Premier League

Jol urges Bale to stay at Spurs

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Fri, 15 Mar 2013 15:57:00

Former Newcastle striker Nile Ranger has admitted a charge of common assault following an incident in Newcastle city centre.

The 21-year-old was arrested after police received reports of a fight between a couple in the car park of The Gate entertainment complex on Wednesday evening.

The former England U19 player, who left the Magpies by mutual consent two weeks ago, appeared before Newcastle Magistrates Court on Friday.

Court officials confirmed he admitted a charge of common assault and he was given conditional bail and will appear again on 9 April for sentencing.

Last season's Champions League winners will bid to carry the momentum from a successful week into the Premier League clash after keeping alive their two remaining quests for silverware.

Chelsea fought back from two goals down to draw with Manchester United and force an FA Cup quarter-final replay, which - coupled with their progression to the Europa League quarter-finals, where Russians Rubin Kazan await - means Rafael Benitez's side face six games in 16 days.

The international break which follows Sunday's derby with the Hammers offers a pause for breath but first the Blues will seek to enhance their place in the top four as they bid to secure Champions League qualification.

"Three points are a must for us on Sunday - we need to win the match," Hazard, who scored in the Old Trafford fightback, said on Chelsea's official website.

"Chelsea are a big club - we have to win titles and to qualify for the Champions League. There's a lot to do but we'll try to do it all."

Hazard believes the close proximity of last night's 3-1 win over Steaua Bucharest, which secured a place in the Europa League last eight 3-2 on aggregate, could benefit Chelsea against a Hammers side who will be playing just their second match of the month.

"It might favour us at the start of the game because we should be able to set the tempo and get into our stride quicker because we've been more used to playing competitive games recently," Hazard said.

"But where it might favour them slightly is the fact that towards the end of the game tiredness may set in for us, while in effect they should be stronger because they've had a bit of a rest.

"It's something we have to deal with, and with the support of our fans behind us I'm sure we will be able to."

Chelsea suffered the first defeat of Benitez's tenure at Upton Park in December, despite entering half-time leading 1-0.

"At Upton Park, one or two errors crept in, particularly during the second half, but we were very good in the first half," Hazard said.

"We need to try to repeat that first-half display on Sunday and make sure we get a positive result. We are going into the game in good form, so we should be able to produce a strong performance."

There is no doubt Champions League qualification is a must for the Blues - the consequences of missing out could be great - and the fixture schedule is a challenge.

The first leg with Rubin Kazan, who beat Spain's Levante, follows two matches in three days - against Southampton in the Premier League and Manchester United in the FA Cup.

The second leg takes place three days prior to the crucial Premier League fixture at home to top-four rivals Tottenham.

The away fixture could take place in either Kazan or Moscow, with a decision to be made by UEFA shortly.

"From a geographical point of view we probably would have preferred a different draw," Hazard said. "We have to get through and playing in Russia is never an easy game.

"However, we have to make sure we do enough in the first leg to go over there and secure our place in the semi-finals."

If Chelsea reach the Europa League and FA Cup finals, the season will stretch to 70 matches, with Benitez already facing a challenge to best utilise a squad short on options.

Demba Ba is poised to return up front against the Hammers, even though Fernando Torres scored and missed a penalty against Steaua, while Frank Lampard was an unused substitute against the Romanians yet could be back against his former club as he seeks his 200th Chelsea goal.

Ramires, who could make way for Lampard, provided his backing for Benitez, who has been derided by many at Stamford Bridge due to his prior association with Liverpool.

"There's no time to celebrate - the games are coming one after the other," the Brazil midfielder said on UEFA's website.

"Benitez is the coach and we have to do what he says because he wants the best for the team. There isn't anyone better than him to tell us what is best.

"The players try not to get involved in this issue. As long as he's here the players will seek to support him because he's our manager and we want to win."

Jol was Spurs manager when he plucked Bale from Southampton in 2007 and gave the then 17-year-old left-back his Premier League debut.

Bale has gone on to become the hottest property in English football, and a return of 11 goals in his last 10 games has seen him linked with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

But Jol, now manager at Fulham, wants the free-scoring 23-year-old to stick with Spurs and become a White Hart Lane legend.

"I saw Bale at Southampton when he was 15, we followed him and other people came in but I had a few words with his mum to convince him to come to Spurs," said Jol.

"With hindsight it's very satisfying, he's probably the best player in the Premier League at the moment and he shows it week in, week out.

"I played him in his first match against Manchester United and he had better stats than any other player, and he was 17.

"Hopefully for the league and for Spurs he will stay because I think it's a very good club for him. He's getting stronger and stronger and playing in the hole he is probably even better.

"I wanted to get him on loan in Germany and other clubs were trying to get him but they did well to keep him, during that spell where he played 24 games without being on the winning side.

"But they knew and I knew he was an exciting player. If you see Spurs over the last couple of years they are getting better and better so for him to stay, why not?

"It's a big club with a big fanbase and he could be a legend there. If he decides to go on to bigger things abroad it can be a risk. It comes off sometimes but not always.

"But whatever he decides to do he will have a big future. Hopefully he stays in the league and I can keep enjoying watching him."

Fulham will have not played in over a fortnight when they head to White Hart Lane, while Spurs put in 120 minutes at the San Siro on Thursday night as they squeezed past Inter Milan in the Europa League.

But Jol added: "There were a few players who didn't play and they have a big squad. If they can rest five or six players like they did then there's no problem.

"Aaron Lennon has been injured and he came on and had a few minutes, so that's a positive for them.

"For us it's annoying, we only have two games this month. Spurs have played all these games but it's probably better to keep your rhythm."

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