Chelsea will complain to FA after Burnley staff 'offended' Sarri, says Zola

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Maurizio Sarri was sent to the stands in the 2-2 draw against Burnely.

Gianfranco Zola expects Chelsea to lodge a formal complaint with the Football Association after Burnley’s backroom staff “offended” boss Maurizio Sarri in the teams’ 2-2 Premier League draw.

Head coach Sarri refused to talk to the media after Chelsea’s lacklustre home draw with the Clarets, incensed at being sent off and claiming he was abused by the visiting coaching team.

Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger and Burnley goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer had to be separated by the officials at the final whistle, as a gripping encounter ended in ugly touchline scenes at Stamford Bridge.

David Luiz and Ashley Westwood then clashed as the teams left the field, and that after Gonzalo Higuain had thrown a bottle into the dugout in a petulant response to being replaced late on.

To make the night worse for Chelsea, England forward Callum Hudson-Odoi later confirmed on social media that he will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Asked if Chelsea will contact the FA over Sarri’s frustrations, Zola said: “I think there will be a follow (up) on that. Maurizio felt very unhappy.

“We understand it’s a football game. You say words because of the adrenaline, but he wasn’t particularly happy.

Tempers ran high throughout the clash.

Tempers ran high throughout the clash.

“If Maurizio said that, probably it’s something that could have been avoided.”

Explaining why he attended the press conference and not Sarri, Zola continued: “The reason is he’s very frustrated, so he’d prefer not to come over here.

“He’s been sent off. I think he’s been offended as well, so he didn’t feel it was the right thing to do, to speak to you.

“I know you wanted him, so I’m sorry. But you can understand: he’s frustrated at the game, frustrated at being sent off, and the other thing. He’d prefer not to come in.

“I think he’s been told something from their bench, but don’t ask me what; I don’t want to go down that line.

“We’ll see what we can do about that.

“It’s a football game, and it’s normal that there is a lot of passion in it.

“We felt very unhappy, and also that Maurizio has been sent off while he was just trying to tell our players to get in position.”

N’Golo Kante and Gonzalo Higuain blasted two goals in as many minutes for the Blues, but poor set-piece defending let Jeff Hendrick and Ashley Barnes plunder goals for the Clarets.

Zola expects Kante to recover quickly from a “contusion” to his ribs, but Hudson-Odoi’s season is at an end.

The 18-year-old will miss England’s Nations League exploits this summer and Chelsea’s final push for a top-four Premier League finish and Europa League glory.

“Really gutted to end my season with a ruptured Achilles, got to work hard and try to come back stronger for next season,” Hudson-Odoi posted on twitter.

Chelsea blew a big chance to stake a strong claim for Champions League qualification, leaving Zola admitting it was an opportunity missed.

“Certainly with three points it would have been a different story,” said Zola.

“We still gained a point on the other teams though, and we will not give up until the end.”

Provided by Press Association Sports

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Milner will become a Man United fan for first time as title race goes to wire

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James Milner admits he will become a Manchester United supporter for the first time as Liverpool hope for an advantage in the Premier League title race.

Milner counts United’s three great rivals – Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester City – on a 17-year playing CV that has seen him rack up more than 600 senior games.

But the 33-year-old midfielder will put history to one side in the Manchester derby on Wednesday when City meet United at Old Trafford.

The derby is City’s game in hand on Liverpool and victory will restore their one-point lead at the top with three matches of the season remaining.

“First time in my life,” Milner said about his support for United this week.

“But I won’t be watching. It’s a bit of a waste of energy, willing the ball in the other goal.

“I can’t do anything about it. I’ll maybe put my phone away for a few hours and check it after.

“I’ve no idea what I’ll do, maybe go out for some food.”

Liverpool maintained their challenge for a first domestic title since 1990 with a 2-0 victory at Cardiff on Sunday.

Milner converted a late penalty to score his seventh goal of the season and secure a precious three points.

Liverpool have relegated Huddersfield and Wolves to play at home and Newcastle away.

City’s remaining fixtures are at United, Burnley and Brighton and at home to Leicester.

On City’s run-in, Milner said: “There’s three games left after that (United).

“People think United is a challenge, but it’s not the only one.

“It’s an old cliche, but the Premier League is tough – whoever you play, teams battling at the bottom.

“Go back to QPR (when Milner won the title at Man City on the final day) and it’s not easy when you’re playing to win a league title.

Liverpool’s win at Cardiff was their 27th from 35 games and set a new Premier League points record for the club.

The Reds now have 88 points, two more than Rafael Benitez’s side managed 10 years ago in finishing runners-up to Manchester United.

“We just need to win the rest of our games,” Milner said.

“If we do that and it’s not good enough then you have to hold your hands up and say ‘well done City’.

“They are a top team, they have done it before and are grinding it out.

“It’s frustrating to think we’ve had one defeat all year and it might not be enough.

“But all we can do is win the rest of our games and put them under pressure.”

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to ring changes as Man United look to stop horror run in derby

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Several Manchester United players could be dropped for the derby.

For a Manchester United side looking to end a run of six defeats in eight games and bounce back from Sunday’s embarrassing 4-0 loss to Everton, which came four days after a 3-0 loss to Barcelona that sent them out of the Champions League, playing title-chasing Manchester City is the last thing they need.

City enter Wednesday’s derby on the back of Saturday’s crucial win over Tottenham, and they will relish stamping their authority on their neighbours’ home patch.

The task Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has on his hands to prevent that is one of our talking points for the game:

HOW MANY PLAYERS CAN SOLSKJAER DROP?

After United’s loss to Barcelona last week, Solskjaer said his players needed a “reality check” about their performances.

They responded with that humiliation against Everton.

“I’m going to be successful here and there are players there that won’t be part of that successful team,” Solskjaer fumed afterwards. “I don’t know” he answered when asked if the players cared enough about the club.

The Norwegian might channel his inner Jose Mourinho and drop the team’s more self-indulgent players. But how many?

Anthony Martial would deserve it after Sunday. Marcus Rashford looks spent and possibly injured.

Paul Pogba’s motivation continues to be questioned. Selecting Romelu Lukaku in a big-six game is starting with one hand tied behind your back.

Where does that leave Solskjaer? A front three of Jesse Lingard, Alexis Sanchez, and Juan Mata, with Ander Herrera back in midfield?

Can that team beat City and rejuvenate their flagging top-four hopes?

FODEN MAKING A STATEMENT FOR GUARDIOLA

Another option open for Solskjaer is to promote some academy players, with Mason Greenwood, James Garner, Tahith Chong, and Angel Gomes all having been on the fringes of the first team.

City have a youth star of their own they can count on, at the moment. Pep Guardiola sprung a surprise by starting Phil Foden against Tottenham on Saturday, with the young Englishman rewarding his manager by scoring the game’s only goal.

Perhaps there was a statement in that selection, too. City have a vaunted academy, but Guardiola’s handling of its best prospects has been criticised, especially after the departures of Jadon Sancho and Brahim Diaz.

Yet Foden was persuaded to sign a new contract, and now he’s coming good.

The City manager may never publicly admit to having made mistakes over the likes of Sancho, but giving Foden a crucial role in the title race is a promising sign.

BOTH SIDES CARRYING MEMORIES OF LAST YEAR 

The last end-of-season encounter between the two Manchester clubs also featured only one side in the title race.

Last year, City were looking for the ultimate insult of sealing the title by beating United, went 2-0 up in the first half, and should have made it four or five. Had that happened, the humiliation for the red side of Manchester would have made Sunday’s loss to Everton seem an improvement.

Instead, Pogba inspired United to a comeback win and a stay of execution, as they were officially beaten to the title a week later.

This time United are reduced to an even worse position. A shock win would hand the title initiative to Liverpool, the only team United hate more than their neighbours.

The talent gap to City, meanwhile, would almost certainly see a 2-0 deficit converted to something bigger this time. How different things are to a year ago.

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