Premier League

Di Matteo plays down Abramovich visit

Roberto Di Matteo
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo is frustrated during the 2-2 draw with Juventus.
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Roberto Di Matteo has shrugged off the implications of Roman Abramovich's latest visit to Chelsea's training ground, insisting he was more than happy to see the Russian there.

Blues boss Di Matteo confirmed Abramovich was at the club's Cobham  headquarters Thursday amid reports he had questioned players and coaching staff following Wednesday night's 2-2 Champions League draw with Juventus.

Di Matteo admitted "it wasn't a particularly happy camp yesterday here" after what was the European champions' third successive game without a win and third this season in which their deficiencies have been ruthlessly exposed by big-name opponents.

Visits from an unhappy Abramovich have proven a bad omen for Chelsea managers since the Russian bought the club and Di Matteo could be forgiven for being alarmed at receiving one just seven matches into his reign as full-time manager.

But he insisted his only concern was Saturday's Barclays Premier League game at Stoke and that dealing with Abramovich was par for the course.

"He actually comes quite often, to be honest," Di Matteo said. "He likes to be involved and he comes down whenever he can.

"He's the owner and he likes to know what's going on and he likes to speak to people - and he does that all the time.

"Obviously, we weren't happy about the result we got on Wednesday night, for
sure, so it wasn't a particularly happy camp yesterday here.

"But we'll have try to pick ourselves up and go again and try to win points in the Premier League now.

"I have to focus on my job and try to prepare the players and the team to the best for tomorrow's game."

Abramovich's visit came days after he was described as both "courteous" and
"ruthless" by the judge in his successful legal battle with Boris Berezovsky.

Di Matteo would not be drawn on that assessment of a man who has sacked almost every manager who has failed to produce the combination of attractive and
successful football he so famously demands.

But the Italian added: "At a big club, you always have a pressure and you have to try to win games and try to win games in the right manner as well. That's part of being part of a big club.''

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After being allowed to rescue Chelsea's season in any way he saw fit last term, Di Matteo is now starting to encounter some of the problems that ultimately cost his predecessors.

One of those is a misfiring Fernando Torres, whose mini-revival is in danger of petering out at just the wrong time.

Daniel Sturridge has now been sidelined by a hamstring injury, leaving Di Matteo to sweat on the form and - more importantly - fitness of his only recognised centre-forward.

"I try not to worry about that," he said. "Injuries can happen to any players in the games, so I have ideas if anything happens.

"But we go into the game not thinking about injuries."

Di Matteo denied Chelsea had erred in ending the transfer window with only two
recognised strikers.

"I think we signed a different kind of players that can score goals as well," he said.

"And, as you can see, last season Mata scored many goals for us and Eden Hazard is scoring goals, Oscar is scoring goals, Lampard scores goals from midfield.

"So, we have goals in the team."

They certainly do if Oscar is able to build on his sensational debut against
Juve, which only saw him fail to be the matchwinner due to his team-mate's
deficiencies.

Di Matteo expects the £25million man to shake off the ankle knock he suffered
after being trod on by Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci, an incident UEFA
confirmed they would not be taking action over.

Oscar may need to brace himself for even more bumps and bruises to
help ensure Chelsea stay top of the league by beating Stoke.

Di Matteo said: "Certainly it's going to be a more physical game, because the Premier League in general is a bit more like that.

"But I'm pretty sure he's ready for that. He's an intelligent man and player and he will find ways to get around it."

Although Oscar is expecetd to be fit Daniel Sturridge once again misses out.

Sturridge missed the match against Juventus and it is unclear exactly when he will return, while fellow hamstring injury victim Marko Marin is edging closer to making his debut.

Stoke will be without suspended defender Andy Wilkinson.

Wilkinson starts a three-match ban after the Potters accepted the violent conduct charge brought against him by the Football Association over an incident in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Manchester City where he caught Mario Balotelli in the face with an elbow.

Midfielder Jamie Ness could return having been back in training after his groin injury.
 

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