Chelsea 2-0 Aston Villa Match Report – 17th October 2015

Chelsea saw off Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge to claim a first league win in close to a month. A strike from Diego Costa and an Alan Hutton own goal helped the Blues to victory against the strugglers. That win has lifted the champions up to 11th in the table, six points shy of fourth place.

This was Costa’s first game since returning from his three match suspension. After missing out on the Spain squad, he was clearly keen to make an impression. Rueben Loftus-Cheek started, as Jose Mourinho had promised, while Branislav Ivanovic missed out through injury. Abdul Baba Rahman came in for him, with Cesar Azpilicueta shifted to the right flank. The biggest shock in the team selection was the omission of Eden Hazard, who had to watch this one from the bench.

Hazard could well have been a player who responded well to the return of Costa, after all, he did score in the Spaniard’s last league game. Making his much awaited return here, the intense forward made a huge difference to how Chelsea played, and added a threat up front that has been lacking for much of the season.

It took Costa over half an hour to truly make the difference, but he eventually did it in a straightforward fashion. The hosts took advantage of a mistake by the Villa defence, and Willian teed up the striker, who tapped home for his second league goal of the season.

After promising that Loftus-Cheek would start the game, many were excited to see the youngster getting a run in the team. Those fans were disappointed at half time, as the manager hauled off the midfielder, replacing him with Nemanja Matic. He may be a more defensive player, but he’s also in awful form.

Mourinho has blamed his side’s lack of luck quite a few times this term, but they got a much needed break in the second half. Diego Costa’s shot took a defection off Alan Hutton, which sent it past Brad Guzan. That got the Blues back to their manager’s favourite scoreline, and from there they closed up shop to make sure of the points.

After the game, Mourinho explained the reasoning behind dropping Hazard. “I left Hazard out because we have been conceding too many goals,” he said. “We needed more stability and effort to help make the team more solid. I like quality, but when you don’t have the ball you don’t have quality. And you don’t have control.

“It was a tactical decision I felt we had to make and I told the players that this was not the time to be selfish and think only of themselves and be selfish. This has to be a moment for the team and nothing else. When the confidence is a bit low as it has been the quality goes down also. This was not a brilliant performance today, but it was a solid one. We sought more stability and control and we got it.”

LCN Man of the Match: Diego Costa

Mourinho Unhappy With Chelsea’s Start To The Season

Jose Mourinho has declared that Chelsea would be out of the title race already if they were in any other league. The Blues’ 2-1 home loss to Crystal Palace in the fourth game of the season leaves them eight points off the pace set by the league leaders Manchester City.

Mourinho said, “Four points in four matches is a very bad start. In another league I would say game over. In the Premier League I don’t say game over. We have eight points less than the leader. This is the Premier League and I think it’s getting more difficult than before”.

Bakary Sakho opened the scoring for Chelsea before Radamel Falcao’s equaliser opened his Premier League account with the defending Premier League champions. Chelsea remained on level terms for just two minutes, however, with Joel Ward condemning Jose Mourinho to just his second home defeat in his 100th game as manager of the London club.

The self-proclaimed Special One also suggested that he’s likely to ring the changes in the Chelsea starting line up when they place Everton after the international break saying, “I’m not happy. I cannot say that I had 11 players performing at the same time. Two or three of them, their individual performance was far from good. I blame myself for not changing one of them. I kept him in the game for 90 minutes. If a player is not performing there are two ways of looking at it. One way is that I trust so much the player that I’m going to wait for the improvement. Or even trusting the players arrives a moment where you think I have to change. I can go both ways”.

Despite feeling that Chelsea deserved a ‘clear penalty’, Mourinho was keen to give Crystal Palace credit where it was due. He said, “The first thought is to Palace. They come with everything. They were lucky but they deserve the luck.
My team, I think we deserved more. I don’t want to say we deserved to win, because it’s not true”.

Chelsea v Newcastle Preview (Premier League) – 10th January 2015

Chelsea welcome Newcastle to Stamford Bridge on Saturday as they look to keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the table. With the joint leaders both in action at 3pm on Saturday, any slip from either side could see them fall down to second, which would be a first for Chelsea this season.

The Blues will also be on the lookout for revenge, given that it was Newcastle who ended their unbeaten record last month, which was one of the results that allowed City back into the title race. That Newcastle side was on form, but this one is very different. They’re currently without a permanent manager, after Alan Pardew departed to Crystal Palace, and they’re nowhere near the form they were in for the clash at St James’ Park.

With just one win in their last six games, Newcastle have been far from impressive of late. Caretaker manager John Carver has yet to do anything to impress, so it’s questionable what exactly he can achieve this weekend. They also have eight players currently out of the team through injury and suspension, so this isn’t a fighting fit Newcastle team either.

As for the hosts, they have no real injury worries coming in to this one, and their big guns were given the weekend off for the 3-0 win over Watford. Willian and Diego Costa were required later on, but the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic all got a rest. After the leggy performances shown at White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day, a rest was certainly what a few of the players needed.

Strangely for the Blues, there are no players heading off to the African Cup of Nations this month, when usually the squad is hit with a number of departures. John Obi Mikel’s Nigeria and Mohammed Salah’s Egypt both failed to qualify, while Didier Drogba has retired from international football. With those three players staying, we don’t have the problems of some Premier League clubs, like Manchester City, who are losing Yaya Toure for a month.

Expect to see the strongest possible side here from Jose Mourinho, given that they had no midweek commitments before this one, and none next week either. With the players all rested up, he can now switch back to the first team after the tough Christmas period. Newcastle should be no match for that starting 11 at the Bridge.

Mourinho’s side simply need to get themselves back on track here. They may have had only a couple of defeats, but the way that Man City have clawed themselves back into the title race is bound to have hit them psychologically. A win here against Newcastle, and they can start to steady the ship, and keep their place at the top of the Premier League table.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0

Chelsea Transfer Player Profiles (Summer 2014)

Following our review of Chelsea’s fantastic transfer business earlier in the week, here is a more in depth look at the five incoming players. We know that Chelsea near enough broke even in their transfer moves, but they still spent well over £80million. So just what have the Blues got for that outlay?

Cesc Fabregas – £27m

Chelsea’s first summer signing, the former Arsenal captain looked set to return to his previous club when Barcelona put him up for sale. But, when the Gunners turned down the chance to sign the midfielder Chelsea emerged as favourites and landed the Spaniard for the knockdown price of £27million. Fabregas can play a range of positions, from defensive midfield all the way up to a false nine role.

For his price and versatility he’s a great signing, but Chelsea weren’t looking for a false nine or another holding player, they wanted a midfield playmaker. Fabregas fits that role and then some. He’s proved that in the opening few games. With Nemanja Matic, Ramires and John Obi Mikel, Chelsea had a strong, pacey midfield but they needed guile. Fabregas is the man who can thread passes through for Chelsea’s forwards, and he’s part of the reason that Diego Costa has adapted so easily after his switch from Atletico. While Costa gets the headlines, Fabregas is arguably the signing of the summer.

Diego Costa – £32m

A move for Costa was in the works since the start of 2014, when Jose Mourinho elected to wait to sign him in the summer, instead of signing a new forward in January. Chelsea met Costa’s £32million release clause early in the window but the transfer was drawn out, and Costa was eventually confirmed in the middle of July.

Costa’s arrival has brought Chelsea the thing they lacked last season, a reliable goalscorer, a world class number nine. Many asked if the Brazil-born Spaniard was up to it, given Chelsea’s track record at buying strikers, but he’s shown that he’s more than capable of leading the line in the Premier League. He’s started off with four goals in three games, and you can bet there’s more to come.

Filipe Luis – £15.8m

Chelsea’s third signing also came from Atletico, with Filipe Luis coming in to fill the void left by Ashley Cole. Cole lost his place to Cesar Azpilicueta last season, and then left the club after eight years on a free transfer. With just Azpilicueta, a right back by trade, to fill the left back slot, reinforcements were needed. Luis came in at £15.8million, and added quality in a position where Chelsea looked light.

Luis still hasn’t got his chance in the Chelsea team as yet, but that’s not really his fault. The impressive form of Azpilicueta and the exceptional performances of Branislav Ivanovic mean they are the first choice full backs at the minute, and Mourinho isn’t likely to change them unless he has good reason to. Given how he played for Atletico last season, he should fit in well when he’s given the chance and again, his signing was a highly targeted one in a position where the Pensioners were lacking.

Didier Drogba – £0

After the departures of Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba, and with Romelu Lukaku looking for a move, Mourinho brought back club legend Didier Drogba on a free from Galatasaray. Bringing him back divided many fans, with some wanting to preserve his final act in a Chelsea shirt, the winning penalty in Munich in 2012. That being said, the welcoming he got on his return against Leicester shows that many are happy he’s back.

Drogba is a fantastic addition to the Blues new look front line. While he isn’t the same player that lit up the Bridge in his glory days, he’s still a quality striker. He will add a lot to the side when called upon and as a third choice striker he’s a fantastic option. On top of that, he’ll be a great influence in the dressing room, especially since Cole and Frank Lampard have left. Drogba can be a leader, and an experienced head for Costa both to lean on and learn from

Loic Remy – £10.5m

After finishing their transfer business in July, August looked like it was going to be a quiet month for the Blues. That was until Fernando Torres secured a move to AC Milan on loan for the last two years of his contract, and left the Blues with just Costa and Drogba up front. They quickly dipped back in the market and replaced him with Loic Remy, who cost £10.5million from QPR.

Remy is a different kind of striker from Costa and Drogba, given that he’s pacey and a great finisher. He’s a more technical footballer than the other two, and he looks like good value at that price. Given that he has scored goals in the Premier League, both for QPR and Newcastle on loan last season, he should fit in right away. He’s likely to come in as second choice ahead of Drogba, and he’s a big improvement on Torres. Given Costa’s record of hamstring injuries, Remy will likely be called upon quite a few times this season and he’s a welcome addition to the squad.

After addressing their problems, sorting their business early and buying in proven, reliable players, Chelsea have done fantastically in the market this summer. The players have had time to bed in during pre-season, and that has shown in the early games. It’s early days, but the Blues look to have handled the transfer market masterfully, not least because their net outlay was minimal, largely thanks to the sale of David Luiz.

Swansea City v Chelsea Match Preview (Premier League) – 13th April 2014

Swansea host Chelsea in this Premier League clash on Sunday and it is a crucial one for both sides as Chelsea battle to stay in the title race and Swansea try to earn the three or four more points they need to ensure top flight survival for another year.

Chelsea came back from 3-1 down from the first leg against Paris Saint-Germain to win 2-0 at Stamford Bridge and earn their passage to the semi-finals of the Champions League, and that victory will have boosted morale no end.

Prior to that fine display that was full of guts and energy, Chelsea put a comparatively poor run behind them in their last Premier League match when waltzing past in-form Stoke 3-0 at the Bridge but it is their away form that has been the problem, both recently and throughout the season. On home soil they have dropped just four points and remain unbeaten but on their travels they have lost at Palace, Villa, Stoke, Newcastle and Everton, whilst a draw at West Brom was also a sub-standard result.

They have actually lost their last three away from the Bridge in all competitions, winning just one of the last five. That has to offer some hope to the home fans, especially after they won their last game at the Liberty 3-0 against Norwich in fine style. They were unable to build on that though and last time out went down 1-0 at Hull and with just 33 points from their 33 games they still have some work to do to secure their top flight status for another season.

They are unlikely to get the win here and whilst it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise, we think the visitors will continue the momentum they gained from back to back victories. The Blues have to win and we fancy that Jose Mourinho will not tolerate or allow any more slips on the road at so-called lesser clubs.

Earlier in the campaign Chelsea won the reverse fixture just 1-0 and we could see a similar result here. Chelsea have the best defence in the top flight and the home side will find it difficult to score as the Pensioners look to add to their six clean sheets on the road. Mourinho will hope to control the game from the off but that will be hard against a Swansea side who like to keep possession and we think the pattern of the game will be based on Chelsea playing on the break whilst remaining tight at the back.

We feel it won’t all be one-way traffic in this one and the Swans could well nick a goal to give the visitors something to think about. But ultimately we believe Mourinho’s men will have enough to cruise to a win to keep their hopes of a Champions League and Premier League double alive.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-1

Chelsea v Paris Saint Germain Match Preview (Champions League) – 8th April 2014

Chelsea face Paris Saint Germain in their Champions League second leg looking to overturn a 3-1 deficit from their meeting in the French capital last week.

Javier Pastore’s injury time effort has given Chelsea a difficult task to make the semi-finals for a third time under Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager blasted his side’s sloppy defending after the game, but their weekend win over Stoke was their 8th consecutive clean sheet at home, so that problem shouldn’t come up again.

A 2-0 win would be enough to send the Blues through on the away goals rule, with this game very similar to the last 16 clash against Napoli in 2012, the year Chelsea won the trophy.

With six wins on the bounce at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea are in great form ahead of this game, but they face a problem in the centre of midfield. John Obi Mikel is out with an injury, while Ramires is suspended and Nemanja Matic is cup-tied. It’s likely that David Luiz and Frank Lampard will be Mourino’s only two options in central midfield in this game.

The Blues are also without striker Samuel Eto’o, so Fernando Torres is likely to retain his position as the lone striker. Eden Hazard and Oscar were both left out of the starting line up against Stoke, so they should be in great condition for this game. Oscar, however, could find himself on the bench again, given his patchy recent form and the superb displays from Willian and Mohammed Salah at the weekend.

Chelsea’s defence will remain unchanged as usual, despite Mourinho’s complaints about their defending last week. Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta have started the last ten games, with that consistency helping to build a solid defensive unit.

As for PSG, they’ll likely be missing their star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, after he went off injured in the first leg. The French side will probably move Edinson Cavani in to the middle, and will still have enough attacking talent to worry Chelsea.

Jose Mourinho is looking forward to the game, but he’s aware of just difficult their task is. “We can approach the match against Paris with a smile. It’s what we need for such a difficult match and such an almost impossible job to do. I think the best way to try to do it is to have a smile and go at them.”

Mourinho added: “I want to enjoy that game. I enjoy the difficulty.
“Now we know that we need to win 2-0, 3-1, 4-1, 5-2. We know that we need a crazy result against Paris.
“We must be ready to go without fear, go at them and no problems and see what happens.
“If we have to lose to lose after a magnificent night of football, a magnificent night of emotion, if we have to lose.”

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0 and qualify on away goals