Dominic Fifield at Stamford Bridge

Author's details

Name: Dominic Fifield at Stamford Bridge
Date registered: September 28, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/football/aston-villa

Latest posts

  1. Chelsea dispatch Sunderland in style to bid John Terry a fond farewell — May 21, 2017
  2. John Terry makes his mark in last-gasp Chelsea win over battling Watford — May 15, 2017
  3. Homegrown Ben Gibson sums up the pain of Middlesbrough’s relegation | Dominic Fifield — May 8, 2017
  4. Antonio Conte calls for ‘one more small step’ after Chelsea beat Middlesbrough — May 8, 2017
  5. Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough: five things we learned at Stamford Bridge | Dominic Fifield — May 8, 2017

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May 21

Chelsea dispatch Sunderland in style to bid John Terry a fond farewell

In the context of a glorious campaign, and a glittering career, it was hard to begrudge Chelsea and their departing captain all the pomp and circumstance. Passages of this occasion were heavily choreographed, from John Terry’s substitution as the clocks on the big screens at either end of the arena displayed 26 minutes, to the post-match hoisting of the Premier League trophy. Others, like Sunderland’s utter capitulation, might as well have been. Throw in a golden glove for Thibaut Courtois and this was as close to the perfect afternoon as the locals could ever have envisaged.

It has been a pristine season. Each of Chelsea’s champions was cheered as he stepped forward on to the plinth, erected on the centre-spot here, to be rewarded for a year when everyone at this club has bought into the manager’s mantra of “work, work, work”. Antonio Conte was hidden at the back of the throng, stage right, when Gary Cahill and Terry finally hoisted the trophy and the pyrotechnics, streamers and ticker tape exploded all around. It is not his style to hog the limelight, even if the players soon sought him out. The Champagne sprayed thereafter probably ruined the Italian’s second suit of the day given he had already been drenched, albeit largely in energy drinks and water, at the final whistle.

Related: Liverpool seal Champions League place with victory over Middlesbrough

Related: Manchester City secure third place as Sergio Agüero torments Watford

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/21/chelsea-sunderland-premier-league-match-report

May 15

John Terry makes his mark in last-gasp Chelsea win over battling Watford

Even Chelsea’s second string are plucking thrilling victories from Premier League opponents these days. This game was careering towards its conclusion with six goals shared and Antonio Conte fidgeting in frustration on the sidelines when Cesc Fàbregas, recently introduced from the bench, spat a shot from the edge of the area that found the corner of the net. There is simply no stopping this team at present, regardless of their selection.

Watford had tried their best, recovering a two-goal deficit at one point, but ended up reduced to 10 by Sebastian Prödl’s late red card for a pair of fouls and have now lost five games in succession. Time is surely ticking down on Walter Mazzarri’s spell as manager and, in truth, it felt rather damning that his side succumbed to a makeshift selection, even composed of champions. The locals’ attitude to the fixture had in part been summed up by Diego Costa, one of Chelsea’s substitutes, ambling into the press room at half-time to peruse the catering facilities, linger over a cheese board and eventually make off with a satsuma.

Related: Chelsea 4-3 Watford: Premier League – as it happened

Related: Chelsea can challenge Europe’s elite clubs, says Cesc Fàbregas

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/15/chelsea-watford-premier-league-match-report

May 08

Homegrown Ben Gibson sums up the pain of Middlesbrough’s relegation | Dominic Fifield

The talented defender articulated the sense of waste as Boro’s stay in the Premier League lasted just one season after seven striving to get back into it

In the end it was Ben Gibson, to whom Middlesbrough means so much, who best summed up the sense of devastation at demotion. The youth-team graduate has spent half his life at this club, learning from his loan spells before establishing his reputation in the first team. Going out with such a whimper was already eating away at him well before the final whistle. “That was the lowest point of my career… no, in fact it’s the lowest point of my life,” he offered through a numbed monotone. “It means so much. We’ve got to put it right.”

The pain was all too obvious, the shame he clearly felt all too keen, even if Gibson is actually one of the few in this squad who should be able to hold his head high. This was not the centre-half’s best performance of the season, with Boro steamrollered all over the pitch by the champions-elect, but the 24-year-old will have his suitors this summer. He has proved himself to be a Premier League footballer, while plenty of others in the Teessiders’ ranks are probably dropping back to their natural level. That rather sums up the pedigree of this squad.

Related: Chelsea stroll to within a game’s reach of title and send Middlesbrough down

Related: Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough: five things we learned at Stamford Bridge | Dominic Fifield

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/08/ben-gibson-middlesbrough-relegation

May 08

Antonio Conte calls for ‘one more small step’ after Chelsea beat Middlesbrough

• Victory at West Bromwich Albion on Friday will secure the title
• Steve Agnew says Boro fans deserve Premier League football

Antonio Conte has urged his players to take “one more small step” to claim the Premier League after Chelsea relegated Middlesbrough to leave them three points from the title.

Chelsea can secure the title with victory at West Bromwich Albion on Friday after goals from Diego Costa, Marcos Alonso and Nemanja Matic ended Boro’s stay in the top division after only a season and re-established the London club’s seven-point lead at the top.

Related: Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough: five things we learned at Stamford Bridge | Dominic Fifield

Related: Homegrown Ben Gibson sums up the pain of Middlesbrough’s relegation | Dominic Fifield

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/08/antonio-conte-chelsea-await-crown-middlesbrough-go-down

May 08

Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough: five things we learned at Stamford Bridge | Dominic Fifield

Antonio Conte’s side strolled to the verge of the title while Middlesbrough have failed to make the most of an opportunity they had waited so long for

Antonio Conte will stress there is work still to be done but Chelsea, on this evidence, will be crowned champions at the Hawthorns before the end of the week. West Bromwich Albion will do well to suppress this team’s threat on Friday with the finishing line so close after their dismantling of Middlesbrough. The pace and bite of their forays forward took the breath away at times, with Eden Hazard scuttling at his markers and Diego Costa bullying centre-halves and full-backs alike. The balance to the team has felt ideal since last September and, for all Tottenham Hotspur’s wonderful recent run, the final table may give the impression that their success was a procession. Conte, as agitated as ever on the touchline here, may finally relax in the weeks ahead. There will be no stopping his team this season.

Related: Chelsea cruise to within sight of the title and send Middlesbrough down

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/may/08/chelsea-middlesbrough-five-things-we-learned-stamford-bridge

Apr 25

Chelsea tighten title grip after Diego Costa scores twice against Southampton

Normal service has been resumed. Chelsea emphatically checked the recent hint of a stagger and rediscovered the relentless, ruthless form which will surely earn them the Premier League title. Southampton may have been slippery opponents but they were overcome to re-establish a seven-point advantage at the top and steel the leaders for the run-in. The pressure has been thrust back on their closest pursuer. Over to you, Tottenham Hotspur.

Antonio Conte had worn a scowl for much of this match, pounding his technical area as furiously as ever and kicking everything from water bottles to medical bags whenever his players’ concentration lapsed. “I wanted to kick the ball because sometimes, believe me, I want to play,” said the Chelsea manager in the aftermath as the adrenaline gave way to exhaustion. “But I know that if I kick the ball, the referee will probably send me off.”

Related: Antonio Conte praises ‘psychological step’ in Chelsea’s title push

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/25/chelsea-southampton-match-report

Apr 05

Eden Hazard outwits Manchester City to strengthen Chelsea’s title grip

Chelsea breathe again. This was a victory to ease any nerves generated by the sight of their lead at the top of the division trimmed to single figures, a win that has surely squeezed the life from Manchester City’s lingering hopes of mounting a late challenge and keeps Tottenham Hotspur, for all their late rally in distant south Wales, at more than arm’s length. A tight contest was claimed by the hosts here and the success will restore the swagger to the leaders’ title pursuit. It only seems a matter of time.

Related: Chelsea v Manchester City: Premier League – live!

Related: Mesut Özil sparks Arsenal win over West Ham to boost Arsène Wenger’s cause

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/05/chelsea-manchester-city-premier-league-match-report

Apr 01

Chelsea stunned by resurgent Crystal Palace and Christian Benteke

The Premier League’s title race has its unanticipated twist. Chelsea, untouchable for so long at the top of this division and a side who had won 13 games in a row at home, succumbed here to a team who have spent almost the entire campaign submerged in the grind of a relegation battle. For the second season in succession, this corner of south-west London has been conquered by Crystal Palace.

It was arguably a victory far more impressive than last season’s success against a Chelsea teams showing the early signs of crisis under José Mourinho last term, given that it was chiselled out against the top flight’s previously irrepressible force. Antonio Conte has spent the last few months preaching caution, insisting the title has not yet been secured, and this was evidence to prove him right. Their lead over Tottenham Hotspur has been trimmed to seven points, still a chasm of sorts, but Manchester City visit on Wednesday. The recovery from the stumble must be immediate.

Related: Tottenham close gap at top as Son Heung-min goal seals win at Burnley

Related: West Bromwich Albion frustrate Manchester United the Tony Pulis way

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/apr/01/chelsea-crystal-palace-premier-league-match-report

Mar 13

José Mourinho hits back at Chelsea fans and Conte: ‘Judas is still No1’

• Manchester United manager defends gesture at Stamford Bridge crowd
• Conte says ‘kicking Eden Hazard is not football’ after clash with Mourinho

José Mourinho hit back at Antonio Conte and a section of the home support by insisting “Judas is still No1” at Chelsea as Manchester United’s defence of the FA Cup came to a juddering halt at the hands of his former club.

Related: N’Golo Kanté sends Chelsea past 10-man Manchester United in FA Cup

Related: Mourinho’s cynical Eden Project falters at Hazard’s twinkling feet | Barney Ronay

Related: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United: five talking points from the FA Cup tie

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/mar/13/jose-mourinho-chelsea-fans-conte-judas-no1-manchester-united

Mar 13

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United: five talking points from the FA Cup tie

There is needle to the relationship between Antonio Conte and José Mourinho; goalkeepers may tempt Real Madrid; and N’Golo Kanté is a bargain

José Mourinho tends to single out those he considers threats and Antonio Conte, the permanent successor to his crown, is his target of choice. Having spent the buildup suggesting Chelsea play a more defensive style of football than under his stewardship, and that the Premier League leaders have benefited from a lack of European football, all that frustration that has simmered since the 4-0 humiliation here in October came pouring out. The pair do not know each other well but there is needle already to their relationship. The fourth official, Mike Jones, found himself sandwiched as they screamed at each other, an exchange which made Mourinho airing his post-mach complaint into the Italian’s ear back in the autumn feel tame. Conte had previously been unflappable all season. Mourinho has got under his skin.

Related: N’Golo Kanté sends Chelsea past 10-man Manchester United in FA Cup

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/mar/13/chelsea-1-0-manchester-united-five-talking-points-from-fa-cup-tie

Feb 25

Antonio Conte says trophy-winning experience fuels Chelsea’s title charge

• ‘I’m lucky to have a lot of players who, in the past, won a lot of trophies’
• ‘I think we deserve to stay there,’ says Conte after 3-1 defeat of Swansea

Antonio Conte believes the trophy-winning experience in his Chelsea ranks could prove key to the leaders’ pursuit of a second Premier League title in three years after watching his team open up an 11-point lead at the top with victory over Swansea City.

Related: Fàbregas and Pedro see off stubborn Swansea as Chelsea stay way out in front

Related: Chelsea 3-1 Swansea City, Everton 2-0 Sunderland and more – as it happened

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/feb/25/antonio-conte-chelsea-trophy-winning-experience

Feb 25

Fàbregas and Pedro see off stubborn Swansea as Chelsea stay way out in front

Antonio Conte has grown used of late to knocking back suggestions the Premier League title is already all but Chelsea’s, though he will do well to maintain that facade of incredulity for much longer.

His side’s advantage gapes at 11 points after this victory, a win chiselled out against a much improved Swansea City. If the leaders crane their necks, squinting back over their shoulders, they might just make out the chasing pack massing on the horizon, but their threat is distant.

Related: Crystal Palace out of drop zone after Patrick van Aanholt goal sinks Boro

Related: Michael Keane makes amends for Burnley to rescue point at Hull City

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/feb/25/chelsea-swansea-city-premier-league-match-report

Jan 22

Diego Costa’s scoring return shows Chelsea’s ‘great unity’, says Antonio Conte

• ‘I hope with this game to finish the speculation about him’, says Conte
• Hull’s Mason suffers fractured skull in clash of heads with Gary Cahill

Antonio Conte seized upon Diego Costa’s goalscoring reintegration into the Chelsea team as evidence that the Premier League leaders are a side united, with his own decision to select the Spain striker wholly justified by the forward’s contribution.

Costa, omitted for the previous weekend’s victory at Leicester after complaining of back pain amid interest from Tianjin Quanjian to lure him to China, marked his 100th appearance for the London club with Chelsea’s opening goal to break Hull City’s stubborn resistance. Conte had been impressed with the 28-year-old’s contribution in training over the week and offered him an immediate return to the fold, to be rewarded with Costa’s 15th goal of a productive campaign just before the break.

Related: Hull’s Ryan Mason in stable condition after fracturing skull at Chelsea

Related: Diego Costa on target as Chelsea extend lead to eight points with win over Hull

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jan/22/diego-costa-chelsea-unity-hull-city-antonio-conte

Jan 22

Diego Costa on target as Chelsea extend lead to eight points with win over Hull

For a figure as volatile as Diego Costa, there was something distinctly predictable about all this. The Chelsea striker had been offered an immediate return to the starting lineup here after an unsettling period marked by lower back spasms and Chinese whispers, and that absence at Leicester last weekend. Yet here he was departing four minutes from time, with the majority in this arena chorusing his name and Antonio Conte offering a thumped hand clap, as the man whose opening goal had deflated Hull and paved the way for an eight-point lead at the top.

Chelsea have no interest in selling their leading scorer this month, whether Tianjin Quanjian offer £80m or £150m. His long-term future can be addressed in the summer but, for now, reintegration almost feels complete, unless those back pains return with a vengeance. The forward was at his committed best here, working feverishly whether leading the line or dropping deep to assist his team-mates. Hull will take heart from their rugged resistance as they contemplate their battle against relegation, but the scriptwriters always had this down as Costa’s occasion. He did not disappoint.

Related: Chelsea 2-0 Hull City: Premier League – as it happened

Related: Alexis Sánchez scores 98th-minute penalty in dramatic Arsenal win over Burnley

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jan/22/chelsea-hull-city-premier-league-match-report

Dec 31

Willian double sinks brave Stoke and extends Chelsea run to 13 straight wins

Chelsea have conjured numerous comfortable victories on their sprint to the top of the Premier League, but their 13th in succession was not one of them. The leaders have opened up a nine-point lead at the top of the table but, of all the teams they have confronted and overcome in recent weeks, Stoke City arguably pushed them hardest of all.

This was a gloriously frenzied encounter to see out the year, and one that was not truly claimed until Diego Costa crunched in a fourth goal as time ticked away, his magnificent finish prompting a wave of relief among the locals. There had been periods during the rat-a-tat of goals shared after the interval when the home side, usually so composed, had been distinctly unnerved, so it said much about the impact Antonio Conte has made at this club to date that self-doubt never crept in.

Related: Paul Pogba caps dramatic fightback to save Manchester United’s winning run

Related: Andre Gray grabs hat-trick as Burnley leave Sunderland floundering

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/dec/31/chelsea-stoke-city-premier-league-match-report