Ruben Loftus-Cheek Signs New Deal With Chelsea

Chelsea Football Club have confirmed that their 20-year-old midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has signed a new contract that will keep him tied down to the club until 2021.

The England Under-21 international made his Chelsea debut in January of last year and has since played eight top-flight games for the defending Premier League champions. He’s also played two Champions League games for the club.

The youngster has been on Chelsea’s books since the early days of his career and feels he’s now in a position to repay the faith the club’s shown in him. He said, “The club have done so much for me since I started here as an Under-8. Now I want to repay the faith they’ve shown in me with my performances on the pitch”.

Loftus-Cheek got on the scoresheet for the first time as a senior player when he netted in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Scunthorpe in the FA Cup third round on the 10th of January this year.

Chelsea also confirmed that their 20-year-old defender Dion Conroy has signed a new contract that will keep at Stamford Bridge until 2018.

Hiddink: Doctors Need To Challenge The Fixture Schedule

Chelsea’s interim manager Guus Hiddink feels that club doctors need to start putting pressing on the Football Association and Premier League to change the way the fixture calendar works.

The defending Premier League champions have lost John Terry to a hamstring injury recently and they saw Pedro suffer a similar injury during Saturday’s victory over Southampton. The Blues now see a fixture pile-up in front of them that the Dutchman believes will put his players at further risk of injury.

Chelsea were scheduled to play Liverpool in a Premier League match on the 13th of March but that game has been re-arranged because of the FA Cup sixth round. Hiddink is annoyed that their game against Everton in that competition has been scheduled to take place on Saturday the 12th of March instead of at the same time as the Liverpool game was originally planned for.

The schedule means that Chelsea will have to play as many as four different matches in the space of twelve days, spanning games in the Premier League, the Champions League and the FA Cup. They go up against Norwich tomorrow, before welcoming Stoke to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. They then have the second-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Paris St-Germain next Wednesday before the FA Cup game against Everton three days after that.

Hiddink said, “Hopefully the PSG game doesn’t go into extra-time because players need time when the intensity of the league is like it is. The medical people at the FA and the Premier League should make this known. Every club has medical departments. The doctors should stand up and say: ‘FA, television, whoever…. hey’”.

Hiddink has added his voice to the calls of other Premier League managers. Manuel Pellegrini called for a change to the way the system works after he felt he was forced to play a weakened team in the FA Cup match against Chelsea in the fifth round of the competition. They went on to lose the match 5-1 and Pellegrini was criticised for disrespecting the cup competition.

The FA have themselves confirmed that the current fixture list in ‘untenable’. They were forced to schedule Arsenal’s FA Cup fifth-round replay against Hull on a Champions League night, something that UEFA expressly forbid unless under ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Hiddink is unsure whether or not Terry will be able to feature in any of the upcoming games due to his hamstring injury. He said, “I have the experience with these kind of injuries. Maybe John needs an 11 versus 11 at Cobham or six versus six or seven versus seven – but with intensity”.

Southampton 1-2 Chelsea match report – 27th February 2016

Chelsea continued their rise up the Premier League table as they came from behind to see off in-form Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday. Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic struck for the visitors after Shane Long’s opener for the home side, moving the Blues close to the top half of the table. The Pensioners have now finally won back to back league games this season, a feat that somehow managed to elude them up until now.

Guus Hiddink named an unchanged side, as he looked to keep up the momentum built by his team in recent weeks. His plans were torn apart pretty quickly, as Pedro was forced off with injury after just seven minutes. The Dutchman kept faith with his makeshift back four, as Ivanovic held on to the captain’s armband.

Southampton went into this game in fantastic form, as they pushed for a top six place. They put together a run based on a fantastic defence, and they dominated early on here. The makeshift defence that did so well in Paris couldn’t cope here, with Abdul Baba Rahman disappointing at left back.

In fact, it was Baba who ended up at fault for the Southampton opener. It was his error that let in Long, and his chipped finish gave the Saints the lead at half time. The young full back was taken off after that, replaced by Kenedy. Given that Fraser Forster hadn’t conceded a goal since March of last year, Chelsea needed a massive 45 minutes to get themselves ahead here.

The last man to score past Forster was Diego Costa, and he came close to finding the net in the second half. He sent a volley just wide, when he really should have done better. The champions took control of the match in the second half, as they penned Southampton back in their own half.

As the Saints tried to hold on, the Blues got a much needed slice of luck to get back on level terms. Having stopped shots all day, Forster was eventually beaten by a cross from Fabregas. His ball in evaded everyone, and it went straight into the net to level the game. After a long period of pressure, it was more than the visitors deserved.

The two meetings between these sides last term finished level, and this one looked to be heading the same way. A draw here wouldn’t have been the worst result for the Blues, but they really needed to finally win back to back games. As the minutes ticked on, the Blues finally got the winner they needed, as Ivanovic headed in with just a minute of normal time remaining.

It was a fantastic win for Hiddink and his men, but they’re not yet in the top half. They do have a chance of a decent finish, if they can keep up this momentum. Indeed, they might just salvage something from what looked to be a train wreck of a league campaign.

LCN Man of the Match: Branislav Ivanovic

Norwich v Chelsea Match Preview (Premier League) – Tuesday 1st March 2016

Chelsea face the second of back to back away league games when they visit Norwich on Tuesday night. The Blues will be looking to put together a run to start climbing the league table, and they’ll need momentum to carry into the cup competitions that they retain ambitions of winning. Can they get a good run started at Carrow Road?

The first 12 days of March are massive for the Blues, and this game is what kicks that off. Following this match and a clash at home to Stoke, they then host PSG and head to Everton in the FA Cup. Poor league results could still see them drop dangerously close to the bottom three, while cup defeats would end their season. There’s no room for errors at the start of the month.

Luckily, Chelsea face a side who look hapless at the minute, one who are in danger of an immediate return to the Championship. Alex Neill’s men are conceding way too many goals, and they are only out of the bottom three after the Blues thumped Newcastle and hurt their goal difference. The Canaries look a little short on quality to survive this season.

Of course, they’ll be viewing this game as a chance to get points, given that they’re facing a midtable side with eyes cast elsewhere. The Blues could well be distracted here, and they’ve been known to underperform away from home, as seen when they went to Watford a few weeks ago. They need to avoid another result like that, and to do that, they’re going to need goals.

Diego Costa has already scored against Norwich this season, one of the few times the forward scored in the last few months of Jose Mourinho’s reign. He’s in great form, and he could well tear the Canaries apart here if given the chance. With Willian, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard seemingly back to their best, you’d imagine the Spaniard will be getting plenty of opportunities here.

Hazard is one to pay attention to here, as he’s responded to Guus Hiddink’s call for him to prove himself again. Granted, that came against City’s youth team, but he should have some kind of confidence back. If he plays as well as he did in the cup at Carrow Road, he’ll really threaten a few of these defenders.

We see the Blues picking up a narrow win here, as they look to put a run together ahead of the PSG return leg. If we’re going to be seeing squad rotation from the manager, it’s more likely to come against Stoke than in this match. Expect basically a full strength side here, with John Terry possibly back for this clash. Hopefully the champions can get the three points, putting enough space between them and the relegation dog fight and allowing them to focus on cup glory.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1

Chelsea Will Ban Coin Throwing Fans For Life, Club Confirms

Chelsea Football Club have confirmed that they will ban supporters for life if they can be identified as the fans who threw coins at Manchester City players during the club’s fifth-round tie at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Manchester City striker David Faupala had coins thrown at him as well as his team-mates as they celebrated their equaliser near to the Chelsea fans. Andre Marriner, the match referee, retrieved several objects from the pitch after the goal celebrations.

A Chelsea spokesman said, “We condemn such idiotic and dangerous behaviour. It is also worth stating this is a criminal offence and we will support any police prosecution if they can be identified”. How easy it will be for the club to identify who was responsible for the incident remains to be seen.

On Saturday West Bromwich Albion’s forward Chris Brunt was struck with a coin just beneath the eye. The incident happened as he went over to throw his shirt to one of the visiting fans after the Midlands club was knocked out of the competition by Reading.

Talking of the incident after the match, Chelsea’s interim manager said, “I saw it and I condemn it strongly and I think Chelsea will react. These people must not come into the stadium”.

He also felt that Manchester City were guilty of disrespecting the competition by making so many changes ahead of the game. Manuel Pellegrini gave five teenagers their Manchester City debuts in the game as he prepared for their Champions League last sixteen tie against Dynamo Kiev, which is coming up on Wednesday.

The Dutchman said, “Many people worldwide are focused on the FA Cup. As a youngster I knew which Saturday was the FA Cup. It is the temple of football worldwide and we must be careful not to devaluate it”.

Chelsea To Play Everton In FA Cup Quarter Final

The draw for the next round of the FA Cup has been made and Chelsea will play Everton at Goodison Park in the quarter-final of the famous competition.

As the competition gets to the business end there have been some interesting draws made for the quarter-finals. Reading, one of two Championship teams remaining in the draw at the time of writing, will host Crystal Palace at The Madjeski Stadium, whilst Watford will go up against the winner of the replay between Arsenal and Hull. Manchester night will host West Ham after beating Shrewsbury Town 3-0 on Monday night.

Guus Hiddink won the FA Cup with Chelsea when he came in as interim manager to replace Luis Felipe Scolari in 2009 after the Brazilian had been sacked by Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich. History won’t repeat itself in exact fashion this time around, owing to the fact that the Blues went up against Everton in the final last time, not the quarter-final.

Hiddink will fancy his chances of winning another FA Cup trophy with the defending Premier League champions this time around, having once again been brought in to replace a sacked manager by the club’s Russian owner. Jose Mourinho led Chelsea to their worst start to a top flight campaign since the 1960s before being released by Abramovich. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ is rumoured to be heading to Manchester United next season, having ruined his reputation with the powers that be at Stamford Bridge.

Speaking of the fact that he’ll be going up against Everton once again, Hiddink said, “It was a long time ago. They are longing for revenge. We hope to maintain the flow we are in in the FA Cup”.

Having beaten Premier League rivals Manchester City 5-1 in Sunday’s fifth round match, Hiddink’s men were entered into the draw for the matches that are due to be played between the 11th and the 14th of March.

Southampton v Chelsea match preview (Premier League) – 27th February 2016

Chelsea are hoping to build on their huge win over Manchester City when they head to St Mary’s on Saturday. Having secured progress in the FA Cup and having survived the first leg of their Champions League tie with their chances of progression in tact, they will now be hoping to improve their league fortunes. Can Guus Hiddink lead his men to another win, or will they be the latest side to fall against Southampton?

This is one of the most difficult fixtures the Blues could have been handed this week, as Southampton come into this one in fantastic form. They’re unbeaten in their last six, and they’ve won four on the spin at home. Fraser Forster has yet to concede a goal since returning from injury. In fact, the England international hasn’t conceded a goal since Diego Costa scored against him in March of last year.

That form has seen the Saints move into the top six in the league, and they’re just a point off Manchester United. They had a free weekend after going out of the cup in the third round, so they’ll be well rested ahead of this one. That should give them an edge over a Chelsea side who have been in league, European and cup action since the Saints’ last game.

That all builds up to a pretty tall task, even discounting the fact that this Southampton team were 3-1 winners at the Bridge back in October. They might have faced a much worse off Blues side back then, but Ronald Koeman’s men are more than capable of completing the league double over the champions on Saturday. They know that a draw or better will move them into the top five here, with Manchester United playing title favourites Arsenal on Sunday.

The Blues will be hoping to record back to back league wins for the first time this term, following their 5-1 victory over Newcastle at Stamford Bridge two weeks prior. With this game quickly followed by a trip to Carrow Road to face Norwich, there’s a chance for the Blues to build up some momentum and move further up the league table.

Hiddink will be hoping that John Terry will be back for this clash, although he’ll be tempted to keep Branislav Ivanovic at centre-half. Their current defensive line up sees the Serbian and Cesar Azpilcueta in their natural positions, which seems like a better fit. Even Abdul Baba Rahman seems to be doing well at left back. There are few other options to come in right now, but this back four probably needs a settled spell going forwards.

Expect few other changes up top, as it’s hard to fault anyone from the game on Sunday. Eden Hazard produced a sublime display in that win, and it would be incredibly harsh to drop him here. Barring a possible return for Terry, the team shouldn’t change much here.

LCN Verdict: 1-1 draw

Chelsea 5-1 Manchester City Match Report – 21st February 2016

Chelsea cruised into the quarter finals of the FA Cup as they crushed a youthful Manchester City side at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Goals from Diego Costa, Willian, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and Bertrand Traore gave the champions this massive win, one which ended City’s hopes of winning four trophies this term.

Guus Hiddink named an unchanged side from Tuesday night’s defeat in Paris, as he looked to send a team out to attack. That left Nemanja Matic out again, after he was suspended on Tuesday. There was another chance for Hazard, despite his poor performance against PSG. As for Man City, they made plenty of changes, as they face a Champions League trip to Ukraine in midweek.

The difference in team selections was evident from the start, as the hosts dominated the early stages. It took them a little longer than they’d have liked to take the lead, as they made the breakthrough 35 minutes in. Hazard started a lot better here than he did in Paris, and it was the Belgian’s ball in that Costa headed home.

It took just 94 seconds for City to equalise, however, as their young stars found a way to goal. Kelechi Iheanacho put the ball across the six yard box and 18-year-old David Faupala scored. It was a big moment for the young forward, and it seemed to boost morale within in the City camp. The two sides went in level at the break, despite the Blues controlling the game.

Chelsea quickly took control of the game early in the second half, as Willian put the Blues ahead three minutes after the restart. A lung-busting run from the Brazilian started the breakaway, and he played a one-two with Hazard before firing a low shot past Willy Caballero.

Hiddink’s men took complete control of the game five minutes later, as Cahill hit a third goal for the Blues. Once again, Hazard was the man who supplied the ball in, but was cleared out of the box. The ball fell to Cahill, and he took a touch and powered a shot home from 20 yards. Caballero could have done better, but the defender would have been delighted.

Having played a part in four goals, Hazard scored the fourth with just over 20 minutes to go. He dribbled to the edge of the box, before being hauled down by Martin Demichelis. The playmaker stepped up to hit the free kick himself, and his tame effort curled into the bottom corner, with Caballero once again at fault.

The goalkeeper did save a penalty from Oscar, coming after a harsh decision. After scoring in the fourth round, Traore hit the fifth here as his unorthodox header looped over Caballero.

Chelsea now face a tricky trip to Goodison Park in the quarter finals, which comes just days after the return leg against PSG in the Champions League. For Hiddink, things are progressing pretty well in both cups right now.

LCN Man of the Match: Cesc Fabregas

Hiddink: Chelsea’s Tie With PSG Is 50-50

Chelsea’s interim manager has declared that their Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain is hanging in the balance after the defending Premier League champions lost 2-1 to the French champions in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the opener for the French side before Jon Obi Mikel scored a vital away goal for the visitors. Paris Saint-Germain then spent most of the second period of the game camped in the Chelsea half, eventually earning their victory through an Edison Cavani goal.

With the second leg due to take place at Stamford Bridge on the 9th of March, Hiddink believes that Chelsea are still very much in the tie. He said, “Scoring away is always good. I’m never happy with a loss but it’s not a dramatic loss”.

The Blues have faced Les Parisiens for three successive seasons in the Champions League. The London club triumphed at the quarter final stage of the 2014 competition, whilst PSG got their revenge in the last-16 stage this time last year.

Despite being one of the richest clubs and football and spending billions of pounds building their squad in the Roman Abramovich era, Hiddink admitted that he was a touch envious of PSG’s substitutes bench, from which £55 million rated Cavani emerged to score the winner. Chelsea’s bench only had the likes of Bertrand Traore, Kenedy, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Matt Miazga to turn to.

Hiddink said, “I envy a bit the bench of PSG. They have a very strong bench. If you see what this team can bring on in the second half – world-class players as substitutes. This is a very strong PSG”.

Hiddink struggled to put a recognisable defence together for the match in Paris after injuries in successive weeks to Chelsea’s talented young centre-back Kurt Zouma and the club captain John Terry. The Dutchman chose to push Branislav Ivanovic into the centre alongside Gary Cahill, whilst Baba Rahman started in the right-back slot. Hiddink was pleased with the defensive work from his whole team saying, “The players did well, not just the four in defence. We also had a disciplined midfield”.

Meanwhile PSG’s manager, Laurent Blanc, said he was confident that there would be goals in the second leg. He said, “When you play at home you need to be stronger in defence because, if you concede a goal, it effectively counts double. Chelsea scored, so we go to Stamford Bridge eager to score ourselves. We’ll have chances, most likely, so it’ll be about defending well but we are an attacking team. I don’t think Chelsea will change their approach for the second leg. Neither will we. So the return game will probably be open and, hopefully, with some goals”.

Chelsea had been unbeaten in all competitions since Hiddink took over from Jose Mourinho as manager in December. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ was sacked by the club owner, Abramovich, after leading the Blues to their worst start in a top-flight campaign since the 1960s. It’s the second time that Hiddink has come in on an interim basis, taking over from Luiz Philipe Scolari when the Brazilian was sacked in 2009. One loss at the end of a twelve match unbeaten run won’t both Hiddink too much, but PSG will feel they have the upper hand heading into the second leg of the Champions League tie.

Chelsea v Manchester City Match Preview (FA Cup) – 21st February 2016

Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from their Champions League defeat in midweek when they face Manchester City on Sunday in the FA Cup. Having lost narrowly in the first leg of their tie against PSG, this is a huge follow up for the champions. Can the team make a big statement with a victory, or will their season get even worse here?

Nemanja Matic returns after serving a suspension in midweek, and he is likely to move back into the team alongside John Obi Mikel. John Terry is a doubt for this clash, which could lead to Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic to continue their makeshift centre half partnership. Guus Hiddink will be hoping his captain can return for this game, one which could well define their season.

While this year was seen as a write off, there are still two competitions that the Blues could win. While it’s hard to make a case for them after the season they’ve had, but the quality is certainly there. They can get the edge in these big games, it’s just a question of the team refocusing after a huge job in Paris on Tuesday night.

Luckily for them they should receive a boost for this game, with Manchester City facing Champions League action of their own. They head to face Dynamo Kiev, runners up to Chelsea in the group stage. They play in Ukraine on Wednesday, and the team is expected to travel out on Tuesday. Then, they return to play Liverpool at Wembley on Sunday in the Capital One Cup final.

The FA Cup is likely to drop down the list of priorities for City, with Champions League progress and the League Cup on the line. That should see a rotated side take the field in this one, with many of the top stars left to rest ahead of a crucial few days for Manuel Pellegrini and his men. Could that give Chelsea a slight edge?

They’d be a lot more confident if they see a team sheet lacking City’s biggest threats. That would really boost belief in the cup run, something the Blues really need. If they surrender their places in the cups early, then the season is effectively over. That leaves Hiddink as a bit of a lame duck in the dugout, with nothing to push for this season, and no future at the club towards which to build anything.

A cup run is the only thing keeping Chelsea fans remotely on board following the awful collapse they’ve seen this term, and the side has to guarantee that it continues. A defeat to City in unthinkable, especially if it’s against a weakened side. Hiddink’s big game record at the club is good, and that should continue against a team who are falling further and further off the pace in the title race.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1