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Chelsea handed huge double injury boost ahead of Champions League clash with Juventus

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Chelsea have received a big boost ahead of their Champions League clash against Juventus with the news that their opponents will be missing two key players.

The Blues travel to Turin to face the Italian giants on Wednesday in what looks on paper to be their toughest fixture in Group H.

Thomas Tuchel’s side won their opening game in Europe 1-0 against Zenit Saint Petersburg earlier this month.

But they suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday as they were defeated 1-0 at Stamford Bridge by Manchester City in a big blow to their title aspirations.

Although Chelsea’s priority may well be topping the Premier League this season, they would still dearly love to win a second Champions League in a row.

And they have been handed an advantage to their hopes of beating Juve after both Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala picked up knocks in the Old Lady’s 3-2 win against Sampdoria at the weekend. 

Spanish striker Morata – who had an underwhelming spell at Chelsea between 2017-19 – was taken off with ten minutes to go after signalling that he had an issue with his hamstring.

And after opening the scoring Argentinean playmaker Dybala had to be replaced just 22 minutes in and left the pitch in tears with what looked to be a muscular problem.

Following the full-time whistle Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri confirmed that neither player would feature against the Blues.

“Dybala and Morata certainly won’t play against Chelsea or Torino. That is for definite,” he said.

“We can only hope that we get them back after the break for international duty. This is part of the game and we have to keep going.”

It remains to be seen who Allegri calls on to replace the duo, but their absence may well improve the mood of Tuchel, who bemoaned his side’s lack of belief after the loss to City.

The German manager said: “We don’t care against who we play, we do our thing and we need to be better.

“It’s about making opponents underperform. City did this to us, they had high ball wins. We talked about the high pressing but with our decision-making I never felt fully confident we would escape the pressure with short passes. I never felt fully confident when we decided to go for long balls.

“We have Romelu upfront who we can put long balls into, but without that genuine belief and confidence, and also without the moments where you really hurt your opponent, it gets more and more difficult, and this is how the game went on Saturday.

“When we escaped the pressure, which was hard enough, we took bad decisions in playing into our strikers. When we played it into our strikers, they took bad decisions in the first contact and lost the ball.

“So you lose more and more belief and it was simply not a good enough performance to deserve more.”

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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