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

IMG_6465

 IMG_6466

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!!!!

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!!!!

Chelsea 1 vs 3 Tottenham Review

Chelsea did what they do best this season and that is bottle it.

Chelsea’s lineup was standard the only exception being the unavailability of Courtois. The game started of well and Chelsea were able to restrict Spurs through the middle of the pitch where a 5 4 1 formation was keeping the front four of Spurs at bay. Rare Spurs attacks were repelled and Chelsea counter attacked with speed but the end product was lacking which has been the story of the season. At the 30th minute Rudiger broke into the Spurs midfield and was able to pass it to Moses on the right who gave a decent cross into the box which Morata was able to head into goal. There was poor judgement on Lloris’s part but that should not take anything away from Morata’s finish.

Chelsea continued to dominate the game but time and time again were not clinical enough. Chelsea have not played poorly in recent games but individual mistakes have cost us the most and another one came in the 46th minute. An overplayed cross was kept in by Dele Alli on the right, Moses was able to take the ball from him only to play a poor chip pass to Willian which was intercepted by Davis. Davies was able to pass it to Eriksen who rifled a shot down the middle which had a ronaldoesque dip to it. Too many times this season goals against Chelsea have come from them trying to play intricate passes when what is needed is a simple clearance. Chelsea of last season would have come back from this setback but recent form suggested only one team was going to achieve a comeback.

The second half saw a rejuvenated Spurs take the game to Chelsea, to say that Chelsea had no fight or played poorly would be harsh, there have been games where Chelsea have been poor but the fact is that Chelsea’s best efforts this season have not been able to compete with the other top teams in the league. Spurs got their break in the 62nd minute when Dier played a decent ball to Alli who had made a run in behind Christensen, through on goal Alli was able to finish smartly to give Spurs the lead. The final nail in the coffin came in the 66th minute, Son’s shot was saved by Caballero but instead of booting the ball out of play Christensen fumbled and Alli was on hand to knock the ball into the net. Spurs were able to manage the game for the remaining minutes to achieve a first victory at Stamford Bridge in 28 years without a certain Harry Kane.

Conte was quizzed on his future in the post match press conference and gave his routine answer of “im not worried”. Conte was further asked why in recent history Chelsea have not been able to mount any real title defence. Conte refused to answer the question stating that he would keep his thoughts to himself and that saying them would probably get him into trouble. Conte never blames his players but has outlined that the lack of finishing and poor judgement has cost Chelsea this season. A top four finish is still mathematically possible but would require an implosion of epic proportions from either Spurs or Liverpool, a push for the FA Cup still remains but that should not be enough to rectify Chelsea’s failings the season.

As far as Spurs are concerned they are 8 points clear of Chelsea and for this season (league wise) they are the best team in London. Their slow and steady progression finally yielded a victory at Stamford Bridge and an impressive one at that, if you are Spurs fan. Spurs should probably win a trophy to back their claims to supremacy, hopefully Jose can end that hope for them before we end that hope for Jose (can’t help but be optimistic). For now Spurs have a moment of “success” to focus their season DVD on.

 

 

 

Chelsea Vs Tottenham Preview

There cannot be a better game to start this blog off than the one this weekend!

Chelsea vs Tottenham is a London derby which in recent years has not only increased in intensity but also one that has a lot more at stake. Spurs have gone from a top 10 team to one that has managed to throw its weight amongst the top 6 all without winning anything. Many fans and critics argue (mostly Spurs fans) that they are the best team in North London if not in London, when it has been more than a decade since Spurs last won a cup of any sorts. While Chelsea usually find it difficult to win at White Hart Lane, Stamford Bridge is an entirely different story.

Chelsea have had what I would say is an inconsistent season but that is a discussion for another post. The game follows an international break (why?) both teams having won their last games to progress to the semifinals of the FA Cup. Chelsea need to win this game to stand any chance of reaching the top four while a Spurs win would increase the gap to 8 points.

Chelsea Team Preview:

Chelsea approach the game with a few doubts in selection with Courtois and Christensen both facing late fitness tests. While Caballero has proven himself when called upon this season, Cahill has been anything but reassuring. With Luiz out for the next three weeks and Ampadu out for the season we need Christensen to be fit or for Rudiger or Azpilicueta to play in the center of the three with Cahill playing on the left or right. Other than that Chelsea need Hazard to turn up for this one and Morata to follow up his good performance against Leicester with another great one.

Tottenham Team Preview:

Tottenham have the same objectives as Chelsea for the remaining season which are to finish in the top four and try to win the FA Cup. While Harry Kane may or may not make it for the game on sunday, Tottenham have no injury problems. Many believed Spurs would face problems without Harry Kane but the players have turned up in the strikers absence to win convincingly although Chelsea is whole different proposition. While Eriksen has been recieving several plaudits, the biggest threats in my opinion are Son and Dembele. Son has had an incredible season so far and Dembele has been imperious in recent weeks. 

Starting XI prediction: 

IMG_6459    IMG_6460

This is a massive game in the race for the top four and with only eight games to play a lot is at stake. The game should be decided in the midfield and according to which Chelsea show up though it is Spurs and it is Stamford Bridge and with so much at stake the blues always show up.