Strengths and Shortcomings from Everton v Chelsea

Chelsea kicked off their 2022/23 Premier League campaign on Saturday with a trip up to Merseyside to face last season’s survival specialists Everton. Chelsea have been busy in the transfer window already, securing three lucrative signings with Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Marc Cucurella coming through the doors at Stamford Bridge. Thomas Tuchel has also hinted that they are not finished with their business, and are looking at more players to sign the dotted line. And so with the start of a new season, and Chelsea officially underway in the new campaign, I’m going to give my not-so-expert opinion on how we fared against the Toffees.

Credit: iNews

Strength:

Our back three.

New signing Koulibaly was alongside veterans Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta, and immediately settled into his new role. The Senegalese international looked immensely comfortable in the Chelsea backline, winning challenges, interceptions and headers, whilst finishing the game with 88% passing accuracy. Kali was superb in his Chelsea debut, and his future certainly looks bright.

Not only was KK immense, I thought Captain Azpi was impressive too. With 90% pass accuracy, four tackles and one interception, the reliable Spaniard looked great in his first match since penning a new two-year deal at the club.

But the real strength was Thiago Silva. The man is ageing like a fine wine and is easily playing the best football of his career. Not only is his footballing ability something to be impressed with, but the fact that he turns 38 next month really takes it for me. He has been outstanding since his move to Stamford Bridge, and Saturday’s performance proves he is by no means ready to slow down. Four clearances, one blocked shot, three interceptions and one tackle, along with the Man of the Match trophy secures a definitive strength for Thiago Silva.

Credit: Football.London

Shortcoming:

Our attacking play.

Chelsea lacked a threatening end product for a lot of last season, and unfortunately it carried over to Saturday’s game. With 15 shots, and just six on target, the Blues looked lethargic and uncreative all game. There was glimpses of magic from Sterling on his debut, but the Englishman struggled to turn anything into a clear cut chance. The same goes for Mason Mount, who only managed one shot on target. Kai Havertz was also well off the tempo, and was struggling against Everton right back Nathan Patterson.

Chelsea also had 16 corners to Everton’s four, yet made very few of them count. It looked as if Chelsea just had no real game plan, along with Everton playing very defensive, with Gordon and Gray waiting for the counter opportunity. Abdoulaye Doucoure forced Mendy into a fantastic save, which was Everton’s best chance at an equaliser.

Despite the penalty, Chelsea just created very little, and this will need to change in order to get anything against Spurs next weekend.

Strength:

Reece James.

I thought Reece was brilliant, with the right back successfully suring up Chelsea’s defence. Not only that, but his attacking play just gets better and better. Despite the corners frequently hitting the first man, I thought Reece barely put a foot wrong. RJ’s crosses are deadly, and with the right man on the end of them, we could score some serious goals. The problem is our attackers rarely give him the opportunity to whip those crosses in.

Three clearances, one interception, one tackle, and 92% pass accuracy helps prove my point that the wing-back had a great game. If only we had someone who could get on the end of the crosses, we would be laughing.

Shortcoming:

Generally an underwhelming performance.

Despite the victory, Chelsea just seemed off the pace on Saturday, with the aforementioned lack of creativity, as well as a lack of flair and determination. The Toffees failed to force Chelsea into any mistakes, and this made the Blues secure the victory with ease, but with a huge lack of effort. Performances of this standard will get us by against the weaker sides in the league, but when we come against the other big six teams, we could be in for a painful season. I said it in the TCS season predictions that will be out on the site soon that I think we might struggle this season, but hopefully I’m proven wrong.

Chelsea V Southampton: EFL Cup Match Preview

Chelsea’s second Carabao cup outing of the season awaits them tonight, with a match against Southampton on the horizon. Following a 7-0 routing at the Bridge on Saturday morning, the Blues now turn their attention to the League cup, a trophy of which they have been hunting for a number of years now. Chelsea’s last League cup triumph came in 2014/15, the same year they won the Premier League. Chelsea have made the League cup final eight times, winning on five occasions.

Southampton on the other hand are yet to achieve glory in the EFL Cup as of yet. The Saint’s came agonisingly close against Manchester United in 2017, but glory was stolen from their grasp by an 87th minute winner from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ralph Hasenhüttl will hope to try and edge past the current Premier League leaders this evening, but their task at hand is a might one, with Chelsea in venomous form.

Speaking of which, lets talk about Saturday, shall we? A truly stellarperformance from Chelsea, scoring seven goals, which was generous considering we finished the game with 13 shots on target. Tim Krul actually saved Norwich from even more embarrassment, which is hard to believe. Not only were the seven goals impressive, but all around the pitch, Chelsea expressed themselves like champions. Let’s hope fortunes can be repeated this evening.

Team news and updates:

It is likely that we see some rotation throughout the team tonight, with the regular starters earning a rest following four successive victories. Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner are definitely out, with Christian Pulisic also set to miss the game. The rest of the squad is fully fit, and changes will be expected from Tuchel

“There will be some changes, how much I don’t know yet.

Sometimes you can never be fully sure, do you interrupt a good flow, is it better to keep everybody in there and playing to keep the momentum going or is it the moment to give some players a rest?”

Thomas Tuchel via chelseafc.com

As per Football London, we also understand Harvey Vale trained with the first team yesterday and there is a good chance he could be with the squad tonight.

Predicted Lineup:

This is going to be a longshot, but I’ll give it a go anyway.

Arrizabalaga

Chalobah, Christensen, Sarr

Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso

Mount, Loftus Cheek, Barkley

I think the front three here would be rotational, with all three players swapping roles throughout the game. I think Barkley was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet against Norwich, and could have added to the scoreline with more sharpness, and a start upfront tonight could very much improve the parts of his game that are rusty.

Kovacic was quietly exceptional on Saturday, running the show from the middle of the park, so he keeps his place for me. Kepa between the sticks just works in the cup, so I’m more than happy to gve Mendy a well earned rest tonight. Hat trick hero Mason Mount also has so start for me.

Players to watch:

Ruben Loftus Cheek: It’s that man again. Maybe it’s my own personal bias, or the fact that I adore watching this man play football. But surely I’m not the only one, right? RLC has been immense this season, and every time he is called upon he shines. I think 90 minutes is certain for Ruben this evening, and I expect him to grab a goal or an assist too. He unselfishly slotted Mount in for his hat trick on Saturday, and I think this is the perfect chance for Thomas Tuchel to see what he is really about.

Tino Livramento: Tino has enjoyed his start to his Saints career, and has looked like a player way older than he is. The full back looks like he has years of experience behind him, and has been Southampton’s star man in recent weeks. He also grabbed himself a goal at the weekend against Burnley, and the 18-year-old will be aiming to catch Thomas Tuchel’s eyes, as the player has a buyback clause in his contract that could see him return to Chelsea in the future.

Score Prediction:

Chelsea 3-1 Southampton

Loftus Cheek, Barkley, Azpilicueta

Armstrong

Written by @mashgreaves 

Chelsea V FF Malmo: UCL Match Preview:

Chelsea are back under the Stamford Bridge lights for their 3rd Champions League night of the season. Mixed fortunes have come to the Blues with one win and one loss in the campaign thus far. A 1-0 victory over Zenit, and a 1-0 defeat to Juventus leave Chelsea currently 2nd in Group H. The reigning champions need to secure three points tonight to boost their chances of topping the group. Eyes will also be fixated on the Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg with group toppers Juventus away to the Russian giants.

Swedish side Malmo stand in Chelsea’s way this evening, with the visitors looking to secure not only their first points of the campaign, but also their first goal. Malmo have the joint worst goal difference with -7, level with Besiktas who have played one more game than the Allsvenskan league leaders. Chelsea last faced Malmo in their 2018/19 Europa League winning season, breezing past the Swedish side 5-1 across both legs. Thomas Tuchel will look to ensure theses fortunes can be repeated this evening.

The current holders are back to winning ways, securing victory in their last two games. Before that, however, Chelsea lost two consecutive games for just the second time under Tuchel, but the Blues will put that deep in their rear view mirrors, and look ahead to tonight’s game. Despite the pride of London being clear favourites, there is still a vastly important task ahead, and Chelsea need a convincing victory to pressurise the group leaders.

Team news and updates:

Chelsea team news is pretty straight forward for this evening, with Tuchel revealing that Christian Pulisic is the only absentee from the squad. As frustrating as it is to see Pulisic still not back to fitness, it is however a refreshing sight to see everyone else available for the clash.

Reece James was the media man ahead of the Champions League fixture, with the right back claiming tonight is a good opportunity to start rebuilding some momentum.

‘Tomorrow is a Champions League game, and the Champions League is a tough competition in football. Anything can happen, so we still need to prepare right. It’s not going to be an easy game, they’re a good side. Hopefully we can get the win and start building momentum.’

Reece James via chelseafc.com

It is also great news to know that Antonio Rudiger is back from injury, as the German centre half has proved to be pivotal for Chelsea since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival at Stamford Bridge.

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy

James, Christensen, Rudiger, Chilwell

Loftus-Cheek, Kante, Jorginho

Hudson-Odoi, Lukaku, Werner

I’ve gone for a four at the back for this tie as I expect Tuchel will want to give players like Chalobah, Sarr and Azpilicueta a rest after a stellar job against Brentford on Saturday. Loftus Cheek keeps his place as I believe he has been the standout of the last few weeks, with electric performances every time he has been called upon. Hudson Odoi gets in the side for me as I think this is the perfect game to put him in and try and improve his confidence. This also goes for Werner, who has been in good form recently.

Players to watch:

Ruben Loftus Cheek: As aforementioned, RLC has been nothing short of phenomenal since his return to the Bridge this season. Ruben is showing glimpses of his sheer quality that us Chelsea fans know he possesses, and is showing no signs of slowing down. A start against Malmo tonight could be perfect for the Englishman who could seriously run the show tonight.

Antonio Colak: Malmo’s number 9 has put up some serious numbers in his respective league this season, with 11 goals and four assists to his name. Malmo will hope that Colak can provide a threat to Chelsea’s defence this evening, but the Croatian will have to produce something special to beat the inform Edouard Mendy, who put up a display for the ages on Saturday against Brentford.

Score Prediction:

Chelsea 3-0 Malmo

Lukaku, Hudson Odoi, Werner

Written by @mashgreaves

Juventus V Chelsea: Champions League Match Preview

The reigning Champions of Europe are back in action in Europe’s biggest competition. Off-pace Juventus stand in their way, as an away night in Turin awaits the Blues. Chelsea’s last UCL outing saw the defending champions see off a fierce Zenit side who were unbeaten since March. Zenit’s press was no match for a solid defence, and Romelu Lukaku’s 69th minute header gave the Blues the all important three points. Tonight’s opponents rattled Malmo FF by three goals to nil, with ex-Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata on the score sheet.

Chelsea’s former number 9 will be unavailable for tonight’s fixture due to a muscle injury. Juve’s other main threat Paulo Dybala will also miss the fixture, suffering a thigh injury after putting his side 1-0 up against Sampdoria. This will limit Juve’s attacking threat, with the side already struggling in the league since losing Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. The Italian side currently sit 8th in Serie A, despite winning their last two games.

Chelsea, on the other hand, are sitting pretty in 3rd in the Premier League, despite their first loss of the season on Saturday against Manchester City. Thomas Tuchel will hope his side can bounce back from a lacklustre showing at the weekend. Chelsea were dramatically off the pace against City, with little to no attacking threat which gave Ederson the day off. Chelsea’s last outing against Juventus saw the Italian side run out 3-0 victors in November of 2012. Hopefully Chelsea can provide a better defence of their trophy this time around.

Team news and updates:

Chelsea’s squad is being struck with injuries and illnesses across the board, with Reece James, Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and N’Golo Kante all ruled out of action for this evening. Reece was substituted in the first half against City, with Tuchel stating “[It] will come down to pain management”, revealing we could miss James for another week. Last year’s Player of the Season Mason Mount is still nursing the knock he suffered against Villa in the Carabao Cup.

N’Golo has tested positive for Covid, which will impact the squad heavily, as we saw just how pivotal NG was in the UCL last season. Kante’s absence could provide a huge opportunity for Ruben Loftus Cheek, who’s cameo on Saturday was 76 minutes too short, with the Englishman giving Chelsea the bright spark they were seeking against City.

‘Obviously, tactically they are really strong. They know how to defend their box because they are very organised, Juventus is a big club and they’ve been there for many years.

‘We need to try to break them with speed, energy, and we know it’s going to be difficult. We respect them, but we’re going there to win.’

Jorginho on how to approach the game against Juventus via Chelseafc.com

Confirmed Lineup:

Mendy

Christensen, Silva, Rudiger

Azpilicueta (C), Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso

Ziyech, Lukaku, Havertz

Lukaku will be required to force Juventus mistakes, and will hopefully provide more of an attacking threat, as Chelsea failed to register a shot on target on Saturday for the first time since 2019. RL worked well with Werner, but City’s defence had everything covered. This time around we see the big man alongside Havertz and Ziyech so it will be interesting to see how that pans out.

Players to watch:

Ruben Loftus Cheek: Even though Ruben doesn’t make start, I do still think he will see a cameo from him in some shape or form, and I for one am extremely excited about that. RLC completely upped our tempo on Saturday, and despite the loss, looked like he improved the side drastically. With Kante being unavailable and Saul struggling to take off in blue, I think this could be Ruben’s time to shine.

Manuel Locatelli: Locatelli scored against Sampdoria at the weekend, and will be looking to continue this form against Chelsea. Since his move to Turin, the World Cup winner has looked impressive in parts, but can still go up a level. He will be hoping he can do it this evening against the reigning European Champions.

Score Prediction:

Juventus 0-2 Chelsea

Lukaku, Jorginho

Written by @mashgreaves

Chelsea v Man City – Match Preview

Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea: 2021 Champions League final – as it happened |  Football | The Guardian
The last time we faced Manchester City…… (Image credit: The Guardian)

The Battle of the Blues commences at Stamford Bridge today, with Chelsea’s first early kick off of the season. Both sides have started well this season, with Chelsea still unbeaten in all competitions, dropping points in just one of five league games. Last time out at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were held to penalties against Aston Villa, with Reece James securing the victory for the Blues. An honourable mention goes out to Kepa Arrizabalaga, breaking the record for the most penalty shootout saves in Chelsea history, with seven. Kepa has been excellent when called upon since Tuchel arrived, and that is testament to his maturity.

Onto the Citizens, last time out in the league, the Sky Blues were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Southampton which shocked City fans as they thought it was three points in the bag. City have had mixed fortunes, with two 5-0 wins this season, as well as the aforementioned bore draw with the Saints, and a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham on the opening weekend. Pep Guardiola will be fixated on getting his side back on track, and a win against Chelsea will put them level on points with the Champions of Europe.

A Chelsea win today will make history as it could be the first time that Pep Guardiola has lost four consecutive games against any club in his career. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed anything there, and Chelsea can get the victory to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Team news and updates:

Thomas Tuchel has provided us with two updates regarding missing players. Mason Mount will join Christian Pulisic on the side lines following a knock he picked up against Villa on Wednesday. This could be a huge miss for Chelsea, but could also be a good rest for Mason who hasn’t been at his best as of late, something that can be expected following his unbelievable season last season.

Chelsea manager Tuchel confirms Mendy availability for Manchester City  clash | Goal.com
In my opinion, Chelsea’s most important signing since Eden Hazard (Image credit: Goal.com)

Edouard Mendy will, however, take his place back between the sticks following his rib problem suffered against Zenit in the Champions League. It will be great to see Mendy back, as he is such a presence in goal, and was a huge part in keeping Manchester City quiet in Porto.

‘Everyone else [But Mount and Pulisic] is fine and Edouard Mendy is fit from his injury. He is available and will start for us tomorrow.’

Thomas Tuchel via chelseafc.com

Confirmed Lineup:

Image
(Image credit: @ChelseaFC)

Players to watch:

Edouard Mendy: Mendy’s return is a huge plus for Chelsea, as the 29-year-old has been exceptional since he joined the Blues. Mendy has become one of the best goalkeepers in the world of football during the past year, and it is safe to admit that no one expected him to be this good. For that reason, and also on his one year anniversary at the club, he is my Chelsea player to watch.

Jack Grealish: Grealish has been solid since his £100m move from Villa to City, but has still lacked some of what all football fans know he is capable of. Grealish is my Man City player to watch as I’m interested to see how he performs on the massive occasion.

Score Prediction:

Chelsea 2-1 City

Lukaku, James

Grealish

Written by @mashgreaves

Chelsea V Aston Villa: Carabao Cup Match Preview:

Chelsea’s opening league cup game is upon us, and after years of disappointment in the competition, can Chelsea finally change their fortune and go all the way. Granted, the Carabao Cup is not of the greatest importance, and us Chelsea fans know we have our eyes set on something bigger this season. But it’s okay to be greedy, right? Lets have them all.

Aston Villa stand in Chelsea’s way tonight, and a visit to Stamford Bridge is not the ideal start to the cup campaign for the Villians, having lost 3-0 at the Bridge two weeks prior. In the blue corner, however, Chelsea will be hoping to dispatch of Villa and progress to the last 16.

As we all know, form means little to nothing when it comes to the cup. Game plans go out the window, and things change dramatically. But I’m going to talk about it anyway. Chelsea are still unbeaten this season, having only dropped points to Liverpool. Villa are 3/5 in their last five matches, including the aforementioned loss to the Champions of Europe. Chelsea haven’t lost since todays opponents defeated them on the last game of the 2020/21 season.

Team news and Updates:

Early cup games can often be the breakthrough for players who are missing out on frequent minutes in the league. That is, however, when you aren’t up against another Premier League side. This may change Tuchel’s outlook on the game, but with that being said, I still expect to see a lot of rotation this evening.

One man I do think could feature from the first whistle is Timo Werner. Timo looked lively when he came on against Spurs, and even got an assist for Toni Rudiger’s goal. Moments like this are exactly what Timo needs to improve his confidence, and I think tonight’s game could be an excellent chance for him to get some vital minutes under his belt, along with a potential goal that could make all the difference for his confidence.

‘Timo can play with Romelu, that is sure, and he did very well at Tottenham the last 25 to 30 minutes of the match,’ he said. ‘That gave us a clear impression of how dangerous these two can be together.’

Thomas Tuchel via chelseafc.com

Predicted Lineup:

Arrizabalaga

Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger

James, Saul, Barkley, Chilwell

Ziyech, Werner, Hudson-Odoi

With Mendy being confirmed to be unavailable, I think Kepa takes the GK spot this evening. Bettinelli could take it, however, I think we will see a strong Villa side this evening, so to try something so left field wouldn’t be a wise move. I think Barkley is questionable, and Kovacic could start ahead of him, but I would just like to see what Ross could do against the club he spent a season on loan with last year. Players to watch:

Andreas Christensen: AC has been nothing short of exceptional over the past 6-8 months, and his work rate has been tremendous. The ‘Danish Maldini’ has completely turned his career around, and looks more than the player we all hoped he would be. His performances as of late have been outstanding, and I think he has a chance of captaining the side this evening. AC has just been so good, and I can see another standout performance over the horizon.

Danny Ings: Ings grabbed an assist at the weekend against Everton in Villa’s 3-0 romping of the Toffees, and has had a solid start to the season at his new club. Villa’s tactical style suits Ings very well, and given the chance, I think he could cause some trouble for Chelsea’s GK this evening. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Score Prediction:

Chelsea 3-1 Villa

Werner, Ziyech, Barkley

Ings

Written by @mashgreaves

Chelsea v Zenit St Petersburg – Match Preview:

The reigning Champions of Europe are set to embark on their new Champions League campaign with a group stage fixture against Zenit St Petersburg. A stat which surprised me was that Chelsea have never faced Zenit in competitive action, but the last time Chelsea faced a Russian opponent in the Champions League, we went on to win the whole thing (I can’t rinse that enough).

Chelsea head into the game with serious momentum after four league games, sitting pretty in 2nd, level on points with Manchester United. Our opponents, however, happen to be on a 20 game unbeaten streak, dating back to March. Despite being the favourites for the game, Chelsea have a huge task at hand to put this tremendous run to a stop.

The opening game of the Champions League group stage can always be tricky, and it is vital that Chelsea get off to a winning start, given our second game being Juventus away on the 29th.

Player news and updates:

Nothing changes from the Villa game, with Tuchel confirming that just N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic will miss the game against Zenit, with Kante still nursing an ankle injury, and Puli still recovering from Covid.

‘We said that we were looking for him [Pulisic] to return after the international break and for him to have that period of 10 days of training and recovery before returning to the pitch. He’s still in a state of recovery and individual training, so he is not ready just yet.’

Thomas Tuchel via Chelseafc.com

As for NG, it looks as if Tuchel is saving him for the London Derby this coming weekend.

‘N’Golo had two training sessions yesterday and trained again today, but the Champions League game comes a bit too early for him. We won’t take the risk with him now at this moment of the season.

‘We have decided to give him another load in training tomorrow, then he will have the day off with the rest of the group and then train with us all on Friday to be ready totally for Tottenham on Sunday.’

Thomas Tuchel via Chelseafc.com

As for the rest of the squad, Tuchel revealed that Loftus-Cheek, Barkley and Maalang Sarr have all travelled and may be seen from the bench.

Predicted Lineup:

Arrizabalaga

Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger

James, Kovacic, Jorginho, Chilwell

Ziyech, Lukaku, Werner

I struggled to leave Mount out of the side, given he was fully rested on Saturday against Villa, however, I can see Hakim and Timo both starting, and I dont expect to see him in the pivot. I do however, expect to see Lukaku keep his place, but I would only give him 60 or so minutes to ensure he stays fit for Tottenham on Sunday. Kepa also makes the cut in place of Mendy.

Players to watch:

Timo Werner: Timo hasn’t featured much this season, and I think this game could suit him very well. Timo has the ability to run in behind defences, and given the lack of pace that Zenit have at the back, this could work very well for Chelsea’s number 11. Timo also has a point to prove to Thomas Tuchel, and will be keen on grabbing a goal or two to increase his chances of starting against Spurs.

Dejan Lovren: Lovren knows what it takes to win the Champions League, as the Croatian secured the big one with Liverpool in 2019. Lovren will have a key battle on his hands with Lukaku, Werner, or whoever starts in the three for Chelsea, so it will be interesting to see how he matches up against the in-form Blues.

Score Prediction:

Chelsea 3-0 Zenit

Werner, Lukaku, Chilwell

Written by @mashgreaves

Chelsea v Aston Villa – Match Preview

After an international break that felt like an eternity, the Blues are finally back in action after appearing in World Cup qualifiers over the past week. Our international blues were up to a lot, with great performances all round. Now, however, our attention turns back to the Premier League, and following our last outing, the boys will need to ensure the momentum continues. Unbeaten in our first three games, Chelsea sit 4th on seven points, with this weekend’s opponents on four points, losing their opening game against newly promoted Watford.

Our last outing didn’t go entirely as planned, with another questionable refereeing performance from Anthony Taylor costing us three points, but then again, grass is green. Reece James will miss the game against Villa following his straight red (yes, it still baffles me after two weeks) card for handball. But not all hope was lost, as we held on for the best part of 70 minutes with 10 men, showing huge signs of improvement defensively.

Now we must look forward towards a Villa side who have lost their main spark, and have struggled to look like the Villa of last season. However, it is still very early, so too much cannot be said about form. Saying that, Chelsea’s unbeaten start will be sure to provide a confidence boost to the Blues, as they look to achieve their 600th Premier League victory, second only to Manchester United.

Team news and updates:

Thomas Tuchel has provided injury updates on three of our players, firstly N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic, who the gaffer says will both miss the game this weekend.

‘N’Golo got injured in the Liverpool game and still suffers a little bit. We are trying with N’Golo for Tuesday. This looks pretty good.

‘For Christian unfortunately he came yesterday on crutches. He has an ankle injury [that will rule him out] for about 10 days.’

Thomas Tuchel via Chelseafc.com

Kante is a huge miss for Chelsea as both Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic played a lot of minutes during the international break for their respected nations, meaning both players may be suffering with fatigue, with an increased chance of injury. This does, however, mean we may see new signing Saul Niquez make his Chelsea debut alongside one of the aforementioned players.

Tuchel also gave an update regarding Romelu Lukaku’s thigh injury.

‘Maybe he had some problems but he came back two days ago, he trained yesterday and today full, no problems at all.’

Thomas Tuchel via Chelseafc.com

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy,

Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger

Azpilicueta, Saul, Jorginho, Alonso

Havertz, Lukaku, Mount

Given James’ suspension, it was difficult to decide on Azpi or Hudson-Odoi at RWB, but given CHO’s lack of game time so far this season, I think it is likely we see Azpi take the spot. I’ve gone for Alonso over Chilwell because I don’t think Marcos has done anything to warrant being dropped, as he’s had a solid start to the campaign. I’m curious to see how a Saul and J5 pivot would work, but given the Kante injury, I feel this is one of the few options we do have for the two CM spots. And finally, the usual front three because these three create magic together, as we have seen in recent weeks.

Players to watch:

Saul Niguez: There is one player that I believe will be at the forefront of everyone’s attention in Stamford Bridge this weekend, and that is new signing Saul. Chelsea fans will be eager to see how the Spaniard gets on in his potential first game for the Blues. Tuchel has said he has been training well, and by the loos of the training videos, he seems to have settled in already.

Danny Ings: Ings has been electric since his move from Southampton, and the Goal of the Month winner will be sure to provide problems for Chelsea’s back three. The England international has proved his worth over the past few years, and is rewarding Villa fans every time he steps on the pitch. Chelsea will have their hands full dealing with him.

Score Prediction:

Chelsea 3-1 Villa.

Havertz, Lukaku, Jorginho

Ings

Written by @mashgreaves

Arsenal V Chelsea: Match Preview

Chelsea are set to make their second Premier League outing of the season, as they travel just over 10 miles across the capital to face their bitter neighbours in Arsenal. Chelsea carry the momentum following their 3-0 triumph over Crystal Palace last weekend. Arsenal, on the other hand, had a very disappointing start to the campaign, losing to newly promoted Brentford.

Arsenal have won three of the last five meetings against Chelsea, with the Blues winning just one. Thomas Tuchel and his men will be looking to catch Mikel Arteta off guard and secure a second win of the season, but knowing our luck, Arteta will remember everything Pep Guardiola ever told him, just for one game.

As it is still very early days, so it’s a tough one to predict, but Chelsea being eight games unbeaten, including a victory over the Gunners in pre-season, gives the Blues the edge for today’s game. An all round excellent performance against Crystal Palace will provide a huge boost to the players, and should be enough to get us over the line.

Team news and updates:

The gaffer has provided us with updates regarding who and what to expect at The Emirates. Tuchel has revealed that Christian Pulisic will not be in the squad after testing positive for Covid-19 earlier this week. As for the other boys, we may see N’Golo Kante, and either Hakim Ziyech as both stars have been training with no issues.

‘Hakim and N’Golo were both in training today and they had no problems. We need to have a more intense session tomorrow with them and the team before we decide but right now it seems positive that both can be in the squad for Sunday.’

Tuchel via chelseafc.com

There is also a chance that Romelu Lukaku could make an appearance, after the Belgian has been involved in an intensive training regime all week.

‘We have one more training session to go but the week was a heavy load for him because he was in the group with the late starters from our guys so it was an overload week so far.

‘Today [Friday] was lower intensity and tomorrow we have important training for the match but we are hoping he will be on the pitch for Sunday and things look like it.’

Tuchel via chelseafc.com

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy

Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger

James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso

Mount, Lukaku, Werner

I’ve taken a punt at Rom starting as the Belgian has trained well this week, and there is no better way to reintroduce him to the Chelsea faithful than a start against our bitter rivals. As for Werner, I solely just want him to prove the ‘fan’ who heckled at the open training this week wrong. I fancy Timo to score on Sunday. Jorginho wears the armband for me after what has been a stellar few months in his career, topped off with a UEFA Mens Player of the Year award nomination, alongside NG. Trev also makes the lineup after an incredible past two games for the youngster.

Players to watch:

Romelu Lukaku: Who else? If Lukaku does feature, everyone’s eyes will be fixated on the big man, and I don’t think I need to say much more.

Emile Smith Rowe: ESR impressed me against Brentford, and was the only Arsenal player that did, for that matter. We know this guy has talent in abundance, and I feel he could create a few problems for Chelsea. I hope I’m wrong, however.

Score prediction:

2-0 Chelsea, goals from Lukaku and Werner.

Written by @mashgreaves

Chelsea V Crystal Palace: Match Preview

Well. Here we go again. Chelsea’s 2021/22 Premier League campaign is finally beginning, and after what seems like a lot longer than just two and a half months, we get to see our Blues back in action in the top flight of English football.

Thomas Tuchel’s men host a reinvented Crystal Palace side managed by Patrick Viera, with the Frenchman hoping to turn over a new leaf at Selhurst Park following the last few underwhelming seasons. Chelsea have some momentum on their side, after winning three out of four pre-season games, and drawing one with London rivals Tottenham. Not only that, but the last two times the Blues played in a competitive match, they won two European trophies. Not bad.

The Eagles also head into the game having won four out of six pre-season matches, as Viera has begun to lay the foundations at his new club. Viera has added some serious talent to his side, with the signings of Michael Olise, Joachim Andersen, as well as Marc Guehi from Chelsea themselves. Not only that, but Conor Gallagher will spend the season on loan at Selhurst Park, although will not be in contention for today’s opener. Add these players to an already stacked team of Wilfred Zaha, Eberechi Eze and Christian Benteke, Palace could make a serious charge for a top half finish come May next year.

That being said, I have to talk about Wednesday’s Super Cup triumph in Belfast. A huge goal from Hakim Ziyech put the Blues one in front, but the pace seemed to disintegrate as the game went on. Chelsea looked poor going forward, and were frequently pegged back by the Villarreal press. Gerard Moreno equalised and took the game to extra time, with Chelsea running out eventual winners after penalties, with Kepa Arrizabalaga being the hero in Ireland. This, I feel, will provide Chelsea with a cutting edge over Crystal Palace, but I still think we need to improve in the final third, as we found out far too often last season, that one goal is just not enough.

Team news and updates:

Thomas Tuchel has provided us with updates regarding Hakim Ziyech and N’Golo Kante, with everyone else seeming to be fit for match day. Firstly, Ziyech will not play against Palace, as the winger suffered a shoulder injury which saw him require a sling on Wednesday night.

We don’t need to consider surgery, which is very good news and we hope he can be back on the pitch in the next few weeks.

As for NG, the Frenchman picked up a small knock against Villarreal which may see him miss out today, with Tuchel stating that Kante will be assessed before the opening fixture. Playing 120 minutes, plus a penalty shootout was arguably the worst way we could finish our pre-season, but the players went through all the emotions on Wednesday night, and I think that it will have provided a real boost psychologically to win the game in the fashion of which we did.

“We have some issues with Kante from the final. We need to sort this out and we will see how he is before we select our team.

Predicted Lineup:

Formation: 3-4-3

Mendy

Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Rudiger

James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Chilwell

Mount, Havertz, Werner

Mason struggled to make a huge impact when coming on from the bench in Belfast, but I firmly believe he is our best player, and is an absolute must in the starting 11. Jorginho was once again phenomenal against Villarreal, and is currently in the form of his life. Kovacic will sport his new number 8 shirt, so the Croatian has big shoes to fill (Of course I’m talking about Barkley, who else wore the 8 at Chelsea?) As for the defence, Trevoh Chalobah was outstanding against Villarreal, and for that reason alone I think he deserves a chance to start against Palace.

Players to watch:

Trevoh Chalobah – As aforementioned, Trev was electric in Belfast, and looked so comfortable in the back three. To step up to the big stage like that with so little preparation tells you everything you need to know about the 22-year-old. Place him alongside an absolute veteran in Azpi, and a mad man in Rudiger, and I really believe he will thrive.

Marc Guehi – The ex Chelsea player will firmly have my eyes fixed on him, following a disappointing exit. I really thought Marc could be a star at Chelsea, but I now want to see him succeed at Selhurst Park. Guehi is an exciting defender, and at just 21-years-old, possesses power and agility like no other. It will be very interesting to see how he fairs against his former team mates.

Written by @mashgreaves

Chelsea V Villarreal – UEFA Super Cup Match Preview

Been a while, hasn’t it? After what feels like an eternity, Chelsea are back in competitive action, and boy are we back with a bang. Following the Champions League triumph in May (yes, it really was over two months ago when we finally lifted the biggest prize in club football again), the Blues take centre stage once again, and this time, we face the Europa League champions with a trophy that has eluded the Blues on the last three occasions on the line.

Chelsea were bulldozed 4-1 by Atletico Madrid in 2012, and one year later lost to Bayern Munich on penalties, as the German giants got their revenge after Chelsea beat them in their own backyard (yes, I just had to) one year prior to claim their first ever Champions League trophy. Fast forward to 2019, and the SW6 once again lost on penalties, this time to then Champions of Europe, Liverpool. However, as the famous saying goes, the thir… I mean, fourth times a charm, and surely this time, Chelsea can finally secure the Super Cup for the first time since 1998.

The Champions of Europe (I may rinse that over the coming season, and you can do nothing about it), take to Belfast for what is sure to be a real ding-dong battle with Villarreal, who under no circumstances may be underestimated. Just ask our Mancunian “friends”. But in all seriousness, Chelsea must win this game to give them the most momentum they can get going into the opening league game with Crystal Palace. The Blues have already been in good form throughout preseason, beating Peterborough, Bournemouth, Arsenal, and drawing with Tottenham. Victory in Belfast would be the icing on the cake, and will also be a good demonstration for Thomas Tuchel, to see how up for the season his players are.

Team news and updates:

As far as team news goes, everyone is available for the match. Tuchel gave an update regarding players who returned late following international duties, such as Mason Mount and Jorginho, with the gaffer saying that eight days in training is not the ideal amount of time for the players to then jump straight into a European final like this.

With that being said, I do expect Jorge and Mason will be in contention for a start, as the two were among the very best last season. To predict a line up for this game would just be far too difficult, as only Tuchel knows how his players have been during pre-season and training. But we’re going to do one anyway.

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell, Mount, Werner, Havertz.

Thiago just misses out for me due to his lack of training and minutes during pre-season. As for J5 and Mason, the duo make my eleven due to their sheer importance to our side. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pulisic, Kovacic or Ziyech start however, after the Moroccan netted five times during pre-season.

Players to watch:

Kai Havertz: King Kai. The man who secured us our second Champions League trophy will be sure to light Belfast up on Wednesday evening, with the German international impressing at the Euros as well as carrying his late season form into pre-season. Havertz will be looking to pick up where he left off in royal blue.

Gerard Moreno: Moreno will certainly have a point to prove after he struggled to pick up any real momentum during his time with Spain at the Euros. The centre forward had an impressive season in La Liga last year, netting 23 times and grabbing seven assists in 33 games. The 29-year-old will hope that last seasons numbers can be replicated this year, starting with the Super Cup.

Written by @mashgreaves

Champions League Final: Match Preview:

As the 2020/21 season reaches finally it’s crescendo, Thomas Tuchel’s Blue army face one last hurdle. And this isn’t any old hurdle. It just happens to be the biggest game in almost a decade for the SW6. If you’d have told me in August that I’d be writing the Chelsea preview for the Champions League final, I’d have thought you were insane. But here we are. It’s really happening. Chelsea. Manchester City. There can only be one winner. 

The stature of this game is extraordinary, so the boys at The Chelsea Spot have decided to try something different for this preview. Myself, and some of the lads will give our own thoughts on the game, as well as some key information that will tell you all you need to know about the final. 

Mash Greaves: 

Chelsea have suffered a troublesome run of form as of late, which already sprinkles some doubt on our chances. A poor result against Arsenal, followed by a heart breaking loss against Leicester in the FA Cup final really stumbled the Blues. Two days later, we defeated Leicester in the league, only to lose once more against Aston Villa on the final day of the season. This has really come at the worst possible time for Chelsea, as the momentum is running thin, and we need an extreme amount of focus for Saturday evening. It could be argued that guaranteeing top four last Sunday took the pressure off for this weekend, but for me, we have to ignore everything that has happened thus far this season. Saturday is a completely different game. 

In absolute fairness, Man City aren’t in the best position form wise as they could be, either. Pep Guardiola’s side have conceded eight in their last four games, but managed to demolish Everton 5-0 on the last day of the season. Saturday’s result is definitely up in the air, and it will only come down to who has the most bottle. 

Player news and updates:

Thomas Tuchel has revealed his 25 man squad who have travelled to Porto, and Blues fans will be ecstatic to hear that both N’Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy have travelled. The aforementioned players suffered injuries in the last two league games, but Tuchel has seen improvement in both players since then, and is hopeful the duo can start. 

Mendy will be vital in Chelsea’s chances to secure the victory, with the Senegal international being one of the signings of the season this year. And as for NG, well, you know the story. 

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy, James, Silva, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell, Mount, Pulisic, Werner

Players to watch:

Mason Mount: Mason has been a standout this season, not just for Chelsea, but in the Premier League in general. Mase has shown signs of leadership, quality and sheer talent, you would think he’s 28. The Englishman has shown up on the big stage already this season, with pivotal goals at Porto and Real Madrid, that got us to the final. Mount will be sure to have all eyes on him.

Phil Foden: Foden is another player much like Mount, with absolutely no ceiling, and talent in abundance. The show-down between the two Englishmen will be sure to light sparks on the pitch, and with Foden being instrumental in City’s Premier League triumph, be sure to keep your eyes on the ‘Stockport Iniesta’.

Paree:

Predicted Lineup: 

Mendy, Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell, Mount, Havertz, Werner 

The player to look out for City is Dias in my opinion. If we can manage to trouble him and get him showing his weaknesses which he does have despite an incredible season, we have a real chance. The key player for Chelsea is actually….Jorginho. I genuinely think the game will be won in the midfield, and he’s going to need to turn up if he does play after some pretty poor performances (same applies for Kovacic too). 

The thoughts of Mason Mount, Reece James, Thiago Silva, and a whole bunch of others lifting the Champions League trophy is just too much for me right now. I am desperate for this trophy. It’s going to hurt big time if we lose, especially after the FA Cup Final, but I have faith in the boys and Tuchel to come up with something special, just like 2012. 

Dan Barker:

Predicted Lineup: 

Mendy, James, Silva, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell, Mount, Werner, Havertz

Chelsea have done incredibly well to reach the final of this season’s UCL, however I think they will fall just short at the final hurdle. Tuchel’s side have had stuttering form in the league over recent weeks, as well as the FA cup disappointment against Leicester and I just can’t see them out-scoring Man City. Hopefully I’m proven wrong!

Players to watch:

Mason Mount and Phil Foden take this one again. 

Rob Lawman:

Well, who’d have thought we’d end up here when Lampard was sacked in January?

As is often the way with Chelsea, despite the chaos of a season filled with change and drama, we find ourselves in a position where we could end up with the most coveted prize in Europe. Despite the ups and downs of our domestic form, it’s very difficult to say we don’t deserve to be here. Having topped an all be it, comfortable group, remaining unbeaten and only conceding two goals, we’ve gone on to comfortably beat both Madrid side over two legs and successfully navigate an intense Porto side, flying high after knocking out Juventus.

This isn’t a run like 2012, this wasn’t a back against the wall underdog story, but rather the story of a side that met some of European’s elite head-on and passed by them with relative ease. It’s of course then rather fitting that we come up against the side that is arguably the best in Europe right now. A side that has walked the Premier League and taken some big scalps of their own on the way to Portugal, but having beaten them twice this season, there’s no reason to think we’re in for a hiding.

Tuchel’s side seems tailor-made for these top-level knockout affairs, despite inconsistent league form, the German’s 3-4-2-1 has looked impenetrable in defence and created chances aplenty, even if the conversion rate leaves a lot to be desired. This has also been the case in the most recent meetings of the two sides where Chelsea have been able to limit City’s attacks to scraps, with the exception of a Christensen howler, whilst also looking to get in behind City’s high line at every opportunity.

I don’t see a reason why Tuchel would go into this game any differently. Having beaten Pep’s side twice, it’s on the Spaniard to decide on whether to stick with a formula that has proven so successful, yet not against Chelsea, or risk overthinking with tactical tweaks.

With that said, I think at this point the back 6 pick themselves with Mendy in goal, Chilwell at LWB, Rudi at LCB, Silva in the middle with Reece at RCB and Azpi at RWB, the latter two switching depending on the state of the game. Christensen would be unlucky to miss out, however, the injury and slight dip in form have come at the worst possible time and I wouldn’t risk him in the final.

Given the 5 subs, I think it’s a no brainer that Kante starts this game despite the injury concerns. Tuchel’s comments seem to imply that he’s fit however the extra subs remove the risk that may have previously existed. Partnering with him I’d go for Jorginho. Despite my frustrations in his limitations, he’s stepped up in the big European games and Kovacic‘s recent injury and defensive lapses make him too much of a risk to start this game. As for the front 3, I think pace in behind and in transition will be pivotal to any success we have so I would go with a front 3 of Timo – Havertz – Mount. Mount has proven to be one of Europe’s best at taking the ball in between the lines on the turn converting defence instantly into attack which will be crucial in playing in the two Germans who, despite inconsistent finishing, pose our best goal threats. The intensity and mobility of Mount will also be crucial in shutting down Rodri at the heart of the City midfield. As for Werner, despite his finishing leaving a lot to be desired, it’s impossible to argue that he’s been at the heart of everything we do and poses a unique threat, especially in the channels where City’s full-backs and centre backs are at their weakest.

Michael Nazarian:

Predicted Lineup: 

Mendy, Rudiger, Silva, Azpi, Reece, Chilwell, Kante, Jorginho, Werner, Havertz, Mount

Players to watch: 

City – Foden
Chelsea – Werner 

Expectations: 

A tight game played by Chelsea allowing city to be more aggressive and hold possession, while we try and hit on the break. Chelsea will look to press City’s back line at times to suffocate them in the wide areas or win the ball in the midfield when they look to progress. City won’t be afraid to play balls over the top to someone like Foden, Sterling, Mahrez, etc, but they’ll mix it up with Gundogan and/or Bernardo dropping and drifting. Jorginho and Kante will be key in this regard both to break down City’s progression and be sharp in the build up to evade City’s press. Kova may start. Werner will definitely be used to try and get in behind, Ziyech could definitely start as a result to supply these balls, but I believe Havertz and Mount would be better in transition overall and add more in possession against pressing teams. Finally, Reece could be key here as he was matched up against Ben Mendy in the last matchup and proved to be a menace 1v1 constantly beating his man and providing a threat.

Frankie:

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy, Rudiger, Silva, James, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell, Mount, Werner, Havertz.

I believe Azpilicueta will start as having your captain on the pitch is essential for a game of this magnitude and throwing Christensen straight into a Champions League final as his first game back from injury seems unlikely to me. Whether it is Azpi or Reece James at RCB, they will have an essential job to keeping the abundance of tricky wingers Pep has at his disposal quiet and prevent crosses from coming in. Havertz and Werner have been exceptional as a pair when played together. Having performed outstanding together in the 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge against Real Madrid, they are obviously trusted by Tuchel on the big stage. The German connection between the two could be crucial in this game to get an early lead and not let Man City rest at the back. Ziyech is unlucky to not make the cut for my starting eleven, however bringing such a dangerous asset off the bench could be used to our advantage later on in the game. Ziyech and Pulisic for that matter, could be perfect for a scenario where it is a tight scoreline heading into extra time or the later portion of the match. 

My Key Players: 

Edouard Mendy for me has one of the biggest tasks ahead of him and I’m certain he knows it. His incredible story to success and superb first season in West London culminates in the biggest game in world football. Man City have an unholy amount of shots per game, in just their last game against Everton in the Premier League, they had 21 shots and 11 of those shots were on target. Mendy will have to be on top of his game on Saturday night and a good performance from him in goal could be crucial to securing a second Champions League trophy. 

Kevin De Bruyne could be used in a false nine role or in the attacking midfield role on Saturday night. Guessing a Pep Guardiola lineup is basically pointless as he shifts and changes his teams so frequently. Whoever is set on the task of marking the former Chelsea man will have one of the hardest jobs in world football for possibly 120 minutes. De Bruyne has not played a full ninety minutes in the last two meetings between City and Chelsea. Having a fully fit Kevin De Bruyne could change the game in its entirety and the midfield pairing of Chelsea will have to be ready for a tough night of stopping the Belgian international. 

Predictions For The Game: 

In my opinion, the game will be a tight and cagey affair with both teams attempting to get the tactical edge in the opening stages of the game. Whoever gets the first goal will be in a supreme position for the remainder of the match. In recent matches, we have had trouble breaking down a low block and I really can’t see this being an issue against an attacking side like Manchester City. Also, in a Champions League final with fans from both teams shouting at the top of their lungs, a boring game is out of the question. Their playing style suits us perfectly as we can exploit them on the counter attack with the pace of Werner. Therefore, I am going with 1-0 to the mighty Chelsea and hopefully the team will bring back a second Champions League to West London.

And finally, Danny New:

Predicted Lineup: 

Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kanté, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Werner; Havertz

Players to watch:

Mason Mount and Phil Foden. Thats a hat trick for the England duo. All eyes on them…

A huge game between the two nouveau-riche of the English game. I hope more than anything that Mason makes his mark on this final in a positive way and leads us to a first UCL since 2012 in Drogba-esque fashion. It’ll need to be a dogged performance like against Bayern 9 years ago, Man City have more quality in their line up so it’ll be up to Tuchel to squeeze every drop of talent from the boys in order to help us win. Watch out for Callum Hudson-Odoi from the bench, there’s a general trend when he’s on the pitch for Chelsea: the attack looks much more cohesive and dangerous!

And that’s it from us boys. We’ve done all we can, now, its time for the Blues to do all they can. We’re on our knees boys. Up the Chels.

Written by @mashgreaves and the Chelsea Spot boys. 

Chelsea V Real Madrid: UCL SF Match Preview

The time has come for Thomas Tuchel’s army to potentially book their ticket to Istanbul, with a chance of facing Manchester City in the Champions League final. All that stands in their way is a fierce Real Madrid side who will not go down without a fight. Chelsea are on the brink of their first Champions League final since 2012, and we all know how that one went… (Cue my tears every time I hear the words “they’ve beaten Bayern in their own backyard”).

But the final is a maximum of 120 minutes away, and before we gasp at the thought of reaching the final, we must not look past tonight’s opponents who will do everything in their power to get back in the final after two years without a sniff. Chelsea’s season has almost reached it’s crescendo, and the opportunity to tip Thomas Tuchel’s first six months in charge off with a bang awaits. Chelsea. Real Madrid. The main event.

Last week in Madrid, Chelsea’s fortunes split the fanbase in half. Some were over the moon with a draw. Others felt like we deserved a lot more from the game. I, myself, felt both, along with every other emotion under the sun, and I’m not sure I’m physically or mentally prepared for this evening, but I will certainly be watching through the gaps in my fingers. Chelsea took the lead thanks to a wonderful goal from Christian Pulisic, who’s close control left Thibaut Courtois scrambling (thanks Christian), but multiple missed chances may have cost us coming out of Madrid in a much better position. Nonetheless, we managed to secure an away goal, meaning if the Blue’s can keep a clean sheet tonight, then we are headed to Istanbul to face a spectacular Manchester City side (who we have beaten once this season).

But as I said, we must not get ahead of ourselves. Karim Benzema’s wonderful effort last week has brought the tie back to square one. Chelsea can’t just play for a 0-0 draw, as the Galacticos will be on the accelerator from the blow of the first whistle. We know what we’re capable of, we know we can do it, but focus must remain on tonight’s game, and tonight’s game only.

Player news and updates:

Thomas Tuchel has revealed that just one Blue will be unavailable for the game, and a bitter sweet one at that, as Mateo Kovacic has been ruled out, following his thigh injury in the game against Porto. Tuchel has stated that the game has come too soon to be able to feature Mateo, which may be a blow to the Pride of London.

Tuchel has, however, announced that Antonio Rudiger should be available to play in a protective mask should he require it, as he nurses a facial injury. This is huge for Chelsea, as Tuchel has completely revived Rudiger’s Chelsea career, and has got the German international playing the football us fans desire from him. Everyone else is available for selection, which could provide Chelsea a huge boost.

In the white corner, Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vasquez are expected to be out, but Marcelo’s recent call up for poll duty in Madrid may leave Los Blanco’s thin on the ground. That is, however, if Ferland Mendy is not at 100%, but the full back is expected to return. Sergio Ramos may also make the side, as his injury is looking to be cleared for the second leg.

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy, Christensen, Silva, Rudiger, James, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell, Mount, Pulisic, Havertz.

Kovacic’s absence means the possibility of a Kante and Jorginho midfield two is on the cards. Azpilicueta may start ahead of Reece, but I’m hopeful to see James start, as I believe he can make more of an impact as a wing back. Mount suffered a scare when he left the pitch against Fulham following a harsh landing on his back, but the Player of the Season favourite should be well enough to start the match. I’ve gone with Havertz over Werner as the 21-year-old netted twice against Fulham, which surely puts him in the running for a start.

Players to watch:

N’Golo Kante: NG has time and time again proved the doubters wrong, as the Frenchman continues to improve tirelessly. Kante won the Man of the Match award in the first leg, following an exceptional performance in the middle of the park. I really don’t think there was a blade of grass that man didn’t touch last week. More of that please NG.

Karim Benzema: I couldn’t really go with anyone else, as the Frenchman has been admirable this season. Benzema is quietly going under the radar, which I myself think is absolutely mad, but after his equaliser last week, Benzema will be hungry to grab another this evening.

One more step boys, that’s all it is. A jaw dropping fixture awaits us this evening, lets hope our Blues can get the job done.

Written by @mashgreaves

Chelsea v Porto: UCL Quarter Finals Match Preview

6 days on from an extremely important first leg, Chelsea once again face Porto for a place in the semi finals of the Champions League. Chelsea haven’t step foot in the Champions League semi finals since the 2013/14 season, where they lost to Atletico Madrid. Fast forward seven years, and the Blues repaid the favour to the Spaniards, knocking them out in the round of 16. Chelsea have the advantage, heading into the game with a 2 goal lead on aggregate, thanks to Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell. Thomas Tuchel has got Chelsea fans hoping they can go all the way, but before we get ahead ourselves, lets look at the task at hand. Porto.

Porto have now lost five games out of their last seven against English sides, and a sixth may well be on the cards this evening. Despite the last two Champions League games ending in defeat, the Portuguese giants have only lost two league games all season, and have already knocked out Juventus. Should Porto progress this evening, they will need their biggest performance of the season, as Chelsea have had a tremendous second half to the season, losing just once since Thomas Tuchel took charge in January. The Blues head into the game with great confidence, coming off the back of a dominant 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Tuchel will be hoping he can make it back to back seasons in the semi finals, with last season being in charge of Paris Saint German. Tuchel’s Parisians made it to the final, but were beaten by Bayern Munich.

Chelsea Lineup:

Mendy, Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger, James, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell, Mount, Pulisic, Havertz.

This is huge for Chelsea fans. The same front three that worked so effortlessly at Selhurst Park get the chance to do it once again, but in the Champions League. Mason Mount earned himself the Man of the Match against Crystal Palace, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it again.

Players to watch:

Christian Pulisic: Captain America had an outstanding game against Place, and really looked like the star player we know he can be. I believe he will bring that confidence into tonight’s game, and give Chelsea fans something to cheer for.

Moussa Marega: Marega will have to be on his best form tonight, as Porto have a mountain to climb. But, this may not be too difficult for the Mali international, as he has pace and physicality that could harm Chelsea’s defence.

Written by @mashgreaves

Chelsea v West Brom: Match Preview

After a tedious international break, Chelsea are back in action, as the Blues await a struggling West Brom side, who are fighting for their lives in the top flight. The reverse fixture provided a game that delivered more than expected at the Hawthorns, as the Baggies struck gold as they led Chelsea 3-0 at half time. The Blues dug deep to find their feet in the second half, with goals from Callum Hudson Odoi, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham levelling the game. Despite the surprise earlier in the season, Chelsea are clear favourites coming into this fixture, with Thomas Tuchel’s side now unbeaten in 15. Thomas Tuchel also scooped the Premier League Manager of the Month award for March, following an astonishing opening to his stint as Chelsea boss.

Despite their league position, West Brom are not in woeful form. With just two losses in their last five, and two goals conceded, Sam Allardyce’s side will hope to keep Chelsea on the back foot. The West Midlands side are still a fair way from safety, but a big result at Stamford Bridge could really turn their season around, as time is running out.

Player updates and news:

Thomas Tuchel has revealed that just one Chelsea player will be unable, as N’Golo Kante returned early from international duty, after picking up a slight hamstring injury and trained on his own to relieve the pressure. Other than NG, the rest of the squad is fit, which means I don’t have to deliver any more bad news about Thiago Silva or Tammy Abraham, finally…

Tuchel also stated that everyone trained with high quality, which is great news for Chelsea fans as we get back in business in the league, with some huge games on the horizon.

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Mount, Chilwell, Ziyech, Werner, Abraham.

Despite Thiago finally fit for action, I am doubtful we will see him start, as Porto on Wednesday is an absolute must win game, and we need our best side possible for that encounter.

I also feel Havertz may be in with a chance of starting, but I went with Tammy to lead the line as we haven’t seen him in action in quite some time, and Saturday’s opponents may be the perfect game to ease him back into action.

Timo Werner is confirmed to be starting by Tuchel, as the gaffer insists he will find the net soon, and he also praised his attitude and willingness to improve.

Players to watch:

Timo Werner: I stand with Tuchel in the belief that Werner will hit the heights we all know he is capable of, and I really think West Brom could be the game he does so. After a serious mistake, costing his national team the win against North Macedonia in the week, Werner received a lot of criticism, and I’m adamant he can prove the doubters wrong. If we can feed the ball in front of Timo, giving him the chance to run on to the ball and get in behind the West Brom defence, the German could cause some real problems.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles: The Arsenal loanee will be sure to have his work cut out, but will be motivated to keep West Brom in the Premier League. Maitland-Niles has a vast amount of quality, and will be hopeful to create as many chances as possible. Despite his skill, however, I think the task at hand may be too difficult for the 23-year-old.

Written by @mashgreaves

Chelsea v Sheffield United: Match Preview

As we arrive back home from cloud nine, we once again look forward to the upcoming game, and this time, the opponents are forged in steel, as we face Sheffield United in the FA Cup Quarter Finals. Despite the calamitous season the Blades are having, they are in the Quarter Finals for a reason, and must not be overlooked. Former manager Chris Wilder should have a lot to be proud of, after guiding Sheffield United to this stage of the illustrious FA Cup.

However, judging by performances and current form, the Blues should certainly have the edge in this encounter, as their unbeaten run under Thomas Tuchel is now 13 games long, and does not look to be under any sort of threat, given Chelsea’s upcoming fixtures. But the FA Cup never ceases to disappoint, and will be sure to provide an enticing game in South West London.

Chelsea head into this game coming off the back of an incredible victory against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, so the momentum lies in the hands of Tuchel’s men. Sheffield United on the other hand, have won just once in their last five games, having conceded 10, and scoring just one. The Blades have also lost their last four away fixtures, which doesn’t fill the red and white faithful with much hope. Chelsea haven’t lost at Stamford Bridge since Manchester City defeated the Blues on January 3rd.

Player updates and news:

Finally, my preview will not be bad news for Tammy Abraham, as Thomas Tuchel has revealed that the striker could be in contention for some minutes against the Blades, which would be a perfect game to try and ease Tammy back into action, given the expected slow pace that the opposition will bring.

As expected, Thiago Silva is unavailable for the game, but this isn’t the end of the world, as it would be too risky to play him in a game like this, as he will be very much needed for our two Champions League Quarter Final games against Porto. Thiago covered enough ground on Wednesday night from the stands to earn himself a rest until Porto anyway.

Predicted Lineup:

Kepa, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Gilmour, Emerson, Hudson Odoi, Mount, Giroud.

This one is a bit fantasy, as I would just absolutely love to see Billy start. I’m not overly convinced he will, but we may see him get some minutes in the game. Tuchel has recently stated that it was his own choice not to send Gilmour out on loan, which could mean he sees a quality player in the Scotsman, which wouldn’t be surprising, he is fantastic. If it isn’t Billy, I expect it to be Kovacic.

Players to watch:

Callum Hudson Odoi: This game could be absolutely huge for Cal, who has struggled to hit the ground running in recent weeks. Up against a struggling Sheffield United side, Cal could have a field day if he shows the quality we all know he is capable of. Whether its up against George Baldock or Enda Stevens, Hudson Odoi will have the pace advantage to drive through the United defence and create some real chances for Chelsea.

David McGoldrick: The Irish Ronaldo. McGoldrick just loves scoring against Chelsea, so expect to see him up for it against Chelsea. The Blades will hope they can get the ball to him as quickly as possible, as they will need something special to get through Chelsea’s ever-present defence. Despite the odds not particularly being in Sheffield United’s favour, you can always expect to see McGoldrick pop up with a goal.

Written by @mashgreaves

Chelsea v Atletico Madrid: Match Preview

Atlético Madrid 0-1 Chelsea: Champions League, last-16 first leg – as it  happened | Football | The Guardian
Chelsea celebrate Giroud’s spectacular strike in the first leg (Image credit: The Guardian)

The Champions League is back on our screens, and back in London for Chelsea’s Round of 16 Second Leg against Liga BBVA superstars Atletico Madrid. A special competition with a mammoth amount at stake, and our beloved Blues have the upper hand heading into this encounter.

Chelsea managed to secure the upper hand thanks to a moment of pure magic by Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman took advantage if a miss kick from Mario Hermoso, and guided the ball into the back of the net with a tremendous bicycle kick that stunned almost everyone who saw it.

Heading into the first leg, Atletico had a sudden dip in form that may have tipped the odds in Chelsea’s favour. This time around, Atletico have bounced back, and are unbeaten in their last four games. The Spaniards are also unbeaten in their last six away games, which may persuade Diego Simeone’s men to throw everything at Chelsea.

The form of Chelsea is also admirable, with the South London side now unbeaten in 13 games. Thomas Tuchel has revamped the entire Chelsea squad, which will give the fans a glimmer of hope heading into this tie. The away goal that Chelsea scored in the first leg will also give the Blues a certain edge that may push them through to the next round.

Chelsea press conference live: Thomas Tuchel on Sheffield United win,  Werner and Pulisic's absence - football.london
Chelsea’s new boss making the Blues look a serious threat (Image credit: Football.London)

Player updates and news:

Four Chelsea players will be unavailable for the Round of 16 clash, with Tammy Abraham and Thiago Silva still not fit for action. Tuchel revealed that the side has no fresh injuries, but the aforementioned duo are still nursing their injuries, but should be available for action following the international break.

Jorginho and Mason Mount will also miss the game, after both receiving yellow cards in the reverse fixture, which will act as a colossal blow for the Blues.

As for the visitors, a fully fit squad will be present in London, with all previously injured players returning.

Predicted Lineup:

Champions League: Chelsea without key quartet for Atletico Madrid tie -  Football Espana
Callum Hudson Odoi has a point to prove to Thomas Tuchel (Image credit: Football Espana)

Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, James, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso, Hudson Odoi, Werner, Giroud.

The only thing up for debate here is the front three. We may also see Hakim Ziyech or Christian Pulisic make a start, but Olivier Giroud has to start against Atletico’s strong defence, with the Frenchman securing the upper hand for Chelsea previously.

Players to watch:

Andreas Christensen enjoying Lampard's trust, sees his future at Chelsea -  We Ain't Got No History
Our very own rock at the back (Image credit: We Ain’t Got No History)

Andreas Christensen: A defender this time, which is unusual for me. Andreas has been an absolute rock at the back in recent weeks, and the Dane has been a standout performer in almost every game. The centre half has taken Thiago Silva’s place and has performed way up to standard, with it now becoming even harder to see where Thiago will fit back into the side, which is a brilliant problem to have. Christensen will be essential to this game, and my eyes will certainly be fixed on him.

Joao Felix: The Portuguese international was kept relatively quiet in the first leg, which helped Chelsea out immensely. It is unlikely that lightning will strike twice, however, and Felix will be fixed on helping Atletico progress to the Quarter Finals. Felix will have the speed advantage over the Chelsea backline, which may cause issues for Edouard Mendy. The Blues will hope to keep Felix quiet.

Written by @mashgreaves

Leeds V Chelsea: Match Preview

A special encounter between two of England’s biggest clubs awaits us this Saturday morning. A tie that never disappoints, and is indulged in a rich history, despite the infrequent bouts. This fixture at Elland Road marks just the third time in a decade that the two sides have met, with the previous two both going Chelsea’s way. Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta was part of the Chelsea side that dispatched of Leeds in the 2012 EFL Cup Quarter Finals, helping the Blues win 5-1 at Elland Road. Now, nine years on, he looks likely to captain the side in game week 28 of the Premier League season.

Chelsea certainly look to be the favourites heading into Saturday’s early kick off, with Thomas Tuchel’s men now unbeaten in 12 games, 11 under his reign. The German has got Chelsea looking unstoppable, and the Blues are now pressing even closer to Leicester and Manchester United in 2nd and 3rd. Top four is the ultimate goal for Chelsea this season, but to tip either of the aforementioned sides would be a tremendous achievement for the German manager, who took charge of Chelsea in January. Chelsea have also conceded just two goals under Thomas Tuchel, a stat which the Blues will want to keep alive following the game with Leeds. This shouldn’t be a problem if the London side can keep former Blue, Patrick Bamford at bay.

Leeds on the other hand are not in admirable form, losing four out of their last five games. The Whites sit in 11th place, three points off Arsenal in 10th. Marcelo Bielsa and his men have endured a rollercoaster of a season so far, hitting highs and lows throughout. In the reverse fixture in London, Patrick Bamford put the away side in front inside four minutes, but the pace was matched by Chelsea, who ran out eventual winners, thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud, Kurt Zouma and Christian Pulisic. Despite sitting mid-table, Leeds are currently on an unfathomable run of 18 Premier League games without a draw. Whether a point will suit Leeds or not is disputable, but Chelsea will hope to extend their unbeaten run with yet another victory.

5 Things Learned: Chelsea 3-1 Leeds United | Premier League - Sports  Illustrated Chelsea FC News, Analysis and More
Olivier Giroud pokes home the equaliser against Leeds in December (Image credit: Sports Illustrated)

Player updates and news:

Just two of the Blues are out of contention for the Leeds trip, those being Thiago Silva, who we saw back in the 18 man squad for the first time in over a month on Monday, and Tammy Abraham, who is still struggling with an ankle injury.

“Thiago had a little setback in training at the end of the training session the day before yesterday.” Thomas Tuchel clarified during the press conference (per The 5th Stand).

Thiago Silva’s absence has not affected Chelsea, however, as whoever Tuchel selects as a back three have been fantastic in recent weeks. The man who has replaced Silva in the middle of the three, Andreas Christensen, has completely turned his season around, and has been our star man on a number of occasions.

Abraham’s ankle problem stems from a game around six weeks ago, and his only saving grace may be the fact that since his injury, neither Olivier Giroud or Timo Werner have been able to set sail on the goal scoring tally, meaning Tammy’s place in the side may not be as doubtful as what once was possible.

Predicted Lineup:

Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Hudson Odoi, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso, Mount, Werner, Havertz.

Do you agree with Mash’s predicted lineup?

In the past two previews, I left Havertz out of the XI. In Monday’s game against Everton, he started, and was the star of the show. The young German looked exactly like the player Chelsea signed, and playing at the top of the field looks to have benefitted the former Leverkusen star. Havertz won Chelsea a penalty, and also scored a stunning goal, taking the ball down on his chest and slotting it past Pickford, but the goal was unfortunately ruled out for a handball. The German also had the shot that was deflected in by Ben Godfrey to give Chelsea the lead.

I also had a little debate with myself about Werner or Pulisic, but decided on Werner solely on his pace, as I think the German could light up Elland Road. Pulisic is likely to make an appearance from the bench, however, as Tuchel has revealed the American is still a part of his plans.

Players to watch:

Kai Havertz: Kai set Stamford Bridge alight on Monday against Everton, and as I mentioned earlier, he had a goal stolen from him by a questionable handball decision. Havertz will still be hungry, however, and will be sure to challenge for a goal or two against the struggling Leeds side. Havertz looks a great deal more confident at the front of the lineup, as opposed to in the midfield, where ex Chelsea boss Frank Lampard often played him. Nonetheless, Kai will be sure to put on a show on Saturday.

Raphinha: The Brazilian has been a real star for Leeds this season, following his move from Rennes in the summer. Bielsa will hope Raphinha can show the quality he possesses, and the 25 year old will hope to capitalise on Azpilicueta’s ever-aging legs. If the Brazilian can get the game under his grasp, him and Bamford could create a real problem for Chelsea.

Written by @mashgreaves