Chelsea 1-1 Leicester Match Report – 15th May 2016

Leicester came from behind to take a point back from Stamford Bridge on Sunday against the side from whom they inherited the title. The Foxes found themselves trailing to a Cesc Fabregas penalty before Danny Drinkwater levelled. After the game John Terry took to the pitch to address the crowd, but he was guarded over his future. We still don’t know if we’ll ever see him in a Chelsea shirt again.

Guus Hiddink made just two changes ahead of the final game of the season, with Branislav Ivanovic and Thibaut Courtois coming in. The Serbian took up the captain’s armband, with Terry still suspended. The bench was once again filled by academy products, who were gaining vital experience.

While Terry sat out, Hiddink knew this was his last game with the club. The interim coach showed little enthusiasm for returning next season, and he leaves having completed a solid stabilising job. That was shown here, as Chelsea put on a decent enough display against the Premier League champions.

After being mere seconds away from a win over Liverpool at Anfield, the Blues started well against the champions. Kasper Schmeichel was busy early in the game, as he kept out efforts from Fabregas and club player of the year Willian. While they had little to play for, it was clear that Hiddink’s men were aiming to send him off on the back of a victory.

Leicester were taking this one seriously, too. They started with close to a full strength side, including PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez, and FWA player of the year Jamie Vardy. After an incredible season and a shock title win, it would have been easy for the Foxes to let the Blues take the game to them given that Claudio Ranieri’s men have nothing left to prove.

Fabregas got his fifth goal of the campaign from the penalty spot, and from that stage on you’d have expected Chelsea to go on and claim a victory. As usual this term, the Blues didn’t know what to do after scoring. They were sloppy after claiming the opening goal, and that’s when they let Leicester back in.

If you were told that the Foxes capitalised on poor defending, a few possible scorers would spring to mind. Drinkwater wouldn’t be among them. The defensive midfielder hit the equaliser, one which ensured his side kept their 10 point lead at the top of the table. Only four sides have ever won by a bigger margin.

After the game, Terry told fans that he was desperate to stay. Having been offered a new deal, he could carry on for another year, although with less playing time and a lower wage. Right now, there’s still a chance he’ll be around next term.

Whatever he chooses to do, next season will see a very different Chelsea team. Antonio Conte will have to make a few changes, as he looks to improve on one of the worst title defences in history.

LCN Man of the Match: Cesc Fabregas

Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea Match Report – 11th May 2015

A late equaliser from Christian Benteke prevented Chelsea from taking a win at Anfield. The Blues had been leading 1-0 thanks to a wonderful goal from Eden Hazard, but their strong defensive display was broken late on. The result does little to the table, but it does show that the Chelsea of old are still there. Somewhere. That at least bodes well for next season.

Guus Hiddink made plenty of changes following the defeat at Sunderland on Saturday. Thibaut Courtois wasn’t in the squad after illness, so Asmir Begovic replaced him. Bertrand Traore came in up front, while John Obi Mikel moved to centre-half to replace the suspended John Terry. The Blues bench was packed out with young academy stars.

With so many changes being made, it was easy to be wary about the Blues’ chances going into this one. The makeshift back four in play wasn’t one that looked like keeping a clean sheet. It didn’t help that Liverpool were coming in to this game in fine form, and they made the best start of the two sides here.

Out of nowhere, the Blues were in front though. They had possession in the Reds’ final third, but didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Hazard wriggled around, evading players and playing a one-two with Traore. He then started his move towards goal, jinking past a few defenders. Suddenly, he had space in the box, and the Belgian fired home to make it 1-0.

The Blues went in to the half-time break with a lead, something few in the ground saw coming. Given how the team have done this season, most expected the scoreline to change pretty soon. Jurgen Klopp had his side fired up for the second half, leaving Hiddink’s men camped in their own half.

Begovic was called upon to make a few good saves, as the Chelsea rearguard were pushed to their limits. The goalkeeper did look shaky on crosses, however. That came back to hurt him late on in the game, as Liverpool got level in the 92nd minute of the game.

A high cross from the left wing saw the Bosnian flap at the ball, and he palmed the ball straight in to the path of Benteke. The Belgian forward was likely playing his last few minutes at Anfield for the Reds, and he signed off by heading in from six yards. That kept a 10 point margin between these two teams.

Liverpool now go into the final day with an outside chance of making Europe. They’ll be pleased with this clash, as it was a good warm up ahead of the Europa League final. As for Chelsea, this was a display that had many elements of what made the team great. Hazard was brilliant throughout, and the entire team worked to defend as a unit. Pleasing signs for Antonio Conte, as he has something here to work with.

LCN Man of the Match: Eden Hazard

Sunderland 3-2 Chelsea Match Report – 7th May 2016

Chelsea suffered a defeat at Sunderland on Saturday as John Terry played his last game for the club. The captain was sent off after picking up two yellow cards, which rules him out of the final two games this season as it was his second sending off of the season. With his contract up in the summer, it’s likely this was the defender’s last action in a Chelsea shirt. Not a great way to finish in all honesty!

Terry’s red card came in added time at the end of the match, with Chelsea already behind. Diego Costa had opened the scoring at the Stadium of Light, before Wahbi Khazri levelled. Nemanja Matic restored the lead, only for Fabio Borini to equalise. Jermain Defoe hit the winner, which lifted the Black Cats out of the bottom three.

Thibaut Courtois returned after suspension, replacing Asmir Begovic, Eden Hazard was introduced from the start here, after impressing as a sub last time out. John Terry once again led the team out, as he prepared for his Stamford Bridge farewell. With a strong team out, Guus Hiddink clearly wanted to build on his side’s fightback against Tottenham on Monday night.

Sunderland came into this match knowing they faced a massive week, one which would decide their Premier League future. Things didn’t start too well for them here, as Costa gave Chelsea the lead. The forward got onto a loose ball in the box, and slipped it home from a tight angle.

As half time approached, the Blues let the home side take control of the game. The Black Cats finally got on the scoresheet 41 minutes in, thanks to a great strike from Kahzri. It took just six minutes for the lead to be restored, as Matic struck just before half time. At the break, Sunderland were in massive trouble.

They had a much better second half, and once again Chelsea collapsed under pressure. Borini, the man who ended Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten Stamford Bridge run, caused more problems for the Blues here. He struck from outside the box, making it 2-2 with just over 20 minutes to go.

The winner came just three minutes after Borini’s strike. Former Spurs man Jermain Defoe got the all-important goal for the Black Cats. His quick touch and volley beat the flatfooted Chelsea backline. Things got even worse for the team, as Terry was sent off in the 95th minute.

His second red card of the season brought a two match ban, which means his season is over. Sunday’s game with Leicester was meant to be a big send off to the man who has led Chelsea for over 10 years. Instead, the fans who want to see him off will be watching the game alongside the captain.

The poor result here took a back seat to the disappointment over Terry’s red card. The captain won’t get a chance to say goodbye to the Bridge. He’s just the latest legend to leave without a big send off, it happened with both Frank Lampard and Petr Cech in recent years. In an awful season, this is just another blow to the dethroned champions.

LCN Man of the Match: Nemanja Matic

Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham Match Report – 2nd May 2016

Chelsea fought back to draw with Tottenham in a fiery encounter at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, which in turn saw Leicester win the Premier League title. For once the neutrals were willing Chelsea on, and they made an awful start. Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min put Spurs ahead in the first half. Goals from Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard got Chelsea level, leading to wild celebrations in Leicester and big disappointment amongst Spurs fans.

John Terry made a welcome return to the side for what looks like his penultimate Stamford Bridge game. Eden Hazard might have returned to form last weekend, but he returned to the bench here. Guus Hiddink named a strong side, as the Blues looked to put a dent in their rivals’ title chances.

Things didn’t start all that well for them, as Harry Kane scored the opening goal. Tottenham knew they hadn’t won at the Bridge in 26 years, but they needed to if they were to keep their title hopes alive. Son Heung-Min added a second before half time, and that looked to have ended their awful run on this ground.

The game was a bruising, hot-tempered affair, and that stopped Tottenham from taking control of the game. They failed to keep a lid on Chelsea, and Gary Cahill pulled a goal back. The pressure was suddenly on Spurs, as they now had something to defend. They were chasing Leicester, but now they had to hold their lead to stay in the race.

Fans over land and sea and Leicester were willing Chelsea on towards the end of the game. Hazard came on and brightened up the game for the Blues, and he showed his ability with a fantastic equaliser. The Blues kept pushing to try to find a winner, but they were unable to claim a victory.

The last few minutes of the game saw the Tottenham players lost their heads, diving into wild challenges. The same happened at the end of the game, with a large coming together on the sidelines. Despite those negative images, it was the Leicester story that claimed the focus of attention. If Chelsea were to hand pick a side to hand the title to, it’s hard to think of a better candidate.

Plenty of supporters paid tribute to former Blues boss Claudio Ranieri, who guided Leicester to glory. He’s sure to receive a fantastic reception and a guard of honour when he heads to the Bridge on the final day of the season.

The players may have stopped Tottenham like they’d hoped, but only one of these two sides will be in the Champions League next term. There’s nothing left for the Blues to take from this season, they’re left to look back on the worst title defence in Premier League history. For the second season running a goal from Hazard at Stamford Bridge decided the league title. Second time around, there was nothing for the Blues to celebrate.

LCN Man of the Match: Eden Hazard

Bournemouth 1-4 Chelsea Match Report – 23rd April 2016

Eden Hazard scored his first Premier League goals of the season as Chelsea recorded an impressive win at Bournemouth. The Belgian played a key part in the success, as he scored a brace. Fellow midfielders Pedro and Willian both got themselves on the scoresheet, helping the Blues move up to ninth in the league.

Guus Hiddink named a strong side for this trip down south. After back to back defeats, the Blues needed a much better display here. Hazard returned to the side for the first time in over a month. The big change here saw John Obi Mikel drop back in to central defence, alongside Branislav Ivanovic. Asmir Begovic came in for Thibaut Courtois in goal.

After winning at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, the Cherries were hoping to complete an incredible double here. That seems to have led Hiddink’s approach here, as he aimed to halt their poor run of form. After two slow starts, this one looked to be more of the same in the opening minutes. Bournemouth were in charge for five minutes, until the opening goal.

In the sixth minute, a Chelsea breakaway saw Cesc Fabregas feed Pedro. The Spaniard found himself clear on goal following Cesc’s great pass, and he found the bottom corner to give the Blues an early lead. It was a much needed confidence boost to a shaken up Blues team.

Bournemouth came pressing for an equaliser, but they didn’t really trouble Begovic in goal. While the Cherries looked for a leveller, Hazard finally broke his league duck for the season. Once again Fabregas played a part, with the Belgian picking up the ball and striking from 20 yards out. It might have come too late, but his celebrations after the goal were reassuring to the fans who thought he’d given up on the club.

As Bournemouth kept pushing, Begovic looked shaky when being pressed in the air. It was a corner that got the better of him, with Tommy Elphick’s header evading a sleeping Blues defence. Eddie Howe’s men were back in it before half time, and once again the champions suffered due to a defensive lapse.

The second half was a mixed affair, and it took over 25 minutes for either side to get a goal. Once again it was courtesy of Fabregas, who had a great game. He played in Willian, who lifted the ball over Artur Boruc and saw it find the net.

As the game got into added time, Hazard struck again. Fabregas wasn’t involved this time, as Nemanja Matic made a run and pulled the ball back across goal. The Belgian tapped home from six yards, finishing off a strong performance.

That was a welcome win for the Blues, especially with Hazard involved. He seemed really motivated in this one, and the display showed signs of life within the team. It’s not something to get too excited about, but it’s something Antonio Conte can at least work with.

LCN Man of the Match: Cesc Fabregas

Chelsea 0-3 Manchester City Match Report – 16th April 2016

Chelsea suffered yet another defeat as they were crushed at Stamford Bridge by a Sergio Aguero hat-trick. Thibaut Courtois conceded a penalty and was also sent off for the hosts, as their season continued to fall apart. The Blues remain in 10th place, but this display does little for morale ahead of next term, when City are expected to come back even stronger.

Once again, Abdul Baba Rahman had his chance at left back. Cesar Azpilicueta moved to the right hand side, as Branislav Ivanovic joined Gary Cahill in an experienced central defence. Diego Costa returned after his suspension, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek kept his place in the team. While it was a very changed side that Hiddink put out, there was plenty of experience and quality (at least on paper!) in the side.

Ahead of the game the Blues should have been looking to send out a message against City. They were fourth in the table, a place that Chelsea will be aiming for next season as a minimum requirement. With City now showing their worth domestically and in Europe, this was a chance for the champions to demonstrate that they’ve been through a blip, but they can still mix it with the best.

That’s not the message we received. If it hadn’t been clear already, it was now obvious that Chelsea are in major trouble. Aguero put them to the sword just after the half hour mark. He didn’t do it alone, he had help from a former Blue. The Argentine was fed through by Kevin de Bruyne, a man who should have been playing for Chelsea, not against them.

The Belgian was part of a slick City midfield who devastated Chelsea with counter-attacks. Hiddink’s side looked disorganised at the back, and they were wide open when City came charging towards goal. In the second half some neat interplay between City’s attacking midfielders saw Nasri in space, before playing Aguero in for his second goal.

Chelsea looked very much like a mid-table side who were off the pace. If you walked into this game with no background knowledge, you’d struggle to believe there were any title winners in their side. While they may not have any trophies to challenge for, there are things which should motivate the Blues. Putting right their awful season and impressing their incoming manager hasn’t seemed to have crossed the players’ minds.

The final blow was dealt by Aguero from the penalty spot. Courtois tripped Fernandinho, and received a straight red. Asmir Begovic replaced John Obi Mikel, but the Bosnian keeper couldn’t do anything to stop the penalty.

If that result wasn’t bad enough, the Blues are now without their first choice keeper for the next two games. This has been an awful season for Courtois, as well as the rest of the team. While there doesn’t seem to be anything than can inspire the squad for these final clashes, at least we know the campaign is almost over.

Swansea 1-0 Chelsea Match Report – 9th April 2016

Chelsea’s unbeaten league run under Guus Hiddink ended in a miserable afternoon at the Liberty Stadium. The Blues had been on a 14 game unbeaten streak, but Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goal gave Swansea a win which confirms their Premier League status. That leaves the champions still 10th, but with next to no chance of pushing for European football. On the bright side, the season is almost over.

Hiddink rang the changes for this clash, with Asmir Begovic stepping up to start in goal. Matt Miazga kept his place in central defence, while Abdul Baba Rahman came into the side at left back. Ruben Loftus-Cheek kept his place in attacking midfield, while Alexandre Pato came in up front in place of Loic Remy. Falcao returned to the bench, with Diego Costa still serving a suspension.

It doesn’t seem like the news has reached the Chelsea players yet, but Antonio Conte was appointed manager of the club this week. The former Juventus coach probably watched this one from behind the sofa, desperately searching for a way out of his contract. If he didn’t know how big his job was going to be, he surely does now.

The problem for the Blues was a lack of motivation from the off. While many will point to Hiddink’s position as a lame duck in the dugout, that can’t be to blame. While he is leaving, he’s always planned to leave since he took the job. The announcement of Conte shouldn’t have that much of an effect. In fact, the team should be pushing to impress the Italian, but they didn’t manage to impress anyone here.

Sigurdsson scored 25 minutes into the first half, beating Begovic with a volley. The defence hardly covered themselves in glory to say the least. From that point on there was little threat from the Blues, as none of the attacking stars produced anything of note. This display was a world away from the 5-0 victory here last season.

After the game, Guus warned his stars that they need to fight for their place. “It is a clean slate, everyone has to fight for his position with the new manager coming in of course,” said Hiddink. “When you play at Chelsea you must always be proud and play with internal motivation. If you play only with external motivation, worrying about material things or your position, you are slipping away.”

With five games to go, there’s still time for the players to take on that advice. Guus may not have a trophy to fight for, but these coming weeks could be huge as the club searches for direction. If he can restore some motivation and organisation ahead of next season, that would be a huge bonus to Conte.

Next up for the Blues is a game at home to Manchester City. After the heavy defeat they suffered at the Etihad, Chelsea need a response. Hopefully City’s midweek European action will hinder them ahead of the game at the Bridge. Would another 5-0 win against their reserve team be too much to ask for?

LCN Man of the Match: Ruben Lofteus-Cheek

Aston Villa 0-4 Chelsea Match Report – 2nd April 2016

Chelsea moved within six points of the top six after crushing bottom of the table Aston Villa 4-0. Goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Alexandre Pato and a brace from Pedro gave the Blues a much needed victory, and it condemned Villa to a seventh consecutive defeat for a second time this season. Can the champions make a late run into the top six in the league?

Guus Hiddink gave a number of fringe players a chance to impress in this game. Both Loftus-Cheek and Kenedy started in advanced midfield positions, while Matt Miazga made his first start at centre-half. Alexandre Pato finally made his first appearance for the club, but only after coming on for the injured Loic Remy after 23 minutes.

Chelsea made the breakthrough not long after Pato’s appearance. Having had the better of the early stages, the Blues were put in front by youngster Loftus-Cheek, who saw a deflected shot give him a first ever Premier League goal. Having been given a start in the number 10 role, the Englishman ran the show.

The visitors doubled their lead just before half time, with Pato getting a goal on his first game in English football. He was given the perfect chance to open his account, when Aly Cissokho hauled the Brazilian down. The forward converted, meaning he’s already got more league goals than Eden Hazard this season.

After a late goal in the first half, the Blues struck very early in the second. Pedro combined with Pato and the Spaniard got a third just seconds into the second period. That completely ended Villa’s interest in the game. They were absolutely woeful, and they let Chelsea run riot here.

The Blues had the scoring wrapped up before the hour mark, with Pedro the man on the scoresheet again. Brad Guzan was at fault for this goal, making this a day to forget for the Villa keeper. The US international palmed Pato’s shot back in to play. Pedro was the first to the ball, and he converted from a tight angle.

Villa’s awful afternoon got even worse with five minutes left, as Alan Hutton received a second yellow card for a bad foul. The 10 men didn’t concede again, but all round it was an awful day for them. There was no response to the sacking of Remi Garde, while the fans were vocal with their anger.

As for Chelsea, they are now just three points behind seventh place. Could they make a late run for a European place? Despite languishing in 10th, they’re currently on the longest unbeaten run in the top flight this season. Should FA Cup results go the right way, then seventh could be enough to secure a spot in the Europa League. The club might not fancy an early summer return, but surely they’d rather be in Europe?

LCN Man of the Match: Ruben Loftus Cheek

Chelsea 2-2 West Ham Match Report – 19th March 2016

Chelsea scored late as they prevented rivals West Ham jumping into the top four. The Blues twice came from behind to get level, but they never looked like winning the game. Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll each put the Hammers ahead, with Cesc Fabregas equalising twice towards the end of each half. The point leaves Chelsea 10th, while West Ham are still battling for the Champions League.

There was no sign of fringe players as Guus Hiddink began the Blues’ long, aimless run in. They were left with nothing to play for after defeat at Everton last weekend in the FA Cup, yet most of the first choice team started. Kenedy was given a game in midfield, while Loic Remy came in for the suspended Diego Costa. Aside from that, and the continued absence of Kurt Zouma, there was nothing fresh about this side.

It could be argued that Hiddink had to start a strong team here, as West Ham winning at the Bridge wouldn’t have gone down well. Especially this Hammers side, one who are on a very good run and potentially could be mixing it with the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona next term. That’s no accident, as the visitors proved their ability pretty early on.

Lanzini got the opener for Slaven Bilic’s men after just over 15 minutes. His fantastic strike from around 25 yards left Thibaut Courtois stumped, and it completely silenced the home support. Jose Mourinho and his team lost away to West Ham earlier in the season, and this game was set to be equally as tough.

It took almost all the time available in the first half for the Blues to get level. Three minutes in to added time at the end of the first period, they finally got an equaliser. Fabregas curled in a free kick to level the score, after Chelsea spent most of the opening 45 second best.

West Ham showed no sign of letting up here, as a win would have seen them jump into the top four. Andy Carroll looked to have put them on course after an hour, but there was more late drama as Hiddink’s men struck back to avoid defeat. This time, Fabregas had the chance to convert from the spot.

Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek went down, appearing to be tripped by Michail Antonio. The decision looked soft, but Fabregas didn’t really care. He scored his sixth goal of the season to put Chelsea back level, as they avoided a first home defeat by West Ham for 14 years.

It isn’t exactly a result to get excited about, but avoiding defeat is a good start for a side who have been in the bottom half most of the season. Hopefully we see a few more changes to the team going forward, introducing some much needed fresh faces.

LCN Man of the Match: Cesc Fabregas

Everton 2-0 Chelsea Match Report – 12th March 2016

Chelsea’s season is now basically over after they crashed out of the FA Cup at Goodison Park. Romelu Lukaku scored twice for the Toffees as the Blues’ last hope of silverware disappeared. Diego Costa saw red when he went head to head with Gareth Barry, which capped off an awful night for Guus Hiddink.

Hiddink made quite a few changes to the line-up which lost to PSG in the Champions League in midweek. Nemanja Matic came back into midfield, Eden Hazard dropped out of the team and the squad after his midweek injury. John Terry returned to the squad, but he was only fit enough for a place on the bench. That saw Branislav Ivanovic retain the captain’s armband.

Coming in to this game, the pressure was on Hiddink to continue the club’s push for silverware. Thibaut Courtois had said the team needed to push for a final, and that wasn’t happening in the Champions League. Their 4-2 aggregate defeat to PSG saw them outthought and outclassed, and this game was a very tough follow up.

It was a crucial game for both clubs, as Everton were also looking at the FA Cup as a way to save their season. The two sides were pretty closed up in the first half, which led to a cagey affair. It wasn’t the best viewing, but at half time you would have called it a good 45 minutes for Chelsea.

Costa missed a decent chance in the second half, as he rounded the goalkeeper and then saw his chance roll past the far post from a tight angle. Chelsea again weren’t anywhere near their best from last season, but they were in this game. They pushed forward but couldn’t find the killer ball to open up this defence.

Lukaku twisted, turned and shrugged off half the Chelsea team in the build up to the opener. The goal was compared to that famous Ricky Villa strike, and it certainly deserved it. The Belgian made his former club play, as he broke the deadlock with 13 minutes left on the clock.

The Belgian found himself in again just five minutes later. He stood on the last man of the Chelsea defence, and found himself in plenty of space. He was put in at a tight angle, but he slid the ball under Courtois, booking Everton a place at Wembley. After that, Costa ended all of Chelsea’s hopes by stupidly getting himself sent off in an altercation with Gareth Barry.

As for Chelsea, they now have nothing to play for this season. Sixth seems beyond them, and the club hardly want to return to the Europa League in July. This season is going to be written off, so hopefully we see a few youngsters get their chance in the remaining games.

These two displays this week show how far the club has fallen. The dip hasn’t just been in quality, but in ambition. After the game the manager of the Premier League champions said that making a cup final would have been good, but he’s happy the club are out of relegation danger. That alone should make Blues fans angry. Even worse, it may be a while before those standards are raised.