Shark ENG (1)
Aug 052014
 

Edinson Cavani is one the most sought after strikers in the world. Everyone were surprised when he signed for PSG in 2013 from Napoli where he had a wonderful season. A move to the French league was least expected as a player of that calibre would jump at the chance of playing regularly in EPL or La Liga. Almost all top clubs were on the lookout for him, but big spending PSG had the last laugh. He had made a wise decision and reaped success both in the domestic league and Champions league. Even though PSG had a successful run in the Champions league and Cavani was very much at the heart if it, he has never been happy at the club. It is next to impossible to shrug off competition from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in being the main striker of the team. As a result, Cavani was often asked to play out of position and out wide for the team. This is a scenario that frustrates any star striker. This has happened with Rooney too and we all know what all Moyes had to offer to stop him from leaving the club.

This situation at Parc des Princes dressing room has turned out to be  blessing in disguise for the other big clubs. Any club will have to pay through their nose to get the versatile attacker’s signature. It seems like Chelsea and Manchester United are the front runners in the race to sign him.

With the financial fair play regulations effective more than ever. It is a major hindrance for such big bucks signings. Chelsea have made around £85 million as of now. But this doesn’t bother theam as they have accumulated roughly £75 million by selling some top stars. So their net spending is only below £11 million.

When you look at Manchester United’s transfer dealings they have bought players like Ander Herrera, Vanja Milinković and Luke Shaw for a ball park figure of £56 million. Their transfer earnings during the transfer window till now approximates to £8 million. Which leaves them with a net transfer spending spree of just below £50 million. This is going to affect them badly when it comes down to a war for spending big. Chelsea are going to go in with all guns blazing to win the battle and make a very big step towards winning the league and Abramovich is sure going to support Mourinho in that as he has done until now.

But when you look at the current team and transfers completed until now you will see that if Cavani makes a move to Stamford Bridge, he is going to face the same problem he faced in Paris. In this case it is Costa who is going to cause problem for Cavani in cementing a place in his preferred position. Though Mourinho is not known to prefer two strikers up front, it is a possibility if he thinks of changing his defense oriented game to a more attacking one. Otherwise he will have to fight it out with Costa and Torres for the lone striker role.

With Louis Van Gaal as the manager and their new signings especially Herrera outperforming expectations, the Manchester club will surely bounce back from their set back last season. But with no Champions league to lure him, the red devils are going to find it tough.

 Posted by at 2:07 pm
Jul 312014
 

Up until now Chelsea were expecting to sell Torres or Mikel to conform to the regulations regarding the maximum number of players allowed in a squad. There can only be a maximum of 17 non-homegrown or association trained players in a squad of 25 players for a premier league season. The squad members can be changed only when the transfer windows are open. Although any number of under 21 players can be added to the squad, this regulation puts a lot of restrictions on the ambitious transfer plans of Chelsea.

As of now there are 18 non-homegrown players in the squad. Rumours have been making the rounds that Peter Cech would be let go to accommodate the signing of Drogba. Now that may be a poorly cooked up news. While it is true that Courtois is favoured by many to be the number 1 goalkeeper, we also have to take into consideration the fact that he has no experience in the premier league. While there’s no doubting him that he’ll be successful at Chelsea, we can never be too careful. This is why the selling of Cech will be a huge mistake. Cech can play 2 or 3 years more of quality football at the top level. Another important factor is that Cech conceded the least number of goals in EPL last season. Let’s not forget that Cech has always been Mourinho’s No.1 at Chelsea. He is too cautious to let go off his prised asset and trust entirely on a 22 year old. Although Courtois has a better goalkeeping record than Cech when we compare the records for a few seasons, Mourinho is probably going to let them battle it out next season for a place in front of the goal.

For the 2013-2014 season Henrique Hilario was not included in the squad list to meet the requirements. This strategy can be used this season by excluding Schwarzer from the list.

Torres would have been the easiest target but £20m price tag  put by Chelsea and £175,000 per week wages by paid to him by the club have scared away interested clubs namely, Athletico Madrid who are unwilling to buy him at that price. The best way Torres could have been sold was to include him in the Diego Costa deal. The striker has just two years in his current contract and at the end of next season his transfer value is going to decrease  considerably. This is the ideal time to sell him and Chelsea needs to cut down on the orice tag if they want to offload him and reduce the losses.

John Obi Mikel has been made a huge impact during his Chelsea career. Luck has always been in his favour when a series of managers came to the club and never thought of offloading him. It is shocking to realise that he has over 200 caps. He has never made any fuzz over being made to warm the bench during most of the games. As a defensive midfielder he has always done a pretty neat job in supporting the defenders and doing all the dirty work needed. But he lacks imagination when offense and link up play with the attackers are concerned .Although he is a type of player every club needs, he needs to be sold to make way for Cech and Drogba to co-exist.

 Posted by at 2:10 pm
Jul 312014
 

1. Little horses turned thoroughbreds

Last season was a transitional period for the club with the return of Jose Mourinho for good and shuffling of the squad. Juan Mata had been the centre of the team and the team was developed around him. Mourinho shipped him out and that changed everything. By the end of the season they were a formidable force and would have won the league if not for the unprecedented losses to a few lower ranked clubs in the league. The little horses came up with impressive displays against all the top clubs and might have been overconfident when playing the lower ranked teams.

2. The midfield duo

With the signing of Cesc Fabregas, the midfield position which were a bit weak apart from Matic, has been strengthened. Ramires and David Luiz, who occasionally handled the defensive midfield position, were both giving underwhelming performances. Cesc Fabregas had created the most number of chances for the club in la liga last season. With him pairing with Matic it will be wonderful sight to see him linking play with the defense and attack.

3. Depth in defense

Mourinho had deployed Cesar Azpilicueta, a natural right back, in left back position last season. Even though Azpilicueta did a wonderful job and was instrumental in conceding the least goals by any team in the premier league. This coming season Mourinho will be probably rotating mainly Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta and Ivanovic in centre back and right back. If Kurt Zouma and Ake are not loaned out then the pool of talent for Mourinho to choose from will be enormous.

4. Goalkeeping options

According to Mourinho the best goalkeeper in the world and the best young goalkeeper are at his disposal. Chelsea are sure to field Courtois as the man in front of the goal at least at the start of season and see how he fares in the premier league. With Peter Cech refusing to go down without a fight, the healthy battle between them on the pitch is only going to benefit the club. They have never had such fierce competition in their respective clubs up until now and that is why this season is going to even more better for the blues in terms of goalkeeping excellence

5. Diego Costa

One of the main reasons for premier league slipping away from Chelsea’s hands was the misfiring trio of strikers up front who were unable to convert a tonne of chances and half chances that were created by the young and creative players like Hazard, Oscar and Willian.  The signing of Diego Costa, is going to change Chelsea for the better. It is a move that is going to have at impact at so many different levels. If he is able to bring his form at Athletico Madrid to the EPL, then Chelsea are sure to win the premier league. Coupled with that the support from Didier Drogba, Torres and even Lukaku, if he decides to stay, will surely give the Chelsea attack a new dimension and answer all critics of the defense oriented game that Chelsea played last term.

With all these shrewd signings and decisions made by Mourinho, there is no doubt that the little horses have become the thoroughbreds that are going to win the race.

 Posted by at 1:59 pm
Jul 302014
 

Chelsea’s iconic number 8, Frank Lampard has finally left the club for good and has recently signed for a new club, New York City FC, one of the latest expansion clubs in the MLS, joining Spain’s all-time scorer, David Villa, there.

With the preseason already well underway, it feels so strange not seeing him in a Chelsea number 8 shirt, having his hands up in the air celebrating, after scoring from his usual 20 yards from goal.

At his press conference in New York when he was introduced, a Sky Sports press correspondent asked the question “…do you think Cesc Fabregas can replace you at Chelsea?” all of a sudden, from the back of the press room there was a loud shout from probably or definitely a Chelsea fan, “NO ONE CAN REPLACE YOU FRANK! NO ONE!” loud cheers followed and an applause as Frank smiled with appreciation, but it really was a good question.

Yes, in case you missed it, London rivals, Arsenal favorite, CescFabregas has switched to the Blue side of activities in London. On June 12th during the World Cup he was confirmed as a Chelsea player and it was quite a shock even though his transfer saga was a very long one.

Would you say he was bought to replace Frank Lampard? Well, when one key midfielder leaves and another one is brought in, it doesn’t take much to put two and two together, so yes, Fabregas is his replacement at the club.

After Frank’s smile regarding the enthusiastic reply from that Chelsea fan during the presser, he answers “I hate to put too much pressure on Cesc…he has his own qualities and I have mine…” I think Frank hits the nail on the head here. Any fan who expects Cesc to play like how Frank plays is clearly not getting it.

What can Cesc offer to the club? Well, for starters, he can offer that Spanish passing football that many teams are envious of having. A player who can nick a precise pass in a split second even under pressure, Cesc is definitely capable of that. Not that Frank didn’t have that, Lampard in his prime was just as every bit of quality, not forgetting his magnificent achievement of being the 2nd best player in the world in 2005 with Brazilian legend, Ronaldinho, keeping him out of walking away with that award.

Fabregas has grown since his Arsenal days, bought back to his boy hood club, Barcelona, I feel he has grown more technical and has definitely improved in his finishing, remembering how often he played as a false 9 for both Spain and Barcelona. Fabregas scored 35 goals in 212 league appearances for Arsenal and scored 28, just 6 short in 96 games for the Catalan giants.

Fabregas also offers variety on the pitch, he started in center midfield during his established youth days at Arsenal and is said to have styled in game after his childhood hero ex-Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, he played as an attacking playmaker in his recent years at the Gunners especially when he got the captaincy at the Emirates and now capable of playing forward having moved to Barcelona.

Frank also goes on in his answer to the question after adding that Cesc is a world class addition to Chelsea, “Cesc and I have had our battles in the past…” It’s hard for a Chelsea fan to forget all those Arsenal/Chelsea rivalries with Fabregas and Lampard very much in the thick of it and even that spit on the iconic Michael Ballack, but I’m certain after a few glorious performances from the world class Spaniard, all would be forgiven. Lampard and his answer and says with a smile “…but I wish him all the very best with the club.”

 Posted by at 5:19 pm
Jul 262014
 

It’s been over 2 years or to be more exact 799 days since Didier Drogba sunk that ball into the bottom corner at the Bayern end in Munich to win Chelsea its greatest and most sought after prize of all time, the club’s proclaimed ‘Holy grail’, the UEFA Champions League. We thought that was the end of the chapter for him in the club’s books but then reports started linking him with a return to Chelsea and not as a coach like we thought at first, a player. But regardless of what he is returning as it’s really hard for a Chelsea fan not to get excited.

After the departure of Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Drogba returns to find only two of the ‘old guard’ still relevant to the club in John Terry and Petr Cech, who have both really been involved since the Roman Abramovich era took off in full flight. So at the tender age of 36, what could Didier Drogba bring to Chelsea?

Drogba stated in his last interview for the club before leaving that even if he was called to the club just to cut the grass he would and it seems the call has been made, and no, it’s not to level the turf of Stamford Bridge.

‘King Didier’ as a number of us love to refer him as, would be returning just as a boost for the new season and the majority of that boost doesn’t seem to be about his ability on the pitch as he is way past the mark, but probably as a voice among the backroom staffs and to help our ‘somewhat’ young squad find their bearing especially during difficult times.

Drogba has been through it all at Chelsea, held in high regard and heavily criticized by both media and fans at a time, played under 7 managers at the club, dropped to bench often during the Scolari era, red carded in cup finals as well as scoring the winning goals in them, he knows how to bounce back from unfortunate situations and that sort of experience is undoubtedly massive for group of players who may find themselves in similar situations at some point. But is providing moral support all what he would be doing? I doubt it.

Of course, any fan who expects Drogba to be the same deadly forward he used to be for us on his return is clearly deluded but a full season with us would no doubt see him score a number of goals and no matter how few they are and when they come in it would be very much appreciated.  Drogba scored 157 goals for the club, he is the highest goal scoring African in the premier league and let’s not forget his impressive 9 goals in 9 cup finals. Those are little things he could add a few numbers to on his return.

We’ve seen this with Liverpool, when Robbie Fowler returned, Arsenal, when Thierry Henry came back and now it’s our turn, there’s no disadvantage at all about this move, after all, ‘Didier Drogba, he is one of us!’

 Posted by at 4:34 pm
Jul 222014
 

Jose Mourinho’s claim that Chelsea have now finished their summer spending may just leave some fans concerned there is still not enough frontline depth at Stamford Bridge ahead of the new season. Diego Costa was always Mourinho’s top forward target and his arrival from Atletico Madrid was wrapped up weeks ago after a near six-month long pursuit. Some predicted the deal would include Fernando Torres heading back to his old club but the fact he has stayed at Chelsea means Torres is likely to be given at least one more season to rediscover his best form in Blue. Fans will hope he can find it because Mourinho does not, at the minute at least, have many more options.

If we are to believe Jose when he says he is finished in the transfer market this summer (and he has plenty of previous when it comes to being economical with the truth in these situations) then a cursory glance at the squad for 2014-15 means there are only three established out-and-out centre-forwards on the list – and one of those is Romelu Lukaku.

Granted, World Cup winner Andre Schurrle can do a job up front, while there is plenty of quality and no shortage of numbers in the supporting cast as Oscar, Eden Hazard, Willian, Mohamed Salah and new boy Cesc Fabregas will all get forward and are expected to chip in with goals.

But, following Samuel Eto’s exit, whose nine goals last season proved vital, and the expected departure of Lukaku again, there is only Torres and now Costa as recognised central strikers. That may not be too much of a problem if both players stay fit, because Mourinho is expected to start with just one lone frontman (Costa to begin with) in most games. However, if one or both were to get injured, it leaves the likes of the talented but relatively untested Patrick Bamford (if he doesn’t go out on loan again) or even forgotten man Victor Moses having to step up.

Mourinho’s treatment of Torres is intriguing as he has continued to back the former Liverpool man despite the fact his performances, goal record and sometimes his body language have suggested he would rather be elsewhere. The fact the manager has now said he doesn’t plan to make any more significant signings should offer Torres plenty of encouragement because, with another Champions League campaign and the domestic Cup competitions high on the agenda, there is no doubt he will get plenty of games, even if he may not be first-choice in the Premier League and unlikely to be among the frontrunners for top scorer in bet365’s football markets.

Of course, it could be that Jose has another trick up his sleeve and another striker will join before the end of August, while some have claimed Lukaku should finally be given a chance at the Bridge after his very impressive seasons at West Brom and Everton.

Whatever happens, fans will, of course, trust the manager to get it right, they’ll just hope there is enough with Costa – and Torres as back-up – to deliver the goods when and where it matters.

Jul 122014
 

With the attention of the rest of the footballing world still split between the World Cup final, what Suarez will add to Barcelona now that he has signed for them, and Arsenal’s successful pursuit of Alexis Sanchez, Chelsea are pursuing their own remaining transfer targets with quiet determination.

The hunt for Ashley Cole’s replacement now appears to be all but over, with the English media reporting that a fee has now been agreed with Atletico Madrid for left-back Felipe Luis. The metro newspaper puts it at £20 million, which is slightly higher than the estimates of Luis’s buy-out clause – and effectively means Chelsea have decided not to quibble over a couple of million pounds.

It seems the ruse to pursue secondary targets like Marcos Rojo didn’t faze the Atletico board, who stuck to their guns and insisted on the whole buy-out amount. That is, if The metro is correct.

The pursuit of a new centre-back is much further from over, however. There’s little indication that Real Madrid are prepared to let go of Raphael Varane, and Atletico’s Miranda has now confirmed that he will stay at the Vicente Calderon stadium next season. Which leaves Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala.

Manchester City have allegedly agreed a £32 million pound transfer fee for the big French international, but it seems they are no closer to negotiating terms with him. Mangala has gone public with his desire for a move to London, and specifically Chelsea, rather than Manchester – and it now appears he will wait and see if the Blues are ready to match City’s bid.

Chelsea, meanwhile, seem to be playing their own waiting game. They retain an interest in the 23 year-old, but are reluctant to commit to the player until later in the summer once they know if they have been successful in their pursuit of other targets.

A new midfielder at Stamford Bridge, however, is looking more and more likely. The pursuit of Toni Kroos seems a forlorn affair, given that the German appears to have given his word to Real Madrid (and the Spanish club are busy ditching midfielders to make room for him). However, Chelsea appear to be having more success with Juventus’s Paul Pogba.

Pogba was pictured in London this week, and Twitter speculation suggested he was holding talks with the Blues. One man who had his picture taken with the French footballer even claimed that he had asked Pogba where he would play next season, and Pogba had answered “Chelsea.” Obviously, this is impossible to verify.

The obstacle to this deal may be Juventus. If they sell Pogba’s midfield partner Arturo Vidal to Manchester United, they may find themselves less inclined to offload the Frenchman. They will have less need for money, after all.

With Luis signed and possibly Pogba on the way, Chelsea can then concentrate on signing a second striker. Less progress appears to have been made on this front – but the name of Ezequiel Lavezzi has cropped up once more. The Argentinian is still in Brazil preparing for Sunday’s World Cup final – and Roman Abramovich’s right-hand woman Marina Granovskaia is rumoured to be in Rio on business right now. We await developments.

 Posted by at 11:30 am
Jul 112014
 

Much of the post-match debate about how exactly Brazil contrived to lose so badly to Germany has centred on the role of one man – former Chelsea favourite David Luiz. It seems that his performance–come–walkabout at the centre of the Brazilian defence (well, theoretically at the centre, if not in practice) was the one single reason why his team crashed out of the World Cup.

But was that really the case? It’s true that he looked lost as the German strikers waltzed through the Brazilian defence for the second goal. It’s true he ambled back carelessly for the fourth, was missing for the fifth, and allowed Andre Schurrle to drift across him for the sixth. It’s true that he was supposed to be marshalling the back four, the senior defender in Thiago Silva’s absence.

Yet was he the only one at fault? His centre-back partner Dante looked like a schoolboy, being sent one way and then the other as the German attackers toyed with him, like cats playing with a mouse. Marcelo was outpaced and outclassed down the left, Maicon was wretched on the right. The whole back four consistently found themselves running around haplessly out of position as Germany’s quick, direct passing game tied them in knots.

Worst of all was the utterly dire Fernandino, allegedly playing defensive midfield. He missed a crucial interception for the second goal, lost possession for the fourth, and let the German attack run right past him for the fifth. He protected the defence like a cheap umbrella in a hurricane, blown apart and left in a bedraggled mess.

None of this has stopped the pundits from piling all the blame on Luiz’s curly-mopped head. And yet, a slightly surprising someone has now sprung to his defence. Jose Mourinho, whose thinly-veiled doubts over Luiz’s defensive capabilities led him to sell the player to Paris St Germain for a cool £50 million, has said publicly that it is not right to single Luiz out for blame.

The Blues boss said: “I don’t think it’s fair to separate a player from the team, because the team was really bad.David made mistakes? Yes, he did. But Dante made mistakes, Marcelo made mistakes, Fernandinho made mistakes. The team as a team made mistakes. So I don’t think it’s fair.”

And he went on: “I think everyone in my situation, everyone that is a player, everyone that is a coach, everyone that is not involved in the World Cup, but could be in that position, I think all of us are feeling really sorry for them.”

Now I wouldn’t go that far. I don’t think there will be any great sympathy for Brazil after the way they kicked their way past Colombia in the quarter-finals. But Mourinho’s analysis of the team’s structural failings is surely spot on.

There’s little reason for Mourinho to defend Luiz. The Brazilian is not his player any more. And he could quite happily rub his hands gleefully and point out how clever he was for offloading the defender for a small fortune before the semi-final debacle. So when he says this defeat was not the fault of one player, it is maybe time for other pundits to shut up and listen.

 Posted by at 5:21 pm
Jul 112014
 

After finishing in 7th place in the FA Women’s Super League 1 (FAWSL 1) last season, just one place above the relegation spot, Chelsea FC decided to invest a bit more this time in the ladies department. Emma Hayes continued as Chelsea Ladies manager but there was a mass exodus of players from the club and also, fresh arrivals of high profiled players, of course, from various corners around the world.

Chelsea Ladies said goodbye to players like Welsh international forward, Helen Ward, Sweden’s high profiled Sofia Jakobsson, the Brazilian, Ester, Carly Telford and a couple of others and have since signed over 10 players since then, such players includea highly rated world class attacking Asian pair of South Korean player of the year, Ji So Yun and Japanese World Cup winner, Yuki Ogimi. Arsenal’s Gilly Flaherty, Jackie Groenen of the Netherlands and most recently, Portuguese forward, Ana Borges are now since all aboard on the Chelsea Ladies squad.

Improvement has already shown in this current side as the lady blues are currently 2nd in the league just 3 points behind leaders Birmingham City LFC. The Lady Blues won just 3 times last season out of 14 games but this season they’ve already won twice out of 5 games, drawing 2 games and losing only one compared to the 10 games they lost last season including one draw.

In other competitions they have also done quite well. They reached the semifinals of the Women’s FA Cup losing to eventual winners, Arsenal in a 5-3 thriller, English legend and Arsenal captain, Kelly Smith with the pick of the goals. In the Women’s Continental Cup they remain top of their Group which is Group one, even above Arsenal who defeated them recently in their last Continental Cup fixture 3-0, Kelly Smith again with 2 goals.

The mood in the dressing room also seems fine on and off the pitch, the new faces seem to be doing well, new signings, Ji So Yun and Yuki Ogimi have scored 4 goals each in all competitions, even Ana Borges who recently signed scored the winning goal in their last league match which was her debut, against Reading Ladies FC to win 2-1. However the standout player has to be EniolaAluko, who has been at the club for some time now, the English international has 5 goals in all competitions this season with a number of assists as well. She finished joint top scorer for the blues in the league last season with 6 goals and seems to have improved a lot since them, she also scored in the English women’s last international game and seems to be having a great season.

Still in 2 competitions they look very much in contention for and reaching the semifinal of the last one seems a massive improvement from Chelsea LadiesFC as regardsto last season and they would love to get their hands on a trophy and qualify for the UEFA Women’s Champions League to continue typical Chelsea tradition. Because what’s Chelsea of recent without trophies and constant Champions League football, right?

 Posted by at 11:12 am
Jul 102014
 

For the last few years, Chelsea have actively pursued a strategy of harvesting up talented youngsters from around the globe and trying to develop them into first-teamers of the future – or, if they don’t make the grade at Chelsea, into saleable assets that bring in a bit of profit and help ease the Financial Fair Play restrictions on the club.

Now two more talented teenagers look set to be added to the club’s stable – Croatia’s young sensation Mario Pasalic and French wonderkid Adrien Rabiot. One, in fact, has already signed – Pasalic was unveiled by the Blues today after completing a move from Croatian side Hadjuk Split.

Pasalic, who’s just 19, is an under-21 international already, and was included in the country’s provisional squad for the World Cup (although he failed to make the final 22). A central midfielder, he scored 11 goals in 36 appearances for Hadjuk last season. He’s unlikely to find himself in the first-team squad at Stamford Bridge just yet, however, and will probably be sent out on loan to Chelsea’s nursery club Vitesse Arnhem.

He’s already saying the right things, commenting on his move: This is now a new start in my career. I am a central midfielder, my favourite player is Frank Lampard, and so I am very happy to be a Chelsea player.”

Rabiot is another exciting teenage midfield prospect . He’s on the books of Paris St Germain, and forced his way into the first-team last season despite the presence of PSG’s big-money superstars. But he has turned down PSG’s offer of a lucrative new contract – and now Chelsea have reportedly made a £7 million bid for him. Arsenal are apparently also interested, bytRabiot is keen on a switch to Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile, there’s news concerning two more of Chelsea’s young stars. Bertrand Traore is returning to Vitesse, where the 18 year-old Burkino Faso international spent six successful months last year. “We are thrilled Bertrand is joining us again,” Vitesse’s technical director Mohammed Allach said. “He knows our work patterns and our playing style and he made a strong impression on us.”

And Kurt Zouma, the Blues’ £12 million signing from St Etienne in January, has finally been unveiled as a Chelsea player after participating in the first-team squad’s early training sessions at Cobham. Unless Chelsea buy a centre-back in the next six weeks (and that looks less likely now that Miranda has told Atletico Madrid he is staying at the club), Zouma may well find himself a fixture in the squad – at least until January.

 Posted by at 2:30 pm