English Premiership

Chelsea look to refocus

2015-02-21 08:06
Jose Mourinho. (File AFP)

London - Chelsea will aim to refocus on their Premier League title challenge on Saturday after the club was shamed by the racist behaviour of a handful of their supporters in Paris.

A French-Mauritanian commuter was blocked from boarding a train by a group of Chelsea fans travelling to the Parc des Princes for the 1-1 Champions League last 16 first leg against Paris St Germain on Tuesday.

A chant of "We're racist and that's the way we like it" from the Chelsea fans was clearly audible on a video of the incident at the Richelieu-Drouot Metro station.

Five men could face life bans from attending football matches after being suspended from Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium as part of the ongoing investigation that is being undertaken in conjunction with the Metropolitan and Paris police.

The shocking incident prompted Blues boss Jose Mourinho to admit he felt "ashamed" while Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was said to be "disgusted".

In the circumstances, the behaviour of Chelsea's supporters during Saturday's home clash with Burnley will be put under the microscope.

Mourinho revealed his players were just as horrified as he was by the incident, but it is hoped a trouble-free afternoon off the pitch and a victory on it, to maintain their seven-point lead at the top, will help rehabilitate the club's tarnished reputation.

"I have a squad at Chelsea where 12 or 14 players have African nationality or an African connection," Mourinho said.

"So the dressing room reacted in the same way I did, with disappointment and obviously condemning the situation and supporting the gentleman involved.

"But there is also the feeling that while we feel ashamed, maybe we shouldn't because we are not this and these people don't belong to us."

Meanwhile, Wilfried Bony believes he can be Manchester City's secret weapon in the title race as he prepares to make his debut against Newcastle.

Bony joined Manuel Pellegrini's side from Swansea in a 28 million ($43 million, 37 million euros) move during the January transfer window, but has yet to make his bow in a City shirt after spending the last few weeks helping Ivory Coast win the African Cup of Nations.

The 26-year-old is in contention to finally give City fans a first glimpse of their new signing when Newcastle visit Eastlands in a fixture crucial to the champions' hopes of retaining the title.

"It feels like a while since I signed the contract but finally I'm here, I'm really happy about that and now I'm just focusing on this Saturday's game," Bony said.

"If I am needed, I have a good record against Newcastle. I've scored three goals in two games against them."

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has a chance to avenge the defeat that started his Old Trafford reign on a low note when his side travel to Swansea.

Van Gaal saw United crash to a shock 1-0 defeat against Swansea on the opening day of the season, courtesy of Gylfi Sigurdsson's goal.

But third- placed United have gradually improved during the Dutchman's first season in charge and winger Ashley Young credits their ascent, after last season's travails under David Moyes, to the squad's spirit.

"All the boys in the dressing room are fighting for each other and when you have that off the pitch you take it on to the pitch," Young said.

"We showed that at Preston on Monday night from the first minute to the last and in the way we came back into the game and won it."

The tense race to qualify for the Champions League should take a few more twists and turns this weekend, with fourth-placed Southampton hosting Liverpool, who are only four points behind in seventh.

Arsenal, one point behind Southampton in fifth place, travel to Crystal Palace and sixth-placed Tottenham, three points adrift of the Saints, take on London rivals West Ham at White Hart Lane.

Aston Villa's new manager Tim Sherwood, whose side are languishing in the relegation zone, needs to make a fast start at home to Stoke.

Fixtures (17:00 GMT unless stated):

Saturday

Aston Villa v Stoke, Chelsea v Burnley, Crystal Palace v Arsenal, Hull v QPR, Manchester City v Newcastle (19:30), Sunderland v West Brom, Swansea v Manchester United

Sunday

Everton v Leicester (16:05), Southampton v Liverpool (18:15), Tottenham v West Ham (14:00)

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Fixtures
Saturday, 20 January 2018
Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea, The American Express Community Stadium 14:30
Stoke City v Huddersfield Town, Bet365 Stadium 17:00
Arsenal v Crystal Palace, Emirates Stadium 17:00
Everton v West Bromwich Albion, Goodison Park 17:00
Leicester City v Watford, King Power Stadium 17:00
West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth, London Stadium 17:00
Burnley v Manchester United, Turf Moor 17:00
Manchester City v Newcastle United, Etihad Stadium 19:30
Sunday, 21 January 2018
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur, St. Mary's Stadium 18:00
Monday, 22 January 2018
Swansea City v Liverpool, Liberty Stadium 22:00
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