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Sep 192014
 

After their surprising draw in the Champions League against Schalke, the Blues have made the road to topping their group a little steeper; it however doesn’t mean they can’t pull it off.

The air around the dressing room after Wednesday’s draw at home against the dogged German side was one of disappointment;

“We were pretty comfortable in the first half. The manager stressed at half time that we looked a bit sloppy late on in the first half and not to throw it away. We did exactly what he predicted, so it’s disappointing to drop points in the first game at home

One good sign to take from the above quote is that Jose Mourinho allegedly saw it coming, which might go a long way to ensure that such complacency happens less often.

Chelsea supporters will be comforted by the thought that last season’s campaign was even worse as the Blues lost their match day one game against Basel.

It also helps to rationalize Wednesday’s draw, when you think of the fact that of all the 3 teams the Blues will encounter home and away, Schalke 04 is probably the strongest of the lot.

Games against Sporting and Maribor should end in wins for the Blues and the return leg against Schalke should see the league table decided.

With both the English and German side likely to overcome their other opponents, all is set for a table topping decider with the draw in their first game, probably ensuring that Chelsea wont rest any players come the second leg, a full strength Chelsea v. a full strength Schalke is still most likely to end in the Blues topping the table.

A make or mar match will be nothing new to the Blues. The 2012 winning side have been through a disappointing first game before;

“We lost our first Champions League game last season and we came back to win the group and go through. We’ve got some tough games coming up, but that’s our aim again”- Captain John Terry

The above quote proves that despite an initial disappointment this early in the campaign, the Blues know their worth as potential winners of this group and are ready to work hard for it.

Helping them was the news that after 90minutes Sporting Lisbon drew with Maribor, and thus ensuring that the London side top the table.

Jose Mourinho side will not have an easy ride of it, but seem determined to win every game they play;

“The result was not what we were expecting because we want to win every game. We could have scored more goals but we were a bit unlucky I think. We had lots of positive things in the match. All the team worked hard to get the result but it wasn’t enough” – Frenchman Loic Remy

Many pundits despite Wednesday’s draw will not change the predictions they gave, on the day the draw was announced. Chelsea got an easy group and they will top it, very easily.

 Posted by at 2:41 pm
Sep 182014
 

Demba Ba has confirmed he could have stayed at Chelsea, as Jose Mourinho wanted him to stay but had to leave to where he can play regular first team football. The Senegalese forward had always been somewhat prolific. He scored 14 goals for Hoffenheim in his first season and was integral to their promotion to the Bundesliga, the following year. At the end of his time there, Ba had scored a respectable 40 goals in 103 appearances for the German club.

At West Ham, he was also bagged 7 goals in 12 games and was their highest goal scorer at the end of the season, despite being a winter buy. At Newcastle, the lanky forward again finished his first season at club as the highest goal scorer of the team yet again, banging in 16 goals.

Then in January 2013, he joined Chelsea football club for three and a half years in an undisclosed fee and his career seemed to be projecting upwards. He scored 2 goals on his debut in the third round FA cup tie against Southampton and the fans were singing in his name.

The goals seemed to dry up after then and Demba Ba found himself slowly relegated to the Bench. By the end of his Chelsea career, he had scored only 14 goals and eventually had to make way along with his other striking compatriots for the arrivals of Didier Drogba, Diego Costa and Loic Remy.

So what went wrong for Demba Ba? We believe 2 reasons contributed to his underwhelming form and eventual departure.

  1. The curse of Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres, the 50million golden boy was an embarrassment to the club and Chelsea for many years after the mistake was made, failed to admit it. They kept on playing the Spaniard, over and above more deserving players. If the London club had given players like Sturidge, Kalou and Anelka as many chances as they gave Torres, maybe they would have all retired at the club. Chelsea’s constant experiment at seeing if Torres might regain previous form is partly why other players, who were off form themselves, were dismissed so easily.

If Chelsea had been patient with Demba Ba and trusted him a bit more, maybe they would have gained a lot from him in the end.

  1. Demba is a small team striker

For some inexplicable reason, it has been found out, that certain players do well when the quality of teammates that they play alongside, are poor or average. This theory at first seemed baffling until I looked at some case studies more closely.

How is it that the Senegalese was scoring for fun at different small clubs like Hoffenheim, who were in Germany’s division 2 when he got there, West Ham who were eventually relegated and an amazingly incompetent Newcastle side?

Yet the 29 year old gets to a Chelsea team with so much world class attacking talent and fails to deliver.

The answer at the end doesn’t seem that hard. Demba Ba is a small fish and by that I mean he’s a player of very average quality. When a small fish is in a small pond, it becomes very visible and seems bigger than it actually is.

When it gets to a big pond with actual big fishes, he seems small in comparison.

So… what went wrong with Demba Ba? The answer is simply that he wasn’t good enough for a big team like the Blues.

 Posted by at 5:41 pm
Sep 182014
 

World Cup winner, Germany’s Andre Schurrle has been recognized by BBC’S match of the day (MOTD) for he’s well taken effort against Burnley in Chelsea’s first match of the season. The goal was voted the best goal in the month of August, and the Chelsea star beat out Liverpool man, Alberto Moreno and Everton’s left winger McGeady to clinch the prestigious award.

The former Leverkusen man amassed 25 per cent of the vote, beating new Liverpool signing Alberto Moreno, whose goal away at Tottenham earned 18 per cent of the votes.

Aiden McGeady’s opening day goal for Everton against Leicester City finished third with 15 per cent.

Schurrle’s exquisite goal was started when Fabregas passed up to the German in the center. With Hazrd already accelerating, the winger laid the ball off, leaving Hazard in possession and accelerating into the final third. Hazard takes the ball and gallops towards the Burnley box, with both Lukas Jutkiewicz and Mike Duff both lunging in and failing to make challenge, and for a moment it looked like Hazard might go all the way.

Instead, having sucked four defenders into him and leaving a fifth in the dust, he lays the ball off to Branislav Ivanovic, steaming up from the right wing. The entire Burnley midfield has collapsed courtesy Hazard’s earlier surge forward and with an Ivanovic cross to the back post having led to a Diego Costa goal only 4minutes earlier, the back line is assuming that the right back will try something similar with the ball. However, he goes for the much better option instead.

Ivanovic hits a looping cross to Fabregas and as the cross approaches him, every one assumes he’ll shoot. But as the ball is coming over to him, he sees Schurrle making a clever run behind the Burnley line. A half volleyed pass finds the German, who’s first time finish, finds the back of the net.

Schurrle is internationally renowned for making intelligent runs in behind the defense and is generally seen as a very intelligent player.  Without his amazing run to give Cesc Fabregas an option to use, the Spaniard might have attempted to volley Ivanovic’s looping cross. Most attempted volleys on the edge of the box can go off the side of a player’s boot, and fly wide.

Sometimes, a player gets on the end of an amazing build up like the one that set up the Schurrle goal against Burnley, and isn’t given enough credit for his part in the goal. Schurrle’s exceptional run was the main reason for that goal.

The award to Schurrle is the first time a Chelsea player has won the award since the Brazilian Alex scored with an amazing free kick in October 2010.

The Blues will be hoping that as the season progresses, that their team is awarded more accolades similar to this one. Manager, player and goal of the month awards, are an indication that the team is achieving its primary goal of winning the Premier League title.

 Posted by at 3:39 pm
Sep 172014
 

As far as player valuations go, Eden Hazard is undoubtedly Chelsea’s biggest asset.  His acquisition by the London based club was immediately followed by media speculation that he was eventually destined for either of Spain’s top two clubs. Even as recently as this summer, he was linked with a move to Ligue 1 Champions Paris St. Germain.

However on Monday morning reports emanating from the English press claimed that Eden Hazard was in talks to sign a new five year deal, which will keep him contracted to the Blues till the 2018/2019 season. Days later, it seized to be a rumour as the Chelsea boss confirmed that talks were ongoing;

“He’s obviously a player to keep. In spite of the fact that he’s already on a long term contract, because he’s young as it’s true that Chelsea are trying to have an agreement with him over a new contract”

Although the new deal and the accompanying £200,000 wage package puts the Blues in a comfortable position, they should however be aware that the player at the end of the day, may desire a future with Spain’s top two, were it seems every young player dreams of playing. Hazard made his intentions known in an interview shortly after arriving where he was quoted as saying that even though he had been courted by the Spanish heavy weights, playing time was his primary concern as a young and developing player.

The threat of potential suitors is not likely to worry Chelsea, who has shown that they have absolutely no problem selling any player, as long as they receive the right offer. Examples include the sales of players like Robben, Mata, Lukaku and Luiz among a few others.

A bid for the highly rated Belgian is more likely to come from Real Madrid than it is from Barcelona. As all it takes, is for Hazard to have one player of the season performance and Real will start to circle round, as they will have then confirmed his status as a Galactico. With 4 games gone so far this season, it seems Hazard is playing his usual eye catching football and nothing more.

With an entire family of footballers to advise him, Hazard will be wary of going to Real Madrid as long as Ronaldo is still there. The Portuguese has been unplayable for six consecutive seasons thus far, and doesn’t seem like he’s slowing down this season or next.

Notwithstanding, if Real Madrid eventually comes for Chelsea’s star man, they  will come with a reputation of having money to spend, after doling out unreasonable amounts of cash to acquire their latest high profile recruits in James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale.

The best time for the Spanish giants to make their move will be right now. However, history has taught us that Real will only come when a player is in his prime and is playing his best ever football. Making a bid right now, increases the Chances of Chelsea accepting an 80million pound bid. If they however wait for the Belgian to fulfil his potential of being one of the best players in Chelsea’s history, then they will have to break the record fee.

Either way, the London side have fortified their position in any upcoming transfer dealings, while Eden Hazard seems to have also fortified himself on the wage front, with his reported wage fee being the highest of any other player on his team.

 Posted by at 2:41 pm
Sep 152014
 

England’s vice captain and Chelsea centre back Gary Cahill according to reports emanating from England, is close to a new Chelsea deal.

The hard tackling centre back signed, for the Blues in early 2012 for 7 million pounds and quickly went on to impress, helping Chelsea lift both the FA cup and the Champions League trophies in his first season at the club, putting up very impressive performances against Barcelona (before he was substituted) and later on against the Germans Bayern Munich.

Cahill received lots of praise for his performances in the Champions League, which was very surprising to a lot of people because he moved to the London Club in January and had never played at such a high level before. Many times players making the transition from relegation battles, to competition for titles always seems to have an adjustment period. The England international was an exception, as he played his football as if he had been competing on that level for years.

The 28 year old is known for his technical ability, heading prowess, volleying and good tackling. He is one of the few England internationals in the Chelsea set up till date and has brought a lot of fight into the team since arriving.

The former Aston Villa and Bolton man also has a decent scoring record for a central defender and isn’t a bad tackler by any stretch. Also, seeing as he is one of Chelsea’s most consistent and hardworking players, settling his future by tying him to a new long term deal, is a smart move on the part of Chelsea football Club.

If Chelsea is to fulfil their title wining potential this season, both Gary and his centre back partner, England’s John Terry will have to be in fine form. Another day like the one against Swansea or Everton is one they cannot afford to have too often.

The Cahill and Chelsea relationship is one that clearly works and an extension of that relationship is only but a matter of time, as Chelsea will surely be looking to secure one of their youngest and most effective defensive players to a long term deal.

 Posted by at 2:50 pm
Sep 132014
 

Reports emanating from England after the Chelsea front-man flew back home injured from international duty, was that he might be sidelined for up to 3 weeks with a hamstring tear. However in his press conference on Friday afternoon, the Chelsea boss stated that the situation was being assessed, and that a final training session would give the Chelsea medical team an idea of whether the former Atletico man would be fit to take part in the game on Saturday.

“…He has a chance to play tomorrow. We have a final training session now to confirm his condition and make a final decision…” – Jose Mourinho 12.45pm yesterday

This particular scenario seems identical to the injury situation of the centre forward before the game against Everton where he was rumoured by the British press, to be out for up to 6 months. However following a press conference by the Chelsea boss, the rumour was refuted and the Chelsea forward was available for the match at Goodison Park, in which he scored two well taken goals.

Chelsea fans will be hoping this particular injury rumour will end with the star man leading the line against Swansea today. As he’s tally of 4 goals so far, has been instrumental in the blues currently topping the Premier League table.

Diego Costa niggling injury worries will be a source of constant concern for the London side, as the 32million pounds man, has been on and off the injury table consistently for the past 5 months. Chelsea will hoping the Augusts’ Barclays player of the month recovers his fitness long enough to lead the club’s title campaign.

In the event of Costa’s absence from proceedings at Stamford Bridge today, Chelsea don’t look in good shape to adequately replace his fire power as Loic Remy has only just got into the club, and will need to familiarize himself with the style, tactic and pattern of play in other gel properly with his team mates upfront. Mourinho is also not the type of manager to start a player that he hasn’t worked with before, without allowing him time with his teammates. This note withstanding the player’s quality (the case of Filipe Luis, the best leftback in Spain last season, a prime example)

Every lover of competitive football and the Premier League will be hoping Costa overcomes his injury worries and gets back to the action soon.

 Posted by at 10:14 am
Sep 122014
 

The stage seems set for an Epic showdown between two teams in amazing form at the moment. Victory on the 30th of August for Swansea against West Brom gave them a third successive win for the first time as a Premier League club and taking into account their progress in the league Cup, their best start to a season in 91years.

Title contenders Chelsea are playing their best football since Carlo Ancelotti’s double winning season. The instant success of summer signings Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas has set the Premier League alight. Chelsea are still winning matches, but this time in a way every fan of the game can enjoy.

With both teams enjoying what seems to be the start of an unbeaten streak given their red hot form, it is almost inevitable that only one team will continue flying high after hostilities on Saturday. Pundits and bookmakers alike are tipping the blues as clear favorites. We agree, and here are 5 good reasons why;

  1. Jose Mourinho is a better tactician than Gary Monks

Being manager of Swansea City is Monks first ever job in top flight management. Jose Mourinho on the other hand has travelled through most of Europe winning every relevant trophy available.

When both teams are deadlocked on the pitch after giving it their all, the rest of battle then falls to the managers. From then on, it becomes a tale of the veteran against the rookie. In this instance, we expect the veteran to triumph.

  1. Chelsea are Playing at Home

In the last league meeting between the two sides, Gary Monk complained of crowd pressure on the referee and attributed his centre back’s sending off to the antics of the blues supporters. The Stamford bridge crowd heard straight from the horse’s mouth that they made the difference in this fixture before. They’ll be even more determined to make such a well publicized impact again. Going to the home of one of the loudest crowds in England isn’t going to help the visitors one bit.

  1. Calamity Taylor

In their first match at old Trafford, I watched Januzaj beat Neil Taylor multiple times on the left till he was able to create the only goal United scored. Neil was making badly timed challenges and was being beaten for pace against players like Ashley Young who aren’t particularly fast. He was on a yellow card and it was only a matter of time before he saw red. Luckily his coach pulled him out for the pacy fullback Tiendelli before the situation got out of hand.

  1. The double pivot of Jojo Shelvey and Ki Sung- Yueng

Since the popularity of the 4-2-3-1 soured, it has always been a battle of the pivots between teams that roll out this same ‘pivot formation’ against each other.  Usually, the most physically imposing pivot wins that battle. Which was basically the reason Manchester city’s duo of Toure and Fernandinho were taking everyone else’s lunch money till they encountered the Matic and David Luiz pivot last season. If Swansea were to start a Jojo-Ki Sung pivot as predicted, it is my feeling that Matic would make the difference. All this, coupled with the fact that Fabregas is a much more effective passer than any of the Swansea midfielders.

Matic is most likely to dominate the pivot defensively, while we might see the Ex Barcelona man control the game from the middle of the park.

  1. Chelsea’s Quality Will Shine Through

In football, the team with the most quality all around pitch usually wins the match. There are however exceptions to this rule-as is the case with every rule. These exceptions do not negate the initial point. Quality teams will most likely win any football match.

A good way to ascertain the team with more quality, is to compare a player with his opposite positional player on the opposing team.

For example; Courtios against Fabianski is a mismatch. So is a backline of Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta & Ivanovic against Williams, Amat, Taylor & Rangel. A comparison of the other forward positions and even the bench will basically tell the same story.

The popular saying that names don’t play football goes out the window when you watch players like Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez and even Hazard take out an entire backline singlehandedly.

Although it won’t be an easy ride for the blues, we expect them to just about nick the result, to stay top of the league table come Saturday.

 Posted by at 11:17 am
Aug 252014
 

William Carvalaho has attracted attention from a number of clubs all summer. Chelsea is reported to be the latest of a long list to join the race for the Portuguese’s signature. The Portuguese newspaper Abola claims Chelsea are preparing a bid for the Sporting Lisbon midfielder estimated to be in the region of £35 million. Carvalaho has a £37m release clause in his contract but it’s been suggested Sporting are willing to accept a slightly lower figure.

However Jose Mourinho reinstated in his press conference on Friday that Chelsea’s summer transfer spending was done and when you look at Chelsea’s squad it’s hard to see were Carvalho would fit in. They already have a well-balanced midfield possessing the likes of Ramires, Matic, Fabregas, Mikel and Van Ginkel. Those options highlight that this is not an area that needs to be strengthened for the blues. Likewise Chelsea currently needs to get rid of one foreign player at the moment so breaking in another would be illogical.

Along with that Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic appear to have already struck up a deadly partnership in the middle of the park; this was beautifully showcased at Turf Moore on Monday night. A club spokesman from Sporting said: “This news [about Chelsea's offer] is not true. The club have not got any formal offer to our offices for the player.” this firmly puts the transfer to dead.

A move to Arsenal would make more sense and seems more of a possibility rather than a transfer to West London. Arsenal is screaming out for a player of Carvalho’s quality unlike Chelsea. The 22 year old is a tenacious adaptable defensive midfielder who would provide sufficient cover to the back four as well as being an upgrade on current crop Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. Arsene Wenger what are you waiting for?

 Posted by at 4:48 pm
Aug 252014
 

Mattia Destro has been linked to Chelsea these past few weeks with a swap deal with Spanish striker Fernando Torres appearing to be on the cards. Destro is a 23 Italian striker who scored 13 goals in 20 appearances for Roma last season. He has 5 caps for Italy and is valued at £20 million. He moved to Rome from Genoa in 2012 and has another three years left on his contract.

The speculation has only increased with the Italians fiancée Ludovica Caramis recently confirming he has no problems leaving Serie A. “We have plans for a family and if Mattia goes abroad, then I will follow him. There are no preclusions about going abroad. His financial stability is tied to his job, so we know how lucky we are and that moving around is all part of the job.” she told Chi magazine

This is a deal that would be great for both parties, more so Chelsea if they could finally get rid of Fernando Torres. Who is now third in the striker pecking order at Stamford Bridge following the summer additions of Didier Drogba and Diego Costa. The Spaniard has been an immense failure at Chelsea since arriving from Liverpool in January 2011 for a British record transfer £50million. Scoring a mere 49 goals in 172 appearances compared to 81 in 141 for Liverpool.

Torres however appears to be the stumbling block in the transfer as his wage demands may be too much for Roma, thus meaning a loan will be more likely. However the likelihood of this materializing is looking bleak following recent quotes by Destro’s agent. “It’s true that Chelsea is interested in Mattia, but the reports regarding a swap deal have no foundation, it’s all speculation. Roma don’t want to sell Mattia and Mattia prefers to remain at Roma.” When asked about his client’s frame of mind, he replied: “Mattia would prefer to stay in Rome to play in the Champions League and Serie A this season.” Sadly for Chelsea fans this deal is not going to happen.

 Posted by at 3:47 pm
Aug 212014
 

Mehdi Bentia’s name has been one of speculation all summer. The Moroccan has been linked to Europe’s elite with one of those being Chelsea. The question is do Chelsea need him though? Chelsea currently has three out and out centre backs in Kurt Zouma, John Terry and Gary Cahill. Branislav Ivanovic can fill in as well so that makes four. It does not appear like that’s a defence screaming out for a £30million centre back anytime soon.  Specifically since last season Chelsea had the best defence in the Premier League and one of the best defences in Europe.

Gary Cahill and John Terry built up a solid defensive partnership which doesn’t need to be tampered with. It really doesn’t make sense no matter how you think about it. Chelsea has no reason to be looking at centre backs. Kurt Zouma the January signing is 19 and is shaping up to be the long term replacement to John Terry by the looks of thing. Gary Cahill is in his prime. We have Omeru on loan as well who should come well from all indication.

Andreas Christisen is a highly rated defender in Chelsea’s academy who Jose Mourinho sees as one for the future. They also have Thomas Kalas on loan at Vitesse another one for the future. On top of that Ivanovic is still going strong. A center back is the last thing Chelsea need, especially a 27 year old centre back.

All in all, I think the rumours linking Benatia to Chelsea are exactly what they are rumours and baseless ones as that. We have got no need for another Centre back and I will be surprised if Chelsea makes any move for him.

 Posted by at 11:20 am