Falcao Suffers Injury Set-Back

Chelsea have been informed that their Colombian striker, Radamel Falcao, has suffered an injury set-back that will see him ruled out until at least mid-January.

The 29 year old is at Stamford Bridge on a season long loan from Monaco but hasn’t appeared for the defending Premier League champions since their 3-1 defeat to Liverpool on the 31st of October. He has appeared nine times for Chelsea this season, scoring one goal, after spending last season on loan at Manchester United.

The Colombian was considered to be one of the best strikers in the world until he injured his knee whilst playing for Monaco in 2014 and he has struggled to recover his form since then. Guus Hiddink, Chelsea’s interim manager after the sacking of Jose Mourinho earlier this month, said, “I think it’s back to square one. We had him in a game and he had this injury again that he had before. It’s the inside of his thigh. We hope within 10 days he might be fit again, though not to play”.

The Dutchman has found his options limited in recent weeks, with Loic Remy also suffering from injury problems and Diego Costa serving a suspension for cumulative yellow card offences. With Pedro struggling to settle in England since his move from Barcelona and Aston Villa keen on signing Frenchman Remy, Hiddink will be hoping that Falcao can return to training sooner rather than later.

Bamford Apologises For Calling Loan Spell At Palace ‘Terrible’

Young Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford has issued an apology after saying that his loan spell at Crystal Palace has been ‘terrible’.

The 22 year old Chelsea striker has been on a season long loan at Selhurst Park since the summer, but he has only made five league appearances for the Eagles, with all of them coming from the bench. He has started two games for Palace, but both of those were in the League Cup and that has led to sense of frustration from the England Under-21 international.

After Palace’s 0-0 draw with Swansea City on Monday night the Chelsea striker told the press, “That was my last game for Palace. It has been terrible”. It is believed that at that point he hadn’t even spoken to Alan Pardew, Crystal Palace’s manager, about his desire to return to Stamford Bridge.

On Wednesday, however, the youngster took to Twitter to clarify what he meant by his statement. He used the popular social media platform to say, “My comments were taken out of context. I want to apologise. I’ve really enjoyed my time at Palace, the lads were brilliant, the gaffer and training were great. I couldn’t have been at a nicer club. I’m just disappointed I couldn’t do more for the team”.

With Loic Remy rumoured to be a target for Aston Villa and Radamel Falcao suffering an injury setback, Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink faces something of a dilemma with his striking options. Although he has Pedro and Kenedy available for selection neither of them are out and out strikers, meaning that Diego Costa is the only fully fit striker available for the defending Premier League champions during the hectic January schedule.

Aston Villa Want Loic Remy From Chelsea

Aston Villa’s manager Remi Garde has confirmed that the Midlands club would like to sign Loic Remy from Chelsea on loan during the January transfer window.

Villa have endured an horrendous opening to their Premier League campaign, winning just one match and losing 13, including six of their last ten. They remain rooted firmly to the bottom of the league table, eleven points clear of safety and with the joint worst goal difference in the league.

Garde hasn’t given up hope, though, with the Frenchman keen to bring his compatriot in for the remainder of the season to give the Midlanders a fighting chance at staying up. He said, “Loic is special. He knows the country and league, and would be an interesting player for the team”.

Remy joined Chelsea for £10.5 million after he moved from Queen’s Park Rangers last year but has only started one Premier League game this season. He was originally hoping to sign for Liverpool and even travelled with the squad on their tour of the United States last summer only to fail his medical. His starts at Stamford Bridge have been limited this term because of injury, perhaps justifying the Merseyside club’s decision to pull the plug on a possible transfer.

The 28 year old has scored once in the Premier League for the defending champions and he also notched up two goals in the League Cup before Chelsea were knocked out by Stoke City. Whilst not exactly prolific, his form has been good enough for Guus Hiddink to take exception at Garde’s decision to speak publicly about his player. He said, “You have to respect where the players are. If you are interested, talk first to the people with whom they are contracted. You cannot go into details. The player has signed a contract here and must be fit for us. He’s having a difficult time regarding his injuries. He has to prove first of all that he’s a good Chelsea player. He has had a calf problem for several days”.

Garde knows Loic Remy from when both of them were at Lyon, with the current manager being the assistant manager at the Stade de Gerland when Remy started his career there. He knows that his countryman has the ability to stick the ball in the back of the net, something that Villa have failed to do too many times this campaign. They currently have 15 goals from 19 games, the lowest in the league.

Hiddink is aware that Chelsea aren’t in a much better position, sitting just three points away from the relegation zone in 14th place. He said, “We need all the players here until the end of the season. Chelsea are still in a position where we have to improve to get up the table, so we need all our players at the moment. So we don’t talk about the rumours”.

With the transfer window opening on the 2nd of January 2016 it won’t be long before we know what sort of moves all of the teams in the Premier League will be making in the market. Remi Garde may yet succeed in bringing Loic Remy to Villa Park, but whether the Frenchman will be able to save the club from relegation remains to be seen.

Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea Match Report – 28th December 2015

Chelsea played out a close goalless draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday, with Guus Hiddink still searching for his first win on his return to the west London outfit. The Blues moved up a spot to 14th, and they continue to trail United by 10 points. With the team looking much better defensively, could this be the start of the revival?

Despite having played just about 48 hours before kicking off at Old Trafford, Hiddink resisted the urge to make any wholesale changes to his team. A couple of players pulled out late with injuries, but aside from that it was almost an unchanged line-up. Gary Cahill was ruled out late in the day, with Kurt Zouma stepping in, while John Obi Mikel took the place of Cesc Fabregas who had picked up an illness. Diego Costa was suspended for this one, while Loic Remy and Falcao were both injured, so Eden Hazard started up front.

Hiddink reverted to the false nine system that Jose Mourinho had used at Tottenham a few weeks ago, which was a team set up to avoid defeat. Speaking of Mourinho, he was a big presence at Old Trafford, despite not actually turning up. Before the game, Manchester United scarves with his face on them were being sold, cranking up the pressure on Louis van Gaal.

It was fair to say that the Red Devils were coming into this one in almost as bad shape as Chelsea, given that they hadn’t won in their last seven games. Van Gaal’s position looks in severe danger, while they could well end up missing out on the top four. That said, their start here was a lot better than they’ve shown in recent weeks, as they pushed forward with some intent.

Both Anthony Martial and Juan Mata hit the woodwork in the opening 15 minutes, much to the delight of a weary home support. The Blues carved out chances too, with their best effort coming from a corner, as David De Gea pulled off a great save to deny John Terry.

Chelsea too looked better here, with the four attacking midfielders covering a lot of ground as they pressed the United defence. There was a solidity to the team that was lacking a few weeks ago, with Zouma standing out at the back. He made a tackle on Martial that displayed both his talent and potential, and he has to be seen as first choice at the back.

The Blues weren’t at their best going forward here, but they could have stolen a win late on. Nemanja Matic went through on goal, but his effort sailed over the crossbar, and even as a defensive minded player, he really should have done better with the chance.

After the game, Hiddink seemed pleased with the result. “On the one hand, I am happy with a point because we had a difficult game, but on the other, we had two big chances to get three points. We were lacking some attacking players and had to adapt. In general I’m happy.”

LCN Man of the Match: Kurt Zouma

Chelsea 2-2 Watford Match Report – 26th December 2015

A brace from Diego Costa wasn’t enough to give Guus Hiddink a winning return to Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard put the Blues in front, and then hit an equaliser after Watford had got themselves into the lead. Troy Deeney scored from the penalty spot, before Odion Ighalho had put the Hornets ahead. This now leaves the Blues seven points shy of the top half of the Premier League table.

Guus Hiddink made a few bold changes in his first starting 11. There was no place for Eden Hazard, who was left on the bench. It seems like some at the club still aren’t happy with his display at Leicester. There was no starting place for Kurt Zouma, who was first choice defender under Jose Mourinho. Cesc Fabregas took up a place in midfield alongside Nemanja Matic.

Things started pretty well for the Blues, with Diego Costa looking much more like the striker of last season. He seemed to have recovered a bit of lost confidence, and he was pushing around Watford defenders early on. It was Costa who made the breakthrough after just half an hour, scoring just his fourth league goal of the season.

Not long after that, all the early hard work was wasted. A Watford corner was swung in and Matic handled the ball. It seemed like he was struggling to see through his mask, but there was no question that it was a penalty. Deeney stepped up and converted, and the two sides headed in to the half time break level pegging.

The second half start was a little more sluggish, and the Blues were toiling as Watford grew in confidence. They came in to this game on the back of four consecutive wins, and there was a genuine belief in their side that this could be a fifth. The Hornets were pushing forward and troubling Chelsea, and then they eventually found a second goal. Ighalo’s deflected shot brought the mood in Stamford Bridge right back down. New manager, same problems.

Another home defeat was unthinkable here, and the Pensioners began pushing for an equaliser. The much needed moment of spark came as Willian angled a fantastic ball through for Costa, and he timed his run perfectly, before firing in a second goal. They were back level, and they had 25 minutes to go in search of a winner.

That winner was sitting on a plate with 10 minutes to go, as substitute Eden Hazard was brought down by Valon Behrami, and the Blues were awarded a penalty. Oscar stepped up instead of Hazard, but it might be the last one he takes. The Brazilian slipped in his run up, and saw the ball fly over the bar and in to the crowd.

That scuppered Hiddink’s hopes of a winning start, but he has the chance to turn things around away to an out of form Manchester United next.

LCN Verdict: Diego Costa

Manchester United v Chelsea Match Preview (Premier League) – 28th December 2015

After their Boxing Day clash with Watford, Chelsea are quickly back in action as they face a trip to Old Trafford on Monday evening. This is the first big game for Guus Hiddink since returning to the club, just how will be match up against his countryman Louis van Gaal? Can he deliver a blow to United’s hopes of making the top four?

This isn’t exactly the kind of game the Blues would have wanted as they try and kick start a revival, but with United struggling, it may be the perfect time to play them. The Red Devils haven’t won since November, and now they’ve slipped out of the top four having gone on a poor run of results. The last visitors to Old Trafford, Norwich, came out 2-1 winners here. Surely the Blues have at least a chance?

This will certainly be a major test for Guus Hiddink, as he looks to lead the team back up the table. While catching United isn’t a realistic ambition, beating them certainly is. There’ll be little confidence in either side following their recent results, so it’ll take a lot of motivation if either manager is going to lead his side to victory in this one.

As far as team news goes, there should be little to worry about in terms of injuries for Hiddink, although he may have to rotate his side, with his team playing 48 hours earlier at home to Watford. We may see the appearance of a couple of squad players, but the boss will most likely try and name his strongest side for a potentially defining clash.

One thing the team do have going for them is the fact that this is away from home. Home games for the next few weeks will see continued protests about Mourinho’s sacking, and the majority of the players won’t be given too warm a welcome. That could end up having an effect on the team. Away from home the players might have one less thing on their minds, without fans booing them.

All being well, this game won’t be the reunion between Jose Mourinho and Chelsea that many have been dreading. Van Gaal heads in to Christmas as the favourite for the sack, with Mourinho favourite to replace him. He’d be the obvious choice if the Red Devils were to move right now, but it seems like they’ll hold off for the time being. Seeing the club’s greatest manager in the opposition dug out so soon would be enough to ruin any fan’s New Year.

Van Gaal’s United are incredibly functional, and their lack of cutting edge is good for a Chelsea team who aren’t great at the back. Expect a better defensive display from United than their last home game, which could make this clash a very tight affair.

LCN Verdict: 1-1 draw

Hiddink: Players Must Look In The Mirror

Guus Hiddink, Chelsea’s new interim manager, has suggested that his players need to look themselves in the mirror and be ultra critical if they hope to get their season back on track.

The defending Premier League champions have lost nine of their first seventeen games and sit in 15th place in the league, just three points above the relegation zone. Hiddink was brought in last weekend as a short-term replacement for Jose Mourinho, who the Chelsea board sacked after a dreadful start to the season.

Hiddink acknowledged that a fourth placed finish was still a ‘mathematical possibility’, but confessed that it would be extremely difficult to achieve. He said, “This league is very strong. All the teams can kill each other”.

The Dutchman came in in similar circumstances in 2009 when Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s owner, decided to relieve then boss Luis Felipe Scolari, of his position in the Blues’ dugout. He won the FA Cup with them that year and also helped them to reach the semi-finals of the Champion’s League and to finish third in the Premier League.

Speaking in his first pre-match press conference ahead of Chelsea’s Boxing Day game against Watford the 69 year old said, “I shouldn’t be here halfway through the season. It means things are not going well. But, anyhow, I am glad to be back. It is a few years ago I was here in a similar situation. It is not easy after a championship. You relax as a team and get a wake-up call. It is not easy to say that I am here and the problem is solved”.

The Dutchman was keen to sing the praises of his predecessor, Mourinho. Talking of the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ he said, “If you look at his record over the years it is amazing. There were many, many titles. Nevertheless things happen in football. People take decisions that they have taken and I come on when I am asked”.

Hiddink refused to be drawn on whether or not he would be tempted to dip into the transfer market in January, saying, “Let’s go into the next few games and we will see. First, I would like to get through the first few games. I talked to the squad yesterday and we talked about the past a little… why I am here, the reason why we are down. But I also told them things happen in football and I want everyone to look themselves in the mirror, for not just a second but for a long time”.

There was a strange atmosphere at Stamford Bridge in the club’s game against Sunderland last weekend, their first since the sacking of Mourinho. Some members of the team were booed and there were banners in the stands expressing the fans’ support for Mourinho. Hiddink acknowledged that and said, “I hope the fans will support the team, as they did briefly during the last game. The team has to take the initiative. What I know of Chelsea is that the fans back up the team, but the team has to show it first”.

Chelsea In Talks With Montreal Impact Over Drogba

Chelsea are believed to be entering into negotiations with Montreal Impact over the future of their former striker Didier Drogba.

The 37 year old Ivorian signed for the Major League Soccer club in July but has expressed a desire to help out at the defending Premier League champions as they suffer their worst start to a season for decades. He sat alongside the new interim manager, Guus Hiddink, with the club’s owner Roman Abramovich during the side’s home win over Sunderland last weekend.

Hiddink, who has come in on a temporary basis until the end of the season after the sacking of Jose Mourinho, is keen to work with Drogba but refused to comment too much on the situation. He said, “I worked with him five or six years ago and I was delighted to have such a professional in the squad. He’s a legend already in this club. The only thing is at the moment is that he’s playing in Montreal. The official process I don’t know but I spoke openly from the bottom of my heart that huge impact players can be key for the club”.

The striker spent a memorable nine years with Chelsea over two different spells, winning the Premier League title four times, the League Cup three times, the FA Cup four times and the Champion’s League in 2012. His personal awards whilst with the London club include the Premier League Golden Boot in the 2006-2007 and 2009-2010 seasons.

His current club are keen to have him back for the next Major League Soccer season and believe that he is contracted to them for another year. They said, “We are doing everything we can to have him back with the Impact in 2016. We are willing to accommodate him. This situation is out of our control”. They also sent a tweet on Twitter saying, “We understand his attachment, but our objective is to have him back for another season”.

Chelsea have endured a torrid start to the defence of their Premier League title, losing nine of their opening seventeen games including four games at Stamford Bridge. They currently sit 15th in the league, just three points clear of the relegation zone. It was that poor form that caused Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board to sack Jose Mourinho, with the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ relieved of his duties last Thursday leading to the temporary appointment of Guus Hiddink.

It is not yet clear whether Hiddink would like Drogba to come back to West London as a player or as part of his coaching staff, with some members of the press believing that Drogba could be being groomed to take over as manager at some point in the future.

Chelsea v Watford Match Preview (Premier League) – 26th December 2015

Chelsea’s first game under Guus Hiddink comes on Saturday, as they take on an in-form Watford side at Stamford Bridge. Can the Dutchman kick off his second spell with a win, or will the Hornets carry on their fine run? One thing’s for sure, given all their recent troubles, the Blues can ill afford another slip up.

The first game of the post Jose Mourinho era on Saturday was an impressive win over Sunderland, but it was one that left fans scratching their heads. The players went at it from the off, going 2-0 up after just 13 minutes. While it was a much needed return to form, it felt like a slap in the face to both Mourinho and the fans.

It seemed like these players had been holding back until the manager was gone, and now they are suddenly able to play to their full potential. What’s the alternative to that idea? As great a servant as Steve Holland has been, it’s hard to see him coming up with a tactical tweak that Mourinho didn’t think of. This win had to have come straight from a mentality shift, which justified the fans’ anger during the game.

Expect more anger towards the players who underperformed this week, and more songs in support of Mourinho. Fans will move on in time, but now those wounds are fresh. It could be counterproductive to turn on the players like this, but Blues fans have been through enough managerial turmoil to know how to act during the interim.

Hopefully Hiddink will be more successful and liked than the previous interim coach, as none of this is his fault. He’s simply stepped into an opening bigger than his recent record merits, plus he’s returning to a club of which he has some very fond memories. The big question will be over his ability, is he still as good as the coach the fans begged to stay in 2009? And can he do enough to pull the team up the league, and earn himself a contract beyond May?

To do that, he’ll have to make a good start, but he’s got a tough task ahead. Watford have been simply brilliant of late, winning four on the spin in the league. They’re up to seventh, a point off the top four, a position Chelsea can only dream about. Their strike partnership of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo has been tearing through teams, with 17 goals between them. Again, that’s something the Blues can only dream of having right now.

So, Watford will be coming into this one with nothing to lose and with momentum carrying them very much in the right direction. They could be dangerous, and it will take all of Hiddink’s wit to pull off a result here. While this won’t make or break his second spell, it will be a big indicator of how he’ll handle it.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-1

No Sabbatical For Mourinho

Former Blues manager Jose Mourinho has no plans to take a break in the wake of Chelsea Football Club’s decision to sack the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ last week, it has been revealed.

The 52 year old was relieved of his position at the defending Premier League champions after over-seeing the worst defence of a title in the history of the top flight. Chelsea endured 9 defeats in 16 league games whilst also getting knocked out of the League Cup at the hands of Stoke City. leading Roman Abramovich and the club’s board to take the drastic decision to sack him.

The Portuguese manager’s agency released a statement saying, “He will not be taking a sabbatical, he isn’t tired, he doesn’t need it. He is very positive and is already looking forward. Jose Mourinho is pleased that he returned to Chelsea because he was able to give the fans another Premier League title, which they had not won for many years. He is immensely proud of his eight trophies at Chelsea, and thanks the fans for all their support throughout his two spells at the club. During his career, Jose has sometimes chosen to leave a club, but only at Chelsea has the club decided that he should leave”.

Whilst the former Netherlands manager Guus Hiddink has been appointed to succeed Mourinho on an interim basis – much as he was in the 2008-2009 season when Luis Felipe Scolari was sacked – it is believed that some of the biggest club’s in the game are considering offering the former Chelsea boss an immediate return to management.

With Manchester United struggling to find any sort of form under Louis Van Gaal and Bayern Munich aware that Pep Guardiola has chosen to leave the club at the end of the season, both are seen as viable opportunities for Mourinho to consider in the near future. Some commentators even feel that the Portuguese deliberately burned his bridges at Stamford Bridge in order to be able to head to Old Trafford in the summer, if not before.

Mourinho’s management company suggested that he’ll be doing his utmost to avoid any speculation about his future, however, by not attending any big games in the Premier League. He made his first public appearance since his sacking when he watched Brighton play Middlesborough on Saturday, and the statement from his management team said, “He will not be attending any high-profile games because he wants to discourage any speculation about his future. Jose will remain living in London and hopes he and his family will be given the opportunity to do this privately”.