Shark ENG (1)
Aug 202014
 

Chelsea sent out a serious message to their title rivals on Monday night as they effortlessly dispatched newly promoted Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moore. Mourinho made it six out six for opening day wins as he side cruised to victory in a match they looked to come unstuck in last season. Pre the team announcement much was being made of the goalkeeping dilemma Mourinho was facing. Unsurprisingly he opted for Thibaut Courtois instead of veteran Petr Cech who appears to be on his way. Felipe Luis was also omitted in favour of last season’s tried and tested back four. Burnley took the lead through Airfield’s rocket after fourteen minutes which allowed Burnley fans to dream of the unthinkable. Those dreams were swiftly ruined however as Chelsea changed gears, showed there class and put the game to bed with three goals in seventeen minutes.

Diego Costa got the first. The debutant lashed home from eight yards to bring Chelsea level after some sleek build up play. Fabregas found Ivanovic with a cheeky back-hell who then drilled the ball into the box only for it to rebound of the post and onto the ferocious left foot of Costa. Last season Chelsea’s strikers didn’t score an away goal until New Year’s Day, how times have changed. The second goal was a thing of a beaut, art on a football field. When goals like this come along it really is the beautiful game. Twenty nine passes in total were involved in the build-up as Chelsea had Burnley chasing shadows with their nimble one touch football. The ball eventually dropped to Eden Hazard who somehow evaded four Burnley defenders. He then switched the ball out wide only for Ivanovic to pick out Fabregas who spotted Schurrle’s late run and registered glorious assist as the German tucked the ball home. Fabregas’s pass was precision personified as he weighted it perfectly, a moment to behold. Branislav Ivanovic then put the sword in the coffin as he was left unmarked in the box to bury Fabregas’s corner with a near finish. Chelsea should have had a penalty when Diego Costa was brought down by Tom Heaton. Michael Oliver made the inaccurate decision of booking Costa for diving when replays showed he was tripped.

The football that was exhibited in the first half was mesmeric, breath taking at times. Chelsea made their way through Burnley’s defence like a knife through butter. Movement was abrupt. Passes were meticulous. Tempo was vigorous. General play stayed expansive and slick throughout. At the heart of everything good was Cesc Fabregas. He embodied the gulf in quality between the two sides, the Spaniard roamed around the pitch with an alluring freedom and was the focal point of Chelsea’s attacks, drifting alongside Matic floating in front of the back four and starting moves from deep. The football was tantalizing but at the same time relentless.

The second half saw Chelsea take the life out the game as the Blues took their foot of the gas. What we got was a much more reserved and subdued performance. The intensity was no longer there as Chelsea were content with keeping the ball. The only real chance of any significance fell to goal scorer Airfield who produced a remarkable save from Courtious. Mikel, Willian and Drogba replaced Hazard, Oscar and Schurrle as Chelsea cruised to their first victory of the new season.

 Posted by at 12:08 pm
Aug 192014
 

Courtouis: Didn’t get the clean sheet he was no doubt yearning on his debut but he could do nothing to prevent Arfield’s rocket. The only save of any real significance was to prevent Airfield, as the Belgian produced a splendid save. He was self-assured and assertive with his positioning and handling dealing well with Burnley’s corners and crosses.   8/10

Branislav Ivanovic: You could argue he got caught out for the goal as he came down his flank but regardless he produced one of his best performances in a while. The Serbian had a hand in all three goals. It was his cross in the box which led to Costa pouncing on the rebound, before playing an exquisite ball into the path of Fabregas which resulted in the second goal and finished it off by securing the points when he was left unmarked in the box which resulted in a tap-in.  8.5/10

John Terry: Did not have much to do and as Burnley struggled to get the ball. That being said you got what you expect from Terry. His lead the team well and was solid in the air.  7/10

Gary Cahill: Similar to John Terry in the sense he didn’t have much to do. Looked shaky at times during Burnleys early pressure but managed to marshal Ings and keep attacks limited.  7/10

Cesar Azpilecuta: Much was being made of Burnley right back Tripper pre match but was kept quiet by the ex Marseille man. He nullified chances and provided his familiar solidity.  7/10

Nemanja Matic: Screend the back four well and allowed Fabregas freedom. Broke up play and kept the ball moving and went about his business quietly in the middle of the pitch.  7.5/10

Cesc Fabregas: I know couple of friends who went extra miles to get Chelsea season tickets just so they can see Fabregas play for us this season and he hasn’t disappointed, so far a glorious performance on his Premier League return. Had a hand in all three goals as a sleek back-hell to Ivanovic resulted in Costa’s equalizer as well as providing the cross for Chelsea’s third. He’s crowning moment nevertheless was his brilliant assist to Andre Schurrle for the second goal, a sure contender for pass of the season. The Spanish international fits perfectly into this side, deservedly got all the plaudits.  9/10 MOTM

Eden Hazard: He appears to have continued were ended last season. Time after time he dazzled his way through the Burnely dance including a marvellous run for the second goal. His trickery was too hot to handle as he continually evaded challenges.  8/10

Oscar: A reserved performance from the Brazilian as he constantly rotated positions. Outperformed by those around him he still managed to provide perpetual quick fluid passes and kept the tempo high.  6.5/10

Andre Schurrle: Got the nod ahead of Willian and repaid Mourinho by being on the end of a stunning moving for the second goal. His neat finish was complemented with sharp passes. A nonstop threat on the right he linked up well with Ivanovic and his vertical runs were a constant theme.  7.5/10

Diego Costa: Opened his account with a rocket of a shot from close range. The £32 million man was a menace all night and should have won a penalty for his efforts as he pounced on a back pass. Unlucky to be booked for simulation, he will be pleased to be off the mark.  7/10

Subs:

Dider Drogba: Replaced Hazard with six minutes to go and almost scored an outlandish volley.  N/A

John Obi Mikel: Came on for Oscar and kept play ticking.  N/A

Willian: Enjoyed a session of a keep ball but didn’t have a chance to make an impact.  N/A

 Posted by at 10:15 am
Mar 232014
 

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea proved once again that they are superior to their London Rivals, Arsenal. Unlike the first leg in December, the game at Stamford Bridge lived up to its billing – embarrassingly for the Gunners though. Chelsea bounced back from the controversial loss at Villa Park to knock 6 goals past a shocking Arsenal side.

Many expected the game to be tougher than it actually was. It was probably more embarrassing for Arsene Wenger than any other person because the defeat of this magnitude came on a day he was celebrating his 1000th game in charge of the Gunners. The Frenchman and his side were bereft of ideas and the Blues were more than happy to make them pay.

Samuel Eto’o curled the ball past a helpless Szczseny to kick the party off in the 5th minute. Just minutes later, Andre Schurlle added his name to the score sheet. Referee, Andre Marriner made one of the most controversial decisions the game has ever seen. Oxalaide-Chamberlain dove to punch an Eden Hazard shot that was agonizingly close to goal. Marriner – instead of sending Oxalaide-Chamberlain off- sent Kieran Gibbs off instead. Hazard made it 3-0 from the spot.

Oscar scored just minutes before the break after superb work by Fernando Torres. The Brazilian was on hand to add to his goal in the second half before his replacement, Mohammed Salah Sored the 6th goal for Chelsea. The match was surprisingly easy for Chelsea as they put Arsenal to the sword.

Below are the things that stood out.

Arsenal Defence keep shipping in goals.

The people who have argued that the pairing of Laurent Kooscielny and Per Mertesacker is one of the best in the Premier League, will probably change their mind after the shambolic performance against Chelsea. Just like the game against Manchester City [where they lost 6-3] and the game against Liverpool [where they lost 5-1], they keep conceding heavily.

The defenders were often caught out of position; at times they showed little desire in marking their attackers. No manager will be happy with the way Arsenal defended and Arsene Wenger won’t be an exception.

Mourinho continues to enjoy his advantage over Wenger and the Home record.

‘Mourinho has never lost against Wenger’, ‘Chelsea have never lost a Premier League game under Jose Mourinho’ these were the key facts before the game and after the emphatic victory, the streak continues for the ‘Special One’.

The victory of the at Stamford Bridge now means Mourinho has won 6 games in 11 encounters with Arsene Wenger and has Drawn the remaining 5. It remains to be seen if Wenger will ever break this jinx – maybe next season.

Stamford Bridge also remains strong. Chelsea remains the only undefeated team at home with an amazing 44points from a possible total of 48 points.

Salah pops his Cherry

Egyptian winger, Mohammed Salah scored his debut goal for Chelsea four minutes after he replaced Oscar. The former Basel player did well to stay onside before he was picked out with a lovely pass from Nemanja Matic. All Salah had to do was run and run – which he did – before he finished with his left foot to complete the rout. The winger was delighted with his debut goal and couldn’t hide his joy when he spoke to the press after.

“It’s my first goal with the team [Chelsea], so I hope it will be a good start. I congratulate myself and all the people who supported me following my arrival here. Thankfully, I’m living up to the expectations of the technical staff and I hope I will score more goals.”

He also revealed the impact Mourinho has had on him since he came to Chelsea.

“My relationship with Mourinho is very good. I motivated before the game and told me I would score today. I am working with the best coach in the world.”

Chelsea fans will be hoping his good form continues.

Chelsea made an important statement with the victory – A statement of intent. They will fight for the Premier League title till the very end.

 Posted by at 9:25 pm
Mar 232014
 

It was a sorry sight for Arsenal fans last night as they suffered a record defeat against Chelsea, going down 6-0. The hosts got off to a flying start, with Samuel Eto’o opening the scoring in the opening minutes. Goals and bizarre incidents followed, as Eden Hazard converted from the spot to make it 3-0, after Oxlade Chamberlain hand balled on the line. Almost comically, referee Andre Marriner mistakenly believed Kieran Gibbs had committed the foul, and the full back was dismissed as a result. Reflecting on the performance of his team, Wenger took full responsibility:

‘This defeat is my fault, I take full responsibility for it. I don’t think there’s too much need to talk about the mistakes we made. We got a good hiding today.‘ the French manager said in an interview with the BBC.

While his humility is honourable, it’s hard to see how one could possible blame Wenger for the result – at least as far as his short term decisions are concerned. Given the length injury list that Arsenal currently have, the team all but picked itself, and it’s quite unlikely to think that Chamberlain would feel that his manager was responsible for his decision to hand ball Hazard’s wayward effort that led to the penalty.

In his reaction to the match when speaking with the BBC, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was praiseworthy of his side, before reigniting the debate about video technology.

’10 minutes amazing. The way we started, the way we pressed them, the way we recover the ball and attack the spaces immediately, I think was fantastic.’

Responding to a question about the red card and mistaken identity, Mourinho had the following to say:

It is the kind of mistake that, I think a screen with the fourth official, and the situation is easily resolved. But football doesn’t allow that, and sometimes the referees have this kind of difficulty.’

One can’t help but side with Mourinho in this case. The simple fact that millions of fans around the world instantly recognised an error that could not be brought to the match official’s attention due to the lack of a screen seems utterly bizarre in this day and age.

 Posted by at 12:42 pm
Mar 232014
 

After a horror gaffe by referee Andre Marriner in Chelsea’s 6-0 demolition of Arsenal last night, the experienced referee has expressed his regret at the error:

“Andre is an experienced referee and is obviously disappointed that an error of mistaken identity was made in this case.

“Incidents of mistaken identity are very rare and are often the result of a number of different technical factors.

“Whilst this was a difficult decision, Andre is disappointed that he failed to identify the correct player. He expressed his disappointment to Arsenal when he was made aware of the issue.”

The statement released by the Game Match Officials Board will come as little consolation to Arsenal fans who almost certainly saw their title chances fade to zero at Stamford Bridge last night. The mistaken identity, while embarrassing, was only one of a serious of problems that Wenger’s men faced, and the 2-0 score line after 7 minutes meant that the game was almost certainly beyond them when the incident occurred.

One can only speculate as to what was going through Chamberlain’s mind when he launched himself into the path of Eden Hazard’s shot (which was going wide, replays confirm) and palmed the ball around the post. After match referee Marriner dismissed Kieran Gibbs, mistakenly thinking he was responsible for the handball, questions were immediately raised regarding retrospective action by the officials regarding the associated 2 match ban for a red card offence.

Searches for precedent in such cases reveal the curious incident that took place in November last year, when Preston’s Neil Kilkenny was wrongly dismissed under similar circumstances. In that case, the FA retrospectively lifted the charges on Kilkenny, and banned Joe Garner (the actual offender).

This will be salt into the wounds of Arsenal fans, who could now be without Chamberlain for a further 2 matches. In an already injured ravaged midfield, this puts the Gunners down to bare bones to fill positions in the middle of the park.

 

 Posted by at 12:39 pm
Mar 232014
 

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea proved once again that they are superior to their London Rivals, Arsenal. Unlike the first leg in December, the game at Stamford Bridge lived up to its billing – embarrassingly for the Gunners though. Chelsea bounced back from the controversial loss at Villa Park to knock 6 goals past a shocking Arsenal side.

Many expected the game to be tougher than it actually was. It was probably more embarrassing for Arsene Wenger than any other person because the defeat of this magnitude came on a day he was celebrating his 1000th game in charge of the Gunners. The Frenchman and his side were bereft of ideas and the Blues were more than happy to make them pay.

Samuel Eto’o curled the ball past a helpless Szczseny to kick the party off in the 5th minute. Just minutes later, Andre Schurlle added his name to the score sheet. Referee, Andre Marriner made one of the most controversial decisions the game has ever seen. Oxalaide-Chamberlain dove to punch an Eden Hazard shot that was agonizingly close to goal. Marriner – instead of sending Oxalaide-Chamberlain off- sent Kieran Gibbs off instead. Hazard made it 3-0 from the spot.

Oscar scored just minutes before the break after superb work by Fernando Torres. The Brazilian was on hand to add to his goal in the second half before his replacement, Mohammed Salah Sored the 6th goal for Chelsea. The match was surprisingly easy for Chelsea as they put Arsenal to the sword.

Below are the things that stood out.

Arsenal Defence keep shipping in goals.

The people who have argued that the pairing of Laurent Kooscielny and Per Mertesacker is one of the best in the Premier League, will probably change their mind after the shambolic performance against Chelsea. Just like the game against Manchester City [where they lost 6-3] and the game against Liverpool [where they lost 5-1], they keep conceding heavily.

The defenders were often caught out of position; at times they showed little desire in marking their attackers. No manager will be happy with the way Arsenal defended and Arsene Wenger won’t be an exception.

Mourinho continues to enjoy his advantage over Wenger and the Home record.

‘Mourinho has never lost against Wenger’, ‘Chelsea have never lost a Premier League game under Jose Mourinho’ these were the key facts before the game and after the emphatic victory, the streak continues for the ‘Special One’.

The victory of the at Stamford Bridge now means Mourinho has won 6 games in 11 encounters with Arsene Wenger and has Drawn the remaining 5. It remains to be seen if Wenger will ever break this jinx – maybe next season.

Stamford Bridge also remains strong. Chelsea remains the only undefeated team at home with an amazing 44points from a possible total of 48 points.

Salah pops his Cherry

Egyptian winger, Mohammed Salah scored his debut goal for Chelsea four minutes after he replaced Oscar. The former Basel player did well to stay onside before he was picked out with a lovely pass from Nemanja Matic. All Salah had to do was run and run – which he did – before he finished with his left foot to complete the rout. The winger was delighted with his debut goal and couldn’t hide his joy when he spoke to the press after.

“It’s my first goal with the team [Chelsea], so I hope it will be a good start. I congratulate myself and all the people who supported me following my arrival here. Thankfully, I’m living up to the expectations of the technical staff and I hope I will score more goals.”

He also revealed the impact Mourinho has had on him since he came to Chelsea.

“My relationship with Mourinho is very good. I motivated before the game and told me I would score today. I am working with the best coach in the world.”

Chelsea fans will be hoping his good form continues.

Chelsea made an important statement with the victory – A statement of intent. They will fight for the Premier League title till the very end.

 Posted by at 12:26 pm
Mar 012014
 

Didier Drogba has admitted he is looking forward to returning to Stamford Bridge for Galatasaray’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Chelsea with the tie delicately poised at 1-1. An early Fernando Torres goal was cancelled out in the second half by an Aurelien Chedjou equaliser to ensure the two sides head to London for an intriguing second leg clash that is evenly poised with Betfair.com.

Having won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups with Chelsea, Drogba will return to the club he spent a successful eight-year spell for the first time as an opposing player.

Drogba’s last act in a Chelsea shirt was scoring the winning penalty in the Champions League final in 2012 against Bayern Munich, and the Ivorian has admitted he is looking forward to returning to the scene of some of his greatest achievements as a player, hoping to cause a surprise with Betfair fans and help lead Galatasaray into the quarter-finals.

“I am not there yet and I will only find out [how emotional it is] when I am at the Bridge. The only thing I know is that there is still one game to play,” said the former Blues star.

“It will be a difficult game but I think at 1-1 the game is still open, so we’re going to go there and try to create a big surprise.”

 

Coming away from Turkey with an away goal has ensured Chelsea will go into the second leg of the tie as the Betfair favourites to progress to the quarter-finals. Jose Mourinho will have been delighted with the professional job his side did in testing circumstances in Turkey, but the Chelsea boss will be well aware that there is still plenty of life left in this tie.

Feb 282014
 

Chelsea was unable to leave Turkey with a win last night, in what was very much a game of two halves.

The Blues took a lead in the 9th minute thanks to a fast-paced piece of teamwork which completely opened up the Galatasaray defence, with Azpilicueta playing in Torres to slot home.

The Turks were fortunate to make it to half time with only a one-goal deficit with Chelsea having dominated. Roberto Mancini gave them a much needed talking to at half-time, and they responded with some very clever attacking play putting Jose Mourinho’s side on the back foot.

Gala equalised through a Wesley Sneijder corner on 64 which was poorly defended. How Aurelien Chedjou was allowed the room in the box to volley home from close range is a joke.

The Special One tried to change the momentum of the match after the goal by replacing Schurrle with John Obi Mikel, a switch that tells me he was happy to play out the rest of the game goalless.

Didier Drogba deserves a mention just for the legend that he is, despite not having the greatest of games, but in reality it was a below-par performance all-round. He will no doubt be looking forward to returning to Stamford Bridge in 3 weeks time, despite having to play against his old friends in such an important game.

Us Chelsea fans should not be discontented with letting our 1-0 lead slip, as a draw away in Turkey is never an easy task. They have claimed many scalps in that European stronghold, including wins over Real Madrid, Juventus and (Ferguson’s) Manchester United in the past 18 months.

We should be confident of overcoming Galatasaray at home without too much discomfort, considering our home record under Jose. I can see us winning 2-0 on the 18th March but I might change my mind depending on our form over the next few weeks…

How far do you think we can go? There’s only one team I don’t want to draw in the next round…

Dec 272013
 

A Cagey Affair

Jose Mourinho extended his unbeaten run against rival, Arsene Wenger to 10 matches after Arsenal and Chelsea played out a goalless draw at the Emirates on Monday, 23rd of December. The match failed to live up to its billing as a prospective exciting encounter as both teams couldn’t find a way in the very cagey affair.

Frank Lampard could’ve given Chelsea the lead in the after 32 minutes. The England international’s half-volley hit the underside of the bar leaving Arsenal goalkeeper, Szczesny temporarily helpless. Later on in the game, French striker Oliver Giroud wasted to chances that could’ve handed Wenger his first victory over Mourinho in 10 matches.

The result meant arsenal has surrendered their position at the top of the table to Merseyside club, Liverpool.

Post-match comments:

Arsene Wenger:

“We should have won it. They came here to defend and catch us on a break. We were a bit edgy at the start but we took control in the second half and should’ve won it. It was a game of very few chances and we couldn’t take ours. If you cannot win the game, don’t lose it”

Jose Mourinho:

“It was a tactical match. A match Arsenal wants to win and didn’t want to lose and Chelsea want to win but doesn’t want to lose. The goalkeeper was not in the game, we controlled the game defensively. It was important not to lose and be five points behind the leaders.

“We were not aggressive enough to attack defenders and go for goal. We want creative players who use the ball and kill opponents. But there are some matches where we have to take one step backwards and play with a different philosophy.”

Statistics:

General Play:

Arsenal Chelsea
Possession 61.4% 38.6%
Duels won 46.5% 53.5%
Aerial duels won 41.3% 58.7%
Offsides 3 2
Corners 8 6

 

Attack:

Arsenal Chelsea
Goals 0 o
Total shots 7 13
Shots on target 2 4
Shot accuracy 28.6% 30.8%
Blocked shots 3 4
Shots on bar 0 1
Shots from inside the box 5 8
Shots from outside the box 2 5

 

Defence:

Arsenal Chelsea
Tackles 17 17
Tackles won 70.6% 70.6%
Clearances 42 36
Interceptions 13 6

 

Distribution:

Arsenal Chelsea
Total passes 544 340
Long passes 9.7% 10.3%
Pass accuracy 84.0% 77.6%
Pass accuracy opp half 71.1% 63.5%
Pass accuracy own half 94.9% 89.0%
Total crosses 25 13
Successful crosses 16.0% 15.4%

 

Arsenal Chelsea
Foul Conceded 7 11
Yellow Cards 2 1
Red Cards 0 0

 

A Point won or two points gained

Arsenal wanted this game more than Chelsea at least to maintain their momentum at the top of the table. Arsenal with 61.4% of the possession definitely meant business. Jose Mourinho just like the way he set his team out to play against Manchester United made it difficult for the gunners as the match was indeed tactical.

Chelsea were smarter with their chances. With little possession, they managed to get 13 shots with 4 on target compared to Arsenal’s 7 shots/ 2 shots on target. Jose got what he wanted really. Either a win or a point – don’t lose it all.

The result of this match might be significant later on in the title race as the complete 3 points might have afforded the gunners breathing space at the top of the table. Apart from that, the psychological boost would’ve been enormous had it been Wenger’s men got one of their bitter London rivals and Mourinho. In contrast, Mourinho and his men will be quite happy with a point.

[Stats: TheFootballApp, Quotes: PremierLeague]

 Posted by at 1:10 pm
Sep 042013
 

After 120 minutes of drama in Prague on Friday, the European Super Cup eventually ended in agonising defeat, but in the fullness of time the result will be more of an irritant than anything else and so should not be of much concern.

The Cup, ultimately, means very little; it is the European version of the Community Shield. Though credit has to go to the players for making such a spectacle of a game that so often descends into pre-season friendly territory.

There were plenty of encouraging performances too, as Jose Mourinho continues to ink his influence back on the team. Fernando Torres reminded us that he can score great goals when not skulking around with a frown on his face.

David Luiz looked solid on his return from injury and reminded us why he should not be sold this transfer window, while Eden Hazard scored what so nearly became the winner.

For many fans of the Premier League though, Petr Cech deserved the plaudits he received from Betfair pundits. The Czech Republic international once again proved his class with a fine display, especially in extra time, when he made four key saves to deny an increasingly rampant Bayern side.

With so many big money transfers coming in and out of Stamford Bridge, it is sometimes easy to forget Cech is still there. But he has been a model of consistency ever since he signed for the club way back in 2004. While the Blues have been linked with players in nearly every position, no one has suggested we need a new goalkeeper, which is telling in itself.

His quiet and friendly demeanour means he does not court controversy either; from the outside, he seems like a manager’s dream.

With Mourinho again looking to rely on defensively solidity this season rather than attacking flair, clean sheets will be even more important, especially if they hope to justify their 9/4 odds for the title with Betfair. Luckily, the Blues have one of the best there is between the sticks.