Having been out for over a year with a serious knee injury, this weekend’s fixture against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley is one I’ve had my eye on for a long time.
Words can’t explain what it feels like to play football again after such a lengthy period on the sidelines. Simply talking about it makes me smile.
I’ve now made four appearances since I played my first game of the season at West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day. I’m grateful to be able to compete for some minutes because when you come back from a long-term injury, it can take a while to get back into the team.
I have to thank the manager, Sam Allardyce, because he has put a lot of confidence in me. I imagined, even three or four months ago, that I would have been eased back gradually, maybe from the bench and playing that role until I picked up the pace again.
I’ve enjoyed every game but with this injury you can’t expect too much, too soon. I’ve been taking it game by game to see where I’m at. I know that if I can get back to anywhere near my previous level, I’ll be able to create lots of problems for defences.
Hopefully that will be the case against Spurs. I grew up near Wembley and from my mum’s house you can see the stadium’s iconic arch.
It had always been a dream of mine to play there and I’ve been lucky enough to do that twice. I played there in the 2016 FA Cup semi-final for Crystal Palace against Watford – when I scored – and then a few weeks later against Manchester United in the final. I’ve had a win and a loss so hopefully this will be another victory.
The fans could also get their first glimpse of Cenk Tosun, who joined us from Besiktas last week. Cenk has settled in well and looks like a great player who gets into the positions where you want your strikers to be. I’ve been watching his clips to see how he gets his goals and I’ll be trying to link up with him when we are on the pitch together.
We are into the New Year now and, thankfully, we are starting to get some players back from injury. The team is growing in confidence too, especially from that performance against Liverpool in the FA Cup. Yes, we lost the game but I felt we played well and were unlucky to lose. If we take that kind of performance into the Premier League games, I think we can be a problem for every team we come up against in the second half of the season.
The two Premier League bosses have traded barbs since the new year after Mourinho’s comment he did not feel the need to behave like “a clown” during games touched a nerve with Conte.
That sparked an extraordinary war of words between the pair, where Conte accused Mourinho of having “demenza senile”, which directly translates as senile dementia, prompting the United boss to hit back by appearing to allude to a four-month suspension Conte served in relation to match-fixing.
Conte, who was later cleared of any wrongdoing on that front, responded by accusing Mourinho of being “fake” and “a little man”.
On Friday, Mourinho conducted his first press conference since one of his Chelsea successor’s latest remarks.
“I think when a person insults another, you can expect a response or you can expect contempt, silence,” Mourinho said.
“The first time he insulted me I had a response, a response that I know that touched the point where he really feels hurt.
“Then he insulted me for a second time, but now I change, and now (there is) contempt and for me, contempt means end of the story.”
Provided by Press Associaiton Sport
The Italian head coach expressed relief that no-one was hurt in the incident earlier this month at Chelsea’s Cobham training centre.
“It was an accident, an incredible accident,” Conte said on Friday.
“I was having my lunch when this happened. The wind brought a big (piece of) glass on my car.
“If in that moment there is a person very close to my car, I don’t know what (might have) happened.”
Conte was able to laugh off the incident, saying the damage to his modest car was “the last thing” on his mind.