Chelsea 3-0 Leicester Match Report (Premier League) – 15th October 2016

A dominant Chelsea performance saw them claim am easy three points against Premier League champions Leicester on Saturday. Goals from Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses sealed the win, which lifted quite a lot of pressure off Antonio Conte. He had been rumoured to be on his way out just days before, but now his side look full of confidence.

Conte continued with the 3-4-3formation which he used against Hull. There was just a single change from that victory, as Willian was absent after the death of his mother. Pedro stepped in for the Brazilian, playing alongside Eden Hazard in attacking midfield. That left John Terry on the bench, despite his return to fitness. He was alongside four other academy graduates, which is a very good sign for the club.

When the Blues tested out this new tactic against Hull, it took them 45 minutes to get used to it. They settled back into it from the start at Stamford Bridge, getting onto the scoresheet early. Costa’s opener came after just seven minutes, as he fired home after getting on the end of a flick on from Nemanja Matic. That move came from a corner, which seem to really trouble this Leicester defence at the moment.

David Luiz hit the post from a free-kick as Chelsea heaped the pressure onto the champions. Pedro and Hazard clicked in behind Costa, and they didn’t need any help for the second goal. The Spaniard played the ball through, and the Belgian rounded Kasper Schmeichel before scoring.

Things were a little more difficult in the second half. Leicester pushed to get back in the game, and they were almost helped by Luiz. He hit his own post, giving Thibaut Courtois a scare. Conte brought on Nathaniel Chalobah to sure things up in midfield, and the young Englishman did slightly more than that.

Victor Moses, who was fantastic again in the right wing back role, burst forward with pace, playing it to Chalobah. It was his first ever appearance at Stamford Bridge, despite it being his 100th professional game. The England under-21s man played Moses in with a back-heel, and the Nigerian applied the finish to make it three.

With the game wrapped up, Conte brought on two more young stars. Moses was replaced by Ola Aina, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Hazard. The manager seems to be making the most of the academy graduates. Dominic Solanke was also on the bench, and the manager’s substitutions give him a lot of hope, even if they don’t please Diego Costa. The forward publically yelled at Conte to make changes, a move which his manager clearly didn’t take too kindly to.

Next up for the Blues is a huge game with Manchester United. Jose Mourinho heads back to Stamford Bridge, with the new 3-4-3 likely to get a huge test.

LCN man of the match: Victor Moses

Hull 0-2 Chelsea Match Report – 1st October 2016

Chelsea eased the pressure on Antonio Conte with a 2-0 win away to Hull. A switch to a new formation saw a much improved performance, which lifted the Blues up to seventh. Goals from Willian and Diego Costa secured the points at the KCOM Stadium, although there will be much bigger tests to come for the manager and his new approach.

With John Terry out once again, Conte moved to a 3-5-2 formation to add more defensive solidity. Marcos Alonso came in for Branislav Ivanovic, while Victor Moses started in place of Cesc Fabregas. Those two played in wingback roles, with Cesar Azpilicueta joining David Luiz and Gary Cahill in the centre. Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante were in defensive midfield roles, while Eden Hazard and Willian supported Costa. At times it looked more like a 3-4-3 formation.

The switch led to a pretty tough first 45 minutes. The side were struggling to get used to the new system. It didn’t have the immediate impact that it had against Arsenal. Hull had the bigger of the first half exchanges, but they didn’t take advantage of the disorganisation in front of them. The two sides were level at the break.

Things changed in the second half, with Costa hitting the post before Kante skied over the rebound. The deadlock was finally broken after an hour, when Willian curled a fantastic strike into the top corner. Costa worked hard to pick the ball up in Hull’s half, and after being boxed in he teed up the Brazilian who found some space and opened the scoring.

The second goal came just six minutes later, as Costa was on hand to finish when Nemanja Matic’s strike was blocked. The finish was quite similar to Willian’s goal. That wrapped up the points for the Blues, and they could have added more when Pedro went close late on.

After the game Conte was pleased with his side, and he praised the man who stepped in to make the new system work. Victor Moses provided something different from right wing back, and the Nigerian was impressive in the victory. He deserved the man of the match award, in his first league start for the club in almost three and a half years.

“For me, Moses played an incredible game in a defensive situation and offensive situation,” Conte said. “It’s fantastic because he’s working very hard and that’s why he deserved to play. He showed me that my choice was right.”

The Italian also pointed towards another winger who could take up the same role, “I also think Pedro can play in this way. To have wingers able to do this role is a great option. [Marcos] Alonso played there [on the left] often for Fiorentina. Like all the players, he must work.”

The new formation looked good, but now Conte has a decision on his hands. John Terry is set to return after the international break for the Leicester game. Can he play in this set up? A week later and Kurt Zouma should be back, so there’s now a few good selection problems for the manager defensively.

LCN Man of the Match: Victor Moses

Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea Match Report – 24th September 2016

Chelsea were humiliated at the Emirates as their defensive vulnerabilities were put on show. First half goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil gave the Gunners a first win over the Blues in the league since 2011. Antonio Conte’s men were unable to respond, bringing an end to a damaging month for the club.

Cesc Fabregas got a first league start after his EFL Cup heroics. The Spaniard replaced Oscar in midfield, playing just behind Diego Costa. Once again there was no John Terry, so Gary Cahill and David Luiz were paired at the back. Branislav Ivanovic came back, replacing Marcos Alonso and taking up the captain’s armband.

There was a clear problem very early on, as the defence sat deep and the midfield tried to press high. That left the back four marooned when they had possession, and it played into Arsenal’s hands. Gary Cahill panicked when pressed by Sanchez, and his attempted back pass let the Chilean in to open the scoring. It wasn’t much different to the incident at Swansea a few weeks back, minus the clear foul.

Cahill and the rest of the defence looked shell-shocked, and that’s exactly when the Gunners hit top form. A fantastic passing move ripped the Blues’ defence apart, and Walcott was on hand for a tap in to make it 2-0. It’s been almost four years since the Blues have conceded twice in the opening 15 minutes of a game.

Despite the obvious problems, nothing was changed by Conte in the first half. Chelsea failed to get close to their former keeper Petr Cech. They looked to be hanging on until half time, before another mix up caught them out. Ozil started a breakaway with just Luiz and Cahill back. The German fed Sanchez, who was followed by both of the Blues’ defenders. That left Ozil free in the box to send a volley past Thibaut Courtois and in off the post.

Changes were made in the second half, Fabregas was withdrawn for Alonso. The Blues switched to a back five, with Cesar Azpilicueta moving to the right, Ivanovic moved centrally, and everything looked a little more organised. There were a lot more options on the ball in the new formation, and Arsenal struggled to assert themselves on the game.

However, that isn’t a long term solution. John Terry isn’t entirely comfortable in a back three with wing backs. Leaving him without a left back beside him leaves him exposed. While there were marked improvements in the latter stages at the Emirates, there are still a lot of problems for Antonio Conte to sort out.

Even worse, this defeat leaves them eighth in the table. The Blues now look like the sixth or seventh horse in the race for the top four. If they’re going to force their way into the fight for the Champions League, Conte will have to find a system which can mesh the different elements, and weaknesses, of his squad together.

Next up for the Blues is a trip to Hull, with Leicester heading to Stamford Bridge the other side of the international break. Six points, you would feel, have to be achieved from these two games.

LCN Chelsea Man of the Match: Willian

Leicester 2-4 Chelsea Match Report – 20th September 2016

Chelsea booked a place in the fourth round of the EFL Cup thanks to a double from Cesc Fabregas. Shinji Okazaki put the Foxes 2-0 up, but Gary Cahill pulled one back before half time. Cesar Azpilicueta scored a fantastic equaliser on the volley. That forced extra time here, where Fabregas hit two quick goals as the Blues knocked out the Premier League champions.

Antonio Conte made quite a few changes ahead of this cup tie. Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante were all rested for the trip to the King Power. Michy Batshuayi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek came into the side, with Conte pairing them up front. Asmir Begovic came in for Thibaut Courtois, while Marcos Alonso made his first start for the club since his move from Fiorentina.

Chelsea looked impressive in the early stages, with a goal from Pedro being ruled out for offside. The Spanish winger looked maybe an inch offside, but it was a tough call for the linesman. After that, the Blues crumbled and reverted back to their dreadful display from Friday night.

Okazaki broke the deadlock, which came thanks to some awful defending again. Ahmed Musa’s cross led to some penalty box pinball, with the back four all waiting for each other to clear. The Foxes’ forward tapped in, with Azpilicueta trying and failing to stop the ball crossing the line at the last minute.

David Luiz lost his marker for the second goal, with Okazaki getting his second. It was poor defending again, and once more Azpilicueta was too late with his goal line clearance. The defence made up for things late in the first half, with Cahill heading in from a cross, which Luiz put back in after a failed goal line clearance.

It was right back Azpilicueta who hit the equaliser, cracking in a stunning effort from outside the box. Chelsea made a strong start to the second half, and they made the most of a Leicester defence which hadn’t quite regained focus. The Spanish full back was free outside the area, and his volley curled just inside the right hand of Ron-Robert Zieler’s goal.

Costa and Jamie Vardy both came on for their respective sides, but neither could grab a winner. Marcin Wasilewski saw red right at the end of normal time. Fabregas struck just minutes into extra time, placing the ball into the net after Hazard dribbled and left the ball in the Spaniards’ path. Moments later, the former Barcelona man hit a second to double the lead.

That was enough to secure a win, and they’re safely into the last 16 of the EFL Cup. Next up is a trip to the Emirates, as the Blues return to Premier League action. Can they follow up this win with three points against Arsenal? That would get their league campaign back on track but they will have to improve at the back, that’s for sure.

LCN Man of the Match: Cesc Fabregas

Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool Match Report – 16th September 2016

Antonio Conte suffered his first defeat as Chelsea manager against Liverpool on Friday night. The Blues could have moved top with a win, but first half goals from Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson put the Reds in front. Diego Costa pulled one back, but the Blues were unable to find a way back into the game. It was a disappointing display, with some odd decisions made by the manager.

The only change from last weekend’s draw with Swansea was an enforced one. John Terry was ruled out of this game after limping out of the Liberty Stadium. David Luiz stepped back in for a second Blues debut, his first was also against Liverpool. The Brazilian defender was hoping for better here, as that one ended in a 1-0 defeat.

From the beginning of the game Chelsea struggled to get the ball. Liverpool had all of the early chances, dominating possession. It took a while for the hosts to actually string an attack together, while their opponents looked hungry. It took just 17 minutes for Jurgen Klopp’s men to take the lead, which then left the Blues playing into their hands.

Lovren’s goal was a result of some awful defending by Chelsea. Coutinho whipped the ball in from the left, and the Croatian defender was completely free at the back post. The reactions to that move summed up the two sides. Liverpool were quick thinking and full of movement. On the other hand, the Blues looked lethargic.

Things got even worse 10 minutes before half time. Gary Cahill’s poor clearance landed straight to Henderson, who was completely unmarked. The Liverpool skipper had so much space to move into, and he unleashed a fantastic strike which dipped in time to land right in the top corner. The game looked as good as over at half-time.

There was an improvement from the Blues in the second half, but it was far from enough. Nemanja Matic managed to tee up Costa for a tap in, but that was all they could muster. Even Conte looked a little too laid back. He was passionate on the side-line, but his first change came after 83 minutes. They could have done with new blood about an hour earlier.

After the game Conte was critical of his defence, but he also took responsibility for not turning things around.

“We conceded the goals in a strange way,” the Italian said. “They took the free-kick quickly for the first goal and it was a great shot from a long distance for the second but if we are in the right position he must not receive the ball unmarked.

“When you want to think like a great team you must pay attention in every moment. I must work more to improve my players. Defeats are never good. We know this, we must work and keep our concentration.”

The Blues are in EFL Cup action on Tuesday night, as they head to champions Leicester. This week doesn’t get any easier, with their next league game at Arsenal on Saturday.

LCN Man of the Match: Diego Costa

Swansea 2-2 Chelsea Match Report – 11th September 2016

Antonio Conte bemoaned two points dropped as his side drew 2-2 with Swansea. Diego Costa gave the Blues a half-time lead, and for close to an hour they looked on course for a win. A Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty levelled the scores, before Leroy Fer scored two minutes later. Costa grabbed a second to rescue a draw, but the manager was disappointed in their failure to kill the game off.

Conte started with an unchanged side from the win over Burnley. The two deadline day signings, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso, were forced to watch on from the bench. Both were made to wait on their debuts, as Chelsea kept the same back five for the fourth league game in a row.

Early on it looked like the Italian had made the right choice, as Costa put them in front after 18 minutes. Oscar picked up the ball in the box after the Swans failed to clear. The Brazilian had time to turn and lay the ball off to the forward, who found the bottom corner from the edge of the area. A 1-0 lead at half time was well deserved, but the Blues failed to find a second despite 14 first half shots.

Everything changed just shy of an hour, when Thibaut Courtois rushed out to deal with a ball over the top. The keeper reached it after Sigurdsson, and ended up bringing the midfielder down. The former Tottenham man stood up to take the resulting penalty, making it 1-1.

Within two minutes the Swans were ahead. Gary Cahill was bundled over by Fer, who was then free to run at goal. Fer’s shot came off Courtois’ leg, but it rolled in to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.

The Blues have hit plenty of late goals so far, they’d scored in the last 10 minutes of each league game so far. Costa grabbed his second of the afternoon with an overhead kick. He was alive when a clearance hung in the air, and his shot cannoned in to the net off Federico Fernandez.

Despite the controversy, the manager put blame on his own players first, “We had a fantastic reaction to going behind and for this reason I am pleased with my players,” he said. “But I also want to tell them that in this game if we have the possibility to kill the game, then we must kill it. We must learn this.”

However, the Italian didn’t shy away from criticising the officials, “I think everyone can see the tackle on Cahill was a foul, there was a great mistake by the referee, but I also want to say that this can happen for one side or the other and I don’t want to complain because it is a reality.”

Next up for Chelsea is a clash with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Friday night.

LCN Man of the Match: Diego Costa

Chelsea 3-0 Burnley Match Report – 27th August 2016

Chelsea cruised to a comfortable win over Burnley as they kept up their 100% start to the season. Goals from Eden Hazard, Willian and Victor Moses gave them the most comprehensive win of Antonio Conte’s tenure. The Italian seemed delighted with the win, but that didn’t stop him from repeating his need for new signings after the game.

Conte switched back to his strongest team for this clash. He had rested several stars for the Bristol City game in midweek. There was no place for Michy Batshuayi, who had hit three goals in his last two games. The usual back four started behind N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic. Oscar started ahead of Cesc Fabregas, while Diego Costa was the lone striker.

It took just nine minutes for the Blues to get ahead here. Hazard picked the ball up deep and sensed an opportunity to attack. He eased towards goal with little resistance from the Clarets. The Belgian swept the ball home from outside the box and it was the type of goal he scored regularly in 2014/15. If he’s back to his Player of the Year form, he could fire his side back to the top.

Having put on a fantastic early show, Chelsea were 2-0 ahead before the break. Some great interchanging between the forwards had Burnley penned back in their own box. Willian picked the ball up and stepped into the penalty area and he somehow jinked free to fire off a shot in to the far bottom corner.

With the game basically won, Conte introduced Moses, Batshuayi and Pedro for Willian, Costa and Hazard. The Nigerian winger made the most of his cameo, as he slid in to score the third goal with just a minute to go. The former Crystal Palace man has been welcome back into the fold after two seasons out on loan, and he’s made an impression already.

The manager was full of praise for the performance after the game. “We created a lot of chances and kept a clean sheet – this is important because after 13 home games without a clean sheet this helps the confidence and shows the hard work is paying off.”

He also singled out Hazard for praise, with the Belgian looking close to his form from two seasons ago, “Eden Hazard must be this decisive in every game, and I am pleased because I saw it today, but we must work to improve more.”

Despite Hazard’s return to form, the former Juventus boss is still chasing signings. However, they’re cutting it fine with the deadline fast approaching, “We are working close together, the club and I, and we are trying to find the right solutions to improve this squad. We have four days to find this, but I am pleased to work with the squad I have.”

LCN Man of the Match: Eden Hazard

Chelsea 3-2 Bristol Rovers Match Report – Tuesday 23rd August 2016

Chelsea survived a late scare as they booked a place in the third round of the EFL Cup. Antonio Conte’s first cup game in England was a struggle, despite facing League One Bristol Rovers. Michy Batshuayi and Victor Moses had the Blues ahead, but Peter Hartley pulled one back. The Belgian striker added a second before half time, but Ellis Harrison’s penalty meant the hosts had a nervy second half before making it through.

Conte made several changes for this clash. Most notable was Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s new role up front. He played alongside Batshuayi in a 4-2-4, with Diego Costa left on the bench. Ola Aina came in for John Terry, while Cesc Fabregas made his first start of the season. Both Oscar and Eden Hazard were left out, as was N’Golo Kante.

There was little sign of those changes early on, with Loftus-Cheek hitting the post with a long range strike. He seemed to be enjoying his forward role, as he played as a deep lying attacker here. That saw him play a part in the first goal of the game, as he played in Nemanja Matic who crossed the ball for Batshuayi’s goal.

Victor Moses doubled the lead soon after, as he tapped home from a few yards out. The Nigerian winger has been away on loan for the past two seasons, but he is finally getting a chance to impress for the Blues. So far he seems like he’s firmly part of Conte’s plans this season.

Conte’s men had their lead cut in half when Hartley scored from a free kick. That goal didn’t have them down for long, as Batshuayi struck just minutes later. Fabregas played in Loftus-Cheek, and the youngster found his strike partner in the box who made it 3-1 before half-time.

Early in the second half, Pedro clumsily gave away a penalty. Harrison dispatched that, which let the League One side back into the game. They were pushing for 40 minutes, but the introductions of Eden Hazard, John Terry and Oscar helped the Blues into the third round. While it was a tough night overall, Conte was incredibly pleased with his new striking option after the game.

“I think he has the right characteristics to play in this role because he has it all,” said the manager. “He is physically strong and he is very good playing from back (to goal) and also with good technique he sees the goal very well and has a good shot.

“He played a good game and with good intensity and he did what I wanted. In defensive situations, he became a midfield player and when attacking he became a forward. I’m happy with his commitment and his attitude. I think he has great potential as a player.”

While Conte has mentioned the need to strengthen the squad, it looks like he might have found a new man to rival Costa and Batshuayi up front.

LCN Man of the Match: Michy Batshuayi

Watford 1-2 Chelsea Match Report – 20th August 2015

Chelsea claimed another late win in the new Premier League season on Saturday as they came from behind to beat Watford 2-1. The Hornets took the lead through Etienne Capoue, but some tactical tweaks from Antonio Conte completely swung the game. Goals from Michy Batshuayi and Diego Costa saw the Blues take the three points, giving them a second consecutive win. Expectations are only going to grow if they maintain this start in the coming weeks.

Conte made just one change from the team who took on West Ham on Monday night. They lined up with a 4-1-4-1 formation once again, with Pedro coming in for Willian on the right hand side. The Brazilian didn’t make the bench for the trip to Vicarage Road, while Cesc Fabregas was left to contemplate life as a substitute.

After a cagey first half, the two sides went in level at the break. There wasn’t too much for either set of fans to get excited about until Watford broke the deadlock. The defensive midfielder had scored just once in 57 Premier League appearances before last week. He scored a wonderful volley here after opening the scoring last weekend too.

Diego Costa was booked for dissent again after that goal. Once again he was lucky to stay on the pitch. The forward took an obvious dive after a tackle from Miguel Britos. It should have been his second yellow, but once again he got away with it. That’s something that Conte needs to take a look at.

The manager made three substitutions as he looked to change the game. Victor Moses replaced Pedro in a like for like swap. Then, Batshuayi came on for Oscar, while Fabregas replaced Nemanja Matic. The switch to the 4-2-4 worked, as it got the Blues back into the game just moments later.

Eden Hazard found himself in acres of space having drifted inside from the left. The Belgian lashed a shot from 25 yards, which was palmed out by Heurelho Gomes. Batshuayi was on hand to convert the rebound, scoring his first goal for his new club. With 10 minutes to go, the game was all square.

The sides were level for just seven minutes, when another substitute made a big impact. Fabregas intercepted the ball just outside his own box, before stepping out and playing a fantastic through ball for Costa. The forward had quite a bit of distance to cover, but he tucked the ball past Gomes. That had Conte leaping down the touchline once again.

Conte had every right to celebrate, his changes worked wonders for his team. They went from a poor, slow display to become a dynamic and threatening side. There was much more movement in his 4-2-4, and as such that’s a formation we might see implemented from the start next weekend. However Conte decides to approach the clash with Burnley he can do it knowing that his side have maximum points after two games.

LCN Man of the Match: Batshuayi

Chelsea 2-1 West Ham Match Report – 15th August 2015

A late strike from Diego Costa gave Antonio Conte a winning start to his Chelsea career. Eden Hazard had given the Blues the lead from the penalty spot, only for James Collins to smash home an equaliser.

Conte started with 10 of the 11 players that Mourinho selected on the opening day last term. He had little choice but to go with the same back four, but he left out new signing Michy Batshuayi. The only change from that awful Swansea game was Cesc Fabregas dropping out. He was replaced by new signing N’Golo Kante, with the Frenchman taking the holding role in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

The new man waited just two and half minutes before making an impact, as he picked up a very early booking. There was a nervousness about the Blues early on, with the team looking a little shaky at the back. They began pressing more after a slow first 10 minutes, and from then on they looked a lot more comfortable.

The Blues had to grow into this one, but they were quickly pressuring the Hammers. Oscar slinked his way into the box but he was pulled down before he could get a shot off. The referee waved away the Blues’ protests, with Diego Costa getting booked for approaching Anthony Taylor. That could be a regular occurrence this term.

The first half ended goalless, but Antonio Conte’s men got themselves ahead straight after the restart. Michail Antonio fouled Cesar Azpilicueta, and this time the referee did point to the spot. Hazard converted, meaning he opened his account for the season much earlier this term than last. It was also no less than his first half display deserved, he was far and away the best player on the pitch.

The Blues had a few half chances, but they were unable to double their lead. West Ham made them pay for that, as they equalised with less than 15 minutes to go. Dimitri Payet’s free-kick was deflected out for a corner, at which point the defence seemed to relax. Moments later some penalty box pinball resulted in a fantastic half volley from Collins. That was the centre-half’s fourth goal against Chelsea, over half his career haul.

Conte brought on Batshuayi, Pedro and Moses for Oscar, Willian and Hazard as he pushed for a second goal. That prompted a switch to the 4-2-4 formation that the Italian is fond of. Playing two forwards meant the home side were immediately asking questions of the West Ham back four.

It took just four minutes for those changes to work, as the Blues found a late winner. We saw glimmers of a budding strike partnership in the goal, as Costa picked up Batshuayi’s knock down. The Spanish forward still had plenty to do, but he fired home from 20 yards. Thibaut Courtois had to make a late save from Enner Valencia, which gave Conte the perfect start in his new post.

LCN Man of the Match: Hazard