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Sheva: No going back

Andriy Shevchenko has dismissed media talk he wants to return to Italy.

Stories over the last two days suggest AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi claimed that the Chelsea striker wished to return to Serie A following a telephone call between the pair.

However, speaking to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Shevchenko has said:

‘There's nothing in it. The phrase I made that I wanted to return was out of simple courtesy.’

Further reports have Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani stating that a return for Shevchenko to the San Siro is 'technically impossible'.

The Galliani quotes say: ‘It is technically impossible. Shevchenko is a non-European player and his (non-European) spot has been taken by Ricardo Oliveira, full stop.

‘The president thinks ahead to the future and speaks about feelings but he doesn't look at the acquisitions. Hence, there's no point in remembering the rest, that 'Sheva' is a Chelsea player, that they paid lots of millions for him and that he made a life choice.’

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Hedman offered Chelsea contract

Hedman spent three seasons with Celtic

Chelsea have offered former Sweden goalkeeper Magnus Hedman a contract until the end of the season.

"We've an agreement," the 33-year-old Hedman told Swedish television channel TV4's website.

Hedman, a former Celtic and Coventry City goalkeeper, has been working as a pundit for TV4 since retiring in 2005.

With Petr Cech out for some time after fracturing his skull, Chelsea will use Hedman to provide cover for Carlo Cudicini and Henrique Hilario.

Czech international Cech had two metal plates inserted into his head after fracturing his skull in a league win at Reading last month and is not expected to return to training until late January.

Previous third-choice Hilario has deputised for Cech and Cudicini, who was also knocked unconscious at Reading but returned for Chelsea's League Cup win over Aston Villa.

According to TV4's website Hedman is on his way to London to sign the contract

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Look at it this way - José's fans debate

Monday, Nov 13, 2006

Neil Barnett has been writing, editing and broadcasting for Chelsea for over 20 years. Today he responds to José Mourinho, the fans, Didier Drogba and the goals.

José Mourinho has questioned just one Chelsea performance over the last two games — the fans! In his Chelsea TV post-match interview, which you can see tonight, he lays his feelings on the line.

‘Let’s start with a song I heard in two consecutive matches at home. “Four-nil, and you still don’t sing!”

‘Aston Villa fans: “Four-nil, and you still don’t sing!” Watford fans: “Four-nil, and you still don’t sing!”

‘Why you “don’t sing”?!’

It’s true that the atmosphere generated at home games since Barcelona has been less than average. Maybe there’s been a reaction off the pitch if not on it.

But the long-running debate over home atmosphere needs putting in perspective. Until the redevelopment to an all-seater Stamford Bridge, the ground was rarely full, the old dog track meant that sound disappeared into thin air, and although in the maelstrom of the Shed the atmosphere may have been special in a way which is hard to measure up to now, around the ground overall it was worse than today. And that includes the 1960s and ‘70s as well as the smaller crowds of the ‘80s.

What there was in those days were more original songs and chants and, particularly in the 1980s, more diehard fans travelling away. The game has become more gentrified, more corporate, more expensive — but it’s also become more popular. We’re averaging higher gates with a smaller capacity.

And, almost by definition, the larger the average crowd the smaller percentage of them will be hardcore. When there were gates of 10,000 and less all too often in the early 1980s, you could bet almost everyone was hardcore. But there’s no way we want to return to those days.

The biggest difference now to many eras of the past is that we’re the biggest attraction to opposition. Opposing home fans set their top standards against us when we are away, and set their top away standards at Stamford Bridge — like Villa and Watford did.

Chelsea fans showed what we could do against Barcelona. That was as good an atmosphere as can be generated anywhere in the world.

We could not have built this 50 home League games undefeated run without good support. But José is right, it has been below par in the last two sold out matches.

High expectations may have dimmed out noise at times. Last season, for the first time since the 1960s, the Old Trafford crowd performed outstandingly against us. Manchester United had become the underdogs. Expect that again in two weeks.

Before then, we host West Ham. We’ve had our pep talk from our manager. We’d better respond.

* * * * *

It’s not enough, surely, to describe Didier Drogba at present as the best striker in the world. People didn’t say that about Ronaldinho.

Since the beginning of this season he has been the best player in the world.

* * * * *

All eight goals in our two consecutive 4-0 wins have come from nearer the goal than the penalty spot. There have been no outstanding individual efforts, although there have been some wonderful finishes.

Chelsea has out-passed, out-run and out-moved the opposition until their shape has been lost. We have got behind them in a way we haven’t managed since the unstoppable play of the early months of Mourinho’s 4-3-3 with Duff and Robben.

We have found a balance again which suits us. And the 4-3-3 balance is still there for the using.

We have 28 points after 12 matches. Last season we had 31 after 12. Manchester United has that now and they are to be congratulated and respected for their improvement.

In our first season under Mourinho we had 29 points after 12 games, just one more than this season, and had just hit the top of the table, overtaking Arsenal. We had paired Duff and Robben for two League games.

The next two weeks are clear. We must beat West Ham, qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League at Werder Bremen (who lost at home to Borussia Dortmund on Friday, watched by our Opposition Scout André Villas, and have lost the leadership of the Bundesliga), and then we should be in great shape for the match at Old Trafford.

United might well be in great shape too. I can’t wait! You can bet our fans will be in outstanding form there.

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Didier tops home and abroad

Didier Drogba is the top scorer both in the Premiership and the Uefa Champions League this season, and could this week become Chelsea’s highest ever scoring international.

The 28-year-old has a hat-trick in both club competitions. He is currently in France to captain Ivory Coast in their friendly with Turkey. He is one goal away from equalling Jimmy Greaves for the number of goals scored for his country.

His fellow Ivorian, Salomon Kalou, was also selected for the game but has been forced out after injuring a knee in training late last week. Selection would have brought his first cap.

Leading Uefa Champions League scorers this season

Drogba (Chelsea) 5, Kaká (Milan) 5.

Morientes (Valencia) 4,

Crouch (Liverpool) 3, Cruz (Inter Milan) 3, Garcia (Liverpool) 3, Lòpez (Porto), Miller (Celtic) 3, Raúl (Real Madrid) 3, Saha (Man Utd) 3, Totti (Roma) 3, Van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid) 3, Villa (Valencia) 3.

Leading Barclay’s Premiership scorers this season

Drogba (Chelsea) 8.

Bent (Charlton) 7, Kanu (Portsmouth) 7.

Johnson (Everton) 6.

Cahill (Everton) 5, Doyle (Reading) 5, Henry (Arsenal) 5, Kuyt (Liverpool) 5, Lampard (Chelsea) 5, Rooney (Man Utd) 5, Saha (Man Utd) 5, Zamora (West Ham) 5.

Top all-time international scorers

Goals scored while with Chelsea.

Greaves (England) 16.

Flo (Norway) 15, Gudjohnsen (Iceland) 15, Drogba (Ivory Coast) 15.

Hilsdon (England) 14, Lawton (England) 14.

Crespo (Argentina) 13.

Forssell (Finland) 12, Lampard (England) 12.

Bentley (England) 9, Mutu (Romania) 9.

Hasselbaink (Holland) 7, Petrescu (Romania) 7, Windridge (England) 7.

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Blues confirm keeper capture

As expected, Chelsea have confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Magnus Hedman on a contract until the end of the season.

The 33-year-old, who has been on trial at the Stamford Bridge club, will act as cover to the likes of Carlo Cudicini and the injured Petr Cech, with Hilario also featuring in a full complement of goalkeepers.

The former Sweden international has previous experience of the British game, having played for Coventry and Celtic.

A Chelsea spokesperson confirmed: "Magnus Hedman has agreed terms with Chelsea until the end of the season.

"He will act as goalkeeper cover to Carlo Cudicini and Hilario and will remain in that role when Petr Cech returns from injury."

Cech is currently recovering from a skull operation after being seriously injured in the opening minute of Chelsea's match against Reading in The Premiership last month

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John Terry believes it is important England sign off for the year on a winning note

England meet Holland in a friendly in Amsterdam on Wednesday night in their first game since losing 2-0 to Croatia in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

The match will be the last of 2006, with Steve McClaren's men not in action again until February against Spain at Old Trafford.

Terry is looking forward to the encounter and is eager for England to come away from the Amsterdam ArenA with a positive result.

"There's no pressure," said Terry on Sky Sports News. "I'm looking forward to it.

"It's so long since the last game and defeat, and we're eager to get out there and play and get back to winning ways.

"We feel as though we can do that and I hope it goes well.

"When there is a big gap in between games it's important you leave on winning ways.

"It's been a long time since the last game and there was a down feeling throughout the whole team and the players, so it's important we do get a win as there is a long way to the next one."

The Chelsea centre half also offered his support to England coach McClaren, who has been heavily criticised for the team's performances in the last two qualifiers against Macedonia and Croatia.

He added: "He's been fantastic. The manager had it in his head to get the players together and have a meeting to get things out of the way, which we've done.

"It's a short space of time to prepare for this game and it's important we are thinking of Holland and Holland only.

"Everyone speaks about pressure and everything like that, but as players you just want to win games.

"The results can do the talking, rather than us, and we need to get back to winning ways, it's as simple as that."

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Ballack admits to tiring schedule

Michael Ballack says he has reached his "physical limit" as a result of Chelsea's hectic fixture schedule. The 30-year-old skippered Germany to the World Cup semi-finals before arriving at Chelsea where he has played in the league and Champions League.

"I'm not running on reserve just yet but I have reached my limit in terms of the physical demands," he told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"We will see what it is like in spring not to have a winter break."

The midfielder, who agreed to join the Blues from European giants Bayern Munich prior to the World Cup, said he was pleased to have made the move to London.

"I deliberately gave up the nice footballing life that you have in Munich, as I wanted to prove myself and impose myself again," he added.

"Everything is quite new: the surroundings, the team, the level of expectation. At Chelsea all the players are of a high quality.

"The respected and privileged position that I carved for myself in Germany is no longer there. Good performances are crucial. But I'm happy that I took that step."

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Mikel antics causing concern

John Obi Mikel's father has admitted he is worried by his son's behaviour.

The 19-year-old midfielder secured a £16 million switch to Chelsea from Lyn Oslo in the summer, but has yet to make his mark in The Premiership.

He has not played since being sent off against Reading last month, when his furious reaction to the dismissal earned him a warning from the Football Association.

Mikel has also infuriated manager Jose Mourinho with his casual attitude, and father Michael Obi has voiced his concern about what the future could hold if things do not change.

"We are very sad and his mother is worried. We have tried to get hold of him, but he no longer picks up our calls," he explained.

"I don't know why he is behaving like this and we are not happy about it. We are all involved in his football career, the whole family is worried and we hope to see a better Mikel."

However, Mikel's father insists his son is still held in high regard by Mourinho, and is hopeful that things will soon get back on track.

"I hope to see him return to action and I hope to see him play a good-boy role again, because his coach loves him," he said.

"Mourinho has shown more interest in him than in any other player in the team. As a young man, I expected him to concentrate on his career."

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Didier Drogba believes he can help fire Chelsea to all four trophies this season

The in-form striker, who recently agreed a new four-year contract at Stamford Bridge, is desperate to reward the faith of Jose Mourinho by helping the Portuguese record the unprecedented quad.

Champions Chelsea are vying with Manchester United for The Premiership, and The Blues are still on for a clean sweep after impressive results in the UEFA Champions League and Carling Cup.

"After signing the new contract I told myself this is the time to work hard," said Drogba, who has scored 14 goals already this season.

"Then I can hopefully bring even more glory to the club and honour to myself.

"I regard the new contract with Chelsea as reward for hard work - but I also want to repay the club for keeping the faith.

"We want to win all four trophies this season and we believe we have the ability to do it.

"Of course, at the moment we are taking things as they come and that is working for us. But we've dominated English football for the last few years and now we want to set new records."

Drogba, who was on target for Ivory Coast in the Africans' friendly win over Sweden on Wednesday, admits he came close to leaving The Blues in the summer.

But the former Marseille ace is now contemplating ending his career in SW6.

"At 28, I am definitely thinking of ending my career in Chelsea - if that's what the fans want to hear. But I will play the game until I can no longer push myself," added Drogba.

"At one time I did think about leaving the club because of many reasons.

"But I think I've come to stay in England and I hope that will end all the confusion of the past.

"As a professional, I've always put my own needs and goals above anything else.

"But I decided to stay at Chelsea because of the encouragement I've received from our manager.

"Besides, the friends I have here have been so supportive.

"The fans are awesome, every player wants to play in a place where he is fully accepted and I've found that here at Chelsea."

Michael Essien tempered Drogba's optimism with words of caution - the midfielder believes his team may have their hands full simply retaining the league.

"Arsenal have joined the race now and we still have a long way to go," said Essien.

"We must keep going the way we are. We will see how it goes, but it's not going to be easy this season.

"We have to get our points and stay close to leaders Manchester United, who are our main rivals.

"We have to keep going, get our points and see what happens at the end of the season."

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Reading duo receive death threats

Police are investigating death threats made to the Reading players involved in incidents in which Chelsea keepers Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini were injured.

Ibrahima Sonko and Stephen Hunt have received a series of letters at the club's Arborfield training ground.

Thames Valley Police told BBC Sport: "The club is helping us with inquiries and the matter is being investigated."

A Chelsea spokesman added: "There is nothing to suggest these threats came from genuine Chelsea fans."

The club is dealing with all my letters and I don't want to say any more Reading winger Stephen Hunt

According to the Reading Chronicle newspaper, one letter said: "We are going to kill you for what you did to our players."

Reading players treated the first letter as a joke and pinned it up on the door of the training ground dressing-room.

But when subsequent letters arrived, players were told to treat the threats seriously and the club called in the police to investigate.

Cech is not expected to play again this season after sustaining a fractured skull in a first-minute collision with Hunt in the game at the Madejski stadium on 14 October.

Cudicini needed oxygen after being stretchered off in a last-minute collision with Sonko, and only recently returned to action.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho hit out at Hunt's challenge, but neither Hunt nor Sonko faced any sanction from the Football Association.

Winger Hunt, on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, said: "The club is dealing with all my letters and I don't want to say any more."

Sonko confirmed he had received a letter but made no further comment.

Chelsea's spokesman added: "Naturally, we condemn any threats of this nature and we will assist the police fully if - and we stress if - there is any evidence linking theses threats to any of our supporters."

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Obi tries to heal Mourinho rift

Obi questions his dismissal at Reading with ref Mike Riley

Chelsea midfielder Mikel Jon Obi has apologised to Blues boss Jose Mourinho to try and heal a rift between the two.

Obi is understood to have angered Mourinho with his poor attitude in training, and met Mourinho with his agent John Shittu.

The 19-year-old has not featured in a Chelsea squad since being sent off in his Premiership debut at Reading.

He reportedly apologised for his behaviour and Shittu assured Mourinho there would be no repeat.

Obi arrived at Chelsea in June in a welter of controversy, after the Blues won a £16m tug-of-war with Manchester United for the talented teenager.

Manchester United believed they had a pre-contract agreement with Obi, who later claimed he had been pressured into signing it, and really wanted to join Chelsea.

An agreement was struck which saw Chelsea agree to pay United £12m for withdrawing their interest, and £4m to Obi's Norwegian club, Lyn Oslo.

Chelsea boss Mourinho hailed Obi as among the best young players in the world when he began training with the Blues in June.

Obi eventually made his Premiership debut for Chelsea at Reading on 14 October, but was sent off for two yellow card offences.

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Pre-match briefing: Chelsea v West Ham United

When he slammed in his third against Watford Didier Drogba joined a select band of Chelsea marksmen.

Barring another decision from the 'dubious goals committee' (such as the one that ludicrously denied Joe Cole after Blackburn a year ago) it completed his second hattrick this season, the other coming against Levski Sofia. And it meant that he becomes only our seventeenth player ever to have managed two or more in a season.

The Drog joins illustrious company such as 'Gatling Gun' Hilsdon (who did so in three seasons), Joe Bambrick (two), George Mills (one), Jimmy Greaves (four), Bobby Tambling (two), Peter Osgood (two) and Kerry Dixon (two).

The most recent person to achieve the feat was Gianluca Vialli, against Barnsley and Trømso in 1997/98. It has only happened 27 times in our history.

Should he repeat the effort before the end of the season he will be in even more rarefied company. Only the greats - Hilsdon (four in one season), Greaves (four in one, six in another), Tambling (three in '63/63), Osgood ('69/70) and Dixon (three in 1984/5) - have managed that.

People forget that Drogba missed six winter weeks of the last campaign while away at the African Cup of Nations and yet still managed 12 League goals. He already has eight this season.

What better opponent to achieve that new hattrick milestone against? West Ham have been occasional neuralgia in Chelsea's neck in recent years, and yet we scored seven against them in completing a League double last season. Drogba scored in both, including his last game before heading off to Egypt.

Still, it is rarely easy against our Scampi Fried friends from the East. Marlon Harewood was brilliantly fed by Nigel Reo-Coker to equalise in the away fixture in January, and they won three of the four Premiership encounters 2001-2003.

What manager Alan Pardew would give for a return to the team spirit that brought those results now.

Last season his side finished ninth and won seven matches away from the Boleyn Ground. They have no wins in six attempts on their travels in this League campaign.

The arrival of the Argentineans Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez - or rather the nature of it - has been cited as the reason for the Irons' rustiness this term. When they faced Arsenal's elusive 'work of art' football on November 5 it was the East End painters-and-decorators who bish-bash-boshed away to earn the three points, most deservedly too.

People made a lot of the fact that they did so without the underperforming South Americans, whose unplanned arrival was said to have disrupted morale. But the Hammers followed up doing the Gunners with a feeble performance at the Riverside and defeat (mind you, other clubs can say that… ).

Tevez, the bullish forward schemer, can hardly be blamed for that loss, although he came on 12 minutes before Maccarone's brilliantly taken goal. Mascherano, formerly a target of Man Utd, remember, did not feature at all.

Whichever version of West Ham rolls up the Fulham Road, though, Chelsea's momentum has been impressive in the last two games, and even for much of the defeat at White Hart Lane (incidentally, should we now call it 'Three Card Lane', in honour of a certain gentleman?).

This fixture last season, in which ten-man, one-down Chelsea rallied to win 4-1 was astonishing.

José Mourinho is keen to talk about the 'awesome foursome' of Makelele/Essien/Lampard/Ballack but the understandings between new and old players are growing before our eyes all over the pitch.

Drogba and Andriy Shevchenko is looking the most telepathic partnership since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen in 2003.

The football is also as entertaining as late 2004/early 2005, though Joe Cole and Arjen Robben have not yet had their usual share of the limelight. That will obviously come some time soon, as we enter a critical phase of the season.

Gérémi and Carlo Cudicini are likely to retain their places after impressing.

In preparation for this match, four West Ham players - Gabbidon, Collins, Ferdinand and Reo-Coker - withdrew from midweek internationals. All expect to be fit. Pardew has already hinted that his game plan will be to flood the midfield and stifle the hosts.

Even after consecutive 4-0 victories for Chelsea at the Bridge, West Ham remain capable of carrying out that threat.

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Wright-Phillips happy with Blues

Shaun Wright-Phillips insists his confidence has not been dented by his inability to secure a regular first-team place at Chelsea.

The winger has started just two Premiership games this season and has only been a peripheral figure at Stamford Bridge since joining from Manchester City in 2005.

The £21 million man has been linked with a return to his old club on loan, while Atletico Madrid are also keen on the England international.

But while there is interest from elsewhere, Wright-Phillips is determined to prove he merits a place in Jose Mourinho's side.

"I want to prove myself and I also don't want to be in this situation again," Wright-Phillips told the official Chelsea magazine.

"So once I get a run in the team I'll be doing everything in my power to stay there, but I know that is down to me and me only.

"People often ask how it affects my confidence, but I can quite honestly say it hasn't dented my confidence at all.

"Regular games help you get into your stride and can give you some much-needed rhythm, but it's not affected my self-belief. I've always believed in myself.

"It is frustrating, of course it is. But I always wanted to be a footballer and when you're a footballer you have to take the rough with the smooth.

"This is obviously a rough patch, but it's down to me to make it smoother.

"Even though I haven't played a lot, I'm still very happy here."

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Hey Seapok are we the only Chelsea boys on this thread gov,

Yeah I know but I have noticed a few vistitors when I've logged on, it looks like it's down to you and me Shedend to spread the word

What do you reckon the score will be today mate? I hope Carlo will keep a clean sheet, Drogba is bound to bang in a couple, nice if Lamps scores a cracker, just to shut up the travelling Hammers!!

See they have given Hedman No. 22, Eidur Gudjohnsens old number, bit disappointed by that, Eidur was one of my favourites, well if they are going to give a defender the No. 9 I suppose I can't be that surprised, what's next.....give a youth player Franco's old No. 25.

As Barnet says........Keep the faith

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