Chelsea Recall Youngsters From Loan Spells At Reading<

Chelsea Football Club have recalled two youngsters that have spent this season playing for Championship side Reading.

Michael Hector and Lucas Piazon were due to stay with the Royals for another week but their parent club has decided to bring them back to Stamford Bridge before that, presumably to use them as part of the squad in the closing stages of the campaign. The Blues face Spurs this weekend in the London derby before travelling to Sunderland and Liverpool and then hosting Leicester on the final day of the season.

23-year-old Hector, who was born in Jamaica, was signed on deadline day back in September. As part of the £4 million deal for the defender the West Londoners agreed to loan him back to Reading for the remainder of the season.

Piazon, meanwhile, has been quietly impressive for the Royals, with the Brazilian midfielder having scored five goals in all competitions since heading to The Madjeski Stadium on a season-long loan last year.

Chelsea v Tottenham Match Preview (Premier League) – 2nd May 2016

Chelsea play their penultimate home game of the season on Monday night against Tottenham. The Premier League champions might already have lost their trophy by the time this game kicks off. If not, then this will be a massive fixture in the title race, with Spurs still in with a shout. Sadly, that’s a race that the Blues are ridiculously far off. Can they salvage some pride with a result against their rivals on Monday?

Guus Hiddink’s men looked to be king makers in the title race, given how they face the top two in their last two home matches. That all changed in last Monday’s game, which saw Spurs slip up to West Brom. That has left Leicester one victory away from sealing the title, and they head to Old Trafford on Sunday. Regardless of the result in that game, if Chelsea avoid defeat here, they’ll surrender their status as champions.

That’s something that the Blues actually want to happen. Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas have both been open about their preference in the title race. They may simply be playing to the fans, but they have both said they don’t want Spurs winning the title. That certainly adds extra spice to this clash, as if it needed any.

While it’s fair for the players to make statements like that, you have to think that it might not be their place. It’s fine for them to take a dislike to a rival, but they should maybe avoid talking about the title race. After all, this is a race that they missed out on following an almost unprecedented collapse. Probably better if they don’t bring it up!

The team will have to overcome several injuries in order to stop Spurs. John Terry has yet to return, and there’s been no update on when he’ll be back. Loic Remy is struggling for fitness, while Kurt Zouma continues to miss out. Thibaut Courtois is suspended for the game, so Asmir Begovic will continue in goal.

We should see few changes to the side following the impressive win at Bournemouth last weekend. It was one of their best displays all season, so it makes sense that most of that side will keep their place. John Obi Mikel impressed at centre back on Saturday, but Gary Cahill should be ready to come back in his place. The Nigerian would be a worry at the back against the likes of Harry Kane.

Dele Alli is set to miss the game, he’s been charged with violent conduct by the FA. He could possibly miss the end of the season, after he was alleged to have punched West Brom’s Claudio Yacob in their last match.

Even without Alli, Spurs are a very dangerous side. They haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 1990, and they’ll be itching to put that right. While they’re having a great season, we expect the Blues to hold out and deny Spurs the win they need in a tight game.

LCN Verdict: 1-1 draw

Bournemouth 1-4 Chelsea Match Report – 23rd April 2016

Eden Hazard scored his first Premier League goals of the season as Chelsea recorded an impressive win at Bournemouth. The Belgian played a key part in the success, as he scored a brace. Fellow midfielders Pedro and Willian both got themselves on the scoresheet, helping the Blues move up to ninth in the league.

Guus Hiddink named a strong side for this trip down south. After back to back defeats, the Blues needed a much better display here. Hazard returned to the side for the first time in over a month. The big change here saw John Obi Mikel drop back in to central defence, alongside Branislav Ivanovic. Asmir Begovic came in for Thibaut Courtois in goal.

After winning at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, the Cherries were hoping to complete an incredible double here. That seems to have led Hiddink’s approach here, as he aimed to halt their poor run of form. After two slow starts, this one looked to be more of the same in the opening minutes. Bournemouth were in charge for five minutes, until the opening goal.

In the sixth minute, a Chelsea breakaway saw Cesc Fabregas feed Pedro. The Spaniard found himself clear on goal following Cesc’s great pass, and he found the bottom corner to give the Blues an early lead. It was a much needed confidence boost to a shaken up Blues team.

Bournemouth came pressing for an equaliser, but they didn’t really trouble Begovic in goal. While the Cherries looked for a leveller, Hazard finally broke his league duck for the season. Once again Fabregas played a part, with the Belgian picking up the ball and striking from 20 yards out. It might have come too late, but his celebrations after the goal were reassuring to the fans who thought he’d given up on the club.

As Bournemouth kept pushing, Begovic looked shaky when being pressed in the air. It was a corner that got the better of him, with Tommy Elphick’s header evading a sleeping Blues defence. Eddie Howe’s men were back in it before half time, and once again the champions suffered due to a defensive lapse.

The second half was a mixed affair, and it took over 25 minutes for either side to get a goal. Once again it was courtesy of Fabregas, who had a great game. He played in Willian, who lifted the ball over Artur Boruc and saw it find the net.

As the game got into added time, Hazard struck again. Fabregas wasn’t involved this time, as Nemanja Matic made a run and pulled the ball back across goal. The Belgian tapped home from six yards, finishing off a strong performance.

That was a welcome win for the Blues, especially with Hazard involved. He seemed really motivated in this one, and the display showed signs of life within the team. It’s not something to get too excited about, but it’s something Antonio Conte can at least work with.

LCN Man of the Match: Cesc Fabregas

Hazard Wants Leicester City To Win Title, Not Spurs

Chelsea winger Eden Hazard says that all of the West London club’s players are behind Leicester’s bid for the title as none of them want Tottenham Hotspur, their London rivals, to win the Premier League.

Spurs are currently eight points off Leicester and have four games left to play, meaning that they need to win all of their remaining fixtures and hope that the Foxes drop points in the run in. Leicester’s 4-0 win over Swansea City at The King Power Stadium this weekend means that they only have three games left to play, giving Spurs a game in hand.

The defending Premier League champions could yet have a big say in the destiny of the trophy they have been the custodians of for the last year. The London derby is scheduled to take place at Stamford Bridge on May the 2nd, whilst Leicester are heading there on the final day of the season.

Speaking to the BBC’s Match Of The Day, Hazard said, “The fans, the club, the players, we don’t want Tottenham to win the Premier League. We hope for Leicester because they deserve to be champions this season. We have a good game next week against Tottenham and if we can beat them it will be good”.

The 25-year-old was named as the Player Of The Year for 2015 but he has failed to hit the same heights during this campaign. He did score a brace against Bournemouth at the weekend, but they were the first league goals he’s managed this season.

Hazard’s team-mate, Cesc Fabregas, confirmed the Belgian’s opinion that the rest of the Chelsea team are right behind Leicester’s title bid. Fabregas has additional history to his rivalry with Spurs, having played for their North London rivals Arsenal for eight years from 2003 until 2011.

Speaking to Sky Sports the Spanish international said he thinks the game against Chelsea and Leicester on the last day of the season will be something of a dead rubber. He said, “I believe they’ll have it wrapped up by then. Spurs are pushing hard to get as close to them as possible but I think Leicester will win it and deservedly. I don’t want Spurs to win it and, for what they’ve done through the season, I would love Leicester to win the Premier League”.

The Match Of The Day pundits who were present in the studio after the interview with Hazard aired were torn about the value of the Belgian’s comments. Martin Keown, who used to play for Spurs and Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal, believes that the comments will give Tottenham’s players extra motivation heading into the game against them. He said, “The Tottenham players are probably listening to that right now and it’s goading them”.

Fellow pundit and former Newcastle player Shola Ameobi agreed with Keown, saying, “It’s been a tough year for Hazard, so for him to come out with a comment like that is unbelievable really. Surely he should be focussing on what he can do for Chelsea”.

But former Spurs player Jermaine Jenas defended the Chelsea player and said, “What do you expect Hazard to say? He’s not going to say he wants Spurs to win now is he? It’s what everyone knows; there is that obvious rivalry between Chelsea and Spurs. But if Spurs keep doing what they’re doing now I don’t give Chelsea much of a chance in that game anyway”.

Tottenham play West Brom tonight before visiting Stamford Bridge next weekend, the day after Leicester travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United. Leicester then host Everton at The King Power on the 7th of May before Southampton play Spurs at White Hart Lane on the 8th. Leicester then face Chelsea at the Bridge on the final day of the season, with Spurs heading to relegation strugglers Newcastle United at the same time.

The Players Let Mourinho Down, According To Cesc Fabregas

Spanish international Cesc Fabregas has said that the Chelsea players are to blame for Jose Mourinho’s exit from the club in December.

Mourinho was in his second spell at the club, having previously managed the Blues from 2004-2007. During his first three years in charge the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ led the club to two Premier League titles, an FA Cup victory, two League Cup wins and a Community Shield trophy. In the second season of his second time in charge at Stamford Bridge he led Chelsea to a Premier League and League Cup double.

Things did not carry on as they had left off for the 53-year-old, however, with the club enduring their worst spell to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s this season. It led the club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, to sack Mourinho for a second time in December last year. Guys Hiddink came in to replace the Portuguese on an interim basis, with Antonio Conte confirmed as Chelsea’s next full-time head coach earlier this year.

Though the Blues are now tenth in the Premier League they were just one point above the relegation zone when Mourinho was sacked and Fabregas felt as though the players ‘let him down’. Speaking to Monday Night Football on Sky Sports, the 28-year-old said, “I have huge respect for him. The biggest problem was he trusted us too much, gave us more holiday because we were champions and we let him down. That was the main reason he had to go – and for that, myself and the team feel bad”.

It is a sentiment the Chelsea fans are largely in agreement with, with numerous supporters taking the opportunity of the club’s first game without Mourinho to let players like Diego Costa and Eden Hazard know what they thought about them. Some fans booed the players and held up banners and signs saying they let Mourinho and the club down.

Hiddink won the FA Cup when he came in as Chelsea manager on an interim basis in 2009, replacing the sacked Luis Felipe Scolari, but he saw his side knocked out of the same competition at the quarter-final stage by Everton in March. It means that Chelsea have nothing to play for in the remaining weeks of the season for the first time since 2008.

Bournemouth v Chelsea Match Preview (Premier League) – 23rd April 2016

Chelsea head to Bournemouth on Saturday with, amazingly, just three points separating the sides in the table. The Blues are 10th, but they face a fight to stay in the top half given their awful recent form. Following back to back defeats, the team now have to pull themselves together ahead of their final five games of the season.

The first of those matches is away to a side who have already beaten them this term. Bournemouth won at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, one of the many low points in the first half of the campaign. Another defeat here would be dreadful from the team, after they meekly surrendered their unbeaten run and lost back to back games.

Bournemouth, on the other hand, know they could achieve an incredible feat by finishing in the top half in their debut season in the league and that despite some terrible injuries to star players. They may be 13th, but they have the chance to close the gap in this clash, against a team they’ve already won against. On top of that, the Cherries are much improved now from their win against Chelsea last year.

With forward Callum Wilson now back in the squad, there’s a lot more goal threat in this side. He’ll be a massive boost to this team, and the striker could have a field day here. He’s up against a makeshift Chelsea defence, one which is missing Thibaut Courtois through suspension.

Asmir Begovic will step in between the sticks, while John Terry could well miss out once again. Last weekend saw Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic at centre-half against Manchester City. There’s little pace in that pairing, and unfortunately there are few options for Guus Hiddink to change things.

The Dutchman is likely to be without Eden Hazard, and he said the midfielder is in a dark place right now. There are only limited options to change the team, but hopefully the manager can find a way to alter how they’re playing. Recent performances have lacked any kind of motivation, which has led to two horrible results and performances.

Bournemouth have the work ethic and ability to make this a tough game for the Blues as well. Eddie Howe’s men are still working hard despite already getting themselves clear of relegation. They have a chance to complete a double over the reigning champions and that would cap a great season for them.

Chelsea are drifting towards the end of the campaign with next to nothing to motivate them. It’s hard to see what exactly they’ll be playing for on Saturday. Hiddink will likely rotate his side as much as possible, but his team seem like they’ve already got their sandals on. The way the team are playing, a win here would be a huge surprise. It shows just how far the club have fallen when a draw away at Bournemouth would be considered an improvement.

LCN Verdict: 1-1 draw

Conte Won’t Have It All His Own Way, Says Hiddink

Chelsea’s interim manager, Guus Hiddink, believes that not everything will be rosy for the club’s incoming manager, Antonio Conte, when he arrives at the club after he’s led Italy to this summer’s European Championship contest in France.

Chelsea have been looking for a new manager since the club sacked Jose Mourinho for the second time in December. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ won the title with the Blues in the second season of his second spell with the club, but things went wrong this season and Chelsea endured their worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s. Hiddink was brought in on an interim basis, much as he was when Luis Felipe Scolari was sacked in 2009.

In his first interim spell at the club the Dutchman led the Blues to an FA Cup win, but this year they were knocked out of the competition by Everton at the quarter-final stage. They are currently marooned in 10th place in the Premier League, an incredible 28 points off the league leaders Leicester City. They are closer to the relegation zone as they are only 14 points clear of Sunderland in 18th.

Whilst the club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, is confident he’s got the right man to replace Mourinho in the long-term, Hiddink has warned the Italian that there will be no guarantees next season as the defending Premier League champions will do battle in an even more competitive league. He said, “The clubs will have more money to spend next year, which means the league will be even more competitive, which is very nice for everyone, except for those who have been used to being at the top for many years. We’re used to fighting for something and nothing is at stake at this moment. That’s strange”.

Hiddink said it seemed odd for the Blues to have nothing to play for in the closing stages of the season. Chelsea are used to competing for silverware all the way up until the end of the campaign and the fact that there is nothing for them to win, with even the top four now out of reach for them. He said the remainder of the season feels ‘a little bit empty’ and that the club’s poor performance could take its toll, with Conte having ‘no guarantees’ of success next season.

Hazard Is In A ‘Dark Place’, According To Hiddink

Guus Hiddink, Chelsea’s interim manager, has said that Eden Hazard is in a ‘dark place’ after his poor showing so far this season.

The 25-year-old Belgian attacking midfielder was the PFA’s Players’ Player Of The Year after last year’s campaign, when his goals and all-round play helped Chelsea win the Premier League title at a canter. His poor performances this time out has led some Chelsea fans to be critical of him, however, with many feeling he was a large part of the reason that Jose Mourinho was sacked in December.

The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ was sacked for the second time by the West London club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, after leading Chelsea to their worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s. The fact that Hazard has yet to register a goal for the club this season is seen by many fans of the club as a large contributing factor to the Portuguese manager’s sacking.

Hiddink said, “Last year everything was beautiful and this year everything is, for him, dark. The contrast is huge. He was the number one and now he’s at the end of a long row of players. That’s difficult. What do you do?”

Hazard missed this weekend’s home defeat to Manchester City through injury and has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge for some time, despite the fact that he has four years left on his contract. Hiddink, thinks he needs to improve his play if he’s hoping to earn a move, however. He said, “The next period will be very interesting for him. Not now, just this season, but also the Euros and the upcoming season. If he is planning (to move) in his career, then he must show it where he is playing now and in the near future. I hope he uses his quality in a way that he doesn’t think too much ahead or back”.

Chelsea 0-3 Manchester City Match Report – 16th April 2016

Chelsea suffered yet another defeat as they were crushed at Stamford Bridge by a Sergio Aguero hat-trick. Thibaut Courtois conceded a penalty and was also sent off for the hosts, as their season continued to fall apart. The Blues remain in 10th place, but this display does little for morale ahead of next term, when City are expected to come back even stronger.

Once again, Abdul Baba Rahman had his chance at left back. Cesar Azpilicueta moved to the right hand side, as Branislav Ivanovic joined Gary Cahill in an experienced central defence. Diego Costa returned after his suspension, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek kept his place in the team. While it was a very changed side that Hiddink put out, there was plenty of experience and quality (at least on paper!) in the side.

Ahead of the game the Blues should have been looking to send out a message against City. They were fourth in the table, a place that Chelsea will be aiming for next season as a minimum requirement. With City now showing their worth domestically and in Europe, this was a chance for the champions to demonstrate that they’ve been through a blip, but they can still mix it with the best.

That’s not the message we received. If it hadn’t been clear already, it was now obvious that Chelsea are in major trouble. Aguero put them to the sword just after the half hour mark. He didn’t do it alone, he had help from a former Blue. The Argentine was fed through by Kevin de Bruyne, a man who should have been playing for Chelsea, not against them.

The Belgian was part of a slick City midfield who devastated Chelsea with counter-attacks. Hiddink’s side looked disorganised at the back, and they were wide open when City came charging towards goal. In the second half some neat interplay between City’s attacking midfielders saw Nasri in space, before playing Aguero in for his second goal.

Chelsea looked very much like a mid-table side who were off the pace. If you walked into this game with no background knowledge, you’d struggle to believe there were any title winners in their side. While they may not have any trophies to challenge for, there are things which should motivate the Blues. Putting right their awful season and impressing their incoming manager hasn’t seemed to have crossed the players’ minds.

The final blow was dealt by Aguero from the penalty spot. Courtois tripped Fernandinho, and received a straight red. Asmir Begovic replaced John Obi Mikel, but the Bosnian keeper couldn’t do anything to stop the penalty.

If that result wasn’t bad enough, the Blues are now without their first choice keeper for the next two games. This has been an awful season for Courtois, as well as the rest of the team. While there doesn’t seem to be anything than can inspire the squad for these final clashes, at least we know the campaign is almost over.

Funeral Of Tommi Miller Takes Place Near Cambridge

The funeral of Tommi Miller, the Chelsea fan whose service was paid for by the club’s captain John Terry, took place yesterday near to the youngster’s home in Cambridgeshire.

Former England captain Terry met the youngster when he did a tour of Stamford Bridge last summer and a family friend contacted the footballer on social media site Instagram to let him know of his passing and to ask if he’d contribute anything towards the service. Terry replied saying, ‘I will contact [the funeral director] to make the payment for the burial…It’s such a sad story’.

The funeral was football themed, with mourners asked to wear either Chelsea or Cambridge United shirts for the service. He was buried in a Chelsea-blue casket that had the club’s crest on it, with 100 blue balloons released and 100 blue roses imported from Holland in order to make the service ‘special’ for Tommi.

Mally Beaver, a family friend, made most of the arrangements for the funeral, having become friends with the Millers after meeting on the cancer ward of Addenbroke Hospital in Cambridge. She said, “My father battled leukaemia for just twelve weeks but Tommi fought it for five years. His family found times tough and we did everything we could to help them out”.

The Beaver family are from the travelling community and reached out to other travellers after Tommi’s death to get their help. Mally said, “Roo and Kevin [Tommi’s father] aren’t from the community, but everyone took them to their hearts”. Travellers from destinations as far flung as Australia, Canada and Scotland helped to raise more than £4000 to be put towards a ‘celebration of Tommi’s life’.

Tommi was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was just three years old and underwent a bone marrow transplant last month in an attempt to help him overcome the illness. Sadly it was unsuccessful and he died not long after the operation. Ruth, Tommi’s mother, said she was ‘very proud’ that John Terry remembered her son and was ‘overwhelmed’ by his gesture of offering money for the service.