Scottish Premier League

Milsom eyes European place

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Fri, 08 Feb 2013 16:47:00

Cagliari will play AC Milan at the Stadio Is Arenas on Sunday after the Sardinian club won an appeal to play the fixture at their home ground.

The Lega Serie A and the local prefecture had ordered the game to be played at Turin's Stadio Olimpico, a neutral venue, after deeming Cagliari's new stadium unfit to stage the game on safety grounds.

But the Sardinian TAR court, part of the mayor's office, reversed the decision in an official statement issued on Friday afternoon.

It read: "The Sardinian TAR have annulled the decision of the Cagliari prefecture to ban the use of the Stadio Is Arenas."

Particular concerns had been raised about the increased number of fans and extra demands on police and security staff, given the high level of interest the arrival of AC Milan had generated on the island.

Lega president Maurizio Beretta had previously rejected a counter-offer from Cagliari to play the game at the Stadio Nereo Rocco in Trieste, the venue for several games last season when the islanders moved out of the Stadio Sant'Elia ahead of schedule.

Cagliari have struggled to host matches in their unfinished stadium this season and were forced to play Juventus at Parma's Stadio Ennio Tardini in December.

The Sardinians were also ordered to play September's game against Roma behind closed doors, prompting club president Massimo Cellino to defy the edict and invite season ticket holders to the Stadio Is Arenas regardless.

As a result, the Lega handed Roma a walkover 3-0 victory.

Chelsea have three wins from their last 10 matches and are without a victory in four ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Wigan, with their latest slip coming in a 3-2 defeat against Newcastle last weekend.

It is hard to tell whether owner Roman Abramovich is losing patience with Benitez, who replaced Roberto Di Matteo in November, but never in his 10-year tenure has the Russian had three managers in the same campaign.

The Blues would slip to fourth ahead of kick-off against Wigan if Tottenham beat Newcastle in Saturday's lunchtime match.

"We know the problems and we are working on the solutions," said Benitez, when asked if he expected to see out his short-term deal until the end of the season.

"The main thing is that you can score two goals, and then you are 2-0 up at half-time, then you have to finish the games.

"Against Newcastle we scored two goals, you cannot make these mistakes (to concede three). You have to make sure we control the game.

"We could have won all the games we didn't win. It's a question of sometimes doing the right things at the right moment, having a little bit of luck, being more clinical, not making mistakes in defence.

"The team is doing well in terms of the performance and we have to improve the results, especially the games we were winning."

Chelsea will be expected to defeat a Wigan side battling relegation, but Benitez will guard against complacency.

"All teams are difficult to beat," he added.

"Wigan have won more points away, so we know there's no room for complacency.

"We have to sure that we do the right things from the first minute to the last minute."

Should Benitez survive the Wigan contest, he will take Chelsea to the Czech Republic for a Europa League clash with Sparta Prague before an FA Cup fourth-round replay with Brentford.

"Every week is important for us, not just this one," he added.

"We have to do our best in every game. This one, against Wigan, will be important too.

"Every game will be important until the end of the season."

Benitez will be without captain John Terry for the Wigan clash.

"John Terry has an inflammation with his knee," Benitez said. "A set-back, but not serious. He will not be available for tomorrow."

David Luiz is fit again and Eden Hazard is available following his three-match ban following his controversial sending-off at Swansea, when clashed with a ball boy.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech (finger) and Demba Ba (broken nose) are expected to be passed fit, the striker having been fitted with a protective face mask.

Ba is ineligible for the trip to Prague, meaning he could play against Wigan, with Fernando Torres, who was not on international duty with Spain this week, saved for Europe.

Ashley Cole won his 100th international cap on Wednesday as England beat Brazil 2-1, with Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard scoring the decisive goal.

Benitez was impressed with Lampard but unable to shed any fresh light on the midfielder's future.

"England did well, Lampard did really well scoring the goal," Benitez said.

"I don't try to avoid the issue. I was very clear in the past and I will be very clear now and in the future: Frank is doing a great job for us, he's scoring goals, he's playing well, he's a good professional, he's very working hard. That's all I can say, because I am the coach.

"The other issues (speculation), the club doesn't discuss these things."

Lampard is five behind the Blues' goalscoring record of 202 held by Bobby Tambling and has showed his value to Chelsea on a number of occasions this season.

"The situation for me as a coach is the same," Benitez added.

"He is playing well, scoring goals, and hopefully he can score goals in every game, he will break the record and I'll be really pleased."

The Dons crashed out of the William Hill Scottish Cup with a 1-0 defeat at Hibernian which, following a Scottish Communities League Cup exit to St Mirren last October, leaves them without the prospect of a Hampden final this season.

Craig Brown's side, sitting in sixth place in the SPL, are without a win in five games but former Fulham midfielder Milsom, 26, is looking for a return to form against the Buddies at Pittodrie on Saturday.

"I thought we were the better team last week and were the better team the week before but didn't get the win, but that's football," Milsom said.

"We are out of the cup competitions, it is massively disappointing and hard to take but there is still a lot to play for.

"We have to get last week out of our head, put it behind us, move on in a positive frame of mind and try to finish as high as we can in the league.

"We need to finish in those places where we qualify for Europe, so pushing up to second and third is a must for us.

"St Mirren will come here full of confidence but it is important that we get at them and get the three points."

Four out of Aberdeen's next five SPL games are at home and Milsom is hoping that Pittodrie will be the place to repay the club's travelling support for their backing this season.

"It is a big opportunity and it is important that the fans come to see us," he said.

"You can understand their frustration, coming down in the numbers they did to Hibs, and not just to that game, but throughout the season.

"I just hope they stick by us and hopefully we can repay their faith."

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