Jul 222014
 

Jose Mourinho’s claim that Chelsea has 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.

Feb 252014
 

The World Cup must still seem a far-off event for the many international stars in Chelsea’s squad. There’s the small matter of some Premier League and Champions’ League silverware to contest before the club seasons out. The little horse has a long way left to run.

Still, unbelievably, the World Cup Finals in Brazil are now just four month’s away (meaning it’s now a terrifying three years and eight months since you first heard the dulcet tones of a vuvuzela). There’ll be no shortage of players from our squad jetting off on a variety of planes to South America, but only a select few are in with a real shout of individual and national glory, if you find yourself still asking When is World Cup 2014? Odds, group schedules and dates can all be found on Coral.co.uk, read on for our Chelsea players to watch:

Eden Hazard

The name on every Chelsea fan’s lips since that gloriously brutal hat-trick against mid-table Newcastle, Eden Hazard is one of the fastest rising stars in international football. Eden’s recent form has spurred on Jose Mourinho to hail him as the best young player in the world, and it’s an absolute joy to watch this prodigy blossom into a top, top player in a Blue shirt.

The World Cup finals represent a golden opportunity for Hazard. Belgium hasn’t traditionally been considered to be members of the international football elite, but mark our words, that have all changed. The Belgians looked fierce in World Cup qualifying, and with the likes of Man City star Vincent Kompany lining up alongside Hazard, no one will be taking this relatively small European nation lightly.

Fernando Torres

We’ve recently been seeing heartening flashes of the real Fernando Torres – the player who lit up the Kop at Anfield in a way which has never quite been repeated during his time at Chelsea. One thing’s for sure, the Spaniard possesses proven World Cup winning pedigree, and there’ll never be a better time for the striker to recapture his early brilliance than now.

Oscar

Our very own Brazilian ace Oscar will surely offer the host nation a dangerous option in midfield at this summer’s tournament. Along with Neymar, Oscar is one of Brazil’s leading lights and is amongst the best play-makers in the game.

John Terry

Ok John, we know you bonked everyone’s wives… but if England is to make respectable progress in the World Cup this summer, we need the experience, leadership and quality of this man in defence. Oh, and how about that new contract Jose?

Sep 142013
 

With the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge, the atmosphere around Chelsea Football Club brightened like the sun coming out on a cloudy day. Then the signing of some quality players in addition to the strong and talented squad available to the special one made a lot of football experts install Chelsea as their favourites for the Premier League title.

The only reservation that most people had was in the striking department. Fernando Torres and Demba Ba were not seen as potent enough to really make Chelsea the team to beat, and Lukaku was promising but still young and raw. That is why Mourinho was so keen on signing Rooney from Manchester United, and when that didn’t happen, the boss made a late move to rescue Samuel Eto’o from Russia and his club Anzhi Makhachkala. I was on one of my favourite Bingo sites yesterday and started wondering about how the bookies viewed the arrival of Eto’o and whether they felt he was the man to complete the Chelsea jigsaw.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that the Cameroonian striker was at longer odds than Torres to be the top scorer in the Premier League. He may be 32-years old but that is nothing these days. He may not have been sparkling since leaving Inter Milan, but he probably found football in Russia no challenge at all. Remember that he took a pay cut to rejoin his old boss at Chelsea, so he obviously wants to make the most of the last years of his playing career.

When I saw that I could get just better than evens for Eto’o to score 13 or more in the Premier League, I could not resist. Only 13 goals? He could have that by Christmas with Hazard, Mata and Oscar behind him. If I lose this bet, I am sticking to bingo.

Sep 042013
 

After 120 minutes of drama in Prague on Friday, the European Super Cup eventually ended in agonising defeat, but in the fullness of time the result will be more of an irritant than anything else and so should not be of much concern.

The Cup, ultimately, means very little; it is the European version of the Community Shield. Though credit has to go to the players for making such a spectacle of a game that so often descends into pre-season friendly territory.

There were plenty of encouraging performances too, as Jose Mourinho continues to ink his influence back on the team. Fernando Torres reminded us that he can score great goals when not skulking around with a frown on his face.

David Luiz looked solid on his return from injury and reminded us why he should not be sold this transfer window, while Eden Hazard scored what so nearly became the winner.

For many fans of the Premier League though, Petr Cech deserved the plaudits he received from Betfair pundits. The Czech Republic international once again proved his class with a fine display, especially in extra time, when he made four key saves to deny an increasingly rampant Bayern side.

With so many big money transfers coming in and out of Stamford Bridge, it is sometimes easy to forget Cech is still there. But he has been a model of consistency ever since he signed for the club way back in 2004. While the Blues have been linked with players in nearly every position, no one has suggested we need a new goalkeeper, which is telling in itself.

His quiet and friendly demeanour means he does not court controversy either; from the outside, he seems like a manager’s dream.

With Mourinho again looking to rely on defensively solidity this season rather than attacking flair, clean sheets will be even more important, especially if they hope to justify their 9/4 odds for the title with Betfair. Luckily, the Blues have one of the best there is between the sticks.

Jul 032013
 

Sky Sports are reporting that Chelsea are fighting with PSG for the signature of Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani. Cavani scored 38 goals in all competitions last season for Napoli, and his record of 104 goals in 138 games is staggeringly good. However, Napoli are so far refusing to budge on their release clause figure of €63 million Euro, the equivalent of almost £54 million pounds.

PSG have reportedly lodged a bid of £43 million, but it is unlikely to be enough. Napoli don’t need to sell, and they will hold out for as close to that release clause as possible. It would be most surprising to see Cavani go in to the new season at Napoli, and while he would be a fantastic addition to any team, the question is whether he is worth such a staggering amount of money?

Cavani’s record is beyond reproach. He is a remarkable player, but does he justify the remarkable price-tag? Unfortunately, it depends which way you look at it. When Andy Carroll and Fernandinho are £35 million pound players, Cavani’s price seems reasonable. However, compare it to the £2 million Swansea paid for Michu or the £10 million United paid for Hernandez and it seems grossly inflated. That is the problem with these astronomical fees being considered – the amount any club is willing to pay is directly influenced by how much they require the player. So do we need Cavani?

Honestly, any team needs Cavani. He is one of the best in the world, and he would score bucket-loads at Stamford Bridge. Do I think we should pay it? Not necessarily. Signing Cavani means limited time for Lukaku, Torres and Ba. While it might not surprise me to see Ba move somewhere else this summer, Lukaku’s development is not best served by Cavani’s arrival. Similarly, it acknowledges that we have given up on Torres becoming the player we know he should be.

Replacing one £50 million pound striker with another is very exciting as a fan, but being completely honest, I’d rather we didn’t sign him right now. £54 million on the Uruguayan is the kind of transfer we’ve got used to making, but the point of Mourinho’s return is to build a dynasty – a legacy. That is far better accomplished by developing the players we have. Cavani could well guarantee instant success, but is it the right move for the club? I’m not so sure. He would improve us, but at what cost?

Tell us, would you sign Cavani for £54 million pounds?

Jun 162013
 

Amid reports suggesting that Barcelona may be interested in signing Fernando Torres, the Spaniard has come out to deny such a move would tempt him. Despite scoring 22 goals last season, Torres has failed to live up to his own world class standards set during his time at Liverpool. Many considered Torres to be one of, if not the best striker in the world during that time, but things haven’t gone as smoothly for Nando since his £50 million move to Chelsea. Demba Ba was brought in as competition this January, but he failed to cement a place and Torres since rediscovered some form.

Speaking of his future at Chelsea and a potential move to Barcelona, Torres stated: “I want to continue, I want to complete the contract I signed and continue winning trophies and I would like to be the best in the world in my position again. It’s always nice to hear about interest from clubs like Barcelona, but my plan is to stay at Chelsea. There’s no better place than to be than at Chelsea with Mourinho, he has won a lot more than many of us. It’s a new challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”

It’s refreshing to hear that Torres hasn’t lost his desire and his willingness to fight for his place. A fully firing Torres is a terrifying prospect, and if there is any chance that he can rediscover the kind of form he’s capable of, we should look to keep him at The Bridge. Torres, Lukaku and one new signing up front is an extremely well rounded set of options, especially with Mata, Oscar, Hazard and Schurrle playing behind.

There are some fans who would much rather we cut our losses on Torres, but I am no one of them. Demba Ba is a very good forward, but I don’t see him as the kind of striker that will lead a team to trophies. Torres has previously proven that he has that ability, and who better than Mourinho to bring it out of him. At 29, Torres should still have his best years ahead of him, and it would be a terrible shame to see him performing at the highest level elsewhere.
I truly believe we should give Torres one more season do you?

Jun 072013
 

It’s no secret that new Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho will be given money to spend by Roman Abramovich, as the club looks to wrestle the Premier League back from the two Manchester clubs. Bayer Leverkusen have already admitted that they are in talks with Chelsea over the German attacker Andre Schurrle, and the Brazilian Hulk could be next.

News of that particular transfer should be forthcoming in the next 24 hours, but one potential transfer that not many people have been talking about is the possible signing of Brazilian striker and wonderfully named Hulk. The striker, 27 this summer, has revealed that Mourinho is definitely interested in bringing him to Stamford Bridge.

Hulk signed for Russian moneybags Zenit St. Petersburg in September 2012, in a deal rumoured to be worth more than 40 million euros. Hulk had previously scored 78 goals in 169 appearances for Porto, and a big move to a Champions League club looked likely before Zenit made their move. Rumours of Mourinho’s interest are not coming from the usual sources, but from the player himself.

When asked about any interest from Chelsea, he responded, “If I said there wasn’t anything in it, I would be lying. But that is not for now. At the moment, I am 100 percent focused on Brazil and I hope to be a Confederations Cup winner with my country. Other matters will have to wait until afterwards.”

While the news will delight fans (yours truly included), it is perhaps not what Torres, Ba or Lukaku wanted to hear in Mourinho’s first week at the club. Mourinho likes to play with one main striker, and a move that would bring Hulk to Stamford Bridge could have the Brazilian as first choice, although he could also be used in a wide role.

While Lukaku may be happy to go out on loan for another season as he looks to stay fit and in contention for the Belgian national team, it would mean Torres and Ba accepting supporting roles in the team, and that is something that we already know doesn’t sit well with either player. It would not be surprising to see either player move on this summer and Lukaku stepping up in the pecking order. That, however, is nothing more than speculation, and I expect it will be some time before we have any clear idea of how our squad will look at the start of the season. What we do know is that Jose is looking to strengthen, and with a full summer ahead, the future is bright.

May 292013
 

It seems incredible, but it really appears that Radamel Falcao will snub Chelsea in favour of a team that has just been promoted to the top tier of French football. AS Monaco have been successful in the past, winning seven league titles and five French cups, but have had all sorts or problems and were relegated in 2011. They have a new owner in the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and are throwing his money around lavishly.

It can surely only be the money that has attracted Falcao to Monaco, where lots of rich people live because it is a tax haven. Monaco will pay Atletico Madrid the release clause of over £50 million for the Colombian striker, but there were a number of clubs willing to do so. Earlier in the season it was thought that Chelsea had almost sealed the deal for Falcao, while Jose Mourinho is known to be a big fan, so his decision to choose Monaco is clearly not motivated by dreams of football success.

The former Chelsea player Ricardo Carvalho has also joined Monaco this summer, along with the highly rated Moutinho and Rodriguez from Porto. With the French champions PSG also bankrolled with mega money, you have to feel sorry for the other French Ligue 1 sides. The way these two clubs have been spending money makes a mockery of the new proposed FFP rules, because there is not much TV or matchday revenue in France.

One thing is for sure, Mourinho will need to act quickly to secure the services of a top class striker, because Demba Ba and Fernando Torres are not enough to fight for the Premier League title. Hopefully, Romelu Lukaku will get his chance, but who else should we sign?

May 242013
 

Chelsea have had their ups and downs in the last 2 years. The unmitigated joy of Champions League success, tempered by poor performances and the sacking of club legend Roberto Di Matteo. Frank Lampard’s record breaking goalscoring antics against Fernando Torres’ continued shyness in front of goal in the league. Eden Hazard dominating a game…Eden Hazard kicking a ball-boy. It’s been a bit up and down, and any level of normality can only be achieved by the installation of a new manager.

However, there has been one absolute star – one little Spanish delight that continues to show his remarkable and incredible importance to the Chelsea team. Juan Mata bought from Valencia for £23 million pounds, has proven to be one of the shrewdest of Chelsea’s buys in many years. In the course of the 2012/13 season, Mata made a staggering 64 appearances. His reliability was vital in a hectic schedule. As if that wasn’t enough, in those 64 appearances, Mata managed to notch up 20 goals and 29 assists. That’s 49 combined goals/assists in 64 games.

These kinds of numbers are downright impressive on a page, but watching Mata play really highlights his crucial role in Chelsea’s team. While Hazard or Lampard have the ability to create something out of nothing, Juan Mata is the centrepiece of the whole team. He constantly looks to get on the ball and bring other players in to the game. Mata takes responsibility, and actively looks to influence the general tone and pace of the play. He makes the whole team tick, and his absence causes big problems.

With a new manager coming in, it remains to be seen what Mata’s role will be in the forthcoming season. A new manager may wish to play a more traditional 4 – 4 – 2, and this would force Mata to play in a more wide role similar to the one Hazard has played all season. The big difference is that Hazard is a direct attacker – Mata is more of a playmaker. While he might do an admirable job on a wing, he can directly influence the game more effectively than any other Chelsea player when playing in an attacking central role. I sincerely hope that the incoming manager sees this too, because it really is very hard to argue with 49 goals and assists from 64 games!

May 192013
 

There are two different stories doing the rounds about the future look of the Chelsea strike force and both cannot be true. It seems to boil down to whether Fernando Torres is still at the club next season. If he is, then it seems as if Radamel Falcao will not be coming to Stamford Bridge, because the Colombian striker does not want to share his duties with Torres.

This season, Chelsea have primarily used the single striker, supported by the creative attacking skills of Juan Mata, Oscar, Hazard and others, so it would be Falcao or Torres or Demba Ba. This might not be the case with the new manager, however, so whoever it is (Jose Mourinho) needs to talk to Falcao.

He probably already has, although the Colombian played a big part in wrecking his chance of leaving Real Madrid on a high this week when Atletico won the Spanish cup final. A Manchester City supporting friend of mine alerted me to this story, which suggests that Falcao could be heading there, although The Sun reports that Torres is going to be sold this summer, for £30 million less than we paid for him. I f that’s what it takes to get Falcao, though, who cares? Roman can afford it.

Torres has done a lot better this year, but still not enough and Chelsea are looking for the Premier League title next season. You could see the difference having a real top class striker made when Manchester United signed van Persie. Chelsea need to do something similar, hopefully with Falcao.