across various leagues in Europe.

Related items

  • Fati's quality is undeniable: Koeman revels in teenager lighting up Camp Nou Fati's quality is undeniable: Koeman revels in teenager lighting up Camp Nou

    Ronald Koeman says Ansu Fati's "quality is undeniable" after his stellar performance in Barcelona's 3-1 LaLiga win over Valencia at Camp Nou on Sunday. 

    Fati, whose return from a long-term knee injury had been limited to substitute appearances before the international break, marked his first start since November 7 with a superb equaliser after Jose Gaya had given Los Che an early lead. 

    Teenager Fati then won the penalty that saw Memphis Depay put Barca ahead before the break, while Philippe Coutinho added a late third to ease the pressure on Koeman after back-to-back defeats in the Champions League and LaLiga before the international break. 

    Fati, who recently inherited Lionel Messi's iconic number 10 shirt, was withdrawn in the 59th minute, with Koeman insisting it is important his reintegration into the first team is not rushed. 

    "He has to improve physically little by little, but his quality is undeniable," the Dutchman told Movistar. "Today he has already played an hour and he has more and more competition rhythm. Hopefully he can play many more years at this club.

    "We have a plan with him. Today he played from the beginning for the first time. Little by little he will be better and it will be more important; he is a different player from the rest."

    Sergio Aguero, who joined on a free transfer in the off-season after leaving Premier League champions Manchester City, was introduced from the substitutes' bench late on for his debut, and Koeman said they will be taking a similarly cautious approach with the Argentina international. 

    "It is important for the team to recover the injured attackers," he added. "Ansu and Aguero are different players, with special qualities. Aguero also has experience. I hope he follows a path similar to Ansu's. It is not a question of quality, but of being in good physical condition."

    Coutinho's late third was his first goal since November 29 last year, and the Brazil international opened up on a difficult period in this career.

    "It was a cry of rage [his celebration] because I needed to score to gain confidence," he explained. "No one else knows how much I have suffered. I have the same desire or even more with everything I've been through. It is a scar that makes me stronger. 

    "I have more desire to succeed and be the best Coutinho. We know that the situation is not the way we want it, but we are the only ones capable of lifting it. The team is involved and today we have shown it against Valencia. We have given 100 per cent, but if we have to give 150 per cent, we will give it."

    Barca host Dynamo Kiev in Champions League Group E on Wednesday before a mouth-watering Clasico against Real Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday. 

  • Mourinho saw a 'great' Roma in narrow Juventus defeat Mourinho saw a 'great' Roma in narrow Juventus defeat

    Jose Mourinho says he saw a "great" Roma in Sunday's 1-0 loss to Juventus and is convinced his side are moving in the right direction despite the defeat.

    Moise Kean scored the only goal of the game at Juventus Stadium as Rodrigo Bentancur's header deflected in off the striker in the first half, with Jordan Veretout seeing a penalty kept out by Bianconeri goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

    Roma out-shot Juventus 15-6 and edged possession with 52.1 per cent, but were unable to breach the hosts' stubborn rear-guard in Turin.

    Giallorossi boss Mourinho believes his beaten side did enough to win the match and is encouraged by the progress Roma are making under his stewardship.

    "I can only say I saw a great Roma today. That's what I told my players in the locker room," Mourinho told DAZN.

    "Obviously, we are talking about a defeat and zero points, but all I can say is that was a great Roma in every respect. Congratulations for the organisation, the hard work, those who played despite some physical difficulties, missing players through international duty.

    "I saw courage, confidence, belief. Obviously, the defeat will always be a defeat, but if I look at the project, that means looking at the growth of the team over time.

    "I might see it differently to you, but I saw the team that deserved to win ended up losing. That is football.

    "All the words we heard from Juventus in the tunnel and the locker room, I hope they say it in public too. They know how much they struggled against us.

    "I won here many years ago without playing so well, today we lost when playing very well and showing we are going in the right direction.

    "I told the lads that when going into these games where you are not the favourite, you cannot go home with regrets. We played well, we neutralised their counter-attack and had absolute control of players like [Federico] Chiesa and [Juan] Cuadrado.

    "We moved the ball internally, but when up against a side that defends that well with those two professors [Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci] it's not easy. I still feel we did more than enough to win or at least draw. I congratulate my players."

    Roma were frustrated with the referee for awarding the penalty that Veretout failed to convert, blowing his whistle seconds before Tammy Abraham turned the ball into the net after Henrikh Mkhitaryan was fouled by Szczesny.

    However, Mourinho declined to comment on the matter other than to confirm that Abraham had wanted to take the spot-kick, but had been turned down by first-choice taker Veretout.

    "The penalty incident, I don;t want to comment on," Mourinho continued. "I don't have all the information at hand, I haven't seen the replays. I want to isolate myself from that incident and concentrate on everything my team did.

    "Abraham is confident, he was fired up, but we have a hierarchy for penalties. Tammy is third behind Veretout and Pellegrini. If Jordan said he was ready to hand it over, that would not have been a problem for me."

  • Newcastle confirm fan is stable & responsive in hospital following medical emergency at St James' Park Newcastle confirm fan is stable & responsive in hospital following medical emergency at St James' Park

    The fan who took ill during Newcastle United's defeat to Tottenham on Sunday is in a stable condition in hospital, the Magpies have confirmed.

    Late in the first half of the Premier League clash, proceedings were stopped after the players were alerted to a situation in the East Stand of St James' Park.

    Spurs' Sergio Reguilon discussed the matter with Andre Marriner while Eric Dier spoke to fans before rushing across the pitch to call for a doctor.

    Newcastle's club doctor, Paul Catterson, took a defibrillator across to the stand and, after further discussions with a steward and a police officer, referee Marriner suspended the game.

    After a delay of over 20 minutes, the teams returned to the pitch, with Spurs going on to win 3-2.

    It was confirmed by Newcastle that the fan had been stabilised and transferred to hospital and, later on Sunday, the club subsequently issued a further update.

    A statement read: "Newcastle United can confirm that a supporter who required emergency medical treatment during the club's Premier League fixture with Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park on Sunday is stable and responsive in hospital.

    "The match was temporarily suspended during the incident, which occurred during the first half, and the supporter was awake and able to converse upon being transported to hospital.

    "The club would like to thank fans for their swift actions in raising the alarm and praise those who provided immediate chest compressions, as well as thanking the on-site medical professionals who swiftly administered emergency treatment using a defibrillator located close to the incident.

    "Our best wishes go to the supporter and their loved ones and we hope for a swift and full recovery."

    Steve Bruce credited the fast actions of those in the crowd, while Nuno Espirito Santo praised the players and referee for their swift response.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.