Champions League QF 2nd Leg Review Part 1

MIND BLOWING!

Man City 1 vs. 2 Liverpool (1-5)

City had it all to do in the 2nd leg and Pep selected a very attacking lineup of 3-1-3-3, Liverpool had the same starting 11 as the 1st leg with the only exception being Wijnaldum who came in for a suspended Henderson. The game started of brilliantly for Manchester City as they managed to score via Jesus in the 2nd minute. Much like the Manchester derby on Saturday, City dominated the first half with Liverpool having no shots on goal and barely being able to string two passes together. There was contentious decision late in the first half when Milner scored an own goal but was saved by the linesman who ruled it offside. A half that had seen 5 yellow cards dealt to players was followed by Pep being sent to the stands at half time for engaging with the referee. 

Similar to United in the second half, Klopp seems to have given a rallying team talk as Liverpool started to play like they had at Anfield. The pressure seemed to be mounting on City and that led to several misplaced passes by them. The break came in the 56th minute when Firmino ran through on goal and fumbled only for Salah to pick up the pieces and finish to give Liverpool a very important away goal. Now needing to score four goals City players deflated and Firmino added a second in the 77th minute to give Liverpool the win and a place in the Champions League semi finals. 

A 3rd straight defeat for City in the space of a week, and they play Spurs at Wembley next. City definitely deserve to be Premier League champions this season, but what the last week has shown us is that they lack experience, and that they are beatable. It could be a tough few weeks for City ahead, while Liverpool will be fancying their chances against any team that they come up against. 

Roma 3 vs. 0 Barcelona (4-4)

I feel vindicated. If a neutral watched the round of 16 legs between Chelsea and Barcelona, he or she would not deny that Chelsea lost due to poor finishing, bad luck, and Messi’s desire to get one over the team from London. The first leg score of 4-1 in Rome was more than flattering to Barcelona as mistakes and poor finishing by Roma again gave them the advantage. 

Roma needed to score 3 without reply to qualify for the semi’s, and Roma scored 3 without reply to qualify for the semi’s. It was one of those nights for Roma where they gave a near perfect performance and where Barca never really looked like they would score. A goal in the 6th minute by Edin Dzeko set up Roma for the comeback, and while Barca kept them out for the rest of the second half, although they continued to attack. 

Unlike City, Roma started the second half in the same fashion that they played the first half and in the 58th minute Dzeko was able to get a penalty after good centre forward play in the box. De Rossi hammered the ball into the net leaving Roma one goal away from turning the tie on its head. That goal came in the 82nd minute as Manolas scored a magnificent header to send Roma to the semi’s. 

There is no doubt that Barca are going to win La Liga and they have literally gone undefeated domestically. In Europe Barca have been suspect and in the last few weeks Messi has rescued Barcelona on multiple occasions. Messi did not show up in Rome and Roma tore Barcelona apart. They might be undefeated but this Barcelona team can not be compared to the great sides that came in the past. 

Roma much like Liverpool have vanquished one of the favourites for this season and no one will want to play them over two legs. 

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Champions League QF 2nd Leg Preview Part 2

Real and potentially Bayern through?

Bayern Munich vs. Sevilla (2-1) 

Sevilla were unlucky to concede two goals at home to Bayern. They made Bayern work for it but Bayern were solid enough to keep out attacks from Sevilla. 

Bayern beat Augsburg at the weekend by 4 goals to 1 to clinch their 6th Bundesliga title in a row. Bayern can now concentrate their efforts on the Champions League and advancing to a potential final. 

Sevilla lost 4-0 to Celta Vigo in La Liga and will be looking to bounce back in Munich. 

Sevilla need to score a minimum of 2 goals to stand a chance of qualifying to the semis, it is a task which is easier said than done especially since it is in Munich. Sevilla did manage to score two away goals at Old Trafford but Bayern are a team on a high of being crowned champions and will probably progress to the semis. 

Real Madrid vs. Juventus (3-0)

This tie was probably finished in the first leg and while Juventus might manage to score a few goals in Madrid, Madrid will most definitely score at home. 

At the weekend Real drew at home to Atletico in the Madrid derby. Ronaldo continued his scoring run while Griezmann equalised for Atletico. 

Juventus managed to win 4-2 at Benevento, Dybala scored a hattrick while Douglas Costa scored the remaining goal. 

Juventus need to score a minimum of 3 goals without reply to at least take the game to extra time. If this game was to be played in Turin, Juventus could have stood a chance but the Bernabeu will be rocking, and after having lost La Liga this season Madrid will be focused to win their third successive Champions League by progressing to the semis. 

Champions League QF 2nd Leg Preview Part 1

Done and dusted (almost). 

Man City vs. Liverpool (0-3)

After a woeful night at Anfield in the first leg the chances are slim of City making a comeback especially if Liverpool manage to get one or more away goals. 

City and Liverpool rested players in their weekend fixtures in the league but while Liverpool’s draw against Everton was inconsequential, City’s loss to United at the Etihad was another big blow to the team. The fact that City now need two more wins too seal the title will affect the players deeply and Liverpool will be raring to go at the Etihad. 

A solid defensive display is needed by Liverpool because even a 3 goal lead against City is not a guarantee of reaching the semi’s. City will have to come out and attack Liverpool and while they might manage to score goals, the need for those goals will leave City open at the back. 

It should be an exciting second leg between two rested sides but a City side reeling from two damaging defeats. 

Roma vs. Barcelona (1-4) 

Two own goals in Rome by Roma were damaging to their chances of reaching the semis. Barcelona were not brilliant and have ridden their luck at times in the Champions league this season. 

Roma lost to Fiorentina at the weekend, while Barcelona beat Leganes 3-1 at home via a Lionel Messi hattrick. 

Its seems an impossible task for Roma and similar to City they have nothing to lose and will have to attack Barcelona. Roma are capable of scoring against a suspect Barcelona team but Messi is major arrow in Barcelona’s quiver and they should be able to get a few goals on the counter. 

It could be a close game but Barcelona are almost certainly through to the semi’s. 

 

Weekend Football Review

City can bottle it too!

Premier League MW 33

Everton 0 vs. 0 Liverpool 

With Salah out and several players rested for the upcoming Champions League game Liverpool still fielded a decent team. Everton fielded a strong lineup but were denied by Karius who made a few good saves. The draw means that Liverpool are tied with Spurs and only ahead on goal difference with Spurs having a game in hand. Everton are 9th and are safe for the season. 

Bournemouth 2 vs. 2 Crystal Palace 

Bournemouth for the second week in a row managed to gain a point in the final minute of the game. A second half free kick by Milivojević gave Palace the lead. Mousset equalised in the 65th. Zaha then gave Palace the lead again with a good finish in the 75th minute. Finally in the 89th minute King was able to fumble the ball into the net via a cross. Crystal Palace’s defence has let them down over the past few weeks and that has caused them to drop important points. Palace sit 3 points above the relegation zone while Bournemouth edge closer to 40 points and safety. 

Brighton 1 vs. 1 Huddersfield 

Lossl scored an own goal to give Brighton the lead midway through the second half. Mounie was able to score in the 32nd minute for Huddersfield to get back in the game. A red card to Pröpper in the second half was not enough to give an advantage to Huddersfield and both teams finished with a point. Brighton continue to edge towards safety while Huddersfield sit 16th. 

Leicester 1 vs. 2 Newcastle 

Goals by Shelvey and Pérez in each half were enough to gain all 3 points for Newcastle while Leicester did manage to get one back via Vardy late on. Newcastle have begun to gain momentum and now sit 10th, 2 points of 40 points. Leicester are still 8th but now 6 points off Burnley in 7th. 

Stoke City 1 vs. 2 Tottenham 

Tottenham fielded a strong lineup and continued their winning streak after Eriksen gave them the lead in the second half. Diouf was able to equalise a few minutes later and while the first half was a stalemate the second half was entertaining. Eriksen finished well to get 3 points for Tottenham in the 63rd minute. Spurs 3 points take them to 10 ahead of Chelsea in 5th and tied with Liverpool in 3rd. Stoke stay 19th 4 points off safety. 

Watford 1 vs. 2 Burnley

A stale first half performance by both teams led to a lively second half. 2 goals in 3 minutes by Vokes and Cork were enough to give Burnley the win after Pereyra had given Watford the lead in the 63rd minute. Watford are 12th with 37 points while Burnley remain 7th with 49 points. 

West Brom 1 vs. 1 Swansea 

Goals came in the second half when Rodriguez scored to give West Brom the lead. Tammy Abraham was able to equalise for Swansea in the 75th minute. West Brom remain bottom of the table having ended their losing streak. Swansea are 16th. 

Man City 2 vs. 3 Man United 

This game was up their with Liverpool vs City as the best game of the season. Man city needed 3 points to confirm them as champions for the season and there was no better way than to beat your city rivals. A blitz by City in the first half gave them a 2 goal advantage after Kompany and Gündogan had scored. Sterling could have easily scored two more goals to give City a 4 goal advantage at the break but it was not to be. To say United were poor in the first half would be an under statement, during halftime Mourinho apparently asked the players whether they wanted to be clowns while City went on to win the title. The answer was clearly no as two goals in two minutes by Pogba brought United back into the game, and a 69th minute finish by Smalling ensured the three points and remarkable come back for United. 

Two defeats in two for City and a second leg against a rested Liverpool side to come. City deserve to be champions this season but the debate on whether they are the greatest ever Premier League side has taken a major hit in the last week. With this win United and Mourinho have set a marker for next season and have shown proved that United have not lost their touch. 

Arsenal 3 vs. 2 Southampton 

Many thought that this would be a walk in the park for Arsenal but Southampton were the team to score first after Long gave them the lead in the 17th minute. A good finish by Aubameyang and deflected shot by Welbeck gave Arsenal the advantage going into half time. Southampton managed to equalise in the 73rd minute via Charlie Austin, but after Welbeck had failed to convert a very a good chance he managed to redeem himself by getting Arsenal all 3 points in the 81st minute. Red cards were given to Elneny and Stephens for altercations of the ball. Arsenal remain 6th although just 3 points off Chelsea while Southampton are still in the relegation zone at 17th. 

Rest of Europe

Real Madrid 1 vs. 1 Atletico Madrid

Goals in the second half by Ronaldo and Griezmann earned both teams a point in what was a game that was dominated by Real. A draw means that Real drop down to 4th, 4 points off Atletico in 2nd, while Atletico are 11 points off Barcelona who might have sealed the La Liga title this week. 

Chelsea 1 vs 1 West Ham Review

Another game week and another comeback from the opposing team. 

Stamford Bridge celebrated the remarkable person that was Ray Wilkins yesterday on what was an emotional day for everyone who followed Chelsea Football Club. 

The game in itself was in keeping with Chelsea’s form in 2018. Personally I feel that Conte got the lineup wrong, Barkley and Emerson should have played in place of Fabregas and Moses. Never the less the players showed that they were ready to fight for something and for much of the first half we dominated the game. 3 great chances in the opening 30 mins should have been easily dispatched by Chelsea’s front three but we were not clinical enough and West Ham continued to survive. A 36th minute corner brought the opening goal for Chelsea after what was scruffy defending on West Ham’s part, Azpilicueta was the most alert player and was able to nick the goal, and his celebration was a touching gesture to Ray Wilkins. 

Chelsea started the second half in the same fashion as they did in the first half, plenty of possession but no real end product and a failure to convert chances when they appeared. Watching the game you got the sense that the longer West Ham were able to keep it 1-0 the more panicked Chelsea would get. At the 70th minute a certain Javier Hernandez came on for West Ham and I had a gut feeling that he would do what he always did against Chelsea and score. Score he did in the 73rd minute after a poor clearance from Cahill. West Ham had the goal they needed and managed to see out the game while Chelsea continued to reach the West Ham box without creating any real threat. A good header by Giroud late on was saved brilliantly by Joe Hart. 

Where does this draw leave Chelsea? We are now 10 points behind 4th place spurs and 3rd place Liverpool, although we do have a game in hand against the reds. Liverpool did draw their game this week but if Chelsea do not win their games it does not matter what other teams do. Arsenal are now 3 points behind us and honestly it seems like a fight to stay in 5th place. 

In his post match press conference Conte restated the facts about being clinical and lacking desire and needing to work, and suffer but even he ended it by saying that he was tired of asking the same things from his players every single week. 

As far as West Ham are concerned, this draw takes them to 14th and 6 point so the relegation zone and with games to play against a few other top 6 sides this was a vital point earned for them.

For me this season is over, Conte mentioned it from the beginning that this season would be tough, but to not be able to beat teams in the bottom half of the table is unacceptable. A different team seems to have come into 2018, one that lacks the capability to finish and, resilience to defend, these were qualities that got us the title last season. All Chelsea can do is focus on the ending the season the best way possible and then we will see what follows. 

Chelsea vs. West Ham Preview

A must win game for both teams.

Last week’s loss to Tottenham came as no shock if recent form was to be seen. With 6 games to play Chelsea need to get a minimum of 18 points and hope that Spurs lose 3 out of those 6 games. West Ham beat Southampton by 3 goals last week and Moyes will fancy his chances at getting some points at Stamford Bridge. 

While the FA cup is the only trophy that Chelsea can win this season, a strong finish to the season should also be on that list. Discussions about incoming or outgoing managers and players should be left for June. Right now the most important thing is to get three points. 

Chelsea Team Preview

Conte in his press conference stated that all players except Luiz and Ampadu are available for selection. While Fabregas and Bakayoko are fit I hope that Conte gives a chance to Barkley against a poor West Ham side. Conte was also asked whether there was any truth in Vialli’s claims that he wanted to leave the club, and he responded by saying that he has not talked to Vialli in a year and that these rumours have been going on since the start of the season.

West Ham Team Preview 

West Ham have been poor of late this season and find themselves in a relegation battle. While a win last week would have boosted their confidence, it was against a really poor Southampton side. 

Starting XI Prediction

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The amount of times this season that I have said “must win game” was probably every game since the opening weekend. Though probably every game is must win depending on your perspective. Chelsea need to win and I think they will on what will be an emotional day in remembrance of the legend that was Ray Wilkins. 

Rest in Peace Ray.

COME ON CHELSEA!!!!

Weekend Football Preview

It’s Derby Weekend!

Premier League MW 33

Everton vs. Liverpool

The game weeks starts with a trip to Merseyside, Everton are 9th in the table while Liverpool sit 3rd, two points of Manchester United. Everton lost to City at home in the preview game due to what was a very poor first half. Liverpool have a good week after struggling to beat Crystal Palace, and then demolishing Manchester City in the Champions League. Derbies are always a fiery affair, and while Salah might be rested for the game on current form Liverpool should be able to get a win at Everton.

Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace 

Bournemouth sit in 10th a chance to go to 9th with a victory, while 3 points for Palace could move them from 17th to 14th. Crystal Palace might have lost 4 out of their last 5 games but since all of those losses came against the top 6 it can be separated. Their performances in those fixtures were encouraging and on numerous occasions they were unlucky not to come away with a point. Bournemouth did well to gain a point at Watford last weekend, but I think Crystal Palace’s recent performances have shown that they could get all 3 points. 

Brighton vs. Huddersfield 

Having suffered losses in the last game week both team will want to respond by getting all 3 points. Brighton have been strong at home this season and so might edge it out in this fixture while Huddersfield need to win to gain some distance from the relegation zone. 

Leicester vs. Newcastle 

Having moved out of the relegation zone in recent weeks a win for Newcastle could see them move to 10th, while Leicester will be trying to continue their battle for 7th with Burnley. Leicester and Newcastle have been in good form and so this should be an interesting clash, the key for Newcastle would be to keep Vardy and Mahrez quite but that is easier said than done. 

Stoke City vs. Tottenham

Stoke City sit 19th in the league and time for them to escape the relegation zone is running out at each game week passes. Injuries to important players has no helped their endeavour and the run of losses seams like it will continue. Tottenham are in seventh heaven after beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the first time in 28 years and will be confident going into the fixture. Kane did make a substitute appearance against Chelsea and will want to start against a poor Stoke side as he tries to catch Salah in the golden boot race. Playing at Stoke is tough for even the best teams and Stoke might need to tap into that energy to get something away from Tottenham. 

Watford vs. Burnley

Burnley have put in fine performances in recent week to hold 7th place while Watford could move to 9th with a win. Watford have been inconsistent and relatively poor lately and that is why Burnley should be able to take all three points. 

West Brom vs. Swansea 

Swansea suffered an away loss to Manchester United last weekend and West Brom continued their losing streak at home. After a poor first half at Old Trafford, Swansea did rally in the second and put in a performance that has become a showcase of Carvalhal’s management. In all probability Swansea will continue to poor the misery on the West Brom and should take all three points. 

Man City vs. Man United

A perfect way to end an entertaining Saturday of Premier League fixtures. Needing 3 points to win the title City could ask for no better opponents than their local rivals United. Celebrations of unseen proportions would follow a City win at home and Mourinho and United will do whatever it takes to make sure that does not happen. A crushing loss to Liverpool in the Champions League could either buoy City for this game or could create doubts over their capability, the first is more of a possibility. Liverpool have given Mourinho the perfect blueprint to beat City although Mourinho like many other managers is not know to change his tactics too often. Either way this should be a mouthwatering tie, City fans will want to implement the ultimate humiliation while United fans will not want to suffer it. 

Arsenal vs. Southampton 

Southampton will most likely suffer their second loss in London after losing to West Ham last week. Arsenal put in a great first half performance against CSKA Moskva in the Europa League and will want to carry on their form. Rotations are expected as Aubameyang will probably replace Lacazette up top along with a few other changes. Southampton sit 18th and are most likely to stay their for this game week. 

Rest Of Europe

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid 

The third major derby of the weekend comes from Madrid as third placed Real entertain second placed Atletico. Real and Atletico both won their games in the champions league and europa league respectively while there is no doubt that Real’s was the more impressive of the two. Ronaldo and Real are back to their best this year while Atletico have been rejuvenated with Diego Costa back in the team. A win for Real would take them to within a point of Atletico while a win for Atletico would see them extend the gap to 7 points. Similar to last weeks London Derby the major difference between this game and that would be that Real unlike Chelsea are in top form and should be able to get three points in what will be a close game. 

Champions League Review Part 2

ANFIELD!!

Liverpool 3 vs. 0 Man City

After the two fixtures between these teams in the premier league this champions league tie was always going to be a feisty one. Liverpool supporters hounded the city team bus as they arrived at Anfield, and while throwing glass bottles and damaging the bus can not be condoned the atmosphere created on arrival is what makes football special and would have intimidated even the greatest of players. It is said that European nights at Anfield are a spectacle to behold and last night was another one to be added to the list. 

As You’ll Never Walk Alone was belted out by Liverpool fans the two teams took their positions on the pitch and the game began. City were alert and on the front foot in the opening ten minutes of the game, while Liverpool were quick to close down every single City player in possession of the ball. At the 12th minute a poor cross field pass by Sané was intercepted by the Liverpool defense, Liverpool did what they do best and broke forward with Salah who passed the ball into Firmino. Firmino’s shot was saved by Ederson only to Walker who failed to clear the ball, Salah was on hand to smash the ball in the goal and Liverpool led by a goal. As the momentum began to swing in Liverpool’s favor Chamberlain was able to break from midfield to score from outside the box to make it 2-0 to Liverpool in the 20 min. The blitz continued to take place and lobbed pass in the box from Salah was headed in the goal by Mané to give Liverpool 3 goals in 30 min. The rest of the first half continued in similar fashion as City were not able to get to grips with the game as they tried to repel attack after attack from Liverpool. 

While the first half showcased Liverpool’s strength in attack, the second half portrayed their stubborn defence as City dominated possession for 45 minutes without ever posing any real threat to the Liverpool goal. Robertson did bring down Sterling in the box late on for what looked like a penalty, but it was waved away. Full time brought an end to another memorable night at Anfield. 

The three fixtures between the two teams shows that Klopp and Liverpool learned and progressed from every single game played. Losing 5-0 at the Etihad, winning 4-3 at Anfield, and now winning 3-0 at Anfield. While Pep has brought his style of play to City, his approach of all out attack has gone wrong on occasion throughout his career. City need a minimum of 3 goals without reply at the Etihad next week, and while they are more than capable of doing that Liverpool will also fancy their chances of getting an away goal or two. City might be dominating the Premier League, last night proved that they are a long way away from having any real pedigree in Europe. 

Barcelona 4 vs. 1 Roma

The scoreline would suggest a dominant performance by Barcelona at home, but it could not be far from it. The first two goals were own goals scored by De Rossi, and Manolas while the rest were scored by Piqué and Suarez in the second half. Džeko was able to get an away goal for Roma but the damage was already done. 

Barcelona have coasted through La Liga this season but recent performances have shown a team that have struggled to get the points they need and they have relied on luck as much as skill. 

While 4-1 might seem to be an unassailable task for Roma they should be encouraged by the fact that Barcelona were definitely not in control for much of the game. Barcelona could go through to the semi’s but they are definitely not favourites to win the Champions League.  

Champions League Review Part 1

Ronaldo!!

Juventus 0 vs. 3 Real Madrid 

Similar to last seasons Champions League Final Juventus capitulated to Real Madrid and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. 

As early as the 3rd minute Isco received the ball on the left and crossed it into the box for Ronaldo to apply a poacher’s finish. The rest of the first half petered out as both teams fought for position without really posing any threat to each other. 

Madrid showed up in the second half with another gear to their play, they dominated position and attacked the Juventus goal with consistency. The breakthrough came in the 64th minute when a rare misunderstanding between Buffon and Chiellini allowed Ronaldo to get in on goal. Buffon was able to recover but Ronaldo kept it alive and the ball fell to Carvajal on the right, Carvajal whipped in a cross and Ronaldo scored a goal of the season contender with a bicycle kick to give Real Madrid a comfortable lead. Dybala was sent off in the 66th minute for a second yellow, and in the 72nd minute brilliant interplay between Marcelo and Ronaldo ended with a good finish by Marcelo to give Madrid a 3rd away goal. 

In all honesty the tie is most likely over. For Juventus to stand a chance to make a comeback they would have required at least two goals to be scored on their behalf. They now will go to the Bernabéu needing to score a minimum of three goals without reply from Madrid to take the fixture to extra time. 

Ronaldo is now the leading goal scorer in Europe this season and has silenced anyone who doubted his ability. Madrid and Zidane are on course to reach the semis of this seasons Champions League. 

Sevilla 1 vs. 2 Bayern Munich 

Sevilla once again proved that they are no push overs in this season’s Champions League with an impressive attacking performance in Seville, only to be edged out by a resilient display by Bayern. 

One yellow card each in the first 15 minutes set off what turned out to be balanced fixture. Sevilla gained the lead in the 32nd minute when a Escudero cross was smartly finished by Sarabia on the left hand side. Whether Sarabia had handled the ball in his first touch is debatable, but nevertheless the goal was given. 

Ribéry had been causing problems down right side throughout the game and an attempted cross in the 37th minute led to an goal by Navas to bring Bayern back into the game give them a crucial away goal. 

The second half was equally balanced but a Ribéry cross in the 68th minute was headed home by Alcântara to give Bayern the win and two away goals to take to Munich. 

The fixture at the moment is in favour of Bayern Munich who have been dominant all season at home. Sevilla need to score a minimum of two goals in Munich if they are to stand a chance of winning the game. Bayern will feel confident with the away goals and a solid defensive display at home to compliment a goal or two could be enough to take them to semi final. 

What Is Wrong With Chelsea?

A question I find myself asking for the second time in 3 years. 

Chelsea have gone through several “crisis” in the 12 years since I have supported the club, notable one’s being:

  • Mourinho’s sacking in 2007
  • Ancelotti’s sacking in 2011 for which I till date have no reason 
  • Andre Villas Boas appointment and sacking in 2011 the only one I whole heartedly supported. 
  • Mourinho’s second sacking in 2015, which in my opinion still remains under a shadow of rumours and uncertainty.

Come June of this year we might yet again be facing another crisis if we are not already in one right now. This one though feels different to the previous ones, there is more at stake this time around and in my opinion Chelsea are at a crossroads, and we as a club have an opportunity to either break this cyclical process of success and failure or continue on with it. 

Last season was the first season I thoroughly enjoyed watching Chelsea since Ancelotti’s two seasons in charge. That celebration from Conte when Diego Costa scored the winner against West Ham in our opening game was something I had not seen any manager do at Chelsea since probably the “Happy One’s” first stint in charge. Even then Conte’s passion on the touchline and celebration were infectious and the way we dominated the league last season was amazing. Cut to last Sunday, the fans, players, and Conte could not be more different. Before I talk about my opinion of what is wrong I will mention the three parties at Chelsea: 

  • The Board – Roman Abramovich owns Chelsea and is only really bothered with major decisions that take place at the club. I don’t think I have seen him at Stamford Bridge this whole season and that probably might be due to mixture of personal, political, and financial problems. The main two figures other than Roman are Bruce Buck who is the chairman, and Marina Granovskaia who is a director and basically oversees transfers of players. 
  • The Players – Naming all 23 would be tedious but if you watch football you probably know some of them. 
  • The Head Coach – Antonio Conte

Now fans usually tend to blame all of the above, one of the above, or a combination of the above, and I think some parties share more of the blame than others. Lets start with the least to the most. 

1) The person in recent years and certainly in this case with the least blame is Antonio Conte. Conte can only be blamed for his recent failings but it is not something that has come out of the blue. Conte has no plan B and that has probably been the most annoying aspect of him this season. No manager is perfect and each and every manager in the Prem has been criticised by their fans at some point in time. Managers especially young ones learn the same way players and fans do. Conte is a manager who wears his heart on his sleeve and while that is great when you are winning and he is gesticulating, positive and exuberant, when we are losing he can be seen with his hands in his pocket usually staring at the ground. We have seen more of the latter this season. 

As early as the end of last season Conte had stated that last season was a MIRACLE. Any fan in my opinion who thinks otherwise needs to look at it properly. Conte stated time and time again in pre season that if they were to post a successful defence of the title they needed to build on what they had and that this season would not be any where as simple as last season. Fans state that he has been sulking and moody and whining etc but which manager would be happy were they in Conte’s shoes. Conte is no idiot he is no fool, the board clearly promised him something and they did not deliver and that is what has annoyed him this season. At City and United, Pep and Mourinho are on the same page as the board which is that they will provide the cash and the manager can spend the budget on the players he wants. At Liverpool and Spurs, Klopp and Poch are on the same page with the board in that they wont spend as lavishly as others but the managers can decide who they want to acquire. Arsenal seem to have a board and a manager who have perennially been on the same page win or lose although Arsenal might want to change that page. 

Antonio Conte isn’t even the manager at Chelsea, he is the head coach, and that might be a technicality but it is one which is highly relevant. Fans say they want a manager who promotes youth, has Conte not done that? Last season he brought in Loftus Cheek, Ola Aina, Ake and Chalobah, they might not have played regularly but they played more minutes than they had in any of the recent seasons. This season he has brought in Ampadu, Hudson Odoi, Sterling, and most importantly Christensen. Christensen has become one of the first names on the team sheet but recently he has made mistakes and that is something you need to accept if you want youth to be promoted. Klopp and Poch are probably the managers who promote youth the most but they have suffered in that only recently have those youth players gained any experience to successfully challenge other teams in the Premier League. Chelsea’s average age has reduced this season with transfer such as Bakayoko, Morata, Rudiger, Emerson, and Barkley coming in. Conte stated that he wanted to keep Matic this season so that he could ease Bakayoko into the team. What happened was that the board sold Matic to United and thereby forcing Conte to throw a half fit Bakayoko into the deep end that is the Premier League. The only player that Conte wanted to sell was Diego Costa, and yes he was a great striker but his numbers were no where near the likes of Kane or Aguero and his tendency to have mood swings had annoyed Antonio Conte. 

Social Media is crying out for Tuchel, or Allegri, or Poch etc but does anyone honestly think that the way clubs are spending at the moment these managers will bring any immediate success. Say Conte is sacked Chelsea will have to pay him 9 million in compensation, and we bring in one of the above managers, what is to say that the board wont do the exact same thing they did to Conte this season. To implement your philosophy as a manager you need TIME, and LIBERTY without these two things you can’t make a football team in a managers image. 

Conte’s biggest mistake was to win the title last season, and when he stated time and time again that he needed players of his choice brought in and patience from the fans and that this season would be a struggle otherwise, why are we blaming him for being the only one who was honest from day one. 

2) The second highest share of blame goes to some of the players at Chelsea Football Club. I refuse to blame Bakayoko, Morata, Christensen, Zappacosta and Rudiger because they are all young and it is their first season in the Premier League, it would be better to judge them on their performances next season. Drinkwater I don’t blame because he has not played and I don’t believe he was a Conte signing. Barkley has been injured and so cant say anything about him, Emerson would come under the same category, he has not played and next season would be a better judgement of his skills. Giroud we know about but is mostly an impact sub. The only experienced players who can hold their head up high are Kante, Azpilicueta, Alonso, and Willian. The truly legendary players are the ones who shine when the team is playing poorly. We used to have a good 5 or 6 of those players but they had to retire or move on because that is football no one can play forever. Azpi and Willian have been consistent since they arrived at the football club, in the good times and the bad you can say these players played well. Willian was are Player of the season in 2016. Kante is Kante and Alonso is no Roberto Carlos but you can still see that he gives his all on the pitch. The rest such as Moses, Fabregas, Cahill, etc down tools when the going gets tough. Moses in particular has been caught out this season, the amount of times he makes the wrong decision is hysterical I am 22 and even I know that when you are 30 seconds away from half time and are leading by a goal just kick the bloody ball away. Offensively Moses offers next to nothing. That leaves me with Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois. Hazard is our teams Salah, our teams Messi, this season he has been no where near as poor as he was in 15/16 but he has been no where near as good as he was last year. That is largely due to the part that he feeds off the energy of the players around him, many people say that if Hazard plays well the team plays well but its the opposite of that. That has been proved over the last 3 seasons. Courtois has been decent but seriously if he wants to go to Madrid then leave otherwise just sign a contract and concentrate on football. Today’s players feed of the energy at their club, gone are the days when players like Drogba, Terry and Lampard played on when things were falling apart around them. The players play for the club and their fans, all of these players earn exorbitant amounts of money and don’t need to worry about who to buy and finances etc, their only job is to give their all for 90, or 180 minutes depending on the week. 

3) Finally the crux and soul of what is wrong at this our dear football club is how it is run, and who it is run by. It is run like a business and not a football club and it is run by business men, and people who in no way have any knowledge of what the sport is about. The problem with the Chelsea board and the fan base at large is that short term fixes and success have spoilt us to the extent that it has taken away any patience we might need to expect long term stability and success at the club. 

Let’s look back at the summer of 2015, we are premier league champions after Mourinho’s second season back in charge (it should be noted that he only won the Capital One cup in his first season back, but we should sack Conte). The 13/14 transfer windows brought players like Willian, Matic, Schurrle, Salah, and Zouma, while we also sold certain players like Mata, and De Bruyne. 14/15 we bought Costa, Fabregas, Cuadrado, Filipe Luis, Drogba to name a few and sold a certain Romelu Lukaku. These two transfer windows were more than decent though it did contain a few sales that we would live to regret. Now just when we have won the title and Mourinho needs players to build his team upon, in the summer of 2015 we buy Pedro, Baba Rahman, Begovic, Kennedy, Falcao (post United), Miazga, and DJILOBODJI. We sell or loan out Ramires, Filipe Luis, Cech, Salah and Cuadrado. We all know what followed, Mourinho lost his mind, players lost interest and we finished 10th. Conte came in and the board goes out and buys him, Michy, Kanté, Alonso, Luiz, and Eduardo, the rest is history. 

It is the summer of 2017, we are premier league champions after Conte’s first season in charge and the fact that we finished 10th the previous season. We are back in the Champions League and Conte publicly states that we will have to add to the squad with a mixture of experience and youth. Conte expects Lukaku is on the way, only to find out that he is dabbing his way to United we bring in Morata Conte is relatively happy. Conte wants Bonucci as we already have young center backs in the form of Christensen and Zouma, the board says have one more and give him Rudiger. The board deliver on Bakayoko but sell Matic to United someone who Conte hoped Bakayoko would learn from. We round of the window by panic buying Zappacosta and Drinkwater when Conte had asked for Alex Sandro, and Vidal. Now every single one of the players Conte asked for would have improved Chelsea’s starting XI but instead the board sold or loaned out experienced players and brought in young players who conte had to try to convert into title winners, Conte cannot pull it off twice. To add to the stupidity we loaned Batshuayi to Dortmund when he was finally entering some sort of form, a decision that left Conte baffled. It is no surprise that we were second at the beginning of January and started to regress post window. 

Why do we not have a replacement for Emenalo yet? I am starting to think that Marina was the problem all along not Emenalo. The board needs to be injected with people from a football background so that they can bring their experience to help run the club in a better way. 

Finally, what is the solution? 

Firstly, the structure of Chelsea Football Club needs to change if we are to enjoy success over a prolonged period of time. For once the club need to support the manager by giving him control of transfers and a sufficient time period in his contract to create the team in his image. Whether that is Conte or a new manager only time will tell but either way they should be given that independency. I believe that we have the best option and that the club should stick with and back Conte in the summer, he has been completely honest with the fans since the beginning and has integrated youth and experience to his best ability, Rome was not built in a day. Any players not happy with the decision should leave, we have moved on before and we can move on again. Fans want Tuchel? What has Tuchel won? Klopp had won the Bundesliga, Poch had proved himself in the prem before taking up a job at Spurs. Conte had won 4 successive league titles until this season give the man some bloody respect. Its pathetic how fans on social media want Conte out. I don’t think any of the managers mentioned to replace Conte, and even Pep himself would have been able to win the premier league last season the way Conte did. If the board had behaved with Pep in the way they have with Conte, not even being given the title of Manager let alone having freedom in buying players, Pep would have left Chelsea before the season started. 

Secondly time has to be given to Conte or any new manager that comes in, and that time is not only given to them by the board but also the fans. This season has not been abysmal by a long shot the only problem has been that our best this season has not been good enough because we did not reinforce the positions in the squad with players that the manager could work with and mould the squad around. We as fans only need to look around us, when managers get players they want and the time to create a team from fans and the board they are able to achieve consistent performances, such as City, Liverpool, and Spurs. 

We are approaching a fork in the road at the end of this season. We as fans need to make sure that instead of taking the road that leads to short term success followed by anguish, we instead take the road that leads us to long term success in the form of consistent challenges for premier league titles and domestic and European trophies. Some might say that we had that until on recently, yes we did but during that time we were the richest of the teams. 

IT IS TIME FOR THE CLUB AND US FANS TO CHANGE THINGS AT CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB!!!!