London Evening Standard
Crystal Palace’s sole win at Chelsea came 33 years ago when both clubs were in the old second division. Tomorrow, Palace go to Stamford Bridge with the champions, after a shaky start to the season, buoyed by the impact of new arrival Pedro.
But Yohan Cabaye, Palace’s record £13million signing, says: “We won’t be scared of them. No, no, no. They have to feel that we are not scared of them. Tomorrow, we will not let Chelsea players play as they like.”
We are talking in the media room of Palace’s Beckenham training ground and, on the wall, is the exhortation “Respect the enemy’s strength” from the Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu. Cabaye glances at it and says: “We respect them, we respect all teams. But we will focus on getting something out of the game. I am not worried about the quality they have got.”
There is one Chelsea player whose quality the 29-year-old knows well, his former Lille team-mate Eden Hazard. “He is very special, the best player in the Premier League,” he says. “He could win the Ballon d’Or.”
In the last five years this FIFA award, signifying the world’s best player, has been shared by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
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Inside World Football
The contest to succeed Sepp Blatter could still produce surprises, not least we could have more candidates. Some Africans, aided by European advisers, are still trying to find a heavyweight African, Tokyo Sexwale is the name most often mentioned, to provide a realistic chance of the first black man occupying Blatter’s wonderful House of Football in Zurich. Prince Ali could still stand. But whatever the final list of candidates already the contour of the election is clear. This is that Michel Platini is the insider and Chung Mong-joon the outsider.
Now this may come as a surprise. After all, is Platini not the man promoted by Europeans to clean up football and provide the new, alternative, leadership that FIFA desperately needs? That Platini will be different to Blatter cannot be doubted. For a start he will discard the Imperial Presidency that Blatter has built up. The Swiss presents FIFA as the Vatican of sport and, despite not having any territory or Army, sees himself as the head of a state. Platini has no such pretensions and will not only be more softly spoken, and say less, but will be seen less.
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