Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg Preview

An amazing set of fixtures!

Tottenham vs. Man City

Our first quarter-final comes to us from London as Man City play premier league rivals Tottenham at their new stadium. Tottenham just moved in and will be hoping to have a memorable night to help them progress to the quarter-finals. Tottenham beat Dortmund 4-0 in the round of 16 although in hindsight and with Dortmund’s current form it doesn’t seem like an amazing feat. Since their last Champions League game Tottenham have lost 2 and won 1 and so are not a in a great patch of form. City beat Schalke 10-2 on aggregate in the round of 16 and have won all 4 of their games since. City seem to be an emotionless robot that is storming to victories in various ways. Tottenham face a massive task and City are pushing for a potential quadruple. This 1st leg might be close and there is always a chance that City might falter but eventually they should win. 

Liverpool vs. FC Porto

Liverpool beat Bayern Munich 1-3 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals and have won all three of their games since although they have not kept a clean sheet in their last 5 games. Porto beat Roma 4-3 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals and have played 5 games since having won 4 and drawn 1. Liverpool are having to fight in the Premier League grinding out results in each game although they always manage to win. Porto are 2nd in the Primeira Liga level on points on with Benfica as they also look to progress in two competitions. Liverpool will look to finish the game in this leg but Porto are no pushovers and this could be a fixture to keep an eye on. 

Ajax vs. Juventus

Ajax have a brilliant group of youngsters pushing their season forward as they come up against the might of Juventus. Ajax dumped out champions Real Madrid 3-5 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals and have won 5 and lost 1 of their games since. Juventus made a brilliant comeback in the 2nd leg to beat Atletico 3-2 on aggregate in the round of 16 and have won 3 and lost 1 of their games since. It is yet to be seen if Ronaldo will feature in this leg and while Juventus should be able to reach the semi-finals Ajax much like Porto are dark horses and have nothing to lose. With talent like De Ligt, De Jong, Ziyech, Neres etc Ajax are capable of pushing Juventus and might even surprise us once again.

Man United vs. Barcelona

United progressed on away goals after having drawn with PSG 3-3 on aggregate. The 2nd leg was draped in controversy and PSG really caused their own demise having made several mistakes. United have since lost 3 and won 1 of their games with Ole having been appointed the full-time manager but the wheels seem to be falling off. Barcelona beat Lyon 5-1 on aggregate with all the goals coming at the Camp Nou, they have since won 3 and drawn 1 of their games and are 11 point clear in La Liga. The ray of hope for United is that this is not the Barcelona of old and they are capable of losing games if you push them. The massive but is that they have a player called Messi who has been in fiery form this year and is specialising in goals in the final 10 minutes of games. Add an inform Suarez to that equation and the likes of Smalling have no chance. Miracles are always possible but Barcelona and Messi should be licking their lip as more wheels could fall off of Ole’s car in the coming weeks.

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Chelsea 3 vs. 0 Dynamo Kyiv Europa League Round of 16 1st Leg Review

A good win that eases pressure for the 2nd leg. 

Chelsea and Sarri got a 3rd win in a row as we beat Dynamo Kyiv 3-0 at home although it could have easily been north of 5. Sarri selected a changed lineup with some unexpected players on the pitch. Kepa remained in goal with Zappacosta, Christensen, Luiz, and Alonso making up the defence. Jorginho, Kovacic, and Barkley started with Kante and Loftus-Cheek on the bench. Pedro, Giroud, and Willian started up front with Hudson-Odoi, and Hazard on the bench. Chelsea got off to a slow start but once settled the game was largely played in and around Kyiv’s penalty area. Pedro scored the opening goal in the 17th minute after some great play between him and Giroud. Pedro could have scored another 4 goals in the first half but his finishing let him down and Chelsea went into the 2nd half with a single goal. Chelsea continued where they left off and with 60 minutes played and Kyiv growing in the game Sarri brought on RLC and Kante for Jorginho, and Barkley with Kovacic moving into the regista position. RLC’s impact was instant as he made a run and drew a foul from a Kyiv player in the 65th minute. Willan then scored a brilliant free-kick a carbon copy of the one in the 2015. Hudson-Odoi came on for Willian in the last change as Kyiv were looking like they would at least get an away goal. Though CHO scored in the 90th minute as RLC was given a brilliant pass into his path and he assisted CHO for the 3rd goal. 2 assists for RLC and 3 goals from our wingers, Chelsea have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. 

Sarri continued to state that CHO would need to wait until he was 22-23 to be an important player for Chelsea but he is ready and Sarri will need to use him more often although the pressure to win things is greater for him. RLC on the other hand is “off age” and has to start ahead of Barkley and Kovacic he provides so much more. 

Player Review

  • Kepa – Nothing to do for large parts of the game as he adds another clean sheet to his name.
  • Zappacosta – Good going forward and put some decent crosses into the box from the right back position. 
  • Christensen – Getting more opportunities as the season approaches its end and while he was shaky at times he put in another good performance. 
  • Luiz – Captain for the day and led by example spraying passes all across the pitch and controlling the defence. 
  • Alonso – Decent but link up play was more and you can see why Emerson is preferred at the moment. 
  • Jorginho – Good in the first half sloppy in the second as he looked tired and was subbed off for Kante. 
  • Kovacic – A good performance in both the RMF and Regista positions but not a real threat going forward. 
  • Barkley – Barkley is always good but never more he played well but never exceeds expectations. RLC needs to start ahead of him. 
  • Willian – Scored a brilliant free-kick but nothing more. 
  • Giroud – Another great performance without scoring a goal, if you are a winger who wants to score play with Giroud as his one and two touch play is outstanding.
  • Pedro – Scored the 1st and could have added four more as we lively throughout the game as he continues to pickup form under Sarri. 
  • Kante – Kante was brought on to break up Kyiv’s play and he did just that. 
  • Loftus-Cheek – A great 30 minute cameo, got two assists and could have scored one goal himself. RLC needs to start more games!
  • Hudson-Odoi – Came on for 10 minutes and got another goal as he continues to make his case for a starting position. Teenagers not being ready is a myth and Sarri needs to get on board with the program. 

Chelsea now head into a weekend game against Wolves in the league. Wolves are good opposition and having lost to them away from home we need to win this game. Are alternative route to the Champions League continues! COME ON YOU BLUES!!!!

Chelsea vs. Dynamo Kyiv Europa League Round of 16 1st Leg Preview

The journey continues.

Chelsea will play Dynamo Kyiv in the 1st leg of the Europa League Round of 16. Kyiv are second in the Ukrainian Premier League 7 points behind 1st placed Shakhtar Donetsk. Kyiv beat Olympiakos 3-2 on aggregate previous round and are unbeaten in their last four games. Chelsea did play Dynamo in the group stage of the Champions League in 2015 in which we beat them 2-1 at home under Jose Mourinho. 

Chelsea go into the game with good form of our own as we beat Tottenham and Fulham in our previous two league matches. The Europa League is a realistic alternative to the Champions League due to the fight for 3rd and 4th being fought between Spurs, Arsenal, United, and Chelsea. All those teams still remain in European competitions at the moment and so all will have several more fixtures to play although with Arsenal and Chelsea being in the Europa League they will have more fixtures to play. Chelsea need to take this competition seriously and with the home game first we need to get a convincing win that we can take to Kyiv which is no easy place to go to. Sarri also needs to look to play youth in these games as we have Wolves at the weekend in what is another tough fixture in the Premier League and with Arsenal and United playing each other we cannot afford to slip up. 

Chelsea Team Preview

Chelsea should have a full squad to select from and we should see some rotation with several changes made against Fulham. Sarri should field a strong lineup as he looks to finish of the tie in the first leg. Caballero should be back in goal although Kepa did put in a really strong performance against Fulham. I would like to see Zappacosta start so Azpi can get a rest but that wont be the case. Luiz and Christensen should start in the centre while Alonso might be back on the left. Kovacic, Kante, and RLC should start in the midfield while Hazard, Giroud, and Hudson-Odoi start up front. I would like to see Ampadu get a chance ahead of Kante. 

Starting XI Prediction – 

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Chelsea need to win and win convincingly as we look to continue our journey in the Europa League. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!!

 

Midweek Football Review

Big results all around.

Premier League MW 28

Cardiff City 0 vs. 3 Everton

A massive win for Everton and Marcos Silva as Sigurdsson scored in the first half and added a second in the 66th minute. Calvert-Lewin sealed proceedings off in the 93rd minute. Cardiff drop into the relegation zone at 18th while Everton climb up to 9th in the table. 

Huddersfield 1 vs. 0 Wolverhampton

Mounie scored in the 91st minute to give Huddersfield a surprising win against top 10 side Wolves. It was expected that Wolves would roll over Huddersfield but the Terriers seem to have decided to go down fighting. Huddersfield remain bottom of the table three points behind Fulham while Wolves move into 7th level on points with Watford.

Leicester 2 vs. 1 Brighton

Brendan Rodgers was present at the King Power as the Leicester players put on a show for their new manager. Vardy and Gray scored to give Leicester a lead and while Propper did get one back in the 66th minute the Foxes held on for a much needed win. Leicester move up into 11th while Brighton remain 16th in the table. 

Newcastle 2 vs. 0 Burnley

Schar, and Longstaff scored in the first half to give Newcastle a very important win at home against Burnley. Newcastle move into 13th with the win while Burnley find themselves 15th in the table. 

Arsenal 5 vs. 1 Bournemouth

Arsenal got ready for a North London Derby at the weekend by thrashing Bournemouth at the Emirates. Ozil ran the show as he opened the scoring in the 4th minute and goals from Mkhitaryan, Koscielny, Aubameyang, and Lacazette followed. Mousset had got Bournemouth back into the game after Arsenal’s first goal but it only spurred the Gunners on. Arsenal remain 4th one point ahead of United and 3 ahead of Chelsea, and four behind Spurs. 

Southampton 2 vs. 0 Fulham

Southampton won a crucial game and also dealt another hammer blow to Fulham’s survival hopes as they won comfortably at home. Romeu and Ward-Prowse provided the goals in the first half. Southampton climb out of the relegation zone into 17th while Fulham are 10 points off of safety. 

Crystal Palace 1 vs. 3 Man United

United were without 9 first team players but they still got the job done as they continued their unbeaten league start under Ole. Lukaku scored in the 33rd and 52nd minute to give United the lead and while Ward did get Palace back into the game in the 66th minute Young scored a 3rd in the 83rd minute. Palace are 14th in the table while United remain 5th 2 points ahead of Chelsea. 

Liverpool 5 vs. 0 Watford

Liverpool got back to thrashing teams as they hammered Watford 5-0 at home. Mane scored a double, Origi a 3rd and Van Dijk added two more late on. Liverpool boost their goal difference and remain top of the table 1 point ahead of City, while Watford drop into 8th with a poor goal difference. 

Man City 1 vs. 0 West Ham

City just about got the job done against West Ham as Aguero scored a penalty in the 59th minute to seal the three points. This was a must win game for City and they remain in the title race 1 point behind Liverpool and 8 ahead of Tottenham. West Ham are 10th in the table.

Copa Del Rey Semi-Final 2nd Leg

Barcelona won the Classico double header 1-4 on aggregate with a strong 0-3 win at the Bernabeu. Suarez scored two in the 2nd half and Varane added an own goal. Valencia and Betis are still to play but Barcelona reach the final of the Copa Del Rey. 

Coppa Italia Semi-Final 1st Leg

Lazio and Milan drew 0-0 and Fiorentina and Atalanta drew 3-3 in two very different draws. All to fight for for all teams involved as the teams wait on when to play their 2nd leg fixtures. 

Coupe De France Quarter-Final

PSG beat Dijon 3-0, Rennes beat US Orleans 2-0, and Lyon beat Caen 3-1 with Vitre and Nantes still to play. The usual suspects won their games and PSG in all honesty might just win this trophy too. 

 

 

Midweek Football Preview

No time to take a breath. 

Premier League MW 28

Cardiff City vs. Everton

It is getting tight at the bottom for Cardiff as they sit 17th and welcome 11th placed Everton to Wales. Everton did not play at the weekend as their opponent were City who were playing in the Carabao Cup Final. Everton are shaky at the moment and are a team for the taking if Cardiff stay solid at the back a important game for both sides. Everton beat Cardiff 1-0 in the reverse fixture. 

Huddersfield vs. Wolverhampton

8th placed Wolves will look to return to winning ways in emphatic fashion as they travel to play Huddersfield. The Terriers have been really poor as they sit bottom of the table and this should be an easy win for Wolves. Huddersfield beat Wolves 0-2 in the reverse fixture.

Leicester vs. Brighton

12th vs. 16th as Leicester take on Brighton. Leicester are managerless and will be looking to appoint someone in the near future but this game comes fast at them. Brighton are suspect away from home and Leicester can see this as an opportunity to play with more freedom and gain an important win, while the Seagulls will look to do more damage. Brighton and Leicester drew 1-1 in the reverse fixture. 

Newcastle vs. Burnley

Newcastle face tougher opposition as they take a side 2 points ahead of them in Burnley. Burnley did extremely well to beat Spurs and will be in a positive mood going into this game. Newcastle need to win this otherwise they could find themselves 5 points adrift of 14th while a loss for Burnley would see them sucked back into the relegation battle. A tough game to call. Newcastle beat Burnley 1-2 in the reverse fixture. 

Arsenal vs. Bournemouth

Arsenal face 10th placed Bournemouth as they look to remain 4th but this is a tough game unlike their game against Southampton. Arsenal’s defence is poor and Bournemouth have the pace to hit them on the counter while also having a solid defence. A tough game for the Gunners and an opportunity for Bournemouth. 

Southampton vs. Fulham

18th vs. 19th as 7 points separate the two sides. A loss would be damaging to Fulham’s chances at survival as they would find themselves 10 points behind 18th. Southampton need the win to boost their own chances and based on current form they are the better side. A really important and feisty game awaits.

Crystal Palace vs. Man United

United remain unbeaten under Ole as they travel to Selhurst Park to regain 4th but carry several injured with them. Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial and possibly Rashford are all suffering some sort of injury as their attack looks to be blunted. Palace have several players to hurt United on the counter and if they can stay solid defensively they could get some much needed points. An interesting game to keep an eye on, maybe Michy could do Chelsea a favour?

Liverpool vs. Watford

1st vs. 7th as Watford travel to Liverpool. Liverpool have taken their foot of the gas in recent weeks as they find themselves only a point ahead of City who are 2nd. Watford have been flying high and have nothing to lose as they head to Anfield. Klopp’s men seem to be feeling the pressure and this is no easy game. Watford could do some damage as this game is too close to call.

Man City vs. West Ham

It took Man City an penalty shootout to beat Chelsea in an high octane and draining Carabao Cup Final. Although the win will boost them West Ham will be hoping to take advantage of the tired players. Can Pellegrini do some damage to City’s title push or will City march on. On paper City should win this but you never know.

Copa Del Rey Semi-Final 2nd Leg

Barcelon travel to Real Madrid for their 2nd leg of the semi-final as the 1st leg ended 1-1, a Classico and a highly important at that. Real Betis travel to Valencia for their 2nd leg of the other semi-final as the first leg ended 2-2. Another interesting game which is too close to call. 

Coppa Italia Semi-Final 1st Leg

Milan travel to Lazio for their first leg of the semi-final as remain the team in form and seem to be picking some scary momentum. The other semi-final sees Atalanta travel to Fiorentina in a game that is too close to call. In cup games League form is thrown out and really anything can happen. 

Coupe De France Quarter-Final

PSG take on Dijon, Rennes take on US Orleans who play in Ligue 2, Lyon take on Caen, and Nantes travel to AS Vitre who play in the 4th tier of French Football (Championnat National 2). Seeing the teams you can only see one winner which is PSG although Lyon might have a say. 

 

Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg Review

A mixed couple of days.

Olympique Lyonnais 0 vs. 0 Barcelona

Stalemate 1 in Lyon as Barcelona as expected were not able to brush of Lyon as they the French side kept a clean sheet and go into the 2nd leg with some hope of away goals. Barcelona are not the dominant side of old and they could find themselves dropping out of the competition once again this season although based on fact they should progress.

Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich

Stalemate 2 in Liverpool as Bayern were able to keep Liverpool at bay in Anfield. Liverpool would have been disheartened not to win the game but will know that an away goal in Munich will put all the pressure on the German side. For Munich a clean sheet in the 2nd leg is key to progression. Liverpool should still progress to the next round. 

Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus

This game was close until the final 15 minutes as Gimenéz and Godin scored late on to give Atletico a 2-0 lead going into the 2nd leg. Morata also managed to score but his goal was ruled by VAR once again as he continues to try to open his account. Juventus should not lose hope as many teams have been able to comeback from 2-0 down but if Atletico were to score an away goal it would make the task at hand very difficult as Juventus would need to score 4. A very interesting second leg in Turin.

Schalke 04 2 vs. 3 Man City

Aguero scored in the 18th minute to give City the lead but Bentaleb scored two penalties in the 38th and 45th minute to give Schalke a 2-1 lead. The penalties can be debated as they were quite dubious decisions from VAR but play went on. City did not back down and a Sane free kick in the 85th minute was followed by a Sterling goal in the 90th minute to seal the win for City. Schalke have a tough task if they want to progress to the Quarters although if City can find Schalke such a tough task to manage then the latter stages would be impossible to pass. 

Tottenham 1 vs. 0 Chelsea Carabao Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg Review

All to fight for in the second leg!

Chelsea perhaps unluckily lost to Tottenham in the 1st leg of the Carabao Cup Semi-Final as Harry Kane scored a penalty in the 26th minute thanks to the intervention of VAR. Sarri picked a standard lineup with a few changes as Kepa started alongside Azpi, Rudiger, Christensen, and Alonso. Christensen for Luiz is pretty standard as it allowed our defence to deal with the pace of Spurs attack but Emerson should have started ahead of Alonso. Jorginho, Barkley, and Kante started in the midfield while Willian, Hazard, and Hudson-Odoi started up front in a false 9 formation. Hudson-Odoi’s selection was particularly important considering all the news surrounding him. 

The game started of at a decent pace with both teams attacking each others half, at the 20 minute mark and with the score at 0-0 Chelsea had already done better than they had in the league fixture at Wembley. The goal came in the 26th minute but was flagged offside initially, the assistant raised his flag which confused the Chelsea defenders who did not track back allowing Kane to run in on goal and Kepa to foul him in the box. VAR was referred to and from the angle shown on tv it looked like Kane was onside and so a penalty was given. After the match the more sensible angle as in the one from the linesman’s perspective showed that Kane’s upper body was offside and so the penalty should not have been given. The goal gave Spurs a boost as they saw out the 1st half but never dominating Chelsea. Chelsea dominated the second half in terms of possession and chances but the lack of a striker and cutting edge in the final third meant that Spurs were able to hold on for the win. A decent performance by Chelsea and considering that the substitutions like Giroud, Pedro, and Kovacic were all half fit, Chelsea have everything to fight for in the second leg.

Player Review
  • Kepa – Apart from the foul on Kane another good performance by our goalkeeper. 
  • Azpilicueta – A strong performance and did everything right. 
  • Rudiger – Apart from the mess up for the offside a strong performance by Rudiger as well. 
  • Christensen – Given the start ahead of Luiz today and performed well, Christensen should see more game time in coming weeks. 
  • Alonso – Overall poor, very poor passes and crosses, several break ups in play, and if he isn’t scoring goals Alonso just does not look good enough. Emerson needs to start, even Hazard was left frustrated. 
  • Jorginho – Did what he is in the team to do, although I feel that if a player with better passing abilities and physical prowess comes along say Paredes, Jorginho’s could find himself fighting for his spot. 
  • Kante – Player’s playing in a new position should learn from Kante, he has not only continued to play at his usual level but he has really started posing an attacking threat in the penalty box. 
  • Barkley – Barkley seems lost and it was another game in which he was just a fraction too slow in his play. Kovacic to come back when fit and falling behind at the moment. 
  • Hudson-Odoi – Given probably his most important start and did not damage to his reputation, posed an attacking threat and played well throughout the game. I think Giroud should have come on for Willian as it would have given CHO a chance to provide him some service. 
  • Hazard – Did his duty in the false 9 position but lit up the second half once he was allowed to roam. He needs to get more support from the players around him. 
  • Willian – A fully fit Willian is shaky but a half fit Willian should not play and he capped off a poor performance by the left hand side of the pitch. Willian should see less and less game time as CHO continues to perform. 
  • Pedro – Came on for Willian but similar to Willian was lacking in form.
  • Kovacic – Came on for Barkley and improved in the position but again lacked fitness. 
  • Giroud – On for the final moments in place of CHO but never really got a chance to show anything. 

A 1-0 loss but one that we can build on, two weeks from now we play the second leg and we might have a couple new faces to play on the pitch especially if we have signed a striker by then. We can still reach the final! COME ON YOU BLUES!!!

Tottenham vs. Chelsea Carabao Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg Preview

Will we able to reach the final this season?

This time last year we faced off against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final and those were legs with several chances and missed opportunities by Morata. Quite literally those two games might have caused the most damage to his chances at Chelsea. Anyways we were knocked out, Arsenal were then thrashed in the final by Man City, and are season went from bad to worse and then ended on a decent note by winning the FA Cup. This season Chelsea head into the semi-final’s as perhaps the underdogs and no matter how good we are being underdogs is where we like it.

Tottenham have had a season of highs and lows, they started off brilliantly and then went into a spell of bad form both domestically and in the Champions League. They then pulled off a couple of brilliant performances to edge into the knockout stages of the Champions League and then topped that off with thrashing wins in the Premier League which took them up to second. Spurs then dropped back down into third by losing to Wolves 1-3 at Wembley but bounced back with a 3-0 away win at Cardiff. During the weekend they beat Tranmere Rovers 0-7 away from home. Spurs main threat like many of the top six teams lies in their attack with players like Kane, Son, Alli, Eriksen, and Moura all running rampant, Kane and Son have especially been prolific in recent weeks. Alli, Kane, and Son all scored against us in our 3-1 loss at Wembley in the Premier League this season so the players definitely need to balance the scales on this one. Tottenham have had an all London journey in the cup this season having beat Watford on penalties, and then West Ham 1-3 away and then Arsenal 0-2 at the Emirates. Tottenham will pick a strong lineup for this one but also have an eye on the game against United during the weekend. 

As far as cup games go Chelsea have actually done brilliantly against Tottenham over the last few years. 2018 was not a great year as far as Spurs related fixtures go but in 2017 we did beat them 4-2 at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final. Chelsea have the advantage in many cases as we play the second leg at home but a win is a must if we want to progress into the final. We had a poor start to the New Year with a draw at home to Southampton but bounced back with a win against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup. The problem for Chelsea has been similar to what Barcelona used to face when they played against us and that is how to break down teams that park the bus against you. We lack that creative spark and clinical finish and unless either of that comes from Hazard we usually end up drawing the game or losing it. This is why the game against Nottingham Forest was important as Hudson-Odoi showed that he could provide that threat from the right wing position. A tough task as any to beat Tottenham at Wembley but it is a cup game and we are the underdogs and when those two go together something usually lights up inside the Chelsea team. 

Chelsea Team Preview

Chelsea will most likely be without Giroud, Pedro, Willian, and Loftus-Cheek for the game although we should have Kovacic back for our midfield. Fabregas said farewell in the game against Forest and Jorginho was anyways rested so that he could start this game. Kepa, Azpi, Rudiger, and Luiz should be accompanied by Emerson instead of Alonso because of the attacking threat he possess but knowing Sarri we might have to see Alonso play in the position. Jorginho, Kante, and Kovacic should make up the midfield, and Hazard, Morata, and Hudson-Odoi should make up the attack as there is no one else, but more importantly because Hudson-Odoi, and obviously Hazard should start even when everyone is fit. Ampadu should feature on the bench alongside Christensen etc. 

Tottenham Team Preview

Alli and Son started the game against Tranmere Rovers but most of the other starters were rested and Poch should bring them back for this game. Alli or Son might feature from the bench if Poch decides to keep some legs fresh for the United game. 

Starting XI Prediction

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These games are always one to pump up the crowd and Chelsea will want to get a good first leg in so they can seal of the second. Hudson-Odoi and Hazard to shine maybe Morata to score Chelsea to win! COME ON YOU BLUES!!!