What does being substituted mean for John Terry?

Much has been made of the Premier League champions below-par start to the season and their 3-0 drubbing by Manchester City at the weekend has only intensified problems.

The substitution of Chelsea captain John Terry at half-time in the game at the Etihad has been talked about by pundits and fans alike. But has too much been made of the situation? Lewis Addley explores…

Sky Sports pundit, Niall Quinn, went as far to say that the substitution could mark the beginning of the end for Terry and that the former England captain faces a tough task to regain his place in the side.

“I think it could be the start of the end for John Terry,” Quinn told Sky Sports.

“I think he’s got a hell of a battle on now to get back in the team. To be taken off at half-time in a big game, he would be gutted.”

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It was the first time the Blues captain has been subbed by Mourinho in the Premier League, the only other occasion he didn’t complete the full 90 minutes was due to a sending off.

Premier League starts under Mourinho 177
Played full 90 minutes 175
Times substituted 1

Graeme Souness was quick to deflect Quinn’s comments regarding Terry, claiming it is a ploy from Mourinho to show club owner, Roman Abramovich, that he needs to sign more players.

“I don’t think it was anything to do with Terry’s performance,” Souness said to Sky Sports.

The club have been heavily linked with a move for Everton’s John Stones, who is seen by many as a long-term replacement for Terry, and Souness believes Mourinho was signalling that interest to Abramovich.

“John Terry is still the best centre-back out there. I think he’s trying to force the owner’s hand to go and buy John Stones.

“I think it’s a manager making a statement to the owner, saying ‘I need more players’.”

Statiscally, Chelsea are far better off when their captain plays, winning 11.7% more of their games.

With   Without
309 Games played 71
203 Wins 39
234 Goals against 69
0.8 Average goals against 1
65.7% Win % 54%

The Blues have also conceded 0.2 goals less per game on average when Terry is in the side.

Speaking on Sky Sports Monday Night Football, Gary Neville believes that the manager’s decision was viable and that at 34 these changes will happen for Terry.

“There will be certain games where, as a 34-year-old centre-back, other players will need to start to be phased in.

“My genuine belief is that it’s not the end of the world for John Terry. It was a big shock to him yesterday, and it’s almost like a public embarrassment – we’ve been there.

“But I don’t buy into the fact that his career’s over.”

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Former Liverpool captain, Jamie Carragher, echoed Neville’s opinion and believes Terry will be an integral part of the champions’ defence of their title.

“I think Chelsea will get back into the title race, and John Terry will be in there. I think it’ll be the end for him in terms of playing every minute of every game.

“This isn’t just a question of John Terry’s pace and that he can’t run – he’s never been able to run. He’s still been one of the best centre-backs we’ve had in the league.”

The Chelsea boss claimed his decision to sub his skipper was tactical and nothing more and although Terry will begin to be used a little more sparingly the comments from experts in the game speak volumes.

Chelsea’s next fixture is a tough away game against West Bromwich Albion, where they were crushed 3-0 at the back-end of last season. The spotlight will no doubt be on whether or not the Blues skipper will be selected.

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Sky Sports pundits see funny side of Fabregas’ red card against West Brom

Chelsea may have won the league but they weren’t willing to take their game at West Brom on Monday night easy.

The Blues were fired up from the word go, with the returning Diego Costa adding some bite back into the team, but Jose Mourinho’s side went down to ten men early on as Cesc Fabregas saw red in the first-half for a bizarre incident.

The Spanish midfielder fired a ball at Chris Brunt’s head from distance while the referee was trying to calm the players down after an incident involving Diego Costa in the box, with the Blues already down 1-0.

Fabregas was sent off for the shot, and Chelsea were left to play the rest of their final away game of the season with ten men.

But Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville couldn’t help but see the funny side of the incident, with Neville labelling Fabregas’ hit as “a hell of a strike”.

“I’m not sure why Eden Hazard throws the ball to Fabregas. There’s definitely intent to want the ball [from Fabregas]. I have to say, it’s a hell of a strike. I think it’s a red, because it’s stupid,” he said laughing during the halftime analysis.

“The referee never really has control of the situation. It’s a bizarre one but it’s a red card because it’s dangerous. The ball could have hit the referee and broken someone’s nose.”

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Carragher also agreed the incident deserved a red card but feels that the whole situation could have been avoided if the defenders ignored Costa’s antics beforehand.

“I’d have loved to have played against him [Diego Costa]. If I was against him I’d say ‘stop there, get on with the game’. That would have stopped all that followed.

“I think it’s probably a red card but not my favourite of the season.”

United and Liverpool legends reveal what Arsenal need to win title

Manchester United legend Gary Neville revealed Arsenal need a goalkeeper to stand any chance of winning the Premier League title next season, while speaking on Sky Sports.

Neville’s views were shared by fellow Sky Sports pundit and Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher. The pair blamed Arsenal keeper, David Ospina, for their 1-0 defeat to Swansea on Monday night and feel it is an area the club need to look at.

Carragher has urged Arsene Wenger to sign a world-class goalkeeper in the summer as he doesn’t think Ospina isn’t good enough.

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“I think Arsenal need to go out in the summer and just buy a proper number one,” Carragher said.

“His record is good because the team are playing well and are defending well so they’re not having that much to do, but he was bought as a number two.

“Very rarely do you see a number two goalkeeper become a number one. If he was that good, why was he bought as a number two? Why wasn’t he coming and being the number one?”

Arsenal have been linked with Chelsea’s Petr Cech as he has struggled for first team action this season, playing second fiddle to Thibaut Courtois. But Neville doesn’t see Chelsea selling Cech to their rivals.

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“If I was Jose Mourinho, with Arsenal potentially being one of my biggest rivals next season, I would not sell them Cech at all.

“It’s a struggle to win a title without a great goalkeeper, a massive struggle. Ospina is obviously a good goalkeeper and he has done well, but he is not a No 1 and they need a top goalkeeper.

“They need someone who is going to make saves and save his team points.”

Arsenal have continually been regarded as being ‘one or two’ top signings away from finally regaining the Premier League title and signing a world-class goalkeeper this summer could certainly be a step in the right direction.

Wojciech Szczesny is expected to depart the club after falling behind Ospina in the pecking order, and so Wenger may be in the market for a new man between the sticks.

Do Arsenal need a new goalkeeper or is David Ospina good enough to play as the number one?

Liverpool legend urges Sterling to ‘forget contract’ and ‘just perform’

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes that Raheem Sterling will have a “long and successful career” despite the recent attention he’s received over failure to agree on the terms of a new contract with the Reds.

“He’s one of Liverpool’s best attacking players. But forget the contract and money, the best way to prove your worth and keep the fans off your back is just perform. Don’t tell people how good you are, show them,” Carragher said on Sky Sports’ Monday night football.

Sterling scored the first goal in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Newcastle at Anfield last night, which leaves them four points behind fourth-placed Man City and keeps them in the hunt for a top four Premier League finish.

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But the 20-year-old is struggling to shake off the heavy criticism he’s been subjected to for not putting pen to paper on the £100,000-a-week deal he was offered, but Carragher thinks he will learn from the experience.

“There’s no doubt over the last six to 12 months, that in years to come he will look back on this period as a massive learning curve.

“You make mistakes at that age, I did, we all do. It’s just important that we learn from them. Raheem Sterling needs to be on the back pages, not the front pages.

“That’s a problem for him in the last few months, hopefully he learns from them. He’s going to be a great talent.”

Should Raheem Sterling sign a new deal for Liverpool or move elsewhere?

Liverpool legend claims top four chances are gone

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher believes his former side’s chances of finishing in the Premier League‘s top four have gone following a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday.

That loss at the Emirates leaves the Reds seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with just seven games to go, and Carragher thinks a place in next season’s Champions League is now out of reach.

“Top 4 looks like it’s gone for Liverpool, which makes Wednesday at Blackburn even bigger,” he posted on Kicca.

The defender made 737 appearances for the club and think silverware is more important than qualification for Europe’s elite competition.

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“I as a player would take a trophy over Champions League qualification but that goal looks more difficult with the suspension of Can and Skrtel as well as the performances of the other defenders [against Arsenal].

“Rodgers may have to change the system to a back four as he did for the second-half today as defeat at Blackburn doesn’t bear thinking about!”

Carragher famously won the Champions League with Liverpool in Istanbul back in 2005 and his opinion will be perceived as being in the best interests of the club by Liverpool fans.

Defeat at home to Manchester United two weeks ago ended a fine run of form and back-to-back losses make it difficult to see the Reds finishing in the top four again this year.

Are Liverpool out of the race for Champions League football? Should all attentions turn to the FA Cup now?

Jamie Carragher says being sold by Mourinho has hindered Juan Mata

Juan Mata has struggled to live up to his £37.1m transfer value since moving to Manchester United and Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher thinks Jose Mourinho’s decision to sell him has led people to believe he isn’t the same player he was.

Carragher believes Mata was one of Chelsea‘s best players when he joined from Valencia in 2011.

“Lets not forget about Mata, he was outstanding in those first two years,” he said while working as pundit for Sky Sports during the match coverage of Liverpool vs Manchester United on Sunday.

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But Carragher thinks the sale of Mata has lead to people questioning the qualities of the 26-year-old.

“You can’t argue with Jose Mourinho for what he has done in the game, for the trophies he has won, so if he thinks Mata is not good enough, people have question marks against him.”

Mata was the star of the show at Anfield on Sunday as he scored both goals in Man United’s 2-1 win against Liverpool – one of which a contender for goal of the season.

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The Spanish international has seven goals in 25 Premier League appearances this season – four more than record signing Angel Di Maria. Mata has also created an impressive 31 chances.

Mata needs just five more goals this season to equal his 2012/13 tally in his final full season at Chelsea, which is something he can achieve if he plays with the same intensity and freedom as he did against Liverpool.

Has Juan Mata been worth the fee Manchester United paid for him?

Liverpool legend reveals club ‘would love to sign’ Arsenal star

Theo Walcott‘s contract talks with Arsenal have been halted until the end of the season, prompting suggestions of a move away from the club and former Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher has revealed that Walcott would be a welcome addition to Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Walcott, who has been at Arsenal since 2006, is struggling to get into the current side and has made just eight league appearances this season.

His absence from the squad has been mainly due to the injury he suffered back in early January last year, which kept him out until October. Walcott then suffered a further setback in November 2014, with a groin strain keeping him out for a month.

Since his return to fitness Walcott has made just six appearances and Jamie Carragher believes Arsenal’s quality attacking options haven’t helped Walcott.

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“He’s a good player but is struggling to get into the Arsenal team with their top attacking players,” Carragher said in his weekly column for Sky Sports.

“If he was available then I’m sure any Liverpool fan, player or manager would love to see him at the club.”

Walcott’s Arsenal career has been plagued with injuries and his best run in the squad was arguably back in the 2012/13 season, where he made 32 Premier League appearances, scoring 14 goals.

If he can stay injury-free he is capable of producing that high quality form on a consistent basis but whether that is to be with Arsenal has not yet been confirmed.

Liverpool legend says Premier League is “miles away” as Chelsea eliminated from Champions League

Chelsea have been eliminated from the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain on away goals after their round of sixteen tie ended 3-3 on aggregate, sparking comments from former Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher that the Premier League is “miles away” from being the best in the world.

The Blues drew 1-1 in Paris two weeks ago but could not beat a PSG side who earned an impressive 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge after extra-time despite playing for 90 minutes with ten men as star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off after half an hour.

Gary Cahill put Chelsea 1-0 up with ten minutes of normal time to go but former defender David Luiz equalised just five minutes later to send the game to extra-time.

Eden Hazard restored Chelsea’s lead from the penalty spot after Thiago Silva handled the ball in the box but the powerful Brazilian centre-back steered his fine header past Thibaut Courtois with just six minutes left, sending PSG through to the quarter-finals on away goals.

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Jamie Carragher, who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, believes the result proves Premier League clubs are still nowhere near good enough to win Europe’s elite competition.

“The Premier League is miles behind other leagues. Best league in the world? Give me a break,” he said speaking on Sky Sports immediately after the game.

“We’re meant to be the best [league] in the world with the best players. We are being kidded. We are miles away.”

Chelsea have joined Liverpool as the second English club to be eliminated from this season’s Champions League before the quarter-final stage as the Reds were knocked out in the group stages.

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Arsenal and Manchester City remain in the competition but both lost their round of sixteen home legs against AS Monaco and FC Barcelona respectively.

The Gunners head to France next Tuesday, trailing 3-1, while City will need to overturn a 2-1 deficit at the Nou Camp next Wednesday.

Do you agree with Jamie Carragher? Is the Premier League “miles away” from being the best league in the world?