Nov 212014

In what has become a normal transfer speculation in the past two seasons, the Premier League has once again been placed on high alert as top clubs in England such as Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United have once again been linked with one of Sporting Lisbon’s most valuable players in the mould William Carvalho.

The Portuguese Midfielder is built like a tank and is regarded as the next big thing in the defensive midfield position. A mainstay in the Lisbon side for a couple of years now despite his age, the 22 year old is not short on admirers.

One pertinent question that most Chelsea fans seem to be asking is; is he really needed? Does the powerfully built midfielder fill a void within the team at all?

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the youngster’s qualities and then decide if Chelsea really needs his services;

With at least 5 Premier League clubs reportedly keen, Sporting acted to secure 100 percent of the player’s ownership from his previous third party owners.

William stands just shy of 6’2” tall and makes good use of his imposing frame to play the holding midfielder role- arguably the most important position in modern football to near perfection.

As with all good players, William seems to have more time on the ball than everyone else on the pitch … this is despite being stationed in the thick of the midfield action. No matter how fast or how skillful the adversary is, when coming up against William, it is the Sporting man that invariably emerges with the ball.

His composure and superb positioning, means he is rarely under pressure. The youngster isn’t afraid to utilize his physical prowess when need be, as several bruised opponents can attest to weight of one of his crunching tackles.

If the above description seems overly familiar as a Blues supporter, that’s probably because every single defensive attribute listed above can apply seamlessly to the Serbian Nemanja Matic, the difference being that the towering Serbian can do all that, and much more.

Carvalho’s distribution is frequently wayward and lacks the ambition that a good pass from deep should have, as he prefers the sideways pass to a more vertical approach. This type of play does not help Sporting’s set up, where practically all the attacking is channeled down the wings.

Now if this latest description also sounds very familiar, that’s because it is reminiscent of the Nigerian John Mikel Obi. The Nigerian is an equally competent defensive player with underwhelming attacking capabilities.

It does seem a bit ill advised to spend 37million pounds attempting to purchase a player who is only a slight upgrade on Mikel. Although even this is up for debate, as Mikel has tested himself amongst the best and is much more experienced.

So the question is, if the Sporting midfielder isn’t going to break into the first team and is sure to be behind Fabregas and Matic in the pecking order, then why pay so much money for a back up when the Nigerian can at least play that role without too many major hiccups?

So to finally answer the question, the Blues do not in any way need William Carvalho, although I am fairly certain he may do wonders for Arsenal.

 Posted by at 5:01 pm
Nov 212014

After his first couple of matches for the Blues this season, the only 2 highlights being the Fabregas assisted wonder goal and his equalizer against City, the German international seemed to have lost his form somewhat.

Following a bout of illness, the former Leverkusen man failed to impress even when he started matches in the Capital one cup against second and third division sides.

With Jose Mourinho rumored to be in contact with Marco Reus’ agent, it seems that Andre Schurrle might be the one chosen to make way for his German compatriot.

Does the winger still have a role to play for the Blues?

If Reus does eventually make the move to London, Andre Schurrle might still prove useful and collaboration between the two players will go a long way to improve Chelsea’s attacking band, at the expense of the lackluster Mohammed Salah who is most likely exiting this January.

With Chelsea usually using a 3 man attack just behind the lone forward in a 4-2-3-1, having Willian, Hazard, Reus, Schurrle and Oscar makes 5 players for 3 positions and with rotation coupled with the availability of various competitions to participate in, they should all get a look in.

As Andre Schurrle showed during the 2014 World cup, he could do very well coming of the bench to influence the game. The German’s ability to play as a striker, support striker, left winger and right winger, means he will always have his uses no matter which system the manager decides to play.

German football expert Raphael Honigstein is of the opinion that Mourinho still has the 24 year old in his plans;

“I think it’s almost a good sign that Mourinho keeps talking about him, saying he needs to play better, because as long as Mo urinho says these things about you, you think you have a good chance.

Remember how he used to criticize Eden Hazard, I think it’s when he goes very quiet, that’s when you know you’re on your way out”

Even with an eventual addition of the young Reus, Andre Schurrle still has qualities that make him continually useful. Andre Schurrle’s attributes as a player are fairly obvious; The German has decent speed, above average dribbling ability, and superb finishing and Schurrle is very adept at making runs in behind a defense.

He will be useful either in the starting eleven or when emerging from the bench, as he has a tendency to still impact games.

One discernable disadvantage that the former Mainz man has is his obvious inconsistency. And as usual, his coach has a say;

“He has missed several chances this season and can’t earn a constant run in the team. Sometimes he plays phenomenal. Other times he plays s. But when he plays phenomenal, he is phenomenal” – Jose Mourinho after  a Capital one game against Bolton

As with most inconsistent players, fans of the Blues are usually unsure of what the German might contribute to any given match.

One thing’s for sure, the 24 year will be desperately looking to improve his form and help his team win the league at the end of 38 games.

 Posted by at 4:21 pm
Nov 212014

After an impeccable performance last season, Cech’s place was obviously still under threat as the young Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, on loan from Chelsea, had an even better season in Spain.

The Chelsea Boss has made his preference in the goalkeeping department clear enough as Courtois has been the undisputed first choice thus far this season, with Cech having to be content with capital one cup games and Champions League ties against the minnows in the group.

Rumors all over English tabloids suggest that Arsene Wenger might make a move for the 34 year old veteran to solidify his squad leading up to the second half of the season. With Chelsea showing a willingness to sell to rivals in the past, the deal should go through if the Frenchman agrees to pay Chelsea’s asking price.

It is obvious that the London side is spoilt for choice in the goal keeping department with Thibaut Courtois, Petr Cech and Mark Schwarzer all world  class goal keepers under their books, the Blues won’t have a problem making good money while still maintaining the overall quality of their squad.

Although the Czech international is willing to see out his contract, he would be happy to see current status quo change;

“Everyone is asking me what if and what will happen. As a player that has two years on his contract, I cannot make the choice. It’s simple. If the club says; you are staying here, then I’ll be staying. I can only leave if the club lets me go and that is not the case”

“I’m doing my best to change the situation. I want to play as often as possible and be prepared to be ass goos as possible for the fixtures in the New Year”- Petr Cech

With Cech already an obvious upgrade on the current Arsenal goalkeeper, a lot of thought has to be put into the decision of bringing a goalkeeper that would displace Wojciech Szczesny right away and stunt the growth of a goalkeeper who’s only 24 and already one of the best young keepers in football.

Notwithstanding, this move makes more sense for all the parties involved, much more than it doesn’t. For Arsenal they get a more consistent, experienced and world class keeper, while Chelsea finally begin to reduce their overwhelming number of Foreign based professionals by selling a foreign player and replacing him with Jamal Blackman currently at Middleborough to help their homegrown quota.

Cech would seem to be the biggest gainer, if the move were to go through, as he gets at least a 3 year contract, which is a shift from Chelsea’s one year extension policy for players over 30, he gets a better salary and a chance to at least compete for silverware in the league, as well as in Europe.

There’s an advantage for the Premier League as it gets to keep a phenomenal goal-keeper in the league, as well as create an even better atmosphere during derby matches between the two London rivals.

 Posted by at 3:44 pm
Nov 172014

In what is not a surprising turn of events, German wonder kid Marcos Reus has been linked with a move to Premier League heavy weights in a deal that would purportedly see the London side, trigger a release clause in his contract.

The German has undoubtedly been the best player at the club, following the departure of his compatriot Mario Gotze. However, with the Dortmund club seemingly continuing the trend of selling their best player every window, the youngster may not have a choice but to jump ship if he hopes to win silverware in the nearest future.

Chelsea are front runners in the Reus pursuit, while it has also been reported that Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester united might also be keen.

They will however need to cough up at least an excess of 19.5 million pounds, which is the rumored buyout of the German’s contract, if they are to have any hope of landing the midfielder.

However, it is believed that the Blues might have the upper hand in these negotiations, as they are probably the only ones amongst their other rivals, who will be able to provide a serviceable replacement to the German side.

Chelsea are believed to be interested in doing a swap plus cash deal to force a move for the German star. This deal is likely to involve Reus’s compatriot for the German National team Andre Schurrle, who seems to fit a lot of the criteria that the German heavy weights might be looking for as far as a replacement is concerned.

Andre Schurrle is still a youngster that has the big game persona to thrive at club like Dortmund. Already familiar with the Bundesliga, the winger has played at the highest level with both Chelsea and the German National team. The latter, for whom he helped, win the world cup.

Schurrle, like his international teammate, can play anywhere in the attacking band as well as up top as striker or a support striker. The Chelsea attacker would be a like for like replacement if they chose to follow that route.

Considering that Schurrle has had an irregular playing time with Chelsea this season, the World cup winner seems the  most likely candidate to leave Stamford Bridge, to enable Jose Mourinho entice Reus away from the Bundesliga outfit.

Despite closing in on Reus, Mourinho is allegedly facing competition from Spanish giants Real Madrid, who are also keen on the youngster. Despite every sign pointing to Chelsea as favorites in this pursuit of the highly rated front man, the Blues should beware of the 25year old’s latest injury woes, the Dortmund star man has featured sporadically due to persistent niggles throughout the season thus far.

The German also missed out on the world cup due to an injury he picked up during the warm matches earlier this year. With their star man Costa already an injury magnet, the London side should be weary of adding any player, who will tend to see the inside of the treatment center, more than the he will the pitch.

 Posted by at 2:29 pm
Nov 172014

The Egyptian winger is one of the most promising youngsters in African football, but a move to Chelsea last winter has seen his value plummeted. With the youngster seeing little to no time on the pitch in this season’s campaign, the London outfit may need to rethink his future with the club.

The former Basel man has mostly seen game time in Capital one cup encounters against weaker opposition and even then he hasn’t impressed. Although everything points to the fact that Mourinho is a big fan of the speedy winger, he will not see playing time on the pitch this season, except he ups his game.

With the African Nations cup approaching, Mohammed Salah will need to be at his best if he is to inspire his country to success in the competition. If they qualify thats.

Complaints from his National team coach last season exposed the fact that Salah was severely lacking in match fitness, when he appeared for his country in friendly matches and crucial qualifiers.

There however seems to be a ray of hope for the diminutive Egyptian, as reports out of Italy, seem to be linking him with a move to Italian giants Inter Milan. The Milan based outfit has undergone a change in managment with the arrival of former Manchester City boss, Roberto Mancini.

The Italian tactician seems to be in need of fresh minds to help boost his team’s title challenge this season and has called on the club to make a move for the attacker this January.

Last January Inter Milan had to forego their interest in the winger for fear that he would be called into military service. The 22 year old was offered to the Serie A side on transfer deadline day, but then manager of the side, Walter Mazzarri rejected the offer to take the player to the San Siro.

All was well at the end, as Egyptian Prime Minister stepped in to prevent Salah having to do national service earlier this summer- six months after his arrival at Chelsea- but Inter feared that the call might come again if the player changed country.

Jose Mourinho is reportedly happy to allow the former Basel man leave the club on a short term deal, if the right opportunity comes. It seems unlikely that Salah will be missed in London, as players such as Schurrle, Ramires and even Fabregas will be on hand to provide cover at his position, if the need arises.

Crystal Palace have also been linked with a surprise move for Salah, but inter Milan appears to be the more likely destination for the Egyptian. Reports out of Italy go further to suggest that the Italian side will only proceed with the move, if they are able to find a buyer for want away midfielder, Freddy Guarin.

If the move does pull through, the talented winger will be able to get the chance to reestablish himself at an inter side, that are not as comprised of superstars as they used to be.

Hopefully, the attacker will once again show the world, why he is one of Africa’s best players.

 Posted by at 12:24 pm
Nov 172014

In what has been an incredibly return to the league in which he made his name, Cesc Fabregas has taken England by storm yet again, as he has been instrumental to Chelsea’s undisputable dominance in the league this season.

The Blues remain unbeaten in the league campaign this year, and pundits and fans alike have already begun to hint at an unbeaten streak to rival the famous Arsenal run of a few years ago.

With a few questioning whether he could indeed flourish in a deeper role, after his stint at extremely forward positions at his old club Barcelona, the Spaniard has silenced his critics, contributing a whopping 9 assists thus far for Chelsea this season and he doesn’t seem to be in the mood to slow down.

Indeed, the former Arsenal man is on course to beat the record for the number of assists in a single campaign that was set by his former teammate, Thierry Henry, twelve seasons ago.

Henry created 20 goals for his teammates during the 2002/03 campaign, but got off to a slow start. When comparing the Frenchman at a similar stage last season, Henry had only created four assists by match week 11.

In fact the only player to exceed Chelsea’s Fabregas’ nine assists in the opening 11 matches of a season is the Spaniard himself who had 10 for Arsenal in 2009/10. However for the rest of the season, Fabregas was hampered by injury and never threatened Henry’s record.

The midfielder’s impressive assist statistics have been largely helped by international teammate Diego Costa, who has converted more than half the seven chances that Fabregas has given him. When looking at the rate of chances that Fabregas created for Arsenal, in his final five seasons there, the average is approximately three a match and this season is similar, although the conversion rate of the Chelsea team is slightly better.

As well as his knack for through balls, the 27year old is helped by a physically strong Chelsea side that is a threat from set pieces. Three of his nine assists have come from corners and a look at the breakdown of the 32 chances created by the Spaniard show that nine have been for defenders.

His deployment in a much deeper role than he had at the Emirate stadium is a major reason for the midfielder’s very good season thus far. Chelsea is definitely flying high and the fans have their former nemesis to thank for such improvement in both the style of play and goal returns compared to last season. The London side finally looks like the side to beat this season, all thanks to the acquisition of one of the best passers in the game.

Earlier in the article we looked at how injury derailed what could have been a glorious season for both Arsenal and the Spanish international. Thus far, the injury prone midfielder has managed to keep injury at bay. However it is obvious that an injury to a player that is arguably Chelsea’s best player this season, will plunge Chelsea into a run inconsistent form.

At least the Blues will have the winter transfer window to purchase another player, who can deliver what the Spaniard currently does.

 Posted by at 12:11 pm
Nov 122014

Chelsea are reportedly preparing a bid for Borussia Dortmund and German star Marco Reus. Jose Mourinho is already preparing to strengthen his table topping side and has identified the German forward as one of his major target with a January move likely.

Reus still has a contract which runs through 2017 with Dortmund but a buy-out clause which makes him available for as low as £19.5million is set to become active in the summer. Dortmund will not want to lose their man on the cheap hence, could be tempted to cash in on him this January if a big offer comes.

Manchester City, Arsenal and Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are also reported to be interested in the player but Jose Mourinho is ready to beat his rivals by putting in a bid which would include Andre Schurrle going the opposite direction.

Do Chelsea need the player?

Reus is an interesting player who can play on both side of the flanks, he can also play through the middle as a playmaker or as a second striker behind the main striker as he has keen eye for goal. With Drogba and Remy they only back up strikers Chelsea have, buying Reus will make a lot of sense especially as he is also good enough to play in other roles. His versatility will help the team at the tail end of the season which is a period where teams struggle the most with injuries.

His attributes

He can shoot from range, and can be very good from set pieces. He can dribble, make a good crosses and can also thread those through ball- a quality Mourinho will appreciate in his team especially on the right flank. He is a Mueller type of player.

Swap deal

Andre Schurrle has not been at his best for Chelsea this season. He has only managed four league starts for Chelsea this season and has come under huge criticism from Mourinho who obviously expects more from him.

He could be used in a player plus cash swap deal for Reus as Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp is said to rate him highly. Dortmund could also be ready to do business with Chelsea in a Schurrle plus cash deal for Reus rather lose their man to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich. It is believed that Jurgen Klopp has made Schurrle his target hence, a bid which includes Schurrle going the other direction might tempt Dortmund into selling their star man.

Chelsea have kicked off this campaign in a flying start and already top the league table with 29 point, 8, 12, 13, and 15points above title rivals Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool respectively- a result which have seen Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers concede the league title to Chelsea.

Mourinho is however set not to leave any stone unturned in his quest to build a team that will be the toast of Europe for a very long time to come hence, his desire to add Reus to the arrays of attacking talents already at his disposal at Chelsea.

Dortmund on their part have not had a good start in the league this season with just 3 wins and 7 lose in their first 11 league games this season a result which has left them in 15th position on the log 17point behind league leaders Bayern Munich.

Reus has been seen as one of the bright spot in the team this season with his run of good form but the player is currently injured after damaging his ligament in the game against Monchengladbach and could be out for up to two weeks.

He is also set to miss Germany’s Euro 2016 qualifiers with Gilbralter and their friendly with Spain on Nov. 18. Andre Schurrle is also unavailable for those games as the player has also withrawn from the national team due to illness.

Chelsea’s attack will really be a dreadful one if Reus eventually joins the team in January.

 Posted by at 7:48 pm
Nov 072014

Chelsea return to action in the Premier league after a dissapointing 1-1 draw with NK Maribor in the match day four of the Uefa champions league away in Slovenia midweek.

Chelsea will face last season’s league runner up Liverpool at Anfield in the lunch hour kick-off fixture of match day 11 of the Epl. Liverpool rested most of their key players in the 1-0 defeat they suffered to European champions Real Madrid.

With the game coming barely 48hours after Chelsea returned from Slovenia, it will be expected that most of the players who took part in the game especially those who played the full duration might not have had enough time to recover for the Anfield clash.

Below are the likely changes we think Mourinho will make from the team that played Maribor in the champions league on Wednesday.

Courtios For Cech

Cech was in goal for Chelsea in the champions league match for the second time in a row and it seems Mourinho have devised a way of sharing the goal keeping responsibilities among the two world class goalkeepers.

Courtios is therefore expected to return to the line-up since he has been the man manning the post for Chelsea in all of their league games this season. Both players will be happy to share the responsibility as it will be hard to discard any of them.

While Cech takes care of the cup games, Thibaut Courtios will be tasked with keeping Epl strikers at bay so, expect to see Courtios back in goal for this game.

Cahill For Zouma

Zouma has been given game time in recent champions league games to learn under the tuteledge of the very best- John Terry and the French youngster has shown he is one that is capable of taking over the position of the long term captain and club legend when he eventually quit the game or the club.

Cahill will however make his return to the line-up as his partnership with John Terry has been hailed as one of the best in the league. Mourinho will need his two best and experienced central defenders to stop the Liverpool’s attack who haven’t been  at their best this season but will likely up their game in an attempt to shock Chelsea.

Azpilicueta For Luiz

Ceasar Azpilicueta will return to action for the first time in the league since his three match ban after his sending off against Crystal Palace. Mourinho prefer to use the right full back on the left side of defence since his return to Chelsea and the Spaniard has not disappointed with his performance.

Filippe Luis joined Chelsea last summer from Atletico Madrid and has been used mainly in the champions league as it seems the player is finding it difficult with the pace of the league. Azpilicueta looks more defensively solid than the Brazilian as his work rate and shifts give Mourinho’s backline a balance even as the Portuguese likes attacking from the right full back with Ivanovic bombing forward at will to join the attack.

Oscar For Schurrle

Andre Schurrle was given another chance to prove himself against Maribor but the German world cup winner struggled to cope with the rhythm of the game. It was no surprise to see the special one pull him out for Oscar at half time. Oscar’s introduction brought a lot of life back into Chelsea’s attack and the Brazilian was a problem too much to curtail by the Maribor side.

Oscar has been in scintillating form this season. He scored a wonder of a goal against QPR in the league last weekend so, will be an easy choice for Mourinho to reinstate him back into the starting line-up against Liverpool.

Costa For Drogba

Diego Costa will look to continue his rich vein of scoring form in the league after recovering from his persistent hamstring injury. The Brazilian born Spanish striker made his first start for the club since the October international break in the game against QPR last weekend.

He started from the bench against Maribor and after coming through unscathed, he will be set to lead the attack in place of Didier Drogba who played all 90 minutes against Maribor midweek.

Costa has scored 10 goals in 8 league starts for Chelsea and will fancy his chances of increasing his tally against Liverpool.

 Posted by at 6:03 pm
Nov 072014

There have been rumours in the media lately of Chelsea’s interest in signing Spanish and Barcelona’s centre back Gerard Pique. One would have dismissed those speculations with a wave of the finger considering Jose Mourinho’s altercations and fights with Barcelona players and managers during his three years stay at rivals Real Madrid. But it seems the player link is gathering more momentum with latest report being that Jose has asked Pique’s former Barce team mate and fellow Spanish Cesc Fabregas to help persuade the towering defender to join the Blues after it emerged Manchester United and Pellegrini’s Manchester City are also interested in the player.

Pique joined Barcelona from Manchester United in 2008 and has become an important member of the team during the most successful years of the club under manager Pep Guardiola.

He has however, come under severe criticisms in recent weeks especially for his performance against rivals Real Madrid in their 3-1 loss a fortnight ago. The player was caught ball-watching on a number of occasions and has seemed to have fallen out of favour with new manger Luis Enrique.

The 27-year-old has subsequently been dropped to the bench in Barca’s two consecutive games against Celta Vigo and Ajax with the coach preferring the pairing of Javier Mecherano and any of Jeremy Mathieu or Marc Bartra at the heart of Barce’s defence.

His recent omission from actions has further raised fears the player could be set to quit the Catalunyan club. Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are said to be keeping tab on the player but Mourinho will look to steal a march on his rivals by using Fabregas to persuade the defender to join Chelsea.

Fabregas is a close friend of Pique right from their days together at the famous Le Masia academy of Barcelona and also in the national team. Mourinho could also use the prospect of playing alongside Spanish team mates Ceasar Azpilicueta, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas to lure the 27-year-old to Chelsea.

Chelsea are already looking for a perfect replacement for captain and club legend John Terry who could retire from football in no distant future. Chelsea still have in their ranks young defenders like Kurt Zouma, Andres Christensen, Kenneth Omerua(on loan at Middlesbrough). Though all are still considered young and relatively inexperienced at high level football hence, Mourinho will want a player who has well enough experience to replace John Terry while the youngsters continue to horn their skills.

Pique is an intelligent and experienced player who at 27, has won all there is to win in football both at club level (with Barcelona) and at national level with Spain. He will bring his wealth of experience to any backline after being so efficient for Barcelona in so many years.

The prospect of moving abroad and playing at the highest level in the premier league once again, after his initial spell at Manchester United was relatively unsuccessful could be a huge attraction.

Mourinho will look to use the influences of the Spanish players around him to persuade the player to join his club rather than his rivals.

 Posted by at 3:57 pm
Nov 052014

Real Madrid are reportedly stepping up interest in Chelsea’s star Eden Hazard as they fear losing world record signing Gareth Bale. Los Blancos have identified the Chelsea attacking midfielder as a perfect replacement for Bale should the Welshman quit the club in the nearest future.

Bale has been a transfer target for Manchester United who are heavily rebuilding their squad under new manager Louis Van Gaal. Van Gaal has made Bale his top summer transfer target should his team qualify for the Uefa champions league and could smash the 86m world record Madrid paid to get him from Tottenham Hotspur.

Real Madrid won’t have any problem letting Bale join Manchester United if the right fee comes in and are already lining up Eden Hazard as his potential replacement.

The Bernabeu outfit have been long-term admirer of the skilful 23-year-old Belgian. He was reportedly on the radar of Real Madrid before he moved to Chelsea in a 32 million pounds deal.

Hazard who also have a younger sibling- Thorgan Hazard at Chelsea ( currently on loan at Borussia Monchengladback ) has gone on to be an influential figure in the Chelsea’s first team since making his move to West London scoring 35 goals and assisting 40 in his 126 appearances for the club so far.

Chelsea will really need to put up a good fight to prevent their man from joining Madrid. Every player want to play for Real Madrid at one point in their careers and Hazard will not be an exception. Madrid will however, have to break their own world transfer record again to tempt Chelsea to part with their star man.

Chelsea could be powerless in holding back the player from signing for Real Madrid especially if the player wants to make the move. But, Chelsea will benefits from any impending move by demanding a hefty fee for the player.

Madrid have shown they can folk out any amount to get a player of their choice and could go in excess of 100m to get Hazard. That will represent a great amount and profit for Chelsea to turn down considering Hazard was signed at just 32m.

Whatever happens in this case, Chelsea will always be in the driving seat to make the calls. The club might be powerless in preventing the player from making a move, but they will be in line to receiving a world record transfer fee if the player must leave.

Hazard is currently doing well for the club and has stated his commitment to the club after a series of interest from Paris Saint-Germain, but it’s only a matter of time before Real Madrid start knocking on the door for his signature.

 Posted by at 3:50 pm