Breakfast Briefing: Mind games all the rage as Hazard and Jagielka join in
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Chelsea's ascension to the top of the Premier League table has not stopped the mind games coming out of Stamford Bridge it seems. This time, instead of manager Jose Mourinho, it is midfielder Eden Hazard who has come forward to talk up rivals Manchester City. The blue half of Manchester are better equipped than Chelsea and remain favourites to land the title, says the in-form midfielder. One suspects that this theme might continue till Jose has the Premier League trophy in his hands.
Taking a leaf out of their book is Everton captain Phil Jagielka, as his club attempts to seal Champions League qualification next season. The Toffees stumbled on the weekend as they lost to rivals Tottenham, and a worried Jagielka insists that the club's striker shortage might derail their European hopes. Which makes selling Nikica Jelavic and replacing him with a half-fit Lacina Traore all the more puzzling.
Also feeling down is Manchester United's Michael Carrick, who admitted the 2-2 draw with Fulham was really tough to take. United dominated possession, put in more than 80 crosses and had more than 30 shots on the Fulham goal, but only came away with a point. Don't worry Michael, the fans can't believe it either. Next up, a trip to an equally wounded Arsenal.
Speaking of Arsenal, goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has rejected the club's offer of a contract extension. The 28-year-old has been at the club for the last seven years, but failed to establish himself as number one following the emergence of Wojciech Szczesny. Given his fellow countryman's form, it looks like Fabianski will be moving on after his contract ends laster this year.
West Ham are still smarting over Andy Carroll's three match ban for his dismissal against Swansea. Captain Kevin Nolan has implored the FA to "just get it right" and to admit they made a mistake, but manager Sam Allardyce has gone one step further and called for an overhaul following the FA's "flawed" disciplinary process.
Good news for Manchester City though, as the FA has confirmed they will be taking no action against midfield dynamo Yaya Toure. The City midfielder appeared to aim a kick at Norwich's Ricky van Wolfsinkel on the weekend, but the FA disciplinary panel could not come to an unanimous decision that this was an act of violent conduct.
Newcastle's form have been dismal this season, but Alan Pardew has come up with a novel way to save their season. The Newcastle gaffer has announced that their season will be a success if they finish above Manchester United, something that is not all that far fetched considering they are only four points behind the seventh-placed Red Devils. Are you looking behind your shoulder yet, Moyes?
Liverpool target Tom Ince insists he has no regrets about joining Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace despite interest from more prestigious clubs. "Why would I want Monaco when I have got Crystal Palace on a day like today?" he told The Sun following his goal on debut in the win against West Brom. Why indeed.
One moment he's out the door, another moment he's the toast of town as Martin Skrtel has been hailed as one of the top defenders in the Premier League by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers after his brace against Arsenal. Rodgers claims that the player's improvement is all down to him, after he benched the player last season and forced him to improve. On ya, Brendan.
Formerly the toast of either half of Manchester, Carlos Tevez seems to be settling in well at Juventus. The Argentinian forward (yes they have more than just Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero over there) scored twice against Verona to take his goal tally to 13 this season, but claims the Scudetto comes before any personal glory. Despite the 2-2 draw, Juventus are well placed to win the Serie A title come season end.
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has trotted out the "nothing is impossible" line as he looks to overturn a 3-0 Copa del Rey deficit against Real Madrid. The cup holders were well beaten in an ill-tempered match at the Bernabeu, but Simeone is hoping the team's unblemished home record will aid them in their cause.