Mikel unfazed by pre-season setbacks

29 July 2012 21:10

John Obi Mikel insists Chelsea are moving in the right direction despite losing their second consecutive game on their USA pre-season tour.

The Champions League winners lost 1-0 against AC Milan in Miami on Saturday after going down 3-2 against the MLS All-Star team earlier in the week.

Despite the setbacks, midfielder Mikel, who has seen his place in the side come under threat following the arrivals of Eden Hazard and Oscar, is not concerned.

“I feel good, I think it was a good game for us,” the 25-year-old told Chelsea’s official website.

“It was not the result we would have wanted but there are positives we can take and try to build on it.

“We didn’t create many chances, but there were opportunities and maybe we were just one pass or one run short, so we are getting closer to how we want to be, and if we can keep doing what we are doing we will start to open teams up and improve our play.

“It is still pre-season and we have time to work on a few things before we get to the competitive games.”

The match with the Italian giants was the Blues’ final game of their USA tour, and they now return to London with an eye on the upcoming Premier League season.

And although Mikel says the experience of playing in America is exciting, he admits the squad are ready to return to the UK.

“I think we are all keen to get back home now but it has been a great experience playing in America and meeting so many amazing fans,” he said.

“Now we have to get back and build on what we have done on the tour and we will be in a good place on August 12 for the Community Shield.”

Chelsea’s season kicks off against Manchester City in the Community Shield on August 12.

Gladbach suffer Mlapa blow

29 July 2012 20:52

Borussia Moenchengladbach forward Peniel Mlapa is in doubt for the start of the season after sustaining an ankle injury.

The 21-year-old picked up the knock in his side’s friendly match against 2. Bundesliga outfit Bochum on Saturday.

Mlapa underwent further examination after the game to determine the exact extent of his injury, and he has now been diagnosed with torn ligaments in his right ankle.

“Injuries are unfortunately a part of the game. The timing and extent of the injury are obviously a big blow, but I have to look toward the future. I’ll do my utmost to return as soon as possible,” Mlapa told Sport1.

Mlapa had only just joined Gladbach from Hoffenheim, and has yet to make his first official appearance for the Bundesliga club.

De Vrij outlines Feyenoord goals

29 July 2012 20:16

Stefan de Vrij is hoping Feyenoord can cause an upset in Tuesday’s Champions League qualifier against Dynamo Kiev.

The Rotterdam giants finished runners-up behind Ajax in the Eredivisie last year to book their ticket for the third qualifying round, and the defender feels the side have what it takes to make it to the play-offs.

“It is going to be a difficult match against a good opponent. We are not the favourites, but we will get our chances. I’m confident that we can get a good result,” De Vrij told RTV Rijnmond.

“This is a new experience for all of us, but we have been fighting hard for it to get this far. We deserve to be here. We have been looking forward to it for a long time.”

Feyenoord will be without last year’s captain Ron Vlaar following his transfer to Aston Villa, and De Vrij has admitted the centre-back will be missed.

“I will miss him at the back. We’ll have to cope with his exit, though. You can’t change that. Whenever players leave, others step up to fill the void.”