Shark ENG (1)
Dec 192013
 

Jose Mourinho believes the strength of his Chelsea squad will see his side come into their own over the busy festive period.

Despite sitting third in the table and being one of the favourites in the best odds for the title, the Blues are yet to hit top form this term, as Mourinho continues to try and find his best team following his return to Stamford Bridge in the summer.

During his previous spell at the Bridge, the ‘Special One’ prided himself on sticking with the same starting XI as often as possible but the game has changed since then and now every member of a squad is needed.

Jose believes his squad are now ready to prove he has been right to rest them by finding their best form in what promises to be an important next few weeks in the title race.

“Now is an important period for all of the squad – everyone has a role to play and a contribution to give” Mourinho said. “Every player will be important when we have so many games and competitions to play”.

The arrivals of Andre Schurrle, Willian and Samuel Eto’o have seen Jose try to constantly rotate his players, as he continues to try and ensure his squad stays fresh as they look to compete for four trophies and justify their position among the favourites in the football betting markets for each.

Next up in the league we face Arsenal on Monday, before a Boxing Day clash with Swansea and the visit of Liverpool on the 29th.

It means Chelsea could easily be top of the table by the end of the month and a run of wins now will certainly put the Blues in a strong position heading into the New Year.

The festive season is often when genuine title contenders start to show their true strength in depth and the amount of options available to the boss certainly gives him a huge advantage over some of his rivals.

May 082013
 

He’s off again. The Portuguese manager (not him, the other not so special one). As Chelsea prepare to welcome Tottenham to Stamford Bridge tonight, there is a great deal at stake. Perhaps that is why Andre Villas-Boas seems to be suffering from verbal diarrhoea, especially when it comes to talking about Chelsea.

Whoever wins the game tonight will take a huge step towards a top four finish and the Chammpions League football it entails. There are quite a lot of bragging rights on offer as well, such as being the best of the London clubs, with Arsenal still in the race, and doing the double over Spurs. What is likely to get the Chelsea players really going, though, is the sniping of the former manager.

Not only has he criticised the way we play, with some stupid remarks about having a style, he criticised Frank Lampard for not supporting him when he was in charge. The same `super` Frank Lampard who he hardly played and tried to force out of the club, you know, the one on the verge of becoming the Blues’ all-time record goalscorer. AVB suggested that Chelsea were not playing football in the right way and were only concerned about winning.

“In the end, it’s brought them success and sometimes success is what matters in football- independent of the style,” he croaked.

“I have a different opinion. I think if you don’t have a style it makes you invisible in football. Only teams with style succeed. But in the end, success normally is what matters in modern Europe.”

Well yes, mate, until they introduce goals and points for artistic integrity. What a clown! Chelsea won the Champions League and FA cup last season and have outperformed his Spurs team in every competition this season. A draw tonight would leave us three points ahead of them with two games to play, but a win would prove once and for all who the better team is.

May 082013
 

The Tottenham manager Andres Villas-Boas is looking to make history by inflicting Chelsea first defeat to their great London rivals at Stamford Bridge in over 20 years. AVB has seen his team beat the other three teams in the top Four this season, and thinks he can get the full set tonight.

“Of course we have the quality,” AVB said. “I am always confident. We have had an excellent season. We beat all the big teams in the country apart from Chelsea.

“We have an opportunity to go there and put our destiny in our hands. So we have motivation factors and we have the players’ ability that is absolutely outstanding. It’s a great, great fixture to have. The pressure is on every­body. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are so tight together. Three teams covered by three points at this stage of the season is outstanding.”

Villas-Boas is certain that White Hart Lane is ready to compete in the Champions League, and obviously has one eye on the extra £25 million which would become available to improve the squad even further. “The club is ready, but getting into it is the most difficult thing,” he said.

“The resources that Uefa makes available in the Champions League are not available in the Europa League and I don’t have to speak about the amount of exposure you get from playing in the Champions League. It is the ultimate objective for any club going forward.”

Of course it is Andres, but I’m afraid you will not be getting the three points tonight. Your plans may have to depend on Arsenal slipping on a banana skin, because you will get no mercy from Chelsea tonight!

Come on you Blues!

Apr 292013
 

Rafa Benitez did not start Frank Lampard yesterday but, once Ramires picked up an injury, the 34-year old midfielder came on to put Chelsea withing touching distance of Champions League qualification. Lampard looked like a man on a mission when he came on and a typical bursting run and pass set up Oscar for the opener after 43 minutes. Just two minutes later, Lampard was given the chance to add to his 200 goals from the penalty after Maya was fouled. Nobody expected him to miss, and he is now just one goal behind the all-time club record of Bobby Tambling.

“He is a gentleman,” said Lampard.

“I saw him before the game and I saw him afterwards. You would not meet a nicer guy in football.

“He has been in some bad health recently, but it is great to see him come across for the game and I am very proud to be up and mentioned alongside a name like his in football terms, but also as a bloke.”

Tambling was a guest of honour yesterday and his record still stands for now, but surely not for much longer. With Tottenham and Arsenal both drawing at the weekend, the win over Swansea has put Chelsea above both of them into third. We have a game in hand on Arsenal, too, while being a point above them and three above Spurs. The boomkies make the Blues favourites for a top four spot at 2/11 with Arsenal at 3/10 and Spurs trailing at 16/11.

Apr 182013
 

Because Chelsea were playing their third big game in six days and the fact that it was a local derby against Fulham, it was expected to be a tough test for Rafa Benitez and the Blues at Craven Cottage last night. It turned out to be anything but, as we eased to a 3-0 win with John Terry marking his 21st start of the season with his first brace of goals in eight years.

Fulham started okay, but had no real cutting edge and Petr Cech was alert to save well from a deflected shot. Chelsea shook off the tiredness quickly to come back into the match, but nobody was expecting David Luiz to score one of the goals of the season out of the blue. The Brazilian was more than 30 yards from goal, but his piledriver with swerve and dip gave Schwarzer no chance. See highlights below.

The captain stepped up with two headers to seal the points, giving the Premier League table a healthy look for Chelsea fans. We are back in third spot, a point above Arsenal and still with a game in hand and three points above Tottenham. We also have better goal difference than both of them, so things are looking good.

Despite the workload, Chelsea keep getting the job done and a win away at Liverpool on Sunday would almost seal us a top 4 spot and probably automatically Champions League spot for next season.

Apr 172013
 

Chelsea have the perfect opportunity to put the disappointment of the FA cup exit at the hands of Manchester City behind them. Despite a back breaking fixture pile up, the Blues have got the chance to lay down a marker for a top four finish, after Arsenal failed to beat Everton last night.

We travel the short distance to Craven Cottage to play Fulham tonight, knowing that a victory will put us back into third and a point above Arsenal with a game in hand. Tottenham will be three points behind with the same number of games left, but they have a much worse goal difference, 13 less than ours before kick-off tonight.

Surprisingly Chelsea are odds on to win the game tonight, despite not winning an away Premier League game for over three months! I would still fancy them to beat Fulham, but check out the latest betting offers before you part with your hard-earned cash. If you shop around you could get a very good price on Chelsea to win by two or more goals.

Fulham have not really got anything to play for for the rest of the season, so this local derby will be their most important one left. That means that the Chelsea players have to match their commitment from the start to allow our superior class to show through. The prize of the Champions League next season should be more than enough to get them going.

With tough fixtures still to come, including away to Liverpool on Sunday and Manchester United at Old Trafford in May, we cannot afford to drop any points against teams like Fulham, Swansea and Aston Villa.

Mar 202013
 

The story that hit the papers this week about Chelsea possibly listening to offers for the Czech international keeper Petr Cech always seemed hard to believe. Arsenal were reportedly interested and have been keeping an eye on the situation with Courtois at Atletice, but Cech has spoken about the story and it is clear that there is not a scrap of truth to it.

“It is an interesting piece of news but it is such speculation that I think it’s not even necessary to comment on it,” Cech said.

“I know of nothing, nobody has contacted me and, to be honest, I can’t even imagine it.

“I don’t even normally notice such rumours. But when it does get to me, I naturally look at it to know what to say about it later. There are players who read newspapers.

“Some players read match reports to know what was written about them and where. I don’t do this, I don’t read newspapers because of such things. I don’t take rumours like this seriously.”

30-year old Cech has plenty of years left at the top of the game, so Chelsea would be crazy to even consider letting him go. There may be an issue about what to do about Courtois, because he has developed quicker than the club expected and is drawing interest from clubs all over Europe. He is already too good to warm the bench at Stamford Bridge, and will probably gain valuable Champions League experience with Atletico next season. Then there may be a real fight for a place at Chelsea between the two, which can only be good for the club.

Mar 102013
 

There is no doubt that this season has been a disappointment for Chelsea fans. It all started with such optimism, with some exciting new players and the Champions League trophy taking pride of place at Stamford Bridge. It looked for a while as if the Blues would add the Premier League title to the European cup as we won seven a drew one of the first eight league games. The next game saw defeat by Manchester United thanks to some terrible refereeing and the season has gone off the rails ever since.

Now Chelsea are in a battle with Arsenal and Tottenham to qualify for next season’s Champions League, while the FA cup and Europa League are the last hopes for a trophy. With a 1-0 deficit to overturn against Steaua Bucharest and an FA cup to Old Trafford today, David Luiz knows that this week could be the most important in the season, and he is hoping that Chelsea can capitalise on United’s disappointment at being dumped out of Europe by Real Madrid.

“Sometimes when you get knocked out you can be a little bit sad,” said Luiz.

“I hope their guys stay sad until this game so Chelsea win.

“I thought we were unlucky on Thursday. It was a difficult game on a bad pitch, so we could not play like Chelsea love to play, with the ball on the floor and trying some combinations. But now we have the second leg and we can reverse the score.”

His defensive colleague Ivanovic has called on Chelsea to treat today’s game against United as a cup final, because he knows that a poor performance and defeat could have a negative effect on the rest of the season, in the same way that United could be suffering today.

Mar 032013
 

After Chelsea beat Middlesborough in midweek, and Rafa Benitez launched into his tirade about the Chelsea fans’ continuing protests about his management, the media turned up at Stamford Bridge yesterday like vultures hoping for a corpse to feed on, but you could sense their disappointment, especially as the soccer betting was predicting that the Spaniard would be sacked!

There were still some banners, and it is clear that the fans will never warm to the ex-Liverpool manager, but his words do seem to have had a calming effect on the Blues’ faithful.

The most important reason for this was not his impassioned rant about his managerial experience and skills, or the ownership of the club, hut his statement that he would be staying until the end of the season and then moving on. With that promise, we can relax a little and concentrate on the team’s success for the rest of the season, without worrying about having Benitez in charge next year.

Despite only beating West Brom 1-0 yesterday, with another goal from Demba Ba, we were always in control, and it should have been by more. The win takes us back above Spurs and five points clear of Arsenal who play each other today, so we will have pulled away from one or both of the clubs challenging us for a Champions League spot. If Rafa can manage that, and a trophy, I will not become his biggest fan, but I might not boo him as loudly!

Feb 262013
 

The good news is that Chelsea are still in the FA cup and the Europa League, as well as being in a qualifying position for the Champions League next season. The bad news is that the fixture congestion from the cup competitions is causing serious difficulties, and there are ructions in the dressing room.

Rafa Benitez was not happy with the performance of his players at the weekend as they lost at Manchester City, and his criticism has caused a training ground argument with some senior players, according to stories in today’s papers. The problem for the players is that they are tired, having already played more games than the other Premier league teams. The fixture list only looks like getting worse, however, and one more replay due to a draw at Middlesborough tomorrow could be the tipping point.

Obviously Benitez wants to win something this season, as do the players, but he must also focus on finishing in the top four. So he has got a real dilemma over resting players and judging which games are most important. It might be time to play a second string side in one of the cup games, but you saw what happened when Arsenal did that, it is not good for team morale. Now Arsenal have only the league to focus on and they are just two points behind us, while Tottenham went above us last night.

Benitez is walking a tightrope, and now is the time he wants the team to stick together, but instead he has managed to upset the players and cause a rift. Chelsea need to sort themselves out, and quickly.