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When do Chelsea play first after the World Cup?

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It is soon going to be time for Chelsea fans to tune in and watch their team in competitive action for the first time since mid-November.

The Blues have not had a very enjoyable season so far and they are one of the teams who may have welcomed the break for the 2022 Qatar World Cup more than others.

There is a lot of work for Graham Potter to do if he is to take his team into the top four spots in the Premier League table and he has got a very mixed fixture list coming up in which to get the job started. Chelsea have not won in the league since beating Aston Villa 2-0 on October 16.

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Take a look at who Chelsea have got coming up and see if you think they can acquire a decent points haul.

Chelsea were one of many big teams who were knocked out of the Carabao Cup earlier in the year, although to be fair to them, it was against Manchester City.

That means that Chelsea fans must wait until December 27 before they take on Bournemouth at home in the Premier League.

It is the sort of match that Chelsea fans and Potter will have wanted to come back to as they certainly have the tools for that to be a fairly straightforward victory at Stamford Bridge. That game is a 17:30 GMT kick-off.

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Chelsea have got a fairly mixed fixture list following the conclusion of the World Cup in Qatar and given their poor form but highly talented squad, it makes the games very hard to predict.

Potter’s side follow up the game against Bournemouth with a trip to Nottingham Forest on New Year’s day, which could be a tough one if there is a good atmosphere at the City Ground.

Over the following couple of weeks, Chelsea will become sick of the sight of Manchester City as, having been knocked out of the Carabao Cup by them, Chelsea welcome Pep Guardiola’s side to Stamford Bridge for a league game before then heading to the Etihad for an FA Cup third round clash.

Mateo Kovačić, Christian Pulisic, Lewis Hall, Denis Zakaria, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella

Chelsea were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Manchester City / Visionhaus/GettyImages

The west London derby is up next as Fulham take on Chelsea at Craven Cottage before Crystal Palace travel to take on Chelsea. Those two games look like they will need to end in six points for the Blues.

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January ends with a game against Liverpool at Anfield which is very hard to predict at this stage.

It has not been a good season for Chelsea so far. They started poorly under Thomas Tuchel and that led to his departure and replacement by Graham Potter.

There was a minor upturn in form for the fans to enjoy, but poor form has settled back in again and now Chelsea sit eighth in the Premier League table with a huge amount of work to do if they are to finish in the top four. They are eight points away from fourth place.



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Pedri makes 100th appearance for Barcelona

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Pedri has made his 100th appearance for Barcelona on Saturday, coming off the bench in their La Liga match against Girona.

After joining from Las Palmas, the midfielder made his debut in 2020 just under two months before turning 18 and has since established himself as a key player for the club.

Even with the likes of Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong and Gavi in the squad, the Spain international been their stand-out midfielder when he’s played, drawing comparisons with manager Xavi as well as Andres Iniesta.

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Hamstring issues limited him to just 22 appearances last season but despite that he’s now featured in 100 games for the Spanish side.

Pedri didn’t start his 100th game, with Xavi opting to give him a rest, but he was forced into the action when Ousmane Dembele picked up an injury just before the 30-minute mark.

On this edition of Talking Transfers, Scott Saunders hosts Toby Cudworth & Graeme Bailey to discuss some of the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more! If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

He then marked his 100th game in style, giving his team the lead away to Girona with his 15th goal in Barcelona colours.

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Pedri yet to find the back of the net for his country but has already become a key player for La Roja too, starting the majority of matches at Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup.

Given he already has 18 caps to his name at the age of 20, he’ll surely surpass the 100-match landmark for Spain too barring any serious injuries.



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Player ratings as Pedri taps home another winner

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Barcelona made it eight straight victories with an uncomfortable 1-0 win over Girona on Saturday.

Xavi’s side were underwhelming for large parts of the game, profiting mainly from mistakes from the Girona back line, and it was one such error which gifted Pedri with a simple second-half tap-in to secure an ugly victory.

Barcelona, wearing their new fourth kit, had a scare early on as Yan Couto broke through on goal and forced a bit of a scramble inside the opening few minutes, but they quickly wrestled control of the ball and dominated proceedings without doing much in the final third, even spurning a glorious chance gifted to them by some poor play out from Girona’s defence.

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Midway through the half, Barcelona lost Ousmane Dembele to what appeared to be a hamstring injury, minutes before Ansu Fati blazed over from outside the box following some more unconvincing play from Girona’s back line.

That was about as exciting as things got in the first half, with Barcelona guilty of far too many sideways passes and uninspiring moves in possession.

The second half threatened to tell a similar story but, on the hour mark, Jordi Alba’s low cross was inexplicably spilled by Paulo Gazzaniga and gleefully tapped home by Pedri from close range.

Girona nearly found a way back in 12 minutes later as Cristhian Stuani looked set for a header from point-black range, but Ronald Araujo did well to divert the ball away on the line.

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Raphinha had a chance to tap home a goal of his own late on but lost his footing at the crucial moment and collapsed to the ground as Girona cleared their lines.

That mistake was nearly punished five minutes from time as the ball was put on a plate for Ivan Martin just a few yards out, but he slammed what was perhaps the best chance of the game well wide of the goal, allowing Barcelona to escape with all three points.

Girona boss Michel was shown a red card for dissent on the touchline in the dying embers, frustrated that his side could not take advantage of their late dominance in the game.

GK: Paulo Gazzaniga (4); RB: Arnau Martinez (6); CB: Juanpe (5); CB: Bernardo (6); LB: Miguel Gutierrez (7); DM: Oriol Romeu (6); RM: Yan Couto (6); CM: Yangel Herrera (5); CM: Aleix Garcia (6); LM: Rodrigo Riquelme (5); ST: Valentin Castellanos (5)

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Substitutes: Valery Fernandez (6), Toni Villa (5), Cristhian Stuani (5), Joel Roca (N/A), Ivan Martin (N/A)

GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6/10 – Barely involved at all but had to be alive in the dying embers to keep Barcelona ahead.

RB: Jules Kounde – 5/10 – Offered a little bit going forwards and was impressive at the back, although his limited passing ability was a bit of an issue against a stubborn back line.

CB: Ronald Araujo – 6/10 – Excellent passing and solid enough defensively. Didn’t really need to get out of second gear.

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CB: Eric Garcia – 5/10 – A few shaky moments at the back over on the weakest side of Barcelona’s defence.

LB: Marcos Alonso – 1/10 – Celebrated signing his new contract with one of the most anonymous performances you will ever see.

DM: Sergio Busquets – 4/10 – A lot of sideways passing without any real ambition whatsoever. Too slow for a game like this.

CM: Gavi – 6/10 – Really underwhelming in the first half as he was forced out wide to replace Dembele, but he stepped up his urgency after the break.

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CM: Frenkie de Jong – 5/10 – Made the odd nice run to try and make something happen but wasn’t as impactful as you’d expect. Struggled to find his place in the system.

RW: Raphinha – 4/10 – The most dangerous of any of Barcelona’s forwards but still far too wasteful. Crossing the ball into 5’8 Gavi didn’t work, surprisingly.

ST: Ansu Fati – 2/10 – Couldn’t get involved whatsoever. So stationary when waiting for the ball. Has to do more as the team’s focal point.

LW: Ousmane Dembele – 5/10 – Tweaked his hamstring midway through the first half and had to ask to come off.

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Substitutes

Pedri (25′ for Dembele) – 7/10 – Took a little while to get going but made the telling impact after the break.

Jordi Alba (46′ for Alonso) – 6/10 – A significant upgrade on Alonso. Bagged the important assist, with a little help from Gazzaniga, but wasn’t all that convincing in defence.

Alejandro Balde (81′ for Fati) – N/A

Franck Kessie (88′ for Raphinha) – N/A

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Manager

Xavi – 5/10 – Cut a frustrated figure during the first half as his team offered nothing in attack. Made the right call to swap out Alonso but you didn’t need to be a genius to work that one out. Failed to show the ability to shift tactic to break Girona down.

Player of the match – Pedri (Barcelona)



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CF Montreal’s Kamal Miller focused on 2023 MLS campaign amid European interest

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Kamal Miller has insisted his focus remains on the upcoming MLS season with CF Montreal amid transfer interest.

The 25-year-old center-back has been one of Montreal’s most consistent players in recent years and saw his form rewarded with a key role in Canada’s 2022 World Cup appearance.

Miller’s form has, naturally, caused his name to be linked to a European transfer, and 90min understands there is even interest from clubs in the top 10 leagues and competing in Uefa competitions.

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Should he depart, he would follow in the footsteps of the likes of Alistair Johnston and Djordje Mihailivic to swap Montreal for Europe in recent times. However, Miller isn’t getting ahead of himself and knows he has a job to do at Saputo Stadium.

“Just keep playing well and do what I did last year and, hopefully, something falls into place,” Miller Miller told reporters of his 2023 aims. “I think I did it my first year here. I think I did it my second year here, so it’ll be the same going into this season. Just focus on the opponent here and helping my teammates win games. Everything else will take care of itself.

“The players and the coaches will approach every game the same way,” he continued. “My teammates will help me. I’ll do whatever it takes for the team to win. Hopefully, not only myself but a lot of guys here get exposure and the opportunity to play at the next level.”

Exactly which clubs will emerge as serious contenders for Miller’s signature remains to be seen, but the player is well aware of the level of interest, adding: “They got me on their radar. Now it’s a waiting game.”

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After finishing second in the Eastern Conference last season, CF Montreal will once again look to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2023. Under new head coach Hernan Losada, they kick off the new campaign away at Inter Miami on February 25.



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