Frank Lampard Reveals When Chelsea Expect to See Ruben Loftus-Cheek Return

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has admitted that midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek still has a long way to go in his recovery from an achilles injury.

​The 24-year-old has not been seen since suffering the injury towards the end of last season, but it is thought that he is closing in on a return after returning to first-team training on Friday.


However, Lampard insisted (via the club’s ​official website) that, given the severity of the injury in the first place, ​Loftus-Cheek still has plenty of work to do to ensure he gets back to full fitness, and he will not be considered for selection until the club are confident he has recovered.

“He had his first session with us fully on Friday, which was a light session and that suited him,” the boss revealed. “He’s got a fair way to go still, and I’m not being pessimistic there. He probably needs a full week’s training with us, a tough week, and then he’ll need some Under-23 games.

“The break comes at a nice time for him, because it’s a nice time for him to work, and we’ll gauge it at the other end of that break and see where we are.

“I don’t care who you are, you’ll miss Ruben and his abilities, his natural physique, ability to travel with the ball, move it well, the goals he started to score last year – which have to be a big part of his game.

“Of course we’ll miss a player of that level and it put a smile on everyone’s face to see him back, because he’s popular with his team-mates as well.”

Lampard also added that winger Christian Pulisic is expected to return to training ahead of Saturday’s meeting with ​Leicester City, although it is unlikely that the American will be fit enough to feature.

Christian Pulisic

After that, ​Chelsea will have a 16-day break before returning to action to face ​Manchester United on 17 February, meaning both Loftus-Cheek and Pulisic will have time to focus on recovery.

Fans are eager to welcome Loftus-Cheek back as soon as possible. He was proving to be one of Chelsea’s star players at the time of his injury and is seen as a potential answer to the Blues’ lack of creativity in midfield.


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Real Madrid Stars Play Down La Liga Title Talk After Moving Top With Valladolid Win

​Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has insisted that moving top of La Liga means nothing this early in the season.

After Barcelona fell to a 2-0 loss to Valencia, Real managed to take advantage and move three points clear at the top of the table with a dramatic 1-0 win over Real Valladolid on Sunday. Nacho’s late header was enough to earn his side the win, and talk of winning the title has already been seen on social media.

Nacho Fernandez,Zinedine Zidane

However, speaking after the game (via ​Marca), Zidane was adamant that such talk is incredibly premature, and ​Real will simply continue to do their job until the title race is mathematically decided.

“Leading doesn’t change anything. We have to keep doing the things we’re doing well. It’s a long and difficult season,” the manager said.

Captain ​Sergio Ramos also echoed those feelings to Movistar+ (via ​Sport), insisting that there are far too many games left to play to get carried away by something as small as a three-point lead.

“It is important to be leaders, but there is a lot left. The season is very long and it is getting more complicated because you can drop points against any opponent,” he confessed. “We will try to continue adding three points in each game. With this initiative and commitment​Real Madrid will work hard to meet their objectives.”

There are still 17 games to play in the ​La Liga season, so it’s not hard to understand why Real are eager to distance themselves from talk of the title. They have to face ​Barcelona in early March, but they first need to get through ​Atlético Madrid on Saturday.

Real Madrid CF v Sevilla FC  - La Liga

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois admitted (via ​Mundo Deportivo) that Real will need to be at their best if they are to avoid slipping up against their fierce rivals, who will be desperate to emerge on top.

“Next week we play Atlético and they will come for everyone, even if they don’t come on a good run of form. They will come to die on Saturday at the Bernabéu,” he said.

“A season is very long and there are always ups and downs. We are doing very well now. We have to think about ourselves and not look at the other teams. If we focus on what we have to do, we do things very well.”


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Mikel Arteta Discusses Shkodran Mustafi’s Errors & Insists Defender Has Arsenal Future

​Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has insisted that Shkodran Mustafi still has a future at the club, while he is prepared to work hard to help the defender eradicate the errors which have plagued his time at the Emirates Stadium.

The German has faced plenty of criticism from fans for numerous costly mistakes in matches, most recently in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea, when he under-hit a backpass which led to David Luiz’s red card and Chelsea’s opening goal.

Shkodran Mustafi

With Brazilian centre-back ​Pablo Marí set to join the club, it has been suggested that Mustafi could be moved on before the January window closes, but Arteta insisted (via ​Goal) that that is not the case.

“While he is my player and he is training with me the way he does every day, of course [he has a future at the club],” the boss revealed. “The plans maybe in the summer were different with him, I came here, he is here and his attitude is always right.”

Arteta went on to discuss Mustafi’s battle with consistency, insisting that it is his responsibility to help the defender figure out a way to stop making such costly mistakes.

“Absolutely. It’s my job to [help eradicate the errors],” the ​Arsenal boss said. “I don’t believe that at 27 you cannot improve certain aspects of the game. I really believe that you can.

“I’ve worked with players like this, I’ve had team-mates like this and there is always a moment where there is a click. There are certain patterns that lead to these type of scenarios [mistakes] and the more of those patterns that we take away, slowly they will decrease. I’m confident we can do that.

“I can accept a mistake, no problem. What I’m not going to accept is someone who makes a mistake and after he stops playing, he doesn’t want the ball, he doesn’t want to make decisions. That player is not acceptable for our team.

Shkodran Mustafi

“But Musti after that [mistake] tried to play every single time, he went for every single challenge and he put his body on the line.

“He was down afterwards, yes, but he reacted and if he does that, he will overcome the situation. He made a mistake. Obviously we want to minimise that as quickly as possible and find the reason why that happens, but I like his reaction after that.”


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Loris Karius Looking for New Club as Besiktas Fans Lose Patience With Goalkeeper

​Loris Karius is reported to be looking for a new club this month, after his relationship with the Besiktas fans reached a new low in defeat to Erzurumspor during the week. 

The German stopper, on loan from ​Liverpool, shipped six goals across two legs to the second-tier side as Besiktas crashed out of the cup – losing both legs by three goals to two. 

A cascade of boos were directed towards the keeper, who has become something of a scapegoat for his side’s faltering fortunes in recent weeks, and reports in Turkey say he now feels there is no way of repairing his fractious relationship with the club’s support. 

Karius

So much so, in fact, that Turkish outlet ​Fanatik report that he now wants to move on from the club prematurely. With just six months left of his two-year loan spell in Turkey, and the same left on his Liverpool contract, he is said to have spoken to his agent to begin the process of seeking out a new club.

It’s unclear whether he has hopes of departing Besiktas before the expiry of his current deal there or if he is simply looking to the future beyond this season, but in any case it certainly seems he is keen to leave this chapter of his career behind.

The 26-year-old has seen his already-damaged stock fall further with a highlight reel of notable errors between the sticks in Istanbul. He of course lives in infamy, if not entirely without sympathy, at Liverpool, where two key errors cost them the 2018 ​Champions League final against ​Real Madrid. 

UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Liverpool FC"

The Reds have undergone a remarkable revival in his absence, replacing the German with the flawless Alisson who has helped them to three continental trophies, and continues to star on their way to the Premier League title in this campaign. 

For Karius, then, it certainly seems there is no way back at Anfield, with Adrian firmly installed as reliable backup to the Brazilian number one. The Fanatik report notes that he is looking to options in England and Germany for his next move, and for all his poor recent form, he is not likely to find it difficult to find another club willing to give him a chance – especially since he will be available on a free in the summer. 


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Real Valladolid 0-1 Real Madrid: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Nacho Winner Sends Blancos Top

Real Madrid took advantage of Barcelona’s loss to Valencia on Saturday by beating Real Valladolid on Sunday evening, Nacho Fernandez scoring the only game of the game at Estadio José Zorrilla.

Knowing a win would take them top of La Liga, Real struggled for large periods but got themselves ahead when Nacho’s header from Toni Kroos’ cross crept over Jordi Masip’s line in the 78th minute.

Los Blancos dominated ​possession throughout, though Valladolid did go close when Sergi Guardiola hooked in from six yards – only for the offside flag to be raised.

Nacho Fernandez

The result means Real are now three points ahead of Barça at the top of Spain’s top flight, having previously trailed the reigning champions on goals scored.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Masip (5); Antonito (5), Olivas (6), Salisu (7), Garcia (7); Emeterio (5), Fernandez (6), Alcaraz (7); Michel (6); Guardiola (5), Unal (6).

​Substitutes: ​Villa (6), Plano (6), De la Fuente (6).

Nacho Fernandez


REAL MADRID

Key Talking Point

So, here was the chance, ​Real fans.

The chance to seize the initiative in the ​La Liga title race.

The chance to go ahead of ​Barcelona and first outright, having been stuck behind the current league champions on goals scored.

Real’s bitter rivals lost at Valencia on Saturday, offering Los Blancos a chance to surge ahead in the title race. Given that Barca have won four of the last five top flight Spanish titles on offer, competitors really have to take advantage whenever La Blaugrana slip up.

Zinedine Zidane

It probably wasn’t the best prep for Zinedine Zidane, then, that a few key players were absent. Dani Carvajal’s suspension meant utility man Nacho filled in at right back, while Gareth Bale’s absence ensured there was a starting place for Rodrygo alongside Karim Benzema and Isco in attack.

Any nerves that might have bothered Real’s players before Sunday evening’s game seemed to dissipate rather quickly as they stuck the ball in Valladolid’s net early on, only for Casemiro’s header to be disallowed.

However, while things must have got frustrating as Real continued to knock on the door with little to show for it, Zidane’s side ultimately kept their nerve to snatch all three points late on, thanks to one unlikely goalscorer.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Courtois (6); Nacho (9), Varane (6), Ramos (7), Mendy (8); Modric (6), Casemiro (7), Kroos (7); Rodrygo (6), Benzema (6), Isco (7).

Substitutes: Vazquez (6), Valverde (N/A), Jovic (N/A)


Nacho Fernandez

FBL-ESP-LIGA-VALLADOLID-REAL MADRID

Real’s faithful handyman turned in a performance at right back that even the regular incumbent Carvajal would have been impressed with.

The Spaniard made four tackles – the joint most during the game – as well as a match high of four interceptions.

Real’s squad may look a little thin in attacking areas with injuries cropping all over the shop, but in Nacho they have a player who can fill in at the back wherever, whenever required.





Looking Ahead

It’s the small matter of the Madrid derby next for Real when Atletico visit the Bernabeu on 1 February.

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