Everton 3-6 Chelsea (Premier League) – 30th August 2014

Chelsea maintained their perfect start to the season by beating Everton in a nine-goal thriller at Goodison Park. The Blues led from the first minute to the last in the game, but Everton didn’t give them an easy ride in what could turn out to be the game of the season.

The Blues raced in to a two-goal lead through Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovic, before Kevin Mirallas pulled one back before half time. A Seamus Coleman own goal made it 3-1, before Steven Naismith got the home side back in the game. Nemanja Matic scored his first goal for Chelsea, then former Blue Samuel Eto’o scored for Everton. Goals from Ramires and Costa sealed the points for the visitors.

Before the game there were doubts about Costa’s fitness, with the striker struggling with a hamstring injury. Despite not being at 100% he started the game, and he started with a bang. Cesc Fabregas played a brilliant through ball, and Costa got on the end to put the Blues ahead after just 35 seconds.

Their great start didn’t end there, with Ivanovic doubling the lead just minutes later. The Serbian latched onto a Willian cross and fired past Howard, but he looked to have been in an offside position, much to the annoyance of the home fans. Everton looked shell-shocked, but they got back on track and controlled the end of the half, grabbing a goal back through a Mirallas header.

Everton came out looking for blood in the second half, and the Blues initially looked vulnerable. Romelu Lukaku went through on goal, and it was only an incredible last gasp tackle that kept the Blues ahead. They then regained their two-goal lead when Eden Hazard ran down the line, and his cross was accidently turned into his own net by Coleman.

That kicked off the game’s goal rush, with Naismith cutting the lead just two minutes later. Matic then grabbed his first Chelsea goal shortly after, with his shot deflecting off Sylvain Distin and nestling in the bottom corner. Everton went straight up the other end, and Eto’o scored to make it 4-3. Barely a minute later Ramires went up the other end of the pitch and it became 5-3 to the Pensioners.

That seemed to be the end of the scoring, but Costa wrapped up the game with a great finish in the 90th minute. Substitute John Obi Mikel picked up on a mistake by Besic, before back-heeling into the path of Costa, who wrong footed Howard and Phil Jagielka with a step over before slotting home.

It rounded off an impressive evening for Costa and Chelsea’s attack, but there were defensive mistakes to bemoan as well. After the game, Mourinho tried to look at the positives, and gave an update on the pursuit of Loic Remy. “I think if the salt and pepper of football is goals then to have nine goals in a Premier League match is fantastic ingredients so I think (we saw) two teams that played the offensive way fantastically well.”

“We were killers in attack, especially on the counter-attack, so when you come to this stadium and get three points it is a reason to be happy. When you come here and score six goals, obviously my players did well.”

On Remy, Mourinho said, “I know that we’re trying since yesterday to get Loic Remy, since we knew Fernando was leaving. Now it’s time to make some calls and have news. We have a fantastic doctor and I trust him completely. They will identify any problem.”

LCN Man of the Match: Diego Costa

Everton v Chelsea Preview (Premier League) – 30th August 2014

Chelsea face their biggest test of the season so far as they travel to Goodison Park to face Everton. After two wins against two promoted sides so far, Chelsea now face last season’s fifth placed side, and they’re looking to avenge the defeat they suffered here last season.

After their 2-0 win over Leicester last week, Chelsea are one of just four teams to have taken maximum points so far (the others being Spurs, Man City and Swansea). The Blues haven’t looked like they’ve gotten out of second gear so far, and they’ll have to raise their game against Everton. The Toffees drew 2-2 with Arsenal last week, despite leading 2-0 until the 83rd minute. After two draws so far, Everton will be looking to get their first win here.

Jose Mourinho has a fully fit squad available and he is unlikely to make any changes from the side that won the opening two games. Thibaut Courtois has been confirmed as the club’s number one keeper, and Mourinho has even said he’d let Petr Cech leave if the keeper requested it. We may see Filipe Luis make his debut, but Mourinho is unlikely to drop Branislav Ivanovic after his great start to the season.

In midfield, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas are the first choice pairing, and they’re unlikely to be shifted any time soon. As for the rest of the midfield berths, Andre Schurrle seems to have the edge over Willian for the spot on the right, while Oscar and Eden Hazard are automatic first choices. Up font Diego Costa will start again, while Fernando Torres, who was left out of the squad last time out, could be about to move to AC Milan on loan.

For Everton, they’ve just signed former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o, but he’s not likely to be fit enough to feature here. Another former Chelsea striker, Romelu Lukaku, is likely to play, and you would think he’ll have a point to prove. This will be his first time playing against the Blues, and he’ll be looking to show why he was treated unfairly at the club.

Everton have a number of injury worries, with Ross Barkley out for up to five months and Arouna Kone, Bryan Oviedo and Steven Pienaar all ruled out of this game. Also, Chelsea starlet Christian Atsu, on loan at Everton, will be ineligible for this one.

After their 1-0 win in this fixture last season, Everton are likely to be confident. But the problem last season was the Pensioners didn’t take their chances, and lost 1-0. They had a total of 19 shots without managing to score. That surely won’t be the same this time, with Diego Costa in great form. Mourinho will be looking to him to have a deciding role in this game and we think the visitors will just about do enough.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1

Chelsea 2-0 Leicester City (Premier League) – 23rd August 2014

Chelsea had Diego Costa to thank as they maintained their 100% start to the season with a 2-0 win over Leicester at Stamford Bridge. The Blues had to work hard for the win, with Leicester holding out for over an hour, but ultimately the result was just about deserved.

Leicester weren’t just hanging in the game, the Foxes had the better chances in the first half, and deserved lead on the run of play. David Nugent went close after the half time break, but it was the Blues who broke the deadlock. Once again it was Diego Costa who came to the rescue, scoring from close range. Eden Hazard then secured the win with just over 10 minutes left.

Leicester were the second promoted side that Chelsea have faced this season, after their 3-1 win over Burnley last Monday night. Jose Mourinho’s team started slowly here, and it looked like the Chelsea of last season who couldn’t break down smaller teams had returned. Leicester had enough chances to cause a shock, but thanks to Thibault Courtois the game stayed goalless long enough for the home side to get a foothold in the match.

After an hour, the hosts finally found their way through to goal. Costa, the man brought in to cure Chelsea’s striking problems, put them ahead. Branislav Ivanovic’s cross into the box bounced around before falling to the Spaniard, and he had no problem firing home for his second goal of the season.

The second Chelsea goal came from Eden Hazard, although he was helped by poor keeping from Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel. The Foxes’ goalie allowed the ball to slip underneath him, gifting Hazard his first goal of the season.

This was far from the, “90 minute performance” that Jose Mourinho asked from his side after the win at Burnley, but it was still an important one. This is exactly the kind of game that Chelsea failed to win last season. After their struggles with packed defences last term, teams are going to come to the Bridge and defend deep, but with Fabregas and Costa now in the side the Blues can break the resolve of stubborn visitors. This is a big step for Mourinho’s side, and there is surely better to come.

After the game, Mourinho was honest about their slow start, and thanked his keeper for keeping them in the game. “We didn’t play well first half,” Mourinho said. “Leicester showed great defensive intensity, and came with fast transitions, trying to scare us on the counter-attack. We were a bit slow – slow moving the ball, slow thinking – and we needed to change. Sometimes you don’t need to change players, just your attitude towards the game. And we did that.

On Courtois, Mourinho added: “That’s what Petr did so many times in this club year after year, so it’s nothing new for us. It’s important at a big club to have the kind of goalkeeper who’s almost sleeping during the match, and suddenly in the right moment he says ‘yes, I’m here’. Thibaut did this, the same way Petr did so many times for us.”

LCN Man of the Match: Branislav Ivanovic

Chelsea v Leicester Preview (Premier League) – 23rd August 2014

Chelsea have their first home game of the season against Leicester on Saturday, their second consecutive game against a promoted team so far.

The Blues have got their season off to a great start with a 3-1 win over Burnley, which included a debut goal for Diego Costa and a man of the match performance from fellow debutant Cesc Fabregas. Despite falling behind early on, the Blues turned it around and managed to go top of the fledging Premier League table.

They’ll be hoping for a repeat performance in the game against Leicester, as they look to continue their perfect start to the season. They’ll certainly be hoping that this game will be better than their last Premier League home game, a dour 0-0 draw with Norwich which saw the Blues’ slim title chances dashed.

Those kinds of games cost Chelsea the title last season, so it’s good practice for them to open up against teams who will “park the bus”. Mourinho said they’ve been working on breaking down defences in training, and that showed in Andre Schurrle’s goal at Burnley, a great passing move that carved the Clarets open. There were a few defensive mistakes from the Foxes in the Everton game, something that Fabregas and co could well take advantage of.

Leicester will come in to this game on a high from their opening day draw with the Toffees, and they’ll be geared up to compete here. That defeat by Sunderland at Stamford Bridge last season means teams will come to Chelsea believing they can win, and the Blues will have to work hard to restore their aura of invincibility.

Mourinho should have a fully fit squad to choose from, with Ramires now back from suspension and ready to play. He may not get that chance, however, with Nemanja Matic, Fabregas and Oscar operating in a nice midfield three at Turf Moor. Thibaut Courtois is set to make his home league debut after getting the nod over Petr Cech last time out, making an impressive save and looking solid in goal.

The rest of the team is unlikely to be changed, although Filipe Luis, who was benched against Burnley because he wasn’t up to match fitness, could force his way in to the team if he is now ready. It’s widely considered to be Schurrle against Willian to join Eden Hazard and Oscar in the attacking midfield positions, and the World Cup winner should have done enough in the opener to keep his place.

The Blues face a tough game here with Leicester coming south with confidence and very little to lose. It will be interesting to see how they approach the game, and they’ll be looking to Fabregas to cut through the defence again. After spending half of the season last year making chances and missing them, then switching to a more defensive set up, we’re not quite sure what Mourinho is expecting from his men this campaign.

One thing he will be looking for is more interplay between Fabregas and Hazard. The Belgian was quiet on Monday night, and is prone to having ineffective games. Chelsea need more from him this year, and him at his best alongside Fabregas is an incredible prospect.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0

Burnley 1-3 Chelsea (Premier League) – 18th August 2014

Diego Costa had a debut to remember as he scored in Chelsea’s 3-1 win over newly promoted Burnley. The Spaniard was playing in his first official game after a £32m pound move from Atletico Madrid, and his goal proved to be the turning point of the night. Goals from Andre Schurrle and Branislav Ivanovic helped Chelsea to the win, after Scott Arfield’s opener for the home side, which surprised a few people.

Chelsea started the game with Thibault Courtois in goal, leaving club legend Petr Cech on the bench. Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas also made their debuts, while Filipe Luis was left on the bench. That team selection looked wrong at the start after Arfield put Burnley ahead; his volley was an incredible effort, and there was little that debutant Courtois could do about it.

Chelsea had mustered a great response after the opener however, with Costa flying straight back and scoring just three minutes later. His first goal for the club was a simple tap in, but his quick reactions show he’s exactly what Chelsea need. After that Costa had a penalty appeal turned down, which looked dubious, but Chelsea went from strength to strength from there.

Schurrle scored the second just four minutes later, with the goal coming after a great passing move. Ivanovic and Fabregas played great passes in the build up, before Schurrle found the net past Tom Heaton. The assist from Fabregas was a fantastic pass, showing exactly why Chelsea brought him in.

The game was wrapped up when Ivanovic scored the third after 34 minutes. The Serbian was first to the corner from Fabregas, tapping in from close range. That goal put the result beyond Burnley and Chelsea were in control of the game from then on.

This was the kind of game that Chelsea struggled with last term, but coming back from 1-0 down to boss the game and comfortably take the three points shows how much they have improved over the summer. That’s been helped by the signings of Fabregas and Costa, and Mourinho was proud of both in his comments after the game.

The Portuguese said to Sky Sports, “You gave Cesc the man of the match and I completely agree. He was the maestro and controlled the tempo of the game with (Nemanja) Matic. He dictated the speed and intensity of the game.”

On Costa, Mourinho said, “Diego did something very important for us which was the first goal. His movement and interaction with Eden (Hazard), Oscar and Schurrle was very good, although I feel sorry for him because it was a penalty and never a yellow card.”

Mourinho was adamant that those two signings would prove key this season. “I always thought that Diego and Cesc would bring us to the dimension we want because they are different players to what we had in the past. We need that striker who can hold the ball and have interaction with other players, and we need that kind of midfielder that dictates the intensity in the centre.” Could they be the final pieces to the jigsaw that propel Chelsea to the title? Time will tell.

LCN Man of the match: Cesc Fabregas

Burnley v Chelsea Preview (Premier League) – 18th August 2014

Chelsea get their 2014-15 season underway at Turf Moor on Monday night, hoping to start with three points against newly promoted Burnley. As the final one of the top sides to kick off in the league this weekend, Chelsea will be looking to lay down a marker to their rivals.

This game could see the debuts of many new stars who have joined the team over the summer. £32million signing Diego Costa could make his debut, along with ex-Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas. Filipe Luis, who joined for £15million from Spanish Champions Atletico as well, could also make his debut.

On top of that, keeper Thibult Courtois could make his first Chelsea start, despite signing two years ago. The highly rated keeper has just returned from an extended loan spell at Atletico Madrid, and he looks like he could dislodge the previously ever-present Petr Cech from the number one position.

The goalkeeping position is Mourinho’s big decision heading in to this season. He says he’s already picked his first choice keeper, but choosing between Cech and Courtois won’t be easy. Cech has 10 years of experience at Stamford Bridge, but Courtois is seen as an incredible prospect, and he has just two years left on his contract. If he doesn’t get games soon, he could sign for another club on a pre-contract arrangement in 16 months time.

One man who won’t be making his second debut is Didier Drogba, with the club legend picking up an injury in pre-season which looks set to rule him out of this game. After rejoining the Blues on a free transfer, fans are desperate to see Drogba in a Chelsea shirt again. Drogba is likely to be more of an impact player this season, but his presence in the dressing room will be a welcome help in the title race.

Ramires still has one match of a suspension to serve from last season, so he won’t be making the trip up to Turf Moor. The Brazilian would have been unlikely to start anyway, with Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas the likely pairing in midfield.

As for the other midfield spots, it seems to be Eden Hazard and Oscar plus one more. Either Willian or World Cup winner Andre Schurrle will start against Burnley, with Schurrle looking favourite after a solid pre-season.

It’s not apparent what formation Chelsea will line up with in this game, or across the season for that matter. Last term Mourinho used a 4-2-3-1 for most of the campaign, but it is rumoured that Oscar will play in a deeper position, and Chelsea will go back to the 4-3-3 formation that was used in Mourinho’s first spell at the cub.

As for Burnley, they are odds-on to go down and they’ve invested little in the transfer window, keeping hold of their squad from last year plus adding some new faces on frees. On paper they don’t seem a test for Chelsea, but it was results in these kinds of games that cost the Blues the title last season. Three points here could actually be more important than they seem against what will be a stubborn Burnley outfit.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0

Chelsea 2014/15 Season Predictions

Despite the return of Jose Mourinho, last season saw no silverware brought home to Stamford Bridge for the first time since the 2010-11 season. After a busy summer of exits and arrivals, with over £80 million spent on new stars, Chelsea know they certainly need a trophy this season. Anything else would be considered a failure. With that in mind, here’s our look at the season ahead, including some potentially inspired (or embarrassing) predictions for the coming nine months.

League Cup

Let’s start with the first silverware of the season, the League Cup. Last season Chelsea crashed out in the quarter finals, losing 2-1 to Sunderland in extra time. That was the point last season at which Mourinho switched from an attacking style to a more defensive one, as it became apparent the Blues’ strikers just couldn’t finish.

That shows that the Capital One Cup isn’t just a vehicle for youth players, he wants to win it. He won the trophy in two of his first three seasons at the club, and he has said it is a great way of building a winning mentality in the run-in. We most likely will see a rotated squad for most of the competition, but such is Chelsea’s strength in depth that shouldn’t be an issue.

LCN League Cup Verdict: Winners

FA Cup

Next up, the FA Cup, a trophy that Chelsea dominated between 2007 and 2012, winning it four times. Having gone out to Manchester City in the last 16 last term, they’ll be looking to improve on that this season.

It’s a competition in which Chelsea regularly field a strong side, and we expect this year will be no different. But, with five or six teams potentially looking to challenge for the title, the FA Cup could become a back up to those who are out of the race by February. An FA Cup win would be a great start for Louis van Gaal at Manchester United or Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs, for instance.

If Chelsea are still in the Champions League and Premier League in the final months of the season, then this competition will likely be the one that suffers. Even with a deep squad, we think the Blues will fall short in this one as they look to other targets.

LCN FA Cup Verdict: Quarter finals

Champions League

After a run to the semi finals last season, the Champions League is a very realistic target for Chelsea this season. They did look set for the final at one stage, but a second half collapse in the second leg against eventual winners Atletico Madrid saw them crash out.

After winning the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League in 2013, another Champions League win in 2015 isn’t beyond belief. The only issue here is that while Chelsea have strengthened, many of Europe’s best have added real quality to their ranks.

The holders Real Madrid have gone out and signed World Cup winner Toni Kroos and the tournament’s top scorer James Rodriquez for a combined total of over £90 million. Bayern Munich have added Robert Lewandowski up front. Barcelona have improved the most, adding Luis Suarez, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Thomas Vermaelen, Ivan Rakitic, Jeremy Mathieu and Claudio Bravo.

That Barca side looks a lot stronger than the one that went out in the quarter finals last season, and they look like the favourites to win it. If there was any other team that could stop those three this season, it would be Chelsea with Mourinho at the helm, but we think this is a season too soon for Chelsea with so much competition to face.

LCN Champion League Verdict: Semi-finals

Premier League

Finally, the Premier League: the trophy Mourinho lifted in his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge… and there is no doubt he will want to claim a third success this season. He said several times last season that Chelsea weren’t ready to win the title. He called them the little horse of the title race, even though they beat their competitors home and away.

While they did finish off the pace in the title race, it was due to defeats against the likes of Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa. Had they been able to find a path through packed defences, they’d have won the title last year with room to spare.

In Diego Costa, Mourinho may just have found that path. The Spaniard (Brazilian?) looks like the perfect Mourinho player. He’s strong, aggressive, inventive and hard working. While he looked lost in Spain’s tiki-taka team at the World Cup, the fast-paced nature of the Chelsea side should suit him, as should the physical style of the Premier League. With the squad looking balanced and Costa at the front, Mourinho’s side aren’t the little horse any more. With the strongest squad in the league, Chelsea will have their eyes firmly set on the title this year.

LCN Premier League Verdict: Winners