Shark ENG (1)
Aug 232014
 

On Saturday we play our second match of the season against a similar opponent to Burnley, similar because they too just came from the Championship, however ’the Foxes’ didn’t take that into account in their  first game of the season, when they managed to share a point with Everton via a Chris woods equalizer at the King Power Stadium. Leicester won the Championship last season and on their first outing in the Premier League this season they look to have gotten the hang of things in the top flight since it’s been a while they have been here. Leicester became the 5th team to break 100 points last season in the process of winning the Championship, and the previous four that have done that ahead of them stayed in the League in their first season.

So here’s a quick peep at Leicester City before the big game, just to remind ourselves who we are facing since it’s been over ten years we faced them in the League.

The last time we faced Leicester City, Claudio Ranieri was in charge of things at Stamford Bridge and the Premier League title then was a power struggle between Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger at that time was winning the battle, Arsenal had started an unbelievable run at the time and the squad would go on to be named “the invincibles” after 49 games unbeaten. How things have changed upon the Foxes return, Arsenal just ended their trophy drought while Man.Utd weren’t even in the top 4, Man.City are a major force now and we, Chelsea, are on our second Mourinho spell.

However all that shouldn’t concern the new comers, they arrive in the league as the most confident side from the Championship this season and have even more reason to be after sharing a point with last season’s 5th placed Everton, making them believe they could go all the way to stay above the relegation zone this season, but it’s too early to say.

Manager, Nigel Pearson, like Mourinho, is in his second spell at Leicester, in his first, he took the side to the League One title and Championship play-offs, leaving for Hull City in 2010 stating that the club seemed reluctant to keep him. In November 2011, the club’s new chairman, Thai business man, Vichai Raksriaksorn, persuaded Pearson to come back to an 11th position Leicester, and what a story three years later, winning the Championship and back in the Premier League.

Leicester Stats

102, the total number of points they acquired to finish last season as winners of the Championship, their highest points acquisition ever.

14, the amount of penalties the Foxes won last season. No team in the top four tiers of English football received more.

31, the number of consecutive games from November to May in which Leicester scored, it is the best run in the Championship.

Notable Players

Mathew Upson is used to the Premier League, he even went to a World Cup with England back in 2010 and was a starter for that matter, brought on a free transfer to the side; he provides the Premier League experience they need at the back, which is vital if they want to remain here.

In the middle of the park, the Foxes have Danny Drinkwater. Formerly a trainee at Man.Utd the 24 year old was a key player for Leicester City last season, going on to be named their player of the season. He provided the stability in the midfield, averaging more oases per game than any other player in the Championship.

On the wings, Leicester has Knockaert and Mahrez, and would now be joined by former Aston Villa player, Marc Albrighton, providing them with more pace on the flanks. While in attack, Chris Woods and David Nuggent are forwards that have been in the Premier League before, and know the performances required of a striker in keeping a team above the relegation zone, however, it is Argentine striker, Leonardo Ullnoa, whom much is expected from after the club spent a record £8m to acquire from Brighton and Hove Albion F.C, scoring on his debut against Everton in the top flight was not a bad introduction.

All the best to Leicester this season, but we as Chelsea fans hope this is a walk in the park, 3 points at Stamford Bridge and more than a single goal would be nice from Mourinho and his boys.

 Posted by at 11:20 am
Aug 232014
 

Chelsea takes on Championship winners Leicester at Stamford Bridge on Saturday hoping to reinforce the prediction that they will win the league. The Blues earned many plaudits for their display on Monday night against new boys Burnley, coming from behind to dismantle the clarets with goals from Diego Costa, Andre Schurrle and Branislav Ivanovic. They will hope to maintain their place at the top in their first Premier League meeting with Leicester in a decade.

Jose Mourinho has a fully fit squad at his disposal. Courtouis is expected to maintain his place as Chelsea’s number one with Cech’s days at Chelsea looking numbered. Dider Drogba is back to full fitness following his pre-season injury. The line-up is expected to be similar to Burnley however there is one question mark regarding the line-up. Now that Ramires is available for selection following his suspension will Mourinho bring him back in the side? In pre-season Chelsea flirted with a 4-3-3 playing Matic, Fabregas and Ramires so it should be interesting to see if that comes to fruition. Felipe Luis could be in contention to make his debut replacing either Azpilecuta or Ivanovic.

If Chelsea gets in there groove against Leicester it will be intriguing to see how many they score. It could be a comfortable 2-0 or a resounding 5-0. We saw against Burnley they opted to take their foot off the gas in the second half rather than go for an emphatic victory. It will be nice to see Chelsea attempt to thump Leicester rather than seeing out the game when the win is secured, if they indeed do try to bury the opposition it could signal a change in times. Mourinho is wary of the opposition however as he knows the threat newly promoted sides promote. Speaking in his pre-game press on Friday he said the following “If you play at the top of your game, like we did for periods at Burnley, we have a good chance to win. It’s difficult playing newly-promoted teams, they know every point is important.” Another interesting point is if Leicester setup extremely defensive how will Mourinho’s men react. Chelsea’s biggest problem in the League last season was playing teams who put ten men behind the ball. With Fabregas and Costa now in the side they should be able to counter that more efficiently.

Chelsea predicted line-up vs Leicester City: Courtois; Azpilecuta, Terry, Cahill, Felipe Luis; Matic, Fabregas, Ramires, Schurrle, Costa, Hazard

Referee: Lee Mason

Kick Off: 3pm

Last three meetings:  Chelsea 5 Leicester 2, Chelsea 4 Leicester 3 Chelsea 4 Leicester 0

Prediction: Chelsea 3 Leicster 0

 Posted by at 10:00 am
Aug 192014
 

1. Chelsea has the look of champions

Chelsea produced the best performance on the opening weekend of the season and look like they will take some stopping. They always say coming back from behind signifies the mark of champions and never was that better executed than at Turf Moore. It took Chelsea a minor three minutes to find an equalizer. When going 1-0 down they found themselves in situation which ultimately cost them the league last season, away to the likes of Crystal Palace & Aston Villa Chelsea found it hard to respond. But here the blues displayed cold ruthlessness as they put they sword to Burnley and killed the game after 34 minutes.

2. Cecs Fabregas could prove to be the signing of the summer

Cesc Fabregas had the look of a man who had been playing at Chelsea for years as he effortlessly slotted in next to Nemanja Matic in the centre of the park. The ex Barca man was rightfully named man of the match in a performance which saw him involved in all three goals. His sumptuous back heel to Branislav Ivanovic led to Costa’s goal. He then proved influential in the build-up play for the second goal and he sprayed passes left and right, dictating the tempo of the game before providing a marvellous assist for Andre Schurrle. The Spaniard then put the ball on a plate for Ivanovic as his alluring corner evaded the Burnly defence. With Fabregas in the side Chelsea look a more complete and balanced unit. With two assists already to his name, Fabregas could well make a difference in the race for the title.

3. Diego Costa is the real deal

If all doubts about Diego Costa hadn’t already been broken they were smashed on Monday night. It took the 25 year old a mere 17 minutes to register his first competitive goal with the blues. In comparison to Chelsea’s two main strikers last season, it took Samuel Eto’o 5 games and Fernando Torres 14 respectively. Costa ferociously leathered home a failed clearance from Burnley with pure venom. The ex Atletico man should have also won a penalty but was wrongfully carded for simulation. The suspicion that Diego Costa could fall under the category of Chelsea’s flop strikers doesn’t look like taking shape as it emerges Chelsea have finally found a replacement for Dider Drogba.

4. Chelsea will be a joy to watch this season

Chelsea was very easy eye at Turf Moore. There football in the first half specifically was expeditious, slick and elegant as they toyed with Burnley. Mourinho’s men played with a flair and gracefulness not associated with this Chelsea side. They often criticized last season for their style of play but it appears and evolution is occurring this season. The football was expansive and clean and seems the way Chelsea will play this season. Post match Mourinho stated “we believe this is the way to play this season with the players we have”

5. Mourinho’s pragmatism is still alive

Chelsea went in to the break 3-1 up and in cruise control. When the teams emerged for the second half it seemed a question of how many for Chelsea? However what we got in the second half from Chelsea was a much more concealed and reserved performance. They bossed possession attempting playing a more disinclined game rather than looking to completely kill Burnley. In an interview with Sky Sports Mourinho said “At half-time I told the players 4-1 kills the game but 3-2 makes it dangerous.” It could have been a prolific victory but instead Mourinho opted to keep the ball and soak up pressure.

 Posted by at 9:04 am
Aug 182014
 

On Monday night newly promoted Burnley welcome Premier League favourites Chelsea to Turf Moore. This game is covered in speculation regarding Chelsea’s line-up as no one knows what team Mourinho will decide field.  In terms of availability of players reports suggest Didier Drogba should have recovered from his injury in time to make the bench. While Ramires is still serving his suspension from the end of last season, apart from that Mourinho has a fully fit squad to choose from.

The first question which arises is the formation. Last season Mourinho adopted a 4-2-3-1, while using the 4-3-3 every now and then but this pre-season he has flirted with both. The arrival of Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona has seen Chelsea line up  with Ramires, Matic and Fabregas in midfield as seen in there last pre-season game against Real Sociedad. However with Ramires suspended it’s almost certain Chelsea will line up in the conventional 4-2-3-1.

The next question is player selection; this is plagued with question marks. The biggest mystery is obviously in relation to who will start in goal for the blues. In his press conference on Friday Jose Mourinho said “They will know at the same time. All I can say, with all my respect, I think Chelsea have two of three best goalkeepers in the world. This is something unique. It is a problem, a great problem. I think it is one every manager in every club would like to have.” Rumours suggest Courtouis will get the nod. As it looks increasingly likely Petr Cech’s time as Chelsea’s number one is coming to an end.

In defence Terry & Cahill are definite starters in the centre of defence. This leaves Filipe Luis, Ivanovic and Azpilecuta battling it out for two spots. Many believe Luis and Azpilecuta will be Chelsea’s first choice full backs this season but Ivanovic appears to still be in Mourinho’s plan judging on pre-season. I’d expect Ivanovic at RB and Azpilecuta at LB replicating last season’s back four. Luis has not hit the ground running and hasn’t had a great pre-season. It appears he is still adapting, Mourinho will go with the tried and tested.

Matic and Fabregas in the midfield is another certainty with Ramires being suspended, Mikel not being 100% and Van Ginkel not making his mark. Matic and Fabregas have complimented each other extremely well in pre-season and seem to have a great understanding, this looks like Chelsea’s first choice midfield for the season.

The three behind the striker is another conundrum. Willian, Oscar & Schurrle have only been back a couple of weeks and are not fully fit. Hazard as well seems off the pace, which could mean a rare start for Mohammed Salah who had the summer off. Mourinho has stated that his team in the opening few weeks will not be his strongest eleven as players attempt to get up to speed. I expect it will be Hazard, Salah and Oscar to start. But Schurrle & Willian could easily start this is up in the air as Salah is the only one fully fit.

Diego Costa up front is self-explanatory with the ex Atletico Madrid man slotting in perfectly since his £32 million transfer.

 

                   Courtouis

Ivanovic Terry Cahill Azpilecuta

                    Matic Fabregas

Salah              Oscar          Hazard

                        Costa

 Posted by at 1:10 pm
Aug 182014
 

When we take on Burnley to begin the season at Turf Moor a couple of new signings would definitely make their debut and us Chelsea faithful’s would be looking at the prospect of good things to come from each and every one of them. Here’s a look back at previous seasons’ opening day fixtures and the new signings that hugely impressed with stellar performances.

Eden Hazard (vs Wigan 2012)

The very first time Chelsea fans got to see Eden Hazard in his glittering quality even though the opponents were Wigan Athletic. The highly rated Belgian had been on radars of Man. City, Man. Utd and even European heavy weight Real Madrid were interested and we got to see a glimpse of why. Hazard set up Branislav Ivanovic for the first goal of the season and his trickery in the Lactics’ box helped get a penalty that Frank Lampard slotted home, leaving Chelsea with the 3 points on opening day and Eden Hazard with the Man of the Match award on his debut.

Deco (vs Portsmouth 2008)

The arrival of new manager, Luiz Filipe Scolari, who had just quit his job as the manager of Portugal saw him sign a couple of their talents to the bridge. Deco was one of the talents and the manager ensured we got to see what the Portuguese playmaker could bring to the table at Chelsea starting him in the first game of the season against Portsmouth. The Blues will walk all over Pompey in a 4-0 trashing with Deco releasing a shot from about 30 yards for the icing on the cake which was well received by Stamford Bridge.

Malouda (vs Birmingham 2007)

Not the season most of us want to remember as it started badly, continued promising and ended in absolute sorrow. However there were a few positives at the beginning before we knew what would later unfold. Claudio Pizzaro scored on his debut and so did Florent Malouda who had previously scored against Man. Utd in the community shield, a warm welcome for them both, but it would be Malouda who would go on to be significant for the club in the future for a couple of years, Pizzaro not quite.

Paulo Ferreira (vs Man. Utd 2004)

Jose had just arrived with a number of fellow Portuguese compatriots majorly from his previous club Porto. Amongst all of them he decided to give Paulo Ferreira a start in Right Back and the Portuguese did not disappoint, Chelsea won 1-0 with a great defensive display against one of the major English heavy weights, Ferreira had a good game, keeping Ryan Giggs at bay.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (vs Man. Utd 2000)

One from the classic era, before we were the title chasing type. FA Cup winning manager, GianlucaVialli, had just signed Hasselbaink from Atlético Madrid for a club record fee of £15 million and he immediately showed his killer instinct in front of goal against a no better opponent than Manchester United. Hasselbaink scored the opening goal before Mario Melchiot doubled our lead. Hasselbaink displayed quality and showed he will be held in high regard at Chelsea for years and years to come.

Who? (vs Hull City 2014)

Filipe Luis, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa are very likely to be handed Chelsea debuts, Thibaut Courtois and KourtZouma are highly likely as well. Chelsea fans lay in wait to behold impressive performances from every one of them this new season, but there’s always that passionate greed to have a memorable debut from any of the new arrivals. I wonder who amongst them would make a debut worth the memory of a life time.

 Posted by at 12:56 pm
Apr 242014
 

Jose Mourinho is at it again. This time, the Portuguese raised doubts over the quality of the team he will field against inform Merseyside club, Liverpool on Sunday. Jose in his comments after the match against Atletico Madrid suggested that he might have to play a much weakened side as Chelsea continue to push for honours on two fronts – the Premier League and the Champions League.

The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ lost goalkeeper, Petr Cech and John Terry to injuries in the Atletico game. On top of that, Nigerian midfielder, Mikel Obi and Frank Lampard are suspended for the return leg of the Champions League at Stamford Bridge. All these make it increasingly hard for Jose to have a decent side in place for the Atletico game.

From all indications, the Champions League is the priority except something miraculous happens. Its seems logical, just 2 matches and the trophy will be back at Stamford Bridge. Apart from that, everything is in Chelsea’s hands unlike the Premier League where Chelsea are 5 points behind league leaders, Liverpool.

Mourinho suggested that he will have to speak to the club [most likely means Roman Abramovich]. Speaking after the game he said: “I can’t decide by myself. I have to listen to the club. I’m just the manager and I have to listen to the club.”

Then he took a swipe at the English FA for making Chelsea play on Sunday The fact that the match is on Sunday, I think put the problem not in my hands but in the hands of those who decide the game should be Sunday, not Saturday or Friday. We represent English football and are the only team [English] in European competition,” He said

“Spain have four and give them all conditions to try to have success. So I know what I would do. I will play the players who are not going to play on Wednesday. My priority is the Champions League. But I’m not the club. I have to speak to them.” He continued

He pointed out the fact that he had to take permission to hand Liverpool a very rare advantage. It is not clear if the Premier League chiefs will be happy about the development but what Mourinho care about is what his employers will think “I’m not the most important person in the club. Roman and the board – everybody is above me. I work for them and have to follow what my club decides. I’m just a piece. I’m the manager, no more than that.”

“Petr Cech’s season is over. And for John, we have to play in the final for him to play again. We had problems before the game and during the game [Atletico]. We lost four players – two to injuries and two with yellow cards – but we will fight.

“If we have to play the kids, we play the kids. But Branislav Ivanovic is back, Mark Scwarzer showed we can trust him. People like Ashley Cole, with an amazing performance, giving an example”

If Mourinho is granted his wish, we might see players like Tomas Kalas, Lewis Baker, John Swift in the lineup. Looking at things from Jose’s point of view, what he’s about to do is understandable. He’s down to bare bones. The only viable option is to complement the players who won’t be available for the Atletico game with some of the players from the excellent youth team.

In fact, the media are blowing the issue way out of proportion. It is not as if there won’t be senior players. There will be a substantial amount of the usual first team in the lineup. Matic, Salah, Willian, Mikel, Lampard, Cole should all play. Understandably, Manuel Pellegrini and the Manchester City camp won’t be happy about the situation as they need the Blues to beat Liverpool so that the tittle race can be blown wide open. But then again, Jose Mourinho won’t care. Champions League is the priority at this point.

 Posted by at 4:58 pm
Apr 222014
 

The Jose Mourinho led Chelsea FC flew out to Spain with a 20-man strong squad as they face La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the UEFA semi final at Vincente Calderon tonight.

Unfortunately for them, striker Samuel Eto’o would not in action in Madrid as he is yet to recover from the knee injury he sustained in their 2 – 1 loss to Sunderland last weekend. On a brighter note, Eden Hazard would be part of the travelling party and hopefully would play against Atletico Madrid. He had missed the last three matches due to calf injury he sustained in the last leg of their quarter final game against Paris Saint-Germain.

First choice goalkeeper Petr Cech is also back after missing out the weekend encounter against Sunderland due to illness. He is set to be in goal in tonight’s encounter.

Bransilav Ivannovich did not join the team to Madrid. He is on suspension after receiving three bookings in the competition, while Nemanja Matic and Mohammed Salah were left behind at west London. They are both ineligible since they’ve played Champions League this season for their former clubs.

Mourinho’s 20 man list include:

Goalkeepers

Petr Cech, Mark Scwarzer, Hilario

Defenders

David Luiz, Cahill, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Nathan Ake, , Cesar Azpilicueta, Tomas Kalas

Midfielders/Attackers

Marco Van Ginkel, Ramires, Frank Lampard, Oscar, John Obi Mikel, Eden Hazrad, Willian, Andre Schurrle

Strikers

Fernando Torres, Demba Ba

Cesar Azpilicueta conceded a penalty at the weekend but would now be operating from his natural right back position in this game. Ashley Cole should play on the left-back side while Cahill and John Terry would make up the likely centre-half pairing.

Daivid Luiz had always had good performances against big clubs and hopefully today will be no exception. His most likely partner will be Ramires since Frank Lampard and John Mikel Obi run the risk of suspension should they be booked in this game.

Willian too could miss the return leg if he picks up a yellow card at Madrid. He had created nine chances for his team mates in their loss against Sunderland more than any Premier League player in a single game. Oscar is likely to play his traditional No. 10 position although his form has dipped considerably with Andre Schurrle making up the attacking trio on the right.

Will this 20 man squad be strong enough to contain a very determined, giant-conquering Atletico side? We are just a few hours to finding out.

 Posted by at 4:10 pm
Apr 222014
 

As Chelsea get set to take on Atletico Madrid in the first leg semi final match of the UEFA Champ[ions League tonight, many people are of the opinion that it could go either way at the end of regulation time as both clubs appear to be evenly matched.

The winner of both legs would square up against either Real Madrid or the German champions Bayern Munich. Madrid has dubbed itself the “City of Champions” and Diego Simeone agrees no less.

The Argentine has crafted a team that is very similar in style like Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. An Atletico Madrid that is compact at the back, lethal on counter attack, hardworking and one that has the drive and winning mentality. They already have a well documented ability to win trophies and cause major upsets.

Tonight’s encounter will be a match characterized by 90 + minutes of intense football action in which two teams that appear to be evenly matched slug it out on the pitch. An encounter that would pitch two deep-thinking coaches against each other. Both coaches are very familiar with each other having both been in the Spanish La Liga for several years.

According to Atletico Madrid’s Coach;

“We are not the same but it is true that we are similar” he said on the subject of both teams.

‘The defence who concedes the fewest goals in the Premier League is that of Chelsea and another in La Liga is that of Atletico Madrid.

“We work hard defensively with a direct approach and good set-pieces. These are the similarities that have allowed them to fight for the Premier League and for us to be where we are today in the La Liga.

According to him, the match would be a tight one. The outcome of the game would be decided by attention to small details and team work.

He gave a hint of Torres’ possible return to Atletico Madrid

“He is a lad who belongs to Atletico no matter where he is playing. He has great memories and loves the club and the people of the club. Before kickoff and after the game he will have the ovation he deserves because this is his home and he is one of us”.

As both clubs gear up to face each other tonight, I expect a very thrilling encounter. Both sides are well matched, equally thirsty for victory, with two coaches that are good at what they do. If current form and determination is anything to consider, I’ll give it to the Madrid side to go through.

 Posted by at 2:14 pm
Apr 022014
 

Speaking ahead of PSG’s clash with Chelsea tonight, Laurent Blanc has stressed the importance of shutting down Chelsea’s counter-attacking style:

“Yes, we know that Chelsea are a very counter-attacking team. They like to counter-attack. They will surely have chances to do that tomorrow, and next week, because you can’t control everything during a game.”

“We’ll have to be really strong defensively when it happens, because I think on Wednesday we have to score to win the game. When you play at home and you want to win, you need to make sure that you don’t concede goals. It will be important.”

Blanc has identified a threat that is clear for all to see. This season, Chelsea have performed best when their opponents attempt to dominate possession, and take the game to them. Utilising the aforementioned counter-attack, they have then gone on to score when the opposition players are out of position up the pitch.

After a dip in domestic form, Chelsea have been relegated to the role of underdog in the first match of the two legged tie. The Blues’ comprehensive 6-0 thumping of Arsenal was offset by two poor results against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace. In both fixtures, Mourinho’s men were expected to run out clear winners, but were defeated 1-0 after putting in lacklustre performances.

Meanwhile, the relentless PSG machine rolls on. The Parisians have won their last nine games across all competitions, and have all but secured consecutive Ligue 1 titles. When the two teams square up this evening, all eyes will be on Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Eden Hazard, both of whom have been in unstoppable form this season. A 5 star performance from either man could single handed drag their side through to the semi-finals of the competition, and further solidify their status as one of the world’s best.

 Posted by at 11:50 am
Mar 292014
 

Chelsea has been struck by an injury blow ahead of their Premier League meeting with Crystal Palace this weekend. Ashley Cole has been ruled out with a recurring knee injury, while Samuel Eto’o has failed to recover from the hamstring injury he sustained in only the 10th minute of last week’s 6-0 win over Arsenal.

Cole is unlikely to have started even if he had been granted a clean bill of health, given the recent form of Cesar Azpilicueta. The right footed Azpilicueta has often been used ahead of Cole this season, as Mourinho is evidently impressed by the Spaniards defensive work rate.

Eto’o’s absence is likely to be more seriously felt, having just come into a run of form, scoring in all of his last 3 games, the Chelsea manager will likely turn to Fernando Torres to lead the Blues’ attack. Chelsea will be hoping that the games rest will allow the Cameroonian striker to recover in time for their Champions League clash with PSG next week.

Even with the absences, Chelsea is unlikely to have any problems dispatching a struggling Crystal Palace. Currently sitting 17th in the table, Palace have been stabilised since the appointment of Tony Pulis. Nevertheless, they’ve only managed to claim 8 points from their last 8 games, and an upset is very unlikely.

The same could’ve been said before Chelsea’s match against Aston Villa a fortnight ago, and that fixture saw Mourinho’s men beaten and down to 9 men. As a result, there’s no doubt that the Portguese manager will be taking measures to safeguard against complacency, and ensure that his team comes away with the crucial 3 points. With Liverpool and Manchester City in flying form, failure to do so could spell doom for Chelsea’s chances of winning the Premier League this season.

 Posted by at 11:06 am