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Mar 012014
 

Didier Drogba has admitted he is looking forward to returning to Stamford Bridge for Galatasaray’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Chelsea with the tie delicately poised at 1-1. An early Fernando Torres goal was cancelled out in the second half by an Aurelien Chedjou equaliser to ensure the two sides head to London for an intriguing second leg clash that is evenly poised with Betfair.com.

Having won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups with Chelsea, Drogba will return to the club he spent a successful eight-year spell for the first time as an opposing player.

Drogba’s last act in a Chelsea shirt was scoring the winning penalty in the Champions League final in 2012 against Bayern Munich, and the Ivorian has admitted he is looking forward to returning to the scene of some of his greatest achievements as a player, hoping to cause a surprise with Betfair fans and help lead Galatasaray into the quarter-finals.

“I am not there yet and I will only find out [how emotional it is] when I am at the Bridge. The only thing I know is that there is still one game to play,” said the former Blues star.

“It will be a difficult game but I think at 1-1 the game is still open, so we’re going to go there and try to create a big surprise.”

 

Coming away from Turkey with an away goal has ensured Chelsea will go into the second leg of the tie as the Betfair favourites to progress to the quarter-finals. Jose Mourinho will have been delighted with the professional job his side did in testing circumstances in Turkey, but the Chelsea boss will be well aware that there is still plenty of life left in this tie.

Jun 182013
 

The return of Jose Mourinho has prompted an awful lot of reflection and review amongst many Chelsea fans; yours truly included. Interestingly, I’ve found myself reviewing our seasons starting in 04/05 when we won the league. That was the start of something glorious for this club, and although we won the league double under Mourinho, it is probably fair to say that he got more out of his squads than successive managers have managed to get out of theirs. For example, we managed to accumulate an incredible 95 points in 04/05 with players like Thiago and Smertin getting 33 starts between them. When you compare it to the title winning squad of 09/10, you see a huge difference in supposed quality, and yet which team was more feared?

In Mourinho, we once again can have a manager who can get the absolute best out of his players. That being known, how does this current Chelsea team compare to the one that won the league and FA Cup in 09/10? Assuming that we make no further signings this summer, and making some assumptions about how Mourinho might choose to line out, a comparison might look something like.

09/10
Cech
Ivanovic – Terry – Carvalho – Cole
Mikel
Ballack – Lampard
Anelka – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Malouda
Drogba
V
Torres
Hazard – – – – – Oscar – – – – – Mata
Lampard – Ramires
Cole – Luiz – Ivanovic – Azpilicueta
Cech
13/14

Obviously there are points of contention and places that can be argued (Cahill, Lukaku, Shurrle & Terry will all be fighting to be first choice) but it’s an entirely plausible starting 11. So how do we compare to the class of 09/10? Let’s break it down in to defence, midfield and attack.

In 09/10, we had the tail end of the Terry Carvalho partnership at its absolute peak, and it was a truly formidable pairing. Terry and Carvalho were the perfect match for each other and we’ve not truly replicated it since. Flanking them we had Ashley Cole just as he was arguably cementing his claim as the greatest left back in the world at the time, and a solid if unspectacular Ivanovic at right back. In goals, Petr Cech won the Golden Glove for the second year running. Compare that to today and we must give the edge to the 09/10 team. I firmly believe that Ivanovic and Luiz can form a truly formidable partnership at centre-half – one that can replicate the success of Terry and Carvalho – but they need time to gel. Ashley Cole is very close to being just as good a player as he was 4 years ago, and Azpilicueta has shown great potential, but on the balance our starting defence was probably a bit stronger back then.

In midfield, we had Ballack, Lampard and Mikel for most of the season. Going in to this season, we will probably be playing with Ramires, Lampard and Oscar. It is extremely difficult to compare this kind of group, as they are completely different types of players. Frank still brings the same style of play to the team, but Ballack and Oscar contribute to our attacking play in completely different ways. Oscar is far more likely to drift in to positions and act as a playmaker, while Ballack often concentrated on spreading the play and getting in to forward positions himself. Similarly, Mikel offers far greater protection to the defence than Ramires does when asked to do that role, but Ramires is far greater on the ball. Let’s call this one a tie for now.

Attacking wise is really interesting. Assuming Torres was to start as our main striker, most people would instantly say our 09/10 attacking potential was far greater. However, Juan Mata has scored 32 goals and assisted 59 goals in two seasons at Chelsea. In one season, Hazard has 14 goals and 20 assists. They absolutely blow Anelka and Malouda clean out of the water – there is no question whatsoever about it. Torres may be misfiring, but Mata and Hazard are good enough to beat anyone.

So what’s the final verdict? As a defensive unit, the 09/10 team were more cohesive and had better structure. They defended well and were extremely difficult to score against – something that our current crop haven’t managed to master just yet. However, from an attacking point of view, this squad has enough firepower to outscore anyone. Never mind a new striker – there’s nothing stopping us from competing now. What gives me hope is Mourinho’s ability to get the best out of his players. I’ve yet to see a Mourinho team that was easy to score against, and if he can bring that defensive prowess to this team, we’ll be incredibly difficult to beat.

What say you Blues fans – without any more signings, do you think this current Chelsea team is good enough to win the league?

May 012013
 

Chelsea to Revamp Forward Line This Summer

Chelsea have had a strange relationship with their strikers in the last few seasons. Last season Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka were dropped in favour of struggling Fernando Torres who is the only striker of the three still left at the club. Halfway through the season Nicolas Anelka was released and moved to China where he did not stay for long. Through the rest of the season Daniel Sturridge took Anelka’s place and Fernando Torres remained the front man until the knockout stages of the Champions League when he was dropped in favour of the big Ivorian Drogba.

Drogba famously led Chelsea to their first Champions League trophy with the winning penalty in an incredible match against Bayern Munich on their home ground. Drogba was then released from the club leaving just Sturridge and Torres of the strikers and Torres was Number One again. As we know this season Sturridge was sold to Liverpool and Demba Ba was brought in and now Torres and Ba are rotated but it seems Torres has reached the end of his Chelsea career.

Torres will likely be sold to Atletico Madrid for a fraction of the fee Chelsea paid for him while Atletico’s Radamel Falcao looks to be heading the other way as long as Chelsea can put forward a huge sum similar to what they paid for Torres. If the deal for Falcao falls through, Chelsea will perhaps look at Napoli striker Edison Cavani who is also going to attract high bids from the top clubs in Europe.

If Chelsea do get one of these players they will still only have two strikers available so will look for a younger backup player. Wilfried Bony has scored 31 goals this season in the Dutch Eredivisie for his club Vitesse Arnhem. He is a player who resembles the now Chelsea legend Didier Drogba and would prefer a move to Chelsea if the opportunity came and would fit right in with the rest of the squad. Or perhaps Romelu Lukaku could come back to the fold?

Apr 042013
 

When Chelsea agreed to loan Michael Essien to Real Madrid for the season, there was not too much complaining from Chelsea fans, probably due to the fact that the 30-year old had made just 14 Premier League appearances the previous season and did not look the same player he once was. His form has got better since joining Madrid, however, and he has become an important player for the Spanish champions.

Watching him play against Galatasaray, who had another former Chelsea player Didier Drogba in the side, in the Champions League quarter-finals made me think that he should be back at Stamford Bridge. It’s a shame we can’t bring him now, with the Chelsea squad groaning under the weight of the fixture pile up.

Perhaps it is the influence of Jose Mourinho at Madrid that has brought the best out of him again, or just the fact that he was injured at the start of last season and took time to come back. If the rumours are true, then he could be working with Mourinho again next season, but in a Chelsea shirt.

The versatile player seems to expect a return to London at the end of the season, and I;m sure he is hoping that Mourinho comes with him.

Mar 262013
 

John Terry is a Chelsea legend, there are no two ways about it. He may not be a saint, and he has got into plenty of trouble both on and off the pitch, but you could not ask for a more passionate and determined player in you team. He has not had the greatest of seasons, though, with injuries and managerial decisions meaning he has just 19 appearances.

Terry always looked like he would be a one club man throughout his career, apart from a brief loan spell with Nottingham Forest when he was young. There are reports out today that he may not be at Chelsea next season, however, amid interest from Fenerbahce.

According to the Daily Mail, the Turkish club have identified the central defender as one of their main summer targets. Their chief rivals Galatasaray have been splashing the cash on big names like Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, and Fenerbahce are desperate not to let them dominate Turkish football.

Whether Chelsea or Terry would be interested is unsure, but at 32-years old, the current policy of not wanting to offer new contracts to older players must be a concern for him. A lot may depend on who takes over as Chelsea boss from Rafa Benitez at the end of the season.

Feb 272013
 

It is fair to say that Chelsea have been missing Didier Drogba this season. Fernando Torres has been better for the Blues this year, scoring 15 goals in all competitions so far, and Demba Ba has added some physical presence up front since signing from Newcastle in January, but has only scored once in his six league games so far. There is a player on Chelsea’s books who has the strength and pace to replace Drogba, and he has scored 12 league goals this season. The problem is that 19-year old Romelu Lukaku has been scoring them for West Brom.

It is no surprise to hear that the West Brom manager Steve Clarke would love to keep the young striker at the Hawthorns for another season, especially after one of his other forwards, Peter Odemwingie, showed zero loyalty during the January transfer window farce with QPR. Clarke would love to take the Dutchman permanently but would need to win a jackpot at www.MansionCasino.com to afford to pay what the Dutchman is worth!

Clarke said yesterday: “If Chelsea want to leave him out for another season somewhere, I think we would have a strong chance of getting him back here, but it is a discussion for the summer.

“It’s a package that has been good for all three parties. For such a young player, the sky is the limit.

“He has all the attributes to be a really top player. He is very level-headed and he understands why he came here and what he has got to do in the future to be a big player at a really big club.”

A lot will depend on who is in charge of Chelsea for next season, almost certainly not Rafa Benitez, and what Abramovich decides to do about Torres and any new signings. We have been linked with Falcao and Cavani, but we are also short on strikers. Lukaku has come on in leaps and bounds at West Brom and is still very young, so maybe it would be better if he has another season there.

Nov 262012
 

With the strikers to be named on Friday, Chelsea currently have 7 players shortlisted for the FIFA/FIFPro World XI 2012 after the midfield list was released.

Ex-Chelsea star Didier Drogba is firmly expected to be on the shortlist of strikers for his part in winning the Champions League, along with Chelsea target Radamel Falcao.

Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard have been selected as possibilities for the midfield positions. Eden Hazard is interestingly the only new addition to this year’s shortlist, for his part in Lille qualifying for the Champions League and his exploits so far in this seasons campaign at Chelsea.

John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ashley Cole and David Luiz are the Chelsea defenders that could make up the defence. John Terry is the only current Chelsea player to have been selected in the final team since 2003, making the final XI 5 years in a row ending in 2009.

Petr Cech is named as one of only 5 Goalkeepers named on the shortlist but looks to lose out to Iker Casillas, who won this years La Liga with Real Madrid and also was a part of Spain’s first team who retained their World Cup trophy.

Its great to see Chelsea’s Champions League winning exploits being recognised, and I hope to see at least 3 of our current squad make the final XI.

Nov 102012
 

If reports of a January move to China are true for Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, at least he will have former team mate Didier Drogba to show him around. The 34-year old has been offered a year extension at Chelsea, apparently, but the club will not fight too hard to keep him as they continue with the rebuilding job and restyling under Roberto Di Matteo.

According to the Daily Mirror, Lampard has already agreed to join the Chinese club Guizho Renhe in the southwest of China. Apparently the owner told a Chinese journalist and now it is all over social networks in China. Drogba moved in the summer to Shanghai Shenhua for a massive salary reported to be around £300,000 per week. He has already scored eight goals in 11 games and will no doubt have encouraged Lampard to join him in China.

There will soon be no players left from the Jose Mourinho era, after Di Matteo warned John Terry that his position is no longer secure, and Ashley Cole is looking to move, The England left back has only been offered a one year deal as well and has been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Lampard has played nearly 600 games for the Blues since joining from West Ham in 2001. Scoring nearly 200 goals, he has helped Chelsea to win everything in England and the Champions league. Thanks Frank, good luck if you do leave.

Oct 152012
 

It seems ridiculous, but the Chelsea board are standing firm to their policy of offering no more than a year at a time to any player over 30-years old. England international left back Ashley Cole is not happy with this and so is set to leave the club in the summer for nothing.

Cole is one of the best left backs in the world and is in peak physical condition, so there will be a queue of top European clubs vying for his signature. He could rejoin his old manager from Chelsea, Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid. Even worse, he could go to Premier league rivals Manchester United.

Alex Ferguson has been keen to get cover, or a replacement, for his French international Patrice Evra. Evra is just a year older than Cole but his form has dropped alarmingly. Fergie was looking at Leighton Baines from Everton, but David Moyes was demanding around £20 million. If United get Cole for nothing, Ferguson will not believe his luck.

Frank Lampard is in the same situation at 34-years old and so it looks like they will join another of the Champion’s league winning team, Didier Drogba, to be cast aside. The players feel that they deserve more loyalty from Abramovich and Chelsea but it does not look like they will get it.

Jul 282012
 

Fernando Torres is well aware that he has not shown anywhere near his best form to Chelsea fans since moving form Liverpool last January. The 28-year old Spanish striker is determined to change that in the coming season.

“We know we have big expectations this season. There are a lot of trophies to win and we are ready for the challenge. I am sure it is going to be a good season.”

Torres’ loss of form for Chelsea coincided with a similar problem at international level. He could not seem to break his lack of confidence, and failed to score in Spain’s victorious World Cup campaign in 2010. It is great for Torres and Chelsea, then, that he got back the spring in his step this summer, scoring three goals during Euro 2012 including one in the final. He also joined the exclusive list of winners of the Golden Boot.

Chelsea need him more than ever, after Didier Drogba decided to move on after eight glorious years at Stamford Bridge. Torres knows that he will be expected to fill the Ivorian’s boots this year.

“I am looking forward to it. I like the responsibility and it’s a thing I’ve been doing all my life.”

Torres has had an extended summer break due to his international exploits, but is likely to feature for the Blues in the final match of the American tour tonight against AC Milan.

Do you think we will get the best out of the Spanish star this time?