Ahead of this week’s Europa League final clash, Benfica star Pablo Aimar has been talking a good game. The 33 year old Argentinian midfielder has been quite outspoken in his belief that his Benfica have the beating of the Blues. Speaking to The Daily Mirror, Aimar said: “Of course, Chelsea are a big club, but this is not the same team that won the Champions League a year ago,” he said. “This team got knocked out at the group stages. They have not been convincing in Europe or in the Premier League.
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Chelsea totally dominated our arch-rivals Tottenham last night for 90% of the game, but simply failed to kill them off with the myriad chances that fell to all our talented midfielders, and when Spurs got an equalizer with ten minutes to go the Blues were in danger of losing a game that should have been over half an hour earlier.
Rafael Benitez just thinks that the tempo of the game caused our players to tire towards the end, which caused our jitters, especially when Gareth Bale got a chance of a freekick in the dying minutes. The Spaniard said: “We didn’t have the legs,”
He’s off again. The Portuguese manager (not him, the other not so special one). As Chelsea prepare to welcome Tottenham to Stamford Bridge tonight, there is a great deal at stake. Perhaps that is why Andre Villas-Boas seems to be suffering from verbal diarrhoea, especially when it comes to talking about Chelsea.
Whoever wins the game tonight will take a huge step towards a top four finish and the Chammpions League football it entails. There are quite a lot of bragging rights on offer as well, such as being the best of the London clubs, with Arsenal still in the race, and doing the double over Spurs. What is likely to get the Chelsea players really going, though, is the sniping of the former manager.
Andre Villas-Boas returns to Stamford Bridge tomorrow night for the first time since he was sacked as the manager last March. The 35-year old has spoken before about it and is obviously unhappy with the way he was treated, although he must have known that Abramovich has been going through managers the way most people go through toilet rolls.
His Tottenham side are currently lying outside the Champions League places in fifth place and they desperately need a win to push them above Arsenal. So you would think that AVB would not try to do anything to wind the Chelsea players up and make his task even harder. Well you would be wrong, because the Portuguese coach has suggested that it was the players’ fault he was sacked.
Chelsea go into a vitally important two weeks standing on the verge of having either a very good season, or a pretty disastrous one. Having already reached the semi-final stage of both domestic cup competitions, the Blues went one step further this week by reaching the final of the Europa League.
A victory against Benfica in Amsterdam on May 15th will give Chelsea a second successive European trophy in two seasons, but that must be seen as a bonus, according to the man probably most responsible for Chelsea’s recent success, Juan Mata. The Spaniard has been nothing short of brilliant again this season and has helped the new Chelsea players like Oscar and Hazard to settle quickly.
David Luiz is having a fantastic season for Chelsea. He scored yet another stunning goal against Basel on Thursday and is becoming increasingly influential to the team and the club, being mentioned as the man who will take the captain’s armband from John Terry one day. So we certainly don’t want to sell the 26-year old, but it appears that Barcelona have targeted Luiz as one of the signings they want to make this summer.
There have been rumours and reports for quite a while about a possible return to Chelsea of the former manager and fans favourite Jose Mourinho. His main priority recently, however, has been trying towin the Champions League trophy for his current club Real Madrid.
The Spanish champions gave Borussia Dortmund a scare last night, but their second goal came too late and left just minutes to get the goal that would have taken them to the final. Mourinho and Madrid still have the Spanish cup final on May 18th, but thoughts are already turning to next season. Mourinho’s thoughts seem to be turning to Stamford Bridge.
Rafa Benitez did not start Frank Lampard yesterday but, once Ramires picked up an injury, the 34-year old midfielder came on to put Chelsea withing touching distance of Champions League qualification. Lampard looked like a man on a mission when he came on and a typical bursting run and pass set up Oscar for the opener after 43 minutes. Just two minutes later, Lampard was given the chance to add to his 200 goals from the penalty after Maya was fouled. Nobody expected him to miss, and he is now just one goal behind the all-time club record of Bobby Tambling.
Chelsea have a massive game against Swansea City at Stamford Bridge today. It is a game that the Blues must win as we fight Arsenal and Tottenham for a top four finish, and it is one that we are expected to win. The Welsh club are sitting safely in mid-table and seem to have taken their foot off the gas since winning the Capital One cup against Bradford City in February.
Michael Laudrup’s team have won just once since that Wembley final, but the Danish manager will surely be trying to get his players to shake off the cobwebs and finish the season strongly. Remember also that Swansea knocked Chelsea out of that competition at the semi-final stage, so we should be ready for a tough game.
Chelsea have still got eight games to play this season. That includes the Europa League final at the Amsterdam Arena in Holland on May 15th. To get there, the Blues have got to get past the Swiss side Basel that knocked Tottenham Hotspur out in the last round. They are a good side, but Chelsea are better and have got the added bonus of Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole returning from injury.