Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea FC’

A bit of a hullabaloo has broken out at Chelsea over a potential move by Diego Costa to China. According to reports circulating in the media (see e.g. here), the Chelsea striker has been offered some £30 million a year (about 34 million euros) to go and play for Tianjin Quanjian (no, I’ve never heard of them either). Already, the highest paid footballer in the World, Carlos Tevez, is playing in China. Clearly, China want to attract some of the World’s best football talent by paying them huge sums of money.


Rumours are circulating that Diego Costa has been offered £30 million a year to move to play in China, leading to his falling out with Chelsea coach Antonio Conte.

Despite whatever problems are going on between Costa and Conti (it sounds like a double-act), Chelsea are still continuing to play sublimely under Conti. They beat Leicester City, the defending champions, 3-0 on Saturday, and are now sitting 7 points clear at the top of the Premier League. Manchester City continue their bad run of form; on Sunday they fell apart and were thrashed 4-0 by Everton. Liverpool and Manchester United both did Chelsea a favour by battling to a 1-1 draw. So, one has to ask, do Chelsea even need Costa to stay? If Conti feels not, he’ll be on his way to China sooner rather than later. 

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Chelsea consolidated their position at the top of the Premier League by beating Manchester City 3-1 at the Etihad. If ever evidence were needed that Chelsea are on a run of excellent form then this was it. Antonio Conti’s men have now won 8 games in a row, and moved past their other rivals to top the table a couple of weeks ago. They sit 4 points ahead of Man City, with Arsenal in second place 3 points behind, and Liverpool sitting in third on the same number of points as Man City. 

I didn’t see this game as I’m currently traveling in New Zealand, but to have two players sent off in injury time at the end of the match shows what a bitterly fought contest this was. 

It was Manchester City who started the season best, leaving all the other teams trailing in their wake. Chelsea, on the other hand, had an average start to the season. But, as we approach halfway in the season, they have hit a purple patch and currently look very hard to beat. 

There is still a long way to go, but it looks like Chelsea are playing with the kind of form which saw them win the title the season before last. So much has changed at Stamford Bridge since then, with the sacking of José Mourinho, that the 2014/15 season seems much longer ago!

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Tomorrow (Sunday 15 May) sees the final day of the English Premier League. Unlike every other weekend, when matches are spread out over Saturday, Sunday and Monday, on the final weekend all matches kick off on the Sunday at 3pm.

Leicester City have already won the Premiership title, which is a refreshing change and a remarkable achievement. Last season, Leicester were struggling to avoid relegation, and only a few years ago, in the 2008-09 season, they were in the third tier division (confusingly known as League One). From 2009 to 2014 they were in the second tier (the Championship), gaining promotion to the Premier League at the end of the 2013-14 season. Since the inception of the Premier League in the 1992-93 season, Leicester are only the second team outside of the ‘big four’ (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal) to win the Premiership title; the other time was Blackburn Rovers in 1993-94.

Some of you may know that the team I support is Chelsea, who as defending title holders have had a terrible season. They look set to finish 9th, although if they lose and Stoke win they could finish 10th. Even if Swansea City win and Chelsea lose, Chelsea’s goal difference is so much better than Swansea’s (16 better) that it is nigh on impossible for Swansea to finish above them.

Fittingly, Leicester City play their final game of the season at Chelsea, last year’s champions. Another twist to this story is that Leicester’s popular manager, Claudio Ranieri, was Chelsea’s manager from the 2000-01 season until the end of the 2003-04 season, when he was replaced by José Mourinho. I expect both the team and Ranieri will receive a good reception at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho, of course, started this season as the Chelsea manager on his second spell at the club, but after a string of disastrous results he left in December 2015, and Chelsea have been managed since by interim manager Guus Hiddink.

But, probably the  most intriguing story of this weekend will be whether it is Manchester City or Manchester United who finish in 4th place and get the last Champions League spot. Manchester City play away at Swansea, and Manchester United have a home game against Bournemouth. Man U not only need to win their match, but they need Man City to lose to Swansea in order to finish 4th. If Man City draw and Man U win, both teams will finish on 66 points, but Man City have a much better goal difference. On paper, Man U should beat Bournemouth. Although Swansea are down in 11th place, they have won their last two games, so will be no push over for Man City. It is conceivable that Man U will get the dream results that they crave. 



Leicester City were crowned as champions a few weeks ago, and last year’s champions Chelsea cannot finish higher than 9th, and could finish as low as 10th. The big fight tomorrow is which team in Manchester will get the coveted 4th place spot.

Should Man U fail to finish in 4th I anticipate that their manager, Louis van Gaal, will be sacked. They are in the final of the FA Cup, but this competition has become so much less valued in the last decade or so that I don’t think winning it will save his job. If, on the other hand, Man U do get 4th place then I think van Gaal will hang on to his job, even though he is quite unpopular with the fans. Since Mourinho was sacked from Chelsea in December there have been persistent rumours that he would be replacing van Gaal at Old Trafford. We shall have to wait and see.

Whether it is Man U or Man City who fail to qualify for the Champions League, it will be deemed a disaster for the club that misses out. Man U have the most prolific record of any English team over the last few decades, and Man City have won the Premier League title twice in the last few seasons, and this year got as far as the semi finals of the Champions League. The rivalry between the two Manchester clubs has been intense over the last few seasons, but this weekend one side of the city is going to be very disappointed and the other side will be relieved, if not elated. 

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Defending champions Chelsea continude their poor start to the season by going down 3-0 to a rampant Manchester City yesterday (Sunday the 16th).  Afterwards Jose Mourinho described it as a ‘fake result’. I have no idea what that means, except that he felt that Chelsea were the better team in the second half and so, somehow, the two late goals scored by City didn’t count. What a load of rubbish. Chelsea were thoroughly outplayed by a more hungry City, and were far from being the better team in either half.

Chelsea’s poor start must be quite a worry to Mourinho. They lost the FA Charity Shield match against Arsenal, they had a draw at home against Swansea (as a Welshman, the only time I have divided loyalties is when Chelsea are playing a team from Wales); and then a thorough beating yesterday at The Etihad. Mourinho claims, rather bizarrely, that he has deliberately held off on the pre-season preparation for his team, so that they start the season fresh. Again, what a load of rubbish.

The fact that he replaced club captain John Terry (of whom I am no fan, the man was (is?) an abusive racist) at half time  to me suggests not all is well at Stamford Bridge. In addition, there has been a very public spat over one of the team doctors being from coming onto the pitch in the match against Swansea; Mourinho is usually very good at controlling such stories from leaking out to the wider world.

Of course it is still very early days, with only two matches into a 38 match season it is far too early to rule Chelsea out of defending their title. But, whereas Man City have come out and started with two 3-0 wins, Chelsea look to be lacking cohesion or hunger. Now it is up to Mourinho to show why many consider him to be the best manager in football, and get Chelsea’s season kick-started.

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Later today Chelsea will take on Manchester City in what will be, so far, the biggest match of the season. Currently Chelsea are 5 points clear of Man City, who are their closest rivals at the top of the English Premiership. If Chelsea can win at home today they will go 8 points clear, but if they lose the lead will be cut to only 2 points.

Chelsea go into the game after a shock defeat last weekend in the FA Cup at home to lowly Bradford City, a game they lost 4-2 making it their heaviest defeat at home under Jose Mourinho. A fortnight ago they thrashed Swansea City 5-0 away, and they have also had two mid-week games against Liverpool in the semifinals of the League Cup, drawing the away leg 1-1 and winning the home leg 1-0.

Manchester City go into the game playing their first match since their shock FA Cup defeat last weekend to Middlesborough 2-0 and their home defeat to Arsenal 2-0 the weekend before. So, on paper, Chelsea should be the more confident side with a better recent record. But, today’s game will probably mostly be about who can handle the pressure the better – with such importance riding on the game. In this respect I expect Chelsea to come out on top, as Mourinho is the master tactician and sides he coaches usually can handle the big occasions masterfully. But, we will know later today – kick off is at 17:30 GMT.


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On Saturday (17th of January), Chelsea faced Swansea away at the Liberty Stadium. Normally, as a Welshman, I want Wales’ only Premiership team to win; except when it comes to playing Chelsea. Chelsea got off to a dream start, with Oscar scoring within the first minute, and by half time they were 4-0 ahead. The second half saw only one goal, with Chelsea finishing with a 5-0 victory. Mourinho described Chelsea’s performance as a “perfect game”.

Jose Mourinho described Chelsea's 5-0 victory over Swansea as a "perfect game".

Jose Mourinho described Chelsea’s 5-0 victory over Swansea as a “perfect game”.

Chelsea had a disappointing run of games over the Christmas and New Year period, including a 1-1 draw against Southampton on the 28th of December, and a 5-3 defeat to Spurs on New Year’s day. This relatively poor run led to Chelsea only getting 4 points from the available 9. Their closest rivals, Manchester City, got 7 points from a possible 9 in the same three-match period, and drew level with Chelsea in the table. But, since then, Chelsea have won both of their Premiership games (and an FA Cup game), whereas Manchester City have stuttered with a 1-1 away draw against Everton last weekend and a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal yesterday.

This now leaves Chelsea 5 points clear at the top of the Premiership, and with impeccable timing the two meet in a fortnight’s time in a game which could leave Chelsea 8 points clear should they defeat their closest rivals. Between now and then, Chelsea have a home and away League Cup semi-final against Liverpool and an FA Cup 4th Round match against Bradford.

The complete English Premiership table as of Sunday the 18th of January. Chelsea are 5 points clear of their closest rivals, Manchester City.

The complete English Premiership table as of Sunday the 18th of January. Chelsea are 5 points clear of their closest rivals, Manchester City.

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On Saturday Chelsea lost 2-1 away to Newcastle United, and in doing so lost their first game of the season in any competition. Prior to Saturday’s game, in the Premiership they had played 14 matches, and had won 11 and drawn 3, with no defeats. This record went on Saturday with defeat to Newcastle and, with Manchester City winning, Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premiership has been cut from 6 to 3 points.


In the lead-up to Saturday’s game Chelsea’s manager Jose Mourinho stirred things up by saying that Newcastle only really competed against Chelsea, and in their other matches acted as if they were playing friendlies! I can only assume that Mourinho was trying to deflect pressure away from his players, as I’m sure the whole Chelsea camp have felt the weight of expectations increase as their season continued without a defeat.

In fact, Mourinho has never won with Chelsea at Newcastle’s Saint James Park, and he would have been well aware of this. I’m not too sure, but I suspect Newcastle are the only Premier team where Mourinho is yet to register an away win. He is recently quoted as saying that going the whole season undefeated was “an impossible task”, and it may be that having now suffered their first defeat of the season a weight will be lifted off of his and his team’s shoulders.

It was before I started this blog, but I do vividly remember Arsenal’s undefeated Premiership season in 2004/05, which was truly a remarkable achievement. I also remember having a discussion with some friends around Easter 2005 when Arsenal were still in the F.A. Cup and Champions League, and Wenger had to decide which of the three competitions to prioritise with 3 games in the space of a week (one in each of the competitions). My own take was that he should prioritise retaining the unbeaten Premiership record, as it had not been done in over 100 years. As it turned out, it was the only one of the three in which they succeeded, but going a whole season undefeated in the league is a far greater achievement in my opinion than winning any knock-out cup.

On paper, Chelsea have a relatively easy next four games. Tomorrow (Wednesday) they play Sporting Lisbon at home in the Champions League, followed by what should be a straight forward Premiership match against Hull at home on Saturday (13th). On Tuesday the 16th they have an away match against Derby in the League Cup, and then a break of almost a week before they play Stoke away in the Premiership on Monday the 22nd. As I say, on paper these four matches should be straightforward for Chelsea, but then again on paper they should have defeated Newcastle.

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In March Arsenal were humbled by a 6-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge. Yesterday wasn’t as bad for Wenger’s team, but they were still convincingly beaten 2-0 by Chelsea with goals by Hazard and Diego Costa. This leaves Chelsea 5 points clear at the top of the English Premiership, and also means they still haven’t lost a game this season in all competitions.

Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, with goals by Hazard and Diego Costa.

Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, with goals by Hazard and Diego Costa.

Chelsea have won 6 of their 7 Premiership matches, their other match was drawn against Manchester City. In the Champions League they have one drawn match and a victory. This is a pretty good start to the 2014/15 season for Chelsea by anybody’s standards.

Chelsea are  now 5 points clear at the top of the English Premiership, having won 6 or their 7 games, their other result being a draw with Manchester City.

Chelsea are now 5 points clear at the top of the English Premiership, having won 6 or their 7 games, their other result being a draw with Manchester City.

Chelsea’s next match is not for two weeks now as next weekend sees a break for international matches. It is what should be a relatively easy game against Crystal Palace, followed mid-week by a Champions League match against NK Maribor, and the following weekend Chelsea are away to Manchester United. Although Man Utd seem to be finding their feet under their new manager, hopefully in three weeks’ time I will be saying that Chelsea are still undefeated this season 🙂

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The new English Premiership season is now 3 matches old, and there are only two teams who have won all 3 games. Top of the table is Chelsea, whom I have supported since 1970! And, the other team with a 100% record is Swansea, the other team I support by dint of their being Welsh. So, it couldn’t get any better really 🙂

Chelsea and Swansea are the only two teams to have won all three opening matches

Chelsea and Swansea are the only two teams to have won all three opening matches

Cardiff have, unfortunately, gone down to the Championship, and currently lie ninth. Hopefully they can gain promotion back into the Premiership either this season or next, we shall have to see. There is, of course, a heck of a long way to go, but I can only marvel at how well Swansea have done in their time in the Premiership, on a much smaller budget than a good fraction of the teams there.

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The match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield yesterday (Sunday the 27th of April) was billed as the title decider. Going into the game Liverpool had the English Premiership title within their grasp, with only three games to go they were on a long winning streak of 11 matches. But, in a tactical masterpiece by Jose Mourinho, Chelsea beat them 2-0 and have possibly not only derailed Liverpool’s title hopes, but left Chelsea in with a chance of taking the title themselves.


The impetus is now with Manchester City. With a game in hand, and a superior goal difference, if City can win their remaining three games the title is theirs, irrespective of what Liverpool and Chelsea do. City’s remaining three games are against Everton away, then Aston Villa at home and finally West Ham United at home. All three games are winnable for City, Everton are possibly the only team who can threaten them. Liverpool’s remaining games are Crystal Palace away followed by Newcastle at home, again two games they should win. Finally, Chelsea’s run-in is Norwich at home followed by Cardiff away, two games they should easily win.

So, based on form the title should end up in Man City’s hands, but Liverpool fans will be hoping that one of City’s remaining opponents can at least get a draw against them, that would be enough for Liverpool to take the title as long as they win their remaining games. Chelsea need both City and Liverpool to slip up, so that is what I am hoping for!

Who do you think is going to win the title?

The English Premier League as of this morning, Monday the 28th of April. Liverpool and Chelsea have two games remaining, Manchester City have three.

The English Premier League as of this morning, Monday the 28th of April. Liverpool and Chelsea have two games remaining, Manchester City have three.

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