Shark ENG (1)
Mar 282014
 

With a potential ‘striker clear out’ looming at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, Inter Milan have been caught snooping about one Fernando Torres. Torres relationship with Chelsea fans has been a tempestuous one. Arriving for 50 million pounds in 2011, there were high expectations on the Spanish born forward. At Liverpool he had been a regular goal scorer, and was renowned for his lightning pace and lethal finishing.

Despite a rocky start, fans (and the various Chelsea managers) were patient with Torres. Scoring just 1 goal in 18 appearances throughout the 2010/11 season, admirers of the World Cup winner simply refused to believe that he wouldn’t soon come well. 3 years on, and much of the footballing world has simply come to accept that the Torres that once was, is now no longer. While he will occasionally put in a fighting performance, or beat a defender or two, few people are now foolish enough to utter the now cliché  suggestion, “Is Torres back?!”

While he is not what he was, he has come to carve out something of a new identity in the current Chelsea squad. Often utilised as a power forward that works the channels and breaks up defences, he has been integral in a number of great Chelsea performances, helping his team mates find the back of the net. However, with a wealth of fresh talent now playing behind and around him, and having just celebrated his 30th birthday, it might be time for Torres to begin the slow stepping down process that every great player must endure.

Inter Milan’s interest comes as part of a more general rebuilding plan, after the Italian Serie A club has suffered a relative fall from grace since winning the Champions League under Jose Mourinho in 2010. Currently sitting 5th in Serie A, the 3 time champions of Europe are set to build a new team to regain something of their glory days. It’s interesting to speculate as to the role Torres will take on at Inter, should the move materialise. More than likely, whether or not he is an impact player or a talisman will largely depend on his ability to find his form in front of goal, and fans of I Nerazzurri will be hoping for just that.

 Posted by at 2:54 pm
Mar 282014
 

The tangibility of Diego Costa’s transfer to Chelsea has now been further strengthened by the presence of Blues’ scouts at Atletico Madrid’s La Liga match with Granada last night. The potential buyers watched on as Costa scored the only goal of the match in the 63rd minute, gifting Atletico Madrid a 1-0 victory.

The goal only serves to prove what they surely already know: Diego Costa is in incredibly goal scoring form. While his finishing often lacks the eloquence of other world class strikers, no-one can deny his sensational record this season. With 29 league appearances, 24 goals, and 3 assists, he is second only to Cristiano Ronaldo in La Liga’s top scorers’ charts. These stats are further strengthened by his European performances. Having netted 5 times so far in Atletico’s Champions League campaign, the Brazilian born Spaniard is sure to demand a hefty fee.

Rumours suggest that Chelsea will be made to pay around 40 million pounds to bring Costa to Stamford Bridge, where he will join a Mourinho side who currently sit at the top of the English Premier League. Should Chelsea fail to lure him out of Diego Simeone’s, Chelsea might look to France, and reach out to the seemingly unsettled Edison Cavani.

The other variable in the ever present transfer speculation is the 2014 World Cup. A stage such as this has always been an occasion which has made, and broken, superstars. Domestic leagues from around the world will be glued to the sets, to see how their transfer targets handle the biggest games in football. Costa, having acquired Spanish citizenship, will travel with Spain’s world cup squad, and will have an opportunity to extend his incredible run of form against the likes of Australia, Holland, and Chile, as the reigning European and World Champions will face tough competition to win their group.

 Posted by at 2:37 pm
Mar 262014
 

Speaking recently in an interview about Chelsea, former Blues manager Ruud Gillet has offered high praise for Mourinho and the London Club. Speaking specifically about their Champions League chances, Gillet suggested that Bayern Munich and Barcelona are afraid of Chelsea, and their managers’ ability to prepare his sides for big European clashes.

“I think, at the moment, the team that frightens everybody is Chelsea. Their strength, their depth, the way they anticipate the game.’

“I think Chelsea is the only team that can beat Barcelona and Bayern Munich, in the way they play, and I think everybody wants to avoid Chelsea.”

Gullit’s statements refer to the dynamism that Chelsea are capable of, when at they’re at their best. All Mourinho sides are known for their defensive solidity, and this year’s team in no exception. With the best defence in the league, and a formidable record in the Champions League, he has succeeded once more in creating a side that is very hard to beat. When this defensive acumen is coupled with the creative talents of Chelsea’s world class midfield, it is easy to see why Gullit is confident in his prediction that they will be able to maintain their first place in the Premier League.

Mourinho himself has consistent pedalled the underdog angle when it comes to discussing his sides chances of winning silverware this season. Despite this, with a series of impressive victories of Manchester City and Arsenal, it’s hard to deny that Chelsea is among the favourites to win both the Premier League, and challenge for the Champions League.

Before any chance of such European honours, Chelsea will have to overcome Paris Saint-Germain in a two legged quarter final tie. While Mourinho’s side will be favourites in the encounter, there will be no room for complacent against the reigning French champions.

 Posted by at 9:20 pm
Mar 242014
 

Early reports are suggesting that Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o will be out for at least a fortnight as he recovers from a hamstring injury sustained in this weekend’s match with Arsenal. With glimpses of form in his recent games, the injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the 33 year old Cameroon international.

Eto’o opened the scoring in the 6-0 demolition of Chelsea’s London rivals, with a composed curling effort on his left foot. Leaving the pitch almost immediately after, Jose Mourinho must have suspected the worse. Having scored 3 goals in his last 3 Chelsea appearances, his absence will be regrettable for Blues fans, at a time when winning every match is crucial to their title dream.

Inconsistent performer Fernando Torres replaced Eto’o on the weekend, and played well, despite failing to find the back of the net.

“Fernando, without scoring a goal, had a very good performance with great movement for the team,” Mourinho said.

Chelsea fans might be thinking, ‘We’ve heard this all before’. They’d be forgiven for such exclamations, given the utterly indifferent form of the once world class Spanish striker. Torres’ has scored just 4 league goals this season in 22 appearances. His off the ball work rate and link up play may be ignored by these statistics, but with a wealth of creative midfield talent at Jose Mourinho’s disposal, its goals that Chelsea need from their number 9 at this stage of the season.

The early prognosis on Eto’o is that he will certainly be missing for Chelsea’s clash with Crystal Palace this season, and further absences will depend on ongoing scans and the uncertain recovery time of his injury.

 Posted by at 7:22 pm
Nov 292013
 

In a move that is uncharacteristic of Chelsea throughout the Abramovich era, manager Jose Mourinho has stated that the Blues will not look to strengthen their squad by bringing in another striker this January. Many suspect that the upcoming transfer window was the perfect opportunity for Chelsea to solve their striking woes with yet another splash of the cash.

Mourhino was quoted as saying;

“It’s not true what I read a couple of days ago, that his [Martinez’s] agent was in London meeting with me.

In the January market we are not going to buy any strikers.

We are going to the end of the season with Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba. No one is coming in, no one is going out.”

The Blues forward trio of Samuel Eto’o, Demba Ba, and Fernando Torres, have all struggled to perform this season, and fears have been raised among Chelsea faithful that this weakness may limit their chances of claiming a fifth Premier League crown. Trying to understand Mourinho’s reluctance to do business, one may point to logistics and timing. With Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku also out on loan, an incoming purchase would probably necessitate at least some sort of clear out, and finding a buyer for Torres or Eto’o, both of whom demand substantial wages, might not be easy at this time of the year.

Instead, the Portuguese manager will be hoping that a misfiring forward line can be supplemented by the immense creative talents of his midfield. With Eden Hazard finding the form of his life, new signing Willian, and the ever consistent Oscar continuing to impress, goals from the centre of the park may allow Chelsea to get by without a world class centre forward.

Obviously it is by no means unheard of for a manager to be deceptive with the media regarding potential transfers, and there’s every chance Mourinho’s words will be proven false. Speculation suggests that potential targets for a January poach may include Porto striker Jackson Martinez who according to many reports has a release clause of 30 million pounds or there about.

However, should Mourinho be serious and end the winter window with no striker signing, it will remain to be seen how Mourinho intends to solve Chelsea’s striker problem.

 Posted by at 5:21 pm
Jun 052013
 

Jose Mourinho may only be a day in the Chelsea job, but he doesn’t have much time to waste as he goes about organising his summer schedule. Chelsea have a good squad of players, but there is still a lot of work to do in preparation for the coming season. One of Mourinho’s first jobs will be to assess the squad and decide who stays and who goes. Identifying the needs of the team comes before any big moves in the transfer market, and while some decisions are easier than others, one of the biggest decisions he will have to make is what to do with Michael Essien.

Essien was signed by Mourinho in 2005 for nearly £25 million pounds and quickly became one of the most dominating all-round midfielders in the Premier League. The pressure that comes with such a big price tag seemed to have no effect on the Ghana international, and he became a mainstay in the Blues’ team, but several injuries restricted his appearances. After only 19 appearances in 11/12, Jose came calling once again and signed him on a season long loan at Real Madrid. Essien made 34 appearances for Real last season-many of them in defence. He has since spoken of his love and admiration for Mourinho, and will be desperate to fight for his place at Chelsea this season

Essien has a contract up to 2015, but it remains to be seen whether Mourinho will look to keep him on the books. At Real, Essien was not part of a long term plan – he was merely filling a season long hole in the squad. As Jose looks to build his very own long-term project at The Bridge, he will have no choice but to be ruthless. The needs of the club come ahead of sentiment. That being said, there were times last season where we were desperately short of options in midfield. While we have an excellent first team, our squad options are limited by number, if not ability. Michael Essien has been a great servant to the club, and he could still perform a role for us, but I doubt whether he fits in with our long term plan. Whether he stays to give us a short-term option will come down to one man. Welcome back Jose – it’s time to start working

May 292013
 

It is perhaps a sign of how good a job Rafa Benitez actually did in the Chelsea dressing room, but there hasn’t been the kind of media outrage at John Terry’s exclusion from the Chelsea first team that we might have expected in recent years. Terry has struggled all season with injuries, and while he is still capable of big performances, he is in no way guaranteed to be first choice come the end of the summer. Terry fell behind David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill this season, and all 3 are far from falling into decline. It seems incredible that Terry can no longer get in to the team, but the question now becomes what will Terry’s role be at the club?

Ideally, Terry will be able to accept his new role as no longer being the top dog. There is still so much he has to offer this club, and not just on the pitch. In recent years, there have been suggestions of certain players having too much power in the dressing room. While this can be disruptive, if harnessed and used correctly, Terry can become a real leader to this team. He might play less regularly, but if Terry can accept this and refocus on helping the team, he could be of immeasurable benefit to the squad.

Having the kind of experience that Terry and Lampard have brings something to the team that players like Oscar, Hazard, Mata and co simply don’t have – they know how to win a Premier League. Unfortunately, it will be extremely difficult for Terry to accept this role. More than anything, Terry loves playing football, and he might not be able to come to terms with sitting on the bench for the majority of the season. Terry has served this club well, and if he did choose to see out his career somewhere warmer he would leave with everyone’s blessing. However, if John is willing, he could see out his contract and give us one more year. Even if he can’t win back his place in the team, the experience and guidance that he can give the squad could make the difference when it really matters. For this reason, I sincerely hope he stays with us.

Apr 252013
 

Poor Luis Suarez is reportedly devastated by his ten-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last weekend, but only because it will probably destroy any chance he had of being named as the Player-of-the-Year for his goals for Liverpool.

He whined: “I am unhappy because this could break my dream of being recognised as the best forward in England this year.”

At least Suarez can console himself by being recognised as getting the biggest ban of the season, which eclipses the 8-game ban he got for racially abusing Patrice Evra a couple of years ago. I can’t help but feel really sorry for this decision as personally I think he should have been banned for life!

And despite this being the SECOND time that Suarez has been banned for biting another player (He got a 7-match ban in Holland) he still thinks he has been hard done by. There are now rumours that he may decide to leave the Premier League in the transfer window, but when asked he moaned: “I’m not thinking about my future, but my image.

“I am not a violent player. What happened with Ivanovic was instinctive and I am very sorry.”

Even if that statement is true, it just means he is instinctively a violent player lol, and he can forget about his image. It was bad enough before last weekend but now it is down in the gutter where it belongs.

I sincerely hope that he does leave England this summer and disappears into the obscurity he deserves. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

Apr 242013
 

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.

With those eight games being squeezed into the next three weeks, Rafa Benitez is having to manage the squad very carefully. The Spaniard is well aware that the fans and the club see finishing in the top four of the Premier League as the most important objective, with the Europa trophy being a nice cherry on top. The manager may feel differently, though, as he knows he will be moving on at the end of the season.

We have a game against Swansea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, so Cahill and Cole will be unlikely to play in both. The centre of defense is not such a problem, with John Terry, Ivanovic and David Luiz doing well. The left back situation is more tricky, although Ryan Bertrand has filled in admirable for Cole. I would prefer to keep Cole for the league games, at least as he is just coming back but expect Cahill to play tomorrow as we try to keep a clean sheet and set up the home leg nicely. That game next Thursday comes just three days before a trip to Manchester United, a game that could have a massive say on the top four, so we do not want to have too hard a game and certainly not extra time.

Apr 192013
 

The 27-year old central defender Gary Cahill seems to have been out of the Chelsea team for ages following a minor knee operation, but he is on the verge of returning. That is great news for Chelsea, as there could still be nine games to play if we reach the Europa League final by beating Basel in the semi.

There is an outside chance of Cahill making the match at Liverpool on Sunday, but if not then he will ready for the first leg against the team from Switzerland. He has already won the FA cup and the Champions League in his short career at Stamford Bridge and does not hide the fact that the group stage exit as holders of the European cup, along with exits from the English cup competitions were disappointing.

It is next season’s Champions League that is the real priority now, though. After a fantastic start in the league, we should not be in the position of fighting Arsenal and Tottenham for a top four spot and he knows that failure to do it is unthinkable.

“I do not think we are contemplating it,” said Cahill. “The expectation for us is that we are in that competition next year. It is down to us as players to make sure that happens. We have got six games to do that and we have got to fully focus on making sure we are in that competition next season.”

One thing is for sure, Chelsea have a much better chance of doing it now that Cahill is back.