Tag Archives: Chelsea

Chelsea Column: what can we expect from the Blues in 2022?

In these articles, I tend to look back on the past month and comment. However, as December was an awful to month to witness as a Chelsea fan, I thought I will skip it and look ahead to what I want to see in 2022.

There is a lot to talk about in terms of where the club is at the moment as well as where it looks like it might be going.

So, with the blinded optimism that the new year brings, let’s look into 2022 and what the new year could bring for Chelsea football club.

We need to talk about Lukaku

The last couple of weeks have been a strange one with the club and most of it refers to an interview Romelu Lukaku’s interview with Sky Italy.

I’m sure you’ll be aware what was said, and in any circumstance, a player speaking out against the manager within 5 months of joining is never a good sign.

It came at a terrible time as well. There has been a lot of pressure on Tuchel over the last couple of the months, but the last thing we needed was a coup in the dressing room.

Lukaku hasn’t been good enough this season and couple that with injuries and Covid, he’s not had much playing time. He can’t blame that on Tuchel and his system, because when I watch Lukaku, he doesn’t get involved enough.

Also, with the injuries and Covid-positive players, Tuchel has been forced to try new things and he is only going to choose those players that have been doing the best out on the pitch and that isn’t Lukaku.

Granted, Lukaku did get a goal on his return to the team against Villa but watching him against Spurs was uninspiring and I don’t think he would have made a difference against Liverpool.

I hope these “clear the air talks” with Tuchel does mean we will see a better Lukaku and that it can be a morale boost to the entire team.

I don’t want to see Tuchel sacked because a player who got too big for his boots decided he was the big dog at Chelsea because he was their most expensive signing and wanted to manager sacked because he wasn’t happy.

It’s January, who’s in and out?

I don’t expect any Chelsea players to leave this January, but there are still a few futures to decide upon over the next month.

Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen are all out of contract at the end of the season and seem to be looking for the door.

Rudiger has already made up his mind and it looks as though he will be going to Real Madrid in the Summer as a free agent. Chelsea have been trying to get him to sign a new contract for months, but it’s clear from both sides that the wage demands will not be met.

As for Azpilicueta, it would appear that Barcelona may be the destination for the Spaniard. I have faith that Chelsea will try more proactively to keep him at the club. He is the club captain and given how versatile he is at the back, we need him.

Finally, Andreas Christensen. Let’s face it, he is a good player, but realistically no club better than Chelsea are going to want him. I feel as though he has seen the Rudiger situation and wanted to cash in on a bigger contract.

This does leave a big defensive problem at Chelsea if these three do decide to leave. It means our only centre backs are an aging Thiago Silva, and a young paring of Trevor Chalobah and Malang Sarr.

This leaves Chelsea with two options. Bend to the wage demands or spend big now or in January to get the likes of Matthias De Ligt and Joules Kounde into the club.

But there is one thing that Chelsea need to do immediately.

We desperately need a left back or left wing-back. Watching Marcos Alonso is like having acid in your eyes. His lack of defensive work-rate is painful to watch.

Lucas Digne has become available from Everton, but I think there may be some better options out there. None come to mind, but I’m sure they’re there.

What can Chelsea achieve this season?

I think it’s pretty clear that the optimism I had a few months ago about Chelsea’s chances of winning the Premier League have now gone.

It’s firmly in City’s hands as it stands, and I don’t think anything Liverpool or Chelsea do will change that.

So now it’s time to see what Chelsea can still achieve and realistically win this season.

Chelsea got a favourable draw against Lille in the Champions League which is winnable for Chelsea. I would love another run in the Champions League and getting through this round will be crucial.

Chelsea are still in both domestic cups (this is written before the Chesterfield game in the FA Cup so hopefully I don’t have to swallow my words here).

After a 2-0 first leg win over Tottenham in the Carabao Cup, Chelsea look in a strong place to get to their first Caraboa Cup since 2019. Once Covid is battled with the Liverpool squad, we will see who Chelsea’s opponent could be between them and Arsenal.

A trophy will be crucial for Tuchel if he wants to be in a job for next season at Chelsea. Unfortunately, winning the Champions League isn’t going to be enough if Chelsea don’t win anything this season.

You only have to look at the likes of Roberto Di Matteo or Antonio Conte as managers who got sacked not long after great success at Chelsea.

All I want is top four and a trophy. It may not sound like much coming from the reigning European Champions, but given that the league is out of reach, I will take what I can get at this point.

Given the strength of this squad, a domestic trophy is well within reach. A good run in the Champions League shouldn’t be difficult with this squad.

Chelsea Column: A slump in form cost blues top spot

From four points clear at the top to two points off City down in third place. November hasn’t been a kind month for Chelsea and possibly the worst run of results we have seen in Tuchel’s first year in charge.

Is there any need to hit the panic button? Maybe. However, things may not be as bleak as things look going into the very busy December schedule.

Let’s have a look at the last month at Chelsea.

Have Chelsea already peaked this season?

It was at this point last season that things started to go wrong for Frank Lampard, and we all know how that ended.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Thomas Tuchel has started down the road to a sacking, but something needs to change in his tactics because Chelsea have looked off the ball all month.

This season was always going to be a tight battle with Man City and Liverpool for the title and dropping seven points in a month is not the form Chelsea require to compete.

Looking back on the fixtures, they weren’t the most difficult run of games that Chelsea have come across this season.

The 1-1 draw to Burnley wasn’t amazing, but Burnley has always been a tough game for Chelsea. A win against Leicester was nice. A draw to United was expected given Chelsea’s record, but the way Chelsea played was poor.

The win against Watford was a dreadful performance and I was shocked that we managed to win that game. Finally, a poor performance and some good luck from West Ham saw them beat Chelsea 3-2.

That loss to West Ham really bugged me. It was the first time that Chelsea have conceded more than 1 goal in a game in all competitions this season. Chelsea aren’t good at scoring goals and watching Chelsea attack at times is like pulling teeth.

Tuchel’s decision to start Ziyech, Hudson-Odoi and Werner against Manchester United was one of the most painful performances I’ve ever seen from a Chelsea attack.

Not one of them could score if their lives depended on it. We relied on a Jorginho penalty to save us (more on him later).

We need to start scoring goals if we wish to get back in this title race.

Is Chelsea’s midfield good enough?

Chelsea have some of the best midfield options in the Premier League, however with Tuchel’s formations and tactics, it seriously impacts Chelsea’s selection.

With Kante out because of injury most of the season, the responsibility falls to Jorginho to fill in that role. Which he can’t.

Kovacic has also been out this month and Chelsea have dearly missed his passing ability and while Ruben Loftus-Cheek has tried his best to fill in that other holding midfielder role, he’s just not who we need right now.

Tuchel has tried to bring Saul Niguez into the team over the last month, but I honestly wish he would get shipped back to Atletico Madrid. He is dire.

The reason why we have seen the full backs take on such a major role at Chelsea this season is because our holding midfield has been so poor that they have to make up for it.

Now that Ben Chilwell is out, we have to play Alonso or Azpilicueta as a wing-back which is not always the best. Azpilicueta is a brilliant defender, but he doesn’t have the legs to play as a wing-back.

He’s a better option than Marcos Alonso whose defensive work rate leaves a lot to be desired.

We need all the player in the holding midfield to step up. There is only so much the likes of Mount or Pulisic can do up front without the help from the holding midfield behind providing some assists.

My hope is that Kante is fit soon, and he can bring some energy back to the midfield.

Is Jorginho the third best player in the world?

No.

He’s not even the third best player at Chelsea.

The Balon D’Or is a load of rubbish. Next.

Is there any positives to take away from Chelsea this month?

The champions League is going very well. Easy pickings against both Malmo and Juventus means that Chelsea are back into the knockout rounds of the competition.

It’s already better than our last Champions League defence.

The 4-0 over Juventus did feel like a real high point of this season. After being beaten in Turin after a sloppy piece of defending, it was great to bring them to London and beat them so convincingly.

While the league may not be going in the right direction, I think Chelsea still remain to be a contender in this year’s Champions League and I hope that we can challenge again.

I’m definitely not saying that we are going to go back-to-back, but I would like to hope that we can get far into the competition. I’d like Chelsea to be more than cannon fodder in the round of 16 like we usually are.

If Chelsea end up not winning the league then Tuchel will need a major trophy if he hopes to keep his job.

The expectations on his shoulders are now so much more than what it was when he joined Chelsea last February. Not to mention just how fickle the Chelsea board are with managers regardless of their Champions League prowess. Just look at Di Matteo.

Chelsea just need to up their game. The league is only going to get tougher. Liverpool look unstoppable, City are on fire. Not only that, United have been given a new lease of life and Arsenal have learnt how to play football again.

Chelsea can still win the league, but not playing how we are at this point in time.

Chelsea Column: Youth and Shrewd signings key to Blues’ success

Another unbeaten month under Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea top the Premier League table. Things may have not been perfect at Stamford Bridge over the last month, but fate keeps swinging their way.

October was a very busy month for Chelsea. They competed in all competitions and then had an international break to add to matters as well, but it was still a great month for the blues.

No Timo? No Romelu? No Problem.

It wasn’t just Lukaku or Werner who were absent from the team for parts of this month, but many players were forced to miss a few games.

Going into the final games of the month, Mount, Kovacic, and Pulisic were all also ruled out of contention. However, this had no impact on Chelsea’s free flowing style of play.

Actually, not having a recognised striker on the pitch wasn’t too dissimilar than having one on the pitch. Lukaku didn’t get a single goal in October, which was not helped by his absence, but still the Chelsea curse may be getting to him as well.

Werner on the other hand was able to bag himself a goal against Southampton. After that though, he hasn’t done too much before his injury.

The great thing about Chelsea this season is that the squad depth is incredible, and we have some of the best goal scorers all over the pitch so playing without a striker is not the end of the world.

Ben Chilwell and Reece James have been on fire as they have been netting goals left, right and centre this month.

Chilwell’s stunning volley was enough to beat a very tricky Brentford side. He didn’t stop there as he got another goal in Chelsea’s 7-0 thrashing of Norwich.

Mason Mount also stepped up out of the fog to get a hat-trick against Norwich.

Chelsea know no bounds on where goals can come from and currently we still don’t know how long Werner and Lukaku are going to be out. But no matter how long they are out, I’m still confident Chelsea will be able to score goals.

Can we talk about the Chelsea youth system?

I may be going out on a bit of a limb here, but I honestly think the Chelsea youth system (despite it’s many and quite overt flaws) is one of the best in world.

Since Lampard came in two years ago, we have really seen this explosion of incredibly talented youth players come to the forefront of Chelsea’s squad.

Trevor Chalobah, Reece James, Mason Mount, Andreas Christiansen, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Everyone of these players is a product of the Chelsea youth development and are all currently playing regular first team football for Chelsea. I don’t think it would be outrageous to say that if they were all to feature in the starting XI, Chelsea fans would not blink an eye.

Out of all of those players, one is rising to super stardom at the moment and that is Reece James. Despite possibly falling out of favour with Tuchel towards the end of last season, with Azpilicueta favoured on the right, he has come back with a bang.

He scored an audacious chip against Norwich before getting a brace with two thunderous volleys against Newcastle. He was a hero in the EFL cup as he scored the winning penalty against Southampton to send Chelsea to the Quarterfinals.

Not to mention all the clean sheets that Chelsea have kept this month to add to just how good Reece James has been up and down the pitch this month.

But there is one more player I have to give credit to.

From unemployment to hero

Edouard Mendy has been Chelsea’s most important saviour, not just this season, but ever since we signed him at the start of last season.

Mendy has kept nine clean sheets in the 13 games that he has played so far this season and in the other four games, he has conceded only four goals. That’s world class.

In the last month we have seen some particularly great performances from Mendy.

When Chelsea played Brentford, Brentford gave everything they could to try and deny Chelsea three points.

I have to applaud Brentford in that game because they were relentless and were so much fun to watch despite Chelsea being the team they were tearing to shreds at times.

It’s hard to put into words just how good Mendy was that game. He was making incredible saves look easy and when Christian Nordgaard when for an epic overhead kick, Mendy was there to make an equally epic save to deny Brentford in the dying embers.

Before that he made to critical saves to stop Brentford mounting any form of come back. Chelsea owed those three points to Mendy, and no one can argue against it.

Even in games where Chelsea looked to be cruising, occasionally Mendy would be called upon.

During the Norwich game, Rashica was awarded a beautiful opportunity to get a goal back from Norwich, but Mendy was right on it and made a fabulous save to deny what should have been a certain goal.

In games where Chelsea struggle to get goals, it’s going to be these performances from Mendy which could lead Chelsea to the title this season.

10 games played, 3 points clear, but a lot of work still be done

We are only a quarter of the way through the season, and I will admit that I am getting excited at Chelsea’s potential to win the league, but I have to remind myself that this is not going to be easy.

While Chelsea may be three point clear and have already played four of the other five big six teams, there is still potential for Chelsea to slip up.

I was concerned that we did not have a good month in September, and I think I was justified in thinking that.

This month has been better, no doubt, but we have come across opponents that we should be beating comfortably, so the results we have seen over the month should come as no surprise to anyone.

Our position in the league has come from fortunate results in other games. The day Chelsea beat Newcastle, Liverpool drew to Brighton and City lost to Crystal Palace.

Coming up is fairly tough month for Chelsea with Leicester, Burnley, and Manchester united. Teams that may not seem so tough but are always tricky games for Chelsea and can be very unpredictable.

Another international break and a Champions League game against Juventus could make next month difficult for Chelsea.

With the squad depth and the positivity around Chelsea at the moment, I feel as though Chelsea will be prepared for what is to come in November.

Chelsea Column: Werner rising as The Blues try not to sink

After another monotonous international break, and with another coming up, it’s time to look back at the last month of action for Chelsea.

For me, it was a very mixed month and one that has been very difficult to put into words. Under Tuchel, Chelsea fans have been able to enjoy very good football regardless of the opponent that they have come across.

This month feels very different, so, let’s get into it!

Unconvincing performances, but we’re still in the race.

Chelsea have been poor in almost every game I have seen over the last month. However, we have only dropped points in one Premier League game and lost one Champions League game.

Thiago Silva opened Chelsea’s account in their 3-0 win over Spurs

How has this happened?

Against Aston Villa at the start of September, we were being comfortably outplayed for much of the game, but Chelsea won 3-0. Against Spurs, we had no control of the ball in the first half, but Chelsea won 3-0.

Two games that the scoreline did not reflect the story of the game, but despite that, six goals, six points; and Chelsea are still in the top four despite a loss to Man City.

This Chelsea are not playing at their best. Far from it. Lukaku struggles to get into games and Werner is not the player that you usually want to turn to for goals.

The game against Spurs was a perfect example of what Chelsea have been like over the last month. All three goals came from defensive players: Thiago Silva, N’golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger. Those three players were probably a better front three than Mount, Havertz and Lukaku in that game.

Lukaku is a game-changing and in games where he hasn’t been able to get involved, it’s been very difficult for Chelsea to get a good result. Despite not getting a goal against Southampton, he was still able to make an impact which saw Chelsea win comfortably.

We are still in the early days of Lukaku and Werner up front and it’s had it’s ups and downs, but Chelsea need to make it work better.

The week from hell

Not winning in three games is a tough pill for Chelsea fans to swallow, especially when it happens in three separate competitions.

Chelsea fans were left worried after defeat to Juventus in the Champions League

It started with a Carabao Cup match against Aston Villa. Werner opened up the scoring, but it was cancelled out in a matter of minutes as Archer’s goal sent the game to a penalty shoot-out. Fortune favoured Chelsea as they won 4-3. Lucky escape.

Chelsea would not be so lucky when City rolled past Chelsea to get revenge for the Champions League final back in May.

Tuchel tried to play two up top with Werner and Lukaku, but behind was very defensive. Chelsea failed to register a single shot on target. When Tuchel finally reverted to the old system, it was too late as City were already a goal up. Pep was not going to give up this lead and he didn’t.

It was now time to end the way of misery with an away trip to Juventus in the Champions League.

This was going to be a tough test. After the disappointment against City, this game provided the perfect scenario for a bounce back. It never came as Chelsea suffered another 1-0 defeat.

Juventus had experience against Lukaku and kept him quiet. From there they resisted everything Chelsea tried to throw at them and struck hard when the opportunity came about.

That opportunity came 11 seconds into the second half. A long ball and a header was enough to break Chelsea’s defence and Chiesa thundered the ball past Mendy.

Questions were rightfully raised, and some were answered a few days later.

A Werner renaissance? Or a Loftus-Cheek masterclass?

Against Southampton, we started to see more of the Werner of old. He scored twice and I am very firm on the view that his first should have counted.

Timo Werner gets his first league goal of the season with an impressive display against Southampton

It was the softest of touches by Azpilicueta as Walker-Peters threw himself to the ground in a performance that was Oscar-worthy. But Timo did not give up. He had another chance, but it was excellently saved by McCarthy.

Southampton had levelled the game when James Ward-Prowse equalised through a penalty. But with six minutes to go the mighty German stepped up and scored the winner. This was further cemented through a third goal, this one scored by Ben Chilwell.

Werner played further up top than Lukaku in this game as Lukaku was paired up with Hudson-Odoi in attacking midfield.

Lukaku used his strength and speed to create great opportunities for Werner and we finally to got to see Werner play some great football.

But other than Werner, we saw the return of Ruben Loftus-Cheek to the Chelsea starting XI. What an impact he made.

Loftus-Cheek has been a forgotten man at Chelsea since his injury a few seasons ago. He went on loan to Palace and Fulham and never made much of an impact.

In this game, he was quick. His work rate in both halves of the pitch was like his was a much taller N’golo Kante. He looked phenomenal and it was great to see.

I have often worried about his career and wondered if he needed to leave Chelsea permanently to forge a meaningful career. The fact that Tuchel has been willing to give him a chance in this team, must be a great showing of faith in what he can do, especially with Kante out with Covid.

Does anything need to change?

At the moment, I think that Tuchel is just trying new things, because performances haven’t been the best lately and something did need to change.

Gabriel Jesus scores the winning goal in Chelsea’s first league defeat this season

I think it was down to some players not being at their best yet rather than the system. Mason Mount is a player that I could point to and say that he has not been at his best. The same could be said for Havertz or Ziyech.

By introducing Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi and Barkley back into the team, we are seeing almost new life being put into the squad. These are players who are looking to make an impact to secure a place in the squad and the team.

The players have another international break to stop and go again in two weeks. October should be a very straight forward month for Chelsea with games against Brentford, Norwich and Newcastle in the Premier League.

If Chelsea hope to continue their title push, these games have to be wins. We shall see.

Chelsea Column: Could this be the start of a Title winning season?

Football is back. The Premier League is back, which means that my monthly Chelsea columns are back.

Chelsea are the reigning European champions which means that expectations have never been higher and there will be a lot more pressure of Tuchel this season.

The Premier League seems to be the target set by the fans, and given how Chelsea have strengthened over the summer, it looks like it could be in reach.

While I have been cynical on Chelsea’s chance, the last month has given me an insight on what could be a great season for Chelsea.

Have Chelsea already proven themselves championship worthy?

Chelsea have taken seven points from their first three games, breezing past Arsenal, and getting a crucial draw at Liverpool.

Kai Havertz got his first goal of the season against Liverpool. Credit: NBC

After going down to 10 men and conceding a penalty away to Liverpool, it did look as though Liverpool would run away with the game in the second half. However, Chelsea dug deep and held on.

Liverpool threw everything they had at Chelsea and a defiant defence stopped Liverpool getting a winner. Despite being a man down, it didn’t stop Chelsea getting forward and almost winning it themselves.

That result shows how far Tuchel has brought this Chelsea in the 8 months that he has been in charge. The Chelsea of old would have failed to keep Liverpool at bay, but the discipline in the defence is going to make it incredibly difficult for any team to score against Chelsea.

This goes to show that the result against Liverpool could be the result that defines them as Championship contenders this season, more so than the cruising victory over Arsenal.

Lukaku showed in that Arsenal game just how much of a difference he is going to make. Watching Werner linger offside and miss sitters was very painful last season. Lukaku kept himself onside and bullied the defence.

He did the same against Liverpool and if it wasn’t for some poor decisions in the final third, he could have scored a couple.

Chelsea have all the ingredients to do it, but there are still 35 games remaining and anything could happen.

Another fortunate Champions League draw

Next month, Chelsea will start their defence of their Champions League title. Considering the last time they failed to get out of the group stages, I’ll be hoping for better this time around.

Trevor Chalobah has burst into the Chelsea squad with two impressive games. Credit: Getty Images

Chelsea have been drawn against Juventus, just like in 2012, as well as Malmo FF and Zenit St. Petersburg. On paper, this should be a pretty simple group, and one that Chelsea will be expected to win.

Of course, PSG will be the favourite for the Champions League, but I wouldn’t rule out Chelsea going far in the competition again. Chelsea still have a very strong side and they are capable of beating each team in the competition.

I’m not expecting Chelsea to win the Champions League, far from it. I’ll be happy with the Quarterfinals and anything beyond that will be a bonus.

My expectation of Chelsea is just to compete in cup competitions and as long as we can do ourselves proud then I’ll be happy.

I am really looing forward to playing Juventus. It has been a long time since Chelsea have played Juve in a competitive game. With the Old Lady no longer having Ronaldo, I do believe that Chelsea have a better chance of topping the group.

I expect a big step up from English teams in the Champions League this season and I think it’s going to be very competitive, so if Chelsea can get into the quarterfinals then that will be an achievement.

What should be Chelsea’s goals for this season?

In terms of the Premier League, Chelsea have to compete for the title. People seem to think that Chelsea have to win it after the Champions League victory, but I don’t think that is the case.

Marcos Alonso kicked off Chelsea’s season with a fantastic goal against Crystal Palace. Credit: Getty.

City, United and Liverpool are all going to be very competitive this season. The battle for the league could be one of the closest amongst the top four that we have seen in a long time.

Chelsea are going to have to work hard if they want to come out on top spot, but whether or not it’s possible is still yet to be seen.

September is going to be a very tough test for Chelsea and their title hopes. First up after the international break is Aston Villa, followed by Manchester City and then Spurs. If Chelsea can go through that undefeated then their stamp on the title race will have been made.

As for domestic trophies, Tuchel will want to make up for the loss against Leicester in the FA Cup final last season. It feels like it’s been forever since Chelsea won a domestic trophy, despite being in a domestic final for the last seven seasons running.

It’s about time that someone ended City’s dominance in the EFL Cup, so that would be nice for Tuchel to get another one up on Pep.

With how good the top four in England are at the moment, it’s going to be very difficult to get any kind of double, so getting a domestic trophy will be a good season. However, I do expect Chelsea to go on a good cup run in both domestic competitions.

For Chelsea, competing for trophies has been the minimum requirement. Now that Tuchel has won the Champions League in his first season, though, winning trophies now have to become the minimum requirement

Spirited 10-man Chelsea hold Liverpool to a draw at Anfield amid flaring tempers!

Pitted as a must watch clash of the titans, Anfield was rather disappointed with the final outcome as 10-man Chelsea did well to keep Liverpool at bay in a 1-1 draw despite the relentless attacking intent shown by The Reds.

Surely, Thomas Tuchel’s side would have been the happier of the two teams despite losing their right back, Reece James to a red at the stroke of half-time and still holding their own in the second to see out a draw which in-truth seemed almost an away win for them.

Testament to their coming of age under the German!

Truth be told, this clash wasn’t only about on-field performance albeit also of raging tempers on either side when Reece James received the red having controversially kept the ball out with his hand which was headed into the back of the net and Salah scored as a result with the spot-kick.

Chelsea were surely unhappy with the decision and it showed as keeper Mendy kicked the ball away when Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson went to collect it after Salah’s penalty thereby resulting in a heated exchange between the two as their respective team members came in to diffuse the situation.

Having said this, on a more positive note for all Liverpool fans, despite this 1-1 draw, The Merseyside Maulers still continued their unabated run of not losing a single game in their last 13 league encounters having won 10 and drawn 3.

So, without further ado lets dissect this fixture that saw the small section of Blues supporters certainly being the happier bunch amid the sea of Red at Anfield:

Spoils are shared in the first 45 amid drama galore

Liverpool started the game as the more dominant of the two teams with their first chance coming in just the 4th minute as a sloppy display from Kai Havertz saw Salah get the ball and he in turn passed it to young Harvey Elliot whose strike went just inches off-target.

The Reds would continue to build attacks with a second chance coming in the 10th minute as Henderson volleyed the ball off-target with his first touch from a sumptuous Trent Alexander-Arnold cross.

Liverpool certainly looked up for this contest albeit much to their dismay, the opposition drew first blood when Kai Havertz loopy header found the back of the Liverpool net from a James corner in the 22nd minute. Truth be told, The Reds defence was in sixes and sevens as The German was given ample space to conveniently head the ball that beat keeper Alisson.

Chelsea led Liverpool by a goal to nil as the Kop and more importantly all of Anfield was in shock!

A comeback was more than the need of the hour.

Well, the comeback came in injury time as Mane’s strike was blocked by Reece James as the ball bounced of his leg inevitably onto his hand as it was going in.

Credit – Reuters

The result, a penalty as VAR asked the referee to decide by looking at the pitch side monitor and Chelsea’s misery soared further after James was also shown the Red as a deliberate attempt to keep the ball out with his hand.

The Blues were furious amid the rather controversial decision and Mohamed Salah made no mistake in drawing The Reds level with his 99th Premier League goal.

Credit – Official Liverpool FC Twitter Handle

As the first half ended there were ill-fated temper tussles between both the teams which also saw Blues’ defender Rudiger and keeper Mendy get a yellow.

Credit – The Liverpool Offside

Mendy keeps Liverpool’s attacking threats at bay in the second half

Having been reduced to 10-men and also scarred with two yellow cards, Chelsea as the second half began were all but emotionally drained. One would have expected Liverpool to capitalize on this situation and mount further misery on The Blues.

Well, The Reds certainly tried with mounting 24 shots with 7 of them being on target albeit Chelsea stood strong to keep the Merseyside Maulers at bay.

Liverpool had their first chance of the second half in the 51st minute with Jota’s header going just inches above the goal.

Minutes later keeper Mendy did well to keep a long Virgil Van Dijk shot out along with also standing tall to thwart Fabinho and Robertson’s efforts.

Truth be told, Liverpool were getting frustrated having not mounted a second despite having one additional player on the field.

As time went on so did Liverpool’s desperation to score with missing two more chances in the last 10 minutes as Jota and Salah were also denied by Mendy.

The Chelsea keeper had done fantastically well to deny Liverpool who had chances aplenty as the referee called time.

For a neutral and the small group of Chelsea fans at Anfield, this was almost a win for The Blues as they took an important point from this away fixture.

Not a dent but a learning for The Reds

For Jurgen Klopp and his team this draw which could easily have been a win as Chelsea were demoralized, being down to 10-men should not be seen as a dent but a learning.

Learning to capitalize better on opportunities when you have the opposition down and deflated.

Having said this Liverpool did try and had it not been for the stupendous efforts of Blues’ keeper Mendy, The Reds surely would have had a second.

Despite the draw, The Reds still sit pretty on third in the league table with seven important points and surely would hope for nothing less than a win when they lock horns with Leeds United next in the league before opening their European campaign against the Italian force A.C. Milan.

The season is still very open and all for Liverpool to make their own.

‘Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!’

Chelsea Column: How the Blues Became Champions of Europe

As you can probably imagine, I am writing this with a slight hangover, because Saturday night will live on in my memory and the memories of Chelsea fans for the rest of their lives.

I don’t think that anyone would have thought that Chelsea would be European champions, not only after the season they’ve had, but also the month they’ve had.

It’s been a season of highs and lows, but now that it is all over, it’s time to reflect on the final month of this incredible season.

We’re still the only team in London to win a European Cup!

There can be no shadow of a doubt that Chelsea are the unrivalled biggest team in London now. Chelsea now have two Champions Leagues trophies and have won four European trophies in the last 10 years.

Credit: Getty images

Arsenal may have the history and have gone a Premier League season unbeaten, but that was 17 years ago now, and no amount of FA Cups can keep them at that top position.

We need to remember that this Chelsea team is still so young, and they are at the start of their footballing careers. There is still so much to see from these players and winning a champions League so early is great signs of things to come.

Under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea have the potential to dominate English football, and there is no doubt that Chelsea have to be seen as title contenders for next season.

While I do have my own reservations about Chelsea’s ability to win the league, we have seen a shift under Tuchel that could see Chelsea have a much easier time in the league compared to the last couple of seasons.

But for now, it’s time to let this feeling sink in that we are European Champions. I was only 11 when Chelsea won the Champions League against Bayern Munich and while it was an amazing, I was a bit too young to fully understand the significance.

If Chelsea can beat City, why not Leicester?

Two weeks before European glory, Chelsea put in a woeful performance against Leicester City in the FA Cup final.

You could tell from minute one that Leicester wanted it more, and for Chelsea it looked like an inconvenience.

Credit: The Irish Sun

It wasn’t until Leicester went a goal ahead that Chelsea finally decide to go for it. Kasper Schmeichel made some glorious saves, before Chelsea were cruelly denied an equaliser as Ben Chilwell was only inches offside.

It was Leicester’s day and I imagine Tuchel took a lot away from that game which did help Chelsea’s preparations for the Champions League final. It was disappointing that Chelsea didn’t win the FA Cup as well, as shown a few days later, Chelsea had the ability to beat Leicester fair and square.

I had hoped that this season would be the repeat of the 2011/12 season with Chelsea getting a new manager during the season and then going on to win the FA Cup and Champions League double, but it just wasn’t to be.

However, I have to say fair play to Leicester in that game. Youri Tielemans’ goal was sensational and one that was deserving to be the match winning goal.

Chelsea have to thanks Spurs for top four

While Spurs may have not been able to finish in the top 4 this season, Chelsea fans owe them a debt of gratitude.

While it may not have mattered in the end, it did look like Chelsea would not get into the top four on the final day when Leicester went 2-1 up against Spurs.

Credit: The irish sun

Chelsea were playing Aston Villa and were losing 2-1, meaning that Chelsea would miss out by a single point and Leicester would get Champions League football.

After a Schmeichel own-goal and then two goals by Gareth Bale, Chelsea would retain their spot in the top 4 and Leicester drop down into 5th.

This season felt like a long fight to get 4th place. When Tuchel took charge, Chelsea were in 10th place. It would have been made clear to Tuchel that getting top 4 would be the highest priority.

After Lampard managed to get top four with a transfer ban, it would seem like getting top four would be easy given Chelsea spent over £200 million in the summer transfer window.

Tuchel started on the back foot and needed to turn things quickly and that’s exactly what he did. Straight away, Chelsea started to climb the table and were able to take full advantage when West Ham and Leicester started to drop off at the end of the season.

In football, you need a bit of luck and Chelsea got that in the league, but you can’t say that Chelsea didn’t deserve it.

Is Tuchel already one of the Chelsea’s best managers?

Despite the fact Di Matteo was sacked months after winning the Champions League with Chelsea, his achievements will live on in Chelsea history forever.

Credit: Getty Images

Tuchel has been in charge for only four months and yet his record as Chelsea manager is better than most that we have seen come through the revolving door at Stamford Bridge.

The impact that Tuchel has had since coming to Chelsea is up there with Jose Mourinho, yet Tuchel has managed to actually win a European trophy.

Tuchel does have a poor record with falling out with clubs and Chelsea have a poor record of falling out with managers, so it doesn’t look like a match made in heaven.

But after the game Tuchel looked so happy and it was great to see when Tuchel and Abramovich met for the very first time. Hopefully Tuchel will sign a long-term contract at Chelsea and keep building on this success.

It really is about time that Chelsea got a long-term manager and Tuchel is one of the best managers in the world. If the club can make this work then this could be the start of something great at Chelsea.

Let’s not forget about Frank Lampard

While Lampard was sacked by Chelsea four months ago, the club and the fans still need to thank him for the success that Chelsea have seen this season.

Credit: CNN

I think it goes without saying that if we had carried on with Frank this season then we would not have got top four, or got to the FA Cup final, or have won the Champions League.

But at the end of the day, Frank guided Chelsea through the Group stages in great fashion and put us in a good spot for the knock-outs.

Frank was also responsible for Chelsea’s amazing summer transfer window. The new additions to the Chelsea’s squad this season have made it easier for Tuchel to hit the ground running.

The likes of Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz and Thiago Silva have shone under Thomas Tuchel. Werner has been getting better, but his failing are his own and nothing Tuchel can really do anything about it.

It was Frank who was able to bring in those players and also we must not forget the young talent that Frank brought in the fold which have also been a huge part of Tuchel’s success.

I was annoyed when Lampard was sacked, and I did think that he should have been given more time and it’s easy for me to say now that I am thankful that I was wrong.

I was forced to eat my words and hopefully Tuchel will continue to make those comments look foolish. This night was Tuchel’s night, and I was happy to witness his brilliance beat one of the greatest managers of all time on the biggest stage in world football.

Elated Chelsea paint Porto blue amid a second Champions League conquest

If you are Thomas Tuchel, your second successive trip to Portugal for a European final has surely been worth it.

On 23rd August of last year, the German found himself on the losing side as the Manager of Paris Saint Germain, when the French powerhouse was humbled 1-0 by Germany’s might, Bayern Munich.

Not a happy space to be in!

Well, as they say life comes a full circle and it certainly did for Tuchel in the same country last night as his Chelsea got the better of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 1-0. Deservedly so!

Alas, not so much for Pep and his men who were more than up for a treble this season. Having already conquered The Premier League and The Carabao Cup, The Sky Blues were looking for their maiden European title to add the much-deserved sheen on their fast filling trophy cabinet.

Truth be told, my heart goes out to Manchester as the city in a matter of days has seen two dark clouds pour drops of misery aplenty. The Europa Cup and the Champions League which were pinned to come to this English town, unfortunately went elsewhere.

Thankfully at least the latter stayed in England, as Manchester’s loss was West London’s gain. Yes, The Blues repeated their triumph nine years to date when they conquered Bayern Munich in their own backyard in the 2011-12 edition.

So, without further ado lets dissect this all English final amid a sea of 16,500 fans as Tuchel reigned supreme on Pep for a third successive occasion this season.

Havertz hurrah, the difference maker in the first 45

As the Estádio do Dragão opened its shores to welcome the might of English football, both the outfits looked more than ready for the all-important final.

City made the first play when Raheem Sterling came agonizingly close to open the scoring as he was fed with a brilliant long ball from keeper Ederson. Unfortunately, the English striker couldn’t make the finish as he was forced wide by Blues’ defender Reece James.

Minutes later Chelsea would have a chance of their own to go one up as Kai Havertz laid a beautiful pass to his German team mate, Timo Werner who while attempting to score got the ball stuck in his feet but still managed a shot which was comfortably pouched by Ederson.

As time went on, they were punches and counter punches thrown by both the teams albeit the score line was yet to be disturbed.

The Blues would finally have one in the 42nd minute as Kai Havertz made a majestic run to reach Mason Mount’s through ball to beat keeper Ederson who managed a finger on the ball. The Brazilian’s effort would fall short as the Chelsea man superbly slid the ball in the back of the City net.

A breath-taking effort from the German to register his first goal on the grandest stage of European football. Tuchel was ecstatic and so were the sea of royal blue fans behind him.

As the referee called time on the first 45, Chelsea had the vital lead with City having all to do.

A maiden European title dream shatters for City in the second half

As the second half got underway, Pep and his Manchester City faced their most decisive 45 minutes that stood between a maiden European triumph or dreaded dejection.

Well, desperation to score was the need of the hour and City came close in the 67th minute as Riyad Mahrez curled a great cross for the waiting Jesus in the Chelsea D before The Blues captain, Azpilicueta brilliantly deflected the ball over the cross bar.

City’s anguish was soaring with every passing minute.

Action though would happen at the other end.

Amid Manchester City’s offensive onslaught, Chelsea almost doubled their lead, when in the 73rd minute goal scorer Havertz made another brilliant run towards the City D, threading the ball to a waiting Christian Pulisic who chipped the ball over Ederson as it went inches wide of the post.

As the clock kept ticking, City were rolling towards more desperation to avoid depression.

Six minutes before the full 90, City’s stalwart Sergio Aguero was also unsuccessful in getting the equaliser in his last match for the club as he curled an effort straight at keeper Mendy.

In the seven added minutes to the second half, Manchester City all but tried though were just not capable to find the equaliser.

As time was called on the game, there was a blue celebration all-right, the only difference was in the colour. Royal Blue had conquered the Sky Blue.

Are English teams finally shining amongst Europe’s elite?

Well, my answer is a resounding yes!

With two Champions League titles in three years coming to England, it definitely shows their domination in Europe.

Liverpool in the 2018-19 season triumphing over Tottenham Hotspur and now Chelsea getting the better of Manchester City.

What furthers my belief is both these finals were all English which certainly is testament to the depth and passion shown by the best in The Premier League to become numero uno in Europe.

Spain, Germany, France and Italy, do take note, as with the spark English football has shown off late, may be, The Champions League in the near future could become extinct for you!

Well, who knows, anything is possible.

As for now, Londoners have much to celebrate having conquered the virus and yes of course Europe too!

Chelsea Column: Champions League final here we come!

April has been a great month for Chelsea. Not only did Chelsea progress into a FA Cup final, but after a brilliant 3-1 win over Real Madrid over two legs, Chelsea have made it through to their third Champions League final.

It’s not just been a good month in cup competitions, either. Since the humiliating defeat to West Brom, Chelsea have yet again gone unbeaten in the league and it looks like they have secured a place in the top four of the Premier League..

How on earth have Chelsea got to the Champions League final?

It’s a question that I have been asking myself since the final whistle blew at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. It’s not like Chelsea have been terrible in the Champions League this season, we had a pretty easy time of it while Lampard was still in charge.

Credit: The Independent

The group consisted of Stade Rennes, Sevilla, and Krasnodar. A group that, unsurprisingly, Chelsea topped without losing a single game.

Even when Frank was sacked and Tuchel came in, it looked as though the Champions League would be a tough road with Atletico Madrid in the round of 16. However, it was a breeze, Atletico didn’t look up for the fight and were beaten 3-0 on aggregate.

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In the quarterfinals, Porto put up more of a fight and luckily for Chelsea, the game was over after the first leg, so a 1-0 defeat in the second leg didn’t matter.

The semi-final against Real was always going to be tough. Regardless of Madrid’s form or team, this is a club managed by Zidane, a serial winner. However, Tuchel and Chelsea played them off the park. I never expected that we would’ve dominated over both legs.

The fluidity in Chelsea’s defence and attack was world class and it denied Real Madrid any real chances to take control. Every time Chelsea went forward it looked like it could be a goal. If only Werner, Havertz and Mount could finish more chances, it could have been 4 or 5-1.

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There is no doubt that Chelsea deserve to be in the Champions League final and Manchester City will be a fine opponent. While I don’t want to count my chickens too early, it’s a winnable game, but it’s going to be far from easy.

May 29th is going to be a rough day for me and I’m going to be a nervous wreck from the moment I wake up until the final whistle.

Even if Chelsea don’t win, I don’t think I can be disappointed. I never thought we would get this far in the Champions League for a few years at least, but here we are.

2012 repeat on the horizon?

It’s not just the Champions League final that Chelsea players and fans have to look forward to, but Chelsea will play Leicester City in the FA Cup final on the 15th May.

credit: The independent

Chelsea are continuing the relatively new tradition of getting through to a domestic final in the years they get to the Champions League final. In 2008 ,Chelsea got to the League Cup final but lost to Spurs, of all teams.

In 2012 though, Chelsea got to the FA Cup final against Liverpool. Despite controversy regarding a disallowed goal for Andy Carroll, Chelsea won the game 2-1.

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Roberto di Matteo had been brought in mid-way through the 2011-12 season and won us the FA Cup. This was before marching Chelsea past a Spanish side in the Champions League semi-finals with help from a misfiring striker. Sound familiar?

Winning the FA Cup would be great momentum for Chelsea in their pursuit of the top four as well as for the Champions League final.

Chelsea’s victory against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals has a lot more weight to it now than it did a few weeks ago. On the day Tuchel set up his Chelsea side very well and I think City fans will agree that Pep got it all wrong.

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City never looked to have much of a chance and Chelsea only needed a single goal, which sealed them their second consecutive FA Cup final.

While people may think that this final means more for Leicester, the FA Cup has always been a special competition for Chelsea.

Chelsea have won the FA Cup six times since 2000, plus a few more final appearances. The FA Cup is always a great trophy to win. For Tuchel, it will be his first shot at a trophy since becoming Chelsea manager, so he will be keen to win it.

Leicester are going to be no slouches and will try their very hardest to win it, and while I think it will be a close game, Chelsea’s ability to kill off games quickly will be tough for Leicester to get past.

What has Tuchel done right that Lampard got so wrong?

Firstly, Tuchel has gotten the players on his side. Lampard lost faith from players like Jorginho and Rudiger. He was playing stupid systems which made Werner obsolete and, let’s face it, Havertz is not a right winger.

Credit : Sports illustrated

Tuchel came in and got those players on his side and we have seen improvement from all of them. While Werner may still need to work on his finishing, he creates so many chances and goals that he is danger to opposition teams.

Havertz has come out of his shell in Tuchel’s false 9 system, and he has been bagging some great goals, especially against Fulham and Crystal Palace.

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Tuchel has sealed up our defence, except for West Brom, of course. However, the three at the back system has been working a treat. It doesn’t matter which players are put in the three, because it’s such a fluid system.

Kante is now back at his best in the holding midfield role alongside Jorginho or Kovacic. Two players that are very much underrated in this Chelsea side.

The new energy in this team is the reason why Chelsea have a three-point buffer to West Ham in the league and why Chelsea are very much on the tail of Leicester, who sit in third.

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This is what you would expect when you bring in someone who is as tactically sound as Tuchel is. While I was wanting Frank to be given more time at Chelsea, Tuchel has shown just how bad of a job Lampard was doing.

This Chelsea side have so much potential. It’s a young team and are still at the beginning of a long journey, but the fact that Tuchel has been able to achieve so much in so little time goes to show how good this Chelsea side are.

Now I don’t expect Chelsea to go on and win the quadruple next year, I don’t even think Chelsea will win the Premier League in the next couple of years.

But what Tuchel has managed to do with this team just goes to show that the future looks bright at Chelsea.

Hopefully.

Chelsea Column: Have West Brom unravelled Chelsea’s Champions League dreams?

I’m writing this after the West Brom game, so if I seem a little angry, you might forgive me given how the game played out.

Usually, these pieces are written before the first game of the month, but this one is an exception, so I will be touching on the West Brom game at the end of the article.

Nevertheless, Chelsea still went unbeaten through March, but our position in the league hasn’t improved.

At the end of the month, we sat in 4th, closely followed by West Ham. We did make progress in the cups, however. Chelsea are now in the Quarterfinals of the Champions League and the Semi-finals of the FA Cup.

So, without any further delay, let’s get into the last month of action at Chelsea.

Chelsea rules Merseyside

I said at the start of March that if Chelsea beat Liverpool and Everton then our chances of top 4 could be guaranteed.

After two very good games, Chelsea took six points away from Merseyside.

Credit: Evening standard

The first game away against Liverpool was an impressive display. It wasn’t without a bit of VAR controversy when Timo Werner’s goal was ruled offside. It was a fantastic goal, and it was such a shame that he was a few inches offside.

But it was Mason Mount who scored a fantastic goal which would be the winner for Chelsea. Mason has really come into his element this season and is truly a fantastic player. I do hope that he is given a good opportunity at the Euros, because he’s been a star player at Chelsea this season, and also brilliant on international duty.

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In the next game against Everton, we really saw Kai Havertz come into his element. He had a fantastic game. It’s been difficult for Kai coming into the Premier League, but finally we are seeing the player we paid £72 million for.  His performances, not just for Chelsea, but also Germany have been incredibly impressive.

It was a big feat for Chelsea to come away with 6 points, and both games were a great watch. It was a shame that the next game against Leeds ended in a 0-0 draw, but you can’t have everything.

Can Chelsea get to the Champions League final?

When Chelsea were drawn against Atletico Madrid in the round of 16, I was very nervous. Atletico were top of La Liga and looking very strong. It would be a massive result if Chelsea were able to pull it off.

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However, when Giroud got that wonder goal in the first leg, I knew we would go through. In the second leg, we were solid as a team and it was no shock that the second leg went in Chelsea’s favour.

The first goal came from Hakim Ziyech who has been impressing me lately in his new attacking midfielder role. He and Mason Mount have really started to gel, and their partnership is creating a lot more chances than what we saw in Tuchel’s early days as manager.

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The nail in the coffin came from a 92nd minute goal from Emerson. Chelsea had done what I thought was impossible, but let’s face it, Atletico were never really in either game.

The draw for the Quarterfinals and Semi-finals really fill me with hope for our Champions League campaign. Next up is FC Porto, and despite the fact they knocked out Juventus, I believe we will beat them.

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After that, things get trickier. If Chelsea are to get through to the Semi-finals, then we will face either Real Madrid or Liverpool. While Liverpool’s form hasn’t been great, their Champions League campaign has been very successful.

As for Real Madrid. Well, it’s Real Madrid. Regardless of how they are doing, they are always a very tough opponent, but I think we could take the challenge to them. This isn’t me being biased. The way Chelsea play under Tuchel is still evolving and getting better with time and could be enough to see us to get the final.

What went so wrong against West Brom?

Everything.

It was a poor display up and down the pitch. Mendy refused to dive for a single shot. Silva got himself sent off within half an hour. Werner missed every chance going and overall, it was a painful game to watch.

Credit: Evening Standard

I really don’t think much more could have gone wrong in that game. We were a goal up before the sending off and from there Chelsea broke down. Heads dropped across the team and West brom were allowed to run rampant.

This was the first loss under Thomas Tuchel, and it couldn’t have been worse timing. Chelsea are in a very close fight with West Ham, Liverpool, and a few others for a top 4 spot. We can’t afford results like this.

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Our next game is against Porto in the Champions League and we need to go into that game on a good run of form, but this game has made me doubt the side.

If this team went out and played Porto with the same performance, you’re looking at a 7 or 8-0 loss.

This result cannot be allowed to be repeated and if it does then you have to seriously question what is going on with this team.

You can’t go two and a half months unbeaten and then capitulate without some serious questions that need to be asked.

So, what now?

Like I’ve already said, this result cannot be repeated again this season. There is far too much at stake.

As for top 4, this has been put into major doubt. West Ham are on fire at the moment, and we have to pray that results go in our favour if we hope to get Champions League next season.

Credit: Getty Images

Champions League is a must if we want to sign big players in the Summer.

From here, we need to bounce back and challenge for the top 4 and even the FA Cup. If we were able to get to the final it could be a nice way to end the season.

At a glance, our run-in isn’t too difficult but based on the game against West Brom, I feel like every game is going to be a struggle from now on.

I hope that things will improve and that’s all I really can do.

If you want see any more from me then check out view-from-the-crowd.com or search for ‘View from the crowd’ on YouTube.

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