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Tough Night for Liverpool & Chelsea

Liverpool suffered an unlucky defeat at San Paolo Stadium against Napoli in the first round of the UEFA Champions League Group Stages. Defeat was looking unlikely until the 82nd minute, when the game took a turn following a controversial decision made by the referee. Andy Robertson was adjudged to have brought Jose Callejon down in the box and Napoli were awarded with a penalty.

There seemed to be minimal contact and the foul went to VAR, who deemed the referee’s decision as just and allowed Napoli the spot-kick. In an interview, Klopp agreed that Callejon played it smart against Robertson and that the yellow card his defender received was “harsh.”

It was Dries Mertens that took the shot and though Adrian got his hand on it, he just couldn’t do enough to push it outside of the goal. Nevertheless, Adrian’s performance against Napoli was outstanding and he did well to save a number of dangerous shots from Carlo Ancelotti’s side. The most stunning being when he denied Mertens attempt earlier on in the second half, somehow managing to push the ball onto the roof of the net with his right hand as it spun rapidly towards the top corner.

Napoli did have it in the net from early on in the game but the ‘goal’ was ruled offside – Fabian Ruiz shot twice and Adrian made two successive lightning saves before the ball was nodded home by Lozano, who was correctly flagged down. Cutting a home sides raring celebration short.

More frustration came in extra time when Napoli scored again in the 92nd minute sending Liverpool down 2-0 in Naples. Virgil Van Dijk made a rare error by allowing former Tottenham centre-forward Fernando Llorente to gain pace on the ball and send it home for Napoli. He’ll be disappointed with his part in the goal and should Liverpool want to hold on to their Champions League title, errors like that can’t be afforded but we all know how capable the Dutch defender is and this small blip won’t speak for the rest of the season.

Whilst the Reds conceded two goals, they were still threatening on the counter-attack and Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret, had to make some vital saves, especially from Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

Mane whipped a shot towards the net, in attempt to go through the keeper but Meret got down well to block, cradling the ball in both arms. Mo Salah fired a low diagonal shot and again, Meret did excellently to get his fingertips on the ball and deny the shot. Roberto Firmino nearly put Liverpool ahead with his header that just flashed wide of the post – could have definitely been a goal if it had been on target! James Milner nearly had an assist when he curled a low ball towards Mo Salah but Mario Ruiz did well to clear it.

Mane and Salah also somehow made a hash of a two on one. Napoli had failed to mark the two forwards effectively and the two zoomed towards a Napoli box but Mane miscalculated the cross to Salah, sending it far too wide for him to get a clear foot on it. It was the perfect and perhaps easiest opportunity Liverpool would have had to put themselves ahead and you could see the anticipation on the away fans faces. Either way, the Reds were creating opportunity, there’s no denying that.

Liverpool had been the better side for long periods, but it was clear that Napoli had done their homework and it was a spell of déjà vu for Liverpool, as Napoli’s last-minute success was a reminder of what happened when they played the same opponents a year ago.

A disappointed Jurgen Klopp admitted: “We had our opportunities. We had a lot of counter-attacks but could not finish them off.”

But this is exactly how Liverpool started their Champions League season last year. The Reds lost four of their six away fixtures and yet still climbed to the top to win the Champions League title, so fans shouldn’t be too disheartened.

For Liverpool it seems that when the beginning is harsh, it will end in victory. They play Red Bull Salzburg next at home and whilst the Austrian side defeated Genk 6-2, they shouldn’t be too brazen as Klopp’s men haven’t lost a game at Anfield Stadium since 2017! They’ll be looking to make light work of RB Salzburg though they should keep their eye on up-and-coming star Erling Håland.

Ross Barkley Gutted by Missed Penalty That Prevents a Draw at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea also suffered a defeat in their opening Champions League game. The Blues lost 0-1 at home to Valencia, marking another frustrating night at Stamford Bridge.

It was Valencia’s, Rodrigo, the only goal-scorer of the night that put Chelsea down. He edged into the home sides box in an excellent set-piece following Valencia’s free-kick. Parejo chipped the ball over the man-made wall and Rodrigo sprinted from out of nowhere, catching the ball with his left foot to hook it around and send it past Chelsea keeper, Kepa. And the away fans were sent into a flurry of celebration.

Chelsea had opportunity to equalise after VAR awarded a penalty for a handball by Daniel Wass that came off a header by Tomori. After a round of questioning by Jorginho and Willian, Ross Barkley took the shot but missed the penalty, with the ball cannoning off the cross bar and then going over.

Valencia had evidently done their homework on Lampard’s men as they defended smartly against a home side that clearly had more possession and control for the most part of the game. Jasper Cillessen did well to deny attempts from both Willian and Marcus Alonso, who fired a lovely shot through the visitor’s poor wall and towards the corner of the post.

Willian was looking especially threatening throughout the game, which is perhaps why he was so determined to take the spot-kick for his side.

There were chances from Giroud and Christensen too, though they just couldn’t do enough to put the Blues ahead. Chelsea had also lost young star and England International, Mason Mount early on in the first half following a rash challenge by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin. Needless to say, it was a tense and frustrating encounter that marked an undesirable first for Frank Lampard, who has become the first Chelsea manager in charge to lose his opening Champions League match.

He admitted that it was a “harsh lesson”, especially for his younger players who have much to learn about Champions League Football. We know there will be better nights than this one for Chelsea and that the Blues will do well to qualify from this minor setback.

N’Golo Kante is in good form, Emerson Palmieri has returned and Callum Hudson-Odoi is set to make his comeback. We know Chelsea are capable of great football, that was seen in their 5-2 victory over Wolves and with the Blues eager to seal their first win at Stamford Bridge, if they don’t do it in the Premier League, they’ll be hoping to triumph against Ajax, who they face at home next in the Champions League Group Stages.

Chelsea celebrate first victory with a 3-2 win over Norwich City

Chelsea F.C.

‘Super’ Frank Lampard and his men secured their first Premier League win last weekend against the strong and determined Norwich City.

It was Chelsea’s young stars, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount that were the Blues goal scorers. N’golo Kante was missing due to injury and so it was down to the youngsters, who didn’t disappoint, with Mount netting one and Abraham adding two to the scoresheet to send Chelsea to victory. A late hamstring injury to Pedro during the warm-up saw Ross Barkley make Lampard’s starting line-up, which had an average age of 24 years old and brought about some criticism regarding inexperience but after that performance at Carrow Road, the sound of cheers will have hopefully drowned out all that hate.

Blue is the colour, football is the game, we’re all together and winning is our aim, so cheer us on through the sun and rain, ’cause Chelsea, Chelsea is our name

Chelsea had gotten off to a slow start this season, losing 4-0 to Manchester United in their first fixture and drawing at Stamford Bridge to Leicester City, which Lampard plainly stated he wasn’t too pleased about. But now the ex-midfielder turned manager needn’t worry, with a win finally under his belt, he’ll be feeling pleased and proud of his players, and so he should as it was a fine performance from his side. Lampard has constantly spoken about wanting his team to press forward and have a more attacking style of play, which was exactly what was seen on Saturday.

After just three minutes, Chelsea opened the scoring with Abraham’s volley after finding a cross from Cesar Azpilicueta. It was a lovely set that started with Christian Pulisic, who maintained great control of the ball before passing it to Azpilicueta, to assist in a perfect start for the Blues. But Norwich City soon equalised as Emiliano Buendía got past Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho to find Pukki, who crossed it to Todd Cantwell and took it home for the Canaries. Carrow Road erupted under the British sun, though it was short-lived when in the 16th minute Mason Mount found the back of the net to score his second goal for Chelsea. And the away side were roaring.

The ball came from an impressive pass from Pulisic, which Mount then powerfully put past Tim Krul to put Chelsea back out in front. It marked Pulisic’s second assist of the game and the American was causing all sorts of problems for Norwich City. With the Blues demonstrating how aggressive they could be, Norwich’s defence could definitely feel the pressure as Chelsea seemed to be in their penalty box a lot more than the Canaries would have liked them to be. By the end of the game, Chelsea had amassed 23 goal attempts, with 8 of these being on target compared to Norwich City’s 6, with 5 on target, though that’s not to say that the Canaries weren’t causing problems of their own for Chelsea.

After Mount had restored the lead for Chelsea, Norwich soon equalised for a second time with goal scoring whirlwind Teemu Pukki, so it seems Chelsea’s defence also has room for improvement. Pukki goal was his fifth of the Premier League season thus far and Norwich were back in the race for the three points as well as the prospect of a 12-game unbeaten run on home turf.

In the second half, the game got quieter and Chelsea dominated with possession, having better control of the ball than their opponents. Both sides were eager to achieve the winning goal but Chelsea seemed to be pressing harder and digging deeper, with attempt after attempt and effort after effort coming from the Blues side.

At 61 minutes, Azpilicueta was sent down in the penalty area by a challenge made by Marco Stiepermann but both the referee and VAR dismissed it, despite it quite obviously being a clear foul. Understandably, Chelsea were upset by this as it denied them the opportunity to produce a third goal but in less than ten minutes their prayers were heard. Mateo Kovacic made a breakthrough, delivering a praiseworthy pass to Abraham who sprinted past two defenders and drove the ball into the bottom corner of Norwich’s goal. Chelsea took the lead once more!

Blue is the colour, football is the game, we’re all together and winning is our aim, so cheer us on through the sun and rain, ’cause Chelsea, Chelsea is our name

At 72 minutes, the tension peaked again when Ben Godfrey’s shot hit the cross-bar but luckily, Chelsea remained ahead. The Blues found the back of the net again with just less than ten minutes to go until full-time but VAR – the judge and jury of football – dismissed it as a goal once again, with the VAR officials stating that Olivier Giroud jumped into Norwich goalkeeper, Tim Krul. This matter is still up for debate.

Nevertheless, Super Frank got his first win as a Chelsea manager. It was a tough game and Norwich have definitely proved that they are a team that shouldn’t be underestimated, pulling back to equalise twice with the Blues but Chelsea were the more impressive team on Saturday. Chelsea’s young players shined at Carrow Road and Tammy Abraham will have definitely silenced the critics now after landing two goals for his side, which will do wonders for his confidence. It is evident that Lampard has a great relationship with his players, as after Abraham scored his first goal, he ran straight up to his manager to embrace him. Morale is high at Chelsea and the players are hungry to do themselves, Lampard and their team proud, which is good motivation during play.

Chelsea will be looking to get another three points this weekend when they meet Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge. Could it be another goal-thriller?

The Next Gen: Chelsea’s Rising Stars

The Next Gen: Chelsea’s Rising Stars

(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Despite a heavy loss in their first Premier League fixture, Chelsea have a number of up-and-coming stars that could help the Blues take the Premier League by storm.

MASON MOUNT

The under-21 England International impressed Frank Lampard during his time at Derby County and has fast become the new Chelsea starlet. In the Summer of 2017, he went out on loan to Eredivisie side Vitesse and quickly became a key player, going on to win the club’s Player of the Year award.

He joined Chelsea through the academy at the age of six and has climbed through the ranks. Mount made his top-flight debut for the Blues in their opening Premier League game against Manchester United and despite their 4-0 loss Lampard hailed the youngster’s performance.

Mount has an exciting future ahead of him at Chelsea, who are delighted with the his development and dedication to the sport.

CALLUM HUDSON-ODOI

Callum Hudson-Odoi has quickly become a household name across Europe. The 19-year-old teen attracted interest from Bayern Munich earlier this year and rumour had it that a transfer was on the cards but Chelsea F.C., who were eager to keep the talented winger managed to convince him to stay.

Hudson-Odoi had doubts over his playing time, as under Maurizio Sarri he was often benched and that must have been a big factor in him re-signing for the Blues. Unfortunately, he ruptured his Achilles in April and has since been side-lined but he, Chelsea fans and Lampard are eager for his return, which is looking to be soon as he has returned to training.

There’s hope for this young star to ascend to greatness and there’s no doubt he could be a key player for Chelsea and England in the years to come.

TAMMY ABRAHAM

Tammy Abraham rose out of the Chelsea youth system and was a storm on the pitch for Aston Villa during the 2018/19 Championships where he was out on loan. The talented striker is already an England International and his tally of 25 goals in 37 appearances during his time in the Championship resulted in all eyes on him.

During a pre-season game with Chelsea he even scored a goal against Spanish giants Barcelona and is thought to be a real asset for Chelsea this season. In his Premier League debut, he narrowly missed out on scoring for the Blues in their heavy defeat to Manchester United but Chelsea captain and teammate Cesar Azpilicueta sang his praises, insisting that the 21-year-old deserved to be with the team.

Members and fans of Chelsea believe he could be one of Chelsea’s brightest sparks with his physicality and pace.

RUBEN LOFTUS-CHEEK

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a pivotal member in Sarri’s starting plans and for Chelsea’s 3rd place success in the 2018/19 Premier League campaign. He’s another that came out of the academy and has been with Chelsea from a very young age.

He also plays for England’s senior team. Manager, Gareth Southgate was impressed from his first appearance in the game against Germany during the Toulon tournament, which earned Loftus-Cheek the man of the match award.

He is currently recovering from a severe Achilles tendon injury but will hopefully be returning to the pitch very soon. Both Frank Lampard and Maurizio Sarri have been extremely praiseworthy about the 23-year-old, with Sarri going on to say he is a “more than important” player for Chelsea.

CHRISTIAN PULISIC

Some have deemed the 20-year-old midfielder as the most talented player in America’s soccer history. Pulisic is not only quick on the ball but manages to keep the ball extremely close to his feet, leaving defenders from opposing sides stumbling in his wake.

At Dortmund he made his debut into the first team in less than a year and was quickly labelled as the club’s wonderkid. There is an immense amount of pressure on the young star, given his American background and as his signing with Chelsea makes him the highest paid American football player ever, expectations are high.

Lampard believes Pulisic has a strong and empowering future with Chelsea. Many look at the up-and-coming midfielder as a replacement for long-term star Eden Hazard, who transferred to Real Madrid in the summer. But there’s no doubt that Christian Pulisic will be looking to make a name for himself.

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Chelsea suffer 4-0 loss to Manchester United

Overcome with ‘blues’, Frank Lampard encourages his players to maintain perspective after their loss to Manchester United.

The man, the ‘legend’ Frank Lampard and his Chelsea players came out of an unfortunate Premier League opening. The Blues lost 4-0 to their northern rivals, Manchester United at Old Trafford and currently sit one from the bottom on the league table.

Although the majority of Chelsea’s fanbase are giving him a free hall pass, ex-Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho questioned and criticised the ex-midfielder’s strategy. Mourinho accused the new Chelsea team as being too “soft” and that Lampard was naïve to leave more experienced players on the bench or out of play.

Frank fired back by stating: “Well, I can’t drag players out of the medical room to play if they are experienced or not, so these are the players that played in a game that we were clearly the better team for 45-60 minutes.”

In the first half The Blues dominated and looked the better team, narrowly missing out on two goals. Kurt Zouma did make a couple of crucial mistakes, fouling Marcus Rashford in the penalty box. It gave Man United their first goal and put the Red Devils out in front.

In the second-half the goals flowed for the Red Devils, who were creating destructive play. Former Chelsea player, Gianfranco Zola seemed to think that Chelsea lacked balance, especially in their defence and that they will need to drastically improve upon that should they want to advance through the league table and be perceived as a top-of-the-table threat.

Eden Hazard on the pitchPerhaps though, the Blues were at a disadvantage in their opening game as the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Antonio Rudiger were unable to play. We should also remember that Chelsea have been hit with a transfer embargo, sold David Luiz to rivals Arsenal at the last minute and star-player Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. The Blues had to rely on their less experienced, younger players who are having to adapt to top-flight football very quickly.

It’s a shame that Chelsea faced such a heavy loss as in play it was evident that elements of a strong team were there. Lampard did account for the fact he was missing key players and was humble enough to let the press know that he wasn’t using that as an excuse but instead stated that there was much to learn from their 4-0 defeat.

In the end Man United’s ruthlessness got the better of Chelsea and as Roman Abramovich isn’t one to give managers time to cultivate a successful team, Frank Lampard will have to produce results quickly.

On Sunday 18th August, Chelsea will face Leicester City, who have also lost one of their most crucial players, Harry Maguire, to Manchester United for a world-record signing of £80m. This hasn’t seemed to faze Leicester who are aiming to break into the Premier League’s top six and with new additions Youri Tielemans, Ayoze Perez, Dennis Praet and James Justin it seems possible. The hosts seem very comfortable under Brendan Rodgers and the odds are leaning towards The Foxes, especially with the Blues competing for the UEFA Super Cup just a few days before this match, Chelsea players might struggle with fatigue.

But there’s no doubt Chelsea could make an epic comeback!

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The Big Exit With No Entry For Chelsea Transfers

Transfer Window Open For Business

Next week marks the start of the football pre-season and there’ll be one less star at Chelsea this season. Eden Hazard one of Chelsea’s star players who won 6 major trophies with the club, including the premier League trophy, made his way to Real Madrid as the transfer window opened. The striker was sold for an estimated whopping £88 million, being the sixth most expensive transfer in football. Hazard’s move to Madrid will see him play with the likes of Benzema, Marcelo and Varane. But does he have what it takes to be the next big star at Madrid or just another transfer blooper.

There won’t be many new faces at the Chelsea training ground this season with the club getting a transfer ban over their overseas dealings. And a shock departure from manager Maurizio Sarri, after his Europa League win at the club. After failing to win the Champions League or Premier League Sarri made his exit form the club and headed to Juventus. But If there’s one man who can take the manager position at the London club it’ll be Chelsea veteran Frank Lampard! The former Chelsea FC player is in talks of becoming the appointed manager, with the club willing to pay the £4million compensations clause. But Lampard is also wanted by current club Derby County who he managed in 2018/19 season, taking them to the Championship final play offs. Could Lampard be back at his stomping ground helping Chelsea add to their trophy cabinet or is Lampard’s new challenge to get Derby County into the premier league.

It’s a game of countdown for Mateo Kovacic as his loan spell is nearing an end at Chelsea, but with no renewal in sight for the Croatian Midfielder it looks as if he will be back at Real Madrid this season. Kovacic would be the only transfer for Chelsea in the summer window with less than a week to go before the loan spell ending and no movement from Chelsea it seems as if it’ll be another exit for the team.

Another Chelsea player staying in Europe, Ola Aina made his 2018/19 season loan permanent with Italian Series A club Torino, after the club paid around £9 million to keep the youngster. Aina had an excellent start at Torino with 30 appearances for the club, and continues to be a frequent start for national team Nigeria, recently assisting a 1-0 win over Burundi in the African Cup of Nations 2019.

The Blues have also released defender Gary Cahill who joined the club seven and a half years ago, with Cahill contributing to the victory of 2 premier league titles and the champions league. Rumours have it that Cahill is a wanted man at Inter Milan where former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte managers the Italian club, interest also from Premier League clubs Aston Villa and Burnley, also championship side Fulham. Is the Italian league looking bright for Cahill or will he be looking into staying in England.

London > Japan Pre-Season

It’s flights to Japan for the Chelsea team for their pre-season friendlies, as they prepare to face J1 League champions Kawasaki Frontale on the 19th July. The Japanese side have won their league for two consecutive years, and haven’t lost a game in their last six fixtures. The two teams will meet at Kawasaki Frontale home stadium in the south of Tokyo for the Meiji Yasuda J.League World Challenge 2019. A football match helping to enhance the sport over in Japan, creating an international community, giving the Japanese community a chance to see two high profile teams go head to head. This will be Chelsea’s second visit to Japan after playing in the FIFA club world cup in 2012, which saw them lose 1-0 to Brazilian side Corinthians. Fans hoping for a better result then last time in the country.

The second friendly in Japan will see The Blues facing La Liga champions Barcelona on the 23rd July at the renowned Saitama Stadium, which hosted the 2002 World Cup. The two teams haven’t united since the sixteenth leg of the Champions League in 2018, which ended in a win for the Spanish giants. With both Messi and Suarez at the Copa America, is the bar set higher for Chelsea to bring home a win against the Spanish team.

The last two pre-season fixtures see Chelsea head back to home soil for one of the games playing championship team Reading on the 28th July at the Madejski Stadium. Before heading overseas to play their last game in Austria, where they’ll be playing at the Red Bull Arena home ground of FC Salzburg on the 31st July. The home side have won the Austrian Bundesliga six times consecutively, and has won last season’s Austrian Cup, a top flight Austrian team for Premier League side Chelsea to face, preparing them for their 2019/20 premier league campaign.

After their final pre-season match The Blues will head back to Stamford Bridge for the beginning of the premier league season, with a new manager and one of their top players missing can Chelsea bring more trophies home this season.

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Chelsea to play Man City in the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley Stadium

Chelsea narrowly bested Spurs after an intense penalty shootout last night to secure their place in the Carabao Cup final against Man City.

The final will take place on the 24th February at Wembley Stadium, with the time still to be announced.

Chelsea lost the first of their meetings with Spurs at Wembley 1-0, but were hoping to slip into the final after scoring twice in the first half of the second leg last night.  The Spurs defence made an error in allowing N’Golo Kanté room to breathe at a corner, hammering in a low shot after a Fernando Llorente clearance.

Llorente did make up for putting the ball at Kanté’s feet with a diving header in the second half which brought Spurs back to 2-2 on aggregate and kept their Carabao Cup dreams alive.

Despite the headline score, Chelsea were mostly in control of both games yet failed to get any more in than Spurs.  The Blues hit the woodwork twice in the first leg and made shot after shot in the second so were unfortunate to have to take it to penalties.

Chelsea manager Sarri has seemed to blame any problems faced in recent weeks on finding difficulties motivating players, and had particularly hard words before the match for Eden Hazard, who he considers not working at his full potential.  The Belgian “has to do more” in order to impress Sarri, though the boss did concede that “he’s a great player. He always can win the match in two minutes, sometimes in one.”

Hazard was the man who mounted the 38th minute attack that resulted in him flicking the ball behind Paulo Gazzaniga with one touch from his left foot.

In a perhaps surprisingly different perspective from Sarri, Mauricio Pochettino felt “nothing but pride” as he left Stamford Bridge last night.  Having played yet again without star men Kane, Alli or Son, the team lacked some of the powerful forward momentum they’ve had for much of the season.

Looking forward to what is to come the Spurs boss was optimistic.  “I can congratulate my players and feel proud,” he told press post-match, adding that the close loss “will make us stronger.”

Chelsea Beat Spurs on Penalties

Who would play against Man City in the Carabao Cup final was decided after Willian, Azpilicueta, Jorginho and Luiz made it a flawless four of four for Chelsea on their spot kicks.

Spurs scored twice but failed on two successive attempts.  Eric Dier – whose penalty put England past Colombia in the World Cup – firing high of the crossbar and Kepa Arrizabalaga saving Loucas Moura’s shot with a low dive to his left.

Pochettino had praise for the two men, though, pointing out that “you can only miss if you take the responsibility to shoot. For me, it’s not a problem.”  His optimism in the players and cool reflections on such a close and crushing defeat can be admired, in times like these it’s easy to blame the players.

Chelsea to Face Man City in the Final

Chelsea’s win here lines them up against Man City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley Stadium.  The two teams have had a recent competitive streak, Chelsea enjoying a 2-0 win in December at Stamford Bridge, but losing by the same margin in August’s Community Shield game.

It will be the first time that the two teams have ever met in a competitive final, but before kick-off at Wembley, they’ll be meeting at the Etihad Stadium for a Premier League tie on the 10th February.

This game two weeks out from the final will mean a lot to City.  They’re still four points behind Liverpool and need to keep racking up three-pointers if they want to take the league this season.  It also will give both sides an insight into the tactics and styles they might see in their Carabao Cup Final meeting.

Sarri and Pep Guardiola are known to not only share a mutual respect for each other’s styles of play, but are also somewhat friendly.  The pair have been spotted not just chatting together at games, but also dining with their mutual friend Arrigo Sacchi.

The similar playing styles of the two might account for much of this respect.  It’s not uncommon for either side to take 65% or more of possession, and, at time of writing they are dominating the passes made so far in the Premier League.  Both City and Chelsea have made over 16,000 passes in the league this season.  Top placed Liverpool are sitting in third place in the ranking making just over 14,000 and Spurs fourth having not reached the 13,000 passes mark.

For both managers controlling space is key to success in their games.  Being able to take it away from opponents and weaken their position is a key component, so the final is likely to go in the direction of whoever can control the game in this way.

Manchester City are hoping to prove the bookies right, who have them at 4/9 favourites, placing Chelsea at 17/10 underdogs.

Carabao Cup Final Tickets & Hospitality

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PAOK v Chelsea: Europa League Match Review

PAOK v Chelsea: Thursday 20th September 2018

A comfortable triumph for Chelsea last evening in their Europa league opener against Greece’s PAOK. It was their first match in this league since 2013 – a year the Blues enjoyed victory.

Now, with the team off to a satisfactory start, they can only hope to experience greater wins in their coming games.

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One Is All You Need

For a sixth successive victory, one is all you need. Chelsea defeated PAOK 1-0 with Willian’s successful strike only seven minutes in!

This victory now puts them at three points levelled with BATE (who won 2-0 at Hungarian side Videoton). The Blues must strive to top their group if they want this year’s Europa league to be anything like 2013.

What Are The Stats?

Talking statistically, Chelsea were sure champs. The team enjoyed twenty two shots, with five on target. Whilst the PAOK side attained a disappointing one shot on target out of three in total. The Blue’s relished in 69% possession of the ball, leaving PAOK with a mere 31%.

Indeed Chelsea made skilful use of the ball having a pass accuracy of 90%.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Yes, numbers don’t lie. But, as we look deeper, Chelsea could have enjoyed a far greater win if not for some wasted chances. The Blues passed up numerous opportunities to make the scoreline more exciting.

In fact, Pedro could have helped to increase Chelsea’s lead but was unable to do so. It was in his 38th-minute counter-attack, shooting straight at the keeper after being picked out by Marcos Alonso. From the resulting corner, Morata regrettably steered a hard header too wide.

A culprit was Mr Morata himself. As mentioned above, the Spanish striker headed wide from Pedro’s cross and also dragged a shot wide from Antonio Rudiger’s throughball. And, after failing to keep a sidefoot volley down, Morata blazed over left-footed from the left side of the box.

Nonetheless, the team was successful in maintaining their 1-0 lead until full time.

‘He Was Unlucky’

‘Morata had three or four opportunities, he was unlucky,’  said Chelsea manager Sarri.

‘I hope in the future I can try to help him, but the confidence comes only with goals. I am not able to give him confidence.’

We hope this confidence can be built quickly because as Chelsea gets deeper into the League, there can be no room for mistakes or missed opportunities.

Control for Chelsea

‘We were in control for 90 minutes,’ according to Sarri. He admitted ‘I am really very happy with the three points and the performance but I am not happy with the result. When it is time to kill the match we have to kill the match.’

If performance is to match expectations, fans can hope to see only improvements and greater performance on Chelsea’s side.

An Unfriendly Environment

A sold out stadium in Thessaloniki. Fireworks shooting. Flares going up. PAOK’s home fans created an unfriendly environment for Chelsea to say the least.

Not surprisingly, PAOK fans have a reputation for giving visiting teams a hostile welcome and last night they lived up to that reputation. Before kick-off, the noise was gradually increasing and as the players came out, the stand erupted.

There were fireworks on display and smoke filled the air as the chanting increased and increased.

Though Chelsea fans may have been small in number, they were reportedly acknowledged by Chairman Bruce Buck who was handing out free snacks to the Chelsea supporters who had travelled from all over.

Despite the hostile environment, Chelsea strolled through the game and their fans were the ones left celebrating at the end of the night.

Chelsea v PAOK: The Second Meeting

Chelsea will face PAOK yet again on Thursday 29th November 2018.

Only this time, the action will be live from Chelsea’s territory – Stamford Bridge. Will Chelsea reign in victory once again against their Greek competitors? Or, will PAOK bring the intensity and overcome?

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Premier League Review: Match Week 3

The Weekend’s Premier League instalment certainly didn’t disappoint this week, with Pochettino’s fluid Spurs side undoubtedly stealing the headlines.

The Lilywhites thrashed Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford as the home side’s troubled start to the season continued. Jose Mourinho, critical of his players and frustrated at the failure to make further signings, cut a sombre figure at the end, with some wondering whether it might also be the end for the controversial manager if there is a failure to improve.

Strangely he had midfielder Ander Herrera in a three-man central defensive system alongside Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof dropped.

Mourinho was desperate to add central defensive reinforcements in the transfer window, yet he was the man who signed Bailly and Lindelof at a cost of more than £60 million. Is third-year syndrome, when Mourinho either leaves clubs or is moved on, about to bite again? Harry Kane’s header put Spurs in command at the start of the second half. Lucas Moura doubled their lead two minutes later and the Brazilian scored a second late on to make things emphatic.

One hundred per cent records for Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea and Watford, three wins out of three, so far this season.

Liverpool saw Mohamed Salah’s first-half strike secure a 1-0 victory over a battling Brighton side. Salah, who scored a record 38 goals in the Premier League last season, clinically finished off the inside of the post. Wolves managed a deserved point after they held Manchester City 1-1 at Molineux.

The visitors hit the post twice in the first half – first through Sergio Aguero and then when Wolves keeper Rui Patricio brilliantly turned Raheem Sterling’s 25-yard drive onto the bar. Wolves’ striker Raul Jimenez had a goal ruled out for offside. And the hosts took the lead in controversial fashion when defender Willy Boly’s attempted diving header went in off his hand from Joao Moutinho’s free-kick.

An Aymeric Laporte header rescued a point for the champions. Both sides had opportunities in the closing stages, with Aguero’s free-kick glancing off the bar with virtually the last kick of the game.

Arsenal managed their first win under new head coach Unai Emery, beating West Ham 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners were caught out on the counter for the opener, West Ham captain Marko Arnautovic slotting low past Petr Cech. Nacho Monreal struck back, firing into an unguarded net after Bellerin’s cross deflected into his path off Alex Iwobi.

Hammers’ debutant Issa Diop diverted Alexandre Lacazette’s volley across the area into his own net and then Danny Welbeck sealed it in added time. The result perhaps flattered Arsenal whose defensive frailties remain.

Chelsea went to Newcastle and turned over the Geordies 2-1. Eden Hazard, on his first start this season, netted from the penalty spot in the 76th minute before substitute Joselu levelled with a terrific header at St James’ Park. But late on Newcastle were sucker punched when Marcos Alonso’s shot deflected in off DeAndre Yedlin. Chelsea dominated the game with 82 per cent possession.

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Premier League Review: Match Week 2

It was a tale of two Manchesters as City thrashed Huddersfield 6-1 while United went down 3-2 at Brighton.

For City, Sergio Aguero scored a superb hat-trick. “I never saw him like this since I was here,” said manager Pep Guardiola. “He is in an incredible condition with the ball and without the ball.” Other City scorers were Gabriel Jesus, David Silva and a Terence Kongolo own goal.

Huddersfield managed a consolation through Jon Gorenc Stankovic. Aguero now has nine Premier League hat-tricks – level with former Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester City striker Robbie Fowler. Only ex-Blackburn and Newcastle forward Alan Shearer (11) has managed more.

United have had a toxic start to the new season with Jose Mourinho at his most irascible. Now it has spread to on the field.
Brighton stunned a lacklustre United with three first-half strikes. They took the lead on 25 minutes, when Glenn Murray flicked home Solly March’s low cross. Just two minutes later, Shane Duffy stroked home his first Premier League goal.

Romelu Lukaku halved the deficit 11 minutes before the break, but then Eric Bailly brought down Pascal Gross inside the area and Gross converted the penalty to restore the two-goal advantage. Paul Pogba netted an injury-time spot kick after Duffy fouled Marouane Fellaini. But it was too little too late. United have now conceded four goals in their opening two games of the season – it took them nine to let in that many last term.

Spurs comfortably beat Fulham 3-1. Indeed so comfortable was it that all the headlines focussed on Harry Kane finally scoring his first league goal in August. Lucas Moura had opened the account with his breakthrough Premier League goal, curling one beyond Fabri’s dive. Moura is already shaping up to be an influential performer now he has found his feet in English football.
Fulham, who lost to Crystal Palace in their first game back in the top flight following promotion, levelled as a result of clever improvisation by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Kieran Trippier restored Tottenham’s lead with a trademark free-kick. Then they got a third as Kane turned his marker and slotted the ball into the far corner of the net. The August jinx had lasted for 1,065 minutes over five seasons. “It is nice to put it to bed,” he commented.

Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 but the London sides have much to do if they are to challenge for the title.
Both defences were opened up at will and arguably the Gunners should have won, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi missing three absolute sitters in front of goal.

Chelsea built a two-goal advantage inside the first 20 minutes as Pedro turned in Marcos Alonso’s cross and Alvaro Morata added another. Mkhitaryan pulled one back with a low shot that Chelsea’s new £71 million keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga should have saved.
Iwobi then put the away side on level terms.

However, Chelsea controlled the second half, and claimed victory, Alonso sweeping in substitute Eden Hazard’s cross nine minutes from time to make it successive wins for new coach Maurizio Sarri and two defeats for new Arsenal manager Unai Emery.

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Premier League News: Weekend Review

 

Man United 2 Arsenal 1

In what was a crucial round of Premier League games, the standout fixture, Man United vs Arsenal, had a far more gentile feel than in years gone by. There have been plenty of dust-ups between the pair, but this was not a day for recrimination.

Arsene Wenger’s old foe Sir Alex Ferguson was in a generous mood as the Frenchman was rightly lauded at Old Trafford for all he has done for football. And while the Gunners won the title there in 2002, this time it was United triumphant 2-1 on the day.

Both teams have been eclipsed by ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City this season, United at least though had the opportunity to cement second place and claim the “best of the rest” prize.

Sir Alex was master of ceremonies in a pre-match presentation to Wenger who will leave Arsenal at the end of the season after 22 years as manager. The crowd applauded as Wenger received a silver vase and the pair embraced in what Wenger would later call a “classy” touch. It was a sign of the enduring respect the former rivals hold for one another.

When play got underway it was United who opened the scoring when a header from former Arsenal player Alexis Sanchez was knocked on to the post by Hector Bellerin, Paul Pogba then stabbed home the rebound.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan equalised, gifted plenty of space to weave and strike through the legs of Victor Lindelof.

But United had the last laugh with an injury-time winner from Marouane Fellaini. The bruising midfielder was a constant threat in the air as United bombarded the Arsenal penalty area, and the pressure finally paid off with two minutes remaining.

It felt almost like a testimonial game, with Arsenal playing mostly reserves, resting the first team ahead of the Europa League semi-final second leg.

 

Fellaini Premier League review

Fellaini’s game winning header all but assures United of second place

West Ham 1 Man City 4

Manchester City’s Premier League victory celebrations continued with a comprehensive 4-1 demolition of West Ham.

And in the process, they hit another milestone – 100 Premier League goals for the season. History was also made, as they became only the second Premier League side to win 30 league games in a campaign.

The champions took the lead when Leroy Sane’s shot deflected off the head of Patrice Evra and wrong-footed Hammers goalkeeper Adrian.

A comedy of defensive errors culminated in a Pablo Zabaleta own goal for their second.

Aaron Cresswell pulled one back with a sumptuous free kick. However, not long after Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho finished off the hopeless Hammers, who are still in danger of being dragged into a late relegation battle.

Cresswell Premier League Review

Aaron Cresswell’s brilliant Free-Kick turned out to be nothing more than a consolation.

Liverpool 0 Stoke City 0

Following their great Champions League feats in the week, a tired-looking Liverpool could only manage a 0-0 draw against relegation-haunted Stoke at Anfield.

The Reds goal machine Mo Salah for once misfired in a rare off game for the PFA player of the year, while the Potters feeble attack line has been misfiring all season.

Swansea 0 Chelsea 1

Chelsea, hanging on the coattails of Tottenham in the race for a Champions League place next season, scraped a 1-0 victory away to Swansea.

In the process, Cesc Fabregas notched his 50th Premier League goal, a wonderfully improvised finish that turned out to be enough on the day, as Swansea failed to make their few chances count.

But troubled manager Antonio Conte admitted that the “situation is not in our hands”, as even if Chelsea manage to beat Liverpool next weekend, the Reds need only a win at home to Brighton to confirm Champions League football for another year.

Swansea meanwhile are back deep in the relegation mire.

Southampton 2 Bournemouth 1

Speaking of the relegation dogfight, Southampton triumphed in the South Coast derby against Bournemouth, who have already assured their Premier League status for another year.

A Dusan Tadic doubled inspired the Saints to a crucial victory, which leaves them just a point behind Swansea in 18th place.

Crystal Palace 5 Leicester 0

Palace meanwhile are all but safe after a stunning 5-0 victory over seemingly ‘on the beach’ Leicester. Wilfried Zaha was the catalyst, contributing a goal of his own early on, with MacArthur, Loftus-Cheek and Van Ahnholt compounding the misery.

A late penalty by Christian Benteke ended the Belgian’s long goal drought, to round off a thoroughly convincing win at Selhurst Park.

Huddersfield 0 Everton 2

Huddersfield might just be looking over their shoulder, as a home defeat to Everton leaves them on 35 points, just three above the drop zone.

Newcastle 0 West Brom 1

Many would have labelled Saturday’s encounter on Tyneside this weekend as a bit of damp squib but try telling that to Albion fans. A 1 -0 win at Newcastle courtesy of winger Matt Phillips, means they aren’t relegated – for now at least.

Burnley 0 Brighton 0
And finally, Europe chasing Burnley took on Brighton at Turf Moor, with the two sides playing out a 0-0 draw. It leaves Burnley still in the hunt for Europa League qualification, but the less said about this one, the better.

 

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