Midweek Football Preview

Carabao Cup semi-finals!

Carabao Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg

Arsenal vs. Liverpool

Arsenal take on Liverpool in one of the two semi-final’s of this seasons Carabao Cup. Arsenal beat Sunderland 5-1 in the last round and have since won one and lost one while Liverpool beat Leicester on penalties and have since lost one and drawn one. Neither team is in great form going into this game but both teams have played top teams during the weekend. The Carabao Cup and the FA Cup are Arsenal’s two real chances of winning a trophy this season while Klopp has never won a domestic cup since joining the club several seasons ago. Mane and Salah will be missing for Liverpool which is a blow to them because they have little attacking depth. Arsenal have been playing well and they could cause Liverpool problems. It is a two legged tie so it will be interesting to see what happens in this 1st leg. 

Serie MW 20

Inter travel to Bologna, Lazio take on Empoli, Atalanta take on Torino, Milan play a big game against Roma, and Juventus play a big game against Napoli. Serie A returns after the winter break Inter lead the league by four points, with Milan, Napoli, and Atalanta making up the top four. Juventus sit 5th four points behind Atalanta while Roma sit 6th in the table. Lazio sit 8th. It’s a good week for Inter, Lazio, and Atalanta to cut or create gaps with the likes of Milan, Roma, Juventus, and Napoli who all play each other. Going to be very interesting to see which team capitalises on the other. 

Brentford 0 vs. 2 Chelsea Carabao Cup Quarter-Final Review

Onto the semi-finals!

Chelsea took on Brentford in a London Derby for the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup at the Brentford Community Stadium. Brentford fielded a strong XI with no youth or academy players involved while Chelsea and Tuchel made some big changes. Kepa started in goal with a back three of Azpilicueta, Chalobah, and Sarr. Xavier Simons came into the senior squad and played right wing back while Alonso played left wing back. Saul, and Kovacic started as the midfield pair while Harvey Vale, and Soonsup-Bell made their debuts alongside Barkley. It was an exciting lineup and the sense before the game was that it was a free for all. 

The first half was all Chelsea in terms of possession but the best chances fell to Brentford in the box with a few free headers but Kepa pulled of some great saves to keep Chelsea’s clean sheet. Chelsea were doing well though and based on context to go 0-0 into the 2nd half was decent outcome. The 2nd half saw Jorginho, and Pulisic come on for Kovacic, and Soonsup-Bell at half time. Jorginho brought further control to the game while Pulisic added some pace in behind Brentford’s defence. James, Mount and Kante came on to try and get Chelsea the win and we did manage the opening goal in the 80th minute as Reece Jame’s low cross was knocked into the net by Jansson. Pulisic then ran onto a pass into the box and got their before Fernandez who brought him down to concede a penalty in the 85th minute. Jorginho stepped up to make it 2 and seal the win for Chelsea. 

Chelsea Team Review

Goalkeeper

Kepa had a brilliant game with 3 big saves and a clean sheet in his pocket. With the Africa Cup of Nations coming up in January we will need Kepa to step up and he has done whenever called upon this season. Good game for him.

Defenders

Azpilicueta did well while Sarr was also decent in defence. Chalobah was brilliant as the 3rd defender and to play after a possible injury in the last game was good to see. Simons did well and was probably the least involved of the 3 academy players. It was a competent performance from him. Alonso also played better than he has in recent games and was actually beating Canos and other players in the left hand side. James came on in the 2nd half and forced the own goal with his assist. A clean sheet to add to all of that.

Midfielders

Kovacic got 45 minutes to get back up to speed and did well. Saul played the full 90 in the deeper midfield position and when Jorginho came on he played further forward. It was another good game from him following the Leeds performance and hopefully he can continue this upward trajectory. Vale did well for his debut, plenty of energy, and good link up play along with the ability to hold up the ball. Vale also came the closest to giving Chelsea the lead in the 1st half as his header found Fernandez. It was a good debut for him and hopefully there is plenty more to come. Barkley was not great and looked slow and pensive on the ball. Jorginho was Jorginho when he came on and there were some really good moments from him. Mount did well when he came on and Kante was just brilliant.

Forwards

Soonsup-Bell was also good and given that he was out ill and only had one day to train he did well. Pulisic came on in the 2nd half and added pace and the ability to dribble to the forward line. He drew the penalty as well which was good. 

Manager

Tuchel will be extremely happy with this performance especially with the youngsters. It looked like a tough game given the circumstances but we did well controlled the game and got 2 goals as well. Progressing to the Semi-Finals and players rested, Tuchel could not ask for anymore.

Chelsea move onto the semi-finals and remain in 5 competitions this season. The semi-finals will be played in the first few weeks of January and they will be played against Conte and Spurs. Next up is a trip to Villa Park on Boxing Day, COME ON CHELSEA!!!. 

Midweek Football Review

Carabao not taken lightly.

Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals

Arsenal 5 vs. 1 Sunderland

Nketiah scored in the 17th minute to give Arsenal the lead. Pepe made it two in the 27th minute, but Broadhead got one back for Sunderland in the 31st minute. Nketiah scored two more in the 2nd half to complete his hattrick and Patino added the fifth off the bench to take Arsenal into the semi-finals. A good win for Arsenal in what was an expected result.

Liverpool 3 (5) vs. (4) 3 Leicester

Liverpool heavily rotated their lineup to take on Leicester who fielded a pretty strong XI. Vardy scored two in the first 15 minutes to give Leicester a 0-2 lead, but Ox got one back for Liverpool in the 19th minute. Maddison made it three for Leicester in the 33rd minute as it looked like Leicester had a good lead. Klopp called on the bench in the 2nd half as Jota scored in the 68th minute to make it 2-3. Leicester were so close to getting the win but Minamino scored in the 95th minute to take the game to penalties. Liverpool won the game on penalties and move along to the semi-finals. Leicester bow out as they bottle another game.

Tottenham 2 vs. 1 West Ham

Bergwijn scored for Tottenham in the 29th minute to give Spurs the lead but Bowen equalised for West Ham in the 32nd minute. Moura restored Spurs lead in the 34th and Conte and co held on to that lead for the rest of the game. Tottenham move onto the semi-finals while West Ham are knocked out. 

La Liga (Games in hand)

Villarreal beat Alaves 5-2, Sevilla drew with Barcelona 1-1, Granada beat Atletico 2-1, and Real Madrid beat Bilbao 1-2. Real Madrid sit 8 points clear at the top of the table, while Sevilla sit 2nd followed by Betis and Vallecano. Atletico drop down to 5th in the table and have lost 4 games in a row now for the first time under Simeone. Barcelona remain 7th in the table. Real Madrid have played a game more than anyone else but are firmly in control of the title race at the moment.

Serie MW 19

Juventus beat Cagliari 2-0, Atalanta drew with Genoa 0-0, Lazio beat Venezia 1-3, Roma drew with Sampdoria 1-1, Inter beat Torino 1-0, Milan beat Empoli 2-4, and Spezia beat Napoli 0-1. Inter sit 4 points clear of Milan who move up to 2nd in the table. Napoli are now 3 points behind Milan while Atalanta make up the top four. Juventus move up to 5th in the table while Roma drop down to 6th in the table. Lazio sit 8th in the table. Inter in control for now but not by a big margin as Milan bounce back in this round. Napoli did well to regain control but a shock loss to Spezia will not be welcome. An interesting race all around.

Ligue MW 19

Marseille drew with Reims 1-1, PSG drew with Lorient 1-1, Lille beat Bordeaux 2-3, Lyon drew with Metz 1-1, and Monaco beat Rennes 2-1. PSG remain 13 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with Nice, Marseille and Rennes make up the top four. Monaco move up to 6th in the table, while Lille sit 8th in the table. Lyon sit 13th in the table. PSG are on their way to another title and Messi has just scored 1 goal in Ligue 1. Not the most entertaining of leagues in Europe. 

Brentford vs. Chelsea Carabao Cup Quarter-Final Preview

Carabao time!

Chelsea travel within London to play Brentford in the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup. Brentford beat Stoke City 1-2 in the Round of 16 and have since won 2, drawn 2, and lost 3 of their games. Brentford’s last game came on the 11th so they have had 10 days but with several positive cases and injuries they are also suffering from squad problems. At the moment Brentford sit 12th in the table and have had a decent first half in the Premier League. The same fixture in the Premier League was a tough game for Chelsea and we fought hard for the win with the game ending 1-0. 

Chelsea go into this game having beaten Southampton on penalties. That game seeks like ages ago and Chelsea have since won 6, drawn 5, and lost 1 of the 12 games. The recent game against Wolves went ahead with the proposal of a postponement by Chelsea being rejected before the game. On the day the result was a decent one and the draw and clean sheet was fine. Nothing has changed since Sunday though with the Covid players still out but Tuchel has brought in some academy reinforcements because it impossible for these players to play 4 games on the bounce. The game on Boxing Day is against Villa at Villa Park and both Brentford and Villa like to play high tempo football. No way these players could play so many games.

Chelsea Team Preview

Christensen, and Chalobah are out injured while Kante will be rested. Havertz, Lukaku, Werner, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi remain out due to Covid. Lewis Baker was supposed to play this game but tested positive as well and so is out. Jorginho is back in contention for this game while Chilwell is still out until next month. I expect Kepa to start in goal with a back three of Azpilicueta, Mbuyamba, and Sarr. James, and Rankine could start as the wing backs with a midfield of Jorginho, and Vale. The front three should be Mount, Pulisic, and Barkley. Now this is a total guess because I do expect Tuchel to rotate given the circumstances. Tuchel does take every trophy seriously but his hands are tied in this situation. The likes of Simons, Gilchrist, Wareham, Fiabema etc could be part of the bench. Saul could start as well but he looked comfortable in a midfield 3 as opposed to a midfield 2 during the weekend. It really is anyone’s guess at the moment.

Brentford Team Preview

Brentford also have several injury issues while Toney might be back for this game. Pinnock also had Covid and could be available. I expect them to rotate their team for this one and we could see some youth players and B team players involved. The injuries are mainly in defence with Ajer a big miss while Raya is also out. Regardless of how Brentford lineup though we can expect them to play the high tempo pressing football they do. Forss is a top scorer in the competition while Ghoddos is also a good player. The likes of Mbeumo, Wissa, Norgaard, etc are available as well. 

Starting XI Prediction

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Above I have gone with Brentford’s best possible lineup when I do expect them to rotate a few players. As far as Chelsea go that is my best guess as to who could play along with rotation. There is a high chance more academy players will be involved for the Blues. It really could be Brentford B vs Chelsea U23’s more or less. Either way it is a Quarter-Final for a trophy so regardless of who is on the pitch I expect them to give it their all, especially since it’s a London Derby. If we stay solid at the back and finish our chances then we should go through. Time for a new batch of Cobham youngsters to take their chance. COME ON CHELSEA!!!

Midweek Football Preview

Carabao Cup returns!

Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals

Arsenal vs. Sunderland

Arsenal sit 4th in the Premier League and beat Leeds in the last round of the Carabao Cup. They have since won 6, and lost three of their games. Sunderland beat QPR on penalties in the last round and have since won 4, drawn 3, and lost 5 of their games. Sunderland currently sit 3rd in League One. Based on current form Arsenal should win this game especially since they are at home. 

Liverpool vs. Leicester

Liverpool beat Preston in the last round 0-2. Liverpool have since won 9, and drawn 2 of their games, and sit 2nd in the Premier League. Leicester beat Brighton on penalties in the last round and have since won 3, drawn 3, and lost 4 as they sit 9th in the table. Brendan Rodgers returns to Anfield once again and Leicester are the FA Cup holders. Based on current form Liverpool should win this game but Leicester always stand a chance. 

Tottenham vs. West Ham

Tottenham beat Burnley 0-1 in the last round and have since won 4, drawn 2 and lost 2 of their games as they sit 7th in the Premier League. West Ham beat Man City on penalties in the last round and have since won 4, drawn 3, and lost 4. It’s a London Derby and both teams are in similar form going into this game. Tottenham are on an upward trajectory though while West Ham seem to be going through poor form. Either team can win.

La Liga (Games in hand)

Villarreal take on Alaves, and Sevilla take on Barcelona midweek as these teams play their games in hand. It’s a good chance for Sevilla to cut the gap to Real Madrid while Barcelona can cut the gap to the top four. 

Serie MW 19

Juventus take on Cagliari, Atalanta travel to Genoa, Lazio travel to Venezia, Roma take on Sampdoria, Inter take on Torino, Milan take on Empoli, and Napoli take on Spezia. We approach the halfway point of the season in Italy and all these teams play games where they should win. This is a stumbling block of a weekend and it will be interesting to see which teams avoid the hurdles and which trip up.

Ligue MW 19

Marseille take on Reims, PSG travel to Lorient, Lille travel to Bordeaux, Lyon take on Metz, and Monaco take on Rennes. PSG sit 13 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 and this should be another chance for these teams to increase the lead. If PSG stumble then the other teams need to win to cut the gap. 

Midweek Football Review

There will be a new Carabao Cup winner!

Carabao Cup Round of 16

Arsenal 2 vs. 0 Leeds

Chambers scored in the 55th minute and Nketiah made it 2 in the 69th minute to seal a comfortable 2-0 for Arsenal over Leeds. Leeds get knocked out of the Carabao Cup while Arsenal continue their good patch of form by reaching the quarter-finals. 

Stoke City 1 vs. 2 Brentford

Canos and Toney scored in the 1st half to give Brentford the lead while Sawyers got one back for Stoke in the 57th minute. Stoke could not find the equaliser though and Brentford managed to see out the game to reach the quarter-finals. Brentford get slight relief from recent defeats with this win. 

West Ham 0 (5) vs. (3) 0 Man City

West Ham were under siege for 90 minutes with City having 29 shots in total but only 7 on target. The game eventually went into penalties and West Ham won 5-3 with Foden missing his penalty for City. City are knocked out of the Carabao Cup which they have won for the last few seasons in a row while West Ham’s season goes from strength to strength as they progress to the quarter’s. 

Leicester 2 (4) vs. (2) 2 Brighton

Barnes scored in the 6th minute to give Leicester the lead but Webster equalised before half time. Lookman restored Leicester’s lead soon after the Brighton equaliser. Mwepu equalised for Brighton in the 71st minute and both teams headed towards penalties. Leicester won 4-2 to reach the next quarter’s of the tournament. 

Preston 0 vs. 2 Liverpool

Minamino, and Origi scored in the 2nd half to seal a win for Liverpool. Preston did quite well during the game and matched Liverpool for chances. Liverpool had the better quality though and progress to the next round. 

Burnley 0 vs. 1 Tottenham

Moura scored the winner in the 68th minute to seal Tottenham’s place in the quarter-finals. Burnley’s only focus becomes the Premier League for the upcoming few weeks. 

La Liga MW 11

Falcao scored the winner for Rayo Vallecano as they beat Barcelona 1-0 and confirmed Ronald Koeman’s sacking soon after. Sevilla drew with Mallorca 1-1, Real Madrid drew with Osasuna 0-0 and Real Sociedad and Atletico play on Thursday. Real Madrid, Sevilla, Betis, and Real Sociedad all sit level with 21 points. Betis have played a game more than the other three teams though. Atletico can go level with these teams if they win while Sociedad can go three points clear at the top. Barcelona sit 9th in the table. 

Serie MW 10

Milan beat Torino 1-0, Atalanta beat Sampdoria 1-3, Sassuolo beat Juventus 1-2, Roma beat Cagliari 1-2, Inter beat Empoli 0-2, and Lazio beat Fiorentina 1-0. Milan, Napoli, Inter, and Roma make up the top four but Napoli can go level with Milan if they win their game on Thursday. Atalanta, Lazio, and Juventus make up 5th, 6th and 7th in the table. An interesting race for sure. 

Ligue (Games in hand)

Nice and Marseille drew 1-1 with neither team gaining any real ground on PSG. 

Chelsea 1 (4) vs. (3) 1 Southampton Carabao Cup Round of 16 Review

Kepa the penalty king!

Chelsea took on Southampton for the 2nd time at Stamford Bridge this season although this game came in the Round of 16 of the Carabao Cup. Southampton surprisingly switched to back 3 with Forster starting in goal, and Valery, Lyanco, and Salisu making up that back 3. There was rotation in the midfield as well with Walker-Peters and Djenepo starting as the wing backs and Armstrong, and Diallo starting in the centre. Armstrong, Adams, and Tella made up the attack up front. Tuchel also made some interesting decisions for the starting XI mainly due to injuries to the likes of Azpilicueta, Christensen, and Loftus-Cheek. Kepa started in goal with a back 3 of James, Chalobah, and Sarr. Hudson-Odoi, and Alonso played as the wing backs with a midfield of Saul and Kovacic. Barkley, and Ziyech played behind Havertz in attack. A strong lineup regardless.

The game was a fairly even one although Chelsea had the better chances in the 1st half. Forster was forced into some good saves by Havertz in particular. The first goal came in the 44th minute with Havertz heading in a corner from Ziyech. At half time Havertz, in particular had done well in attack but Ziyech and Barkley had been frustrating. The 2nd half started with Southampton getting right back into the game after Che Adams latched on to a loose ball in the box in the 47th minute. The 2nd half was more end to end and it lit up particularly after Chilwell, and Mount came on. Forster was forced into some very good saves by Saul who particularly grew into the game. Kepa then made some stunning saves from two successive corner towards the end of the game. The game ended up going into penalties. Armstrong, and Alonso made it 1-1. Walcott saw his penalty saved by Kepa and Forster saved Mount’s.. Long and Hudson-Odoi both converted to make it 2-2. Smallbone skied his penalty and Chilwell converted to make it 3-2 for Chelsea. Romeu scored his but James scored the final penalty to make it 4-3 to Chelsea and send us into the quarter-finals. 

Chelsea Team Review

Goalkeeper

Kepa came into the net for this game and did quite well as I gave him man of the match. Could Kepa have pushed the ball further away for the goal? Maybe but I wouldn’t really blame him because it was also poor defending. After that Kepa made around 5 good saved to keep Chelsea in the game and none more important than those that came in the final minutes. Another save in the penalties as well means that Kepa is very confident at the moment. There was also improvement in his movement around the box and playing a sweeper role at times. 

Defenders

Sarr, Chalobah, James did quite well with Chalobah in particular looking brilliant once again this time in the middle of the back three. Alonso was ok but clearly the lack of pace was a problem at times. Chilwell did well after he came on and gave us same pace going forward although he played as the right wing back. 

Midfielders

Saul began slowly but got better as the game went on. Saul also came close a few times to getting his first goal for Chelsea but Forster saved three of his chances with one being a header. It was a good game for the Spaniard. Kovacic did well but looked tired towards the end of the game. Barkley was ok but his decision making in the final third was lacking. Mount came on in the 2nd half and made an impact.

Forwards

Hudson-Odoi played as a right wing back for around 70 minutes then got 20 playing further forward. It was a decent game given the circumstances. Ziyech had poor first half but got an assist from the corner but overall it wasn’t a great game. Havertz had the best time with a few shots on target and a goal. It was a good game for him and another step in the right direction. 

Manager

Tuchel get’s another win as we progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2018. It was a tough game mainly because Southampton are not a bad team but the rotation worked and the players on the pitch showed good intensity which will encourage Tuchel. 

Next up is a trip to Newcastle in the Premier League, COME ON CHELSEA!!!

Chelsea vs. Southampton Carabao Cup Round of 16 Preview

Carabao time!

Chelsea take on Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night for a Carabao Cup Round of 16 tie. Southampton beat Sheffield United on penalties in the last round and have since won 1, drawn 1 and lost 2 of their games. Southampton are inconsistent at the moment but can play some good football when they are up for it. Hassenhutl will know that anything can happen in the cup.

Chelsea enter another Round of 16 in the Carabao Cup and we have lost at this stage over the last two seasons. Chelsea beat Villa on penalties in the last round and have since won 4 and lost 2 of the games. The two losses came right after the last round with City and Juventus winning 1-0 in each game. Since then Chelsea have won 4 on the trot in all competitions. Tuchel held no press conference prior to this game but we all know that every competition matters to him. Tuchel will take the Carabao Cup seriously but since it is the Carabao Cup we will probably see rotation. The 7-0 win against Norwich was great and it helped open the account for some struggling players like Hudson-Odoi and Mount and now Tuchel will hope that we continue to score goals. 

Chelsea Team Preview

Kepa should come in to replace Mendy for this game. I expect a back three of Chalobah, Christensen, and Sarr. Azpilicueta and Alonso should start as the wing backs although I wouldn’t be surprise if Azpilicueta started in defence and Reece James started as a wing back. Saul should start in the midfield with Loftus-Cheek most likely starting as well. Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech and Havertz should start up front. Plenty of quality on the pitch and a couple of players who need to regain form like Ziyech, Havertz, and Saul. Plenty of quality on the bench as well with 5 subs available. 

Southampton Team Preview

Broja will not be available to Southampton because he is on loan from Chelsea but everyone else should start. I expect minimal rotation form Hassenhutl for this game because midweek fixtures are a rarity for them. McCarthy in goal with a back four of Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, and Perraud. Walcott, Romeu, Diallo, and Elyounoussi will start in the midfield while Armstrong will start with Redmond up front. There are players like Walker-Peters, Che Adams, Armstrong etc available to Hassenhutl. Pace on the brake and some quality full backs as well. Southampton did well against Chelsea in the league and they will hope for a similar performance in this game.

Starting XI Prediction

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I expect a tough high pressing game but Chelsea have enough quality on the pitch and on the bench to progress to the next round. It’s another big game for the likes of Hudson-Odoi to make an impact and Havertz, Ziyech etc to gain some form. I also hope that if Saul does start he has a very good game. COME ON CHELSEA!!!

Midweek Football Preview

Carabao time!

Carabao Cup Round of 16

Arsenal vs. Leeds

Arsenal beat Wimbledon 3-0 in the last round and have since won 2 and drawn 2 of their games. Leeds beat Fulham on penalties in the last round and have since won 1, drawn 1 and lost 2 of their games. Based on form their really is only one winner and that is Arsenal. The Gunners in recent weeks have begun to pick up points while Leeds and Bielsa are struggling at the moment. Cup games are different but Arsenal should win this. 

Stoke City vs. Brentford

Stoke sit 9th in the Championship and beat Watford 1-3 in the last round. Stoke have since won 2, drawn 1, and lost 3. Brentford beat Oldham 7-0 in the last round and have since won 1, drawn 1 and lost 2. Two teams in mixed form but Brentford are obviously the favourites on paper. Brentford should win this but Stoke will make it tough being the home team.

West Ham vs. Man City

West Ham beat Man United 0-1 in the last round and have since won 5 and lost 1 of their games. City beat Wycombe 6-1 in the last round and have since won 4, drawn 1 and lost 1 of their games. Two teams that are right next to each other in the league and are in similar form going into this game. City are the holders but West Ham have been doing well this season. It will be a test for sure but can West Ham make it a double against Manchester? City will of course be favourites regardless.

Leicester vs. Brighton

Leicester beat Millwall 0-2 in the last round and have since won 3, drawn 2 and lost 1 of their games. Brighton beat Swansea 2-0 in the last round and have since drawn 3 and lost 1 of their games. Leicester are beginning to hit form after a poor start to the season while Brighton have returned to old ways from last season in recent weeks. Two top teams with good managers this should be a fun game to watch.

Preston vs. Liverpool

Preston beat Cheltenham 4-1 in the last round and have since won 1, drawn 3, and lost 2 of their games as they sit 19th in the Championship. Liverpool beat Norwich 0-3 in the last round and have since won 4, and drawn 2 of their games. Liverpool even with weakened lineup should win this game without any issues.

Burnley vs. Tottenham

Burnley beat Rochdale 4-1 in the last round and have since drawn 3 and lost 1 of their games. Tottenham beat Wolves on penalties in the last round and have since won 3, and lost 3 of their games. Tottenham are clearly the team that should win this game on paper but both teams are struggling at the moment and it could be an open contest. 

La Liga MW 11

Barcelona travel to Rayo Vallecano, Sevilla travel to Mallorca, Real Madrid take on Osasuna, Real Sociedad travel to Celta Vigo, and Atletico travel to Levante. The favourites should all win these fixtures but there could also be some slip ups as well. Real Sociedad, and Real Madrid lead the pack while the rest particularly Barcelona play catch up.

Serie MW 10

Milan take on Torino, Atlanta travel to Sampdoria, Juventus take on Sassuolo, Roma travel to Cagliari, Inter travel to Empoli, Lazio take on Fiorentina, and Napoli take on Bologna. Similar to La Liga all the top teams face winnable fixtures in this match week. The question is who will slip up. 

Ligue (Game in hand)

Nice take on Marseille as they play their game in hand. The teams sit 3rd and 4th and it will be interesting to see who can get closer to PSG. 

Chelsea 1 (4) vs. (3) 1 Aston Villa Carabao Cup 3rd Round Review

Getting good at penalties!

Chelsea took on Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge for a 3rd Round Carabao Cup tie. The Carabao Cup is a good opportunity for managers to rest players and give other players a chance to impress and this was what it was for Tuchel. Villa started the likes of El Ghazi, Buendia, Traore, Young, Cash, and some other players. Tuchel also rang the changes with Kepa remaining in goal, Reece James, Chalobah and Sarr as the three defenders and Hudson-Odoi, and Chilwell as the wing backs. Loftus-Cheek, Kante, and Saul started in midfield with Werner and Ziyech up front. It was a 3-5-2 formation and an opportunity for the likes of RLC, Sarr, Hudson-Odoi and Saul to get minutes and make an impression. 

Chelsea looked disjointed in the 1st half with all the players adjusting to playing with each other. Sarr looked off pace but Kepa looked dominant in his box while Reece James and Chalobah were very good as well. Hudson-Odoi was decent but nothing eye catching while Saul struggled with the tempo once again. Chilwell took some time to get going but he found his tempo while RLC looked like his old self. Loftus-Cheek was driving the ball forward and using his body well in the middle of he park. Ziyech was not great while Werner also seemed to lack some focus. 

Tuchel brought Mount on for Kante in the 2nd half and the half time talk seems to have worked for the players. There was much more cohesion in the final 3rd and Mount brought the energy to press from the front. The first goal came in the 54th minute as Reece James played a brilliant ball into the box and Werner headed Chelsea into the lead. A first goal of the season for the German and another assist for Reece James. Chelsea could have had another when Ziyech sent Werner through on goal but Werner’s shot just skimmed wide of the post. There were a couple more chances for Chelsea to add a 2nd but Villa held on. The equaliser for Villa came in the 64th minute as Cash delivered a brilliant ball for youngster Archer to head past Kepa. Kepa could not have done anything to save it as the ball found the top corner. Villa then piled some pressure on Chelsea but the Blues managed it well. Neither team could break the dead lock as the game headed to penalties.

Up first was El Ghazi who scored past Kepa. Lukaku got Chelsea’s first to make it 1-1. Young then hit the post while Mount scored to make it 2-1. Nakamba saw his penalty saved by Kepa while Barkley scored to make it 3-1. Konsa scored and Chilwell missed to make it 3-2, and Buendia scored along with Reece James to make it 4-3 and send Chelsea through to the next round. 

Chelsea Team Preview

Goalkeeper

Kepa had a very good game, he was vocal in his box and came out to catch crosses and distributed the ball well. The penalty save was also crucial as Chelsea went through. With Mendy out and possibly missing the City game along with the fact that Mendy will be missing during AFCON it is great to see that Kepa is a confident goalkeeper again and playing well. Very happy for him.

Defenders

Sarr did not have a great game in the back three and was very sloppy in possession. Chalobah had a good game and continues to show why he has been kept at Chelsea for this season. Reece James had a brilliant game and was probably the man of the match. James did not put a foot wrong the entire game and provided the assist for Werner’s goal. The match winning penalty as well, the defender looks very confident at the moment. Chilwell had a shaky first 45 but settled into it in the 2nd half and provided threat going forward as well. Hudson-Odoi was better in the 2nd half and put some good balls into the box but nothing eye catching once again. 

Midfielders

Kante had a good half while Saul suffered in the first 45. Just sloppy once again from the Spaniard as Villa look to be his bogey team. Loftus-Cheek had a good game and like I mentioned previously he does look like regaining that form he had under Sarri. RLC played deeper than he did back then but still provided the physicality and distribution needed in midfield along with being a threat up front. Barkley came on in the 2nd half and provided some energy. There was a misplaced pass but he drove back and made the tackle to retrieve the ball. Tuchel was happy with the output from him. 

Forwards

Ziyech did not have the best 45 but played better in the 2nd half when we started to show more energy in the final 3rd. Werner was the same but had a strong 2nd 45 and got the goal and probably should have had a few more. Lukaku came on in the 2nd half and his presence up front along with Werner’s pace allowed us to create more space for our midfield players to push forward and create chances. 

Manager

Tuchel saw Chelsea get the job done and would have been impressed by some of the performances on the pitch. Still much work to do and things that can be improved on but we rested several key players and progress in the competition. 

Next up is a visit by Manchester City on Saturday in a big Premier League clash. COME ON CHELSEA!!!