Maurizio Sarri still unsure of Eden Hazard's Chelsea future

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Eden Hazard

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri insists he is still in the dark over Eden Hazard’s future.

The forward, who is yet to commit his future to Stamford Bridge, came off the bench in Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Leicester on the final day of the Premier League season.

Hazard blew kisses to the travelling fans who called for him to stay after a 22 minute cameo which failed to inspire a victory.

The Belgian was rested with the Europa League final against Arsenal at the end of the month in mind.

Real Madrid continued to be heavily linked with the 28-year-old and Sarri conceded he did not know if Hazard will stay.

He said: “I hope of course, like every fan of Chelsea, that he will remain with us. But at the moment I don’t know.

“I know very well that Eden tried to do his best for seven seasons at Chelsea. He did very well, he has become one of the best two or three players in the world, but I think also that we have to respect him and his decision.”

Despite finishing third in the Premier League, Chelsea still sat 26 points adrift of champions Manchester City.

Sarri also cast doubt over his own position and could not say for sure if he will be at Stamford Bridge for a second season.

He added: “I think but I am not sure. I don’t know. I can say only the club asked me to get into the Champions League and we reached the target – the Champions League.

“As you know very well, I love English football. I love the Premier League, the level is really the best in the world I think, the atmosphere in the stadiums is wonderful. I like very much to stay here.”

Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans wasted a fine opening just before the break when the pair failed to combine properly following David Luiz’s slip.

Gonzalo Higuain then missed the best chance of the match when, unmarked, he sidefooted wide from six yards in first-half stoppage time.

The Foxes finished ninth and boss Brendan Rodgers, who replaced Claude Puel in February, is looking forward to the future.

“There is no waiting in football now, there is no time,” he said.

“It was a difficult decision and normally, ideally as a coach or a manager, you don’t want to come in until the summer.

“I’ve had an invaluable period here and that was the reason for coming, seeing the players under pressure for this period of time and seeing if I can influence players to be here for the project going forward.”

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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Brighton 1-4 Manchester City: Talking points as Premier League champions reign and retain

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Aymeric Laporte and Man City celebrate the title-winning goal.

Manchester City became the first team in a decade to retain the Premier League title after a nervy end to the season, beating Brighton 4-1 to pip Liverpool to the crown by a point.

Brighton gave them a scare by taking the lead on Sunday, raising Liverpool‘s hopes after they had gotten an early strike against Wolves, but goals from Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez, and Ilkay Gundogan ensured Pep Guardiola’s side completed a feat not done since Manchester United won a third straight title in 2008/2009.

Here are the talking points from the win which brought an end to a gripping title battle.

LAPORTE HAS HIS SAY IN VAN DIJK’S SEASON

The word on Laporte this season has been that he’s the second-best defender in the league. That’s high praise in itself, but constantly hearing that there’s a player better than you can’t be fun.

Virgil van Dijk has been immense for Liverpool, arguably the sole reason City even had title rivals, and when Laporte’s mistakes cost his team a shot at the Champions League as he gifted Tottenham two goals in the madcap second leg of the quarter-final, the contrast between best and second-best could not have been starker – not least because Van Dijk’s team have made the final of that competition, for the second straight season.

Liverpool’s main man would win the PFA Player of the Year award soon after Laporte’s horror show, as if to rub it in. But ultimately, although Van Dijk ends the season having anchored the best defence in the league, he doesn’t have a Premier League winner’s medal to show for it. Laporte does, having had the final word on that front. It was his goal that put City back in front on Sunday after Aguero had cancelled out Glenn Murray’s opener.

MAHREZ’S SWEET REDEMPTION

Until Sunday Mahrez’s most significant contribution to the title race was actually in Liverpool’s favour. He missed an 85th-minute penalty at Anfield in October in a 0-0 draw, a moment that was looming large when the Reds took the lead on Sunday.

No one knows how much that miss has played on the Algerian’s mind this season, his first at the club after he became City’s record signing last summer. Scoring the winning penalty in the shootout in the League Cup final against Chelsea would not have counted for much as consolation had Guardiola’s side lost out on the title.

So assisting the go-ahead goal and then scoring what was essentially the title clincher, a vintage strike – albeit on his right foot – as Mahrez left a defender for dead with a dribble before shooting from outside the box to make it 3-1 and put the doubts to bed, must have been a satisfying moment.

CITY TAKING PREMIER LEAGUE TO NEW HEIGHTS

Until two seasons ago, the record for points in a Premier League season was 95. This year, a team has topped that mark and not won the title.

That’s the standard City have set. Last year it was becoming the first team to earn 100 points. This time, they’ve lost two games more in comparison but still ended the campaign on 98 points, as they matched the previous season’s win total of 32 – a Premier League record.

Going by those stats, a team has the leeway to fail to win just five games to beat this City side. For the record, Arsenal’s Invincibles side drew 12 games, the Chelsea team that hit that 95-point mark drew eight and lost one, and Manchester United’s Treble winners drew 13 and lost three. Liverpool this season matched that 2004-05 Chelsea side by losing only once, but drew seven times.

The bar has been well and truly raised. Liverpool may have pushed them to the brink this season, but a year after winning the league by 19 points, City have taken a punch from the best England had to offer and still ended up on top.

The message to everyone else is clear. It’s going to take something monumental to beat Guardiola’s all-conquering side.

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Man City clinch back-to-back Premier League titles after win over Brighton

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Manchester City overcame an early fright to roar past Brighton and wrap up the Premier League title.

Pep Guardiola’s side recovered from going behind to a Glenn Murray header to run out 4-1 winners and pip Liverpool to the crown.

Any title jitters were eased within 83 seconds of Murray’s 27th-minute opener as Sergio Aguero, scorer of the dramatic clincher in 2012, reprised that famous strike with an instant equaliser.

Further goals from Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan then started the party in the away end as Liverpool were forced to settle for a valiant second.

It was a remarkable title race which lasted until the final day, yet was oddly bereft of twists and turns as City and Liverpool relentlessly racked up win after win after win.

As it turned out Liverpool won their last nine but City’s 14-match winning streak, a record end to a top-flight season, ensured the Reds’ wait for the title will tick into a 30th year.

Over nine months and 38 games each, the two juggernauts clocked up 195 points between them as they disappeared over the horizon.

Liverpool’s final total of 97 would have seen them take the title at a canter in every other Premier League season, barring the last. Yet they still could not catch this incredible City side.

The football gods have had a busy week, and they took Sunday off. Liverpool, it seems, had used up their quota of miracles against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals.

Brighton, safe from relegation as of last week but in dismal form, always looked like being compliant opponents for City.

Yet an early snap-shot from Alireza Jahanbakhsh, which fizzed narrowly wide, had Guardiola down on his haunches, as if the Spaniard sensed all was not entirely as it should be.

Word then arrived, via Brighton’s fans, that Liverpool were ahead against Wolves at Anfield when Murray stunned the visitors, heading in at the near post from a Pascal Gross corner.

The lead lasted less than a minute and a half, though. David Silva slipped the ball through to Aguero, who was being played onside by Lewis Dunk.

The Argentinian duly obliged with his 32nd goal of the season in all competitions, blasting the ball through the legs of Maty Ryan.

At this stage Liverpool still sat on top of the ‘as it stands’ table, but not for long.

After Brighton keeper Ryan saved from Mahrez at his near post, Murray left Laporte all alone at the corner to nod home.

The jeopardy, all 10 or so minutes of it, was fun while it lasted. Yet all the time there was one goal in it Brighton had a puncher’s chance, and Liverpool still had some hope.

That hope was extinguished when Mahrez, who was not having the best of games, popped up on the edge of the area, effortlessly slipped past the sliding Dunk and slammed the ball home.

Gundogan sent a brilliant free-kick nestling into the top corner to seal the deal in the 72nd minute.

It was ultimately a seaside stroll, the routine coronation Liverpool feared.

But City’s triumph will be defined not by swatting aside Brighton, but by Vincent Kompany’s winner against Leicester, or Kyle Walker’s stunner against Newcastle, or inflicting Liverpool’s only league defeat of the season with the help of a gap on the goal-line of 1.12 centimetres.

In claiming the club’s sixth title, and a fourth in the last eight seasons, Guardiola’s side also became the first to retain the Premier League trophy since Manchester United 10 years ago.

A 32nd win of the season also equalled the top-flight record, set by City last season.

Now only Watford, in next weekend’s FA Cup final, stand in the way of an unprecedented domestic treble for this incredible side.

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