Terry feeling the heat

first_imgMANCHESTER, England (AP):John Terry ended last season as still the best centre back in the English Premier League.Three games into the new campaign, the Chelsea captain’s stock has fallen to such an extent that critics are questioning how much longer he can cut it at this level.The 34-year-old Terry has endured a miserable start to Chelsea’s title defence: Substituted at half-time against Manchester City. Sent off against West Bromwich Albion. Now suspended for the visit of Crystal Palace on Saturday.It will be the first time in 17 months that Terry has missed a meaningful Premier League game – he played every minute last season – and leaves Chelsea without any of the so-called “old guard” that has been the backbone of the club’s success for the past decade.Central midfielder Frank Lampard left at the end of the 2012-13 season, centre forward Didier Drogba’s second spell at Chelsea ended in May, and Petr Cech was sold to Arsenal in the offseason. Terry is the last remaining link to the past in a new-look Chelsea team under Jose Mourinho, but his days could be numbered.It’s not just Terry’s form that is putting his place under scrutiny. He will be 35 in December so age is not on his side, and Chelsea’s pursuit of Everton centre back John Stones signals that Mourinho is looking to the future. Chelsea has reportedly had three offers for Stones rejected, and is weighing up a fourth potentially worth £40 million (US$62 million).Terry still has much to offer Chelsea and could have two or three more years at Stamford Bridge. But his role could be changing, and good performances by Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma – the likely centre-back pairing against Palace – will give Mourinho some thinking to do over the international break.By then, Stones may be a Chelsea player, too. He has already put in a transfer request at Everton.Chelsea has had as uncomfortable a start to the season as Terry, with four points from a possible nine leaving the team already five behind Man City. Palace have won two of their opening three games and are a dangerous team away from home with their pace on the counterattack.ROONEY REVIVALWayne Rooney’s 10-game scoring drought for Manchester United ended with a hat-trick against Bruges in a Champions League qualifying match on Wednesday, but he’ll need to start netting in the Premier League to get the critics completely off his back.Rooney has been part of an underperforming United attack that has struggled to create chances, let alone score goals in the league this season. The team has scored two goals in three games, one of them being an own goal.United visit Swansea on Sunday for a match between two unbeaten teams. Swansea took six points off United last season.RECORD IN SIGHTManchester City will break their century-long record for successive top-flight wins if they beat Watford at Etihad Stadium.City are the only team with a 100 per cent start to the season after beating Everton 2-0 on Sunday. That was City’s ninth straight win, matching the club record that has lasted since 1912.last_img read more

England set to name unchanged team for World Cup semi-final against Croatia

first_img 2 2 And, despite Jordan Henderson suffering a tight hamstring, fears over Raheem Sterling’s profligacy, and the midfield might of their opponents Croatia, he’s decided to name the same side again.It means the squad now have a clean bill of health, including Jordan Pickford, who hurt his thumb against the Swedes.Wednesday’s foes Croatia also have injury issues with Sime Vrsaljko a major doubt, while Dejan Lovren missed training on Monday along with goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, who is nursing a hamstring injury.Speaking to talkSPORT on the eve of the clash, England boss Southgate spoke of his pride at leading the Three Lions into a first World Cup semi-final since 1990.“It’s a privilege really to be here,” he said,“I’m managing and leading my country in a World Cup, only four people have been able to play for their country in a World Cup and manage them so that’s an honour in itself.“Then to lead them to a semi-final as well is a hugely proud moment.” England are set to name an unchanged team for their World Cup 2018 semi-final clash with Croatia.Against Sweden, manager Gareth Southgate kept faith with the XI who started against Colombia, and it paid off with a comfortable 2-0 win. England players celebrate their victory over Sweden in the World Cup quarter-finals. Is Southgate the nicest man in football? In the world? Probably. When asked directly whether Wednesday’s match would be the biggest of his career, Southgate answered quickly: “Yeah, it has to be.“I don’t think anybody’s played and managed in a semi-final for their country before so that’s very, very special.“It’s a big night but these are the nights you’re in the game for. They’re the games you want to be involved in.”You can listen to Croatia vs England live on talkSPORT, Wednesday from 7pm.last_img read more