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Conte gamble pays off in Stoke win

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte revealed he rolled the dice with a formation tweak at Stoke because he was not content to leave the bet365 Stadium with just a draw.

With the score 1-1 and 20 minutes left, Conte brought on Cesc Fabregas – replacing Victor Moses and altering his 3-4-3 system to a back four so he could accommodate his substitute in a central role.

The move paid dividends three minutes from time when skipper Gary Cahill lashed in a winner.

“It’s not the first time,” Conte said of his tactical tinkering.

“During the game, when you want to take more risks, when you want to try and take three points and not one, you try to change.”

Sullivan apology for WHam’s defeat

David Sullivan has apologised to West Ham’s fans following the 3-2 defeat at home to Leicester.

The Hammers’ joint-chairman gave manager Slaven Bilic a stark warning last week, following the 3-2 loss at Bournemouth, that they had to stop conceding early goals.

It seems the message did not get through, though, as they found themselves 2-0 down after just seven minutes. Sullivan now admits West Ham’s next three games are “vital”.

“I think all we can do after Saturday’s defeat is say is ‘sorry’ to the supporters,” he said.

“To be 2-0 down after seven minutes of any football match, be it in the Premier League or in your local Sunday League, makes it very difficult to get a positive result.”

Sanchez’s ankle in ‘terrible state’

Alexis Sanchez may have suffered ligament damage in Arsenal’s defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, which could keep him out of Chile’s World Cup qualifiers this week.

The Arsenal manager reported that Sanchez’s ankle was in “a terrible state” after he was taken off near the end of the 3-1 defeat but he is still unsure of the extent of the injury to his key attacker.

“He was injured from the tackle (from James McClean) in the first half. It was a bad tackle,” Arsene Wenger said.

“His ankle is in a terrible state. He should not have played in the second half but he insisted that he wanted to come out.”

Hasebe to miss WCup qualifiers

Japan captain Makoto Hasebe is to undergo surgery on a knee injury and will miss the World Cup qualifiers against the United Arab Emirates and Thailand over the next two weeks.

The 33-year-old defensive midfielder suffered the injury in Bundesliga action against Bayern Munich earlier this month and his club Eintracht Frankfurt said he would require an operation.

Hasebe, an integral member of Vahid Halilhodzic’s side, was injured when he collided with a goalpost while clearing a Thomas Muller shot off the line.

CLeague hopes receding – Pioli

Inter coach Stefano Pioli admits that his side’s hopes of qualifying for Champions League football next season have been hit by Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Torino.

The Nerazzurri came into Saturday’s match on a high after trashing Atalanta 7-1 in their previous match but failed to maintain their winning momentum as they needed an Antonio Candreva goal to salvage a point.

Pioli said: “The Champions League is more distant now.

“We are not satisfied. The performance was not the best, even if the will and desire was there. We missed an opportunity.

“We played against an aggressive opponent, but we did not adapt quickly enough. We made a lot of errors.”

Depay vows to get back to the top

Former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay says he will get back to the top of the game after he was not good enough to win over Jose Mourinho.

The 22-year-old made just one United start since Mourinho replaced Louis van Gaal in the summer and joined Lyon in a deal worth around €25 million (£21.7m) in January.

“I have no bitterness towards Mourinho,” he told beIN Sport.

“I did what I had to do in training. Of course, I didn’t understand his choices, but he was the boss. I had to accept those choices. I think I was not good enough for him. But it’s okay, I’m showing my quality here.

“I’ll be back to the top and we’ll see what will happen.”

Martinez strikes again for Atlanta

Venezuela striker Josef Martinez brought his goal tally to five in two games when he struck twice for rampant Atlanta United in a 4-0 home win over Chicago Fire.

The Major League Soccer expansion team over-ran Chicago after Fire defender Johan Kappelhof received a straight red card in the 11th minute for fouling Martinez when the latter was through on goal with only the keeper to beat.

Martinez scored his brace in the second half, after bagging a hat-trick in the snow against fellow expansion team Minnesota United the week before.

The 23-year-old is on loan from Serie A club Torino.

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