Tag Archives: Premier League

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.

Leeds United succumb to dominant Liverpool as Salah strikes his 100th league goal!

The mark of any great team is to rise from the depths of ordinary to reach the peaks of sublime.

Well, Liverpool are certainly in the league of the greatest Premier League teams ever, as they rose from a rather ordinary display against Chelsea in the 1-1 draw to a sublime 3-0 whitewash of Leeds United at Elland Road last evening.

A small number of Kopites who made the trip from Liverpool and millions more watching around the world were certainly more than satisfied as the three Reds’ stalwarts in Salah, Fabinho and Mane registered their names on the score sheet.

With this triumph, Liverpool are now unbeaten in their last 11 encounters against Leeds having won 8 and drawn 3 with their last loss coming more than two decades back in April 2001 as the Merseyside Maulers were conquered 2-1 at Anfield on that occasion.

Leeds United with this fourth successive loss since the inception of the season have piled up their most miserable campaign in any top-flight competition since 1958-59. Certainly not a good space to be in if you are a Peacocks’ fan.

So, without further ado lets dissect this rather pleasing performance The Reds showed in a game that also saw a red card:

Centurion Mohamed Salah, the difference maker in the first 45

Marcelo Bielsa’s team started this contest as the more assertive side creating their first opportunity on target in just the 4th minute as Rodrigo blasted a straight attempt at Reds’ keeper Alisson who was equal to the shot.

The visitors came back strong after the initial scare as Jota mounted a chance in the 14th minute when the Portuguese took down a Salah pass with his chest and hooked it on the volley to Leeds’ keeper Meslier who did well to take the sting out of the shot.

The momentum for The Reds would finally result in a hurrah in the 20th minute as the enigmatic Egyptian, Mohamed Salah put the visitors in front with a super strike to reach 100 goals in The Premier League after he was fed with a brilliant pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Credit – Reuters

Liverpool were up by a goal to nil early as the team gathered around the Egyptian to congratulate him on becoming the fifth fastest to reach the century landmark in this competition.

Minutes later Mane had a chance to put the visitors two to the good as his shot went above the post. Liverpool were certainly looking up for this one.

The Reds would continue to dominate the remainder of the first half albeit the second was not to be found much akin to a treasure hunter looking for the elusive treasure only to be disappointed in his excursion at least for the moment.

Fab Fabinho and Majestic Mane seal the deal

As the second 45 began, Liverpool continued their dominance as Mane and Salah both fired their shots wide.

Leeds were lucky not to concede and one could just feel the second goal was around the corner.

Well the goal came in a matter of moments as Fabinho did well to capitalize on a corner from Alexander-Arnold scoring on his second attempt as VAR did check on Sadio Mane being offside albeit the goal was given.

Credit – Official Liverpool FC Twitter Handle

The Brazilian midfielder had his first for The Reds in 15 months.

Seven minutes later Liverpool were dealt with a destructive blow as their teenage sensation Harvey Elliot was tackled rather roughly by Pascal Struijk who saw a red as the Liverpool midfielder was carried off the field on a stretcher.

Credit – Reuters

Jurgen Klopp was furious with this tackle and rightfully so!

In time we should know the magnitude of Elliot’s injury and wish him all the best on a speedy recovery.

In the 75th minute, Leeds had a chance to get one back as Bamford’s attempt was saved with much confidence by Alisson.

At the other end, Liverpool would continue their offensive onslaught as Sadio Mane came close to giving The Merseyside Maulers their third, only to be denied by the Leeds keeper.

Alisson again was up to the task in the 83rd minute, keeping a long-range effort out by Bamford jumping high to thwart the ball away.

Liverpool would finally have their third in injury time as Sadio Mane after numerous unsuccessful attempts on goal finally found fulfilment with a super strike on goal after he was fed with a fine pass by Thiago who did well to latch onto a long cross from captain Henderson.

As the referee called time, Liverpool were rightfully anointed as the 3-0 winners.

The winning momentum needs to continue for The Reds

With three wins and one draw so far in the season, The Reds are looking good and need to build on this momentum as the contests will most certainly get tougher in time.

Liverpool should continue to mount those offensive onslaughts and goals will surely become a regular feature in their play as we have seen this far.

The Champions League opener against AC Milan is upon The Reds next in a matter of a few days and nothing short of a win in the opener of Europe’s most prestigious club competition will suffice.

Having said this, make no mistake any Italian opposition is never a cake walk and The Merseyside Maulers will definitely have to bring their A game to the fore amid a 50,000 strong Anfield.

After all, when Kopites roar, Liverpool soar.

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

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!’

In a game where offside decisions rule out goals, Liverpool still reign supreme!

As a new season entered the red walls of Anfield, more than 50,000 Kopites made the Mecca of Reds football their own after 528 days of gloom to witness Liverpool record their second successive hurrah.

The team at the receiving end was a spirited Burnley who more than put up a fight to give The Merseyside Maulers a run for their money in a score line which finally skewed towards The Reds by a margin of two goals.

Make no mistake, such was the determination, The Clarets demonstrated when they almost had one back had the referee not adjudged Ashley Barnes offside in the beginning of the second half.

Speaking about offside decisions, Liverpool themselves were at the receiving end of one when Salah thought he had got Liverpool a second in the first-half albeit VAR ruled otherwise.

Surely a game that would have seen a score line of 3-1 in Liverpool’s favour had offside decisions not ruled out two goals. Well such is football and rules are rules!

On a brighter side this was the seventh consecutive victory for Liverpool in the Premier League including the last season. To put things into perspective before these seven successive wins, in their 20 previous games, The Reds only managed to win 7, draw 5 and lose 8.

These seven successive hurrahs also served as their longest winning run since February 2020, when they won 18 in a row.

Certainly, The Reds are on the rise. Again!

So, without further ado lets dissect this intriguing fixture that saw Liverpool come on top though not as convincingly as their first outing:

Diogo Jota shows his value on a second successive occasion

Burnley started the contest as the more assertive of the two teams with almost going into the lead in the 4th minute courtesy McNeil whose effort was barely kept out by Trent Alexander Arnold on the goal line as keeper Alisson had already committed himself to keep striker Wood at bay.

Post the move, the referee raised the flag to adjudge Wood offside, the first in the game that would see two more goals denied courtesy the flag.

Liverpool were lucky to survive the initial scare!

As they say it’s the survival of the fittest and The Reds more than showed why with a fitting header by Diogo Jota that put the home side in front in the 18th minute after the Portuguese did well to latch on to a Tsimikas cross much to the delight of a lively Kop and an energetic Anfield.

Credit – Reuters

Minutes later Burnley managed another strike on goal only to be denied by Alisson. The Clarets were certainly up for the contest despite Liverpool drawing first blood.

Well, the home team in a matter of moments had a second albeit this would be the first goal to be denied by the flag. The perpetrator was Mohamed Salah by just barely having a foot over the line after he was brilliantly served by young Reds midfielder, Harvey Elliot.

Credit – Reuters

With no further drama the first half came to a finish as the score read Liverpool 1 – 0 Burnley.

Sadio Mane comes to the party

The second half much like the first saw Burnley assert their dominance as Ashley Barnes scored in the first minute to put the visitors’ level or at least he thought he did before the flag went up again. The second insistence where the flag was raised and the goal was denied.

The Clarets surely felt unlucky and Liverpool relieved!

A second was the need of the hour for the home team to put the game beyond the visitors as the eleven players in Red and the 50,000 + supporters all but seemed to tilt towards a certain sense of edginess.

The person to calm the nerves had to be one from Liverpool’s Big 3 and thankfully this time it was the Senegalese superstar, Sadio Mane who got his first of the season to join his compatriots Salah and Firmino on the goal scoring list.

Credit – Official Liverpool FC Twitter Handle

The Senegalese after being kept out by the Pope of Burnley on two previous attempts finally beat the keeper with a hammer of a shot as he capitalized on an opportunity created through a brilliant interplay between Elliot and Alexander-Arnold.

Liverpool had sealed the deal with this strike.

The final score read Liverpool 2 – 0 Burnley as the home team recorded a perfect 6 points from their first two outings much to the delight of an ecstatic Anfield.

An enthralling contest with Chelsea awaits

While wins over Norwich City and Burnley are as important as they come to open the season on a high, truth be told the game of gigantic proportions which surely will test the metal of the team in red is the one next.

Chelsea, the champions of Europe under Thomas Tuchel seem a much-rejuvenated side and will be more than eager to bring the mother of all fights to Anfield.

Having said this, make no mistake, Liverpool will be ready as The Blues will not only face the eleven men on the field but also the 50,000 strong army cheering from the stands. And yes the millions supporting from all corners of the globe too.

A clash of two German geniuses in the offering. I surely hope the one with The Reds prevails!

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

Focused Liverpool begin their campaign with much belief as they take Norwich City to the cleaners!

On a day when the Red Devils played like the Manchester United of old thumping Leeds United 5-1 courtesy a Bruno Fernandes’ hattrick and a clinical Chelsea put Crystal Palace to rest with relative ease in a 3-0 score line, Liverpool had much pressure to live up to the magic created by their compatriots, the members of the Big 6 in the league.

Well, when you talk pressure to Liverpool, one must understand that it serves not as a taboo albeit a motivation to The Merseyside Maulers as they too started their campaign much like their peers with a focused and purposeful annihilation of Norwich City in a 3-0 score line amid a group of Kopites vehemently cheering for their side at Carrow Road, the home stadium of The Canaries.

With this win, The Reds also recorded their eighth successive away win over Norwich City, equaling a record set by a Reds team of the bygone era against West Brom from 1983 to 2009.

The cherry on the cake for me though was Liverpool’s envious record of winning eight of the last nine fixtures on matchday 1 with five out of six coming under the able guidance of our German GOD, Jurgen Klopp.

So, as my heart fills with pride galore to see my team start with such belief and set records second to none, lets dissect this astute annihilation of Norwich City last evening:

Jota scores the season opener for The Reds

The evening began with a series of things being back.

The League was back, so were the fans and most importantly so was Norwich City from relegation as the contest started amid a Carrow Road packed to the rafters.

Liverpool asserted their dominance from the word go as Trent Alexander Arnold in just the 11th minute curled a great cross from a corner, which was passed by Naby Kieta to Diogo Jota whose header was barely kept out by the Norwich keeper, Tim Krul.

Norwich were lucky to not be down this early in the game!

The Canaries minutes later created a chance of their own through a Pukki shot on goal which was ably kept out by keeper Alisson.

The Reds with their relentless assault would finally go one to the good as their Portuguese sensation, Diogo Jota skittled in the strike after he was ably fed by none other than the Egyptian magician, Mohamed Salah through an adept touch.

Credit – Reuters

Twenty-Six minutes in and the away team had put the home team and their fans in a state of sorrow.

With no further twists, the referee called time on the half as Liverpool led the home side by a goal to nil.

Firmino and Salah sink The Canaries further

The second half began much to the same tune as the first, with a Liverpool assault all but denting Norwich as a second goal came courtesy the brave Brazilian, Roberto Firmino.

Liverpool’s no. 9 came on as a substitute for Jota and in just his fourth minute fired The Reds two to the good thanks to a brilliant interplay between the famed trio of Liverpool in Salah, Mane and Firmino with the Egyptian giving the final pass to the Brazilian as he put the ball in the back of the Norwich net.

Credit – Reuters

The move was simply stunning!

The Canaries would be dented even further, this time at the hands of Mohamed Salah in the 74th minute as he made no mistake slotting the ball in the back of the net from the edge of the box after a false Gibson clearance came straight to him from a Liverpool corner.

Credit – The Guardian

The match by now was all but out of Norwich City’s grasp as the handful of Kopites in the stadium cheered their team on.

As the referee called time on the 90, contrasting emotions engulfed Carrow Road with everyone in Red rosily celebrating and the overwhelming majority in green and yellow feeling rather overwhelmed.

The final score read Norwich City 0 – 3 Liverpool.

A bright start should serve as much fodder for a fruitful season ahead

A bright start, a steady build in and a great finish go a long way to make a team bask in the success of winning consistently.

Well, Liverpool have certainly started the season on a high and I surely hope they continue the momentum as they now lock horns with Burnley next weekend, followed by the big one against The Blues.

A match of epic proportions if you’re a Kopite or a supporter of Chelsea.

Make no mistake, consistency in performance will be the mantra to success.

To conclude this article, which showcases a performance that has filled my soul with solace, I would just say in every journey that you undertake my Dear Reds, millions of Kopites around the world much like me continue to support you unconditionally with piles of passion.

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

Premier League 2021-22: Are Liverpool ready to cement their status among the elites of England Again?

Welcome to that time of the year, when the pilgrims of English football will march to their holy places of worship to offer prayers to their favourite Gods as another season of the Premier League beckons.

The 2021-22 season commences this weekend with not only supporters in England flocking to stadiums, but billions more around the world will once again enthusiastically sit in front of their TV sets to vehemently support their teams.

The banter will also be back, which I hope is only healthy and nothing else!

Amid these exciting times, is a team which was languishing in the bottom half of the top 10 mid-season in the last Premier League campaign. Having suffered a massive blow of not having its best defenders available, Liverpool still did the impossible of winning 26 out of the final available 30 points to cement a place among the European elite by finishing third.

With youngsters, the likes of Phillips and Williams giving it their all and keeper Alisson scoring an important goal in injury time to keep Liverpool relevant in the hunt for the Champions League, could one have expected anything less?

Certainly not! Kudos to Liverpool for this fantastic showing to end the last season on a high!

Having already cemented their place among the elites of Europe for the upcoming Champions League, are the resolute Reds ready to be among the best in England at the onset of the new domestic season?

Well, as a die-hard Kopite my answer is an overwhelming yes!

Virgil, the vigilante of our defence is back!

Its been almost 10 months since we have seen the prize of Liverpool’s defence, Virgil Van Dijk, take the field for a competitive game. Having suffered a knee ligament injury against Merseyside rivals, Everton on October 17th last year, the Red wall has since been out of commission.

Credit – The Guardian

Well, that’s in the past, as the Dutch vigilante is back and fit as ever to patrol our defence and negate the best of attacking threats come the start of this season. Giving him support will also be a fit again Joel Matip and Joe Gomez.

The Reds have also signed the young French sensation, Ibrahima Konate for a whopping 66 million USD from RB Leipzig, the only acquisition of the pre-season to further spruce up the defence.

Credit – The Guardian

The wingers in Trent Alexander-Arnold and the recently injured Andrew Robertson, who is expected to be fit soon, will also add the much-needed sheen to make our defence well-rounded.

With an assured midfield in captain Henderson, the Spanish sensation Thiago and the barbaric Brazilian, Fabianho to match a forward line boasting one of the best trios in English football in Salah, Mane and Firmino and the ever-improving Diogo Jotta, the Reds certainly look to have all bases covered.

And last but not the least, the cherry on the cake is our keeper, the ever-reliable Alisson Becker.

So, with a team as strong as this, Liverpool certainly appears to be one of the favorites’ heading into the new season with the nucleus remaining largely the same and most importantly personnel consistency being maintained.

The master tactician, Jurgen Klopp will be the backbone of this team

They say a team is as good as its Manager.

For me, if you have a manager like Jurgen Klopp, the astute German tactician who will now be in his seventh season at Anfield, it surely doesn’t get better.

Credit – This is Anfield

Be it winning the Champions League in 2018-19 season or the Premier League in the 2019-20 season after an astounding gap of 30 years or getting an under-par Reds to number three in the last season when few expected, is testament to his commitment to make this team soar in the face of adversity.

His humility matched with the ability to get the best out of this team is the perfect mantra for success as the daunting task of keeping Liverpool consistent in performances over the entirety of the next season will be all for him to conquer.

Add to this, the expectations of the effervescent Kopites and Jurgen certainly would have a lot on his plate!

When Anfield in unison roars, Liverpool soars!

The biggest arsenal in Liverpool’s armory will be their fans.

Amid a long gap of having to see their blooming stars perform only on television, the tides have finally turned and the fans will be back in the stadium.

Credit – This is Anfield

A packed Anfield and more importantly a noisy Kop most certainly will serve as a reliable and motivational 12th man for The Reds to play their best football.

Add to that millions more cheering from every corner of the globe, me included, The Merseyside Club will have all the support they need to make this season their own.

Surely nothing less than a numero uno finish will suffice my Dear Liverpool, starting with beating Norwich City this Saturday.

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

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