John Terry

Terry: “Chelsea Deserve Respect” As They March On Towards The Title

John Terry
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John Terry has hit back at the critics who have called Chelsea “boring”, as the Blues beat Leicester at the King Power Stadium to take another step towards winning the Premier League.

Having gone behind to a Marc Albrighton goal on the stroke of half-time, Chelsea struck back with goals from Didier Drogba, Ramires and the captain himself, Terry.

The ex-England defender said after the game, “We’ve been the best side all season…[we] deserve respect”. His thoughts were echoed by Chelsea’s striker Drogba when he said, “We don’t get enough credit. We are top of the league, we have the most points and people find us boring because we have been top since day one”.

The win means that Chelsea are just one victory away from their fourth title under the Portuguese manager. If they beat Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Sunday then they’ll be crowned Champions.

Mourinho said “This was the month when people were waiting for Chelsea to slip up, to lose one game or draw…we were phenomenal tactically, with team spirit”.

The Chelsea manager doesn’t intend to take anything for granted, though, and he is asking the Chelsea fans to make sure they don’t either. He said, “I hope our fans walk up to Stamford Bridge not celebrating but to play the match with us and push them – that is the spirit we have in our group”.

Nigel Pearson was quick to praise Chelsea too, despite seeing his team Leicester City throw away their lead and remain fighting for their Premier League survival. He stated after the match, “I’ve heard criticism of Chelsea recently and I find it bemusing to be honest. The best sides are able to win games in different ways and Chelsea illustrated that tonight”.

He continued, “Before the game started we knew it was a case of when, rather than if, Chelsea win the title. The result did not necessarily reflect the balance of the game but we played against a very good side who will be worthy winners of the Premier League”.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper, Shay Given, also backed up Terry’s remark that Chelsea deserve more respect than they’ve been getting. Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, the Irishman said, “People had been talking before the game, calling Chelsea boring and predictable, but they came here and swept Leicester aside…they are so close to touching the title”.

Boring or not, Chelsea are potentially just 90 minutes away from lifting the Premier League trophy, and their fans won’t mind it if that sort of tedium continues for a long time.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Preview (Premier League) – 3rd May 2015

Chelsea can finally clinch the Premier League title this weekend with a win over Crystal Palace. The Blues won at Leicester on Wednesday night opening up a 13 point gap between them and second place. Now all they need to bring the Premier League trophy back to Stamford Bridge for the first time in five years is three points at home to a mid-table Palace side that has little to play for.

It looks like a pretty straightforward task, but Palace have an excellent away record under Alan Pardew. They’ve won seven out of eight away matches since he took over in January, and he’ll be hoping to claim his biggest scalp yet as the Eagles go chasing a record points total and a first ever top half finish in the Premier League.

While that’s Palace’s goal, Chelsea are on course for the league title, as they look to add it to the League Cup that they won earlier in the season. You could see after the Arsenal and Leicester games just how much those points meant to them, and it seems like the squad now firmly believe that they’re champions. There’s still some work to do, as pointed out by John Terry at the King Power on Wednesday.

There is a scenario where the Blues could slip up and win it without playing, on Monday night – they just have to match Arsenal’s result at Hull to put it beyond doubt. The league leaders won’t be letting that thought cross their minds, as they will be focused on victory in front of their own fans, finally sealing the title after leading the table since the opening day of the season.

Ahead of this game, Diego Costa faces a late fitness test to see if he can return from his hamstring injury, while Loic Remy seems to be ruled out. Didier Drogba led the line once again on Wednesday, and he picked up a much needed goal to boost his confidence. While he doesn’t match up to the dominant powerhouse he was in his first spell, he still knows where the goal is.

There’s doubt it would be a much easier game if Costa was passed fit, but there seems to be enough goals from midfield now to replace him. High scoring midfielders was something Jose Mourinho loved in his first spell, and he’s still promoting it if Wednesday night was anything to go by. Both Matic and Ramires were at the edge of the Foxes’ box just after going 2-1 up, with the Brazilian scoring an excellent strike from range.

That shows how ridiculous the debate over Mourinho’s so called boring style of play is. They’ve been far and away the best side in the league this season, and they played some excellent stuff early on in the campaign. That’s still there on Wednesday’s evidence, even without Costa, and we expect the Blues to blow away Palace and win the title in style.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-0

Leicester 1-3 Chelsea Match Report – 29th April 2015

Chelsea moved within one win of sealing the title after a second half comeback against Leicester at the King Power Stadium. The Blues fell behind late in the first half after a strike from Mark Albrighton, but goals from Didier Drogba, John Terry and Ramires saw them take a 13 point lead at the top.

After suffering a suspected concussion on Sunday, Oscar wasn’t risked in the starting line up here. Ramires came in for his felow Brazilian, but Jose Mourinho sprung a surprise by putting him on the right, with Willian playing centrally and Cesc Fabregas in a deeper midfield spot. There was another change at the back, as Thibaut Courtois was replaced by Petr Cech, with the Belgian not 100% fit.

He was amongst the first half action, having to claim the ball after a spot of penalty box pinball. That was one of the few dangerous moments of the half, and the game looked like it would be deadlocked at half time, until Leicester found a way past the Czech keeper. Nemanja Matic gave the ball away, and Jamie Vardy took advantage to set up Albrighton, who opened the scoring in stoppage time.

It was fully deserved on their first half performance, which carried on their recent run of victories. There were tweaks at half time, with Ramires moving into central midfield, with Willian moving back out wide on the right. That change paid dividends straight away in the second half, as the visitors’ equaliser was created down the right. Willian worked hard, but it was Branislav Ivanovic who played the ball across, which was finished well by Drogba.

After that goal, the Blues were in control. They couldn’t quite turn that into a second for a while, but they eventually got the better of the Foxes from a corner. It was fitting that Terry would get the goal that pushed them close to the title, given just how his performances have inspired the side at times this season. Gary Cahill got a great header in, and Esteban Cambiasso’s block fell perfectly for Terry to bundle it home.

After that, Chelsea quickly killed off the game with a goal from Ramires a few minutes later. They poured forward even when 2-1 up, as all boring (!) teams do, and Ramires found space on the edge of the area and hit a thumping drive into the Leicester net. That was enough to see them take the points south, ending the home sides’ run of four successive victories.

The Blues now have the opportunity to lift the title this weekend, with a victory against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge. With the chance to win the trophy in front of their own fans, this is the perfect chance to win it for the first time in five years. After leading the way since the opening weekend, they’re tantalisingly close to being there on the final weekend.

LCN Man of the Match: Willian

Trophy

Chelsea Retain FA Youth Cup After Beating Manchester City

Chelsea have retained the FA Youth Cup after beating Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. Under the watchful gaze of Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich, under-18 manager Joe Edwards saw his side come from a goal down in the second leg to win 2-1 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate.

The young Blues were confident going into the tie, having already won the first leg 3-1 in Manchester. But they had to show their resolve when Kelechi Iheanacho put the Sky Blues one up after just six minutes.

Izzy Brown soon put the Londoners back on level terms when he headed in captain Charlie Colkett’s cross. Then, early in the second half, Tammy Abraham steered Dominic Solanke’s cross into the back of the net to all but end the match as a contest.

It was, incredibly, Abraham’s 39th goal in all competitions this season, and those goals have helped steer the Chelsea youth side to their fourth FA Youth Cup in the past six seasons.

On their way to the final the Chelsea team have had to overcome Tottenham, Newcastle and Swansea. They were rewarded on the night of the final by not only being watched by Abramovich, but also by Chelsea’s Technical Director Michael Emenalo and the Chairman Bruce Buck.

It remains to be seen whether any of the players will be able to take the step up to the first team, but the future is looking very bright indeed for the club that will soon be crowned Premier League Champions.

Eden Hazard

Hazard Wins Player Of The Year Award

Eden Hazard
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The Professional Footballer’s Association has named Chelsea winger Eden Hazard the Player Of The Year. The Belgian has scored 13 goals and created 8 assists in the Premier League this year, and is one of the chief reasons that Chelsea are heading towards winning the league title.

Last year Hazard was awarded the Young Player Of The Year award – a gong taken by Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane this time around – and he was delighted to take the main prize this year.

“I’m very happy”, he said. “One day I want to be the best and what I did this season is play very well”.

The midfielder’s fellow professionals vote on the Player Of The Year award, and being the recipient of it left Hazard feeling humbled. He said, “I don’t know if I deserve to win but it is good for me. It is better to be voted by the players [as] they know everything about football.

Alan Shearer, the ex-Newcastle United forward and now a pundit for the BBC, believes that the Belgian will keep getting better. In a blog for the broadcaster Shearer wrote, “Wrapping up the league title with Chelsea will still be what matters most to Hazard this season. But being voted PFA Player Of The Year will mean a lot to him too”.

Shearer continued, “The bad news for Chelsea’s rivals is that, at 24, Hazard is only going to get better. In 3 or 4 years, I think we could be talking about the Belgian being the best player in the world – he has the potential to be that good”.

It’s Hazard’s consistency for the Blues that Shearer thinks is what has earned him the gong from his fellow professionals. Diego Costa might have been banging the goals in throughout the season, but his injuries meant he hasn’t sustained that form. Hazard, meanwhile, has created the most goal-scoring chances in the league and attempted and completed the most dribbles, too.

While Hazard took the personal accolade at the PFA event, the Chelsea team’s sterling season was also recognised when the PFA Team Of The Year was announced. Costa and Hazard both featured in the attacking part of the team, but the Blues also dominated the defence.

Nemanja Matic, Chelsea’s defensive midfield rock, was in the centre of the Team Of The Year, with Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Gary Cahill all lining up at the back.

Ex-Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard was also honoured at the event when he and Steven Gerrard were jointly presented with the PFA Merit Award. Both players are off to play Major League Soccer in the summer and have collected 220 England caps between them. But it was the current Chelsea crop who were the toast of the town, with the Belgian winger taking all of the accolades.

Leicester v Chelsea Preview (Premier League) – 29th April 2015

Chelsea head in to their meeting with Leicester on Wednesday night knowing that six points from their next two games would bring the Premier League title back to Stamford Bridge. The Blues have a 10 point lead to protect, and they head to the King Power Stadium for their game in hand with the chance to widen that advantage, but they will face stiff competition against an in-form side.

Nigel Pearson has led his side to four straight wins that have turned them from odds-on favourites for the drop to within four points of safety. They propped up the table for most of the season, but their remarkable run has them close to securing a second season in the top flight, and a win in this game would have them on the verge of sealing their survival.

There’s plenty for both sides to play for here, so we shouldn’t expect a game like the one at the Emirates on Sunday. Leicester have been banging in the goals of late, and they’ll come into this one with a lot of confidence and very little to lose. Expect them to put pressure on the league leaders’ back four, and they’ll probably provide a sterner test than Arsenal did.

Chelsea will be hoping to be able to field a striker on Wednesday, after having to start Oscar as a false nine in their game at Arsenal. Didier Drogba wasn’t fit enough to start, while Loic Remy and Diego Costa were both ruled out. Remy is definitely out, but Costa could return despite failing a fitness test before the Emirates trip. Oscar suffered a suspected concussion in that game, but he should return in time for the trip to the KP.

It’s doubtful that anyone will want to sit out the final few games before the title is confirmed, and there’ll be plenty of time for resting the big stars in the final few games. After the Blues lift the title, you can expect to see a few of the young prospects getting a run out in the first team ahead of a rumoured jump up to the first team squad next season.

After making the switch to 4-3-3 on Sunday, expect Mourinho to move back to a 4-2-3-1 system for this one, with one of the central midfielders making way. We may see a little bit of rotation with three games in a week to deal with, with the likes of Kurt Zouma or Filipe Luis making an appearance.

With the title so close, the Blues have to go out and finish it now. They could lift the trophy on Sunday, which would mean they would have it finished with three games to spare. With all the sides behind them slipping up across the season, this is the time for the leaders to record back to back wins and show that they’ve been far and away the best team in the division this year.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1

Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea Match Report – 26th April 2015

Chelsea kept their 10 point lead over Arsenal intact with a 0-0 draw at the Emirates. The Blues had several penalty appeals turned down during the game, and eventually had to settle for a point that moves them ever closer to securing the title. With five games left, it looks impossible for Chelsea to blow that 10 point lead.

This looks like a point gained when you take a look at the starting 11. Coming into the game Jose Mourinho wasn’t able to start with any of his recognised strikers, as they were all struggled with injury. Diego Costa and Loic Remy were both out, with Didier Drogba only fit enough for the bench. Oscar played up front as a false nine, which gave the visitors limited options going forward.

It’s not hard to imagine that team would struggle to get too many shots away, and their best chances really came from turned down penalty appeals, of which there were three. Twice Oscar went down in the box, and after one he had to receive lengthy treatment. First, he was taken down by a shove from Hector Bellerin, and then he was taken out by goalkeeper David Ospina.

That second challenge left Oscar down for a while, which rubbed salt into the wound as far as Mourinho and his team were concerned. After that, Cesc Fabregas threw himself to the floor after a slight contact from Santi Cazorla, and he received a yellow for diving, which pleased the home supporters. Aside from that, Fabregas wasn’t too involved on his homecoming, although he didn’t have much in front of him to work with.

Drogba was introduced at half time, but he was nowhere near the player who recorded 13 goals in 14 games against Arsenal in his first spell. He looked sluggish, not quite the fit for a Chelsea side which needs a pacey forward in these kinds of games. As the match went on it became more obvious that this was a destruction job for the Blues, as they dropped deeper and deeper, denying the Gunners space as they controlled possession.

They were successful, as they kept the in-form hosts under control, earning a valuable point. Had Costa been available, things could have been very different. Without him and Remy, it became all about keeping things tight, as they had little going forward to trouble Arsenal. The hosts tried to play through the compact back four, which played right in to the hands of John Terry and company. The captain was fantastic, showing just why he should have been in the running for PFA Player of the Year with his form this season.

In the end, coming back from north London with a 10 point lead isn’t a bad result, but having that kind of advantage you’d have thought Chelsea could have taken a risk or two. They now need another six points to seal the title, and they could do that on Sunday against Crystal Palace, providing they beat Leicester on Wednesday night.

LCN Man of the Match: John Terry

Eden Hazard

Chelsea Braced For Hazard Bid

Eden Hazard

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Eden Hazard has been one of Chelsea’s key players this season, and his blistering performances have caught the eye of people outside of Stamford Bridge.

Not only is the Belgian looking to be a shoe-in for the PFA Player Of The Year Award – an award voted on by members of the player’s union, the Professional Footballer’s Association – but he has also won the admiration of Real Madrid’s coach Zinedine Zidane.

Zidane, when asked about Eden Hazard’s play this season, said, “I like everything he does on the pitch…I like the way he carries himself. That decisive streak in him, and the fact that he’s improving every year”.

He also said that Hazard should be thought of in the same bracket as Messi and Ronaldo – players that are commonly considered to be the best in the world. Zidane said, “They’re fantastic players, but I like Hazard a lot too”.

This posturing from the Real Madrid camp is bound to set some bells ringing at Stamford Bridge, despite the fact that Hazard signed a new five-and-a-half-year contract at The Bridge in February.

Real Madrid have long had a tactic of releasing information to the press to the turn the head’s of potential targets, and it seems as though Eden Hazard is their latest target.

In the summer of 2013 Real Madrid angered the Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy by constantly making overtures towards the then Spurs player Gareth Bale. Quotes from people associated with the Spanish giants about how good Bale was and how well he’d fit into the system emerged in the press on a regular basis. By September 1st the Welshman had signed up with the Madrid team.

Having already won the League Cup and being well on their way to winning the League, neither Mourinho nor those in the Chelsea hierarchy will be overly concerned by Zidane’s comments. They will, however, be sure to keep a close eye on words emerging from the Bernabeu. Comments such as Zidane saying, “He can still get better…and I think he’s a big reason why Chelsea are top of the table” will ensure Mourinho keeps his ace winger as happy as possible.

Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas Should Be Given Respect, Says Wenger

Cesc Fabregas

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Arsene Wenger has said that he hopes Cesc Fabregas gets “the respect he deserves” when Chelsea face Arsenal at The Emirates over the weekend.

Fabregas only managed to win an FA Cup medal during his time at Arsenal, though he became a firm fans’ favourite and developed into one of the most technically gifted midfielders in the world.

Fabregas joined Arsenal in 2003 at the age of just 16, staying with the Gunners for nearly 8 years. He left for his boyhood club in 2011 and went on to win La Liga, Copa Del Ray and the UEFA Super Cup with the Spanish Giants.

In the summer of 2014 Arsene Wenger turned down a chance to buy Fabregas back from Barcelona, resulting in the Spaniard joining Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team for a fee believed to be in the region of £30 million.

Wenger has played down the notion that he should regret not re-signing Fabregas by saying, “The regret I have is that he wanted to leave here. This club and myself had a very positive influence on Cesc’s life, so I would be a bit uncomfortable to have to justify today why he is not here. I believe I would rather it was the other way around”.

Arsenal trail Chelsea by 10 points and are, realistically, the only team that could stop the Blues from winning the title. Wenger will be hoping that he can lead his Arsenal team to their first victory against Jose Mourinho’s men in 12 times of asking. He’ll also be keen to ensure that his decision not to resign Fabregas doesn’t come back to haunt him.

Champions League Trophy

Champion’s League Changes Seeding Rules

Champions League Trophy

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Chelsea and Arsenal are two of the clubs that are likely to be affected by UEFA’s new rules regarding seeding in the Champion’s League.

Previously teams that were in the Champion’s League were seeded according to performances in the 5 previous seasons. Generally that tended to lead to the bigger teams avoiding each other in the early stages of the competition.

For the 2015-2016 season, however, UEFA have changed the ranking rules to mean that the top 8 seeds will belong to the winners of the top 7 leagues in Europe, as well as the current holders of the competition.

In previous years their consistent performances in the Champion’s League meant that both Arsenal and Chelsea were placed in Pot 1 when it came to the group stage draw. Now, as both teams have been knocked out of the competition and therefore can’t possibly win in, only the Premier League Champion’s will be seeded in the top group.

As that looks likely to be Chelsea, Jose Mourinho will be pleased to see his team gaining a top ranking. When he looks a little closer, however, it means there’s a likelihood the Blues could face a tough group. With only the winners of each league gaining top seed status, Chelsea could be in Pot 1 and yet still face the likes of Real Madrid, PSG, Lazio or Wolfsburg.