Chelsea v Tottenham Preview (League Cup Final) – 1st March 2015

Chelsea head to Wembley on Sunday as they face rivals Tottenham in the League Cup final. This is the first final since Jose Mourinho returned to the club, and he’ll be looking to win his first silverware in almost three years this weekend. Just as it did 10 years ago, Mourinho will be hoping the League Cup can provide a springboard to help secure the Premier League title in the run in.

The big news heading in to this one is that Nemanja Matic will be missing for the Blues, despite his ban being reduced from three games to two by the FA. That will mean he misses the final this weekend, and he’s likely to be replaced by John Obi Mikel in the holding role. We saw what Harry Kane and Spurs did to Matic when the two met at White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day, so what could they do against Mikel?

Well, Spurs have problems of their own ahead of this game. They face a midweek trip to Florence on Thursday night before they head to Wembley on Sunday, and the Europa League did affect their domestic performances early in the campaign. All that travel and a difficult game against a strong Serie A side isn’t the best preparation for a final, especially when Chelsea have had a week off before this game.

Last week Spurs drew 2-2 at home to West Ham, starting poorly and salvaging a draw in the end. That might have been because they had one eye on the final, but their midweek Europa exploits surely can’t have helped. If they have any kind of Europa League hangover going in to this game, then you’d expect that Chelsea would be climbing the Wembley steps to lift the trophy on Sunday night.

It’s a much needed trophy for the Blues as well. They may be Premier League leaders, but they’ve not quite kept up the trophy standard of the Abramovich era in recent seasons. Their last trophy came two seasons ago in the Europa League, and that was the last time they made an appearance at Wembley. It’s hardly a drought, but it’s not the kind of record Mourinho prides himself on.

He has been waiting for a trophy since winning La Liga in 2012, and this is his best chance to do it since coming back to Stamford Bridge. There is a chance for them to win silverware in the league and Champions League, and this trophy will be seen as a boost on the way to doing that. Winning a trophy just before the start of the run in is a huge morale booster, plus any trophy is something Mourinho and the club want to win.

It’s hard to see Spurs making this easy, and the loss of Matic here will be noticed. Chelsea’s finals tend to be tight affairs, and that’s likely to happen again here. While it will be a tough game, the Blues should come through this with another trophy in the cabinet.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win in extra time

Chelsea 1-1 Burnley Match Report – 21st February 2015

Chelsea saw their lead at the top of the table cut to five points, after they fell to a 1-1 draw with struggling Burnley. The Blues had Nemanja Matic sent off as they surrendered a lead to drop two crucial points. Branislav Ivanovic scored the opening goal, but the 10 men couldn’t hold out and Ben Mee grabbed an equaliser which has hit the hosts’ advantage in the title race.

Jose Mourinho left out Gary Cahill from his starting line-up, replacing him with Kurt Zouma. Juan Cuadrado made just his second start since joining the club, while Diego Costa made his first league start for the club in over a month after returning from his ban. With the return of Costa the Blues would have expected to have more of a cutting edge, but that wasn’t apparent.

Branislav Ivanovic got his second goal of the week here, as he managed to bury Eden Hazard’s cross to put the hosts ahead. They looked set to extend their lead to 10 points before City kicked off in the late game, but they were unable to find a second goal to put the game beyond doubt.

But, in the 70th minute, Chelsea were dealt a huge blow. Matic received a heavy challenge from Ashley Barnes, and his angry reaction to the tackle earned him a red card for his troubles, sending the league leaders down to 10 men. Not just were they without their defensive shield for the last 20 minutes, they’ve now lost him for the next three games, including the Capital One Cup final next weekend.

Without Matic in the side, Chelsea are always more vulnerable at the back. The Clarets sensed an opportunity and they eventually took advantage with less than 10 minutes to go. Mee headed in from a corner, which give Burnley a point and saw them move up a place to 18th in the table. After getting a point at the Etihad earlier in the season, Burnley have managed to take a point at the home of both of this season’s best-performing sides.

While Burnley worked hard for their point and may have deserved it, Mourinho’s side will feel hard done by, as they had two penalty shouts turned down. The manager wouldn’t be drawn on too much after the game, but he did point out the moments where he thought the game had been decided.

The Portuguese said in his post-match press conference, “There are four moments of the game where you can write the story. Minutes 30, 33, 43 and 69. Don’t ask me more questions. I can’t go through the incidents. I am punished when I refer to them.”

With City at Liverpool next week, there was a chance that Chelsea could have been seven points clear with a game in hand by the end of next weekend. This result shows just how unpredictable the league is, and there are plenty of twists and turns left over the course of the season, with those assuming the Blues had the title in the bag left to think again now.

LCN Man of the Match: Branislav Ivanovic

Premier League Title Race – Analysing the Run-in

With Chelsea comfortably clear at the top of the Premier League, they’re firm favourites to wrestle the title away from current champions Manchester City. But there is still over three months of the season left to play, and we’ve already witnessed City clawing back a similar gap earlier this term back in December, after Chelsea’s squad was stretched to breaking point after the festive period fixture pile up. In short, it isn’t quite all over.

With multiple fronts for the Blues to compete on over the next few months, could they throw away another lead? City have roared back to title wins in recent seasons, we even saw it last term when they overtook Liverpool late in the campaign and clinched the title on the final day. City will fight as long as they can to keep their trophy, but who has the advantage in the run-in? Here we take a look at the final 10 games for both sides, to see what challenges face the champions and the challengers.

The big thing that stands out from each side’s final 10 games, is that Chelsea have the home advantage. The Blues are at home in six of their last ten, while City have five home and five away games in the final stretch of the season. That makes things easier for Chelsea, and it cuts down on their traveling, which is one of the obstacles that often gets overlooked. In fact, the league leaders have seven of their last eight games in London, which is surely going to help them, especially if they’re still in the Champions League by then.

As we mentioned, fixture congestion could play a part in the title race, with both sides currently in the Champions League and looking for a good run in the competition. While that isn’t much of a factor in the early part of the run-in, if they reach the quarter finals of Europe’s elite competition they face the prospect of five games in 14 days. If they’re going to do well in both competitions, a strong squad and regular rotation is clearly essential.

While Manchester United may be some way off the top of the table, they could well have a big say in the title race. That’s because they come head to head with the top two in the space of a week in April. City face a trip to Old Trafford on the 11th April, then the weekend after the Red Devils head down to London to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. With Louis van Gaal’s side pushing for the Champions League, they can’t afford any slip ups either.

While the game against neighbours United is big for City, Chelsea’s meeting with the Red Devils kicks off a crucial part of their campaign. They have a possible Champions League quarter final a few days after that, and the following three league games contain tough fixtures, including those against Arsenal and Liverpool. That stretch, between the middle of April and early May, could be when the league leaders put the title beyond doubt… or falter and let City back in.

City have a few tough games of their own, and their run of games in May looks quite difficult. They face Tottenham and Swansea away, plus a home game against Champions League-chasing Southampton on the final day. The later games in the season are hard to call, because we don’t know where teams will be in the table and what form they’re going to be in, but if Spurs and Saints are both pushing for the Champions League in May, City will have a big task to win those games.

The one thing we’ve seen from City in their last two title wins is that they tend to finish the season well. But, just what does it take to clinch the title in the run-in? We looked at the last 10 games from each sides recent title wins, looking at just how well they did on their way to lifting the trophy.

Interestingly, Manchester City’s record in the final 10 games was identical in their two title winning seasons. They won seven of their last 10 in each, drawing two and losing one. As for Chelsea, under Mourinho in 2005 they didn’t lose in their final 10, drawing three and winning the rest. 2006 was a different story, as they lost their two games after sealing the title, meaning they won just six of their last 10, losing three in total. Their most recent title win came in 2010, when they won eight, drew one and lost one in the final stages, lifting the trophy on the final day.

While it’s unlikely to come down to the last day, given the current gap between the sides, this does show us roughly what it takes to lift the title. Both sides have a 70% win ratio from their last 10 games of title winning seasons. If Chelsea could do something similar to that, then it’s likely City would have to win all of their remaining games to retain their title. With three of their last four away games against bottom 10 sides, and six home games in their last 10, you’d have to imagine Chelsea can get close to that win ratio.

There will of course be twists and shocks along the way, as there tends to be in any Premier League season. Teams at the bottom will be fighting for their lives, while some teams will already be in holiday mode. How the fixtures fall can play a key role, but it’s up to each side to go out and win them if they want to be champions.

At the moment, it all looks to be in the Blues’ favour. They have an advantage at the top, more home games, an easier run of fixtures in May and their away games don’t require too big of a trek. While Champions League progress and injuries will play a part, everything’s falling Chelsea’s way as things stand. Having lead the table from day one, it’s only going to be their fault if they’re not there come 24th May.

Chelsea v Burnley Preview (Premier League) – 21st February 2015

Chelsea could open up a temporary 10 point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a win against Burnley on Saturday. The Blues play before champions Manchester City, who play on Saturday evening against Newcastle, and they know a win against the Clarets will heap pressure onto City. With just 13 games left to go, each win brings the league leaders that little bit closer to winning the title.

The big news ahead of this one is the return of Diego Costa. The frontman has been absent for the last three league games, although he did make an appearance against PSG on Tuesday night. He has been a big miss, the Blues just don’t look clinical without him in the team. While Loic Remy and Didier Drogba are both good options, Costa gives the team something else, that added bit of potency.

Costa’s return comes against the side who have conceded the most goals in the league, which he’ll surely be looking forward to. Burnley was the team against whom Costa made his debut back in August, and he scored that night as the club opened their season with a win. A similar result will be expected here, as Chelsea look to move in to a commanding position on top of the league, and it’s certainly going to be a different kind of workout than their game at PSG in midweek.

This game will see the Blues facing a packed defence, and a very hard-working, compact side. We’ve seen this in recent games against Aston Villa and Everton, and they were both tough matches. While Burnley are lingering in the bottom three, we are going to see a determined side here who try to make things difficult for the hosts. Just look at their 2-2 draw at the Etihad for an example of that.

Hopefully the return of Costa will make the attack a lot more clinical, and open up some space for the supporting cast coming from midfield. That would hopefully lead to a much more comfortable win than we’ve seen in recent weeks. The main problem with that, going into this game, is just who will be available behind Costa.

After the PSG game Mourinho said he had five injured players on the field that night, and they hadn’t trained in days. Willian and Cesc Fabregas were rumoured to be part of that contingent, but it’s hard to tell who else was. But with potentially five players missing, or being kept ahead of the Capital One Cup final the week after, we might see a very different Chelsea team in this game.

Oscar is another who had an injury coming up to the game, and if he is out, along with Fabregas and Willian, we could see some selection worries in the advanced midfield positions. If either Willian or Oscar can’t make it, there’s a good chance you’ll see new man Juan Cuadrado. Hopefully they’ll have recovered in time for Saturday’s game.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-0

Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Chelsea Match Report – 17th February 2015

Chelsea recorded a result much better than their performance as they grabbed a draw and an away goal in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday evening. The visitors took the lead through Branislav Ivanovic’s first half goal, but that was cancelled out by an Edinson Cavani header. PSG where by far the better team in the second half, and Jose Mourinho’s men had to dig in to hold back a rampant PSG attack.

The Blues started with a number of players who were injured or lacking match practice. Mourinho said he had five injured players on the pitch, which likely included Willian and Cesc Fabregas. Diego Costa returned but he wasn’t at his sharpest, given that he’s not played since last month. Despite having close to a week’s rest going into this game, Chelsea were far from full strength here.

There wasn’t too much action of note in the first half hour of the game, it was a pretty quiet affair, although Thibaut Courtois had to be on his toes to deny PSG on three occasions within the space of a couple of minutes. Neither side looked close to their best and from the early stages you could tell this game wasn’t going to match up to the quarter final meetings between these two last season.

After 35 minutes of the game, we finally had a breakthrough, with three defenders involved in the Chelsea goal. John Terry picked up the ball after a Thiago Silva clearance, and his cross was flicked into the path of Ivanovic by Gary Cahill’s back-heel. It was a remarkable piece of skill from Cahill, and it presented the right back with a great chance to put the Premier League leaders ahead. That was Ivanovic’s first European goal since scoring the winner in the 2013 Europa League final.

PSG looked shell-shocked after that goal, which is hardly surprising given this game came on the back of them blowing a two goal lead against Caen at the weekend. The French champions regrouped after half time and they were much better in the second half, pushing forward and creating chances.

Chelsea were struggling at the back, giving away chances that they usually wouldn’t. Poor marking in the box left Edinson Cavani free in the area, and he got on the end of Blaise Matuidi’s cross to head in the equaliser. Thibaut Courtois was called upon several times after that to save efforts from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but he stood strong and Chelsea held onto the draw going into the second leg in three weeks.

While it was far from the best performance we’ve seen from the Blues this term, this was a result they probably would have taken before the game. With the scores level and an away goal in hand, Mourinho’s side must be heavy favourites ahead of the crucial return match at the Bridge.

LCN Man of the Match: Thibaut Courtois

PSG v Chelsea Preview (Champions League) – 17th February 2015

Chelsea head to Paris on Tuesday night as they get their Champions League campaign back under way. After a few months off, Europe’s top competition returns with a host of great ties, with this one chief among them. After two brilliant encounters in last season’s quarter final, expect another exciting tie here.

The Blues, of course, had the weekend off after their FA Cup elimination in the last round, which gave them almost a week’s rest before this game. That should hopefully play a factor, with close to a fully fit squad to call on. Oscar and John Obi Mikel are the only doubts at the minute, but they could return for the game.

Oscar was unlikely to feature, as Mourinho seems to prefer two holding midfielders in games like this. Mikel would have taken up a role beside Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas, to give the visitors a more secure base as they look to shut down space for PSG’s array of attacking talent. Should Mikel be out, it’s likely Ramires will take up his place in midfield. The other big team news is the return of Diego Costa, whose ban has ended, although it didn’t stop him playing in European games anyway.

As for PSG, the French champions didn’t have the weekend off, but they did manage to fall asleep towards the end of their game against Caen. They were 2-0 up and cruising, close to moving top of Ligue 1 and they even tweeted that they were parking the bus late on, with a nod to Jose Mourinho. In the last few minutes, that bus broke down. They conceded twice and fell to a 2-2 draw, which has kept them sitting third in the league.

To add injury to insult, they’re now without at least four first team players for this game, possibly more. Yohan Cabaye, Marquinhos, Serge Aurier and Lucas all came off against Caen, and they’re out for the game on Tuesday. Javier Pastore and Blaise Matuidi are both doubt for this game as well. That seems to make Chelsea favourites here, especially if you listen to PSG coach Laurent Blanc.

The former France boss said, “If someone had told me this story, I would not have believed it. We will play bravely but there are not many solutions, with four or five injured. It’s an extraordinary challenge.”

One man who will be fit is David Luiz, and the Blues players will surely be looking forward to seeing the Brazilian again after his £50million move to France in the summer. But before that can happen, there’s a game to be won. Knowing Luiz like they do, the Chelsea players will surely have a few tips for Costa against the error-prone defender. An away goal would be great, while the French side’s injury list means the Blues could well get themselves at least daw here.

LCN Verdict: 2-2 draw

Chelsea 1–0 Everton Match Report – 11th February 2015

It took a late goal to maintain Chelsea’s seven point lead at the top of the Premier League in a dramatic night at Stamford Bridge. Despite dominating most of the possession, Jose Mourinho’s side couldn’t force a way through against a struggling Everton side. In the closing minutes Gareth Barry was sent off, and then the Pensioners grabbed a winner in the 89th minute.

The Blues started with new man Juan Cuadrado for the first time, as he replaced the unavailable Oscar. That move saw Willian take up the number 10 role, which seems to be his favoured position. Petr Cech also came in for Thibaut Courtois, while Kurt Zouma replaced Gary Cahill at the back. Romelu Lukaku started for the away side, as he made his first return to Stamford Bridge since his £28million move to Merseyside in the summer.

Cuadrado made an excellent impact early in to his first start, showing his pace down the right hand side. Chelsea had a scary amount of pace going forward, with Willian, Eden Hazard, Ramires and Loic Remy alongside the Colombian. That kind of speed and power started to tell for the hosts as they made several promising breakaways, but they couldn’t capitalise on that in the opening half.

The two sides went in level at the break, after the home side dominated the first half. Everton had a few chances of their own on the break, but the they couldn’t find a way past the Blues’ back four, with Kurt Zouma in particular putting in an impressive display. The one time they did break free Cech produced a fine stop with his feet from Lukaku.

Lukaku again came close to breaking the deadlock against his former club, as he shot from point blank range after Bryan Oviedo’s cross. It looked like a certain goal for the Belgian with no one marking him, but Cech pulled off another fantastic save with his left foot to deny him. Lukaku couldn’t have done much more, but the Czech keeper was at his best to hold on to his clean sheet.

With Oscar out and Cesc Fabregas only on the bench, Chelsea were without their two biggest creators of goals so far this season. That was evident as the Blues struggled to create chances against a dogged Everton side. Mourinho decided to bring Fabregas off the bench with 20 minutes to go, his first appearance since getting injured in the League Cup semi final second leg against Liverpool. He replaced Cuadrado, and moved in to the advanced midfield role.

Chelsea thought they took the lead with minutes to go through a deflected effort from Nemanja Matic. The smallest of touches off Branislav Ivanovic took it in, but sadly the Serbian was standing in an offside position, so the goal was disallowed. The game sprung to live from there, and when Willian was fouled near the halfway line, a full on melee took place. Gareth Barry received a second yellow in the middle of it, although Ivanovic, who may yet be subject to disciplinary action, may have been fortunate not to also see red after grabbing James McCarthy and then leaning his head in towards the Everton man.

From the resulting free kick the ball was pumped in the box, and Tim Howard’s punch out fell straight to Willian who was stood just outside the box. His effort flew through a crowd of bodies, and beat Howard in the Everton goal. That was enough to secure the win for Chelsea, a second late show against Everton here in a row.

LCN Man of the Match: Willian

Chelsea v Everton Preview (Premier League) – 8th February 2015

Chelsea welcome Everton to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night as they look to maintain their seven point lead at the top of the Premier League. They extended their lead on Saturday after Man City dropped points at home to Hull. With no game for the Blues next weekend after their fourth round FA Cup exit, this is their only game this week.

The last meeting between these two was an incredible encounter, with Chelsea coming out 6-3 winners in an end to end game at Goodison Park. Since then, Everton have kept that poor form up, struggling defensively, and are currently sitting uncomfortably in mid-table. The Toffees are only seven points above the drop zone at the moment, a massive change from this time last year when they were challenging for the Champions League places.

Speaking of Champions League, the Blues return to action next week, with a trip to Paris in the first leg of their last 16 clash against PSG. With no game at the weekend, there isn’t too much need to rest anyone for the the Everton game though. With winning the title being the main priority for Jose Mourinho, it’s not likely that we’ll see too much of a weakened side during the league run in.

Mourinho has a few selection problems ahead of this one, with Diego Costa serving the final game of his suspension. Didier Drogba led the line in the last game at Aston Villa, but Loic Remy should start this time around. Cesc Fabregas has missed the last two games through injury, and he looks set to miss out once more. He’s not likely to be risked here ahead of the game next week. Another who is likely to miss out is Filipe Luis, so Cesar Azpilicueta is likely to keep his place at left back.

All eyes were on new man Juan Cuadrado as he made his debut off the bench against Villa, but he’s likely to have to settle for the same again here with both Willian and Eden Hazard playing well on Saturday. Those two are firmly established as first choice players for Mourinho, so it’s very likely that Cuadrado has a fight on his hands to force his way into the starting line up any time soon.

Everton didn’t look too impressive in their derby draw against Liverpool at the weekend, and they’ve not done too much all season. Given their recent performances Chelsea will expect to record a comfortable home win here, at least a more comfortable one than last season’s last minute winner from John Terry.

Another three points would keep their league campaign running along smoothly. With Manchester City also in action on Wednesday night, facing a tough trip to face Stoke at the Britannia Stadium, things could get even better for the Blues this week if City keep up their poor recent form.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-1

Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea Match Report – 7th February 2015

Chelsea took full advantage of a slip up by title rivals Manchester City to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table with a win at Aston Villa on Saturday. Goals from Eden Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic gave the visitors the three points, while Jores Okore scored Villa’s first league goal in 11 hours, which was at least some consolation to the home fans.

Chelsea came into the game without their top scorer Diego Costa, who was serving the second of his three game suspension. It was Didier Drogba was the man who was chosen to lead the line, while Loic Remy had to settle for a place on the bench. Alongside Remy was Juan Cuadrado, the deadline day signing from Fiorentina.

It was well publicised before the game that Jose Mourinho was still waiting for his first win at Villa Park, but his side made the perfect start here as they came flying out of the traps. It was Hazard who gave the Blues the lead within eight minutes. Just days after winger Cuadrado arrived, it was the two first choice wide men who showed their quality early on here. Oscar found space and he fed Willian, who spotted the run of Hazard, and he set up the Belgian who opened the scoring with a deft finish.

That was the only goal of the first half, which gave Chelsea a significant advantage against the goal-shy home side. The Villains lacked a cutting edge for a while, and without their first choice striker, Christian Benteke, few gave them much of a chance of getting back into this one. But, as their goal drought stretched to 659 minutes, they produced an equaliser just minutes into the second half. New signing Carles Gil was in brilliant form all day, and it was his ball that set up Okore’s header which brought Villa level.

At this point it looked like Mourinho would be set for another disappointing trip to Villa Park, and it gave the home side all kinds of confidence. They took control of the game for the next few minutes, but the Blues managed to soon get back in control of affairs. Willian went close twice, but it was a surprising combination that led to Chelsea’s winner.

Cesar Azpilicueta troubled the Villa defence with his run into the box from the left flank, and his ball found fellow full back Ivanovic just inside the box. The Serbian caught the ball on the volley and fired home for his fifth goal in his last six starts against Aston Villa.

That result, coupled with the fact that Manchester City could only manage a 1-1 draw against Hull at the Etihad, meant Chelsea extended their lead to seven points at the top of the table, making this a crucial day in the title race. That’s given the Blues a strong lead at the top, and with City going to Stoke on Wednesday night, things might just get worse for the second placed side.

LCN Man of the Match: Branislav Ivanovic

Juan Cuadrado

Juan Cuadrado – Profiling The £23 Million Man

Juan Cuadrado

Image Credit: salajean /

Jose Mourinho constantly repeated that there was going to be no transfer business at the club in January. After Mark Schwarzer left to join Leicester City, Mourinho said there would be no new signings, he was happy with his squad and no one would be leaving. But, just as it did last season, an offer came in for a second choice player that was too good to turn down.

Andre Schurrle left for Wolfsburg for a rumoured £23m, which gave the World Cup winning winger a chance to return to his native land and get more first team football. That money was reinvested in the team, and Juan Cuadrado arrived at the Blues for a fee of just over £23m, with Mohammed Salah going the other way to Fiorentina on loan until the end of the season. The new signing is sure to lift everyone around the club, but who exactly is Cuadrado? Here is all you need to know about our new number 23.

The 26 year-old winger is a Colombian international, and he’s been capped 37 times by his country, scoring five goals. Long before he was a successful footballer, his life was hit with tragedy. When he was just five years old he had to hide under his bed when gunmen burst into his house and killed his father. He grew up in a very rough part of Colombia, and through football he was able to move him and his family out of that situation.

If you’ve heard his name before, it’s probably due to the busy summer he had. Our new boy made quite an impression on the World Cup this summer, helping Colombia reach the last 16. He scored once and registered four assists, the joint highest in the tournament. He was heavily linked with both Manchester United and Barcelona in the summer, but neither side met Fiorentina’s asking price.

One of the reasons Manchester United were likely after him is because he can play in a variety of positions along the right flank, and he could well have been their wing back on the right hand side. It’s unlikely Chelsea have spent so much on him to put him at right back, but the ability to play there is surely something which Mourinho will rate. He expects his creative wingers to still do a job defensively, and Cuadrado should be able to adapt to that a lot quicker after experience as a defender.

As for his style of play, he’s a very pacey player, whilst also being very direct. He’s more of a traditional winger than anyone Chelsea have had in the past few seasons. While at Fiorentina, he was nicknamed the Vespa by Luca Toni because of his ability to weave in and out of traffic on the pitch. During the World Cup he was used as an outlet for a Colombian side that defended very deep, with his pace taking them up the pitch quickly when they got in possession. That should bode well for any tight games were the Blues need to park the bus and play deep.

John Square, (his names’ literal translation for those that liked Johnny Kills, aka Juan Mata!), got his big break when he moved to the Colombian top tier at 20 years old. He played for Medellin for two seasons, before moving to European football with Udinese. He struggled in his first couple of seasons there and didn’t do too well while on loan at Lecce, but another loan move to Fiorentina turned his career around.

He joined Fiorentina in 2012 on loan, and helped the club to secure a fourth place finish in Serie A that season. After that, he moved to the club on a permanent deal for €5m. After scoring 11 times in 31 starts last season, he scored four goals in 17 league games this term before securing his transfer to Chelsea.

He had been scheduled to face Spurs later this month with Fiorentina in the Europa League last 32, but instead, he now has the chance to face them on March 1st with Chelsea, as he looks to secure the first silverware of his career in the League Cup final. While he has never won a trophy, the Colombian was a runner-up in the Italian Cup last season, and his side were also runners-up in the Colombian top flight in 2008. After his move to Stamford Bridge, he’ll be looking to finally start winning some trophies and we don’t think he’ll have too long to wait.

Despite the fact that he played for Fiorentina in the Europa League this season, he is available in the Champions League for his new side. UEFA rules allow clubs to register one player who already featured in the Europa League in their Champions League squads, and the Blues have taken up that opportunity. That means he could get his first taste of Champions League football in the last 16 clash with PSG – not a bad start!

As well as being a replacement for Schurrle, Cuadrado could also be seen as a replacement for David Luiz. The Brazilian was seen as the joker of the Chelsea pack until his move to Paris in the summer, but the new signing seems to be of a similar mould. During the summer he and Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriquez were an internet hit as a vine of them hiding in teammate Pablo Armero’s room before scaring him went viral.

While he has not yet hit the very top level as a player, Cuadrado does come to the Bridge with an excellent track record. He did well on the world stage in Brazil during the summer, and he sounds like he’s ready to make the step up at Chelsea. Adapting to the Premier League, Champions League and developing the winning mentality that the squad currently has will take time, but the raw talent and application is certainly there.

Given his impressive assists record during the summer, he could well add goals to this Chelsea team. His approach is certainly different to that of the main goal creators in the team, Cesc Fabregas and Oscar, and that will be important as the league leaders come up against more and more teams who play with 10 men behind the ball. Given his defensive and attacking attributes, this looks to be yet another impressive piece of business by Mourinho and the club and we can’t wait to see good old John Square in action!