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 1-2 Crystal Palace – 29th August 2015

Chelsea’s disappointing start to the season continued on Saturday as they lost a home league game for just the second time under Jose Mourinho. Crystal Palace took an impressive three points thanks to goals from Bakary Sako and Joel Ward. Falcao was on target for the first time for the Blues, but he couldn’t stop a second defeat of the season.

Pedro once again took his place on the right flank, alongside Willian and Eden Hazard, with Oscar still out. John Terry was suspended, and he was replaced by Gary Cahill at the back. Abdul Baba Rahman had to settle for a place on the bench, while Branislav Ivanovic kept his place, despite his poor form.

The Blues found Palace to be a tough nut to crack in the first half, as the hosts dominated the possession but found themselves level at half time. The longer the game went on, the more threatening Alan Pardew’s side became with their counter attacking style.

Even at 0-0, this wasn’t how Mourinho had envisaged his 100th home game in charge of Chelsea would develop as his team looked decidedly below par from the off. Things got even worse, as Sako converted after a low cross from Yannick Bolasie, giving Palace a shock lead. The Chelsea manager immediately sent on Falcao for Willian, as he joined Diego Costa up front. Minutes later he brought on youngster Kenedy for Cesar Azpilicueta, as he desperately tried to get his side back into the game.

Bringing on Falcao worked for the Blues, as the Colombian headed in an equaliser, scoring his first goal since joining this summer. That looked like it could have been a huge turning point for Chelsea, but then Palace went straight up the other end and retook the lead. He headed in to give his side a massive victory, and heap more pressure on Mourinho and the champions.

It’s no surprise that the two goals ended up coming from the left flank. Palace focused on attacking Chelsea’s right hand side, with almost half of all their attacks developing from that side of the pitch. Not only is Ivanovic looking decidedly dodgy at present, he’s now seen as an easy target for the oppositions’ wingers. With Pedro in front of him now, he’s hardly likely to get much protection in future, either.

After the game, Mourinho was asked why he thought his side had lost their hunger after winning the title last year. “If that is the point, it is very, very sad because, for me, I feel the opposite,” the manager said. “When I win, I want to win again. My medal is at home, in a drawer, [because] I feel fantastic motivation for more. If you win it once and the next [year] you are not on fire, not ready at least to fight for more, that is sad.

“Will I accept this, cross my arms, sit in a nice chair and wait calmly for the performance level to be back? No. I have to work, react, analyse and, if I feel the players are not in conditions to react and give more, I have to make changes. I have never had a problem with that.”

LCN Man of the Match: No player deserved it!

Juan Cuadrado Moves To Juventus On Loan

Chelsea winger Juan Cuadrado has completed a loan move from the champions of the Premier League to the champions of Serie A.

The 27 year old signed for the London club for £23.3 million in February, leaving Italian club Fiorentina in order to move to England. But he only made 15 appearances for the Blues with just 4 of them coming in the starting line-up.

With Chelsea signing Pedro from Barcelona on Thursday of last week it became clear that the winger was surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge and Juventus seized upon his unhappiness in England’s capital to take him to Turin.

The Columbian international has already played in Italy not only for Fiorentina but also Lecce and Udinese, so the move to Serie A won’t come as too much of a shock to the winger.

Cuadrado, one of the stand out performers of the 2014 World Cup, was greeted by Juventus fans when he arrived in Italy on Monday night. He successfully passed a medical on Tuesday and has now moved to the Italian champions on a season long loan.

Stones Wouldn’t Be Fazed By Chelsea Move, Says Former Youth Coach

John Stones ‘won’t be fazed’ by a move to the defending Premier League champions, according to the Barnsley Academy coach that trained him when he was younger, Ronnie Branson.

Speaking to the BBC World Service Branson, who coached Stones from the age of 8, said, “He’s done well at Everton and got into the England first team. Every step he’s taken, he’s managed it well, so going there won’t faze him”.

Despite Roberto Martinez’s continued denial of the likelihood of a move for the talented defender it now seems likely that Chelsea will get their man before the transfer window slams shut at the start of next month. Stones made 23 appearances in the league for Everton last season and has been capped 4 times. He has four years left on his contract, meaning that the Londoners will need to make an offer their Merseyside rivals can’t refuse if they hope to tempt them into selling.

Stones handed in a transfer request on Tuesday as he attempted to force through a move to Jose Mourinho’s team, with Chelsea planning a £40 million bid in the coming days. He is seen as the long term replacement for John Terry, something that has become more urgent in recent weeks with Terry being substituted during Chelsea’s game against Manchester City and then sent off when the Blues played West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.

Branson said, “He’s a real defender. There is a lot of talk at the moment about whether he is a good defender. We all know he can step in and get the ball and set attacks off but can he defend? Yes he can. He has a steeliness that people don’t realise”.

Everton have so far refused to admit that they have even received a transfer request from the Premier League champions and they are unlikely to do so. If they accept the transfer request then they are essentially accepting that Stones will be leaving and that will put the power into Chelsea’s hands. For now Everton will likely keep their cards close to their chest and that will force the potential buyers to up their offer until the Toffees can no longer refuse their offers.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Preview (Premier League) – 29th August 2015

Chelsea host Crystal Palace on Saturday as they look to build on their first win of the season last weekend. The Blues ended a poor start with a win at West Brom, but they’ll want an improvement on that performance. This fixture last season was the one in which the Premier League title was clinched, so hopefully that memory will inspire them to put on a decent show here.

The big blow ahead of this game is the suspension of John Terry, after the captain was sent off at West Brom. After the debate around his future, the last thing he wants to be doing now is missing games. Gary Cahill came on to fill the void Terry left on Sunday, and he’s likely to do that again here, starting alongside Kurt Zouma.

With Terry out, Branislav Ivanovic will likely take the armband, despite his poor season so far. That would mean there’d be no place for new signing Adbul Baba Rahman, who might well have to settle for a place on the bench.

Oscar could be set for a return, which would give Jose Mourinho some selection issues, after he started with Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard last week. You’d expect Willian to make way for his compatriot, which would give us an incredibly creative midfield threat.

Mourinho will be looking for his side to reproduce their performance from the first 45 minutes against WBA. They took the Baggies by storm, but they eased off in the second half when they had 10 men. Hopefully that win marks the start of a title chase, as Manchester City have already taken a strong lead at the top. The Blues can’t afford to fall any further behind.

As for Palace, they won last week at home to Aston Villa, and Alan Pardew looks to have made some good signings for the club. They are on course for a strong season, but it’s hard to see them being able to pull off a result here. They are more than capable going forward, so that should be a tough test for the back five.

The Chelsea defence has been far below par this term, and the prospect of Ivanovic taking on their flying wingers is a worrying one. The full backs won’t get much help from the two wingers, so they’re pretty much on their own. It will be interesting to see just how much Terry is missed. He may be struggling for pace, but his organisational skills seem vital. Without that, it’s easy to see the backline getting caught out.

Despite that, we should see a performance good enough to pick up another three points. The team aren’t quite up to fitness yet, but they’re getting there. The quality is now starting to shine through, and with Pedro and Hazard bombing down each wing, they should have too much for Palace.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1

People Love To See Us Lose, Says Mourinho

Jose Mourinho used his press conference after Chelsea beat West Bromwich Albion 3-2 at The Hawthorns to claim that people ‘love’ to see his club lose matches.

Speaking to BBC Sport Mourinho, who looked somewhat gaunt and spoke in a weakened voice, said after the match, “Many people are disappointed with this result. They love Chelsea to lose a game”.

The Chelsea manager was responding to questions about John Terry’s red card, shown to him after he appeared to drag Salomon Rondon back when the West Brom forward was through on goal. The Portuguese boss said, “I prefer to have no views and try to keep quiet”.

The comments from the self-proclaimed Special One seem to hint at a belief that there is a conspiracy against Chelsea going on behind the scenes. The Chelsea boss confirmed as much when he refused to pursue an appeal against the red card, stating, “I think we should but normally it’s a waste of time. It’s a ball into the space behind the full-back, the full-back is pressing high, the striker makes the movement and then Mr Clattenburg decides it’s a red card”.

If Mourinho failed to understand that footballing rivalry means there will always be people who are happy when other teams lose, he was somewhat more sanguine when it came to Pedro’s debut for the club. He said, “Pedro played well. We know he is a good player, more than good. There are lots of top players who come to the Premier League and it takes time to adapt but it looks like he has been with us for a long time because straight away he was in the game and he was important”.

Continuing his theme of suggesting there was some sort of conspiracy against Chelsea, the Portuguese manager said of Chelsea’s first win of the season, “The performance was not dramatic, and not bad but obviously four points in three matches is not enough. There is a feeling we are fighting against a lot but today we won”.

This is the first time in 17 years that Chelsea have failed to win either of the first two opening games and Mourinho knows that they will need to pick up their form if they hope to become the first team since Manchester United in 2008-2009 to win back to back Premier League titles.

West Brom 2-3 Chelsea Match Report – 23rd August 2015

Chelsea picked up their first win of the new Premier League season on Sunday despite going down to 10 men against West Brom at the Hawthorns. Captain John Terry once again failed to see the end of the match, after he was sent off for hauling down Soloman Rondon. Meanwhile, Pedro scored a goal and made one for Diego Costa on his debut, with Cesar Azpilicueta also getting on the scoresheet.

Pedro starting was the big news ahead of the game, despite the La Liga season only starting this weekend, Jose Mourinho took a risk with his fitness. Terry was back in defence after being taken off last week, and he was partnered by Kurt Zouma. Thibaut Courtois returned from suspension, replacing Asmir Begovic in goal.

Much of the attention was focused on how Pedro would get on for the champions here, but it was West Brom who made the better start. They took advantage of a Chelsea side who looked shaky, and they were handed the chance to take the lead in the first half. Nemanja Matic gave away a penalty to the hosts, but Courtois’ leg kept out James Morrision’s rather tame effort.

After that the game sprung in to life, and it was Pedro who finally broke the deadlock. His link up play with Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas showed real promise, and his one-two with the Belgian got him in position to hit the opener. Despite taking a clear deflection, the goal showed just what the former Barcelona man is capable of.

He continued his great start soon after, as he fired an effort across goal, which fell perfectly for Costa to hit home. It was the Spaniard’s first goal of the season, and it put the visiting side into a comfortable position. The forward didn’t have the best of times against City or Swansea, but he was fantastic at the Hawthorns.

Morrison made up for his penalty miss by pulling a goal back five minutes later. The back four struggled with the physicality of Rondon, and that left space for the Scot just inside the box, and he fired home a half volley. The Blues extended the lead again just before half time, as Cesar Azpilicueta scored his first Premier League goal.

Things took a turn early on in the second half, as a ball over the top caught out Terry, and he looked to have little chance of catching Rondon. He tugged on the forward’s arm, bringing him down just outside the penalty area. The Blues captain was quickly sent off, and the tide then turned. Morrison headed in his second of the game soon after, really turning up the heat.

In the end, the Blues hung on, getting a much needed three points. After a poor start, this win will be a big confidence boost, and they can get their season properly up and running.

LCN Man of the Match: Pedro

Chelsea Sign Pedro Rodriguez From Barcelona For £21m

Chelsea Football Club today confirmed the signing of Spanish forward Pedro Rodriguez from Barcelona for a fee of £21 million.

The club confirmed earlier today that the 28 year old Spanish international has agreed a 4 year deal to play at Stamford Bridge under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho. He said, “I am very happy to be here. I am very excited to start my adventure at Chelsea and I am here to keep winning titles. Thanks to the club and the supporters for giving me the opportunity to put the blue shirt on”.

Pedro is a product of the Catalan club’s revered academy system, making 321 appearances for Barcelona and scoring 99 times during his time there. He was a target for Manchester United, the club he scored a goal against in the 2011 Champion’s League final when the Spanish club beat the English team by 3 goals to 1. However he stalled on a move to Louis Van Gaal’s team in the hopes that a club more likely to win major honours would come in for him and got his wish when Mourinho showed an interest.

Pedro made 50 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona last season, helping the club to win a La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Champion’s League treble. He has previously won the European Cup 3 times with Barca as well as La Liga 5 times; he was also part of the Spanish side that won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2012.

Stats wise, Pedro matches up with the best of them. Since the 2009 – 2010 season only Lionel Messi has been involved in more league goals than Pedro. Messi has either scored or assisted in the scoring of 317 goals during that period, whilst Pedro has netted 58 goals and got 35 assists during the same amount of time. The fact that Messi was involved in 317 goals and Pedro in 93 shows the gulf in class between the players, but 93 is nothing to be sniffed at.

Pedro will be a welcome addition to Jose Mourinho’s squad, offering a more viable alternative than Radamel Falcao during any periods of injury that Diego Costa is likely to suffer. He will also offer competition to the likes of Hazard, Willian and Oscar in the more creative part of the Blues’ team.

West Brom v Chelsea Preview (Premier League) – 23rd August 2015

Chelsea are looking to finally get their season up and running when they travel to West Brom this weekend. After a poor performance and heavy defeat at Manchester City, the Blues really need a response this weekend. They head to West Brom, not normally a good hunting ground for them, targeting a morale-boosting win.

It’s hard to find positives in the defeat at the Etihad last week. Jose Mourinho claimed that his side were the better team in the second half, but it’s doubtful he really believes that. Chelsea were outclassed throughout the game, while still gifting their rivals chances through silly defensive mistakes. There’s a lot to put right this weekend, but can they do it?

If they are to get a win here, they’ll have to do it without Oscar, as the injury that kept him out last week is apparently still affecting him. It’s likely Ramires will continue to play in his place. Thibaut Courtois will return in goal for Asmir Begovic, while John Terry is set to start, despite his half time withdrawal against City. New signing Abdul Baba Rahman is in contention to start, after sealing his move to the club on Sunday; given Branislav Ivanovic’s recent form, that might well be needed.

Recently, the Blues haven’t enjoyed the Hawthorns. They’ve not won in their last four visits there, and most recently they lost 3-0 there shortly after winning the title. It’s not a place that Mourinho would pick when in need of points, like he is now. Winning here for the first time since 2011 is a huge task, but beating West Brom shouldn’t be that big of a problem for the manager.

WBA lost their opener at home to Man City, and they couldn’t get close to the likes of David Silva. The Baggies were wide open that day, so expect them to use a much more reserved approach here. They’ll be looking to shut down space for the Blues, employing similar tactics to those used so well by Mourinho over the years.

It should give Chelsea a little more time to settle into this game, which is something they’ve not really had yet. The team clearly isn’t match fit yet, so starting off a game by chasing it isn’t a position they really want to be in. This should be a tight, edgy encounter, something that in which Mourinho will thrive.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the manager going back to basics here, taking his side back to the approach he had early on in each of his two spells. They played tight, looking not to concede, wore teams down and scored a goal or two to kill it off. Going back to that style would surely help improve things, and may just deliver a much needed victory for the champions.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 1-0

Mourinho Defends Terry Substitution

Jose Mourinho has defended his decision to substitute John Terry at half time of Chelsea’s game against Manchester City at The Etihad this weekend; a game that the Londoners went on to lose 3-0.

34 year old Terry, the Chelsea club captain, has not been substituted in the previous 176 games he played under Jose Mourinho’s management. Yet he was replaced by youngster Kurt Zouma at the interval with the team having been outplayed by the hosts and finding themselves 1-0 down.

After the match Mourinho confirmed that Terry was not removed from the action due to an injury, but rather because of a tactical decision by the manager. He said, “It was clear to me Zouma has to play”. Mourinho felt that City were dominating in Chelsea’s half and that he had to bring on his fastest player in order to play the high line he wanted to play to keep the Manchester team away from his team’s final third.

Mourinho was somewhat prickly in the aftermath of the game, suggesting to journalists that he wasn’t the manager they should be questioning about Terry’s removal. In what was a bizarre and slight non-sequitur of a reply the Chelsea manager said, “I don’t know if you asked questions to Rafa Benitez, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo, to the ones that never played him. I’m the one you shouldn’t ask because I’m the one that plays with John in every game. I made John captain. I recovered John from a difficult situation with other managers”.

Yet Benitez did comment on John Terry when he was Chelsea manager, saying, “With his age, he has more experience and his understanding of the game will be better but you have people coming that will be faster and they will be stronger. But still he has a lot of ability and he can do well. But it will not be two games a week, carrying on playing, because [he has] more competition”. Owing to his long-term animosity towards Benitez it is no surprise that Mourinho has not acknowledged the Spaniard’s foresight regarding Terry. He might also point to the fact that the ex-England player played in every game of Chelsea’s title winning campaign last year.

Yet his removal of the captain in a game that Chelsea were being dominated in suggests that the self-proclaimed Special One feels the centre back may no longer be able to handle the pressure of what is an intense league.

Coming just a week after he made a scapegoat out of his doctor when the team struggled to get a result against Swansea at home, some feel that this is yet another distraction tactic from a manager who specialises in just that. In The Irish Independent the journalist Chris Bascombe wrote of the manager’s decision to remove Terry that, “it smacked of sending a message to his board about the urgent need for reinforcements”.