Leroy Sane's move to Bayern Munich appears back on, while Real Madrid are chasing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Sane was linked with a switch to Bayern last close-season but ended up staying at Manchester City.

It appears that move could be back on, while Madrid are maintaining interest in Arsenal star Aubameyang.

 

TOP STORY – SANE IN FRESH BAYERN TALKS

Sane's new agent is in fresh talks with Bayern Munich, according to The Sun.

The Germany attacker was the subject of transfer speculation last before the 2019-20 campaign, but then suffered a serious knee injury in August.

Bild reported on Tuesday that Sane believes he could win the Champions League with Bayern.

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid are interested in Arsenal's Aubameyang, according to Sport. The report says Barcelona are also keen to land the forward if they cannot sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez.

- LaLiga's 'big two' also reportedly want N'Golo Kante. However, Goal report the midfielder wants to stay at Chelsea unless he is forced out.

- With Diego Costa's future uncertain, Atletico Madrid may be looking for a forward. AS report Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette, who is contracted until 2022, is on the list of possible reinforcements for Los Colchoneros.

- Chris Smalling appears likely to return to Manchester United from his loan spell at Roma. Calciomercato believe the Serie A club are already looking at alternatives, with Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen – out of contract at season's end – being considered.

- Olivier Giroud, another player out of contract at the end of the season, seems set to leave Chelsea. La Gazzetta dello Sport claim the striker is looking for a three-year deal from Inter, who were said to be interested in January. The report suggests Inter could offer the Frenchman a two-year contract with a club option for a third.

- Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana and Borussia Dortmund attacker Mario Gotze are set to become free agents. Calciomercato report Milan are unconvinced by Lallana and unwilling to sign Gotze due to his high wages.

Karim Benzema said he "simply told the truth" with his jibe at French compatriot Olivier Giroud.

Real Madrid striker Benzema said "don't confuse Formula One with karting" when asked on Instagram live about comparisons to Chelsea centre-forward Giroud.

Giroud has filled the void left by Benzema's continued international exile, which dates back to 2015, helping France to World Cup glory in 2018.

Benzema sought to clarify his comments on Monday, stating that he had also talked up Giroud's strengths and adding that the same comparison could be used between himself and ex-Brazil superstar Ronaldo.

However, Benzema doubled down with his assessment.

Speaking on Instagram, he said: "About Giroud, I simply told the truth. 

"But we didn't remember what I said about him, especially about what he brings to the French national team. 

"We just remembered the moment when I said I was F1 and he was karting. That's what I think, that's the truth, and that's how it is. 

"Because now, if you ask me with R9 (Ronaldo): R9 is F1, and I am karting. That's the way it is. We're going to move on."

Benzema scored 27 goals in 81 international appearances for France, while Giroud is third on the all-time list with 39 from 97 matches.

Prior to coronavirus postponing the likes of LaLiga, the Premier League and Euro 2020, Benzema had scored 19 goals across all competitions for Zinedine Zidane's Madrid in 2019-20.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema said "don't confuse Formula One with karting" as the exiled French striker dismissed comparisons to countryman Olivier Giroud.

Benzema has not played for France since October 2015 – head coach Didier Deschamps refusing to call up the Madrid star, instead turning to Chelsea's Giroud.

Asked about the comparisons with Giroud, Benzema used a motorsport analogy to shoot down the question via social media.

"Don't confuse Formula One with karting, I'm Formula One," the 31-year-old said on Instagram Live.

Benzema has scored 27 goals in 81 international appearances for France, while Giroud is third on the all-time list with 39 from 97 matches.

Prior to coronavirus postponing the likes of LaLiga, the Premier League and Euro 2020, Benzema had scored 19 goals across all competitions for Zinedine Zidane's Madrid in 2019-20.

Barcelona seemingly continue to make progress in their pursuit of Lautaro Martinez, while Real Madrid reportedly have seven transfer priorities.

After impressing at Inter, Martinez has been linked with a move away, with Barcelona appearing to be leading the chase for the forward.

Meanwhile, Barcelona's rivals Madrid have priorities of their own.

 

TOP STORY – INTER READY TO ACCEPT PLAYERS FROM BARCELONA IN MARTINEZ DEAL

Barcelona want to make their move for Martinez cheaper by offering several players and Inter view this option positively, according to the cover of Sport.

Martinez has scored 16 goals in 31 games in all competitions for Inter this season.

Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich, and Ousmane Dembele are among the Barcelona players to have been linked with moves away.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid have seven major questions to answer, according to Marca, which says the LaLiga club must sign a goalscorer, extend Luka Modric's contract, bring Martin Odegaard back from loan, decide on the future of Achraf Hakimi, sign Donny van de Beek, decide between Alphonse Areola or Andriy Lunin as second goalkeeper and loan out or sell Dani Ceballos.

- Will Jadon Sancho leave Borussia Dortmund? The Mirror reports Manchester United are increasingly confident of landing Sancho during the next transfer window. The Sun, however, says Dortmund may be changing their plans with the attacker due to the coronavirus pandemic.

- Barcelona may want to sell Samuel Umtiti, but it is shaping to be difficult. AS says the club are aware selling the France defender is likely to be tough due to his injury problems.

- With Martinez potentially leaving, Inter are lining up replacements. Sport claims Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud would be one of their signings, while they are also targeting Atalanta's Duvan Zapata.

- On loan at Monaco from Chelsea, Tiemoue Bakayoko may see his future elsewhere. Calciomercato reports the 25-year-old is keen to return to Milan, where he was on loan in 2018-19. It also reports Milan are targeting Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen.

- There could be other departures at Stamford Bridge. According to The Sun, Chelsea are ready to sell Emerson Palmieri and Victor Moses to raise around £30million with the duo linked to Juventus and Inter respectively.

The coronavirus crisis continues to challenge decision-makers in football's corridors of power and could soon leave some of the game's biggest clubs facing contract conundrums.

Manchester United, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain are among the major European outfits who are due to farewell high-profile players when free agency comes into force on June 30.

Domestic leagues across the world appear increasingly likely to run beyond that deadline, meaning sides up and down the divisions could be forced to renegotiate deals beyond the typical expiry date.

It remains to be seen how governing bodies will approach the unfamiliar territory but Edinson Cavani, Mario Gotze and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be watching closely like dozens more across Europe's top five leagues.

These are the stars and solid supporting cast members whose contract situations are worth monitoring in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

LaLiga

Athletic Bilbao: Aritz Aduriz (retiring), Benat, Mikel San Jose
Atletico Madrid: Antonio Adan
Espanyol: Ander Iturraspe
Granada: Roberto Soldado
Real Valladolid: Hatem Ben Arfa
Sevilla: Ever Banega (joining Al Shabab at end of contract), Nolito
Valencia: Ezequiel Garay
Villarreal: Santi Cazorla 

Premier League

Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser
Burnley: Joe Hart
Chelsea: Olivier Giroud, Pedro, Willian
Liverpool: Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne
Manchester City: David Silva (confirmed he will leave at end of contract)
Manchester United: Nemanja Matic, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Odion Ighalo (loan ends)
Newcastle United: Matty Longstaff
Tottenham: Jan Vertonghen, Japhet Tanganga

Serie A

Atalanta: Jose Luis Palomino
Hellas Verona: Fabio Borini
Inter: Ashley Young
Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon
Milan: Lucas Biglia, Giacomo Bonaventura, Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Napoli: Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens

Bundesliga

Bayer Leverkusen: Charles Aranguiz
Borussia Dortmund: Mario Gotze, Lukasz Piszczek
Hertha Berlin: Salomon Kalou
Schalke: Benjamin Stambouli
Wolfsburg: Robin Knoche

Ligue 1

Lille: Loic Remy
Monaco: Jemerson
Nice: Walter Benitez, Arnaud Lusamba
Paris Saint-Germain: Edinson Cavani, Thomas Meunier, Tanguy Kouassi, Layvin Kurzawa, Thiago Silva

Carlo Ancelotti admitted Everton failed to compete for the first time since his arrival at the club, but backed them to recover from their 4-0 thrashing by his former team Chelsea.

The Toffees' winless run stands at three Premier League games after goals from Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud helped Chelsea to an easy win at Stamford Bridge.

Everton are 12th in the table as they prepare for the Merseyside derby against Liverpool at Goodison Park on March 16, but Ancelotti insisted a top-six finish is within reach.

"Everything went wrong," said Ancelotti. "It's not difficult to judge this game, to analyse this game. We were not good enough defensively.

"We were too open, not compact, lost a lot of duels, and with the ball we made a lot of mistakes on passes. So it wasn't a good game. Not a good day, but we can learn from our mistakes.

"Honestly, it's the first time, the first game where we didn't compete. Usually, in the other games, also we didn’t win but we competed until the end of the game.

"We've never talked about Champions League. This team was close to relegation. We are still there, six points from the Europa League. We have to fight for this."

Everton lost only one of their first eight top-flight matches under Ancelotti, but have tasted defeat in two of their last three as they head into a run of games against Liverpool, Leicester City and Tottenham.

Ancelotti was asked about the club's prospects of playing in the Champions League – a competition he won twice with Milan and once with Real Madrid – and the Italian is upbeat about Everton's potential.

"That's the target of the club," he said. "In the future.

"We have to improve, of course. As I said, today we were not at the same level as Chelsea. A week ago, though, we were at the same level as Manchester United.

"You cannot judge a team on one week. At the end of the season we will see where we are. But the future is set: this club wants to be competitive in the Premier League and Europe."

Frank Lampard was unwilling to get ahead of himself after Chelsea produced a brilliant display to brush aside Everton 4-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Carlo Ancelotti led Chelsea to glory in the Premier League and FA Cup during his two years as manager in west London, when Lampard was one of his players, but was on the receiving end of a chastening defeat on Sunday.

Mason Mount and Pedro struck in the first half, before Willian and Olivier Giroud scored within three minutes of one another in the second period to put the result beyond doubt.

Prior to Tuesday's 2-0 FA Cup fifth-round victory over Liverpool, Chelsea had won just two of their previous eight games in all competitions.

Despite an upturn in form for the Blues, Lampard was unwilling to suggest they have got a second wind that could carry them into the final stretch of the season.

"I'm a bit wary to say that. The last two performances would look like that, but I'm experienced enough to know we go to Aston Villa away, a team who are fighting for their lives and have got good players, so we have to replicate what we showed today every week," said Lampard.

"Yes, we had a good early patch this season. Then we've had inconsistencies recently. Who hasn't, other than Liverpool, in this league?

"I don't accept those inconsistencies, obviously, but it's understandable in this transitional period. But we had to work today to show we can finish the season with strength and get better."

With N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic out injured and Jorginho suspended, Billy Gilmour made his first Premier League start alongside Mount and Ross Barkley in midfield and was named man of the match.

"He's receiving the ball in difficult areas on the pitch," Lampard said of Gilmour. "If you don't move it quickly, firstly you don't get the rhythm in our play and it breaks down from, and secondly if you give it away in those areas, it is dangerous.

"I was going to use a rude word there, but you need... confidence to do that. Jorginho has it and Billy has it.

"One of the most pleasing things with Billy was he showed those balls in the first half, but when he stepped up and played higher up in the pitch second half, he instantly took it on board, arriving in the box and playing balls higher up the pitch.

"He showed he can do both, which is a great thing for me when I'm thinking about how the midfield looks at times."

On whether he saw signs of maturity from his team after a tricky spell, Lampard said: "I don't think we're there yet. It would be easy for me to say it after today but I'd much rather say it in mid-May, when the last game is.

"To think we're there and to think that we've got over the issues, even at home, would be too over-confident and think we are all right.

"We are improving in big degrees. We have to keep working. I see a bigger picture, an even longer run than that. I think we have a gap that is big to Liverpool in terms of points. At the minute, it feels like we're working in the right direction, but we've got lots of work to do."

Billy Gilmour said it would be "amazing to be called up" for Scotland after the teenage midfielder impressed in his first Premier League start for Chelsea.

Having played a starring role in the Blues' FA Cup triumph over Liverpool in midweek, Gilmour kept his place for Sunday's 4-0 thrashing of Carlo Ancelotti's Everton at Stamford Bridge.

The 18-year-old completed 92.5 per cent of his passes and also created a chance from a deep-lying role, justifying Frank Lampard's faith in him with Jorginho suspended.

A second successive eye-catching outing could lead to Gilmour being part of Scotland's squad for the Euro 2020 play-off against Israel later this month, though the player himself is not getting too carried away by such talk.

"It's a bit mad, to be fair," Gilmour told Sky Sports.

"It would be amazing to be called up, but I just need to keep working hard here and doing my best. Hopefully, I get that opportunity soon."

Mason Mount and Pedro scored in the first half against the Toffees, with Willian and Olivier Giroud adding further goals for the hosts after the break.

As well as embracing the opportunity to make his first top-flight start, Gilmour was pleased to help Chelsea maintain their push for a top-four finish.

"It was amazing, a dream come true to make my debut in the Premier League," he said.

"Most of all, though, [it's about] getting the three points so we carry on winning. Hopefully we can continue that on the way forward.

"Today was a tough game. Liverpool was a good game and I played well. But you can only go into the next game and do exactly the same; work your hardest, play well and do your best for the team."

Team-mate Giroud praised Gilmour's mature display, telling Sky Sports: "He's done very well again.

"For a young player, he's got a great maturity and he also listens to advice. He's got a nice future in front of him, if he stays like that."

Carlo Ancelotti's return to Stamford Bridge ended with Everton suffering a chastening 4-0 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.

Everton were completely overwhelmed by a Chelsea midfield that saw Billy Gilmour make his first Premier League start alongside Ross Barkley and Mason Mount, who got the Blues up and running in the 14th minute.

Pedro assisted Mount and was himself on target in the Premier League for the first time since February 2019 seven minutes later – the experienced winger involved in as many goals in the opening 21 minutes as in his previous 21 appearances in the competition.

Willian drove home a powerful effort and set up Olivier Giroud in the space of three second-half minutes to put the result beyond doubt, with Frank Lampard's side claiming just their third top-flight win of the year.

Jordan Pickford did well to keep out Mount's first effort, but the midfielder scored the opener when a sublime first touch while turning on the edge of the box was followed by a sweeping drive into the bottom-left corner.

Willian outpaced Mason Holgate and had a cross-goal effort kept out well by Pickford, before Pedro doubled the hosts' lead by slotting home from Barkley's throughball to finish a wonderful passing move.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin failed to show the prowess in front of goal that earned him a new five-year contract his week, scuffing wide when up against Kepa Arrizabalaga in the goalkeeper's first Premier League game since January 21.

Chelsea picked up where they left off in the second half with Willian arrowing a powerful finish past Pickford in the 51st minute.

Giroud then evaded some dismal marking from Holgate to turn home a curling, first-time delivery from Willian, before Pickford stopped Pedro from making it five.

Lampard handed Premier League debuts to teenagers Faustino Anjorin and Armando Broja off the bench. A good challenge from Djibril Sidibe prevented Anjorin marking the occasion with a goal to round off an already resounding win.
 

What does it mean? Everton a shambles

The Toffees beat Chelsea 3-1 in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park but fell well short of replicating that display in west London.

Ancelotti won the Premier League and FA Cup during two years with the Blues, but his decision to set his team out in a 4-4-2 shape allowed Chelsea to dictate the terms of the match in midfield, while Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison received minimal service.

The benefit of experience

Chelsea's front three of Pedro, Giroud and Willian stood in stark contrast to their youthful midfield, but each of the attacking trio played an important role in the victory. The wingers had a goal and assist each, while Giroud connected the play well.

A bad Davies at the office

Everton were overrun in midfield from minute one, but Tom Davies was guilty of giving Mount too much space ahead of the opener and was nowhere to be seen on the next two goals. He was replaced by Moise Kean in the 58th minute.

What's next?

Chelsea head to Aston Villa next Sunday, while Everton have a Merseyside derby against Premier League leaders Liverpool awaiting a week on Monday.

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud has confirmed a transfer to Inter was his preferred option during the January transfer window, even though he was also wanted by Lazio, Tottenham and Lyon.

Giroud was heavily linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge after starting only two Premier League games this season prior to January.

The France striker ultimately remained part of Frank Lampard's Chelsea squad and has since enjoyed more regular action amid Tammy Abraham's injury troubles.

However, L'Equipe quotes the 33-year-old as telling Telefoot: "I saw myself elsewhere after experiencing six complicated months. I did everything to leave - it's true.

"Inter was the priority, and there was also contact with Lazio and Tottenham. But circumstances meant that Chelsea blocked it. It was not my choice."

Giroud also revealed he spoke to Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, adding: "He did call me. I told him that I was flattered but that the priority, at the time, was Inter."

While he was disappointed not to leave Chelsea, Giroud can at least take heart from the fact he has started the club's last two Premier League games, scoring in a valuable win over Tottenham.

"After [the move did not happen], either you die or you go back to battle to win your place," he explained.

"The coach had promised me more playing time, which he did [provide]."

Olivier Giroud told Chelsea to believe in an "almost impossible" comeback against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16.

The Premier League side suffered a 3-0 loss in the first leg of the tie at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, leaving them on the brink of elimination.

However, Giroud said Chelsea – who had Marcos Alonso sent off in the second half – needed to take belief into the second leg in Munich on March 18.

"It's going to be almost impossible but we need to go there with belief and to believe that we are going to score. You never know, you know," the forward said.

"They scored three goals here and if we score three and don't concede, you know. I'm not joking.

"We have nothing to lose and we're going to play our game with more."

Former Arsenal attacker Serge Gnabry netted a brace for Bayern, while Robert Lewandowski sealed the win.

Giroud, a former team-mate of Gnabry's, was happy for the attacker, who made just 18 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal.

"I played with him at Arsenal. At 16, he was not mature enough but obviously at 16 nobody is," he said.

"But the way he improved is amazing and he is doing so well since the last two or three years now. I'm happy for him because he deserves it and he's a good guy who has worked a lot.

"He's been very good tonight also, so it's good for him and we need to bounce back on Saturday.

"It's very disappointing today, but I understand sometimes you try but they were too good for us."

Frank Lampard will warn his Chelsea squad they must be prepared to "suffer" as they attempt to upset the odds and knock Bayern Munich out of the Champions League.

The Premier League club host Bayern in the opening leg of the last-16 tie on Tuesday, with the return fixture at the Allianz Arena on March 18.

Chelsea will aim to capitalise on having home advantage in the first meeting, but Lampard acknowledges this will be a "level up" for some of his younger, less experienced players in Europe's leading club competition.

"We've got players with Champions League experience in this group, as well as younger players in the early stages of their careers, particularly in the Champions League," Lampard, who won the tournament as a player with Chelsea during his illustrious career, told the media on Monday.

"They have to understand why I keep talking about the levels going up, and what the mindset levels are. A big part of my job tomorrow is to explain to the players that over two legs, we need to be at our maximum.

"We must make sure every box is ticked in both games. We can't get caught up in game moments. After the game, we will probably suffer.

"Bayern Munich are an incredible side with the ball. They've got some really talented players who keep the ball and use the ball well. If we have to suffer, we have to suffer. That's our job over the next two games."

This will be a new challenge for Reece James and Mason Mount in particular, the duo having spent the previous season on loan at Championship clubs Wigan Athletic and Derby County respectively.

However, Lampard will continue to put faith in his youth movement as the Blues look to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2014.

"I've got no doubts to start them. I trust in those two," the Chelsea head coach said. "I trust all the young players who have been part of the squad this year. That's a huge part of what we do here.

"The reason I trust them is because of the way they play, the way they train. I will speak to them.

"They've played big games but as I've mentioned before, it changes slightly when you get to the knockout stage. I'll certainly speak to all of my players, particularly the younger players about what that means."

Chelsea go into the game following a 2-1 league win Tottenham, who lost 7-2 at home to Bayern in the group stages of the Champions League.

Olivier Giroud started – and scored – in the weekend triumph over their London rivals, leaving Lampard with a decision to make over whether the France striker retains his place in the starting XI.

"I know I can rely on him," he said of Giroud. "He's professional, he's quality and he was great. He's given me a lot to think about."

Pedro is available again, but Lampard confirmed he will be without Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi – who is "not far away" from a return – and N'Golo Kante.

Jose Mourinho saw evidence of exactly what Tottenham are missing in the absence of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min as Olivier Giroud scored for Chelsea on Saturday.

Giroud, who has been Chelsea's third-choice striker behind Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi for much of the season, started against Spurs and netted the opener in a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile, Mourinho's men were again without Kane and Son as they recover from injuries that are expected to keep them out for much of the season.

After the match, Mourinho repeated claims he could not wait for the end of the campaign as he spoke of the difficulty of competing in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League with depleted attacking options.

"It's very difficult," he told a post-match news conference. "The next three months are going to be very difficult.

"In three or four weeks, [Moussa] Sissoko is back, and he's not a striker but he is another solution for us. I hope that by April, Sonny or Harry [Kane] makes a fantastic recovery like Hugo Lloris did.

"Hugo came to play a couple of weeks before the expected time. Nobody expected him to come when he did.

"So with effort of the players, the medical people, the sports science people that work with the injured players, let's hope it's not until the end of the season. Not months but weeks, like Simon [Felstein, head of communications at Tottenham] says [when confirming Son's injury]."

Mourinho added: "Look at Chelsea. They played the striker of the world champions [France international Giroud].

"On the bench was the second striker of England after Harry Kane [Abraham], in the stands the second striker of the Belgium national team [Batshuayi].

"We have zero strikers on the pitch, zero on the bench, zero in the stands. We have two in the hospital. That's the situation, an incredibly negative situation.

"I'm very proud of the boys, I cannot ask more from them. I am happy with them."

Even with Tottenham's issues, Mourinho chose to start with Dele Alli on the bench. But the Tottenham coach stood by his call, even if it did not pay off.

"We started the game thinking, 'Lucas and Bergwijn they are still more or less fresh, so let's try'. We tried, we didn't score," he said. "[Willy] Caballero made a great save.

"We know we cannot create lots of chances. So, in the last part of the game, what's the plan late in the game? We bring on [Erik] Lamela if we can. We bring on Dele.

"We didn't have a presence in the box, the opposition is going to try with the low block, so let's try to have one with Dele. We are trying to do things but it's very difficult for us."

Olivier Giroud was delighted to mark his return to the Chelsea XI with a goal and said he was "so happy to help the team" in the victory against Tottenham.

World Cup winner Giroud was linked with a move away from Chelsea in January but stayed when no replacement was signed, while he had not scored a club goal since August.

But the veteran striker was handed a rare start on Saturday - just his third in the league this season - and opened the scoring en route to a 2-1 win.

Marcos Alonso added to Chelsea's advantage before a late Antonio Rudiger own goal, with the Blues holding on to leave Giroud to reflect on a hugely positive day.

"Wow, yeah, it was a good feeling for me, a good moment," Giroud told BT Sport of his goal. "I'm so happy for the team, to help the team to win this game today.

"It had been three months I didn't start, so it's a special day for me and for all of us."

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta added: "We have a squad and we need to be ready for every game. It's true that, when you don't play, it difficult.

"Everybody wants to help the team. But everybody keeps training hard, fighting to be in the team.

"The competition is what gives the team that extra per cent where everybody can push to the limit. Today it worked perfectly."

Azpilicueta was involved in one of the game's flashpoints as Giovani Lo Celso appeared to stamp on the defender's legs in an awful late challenge.

He avoided a red card following a VAR review, although the official in charge of the system reportedly later acknowledged Lo Celso should have been sent off.

"I'm not a player that likes to be on the floor, because I'm a defender, I'm tough, and I make fouls," Azpilicueta said.

"But it was not a normal foul. It was a clear stamp on my shin. I felt it straight away and I was surprised that it was not a red card and not even a yellow card.

"Obviously everybody can make mistakes, but when you have a lot of replays, I think it could be easier."

Chelsea reinforced their grip on fourth place in the Premier League with a much-needed 2-1 win over rivals Tottenham as Olivier Giroud scored his first club goal since August.

Frank Lampard's men were four without a win in the top flight coming into this clash at Stamford Bridge and had seen their advantage over Spurs cut to just a point in the battle for the Champions League places.

But former manager Jose Mourinho could not inflict a further setback on the Blues, as Giroud, who had a goal disallowed against Manchester United on Monday, made the most of his first league start of 2020.

Marcos Alonso - another of four Chelsea changes - brilliantly doubled his side's lead shortly after half-time, and Lampard's side held on despite a luckless late own goal from Antonio Rudiger.

In a rare Tottenham opening, Lucas Moura's low drive drew a sharp stop from Willy Caballero after 10 minutes, and the game sparked into life as Hugo Lloris saved at his near post from Mason Mount.

The visiting goalkeeper's best efforts could not prevent a 15th-minute opener, although he did block Giroud's initial strike with his foot after a glorious Jorginho pass from deep.

Ross Barkley hammered the rebound against the post, only for the ball to land again at Giroud's feet, and the second finish from the France forward was arrowed into the bottom-right corner.

Alonso sent a 20-yard volley fizzing just over, but Spurs threatened again late in a lively first half, with Caballero turning away a Davinson Sanchez header and then seeing Japhet Tanganga overrun the ball as he rounded the keeper.

Chelsea were back on top from the restart, and the second goal came less than three minutes later as Alonso thundered low past Lloris after an incisive team move.

Lloris parried a swirling Barkley strike over the crossbar, before Tottenham were fortunate to avoid another blow when Giovani Lo Celso planted his studs into Cesar Azpilicueta's shin in a late challenge that did not prompt a card.

The fit-again Tammy Abraham appeared from the bench and would have scored but for a close-range Lloris stop, while Alonso hit the bar with a wonderful free-kick.

Rudiger inadvertently deflected a cross from Erik Lamela beyond Caballero with a minute remaining to give Spurs late hope, but Chelsea saw out a deserved win.


What does it mean? Chelsea back in charge

Chelsea's season was just threatening to fall apart after Monday's defeat to United, with a host of sides now hot on their heels in pursuit of Champions League football. But the Blues are not the only club dealing with some difficulties this term, and Tottenham - missing Harry Kane and Son Heung-min - were largely blunt at the Bridge, allowing their rivals to restore a healthy gap.

Changes pay off

Perhaps with one eye on Champions League business in midweek, Lampard started with Willian and the returning Abraham on the bench while making four changes. But the quartet to come in took their opportunities with both hands, Giroud scoring the first before he, Mount, Barkley and Alonso all combined for Chelsea's second.

Lo Celso lucky

In the VAR era, it is quite remarkable that officials spent several minutes assessing Lo Celso's challenge on Azpilicueta and decided not to show the Tottenham midfielder a red card. Lo Celso miscontrolled with his first touch and then made contact with his opponent long after the ball was gone. Lampard was understandably furious.

What's next?

Tottenham were in Champions League action on Wednesday, and it is Chelsea's turn this coming Tuesday, hosting Bayern Munich in a last-16 first leg. The Blues then visit Bournemouth next Saturday, before Spurs welcome Wolves the following day.

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