Chelsea manager pranked with Man United jersey signed by Jose Mourinho

Sport360 staff 15/02/2018
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Conte was presented the jersey in his latest press conference.

Chelsea‘s press conference to preview Friday’s FA Cup fixture with Hull was gatecrashed by an Italian comedian attempting to give Antonio Conte a Manchester United shirt signed by Jose Mourinho.

Conte had already spoken of plans to rotate his team ahead of a demanding schedule in which they next play Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City when the comedian from Italia 1 satire Le Iene rose from his seat.

He spoke to Conte in Italian, showed him a video on a tablet – his bitter rival Mourinho’s name could be heard via the video – and then presented the shirt to him before it was refused and he was asked to leave.

It was when Conte saw the shirt that he stopped smiling; the Manchester United manager had last month signed it, unaware it featured Conte’s name, when approached by comedians from the same programme in Manchester.

The Italian concluded the broadcast section of Thursday afternoon’s press conference before the individual was then asked to go by the club’s press officer.

Conte remains without the injured Tiemoue Bakayoko, David Luiz and Ross Barkley for Friday’s visit of Hull, and asked if he was preparing to change his team, he responded: “For sure, we have in front of us two weeks that are very tough.

The Italian said that Bakayoko and Luiz will be unavailable for Hull.

The Italian said that Bakayoko and Luiz will be unavailable for Hull.

“For this reason, it’s right to have a programme, to have a plan, to face these two tough weeks in the right way. But, at the same time, we want to try to go through to the next round in the FA Cup.

“Bakayoko is out. Luiz is out. Barkley is out. Then I have a couple of situations that I have to check.

“When you start a season, every competition is a priority. We tried to do the same in the Carabao Cup and reached the semi-final. We want to fight for every competition. There is not one priority. There are three priorities for the rest of this season.”

In response to Roy Keane, a one-time opponent with United while Conte played for Juventus, labelling his players “unprofessional”, Conte said: “In every moment I have underlined the commitment of the players. In this 18 months, we built a great mentality. In every training session I see great commitment and great behaviour. Under this aspect, I’m very happy.”

Friday’s fixture represents Hull’s first since their midfielder Ryan Mason, 26, announced his retirement because of the fractured skull suffered in a challenge with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill last year.

“We are very sad for this bad news,” added Conte, 48. “He showed great strength to recover, to try to play again. It’s a pity because to stop your career at such a young age: it’s a pity.

“This news is bad news for us. We are very sad. The players and the club wish him and his family the best for the present, the best for the future.”

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Everton complete first training session in Dubai as part of warm weather trip

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Tom Davies, Theo Walcott and Co are in the UAE.

Everton took to the pitch for the first time on Thursday as part of their short warm weather mid-season training break to Dubai.

Sam Allardyce’s men made the most of the UAE sun and went through their paces at Nad Al Sheba complex at Meydan.

The Blues arrived on Wednesday evening and are staying close to the city’s iconic Burj Al Arab.

Given the Toffees’ next fixture isn’t until Saturday February 24 at Watford, Everton have used the gap in the fixture list to train in more favourable conditions.

Among the travelling party was Argentine Ramiro Funes Mori, who is stepping up his recovery after being sidelined with an ACL injury since March 2017.

It is the third time in as many seasons the Merseysiders have travelled to the city.

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Arsenal talking points as Europa League has become crucial for Gunners

Sport360 staff 14/02/2018
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Arsenal have work to do qualify for the Champions League next season.

Arsenal face a potentially tricky Europa League tie away at Ostersund on Thursday night.

Here, Press Association Sport looks ahead to the main talking points ahead of the tie at the Jamtkraft Arena:

BIGGER GAME FOR WENGER THAN HE WOULD HAVE HOPED

Arsenal eased through the Europa League group with little difficulty as Arsene Wenger utilised his squad in a competition that was seen as inferior in their targets compared to the Premier League and FA Cup.

Now, however, the Gunners are a massive 27 points behind leaders Manchester City in the league and are struggling to make the top four while their ambitions of defending their FA Cup ended with a shock third-round exit at Nottingham Forest.

That means the Europa League now offers the most likely route back into the Champions League for Wenger and Arsenal, which is why a strong squad will be present on Thursday.

Wenger knows this may be his best chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

Wenger knows this may be his best chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

POTTER ATTEMPTING TO CONJURE UP MORE MAGIC

There has been much written about Ostersund’s manager since the draw was made late last year.

Graham Potter, a Midlander who played in defence for the likes of Birmingham, Stoke, Southampton and West Brom, has turned the Swedish side from lower-league minnows to top-flight cup winners.

Their Europa League adventure has included victories over established names such as Galatasaray, PAOK and Hertha Berlin and now they can add Arsenal to their ever-growing list of scalps.

Graham Potter has been making a mark in Sweden, but this is his big moment.

Graham Potter has been making a mark in Sweden, but this is his big moment.

CAN GUNNERS COPE ON THE SLOPES?

Freezing conditions will greet the Arsenal squad when they disembark from their aircraft at Ostersund Airport.

Although not quite the -23°C of last month, it will still be a shock to the system – as will the compact stadium and artificial pitch.

Wenger is expected to bring some of his top names out to this Swedish outpost and their ability to adapt could prevent any embarrassments.

Ostersund will promise a raucous atmosphere - and cold weather.

Ostersund will promise a raucous atmosphere – and cold weather.

HOME BOYS GIVEN A CHANCE TO SHINE

Jamie Hopcutt and Curtis Edwards are not household names in their native England but the pair have become integral to Potter’s plans at the Jamtkraft Arena.

Hopcutt, a 25-year-old midfielder, had unspectacular spells at York, Whitby, Ossett Town and Tadcaster before making the move to Scandinavia.

Middlesbrough-born Edwards had a similar adventure in England’s lower leagues as he turned out for Darlington, Spennymoor and Thornaby.

Now the duo can show they can cut it with the best that the Premier League has to offer as they aim to play their part in a major upset.

Curtis Edwards has been instrumental in Ostersund's European campaign.

Curtis Edwards has been instrumental in Ostersund’s European campaign.

WELBECK TO BE GIVEN RARE OPPORTUNITY TO IMPRESS

With club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cup-tied and summer recruit Alexandre Lacazette injured, the chances are that Danny Welbeck will lead the line for Arsenal.

The former Manchester United man has struggled with injuries since his move to the Emirates Stadium but could now play his part in making sure the Gunners advance in Europe.

With Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud leaving in the January window, Welbeck is now one of Arsenal’s established attacking players and the England international will be desperate to grasp his opportunity if it arises.

Danny Welbeck has yet another chance to shine in an Arsenal shirt.

Danny Welbeck has yet another chance to shine in an Arsenal shirt.

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