Chelsea Announce Coral As Their Official Betting Partner

Chelsea have announced they have signed a two and half year deal with Coral for the bookmaker to be its “European online betting partner” until the end of the 2015-16 season. So what does this actually mean? Will all Chelsea fans get handed free bets with every match ticket? Well, maybe not. Read on for the details all the same.

Ultimately a football club doesn’t really and truly need a European online betting partner, but in this day and age of football being a multi-billion pound a year industry, football clubs are reaching out in all directions to look for new revenue streams. And no doubt Coral paid a princely sum for the privilege (though no figures have been disclosed at the time of writing).

So what do it mean for Chelsea fans? Well, Coral have said they will be offering exclusive offers to Blues fans every week (though they don’t say how they will verify whether someone is a diehard fan or simply a glory supporter who’s looking for a cheeky free bet!).

In a statement Chelsea’s chief executive Ron Gourlay said, “We are very pleased to align ourselves with such a leading betting company as Coral,”, while John O’Reilly, the Managing Director of Coral Interactive, sounded like the cat who’d got the cream with the following statement: “We are delighted to form this exciting partnership with Chelsea FC. They are one of the leading football clubs in the world and a very successful business too, and we are looking forward to providing an exciting and professional betting service to all their fans and customers through our new and improved website and mobile betting platforms.”

So all in all this looks like a win-win-win deal: cash for Chelsea, potential for more customers for Coral and – given the latter are one of the top bookies in the business and are committed to dishing out offers to Chelsea fans – better value bets for the punters!

Manchester City v Chelsea Match Preview (FA Cup) – Monday 3rd February 2014

Chelsea fans will have to wait until Monday for their football fix this “weekend” but the wait will be well worth it with a huge Monday night game against current league leaders Man City in store. It will be a major test for Jose Mourinho and his side and whilst the Special One will do everything he can to ensure his side are free to play without fear or pressure, few Blues would deny that a point would be a satisfactory outcome.

The two teams both played on Wednesday and whilst City thrashed Spurs 5-1 at White Hart Lane, the Pensioners were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw at home against West Ham. Given the Hammers had conceded 17 goals in their last five matches and Chelsea appeared to be hitting decent form the result was a surprise. Although the home side had 39 shots compared to just one for the visitors, there were relatively few clear cut chances and just nine shots on target.

Mourinho’s side will clearly have to improve here against the current Premier League leaders and title favourites. Improve they will but whether it will be enough against such a powerful attacking force remains to be seen. The Citizens look very well set to break Chelsea’s Premier League goals record set in 2009-2010 when they notched 103. Manuel Pellegrini’s men have got 68 already and if they continue at this pace will finish with around 112 but given their scoring seems to increase week by week that tally could go even higher. City have won their last eight in the league and 11 of the last 12, as well as boasting a 100% home league record this season.

Given Chelsea have hardly set the world alight on their travels this term it is very difficult to see anything other than a home win. Man City have beaten the Blues the last four times they have met in the north west but if there is some possibility for optimism it must come from the fact that prior to that Chelsea had won a staggering 10 of the 12 previous meetings there, losing just one. Of course, this crop of City players is arguably better than anything in the last four seasons, let alone the ones before that but given how powerful the Citizens look right now, straws may have to be clutched whenever they are seen!

Mourinho’s developing team have managed just five league wins away from Stamford Bridge this season and only the 3-0 win at Southampton was against a side in the top half of the table. They have travelled to five top eight sides, losing at Newcastle and Everton (as well as at 16th placed Stoke) and drawing at Arsenal, Man United and Spurs.

Those draws and the defensive tactics that underpinned them may offer some hope but, even if Sergio Aguero is missing for the home side, they just look too powerful at the moment and unfortunately we think it will be a long journey south for any travelling Chelsea fans.

LCN Verdict: Man City to win 3-0

Chelsea 0-0 West Ham Match Report (Premier League) – Wednesday 29th January 2014

Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw at home with West Ham, a result that seriously damaged their title push on a night when Man City moved top with yet another impressive performance, beating Spurs 5-1 in London. The Blues are now three points behind City and two back from Arsenal and in the eyes of the bookmakers – and most people up and down the country – the title is now very much City’s to lose.

Three points at home to West Ham was fully expected and on the balance of the game was fully warranted. Much as Sam Allardyce can be proud of the resistance his team showed, the stats paint a picture of total home dominance that was a fair reflection of the game. Jose Mourinho’s men had 72% of the ball and had a huge 39 shots compared to just one for the visitors. That only nine of those 39 were on target is indicative of Chelsea’s poor finishing, a problem that has plagued them all season and whilst Hammers goalkeeper Adrian made three or four good stops, for the most part he was untroubled.

Mourinho claimed his side played against “19th century” football and that the only way they could have got past the “wall” they faced was with heavy duty DIY tools. Unfortunately this is a familiar tune from the Special One, who cannot seriously have been surprised that a side that had conceded 17 goals in their last five would come to defend. The Hammers came into this clash in 19th place and almost every “small” side that comes to somewhere like Stamford Bridge is more than likely going to defend and play for a point.

Would Man City have failed to break the Hammers down, or even Liverpool? This game proved once more what everyone – including, of course, Mourinho himself – already knew: Chelsea need a world class striker.

Whilst Samuel Eto’o has shown signs of improvement he was unable to score here, having one good effort well saved. Demba Ba replaced Oscar after 80 minutes – too late many will feel – and he flicked an attempt onto the post whilst the man he replaced had earlier seen a curling shot pushed onto the bar as well.

The home side just weren’t quite good enough and although they briefly hit their stride towards the end of both halves, John Terry having a header well saved near the end of the first period and Frank Lampard seeing a shot from 10 yards blocked in stoppage time, they just couldn’t make the breakthrough.

The visitors created nothing, their main striker Andy Carroll predominantly occupied in defence, clearing many set pieces but there can be no doubt that Allardyce will have been delighted with the point.

Next up for the Blues, a trip to the Etihad on Monday night where they will need to improve massively to get anything against the seemingly unstoppable Citizens and it could be Mourinho “parking the bus”.

Chelsea 1-0 Stoke Match Report (FA Cup) – Sunday 26th January 2014

Chelsea booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Stoke that should have been far more convincing. The Pensioners dominated from start to finish and should have won much more comfortably and whilst it is the result that counts – more than ever in the cups – Jose Mourinho cannot help but be concerned by his side’s continued inability to score the goals their fine play merits.

Given Stoke beat Chelsea 3-2 as recently as December there was never a chance the home side would be taking this game lightly and with Mark Hughes naming a strong side on his return to one of his former clubs it was clear Stoke were up for the battle. With both sides fielding teams respectful of the traditions of the FA Cup and the memory of the previous meeting at the Britannia fresh in everyone’s minds, a good game looked in prospect and so it proved from the off as Chelsea leapt out of the blocks.

After just two minutes Samuel Eto’o, fresh and confident after a hat-trick against Man United, turned smartly inside the box, firing through a crowd but his effort curled just wide. The Cameroonian had other chances, notably late in the game when the ball just wouldn’t drop for him inside the six yard box and when he did get his shot away he somehow fired wide.

There were so many other fine chances it would be difficult to list them all but the Blues twice hit the post, Oscar seeming to be using the game as shooting practice, and both Frank Lampard and David Luiz had good long range efforts saved, the latter a thunderously struck free kick that could have cost the Stoke keeper Asmir Begović his fingers!

Juan Mata may have left the club but it is performances like the ones from Eden Hazard and Oscar that show the Special One had a tough decision to make in leaving the Spaniard out of his plans. Both were outstanding here, especially Hazard whose dribbling ability and close control are things of wonder. It was the Brazilian’s intervention that proved decisive though, Oscar shaping a free kick beautifully into the far corner on 27 minutes. The ball was hit to the goalkeeper’s side but with such bend, accuracy and power that Begović, who, as ever, had a fine game, had no chance of keeping it out.

There were good, solid performances all over the pitch for the home side, new signing Nemanja Matic in particular looking impressive. The Serbian reads the game well and as well as breaking up play is able to bring the ball forward and looks an excellent acquisition. However, Chelsea still look like they need a world class forward and 19 shots with just five on target and one goal tells its own story.

The Pensioners will surely have to improve if they are to progress further in the FA Cup, given their reward for this victory is a trip to Man City. Mourinho said of the draw, “No problem. If you want to be the best, you have to play against the best, so it’s good for us. One team is the end product. One team needs to improve and has a long way to go. Good experience, good game, big game.” We think the Special One has brought the hammer firmly into contact with the nail there.

Chelsea v West Ham United Match Preview (Premier League) – Wednesday 29th January 2014

Chelsea play their neighbours from the east as West Ham visit Stamford Bridge and the home fans will be looking forward to a comprehensive win over their beleaguered rivals. Whilst the Pensioners are hitting their straps at the right time of the season, the Irons are doing the opposite and many Chelsea supporters will be expecting an easy three points from this one.

Of course, football has a nasty habit of throwing up surprises and rarely do things pan out exactly as it would seem they should. Back in October Sam Allardyce took his side to Spurs, who then held the best defensive record in the top flight, and somehow they came away with three points after a fine 3-0 win! Such a result is unlikely in the extreme here but it just goes to show that the home players – and fans – must guard against complacency.

Complacency is not usually an issue for any Jose Mourinho side and nor, ordinarily, is losing on home soil. Mourinho’s incredible home league record is well documented and whilst the continuation of his run for Chelsea relied on a dubious penalty decision against West Brom, the fact remains that this season the Blues have dropped points at the Bridge just once in 11 league games.

Chelsea, as said, are finding their best form as the season approaches the business end and Eden Hazard has been central to much of that. Willian has also excelled and if Samuel Eto’o can do as his Portuguese boss predicted, and come into his own as he adjusts to Premier League life as the season wears on, Chelsea will take some stopping.

They should certainly have far too much for a West Ham outfit that could be forgiven for suffering from shellshock at the moment. Big Sam’s men lost 9-0 in the League Cup over two legs to Man City and were dumped out of the FA Cup 5-0 by Championship side Nottingham Forest. Of course, Premier League survival is the club’s number one aim and a 2-0 win at Cardiff on the 11th January was a huge boost.

If the Hammers can continue to win the games against the fellow strugglers they won’t care what happens in games like this but even so, with Allardyce welcoming key players such as Andy Carroll back into the fold, the home side must be at their best. Carroll can menace any side, even one with six clean sheets in the last 10 (prior to the FA Cup game with Stoke) and his battle with John Terry and co could be crucial here.

Overall we expect this may prove closer than many people think. Whilst Mourinho’s men are starting to play more expansive and impressive football, on the whole they have not steamrolled sides at the Bridge and with West Ham sure to try and defend in numbers we think a safe, yet unspectacular home win is the order of the day.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0

Chelsea v Stoke City Match Preview (FA Cup) – 26th January 2013

Chelsea welcome former player Mark Hughes to Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the Welshman hopes to lead his Stoke side to what would be a shock victory in the FA Cup fourth round. So do the Potters have any chance of even avoiding defeat against a Blues side who are full of confidence at the moment? We think not.

These sides had very mixed fortunes at the weekend; Chelsea beat champions Manchester United 3-1 at the Bridge (thanks to a Samuel Eto’o hat-trick) while Stoke went down 1-0 at Crystal Palace, Tony Pulis masterminding the victory against his former side.

For Chelsea, everything is looking rather rosy at present. Despite not having appeared to fire on all cylinders they are third in the Premier League table, just two points behind leaders Arsenal, having won their last five league matches. They have a relatively easy draw in the first knockout round of the Champions League (against Galatasaray) and one of their strikers even managed more than a single goal in a match! One downside of their victory on Sunday was the loss to injury of Fernando Torres, but if Eto’o can recreate the form he showed against United on an ongoing basis, it might not be a big issue.

Stoke, meanwhile, have had a torrid time of things in the league of late, losing four of their last five and managing only a draw in the other. They are just four points above the relegation zone having amassed just 22 points from as many games. And with each of the bottom three sides on 18 points Mark Hughes will be nervously looking over his shoulder, especially since their next three away matches look tough: Sunderland, Southampton and, gulp, Manchester City.

With their trip to the Stadium of Light coming just four days after this one, there is the chance Hughes will opt to rest some of his key men for this visit to his old stomping ground. If he does, Stoke will have no chance of success given the lack of depth of the squad. But even putting out a full strength side they are unlikely to trouble a Chelsea side whose second string (assuming Jose Mourinho chooses to rest some of his players) includes the likes of Frank Lampard, Juan Mata, Ashley Cole and Demba Ba.

The Blues have a very winnable match on Wednesday – at home to West Ham – so there is no great need to rest too many players, but Mourinho is sure to want to give his new £21m signing Nemanja Matic a run out and his tenacity in the centre of the park will give Mata and others license to hurt Stoke, especially if Hughes does shuffle his very limited pack. Overall we think a straightforward home victory is on the cards here as Chelsea march on in the FA Cup.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-0

Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United Match Report (Premier League) – 19th January 2014

It was billed as a monster clash between two of English football’s giants, but in truth – despite being the current Premier League champions – Manchester United have fallen so far short of their usual standards of late that anything other than a Chelsea victory would have been a major surprise. The writing was on the wall for David Moyes’ men as soon as the teams were announced, the absence of both Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney for the visitors meaning they had little realistic hope of success.

Danny Welbeck was tasked with leading the line with teenage sensation Adnan Januzaj (whose emergence has been one of United’s few positives this season) playing in behind. Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia were on the wings with Michael Carrick partnered in the centre of the park by an out-of-position Phil Jones – all in all hardly a side to have the opposition quaking in their boots. Having said that, while United looked weak on paper it was they who started the brighter, fashioning a number of early chances that could have seen them edge ahead.

Jose Mourinho’s men, however, soon got into gear, and it was Samuel Eto’o who opened the scoring on 18 minutes after his curling shot took a wicked deflection that caused the ball to loop over a helpless David de Gea. The goal gave the home side impetus and though United battled hard to get themselves back into the game, they lacked any cutting edge in the final third against a well-drilled Chelsea backline.

The Blues didn’t create too much for the remainder of the half, but just before the break Cameroonian Eto’o – who was preferred up top to Fernando Torres – knocked in a low cross from centre back Gary Cahill, the United defence having gone AWOL. The goal killed the Red Devils’ chances of success and the result was never in doubt from that point. Moyes simply doesn’t have the kind of game-changers he needs to compete at this level, and though his men didn’t lack fight in the second period, they looked impotent as an attacking force without their two main men, Rooney and RVP.

Indeed the match was put to bed as a contest soon after the interval as Eto’o completed his hat-trick, tapping in from close range after woeful defending by United at a corner. The introduction of Javier Hernandez for the visitors gave them a spark up top and begged the question why the Mexican hadn’t started alongside Welbeck, especially when he scored a consolation after 78 minutes. A late red card for United captain Nemanja Vidic was something Moyes could have done without (the centre back faces a three-match suspension) and was the culmination of a disappointing day for the visitors.

Ultimately, few had expected anything other than a home victory here, and the win both keeps the Blues well in the title hunt (after Manchester City and Arsenal were both victorious a day earlier) and puts the final nail in the coffin of United’s chances of successfully defending their Premier League crown. Next up in the league for Mourinho’s men is a very winnable home match against West Ham, and then the big one: Man City away on 3rd February.

Jose Mourinho’s Worst Five Chelsea Signings: When The Special One Wasn’t So Special

Jose Mourinho is undoubtedly a Chelsea legend and the self-proclaimed Special One is loved almost universally by Blues fans. His personality may not be to the liking of everyone but nobody can argue that he doesn’t offer entertainment and, most importantly, he has delivered results… and silverware. His first spell at Stamford Bridge brought Chelsea their first league title for 50 years and was followed by another the following season whilst he also brought them success in the FA Cup and League Cup.

His sides were created with the wealth of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and signings such as Didier Drogba and Ricardo Carvalho were essential to the club’s success. However, let us not be fooled; nobody, not even the Special One is perfect and along with the many gems he brought in, Mourinho also spent many a Russian Rouble on dross. Here we “celebrate” Jose’s five worst Chelsea signings… can you think of any worse?

Andriy Shevchenko

We have to be fair to Mourinho and acknowledge that Sheva wasn’t a signing orchestrated by him. It is widely accepted that it was Abramovich who was the key man behind this signing but the fact remains that Mourinho was in charge (technically at least) at the time and so he has to be ranked as one of Jose’s worst transfers.

The Pensioners paid an eye-watering £31m for the AC Milan star, the owner having become convinced that the man who was a legend in Italy and his native Ukraine would help his side to Champions League glory. Shevchenko had scored more than 180 league goals in little more than 320 games for his previous sides but, as any shrewd fan was well aware, he had lost a yard of pace and was very much on the wane. Approaching 30 years of age, his best days were behind him and despite a goal on his debut Sheva was a total disaster, scoring just nine goals for the Blues before leaving on a free. £31m well spent there!

Shaun Wright-Phillips

Wright-Phillips was signed from Manchester City for the princely sum of £21m, which was a lot of money back in 2005! At this time the mere fact of a Chelsea enquiry for a player virtually doubled the asking price and £21m was undoubtedly far too much to pay. Wright-Phillips was a good player and on his day he could turn a game with his pace and shooting but sadly his days were few and far between. He was a player who had potential but never, ever really looked like fulfilling it and at times had the look of a headless chicken. He had three years at the Blues before moving back to City for around a third of what Chelsea paid for him. Now in the Championship with QPR his England record of 36 caps and six goals is misleading: he was a major Mourinho miss.

Khalid Boulahrouz

Signed from Hamburg for “just” £7m, Boulahrouz never made the grade at the Bridge and played just 13 times. Signed for his flexibility and the ability to cover a number of different positions, it soon became clear the “the Cannibal” wasn’t good enough in any of them. He was loaned to Sevilla, who took six games to realise he wasn’t for them, before moving to Stuttgart. His aggressive style should have suited the Premier League but he gave away too many fouls and lacked class, although injuries also played a part in his Chelsea demise.

Asier Del Horno

Del Horno was signed from Athletic Bilbao for £8m and played just one season at Stamford Bridge. He made just 25 league appearances for the Blues, scoring one goal, before being sold to Valencia for a small loss. Not a total disaster like some of the others… but just rather pointless!

Jiri Jarosik

Jarosik, a Czech international, was one of a number of poor midfield signings made by Mourinho and whilst he was a relative bargain at around £5m he was never more than a fringe player who lacked the ability to be a Premier League success. 23 appearances for his national side hint at why the Special One signed him but he was another who failed to fulfil his potential and 14 Premier League outings over one season before leaving for a large loss earn him a place on our list.

All players are from Jose’s first spell at the Blues as we feel it’s a little early to judge his latest signings. Time will tell if players such as Willian, Andre Schurrle and Nemanja Matic will succeed or fail but we doubt any of them will be worse Chelsea signings than our five unfortunates listed above.

Chelsea v Manchester United Match Preview (Premier League) – Sunday 19th January 2014

The biggest game of the weekend sees the Blues host Manchester United in a contest that could give either side a huge boost. United may not be enjoying their greatest campaign but they are still a prized scalp, much as Jose Mourinho is sure to insist that three points is all that matters.

If the Pensioners can take all three points here, and do so in convincing fashion, it could lend real momentum to their title charge. Thus far they have largely enjoyed better results than their performances would generally warrant but recently they have been playing better football and there are signs that Mourinho’s reshaping of the style is beginning to pay off. Eden Hazard has been at the centre of much of Chelsea’s finest moments and, man of the match in three successive games, he could be the key player here.

The home side will be expected to win against opponents that seem to have problems all over the pitch. Even their major strength, up front, is limited due to injuries to Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie and if neither are passed fit here it is hard to see where the away goals will come from. Adnan Januzaj is a bright talent but he has much development to do before he can be classed as the finished product like his countryman Hazard. United will be buoyed by the return of Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick but David Moyes will no doubt be looking enviously at the midfield resources on which his counterpart can call.

Willian has been a growing influence in the Chelsea midfield and his all round game offers a nice balance alongside the more mercurial talents of Oscar and Hazard. With Mourinho’s men beginning to find their customary solidity at the back – five clean sheets in six will have pleased the Portuguese boss immensely – they are a tough nut for any side to crack, let alone one missing its key strikers.

Earlier in the season the sides played out a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford, the Blues seeming content to take a point. Here only three will do and the roles could well be reversed, with United sitting back and looking to play on the counter. The home side must be careful not to push too hard, too early and if they remain patient the chances are sure to come. Moyes’ side have collected a good number of points on the road but only one point from three games against sides above them in the league.

With Chelsea looking to improve an already impressive home record (of nine wins and a draw from 10 games) and hoping to add to their five consecutive wins in all competitions, we feel confidence and general superiority should see them home. It will be close and tight with United almost certain to come looking for a point but the Pensioners have enough class to break down any side and a narrow home win is our prediction here.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 1-0

Hull City v Chelsea Match Report (Premier League) – 11th January 2014

Chelsea put in a measured and confident performance on Saturday in East Yorkshire to beat Hull 2-0, a victory which moved Jose Mourinho’s men to the top of the Premier League (at least temporarily, prior to the Sunday matches).

The match always looked like being a tricky one for the Blue given Hull had previously beaten Liverpool 3-1 and hit Fulham for six at the KC. But the visitors played with an assurance and patience that will have pleased their Portuguese boss, and though they didn’t create a lot in the first 45, they were never put under any serious pressure.

It was goalless at the break, which was a fair reflection of a fairly dour first half spectacle, but after the interval Chelsea began playing with more invention, with – inevitably – Eden Hazard pulling the strings in the centre of the park. Indeed it was Hazard who got the breakthrough after 56 minutes, the Belgian latching on to a flick from Ashley Cole before jinking along the edge of the area and hitting a low strike into the corner. It was Hazard’s 11th goal of the season in all competitions and if he maintains his excellent strike rate the Blues will have a great chance of keeping pace with Man City and Arsenal in the title race.

Once the first goal had been scored there was only ever going to be one winner, and rather than shutting up shop Chelsea appeared to play with more freedom after they had scored the opener. Despite Steve Bruce’s men trying hard to force themselves back into the game, things weren’t going their way and, as gaps began to appear in the Tigers’ backline, Chelsea were able to double their lead, a fine strike from nearly 20 yards from an otherwise quiet Fernando Torres giving Allan McGregor no chance in the Hull goal.

Another clean sheet (Chelsea’s fourth in their last five league matches) was another big plus for the Blues, not least because it meant Petr Cech earned his 209th clean sheet for the club, beating Peter Bonetti’s long-standing record. Cech has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in recent history and this latest clean sheet was his 150th in the Premier League, just 20 short of David James’s all-time Premier League record. If Cech keeps performing as he has for the last few years he’ll get to that milestone before too long.

So all in all it was a good day at the office for Chelsea: a solid win away from home against tough opposition, a clean sheet and, believe it or not, a goal from a striker! Mourinho will have gone home a happy man and more confident than ever that he can guide his side to Premier League glory this season. And there’s a tasty fixture coming up next weekend: Man United at Stamford Bridge. In the mood they are in at the moment, the Blues will relish the chance to seize victory over the champions.