Michael Ballack fires warning to Diego Costa after Chelsea bust-up

Michael Ballack has told Diego Costa that he should be thankful to Chelsea for giving him a chance to shine at one of the biggest clubs in Europe.

The Spain international returned to action at the weekend following his training ground bust-up with Antonio Conte and Chelsea’s fitness coaches over a back injury.

It’s understood that Chelsea believe that Costa’s head has been turned following an £80 million offer from Tianjin Quanjian, who were prepared to pay the striker a salary worth £30m a year.

‘It’s up to him with his attitude and his commitment to the club,’ Ballack told talkSPORT.

‘Because he’s playing for Chelsea and they gave him the possibility to shine and to perform well at one of the biggest clubs in Europe – and he should not forget that.

‘Of course, offers are coming with crazy numbers from China, but players should remember they are playing in a fantastic league in Europe and are top of the top, in terms of being watched, the quality of clubs, the players and they are on good money. Nobody would complain about their contracts.

‘It’s a bit of a disturbance to see all these offers coming in, but Costa is professional enough to see what a fantastic club Chelsea is.

‘On the other side, each club and each player has to deal with these kinds of situations. What is important; is that they win the league and the next game. Already, he found a good answer last week by coming back and scoring.’


Hull’s Ryan Mason making ‘excellent progress’ after skull fracture against Chelsea

Hull City provided a further positive update on the condition of Ryan Mason, who “continues to make excellent progress”.

Ryan Mason “continues to make excellent progress” after suffering a fractured skull in Hull City’s Premier League meeting with Chelsea on Sunday.

The midfielder received treatment for eight minutes in the 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge after a heavy collision with Chelsea captain Gary Cahill.

Mason required surgery at St Mary’s Hospital, where he was visited by Cahill and Chelsea club captain John Terry, while Hull skipper Michael Dawson also checked in on the 25-year-old on Monday.

Hull confirmed Mason was conscious and speaking during Dawson’s visit and on Tuesday the club provided an update with further positive news.

“The club can confirm that Ryan Mason continues to make excellent progress after sustaining a skull fracture in Sunday’s game against Chelsea,” a statement read.

“He will continue to be closely monitored by staff at St Mary’s Hospital over the next few days, whilst also remaining in contact with our medical team to assess his progress.

“There will be no further updates from the club until there are any changes in Ryan’s condition. We also ask that people respect Ryan & his family’s privacy whilst he remains in hospital.”

Ryan Mason talking again after fracturing skull during Chelsea game

Ryan Mason is conscious and talking again after suffering a fractured skull during a Premier League game at Chelsea.

The Hull City midfielder, 25, was stretchered off at Stamford Bridge yesterday after a clash of heads with defender Gary Cahill.

The club released a statement on Sunday, stating the midfielder was in a stable condition at St Mary’s Hospital in London.

And now Hull have confirmed Mason has been speaking about the incident in which he fractured his skull.

Ryan has been speaking of the incident yesterday and will continue to be monitored at the hospital over the coming days where the Club will remain in close contact with Ryan, his family and the staff at St Mary’s.

Ryan and his family have also been extremely touched by the overwhelming support they have received and would very much like to thank all of those who have posted such positive comments both on social media and in the press over the last 24 hours.

Hull said club captain Michael Dawson, club doctor Mark Waller, head of medical Rob Price and club secretary Matt Wild had visited Mason in hospital today.

England international Cahill, Blues captain John Terry and assistant manager, Steve Holland, visited the hospital on Sunday to check on Mason and spend time with his family.

Antonio Conte: I made the best decision

Bringing Diego Costa back into the fold at Chelsea paid off against Hull, with Antonio Conte heralding his handling of a tricky situation.

Antonio Conte feels he was vindicated in recalling Diego Costa to the Chelsea starting XI after the controversial striker scored the opening goal in a 2-0 Premier League win over Hull on Sunday.

Costa had missed the Blues’ previous match, a 3-0 victory at struggling champions Leicester City, supposedly with a back injury although rumours were rife the striker had fallen out with Conte and was reportedly courting a big-money move to the Chinese Super League.

The Spain international was picked from kick-off at Stamford Bridge, though, netting deep into first-half injury time as Chelsea saw off the challenge of the relegation-threatened Tigers.

“[His] performance was good,” Conte told Sky Sports, with his team sitting eight points clear at the top.

“[I’m] happy, pleased for this. Before the game, in the press conference, a lot of people were asking me about his form, his attitude.

“And I said I would I take the best decision for the team and I think, after this performance, I made the best decision.

“But it is normal, normal to receive a lot of questions. The most important thing for us, is the answer that we gave on the pitch, for the players, for me, for the club, for the fans and most importantly for the league table.”

Having scored, Costa made a gesture which seemed to call for silence from his critics, but Conte – reacting with typical exuberance to the deadlock being broken – was not in a position to note the possible significance of the player’s body language.

“Honestly, I was very happy to see the celebration because I was celebrating the goal on the bench,” he said.

“I think [for] Diego, the most important thing is he scored. The celebration is good, but the most important thing is he scored.”

Chelsea faced a tough challenge at home to a Hull side who have improved under Portuguese coach Marco Silva, with Conte expecting plenty more difficult assignments as they attempt to reclaim the title.

“It’s normal. If you see the other games, today, you understand that this league is very difficult,” he said.

“When I continue to [say this for] every game, [it] is not easy, every game is tough. We face the game in the right way.

“Now it’s important to continue and to know that every game we must fight a lot to try to win.

“[With] every game, three points become very [significant]. But we are ready to fight, ready to face the opponent. The games are very tough also for the other teams.”

Cesc Fabregas proves he’s the assist king of Europe with latest for Chelsea

Think assists and Mesut Ozil tends to come to mind.

But rather than the Arsenal man, it should be the former-Arsenal man who’s now pulling the strings at Chelsea that gets crowned the assist king.

Within 10 minutes of coming on during Chelsea’s win over Hull Cesc Fabregas provided the assist for Gary Cahill to score the Blues’ second goal of the game and wrap up the three points.

Considering he’s a less than regular starter for Chelsea this season, the following stats are incredible.

To start, he’s providing more assists than anyone else in Europe…

He’s laying on more goals at Chelsea than anyone else despite hardly starting under Antonio Conte…

And he’s now provided the joint-third most assists in Premier League history…

Antonio Conte insists Chelsea spirit has not been affected by Costa future speculation

Antonio Conte is adamant the speculation over the future of Diego Costa has had no impact on the unity and spirit of Premier League title-chasing Chelsea.

Costa, who has scored 14 league goals in 19 appearances, missed last weekend’s win at Leicester with a back injury amid reports of a bust-up with Conte and his backroom staff.

The 28-year-old has also been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League, but is in contention to return at home against Hull on Sunday. Conte believes a collective will is imperative and says Chelsea have it, despite the uncertainty over Costa’s future, which may have passed, for now.

“I found the same atmosphere we had before his injury,” Conte said.

“If you want to win something during the season it’s important to create this unity in the team. We’re showing this. We’re top of the table this is one of the most important things. I’m pleased to see this unity in my team.”

Conte, since his arrival last July, has masterminded a rejuvenation at Chelsea, who were 10th last season after imploding towards the end of Jose Mourinho’s second spell as boss.

“You create this spirit day by day with work, with the decisions, with the behaviours – my behaviours, players’ behaviours. To try to build this day by day, step by step. Also you must know that you put a lot of time to create this. It’s not easy.”

Costa’s selection – for what would be his 100th Chelsea appearance – is not guaranteed. However, his only two absences in the Premier League this season were when he was unavailable – suspended against Bournemouth and injured last week.

Eden Hazard played the central role in a front three with Pedro and Willian against Leicester, and Chelsea won 3-0, just as they did against the Cherries on Boxing Day. Pedro was the odd man out earlier in the campaign, but is now showing the form which persuaded Chelsea to sign him from Barcelona.

“I think all of us can see his performance,” Conte added.

“We are seeing the best moment of Pedro. I think that this Pedro played this type of football when he was at Barcelona. Pedro, for sure now is a really important player for us. In the same way Willy has recovered good form, Eden and also Diego. I think that now we have four players that are playing very, very well, in a fantastic way.

“I’m pleased for this, because this allows me also to make different choices game by game. Honestly this situation is not simple for me to make this decision.”

Chelsea players know the truth about Diego Costa, says Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea’s players have never questioned Diego Costa’s commitment to the cause, according to Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea’s leading scorer was dropped from the squad last weekend amid reports of a row with Antonio Conte and his staff over differences of opinion on a back injury. It coincided with reports that he is the subject of an £80million bid from China, which turned his head.

Any issues appear to have been resolved, with Costa expected to play a role in Chelsea’s match against Hull later today.

Despite all the speculation swirling around Stamford Bridge, Courtois says he and his team-mates have always believed Costa was committed to the team and that the simple truth is it was nothing more than an injury to Costa.

‘Obviously it was not a nice rumour that went around that he had a fight or anything. He had an injury and couldn’t train and obviously if you are not 100 per cent fit and you feel you cannot play it’s logic that you don’t train with the team.

‘This week he could train again and he trained very well, so he might play on Sunday.

‘He looks very committed, we cannot doubt that about Diego. You can see that in all games he plays.

‘Nobody in this team doubted it, so when the day before the game against Leicester that came out it was a bit of a surprise to the players but it didn’t affect us in any way because we know what’s the truth. The rest is maybe just trying to destabilise Chelsea, but we don’t let it.’

Courtois, speaking to Sky Sports, went on to reveal he hadn’t spoken to Costa about the issues and speculation.

‘He was injured, so you don’t need to speak with someone,’ said the Chelsea goalkeeper.

‘You just ask ‘are you OK?’ and ‘can you play on Saturday?’ He said ‘no, I feel pain’ and then you let it go because you know he won’t play.

‘After the win we had two days off and he trained here and then he trained with us so I think everything is OK.’

Arsene Wenger reveals his plan for clawing back Chelsea in the title race

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has called on his players to treat every remaining Premier League game like a cup final if they are to catch Chelsea in the title race.

The Gunners are currently eight points behind their rivals in the table, and also have Liverpool and Tottenham ahead of them as major contenders for the crown this term.

However, Wenger isn’t giving up just yet, and believes Chelsea can be caught as long as Arsenal ensure they put as much pressure on them as possible between now and May.

‘For us every game is a cup final,’ he said in his press conference today.

‘Yes I see it that way as Chelsea is ahead and everyone else is fighting.

‘So it is important first of all to try to make a distance with the teams around you, take advantage of points they could drop and try to get closer to Chelsea. You never know.’

Arsenal take on Burnley in their next game and looked back to their best last week with a crushing 4-0 win away to Swansea City.

Antonio Conte reveals Diego Costa is happy at Chelsea

The Spain international has been heavily linked with a move to China, but the Blues boss insists the player is going nowhere in the immediate future.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes Diego Costa wants to stay at Stamford Bridge as he prepares to welcome the striker back into his matchday squad.

The Spain international missed Saturday’s win over Leicester City following a training ground bust-up with Conte, with reports suggesting Costa’s head had been turned by an offer from Chinese Super League outfit Tianjin Quanjin.

Conte, however, insists a back injury was the reason for his top scorer’s absence at the King Power Stadium, and has confirmed the injury has cleared up ahead of Sunday’s clash with Hull City.

And the Italian also claimed that the forward will not be leaving the club anytime in the near future.

Speaking at a press conference, the former Juventus boss said: “I think the player wants to stay at Chelsea. He is happy to play with us. This idea [China] is far from his mind.

“I read a lot of speculation about Diego but right now the most important thing is he trained with us & doesn’t have pain.”

Costa’s return is set to give the Premier League leaders a boost as they host the Tigers, though Conte would not reveal whether the former Atletico Madrid star would start.

“We’ll see. I don’t want to give an advantage to our opponent,” he said when asked about how much of a role Costa would have this weekend.