2021, Not 2012

With $250 mil spent in the summer Chelsea went into the season looking to close the gap between themselves and Premier League rivals Manchester City and Liverpool. In a global pandemic which forced many clubs to remain cautious in their transfer approach, Abramovich chose to compete or die with various marquee signings for his West London club. Adding onto the youthful arsenal established in a transfer ban season under Frank Lampard, top 4 was the minimum with little room for error. Inevitably, the Chelsea nature of unyielding expectations had it’s way and Frank Lampard was axed after his first poor run of form leaving the squad unsettled with a lack of identity, direction, and passion. Thomas Tuchel was the man appointed by the board to replace Lampard. On one hand it was a questionable decision, with his often described spiky personality seemingly a poor fit for a controlling board like Chelsea, while on the other a sensible appointment to instill a tactical identity for a squad devoid of one.

Compete in all remaining competitions and achieve top 4 – this was the expectation for the ex-PSG manager. With only an 18 month deal offered, Tuchel had little time to prove his worth and acumen to the club, and he seemed to recognize that. He wasted no time and transitioned to the squad into a true defensive stronghold, but in a rather unique way. The concept of “defensive possession” seemed to best describe the system, with a focus on being possession dominant, combined with an emphasis on structure and balance in the team to nullify the attacking prowess of their opponents. Tuchel’s reign started extremely strong, winning many games by starving opponents of not only goals, but opportunities against the defense. Often winning games 1-0 or 2-0, Chelsea slowly became the team no side wanted to face. Ultimately, this became most true in Chelsea’s Champions League cup run.

Having won their group with Frank Lampard at the helm, Chelsea’s first opponent in the round of 16 was Atletico Madrid. The Spanish side were sitting comfortably atop of La Liga at the time of Tuchel’s appointment, and were one of the most in-form teams. With a scheduled date in late February, it seemed highly likely the Blues would have an early exit in the competition in a similar fashion to how things ended in the previous year. In the build-up to the game Chelsea had a favorable run of fixtures – Premier League teams which allowed the squad to get a rhythm in the new system without risking too many points being dropped. The true test came in these later February fixtures, with the matchup against Atletico being immediately followed by Manchester United and Liverpool in the league. Tuchel’s Chelsea passed and performed quite well in these fixtures, with the first game against Atletico relying on a wonder goal by Olivier Giroud, but earning a draw against 2nd place Manchester United, and a dominant performance against Klopp’s Liverpool. This truly kicked off the confidence in the squad and some of the revived players. The belief in the system was clearly present, with players such as Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Jorginho playing what had likely been their best performances for the club. The strength of the squad and its confidence continued to grow and with forcing Atletico to play on the back foot in the 2nd leg, Chelsea were able to capitalize in yet another dominant performance and knockout the Spanish champions in a 2-0 victory. The result was a massive morale booster which showed glimpses of resilience in a youthful and largely inexperienced squad in the distinguished competition.

While taking down Atletico was an exceptional feat, the path forward also provided glimmers of hope to truly go far with PSG, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City, the top 3 favorites, all being drawn on the opposite end of the bracket. This left Chelsea to face Porto in the quarter finals, with potential opponents of either Real Madrid or Liverpool in the semi-final. Once again, overcoming the unexpected obstacles Chelsea faced against Porto, the result was as expected with Chelsea progressing from their 2-0 win in the first leg, being enough after their 1-0 loss in the second on aggregate. Real Madrid was the victor in the other matchup and they were an opponent unlike no other. Filled with world class individual talent, as well as loads of experience and success in this competition, there began to be doubt if Chelsea could truly reach the final. A team composed of many players which had only 1 season of top flight football under their belt, along with numerous big money signings which had been struggling to adapt and stay in-form in their performances. This truly was a different side to the one that had done the unthinkable and taken down one of the strongest sides in Spain, if not all of Europe in 2012 after their struggles throughout the season. There were no established characters, legacies, and accomplishments like in 2012. Characters, leaders, as well as many of the established top players in all of Europe existed in the team. Drogba, Terry, Lampard, Mata, Cole, Cech, Torres, all coexisting in the same squad, many of which are now established legends of the game. Although a similar context and narrative with a midseason change in manager, the chemistry and experience throughout this squad lacked to that of the 2012 team. It seemed like a resilient nature and compete or die attitude was not present in this group of individuals…Or so we thought? 

Instantly in the first match Chelsea looked the more obviously dominant team, showing that a well refined system and unit of role players who worked hard could outperform the individual talent. However, the theme which perpetuated under Tuchel’s reign throughout had been the wasteful nature of the team’s ability to put away the chances they created. Going 1-1 into the second leg, the Blues had a point to prove, and repeated their dominance against this Real Madrid this time winning 2-0 while still being wasteful in their opportunities. This meant Chelsea were in the UCL final for the first time since 2012, and the magical run with it’s overlapping characteristics continued to be likened in nature. 

Throughout Tuchel’s half-season campaign he bested multiple top managers including the likes of Mourinho, Klopp, Simeone, Zidane, and Guardiola. Although his path to accomplishing top 4 was unconventional and reliant on results elsewhere, he did also reach both the FA Cup final and the UCL final. After the loss of the FA cup to Leicester City, the only remaining cup was the most prestigious award in all of European football. Tuchel faced Pep for the 3rd time this season and although having got the better of him on 2 occasions previously, Pep had won this cup before, and the timing and preparation of his Manchester City side seemed inevitably in their favor.

However, leading up to this point and having discussed the squad composition during the magical 2012 UCL victory, it’s important to discuss the composition of the current victors of the UCL. Our goalie Edouard Mendy was brought in from Rennes for $25 million to take over the below-par record signing Kepa and resulted in a fantastic acquisition. Our back line which rotated due to fitness and availability either consisted of fringe players in Christensen and Rudiger, likely on their way out under Lampard, and put in their best performances in a Chelsea shirt in this system in a dramatic turnaround of form. An ageing legend still at the top of the game in Thiago Silva as well as Azpilicueta who although traditionally a RB, remains at the top of his game in a 3 back at RCB. At wingbacks we have two youngsters in Reece James playing his first full season in top-flight football, and newly acquired $50 million Ben Chilwell who’s highest level before this was his experience in the EPL with Leicester. Our midfield consisted of a combo of any 3 of these players; N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, and Mateo Kovacic who was largely injured leading up to the final. Kante is the most obvious player of quality in the team, however Jorginho is an extremely divisive player for the fanbase, with limitations that need to be protected, but similar to others, played excellently when called on. Kovacic, although a player with an excellent technical skill set, seems to have grown stagnant in his development and production towards the team and as a result has not established himself as a top midfielder in Europe thus far. The front 3 selection being the most varied based on opponent and form is even more interesting in this context. Having acquired Werner, Havertz, and Ziyech, all 3 seemed to have had their struggles in consistency throughout the season. While certain opponents and tactical setups have played to the strengths and driven the line-up decisions of Thomas Tuchel, none have cemented themselves to be the top European attacking threat they were purchased to be, as of yet. On top of this Werner is still only 24 and Havertz 21 with both having limited experience in the competition which rings even more true with the remaining 2 attackers. Christian Pulisic, and Mason Mount are the 2 other regular first choice players under Tuchel, and although Pulisic showed consistent high-level form during the project restart, he failed to carry the consistency into this season. Mason Mount remains the sole reliable attacker/creator in the team to drive Chelsea forward and carry a consistent, tangible threat. While Pulisic has played top-flight football for quite a few years, his injury record and inconsistent output never placed him in elite company. Mason Mount on the other hand is traditionally disliked by the side of the fanbase which seems to favor Jorginho. For all of Mount’s inconsistency and usage in a multitude of positions in his first season for Chelsea, it seemed he really hit his stride this year and is our most probable player of the season at just the age of 22. With this in mind, Chelsea relative to City were nowhere near in contention for such an accomplishment, especially taking into consideration previous outputs of players and the position they entire squad was in when Lampard was sacked. As a result, this spotlights not only the drastic reversal of the squad attaining this level of performance to be reaching such heights. 

However, for all their differences, this team entered the final with the same mindset as the 2012, all odds against them and playing their hearts out until the final whistle. Against very likely the strongest team in Europe, Chelsea did not just win the UCL final, they earned it. A dominant performance with excellent tactical execution and willingness and grit from the players to win this cup is what made the difference. Many pivotal moments from key players never in this position before completely changed the game, while a baseline quality performance was upheld by the entire squad. From Reece nullifying any threat Sterling created down his flank, to Rudiger saving what was quite literally a goal in a last ditch block against Foden in the box, to Werner’s excellent decoy run with Kai’s composure 1v1 after receiving a perfectly weighted pass from Mount to score the only goal. Tuchel had earned his 3rd win in a row over Pep. However, this time it came with the UCL Cup, and the implications for the future are greater than ever.

For a squad this inexperienced, to showcase the character and ability to come away with the title for the most prestigious competition in Europe cannot be understated. Additionally, it highlights the opportunity for a reign of dominance, which Chelsea could establish by building on the foundations present. This side is different from 2012 – while 2012 seemed to be a last shot at glory for those maturing further into the game and nearing the ends of their careers, 2021 is the inverse of that as the final 2 digits of the year suggest. However this does not mean the task at hand is complete, rather it confirms and sheds light on the priorities and needs of the club for the future to sustain this. 

Chelsea had won the UCL, so where do they go from here to increase the chances of repeatability and nurture consistent progression? Firstly, instilling trust in our youth academy talents and utilizing the pipeline with first team involvement with coordinated efforts for development and adaptation. Secondly, a similar transfer approach we exhibited the summer leading up to this, pursuing top-level talents and targets without settling for 3rd or 4th choice options. This second choice comes with a caveat of remaining sensible in our approach, addressing areas of need rather than pursuing the best available players in each window leaving us with a bloated squad and positions still to be addressed with heavy investments that are near impossible to recoup. With these principles, the foundation of the team at hand, and the tactically adept manager Chelsea have in Thomas Tuchel, all the pieces exist to reassert dominance of the West London club throughout Europe for years to come. The outlook, although not guaranteed, is promising, and while 2012 signified the beauty of the game, 2021 could represent the dream of the game.

Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle Match Report

After the result at the weekend, Chelsea’s game against Newcastle meant the Blues had a chance to jump into a top 4 position. With Liverpool losing to Leicester, a win over the Magpies would mean they’d be in 4th place – only 4 points behind 3rd and 2nd place Leicester, and Manchester United respectively.

Thomas Tuchel has enjoyed a fruitful start to his managerial career at Chelsea. With 5 wins and 1 draw in all competitions, as well as 5 clean sheets in the previous 6, Chelsea look completely revitalized. With important ramifications on the table, this game was crucial in gaining ground in the race for top 4. Once again Tuchel chose to stick with the 3 at the back formation, with a few changes that had fans questioning his methods.

Source: Google

Starting Line-up: Arrizabalaga; Rüdiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta (C), Hudson-Odoi (Out 78′), Jorginho, Kovačić, Alonso, Werner, Mount (Out 70′), Abraham (Out 20′)

Subs: Mendy, Palmieri, Kanté (In 70′), Ziyech, Pulisic, Zouma, Chilwell, James (In 78′), Giroud (In 20′)

Moving Callum Hudson-Odoi back to the right wing-back role where we originally saw him feature, Reece James was left on the bench. Finally, Kepa started in goal after his performance against Barnsley and Mendy was moved then to the bench. With Thiago Silva still out injured Christensen remained the starter, and Tuchel opted for Tammy Abraham to lead the line.

First Half

The first half started out quite well, the Blues looked sharp right from the beginning, and gave Newcastle trouble in defense. The Magpies did not sit as deep as was likely expected early on in the game. Instead they setup in a 5-3-3. out of possession in a mid-block leaving space behind for runners.

Early on in the half around the 2nd minute, a quality passage of play from the Blues saw Azpilicueta play the ball into Mount who laid off the ball to CHO on the right flank. CHO cut in and laid the ball off to Kovačić who switched the play to the left in space for Marcos Alonso to take a shot on target.

Source: hdmatches.net

The shot was saved comfortably however it showed much of the space available to operate in which Chelsea could exploit, stretching the back line of Newcastle’s defense horizontally.

Soon after in the 6th minute of the game, Azpi had a chance from a corner won that was a strong attempt on goal. After a second consecutive corner was won from a header by Marcos Alonso, Mount played in the second corner in which Azpi made a run toward the near post.

Source: hdmatches.net

The header was flicked onto the far post, where Dwight Gayle was standing and was able to clear the ball over the top of the goal. Had it not been for Dwight Gayle, it seemed likely Azpi’s effort could’ve resulted in a goal.

At about the 14th minute, Tammy Abraham was given a great chance to open the scoring for Chelsea. Kovačić received the ball from deep and skipped past a few of the Newcastle frontline defenders. He spotted an excellently timed run by Tammy Abraham as an option to play the ball over the top to.

Source: hdmatches.net

Tammy took a great touch in stride to put the ball out in front of him. However while he was through on goal, Jamaal Lascelles recovered quite well and put in controversial tackle on Tammy inside the box. He slides from behind Tammy and just gets the ball although he may have went through Abraham and tackled him before getting the ball. Regardless, the decision of no penalty was the result.

However, Tammy did end up getting hurt after the challenge. Although he carried on until about the 20th minute, he never quite recovered and was limping the entire time while he remained on the pitch. As a result, Tuchel opted to bring on Olivier Giroud to replace him.

Around the 25h minute Chelsea saw another serious chance which could’ve ended Werner’s goal drought in the league. Mason Mount laid the ball off to Giroud who dropped deep and saw a switch of play to Alonso on the left side of the box.

Source: hdmatches.net

Werner throughout this process intelligently positioned himself in the central gaps left open by the Newcastle defense, and got on the end of Alonso’s headed pass. Unfortunately, Werner was forced to lunge forward for the ball, and he was unable to drive it goalwards, putting his attempt just wide right.

However, it wasn’t long after when Chelsea opened the scoring. At about the 30th minute mark, Timo Werner played a pivotal role in opening the scoring. Christensen played the ball over the top and out wide to Werner who had dropped deep. Werner controlled the pass and drove with the ball down the line, slowing down and accelerating to beat his man on the left flank.

Source: hdmatches.net

He fizzed in a ball into the danger zone directed at Mount, but the keeper got a hand to it and pushed the ball out. The ball however, dropped to Giroud who was well positioned for the second chance and had practically an open goal to bury the chance for Chelsea’s opener.

Shortly after, Timo Werner is presented with yet another opportunity to end his streak and extend the lead for the Blues. Kovačić once again with his excellent dribbling ability drove through two Newcastle defenders, played a beautiful 1-2 sequence with Giroud to beat another man, then delicately played the ball just above the ground and through to Werner. Werner took this chance first time, and made good contact on the effort, but unfortunately lifted the ball just too much to go over the crossbar.

However, Werner did finally end his drought in the game. After having won a corner around the 38th minute, Mason Mount delivered a ball over the top into the box. On its way, the ball missed Giroud, and bounced off a couple Newcastle defenders, and fell to the feet of Werner at the far post.

Source: hdmatches.net

The ball was hit just over the line, and although the goal was scrappy, a nervy VAR check resulted in the confirmation of the goal and Timo was thrilled to finally get on the score sheet.

After this point in the game, a couple more chances which did not result in goals occurred. Around the 41st minute, Mount took an audacious attempt from the right half space on his weaker foot. He struck the ball very well with power, but the effort went wide and did not trouble the keeper.

Newcastle just before halftime began to become more aggressive in their press, slightly causing Chelsea to struggle, however just around the 46th minute after a Chelsea corner, Newcastle defended well and looked to break quickly. The transition was cut out by Alonso who quickly found Mount open in the left side of the box for a shot which he dragged wide right.

Overall, the half was quite dominant by Chelsea. They defended excellently and barely allowed Newcastle opportunities in the first half if any. In addition to being able to play through their press, they were able to create loads of chances, and potentially could’ve scored more had all their chances been taken.

Second Half

The second half however, was not as impressive. Newcastle adjusted their intensity at halftime and made it a point to apply pressure on Chelsea’s midfield pivot. This resulted in a more difficult process when trying to build out from the. back.

Early on their aggression paid off as they got an opportunity after winning the ball from a blocked pass off Azpilicueta. Saint-Maximin played the ball won into a central position to Isaac Hayden, who took a shot that deflect onto goal for a simple save by Kepa.

Soon after Newcastle won a free kick in a dangerous area. Jonjo Shelvey lined up to take the free kick and struck the ball with a lot of power.

Source: hdmatches.net

However, Kepa’s form was good today and he was equal to the chance. He reached the shot quite easily and held onto the attempt to disallow any second chance opportunities.

The next 20 or so minutes no substantial opportunities were created. Chelsea tried attacking Newcastle’s box, however had trouble in really breaking down their opponent as they did in the first half. At about the 64th minute, Kovačić once again was involved in carry the ball from deeping while evade a few Newcastle players in the process.He. drove forward with the ball and laid off a great pass out wide in the path of CHO who fizzes a ball in, but is cleared for a corner.

Shortly after, Timo Werner dropped deep on the left side of the pitch and played the ball centrally to Jorginho. Jorginho played Mount on the right, who then drove forward with the ball into the opponent’s box and laid off the ball to CHO who was overlapping.

Source: hdmatches.net

CHO played the ball across the face of goal and between many Newcastle defenders. Unfortunately, no Chelsea player is able to get on the end of the opportunity and the ball ran through.

This was Mount’s final involvement as he was replaced in the 70th minute by N’Golo Kanté who added a third man to the Chelsea midfield. Very soon after, a ball which was played over the top to Werner results with him inside the Newcastle box. However, Lascelles once again the culprit, put a slight shove on Werner who tried to control the ball and Werner fell over. After review once again, the decision was no penalty.

Finally, the last substantial chance of Newcastle resulted around the 74th minute, with Joe Willock. After a throw in for Newcastle, they attempted to attack Chelsea who were looking to defend deeper and see the game out. Newcastle had been constantly playing deep crosses from wide areas into the box hoping to score off these opportunities. Ryan Fraser who had come on later in the game whipped in a ball from deep into the box.

Source: hdmatches.net

Willock made an excellent diagonal run into the box, elevated over multiple Chelsea defenders for an excellent headed attempt which was goal bound. Once again, Kepa was quick to react in the situation, and got a strong hand to the ball to push it wide.

After this point, in the 78th minute Reece James replaced Callum Hudson-Odoi and the game was seen out by Chelsea to hold onto the clean sheet and win their 4th game in a row in the league.

Brief Tactical Overview:

Chelsea with the ball were often looking to play through the press of Newcastle, utilizing Jorginho and Kovačić heavily in the first half. Additionally, the wide defenders would also often progress and play the ball into either one of the dual 10s or wing-backs if playing through the middle was not available for them to then create attacks at the opponents box. In the second half, once the press became more intense from Newcastle, Chelsea adjusted by having a man from the front drop deeper and add more numbers to the midfield as further passing options.

Without the ball, Chelsea’s front line pressed well trying to close down opponents very quickly. They were intense and with purpose, while heavily utilizing the dual 10s and mids to create wide overloads and pin the opponent in wide areas with no options. In the second half, the intensity of the press dropped off as time went on, as the team geared more towards game management and holding the clean sheet. As a result, they opted to hold their shape and defend a bit deeper for better anticipation of Newcastle’s crosses.

Positives and Negatives:

In the first half, Chelsea did well in playing through the press of the front 3 press using the midfielders to play between lines and progress the attacks. Kovačić was especially excellent in this regard, as his dribbling and beating players allowed the Blues us to take on the back line, and his passing decisions and execution were very sharp. Additionally, Chelsea were very strong in the buildup. Often they were able to play from the left to evade the press, then switch the play to the right using either Jorginho or Kovačić who linked up with Mount or CHO on right to drive the attack.

In the second half this became more of a struggle, however the adjustment of dropping players deeper as outlets allowed Chelsea to better cope with the additional pressure placed on the midfield pivot. Finally, Chelsea created a number of chances this game from corners as a result of well timed and angled runs in the box (Azpi), intelligently positioned players (Werner), and excellent services (Mount).

Chelsea did also have areas in which they would have improved on. At times, playing around the back too much especially after the press from Newcastle picked up. This resulted in playing the ball between the central defenders excessively at times and led to a few chances for Newcastle. Although the Blues scored two, they created plenty of chances and possibly deserved more. More chances could definitely have been taken and should improve to kill off games earlier and more convincingly (Timo a couple chances and Mount one before half).

More particularly in the second half, Jorginho losing the ball not being able to deal with aggressive press from Newcastle was definitely an area of concern to think about for future opposition which press more effectively. Finally particularly in the second half, final balls also could have been better after playing through the press and on transition chances.

Implications and Next:

Chelsea now sit in 4th, level on point with West Ham but ahead on goal difference. Although a few clubs in the below positions have a game or two in hand, Chelsea are very much in the driver’s seat for their top 4 destiny. With about 14 games to go, Chelsea’s next run of fixtures show to be difficult ones.

Playing Southampton in the league next on the weekend, this would be the first time Chelsea face an intense pressing side under Thomas Tuchel. Therefore, it will be an interesting showcase of how the team adapts and the selection/formation he opts for. After this, Chelsea have Atletico Madrid in the UCL, and Manchester United and Everton in the league, as their next three fixtures. After these next few games, Chelsea fans should get a better understanding of where Tuchel’s Chelsea stands and what to expect.

Chelsea 2-0 Burnley Match Report

Playing against another team known to sit deep and defend compact, Chelsea’s second game under Thomas Tuchel would provide interesting insight on how the new manager would fair against such sides in the league.

In the last game against Wolves, the Blues failed to score a goal, settling for a 0-0 draw. In what seemed to be a similar game, Tuchel opted to retain his chosen 3-4-2-1 formation in the first match, with a few changes in the side.

Source: Chosen11

Starting Line-up: Mendy; Rüdiger, Silva, Azpilicueta (C), Hudson-Odoi (Out 72′), Jorginho, Kovačić, Alonso, Werner, Mount (Out 80′), Abraham (Out 45′)

Subs: Arrizabalaga, Christensen, Kanté, Havertz (In 80′), Pulisic (In 45′), Zouma, Chilwell, James (In 72′), Giroud

First Half

The first 15 minutes started scrappy, with no real spells of strong possession. Burnley decided to pressure the Blues a bit, before beginning to settle a bit deeper in their side. In the 7th minute Timo Werner cut in from the left flank and played a great pass to Mount on the left side of the box who took a shot but couldn’t hit the target.

Afterwards, Thiago Silva had a crucial interception in our box for an opportunity that was breaking for Burnley, one of many chances Silva cut out in the game. However, the first real chance didn’t come until the 20th minute or so.

Mateo Kovačić played a quick 1-2 pass with Jorginho which allowed him to evade the opposition press and play a ball into the box for Callum Hudson-Odoi to run onto for a shot.

Source: SuperSport

However, the pass lacked pace and as a result Odoi was unable to make much of the opportunity as he cut inside to shoot instead of hitting the shot first time.

Source: SuperSport3

Outside of this opportunity, Chelsea struggled to create all too much in the first 20 minutes of the match. With clear struggles in the final third, breaking down Burnley proved to be difficult.

The next chance came from a Jorginho ball over the top of the defensive line around the 24th minute. Alonso made a back post run as Jorginho played a ball for Alonso to get his head onto.

Source: SuperSport

Unfortunately, Alonso’s headed effort was placed towards the back post, a bit too far for both Tammy and Mount to get onto, and resulted in a goal kick once again representing the lack of quality of final balls and touches in the opponent’s box.

However, Callum Hudson-Odoi was clearly a focal point in the build-up from the back to progress the ball quickly. In addition, he was deployed to run at the defense and leverage his creativity to make opportunities for the team. Around the 28th minute, Odoi drove with the ball from the right flank and played in a ball to the feet of Timo Werner with pace. Werner was unable to control the ball for a shot which ended up squandering the chance for the team.

Once again, the decisiveness and ability of the team particularly in the final third, struggled throughout the half. Organizationally the team seemed settled, however the feeling was uneasy when attacking in terms of the approach and quality. Nothing seemed to be going for the Blues in terms of resulting in any dangerous chances created, until just before half-time.

Chelsea’s goal resulted from a wonderful counter attack with speed and directness. The team had a throw-in in their own half which was received by Jorginho, who immediately turned to play Mount running into space and looking to progress the ball.

Source: SuperSport

In front of Mount running down the right flank was none other than Hudson-Odoi, who received the ball from Mount and progressed it into the box. Subsequently, Azpilicueta made the overlapping run into the box from the right centre half position to support.

Odoi drove in drawing defenders and laid off the ball to Azpilicueta who had acres of space to take a shot from inside the box.

Source: SuperSport

Azpilicueta caught the ball perfectly and generated too much power for Pope to react quick enough as the ball hit the back of the net for the game’s opening goal. The goal proved to be a huge turning point as Burnley were now down just before half.

Overall the half was decent, and the great counter attack the Blues scored from made up for other forgone opportunities. However, it was clear Chelsea could improve in possession when breaking down the low block, with a better understanding between the players and their approach, as well as better end product.

Second Half

Going into the second-half, refining and improving on the positives of the first-half was the goal and that was the theme for the remainder of the game. Tuchel opted for a change at half-time, as he subbed off Tammy Abraham for Christian Pulisic, moving Timo Werner to the central striker position.

The team was playing better in possession and creating more chances this half down the right flank with once again, Callum Hudson-Odoi being the focal point. Early on in the second half, Odoi received the ball and began to drive at the Burnley backline.

Source: SuperSport

Odoi created space for himself for a shot, and took his opportunity in the box. The shot however, deflected off of the defender, and clipped the outside of the near post and went out for a goal kick.

At about the 68th minute or so, Odoi again was involved in the attack. Being played down line by Mount, Odoi got on the end of the pass and played a driven cross on the ground in front of the face of the goal.

Source: SuperSport

However, Burnley defender Ben Mee attempted to block the cross, which proved to be almost fatal for his side as he gets very close to putting the ball into his own net.

Source: SuperSport

After having deflected the cross, the ball deflect on target which required the excellent reach and reactions of Nick Pope, who kept his side in the game and the score at 1-0.

Before getting subbed off in the 72nd minute, Odoi was involved in one last passage of play. Mount again, linked up with Odoi, and played him a pass on the flank. Odoi received the ball and noticed Pulisic looking for the cut back in space inside the box. He played Pulisic in with an excellent pass, who just steered his shot wide right of the Burnley goal.

Odoi went off in the 72nd minute and went on to win man of the match, as Reece James replaced him for the rest of the game. With Rudiger and Kovačić constantly looking for diagonal switch balls to Odoi, he was clearly the focal point of attack for the game.

Source: WhoScored

As a result, Odoi ended with 64 touches throughout the game all down the right hand side, proving to be the most threatening player for the Chelsea side this game.

After this point, the game seemed to be in cruise control. Reece James had an opportunity around the 74th minute just after coming on, with a volley from the right side of the box. Pope however made a good save with his legs, and was careful not to spill the shot for another opportunity in the box.

As the game pushed on, Burnley began to push further out of their half in hopes of getting an equalizer, as they were still down 1-0. However, around the 84th minute, Chelsea scored their second goal to bury any hope for Burnley to salvage a point from the game.

Antonia Rudiger broke into the midfield with the ball, and laid it off to Alonso who played Pulisic down line.

Source: SuperSport

Pulisic cut on the edge of the box, while Alonso made a run into the box. He chipped in a cross to Alonso who controlled it in the air and turned for a great volley from a tight angle.

Source: SuperSport

Alonso’s shot hit off the crossbar and went in, leaving no chance for Pope to save the shot. Alonso’s goal put the Blues up 2-0 and the game ended this way.

Results and Implications

With the win today and other results around the league, Chelsea have moved to 7th in the table, level on points with 6th place Spurs and 8th place Everton. With the title race looking to be out of reach for the Blues, top 4 is the priority for the club as they sit 6 points off Leicester City in 4th, who lost to Leeds today.

Next week, Chelsea travel to White Hart Lane to play London rivals Tottenham Hotspur who are level on points but have a game in hand over Chelsea. This means their game on Thursday is even more crucial than just beating rivals, it has greater implications on the race for top 4.

Thank You, Goodbye, and Sorry.

With all the reports it’s hard to say I didn’t expect this, but upon learning of his sacking it felt unexpected. Early Monday morning history repeated itself as it inevitably does, and the decision to axe the man who loves, embodies, and knows this football club was done. Frank Lampard, his Chelsea dream, and the fans Chelsea project were no more.

Lampard did more than just win titles for our club – he, along with many others made me fall in love with the club and most importantly, the game. Although our managers constantly changed over the years, the spine of our team remained and the class of Lampard as a player and professional was undeniable.

However, the best players don’t always make the best coaches. So, when Lampard was in contention for the Chelsea job, it drew much attention. Along with it came worry, resistance, and fear, from many fans who did not want to bear sacking a legend. And although they knew the board would not hesitate in the ruthless ways they operate, other fans welcomed Lampard back home, accepting he would not be ready, but willing to weather the storm.

Lampard signified more than just a great player, he came back with intentions of restoring the golden ages of the club. With those intentions he brought all the nostalgia and passion Chelsea fans could ask for. With a focus on the youth of the club, Lampard’s first squad felt vastly different to previous Chelsea seasons. The new additions, having barely featured previously, felt almost like new transfers. And in this way the transfer ban was a blessing in disguise, as it forced us as a club to look ourselves in the eyes.

For the first time in a long time I felt a cultural resurgence at the club and along with it came a strong sense of unity in the fanbase. And even after his first game in the 4-0 defeat, something about us made me feel that this fall would end with us upright on our feet. And so the story of Frank Lampard’s reign began.

The foundation had been laid and opportunities created, for many players from the youth academy to be elevated. And from it sprung a season of success stories for many players. From Tammy, Mason, Reece, and CHO, the homegrown talent was fully on show. This was not to say our season was easy, for it was not until the last day we cemented a spot in Champions League.

This inspired much confidence in the club and the fans, as Frank Lampard came in and accomplished all this with a transfer ban. Lampard had done enough to earn his respect, and many were optimistic this may be the start of the first Chelsea project. Continuing to deviate from the norm, the ensuing months proved to be more positive for the club in form. A plethora of marquee signings looking to join our squad, distracting us from the raging pandemic, which allowed us to avoid the transfer swarm. The season began and the projected entered its next phase; reclaiming last season’s accomplishments, while closing the gap, were the expectations in the final days.

With a few shaky starts, the ball began to roll and Frank Lampard’s men were starting to take control. Expectations grew with every goal scored, and the fanbase’s eyes became set on an immediate award. Being top of the league in December, there was nowhere to go but down, and the difficult run of fixtures instantly took our prematurely placed crown. This is where the story only gets worse. For its the board not Frank Lampard, who are truly adverse. In his first poor spell, the board did not want to take a chance, and bid their farewell with hopes to excel.

So it’s with a heavy heart I say my goodbye, as seeing you go killed me inside. I know as I’ve said this should not have come as a surprise, but I chose to follow my blind optimism, rather than open my eyes. So thank you again for everything you have done, beginning things which had never begun. You took over when no one else would, with challenges on a monumental scale. No transfer window, experience, or Eden Hazard, you were setup to fail. Creating the pipeline for the youth will prove its value over the years, and credited to you, as we watch the players grow throughout their careers. From originally cast aside and snubbed, to a wise man once saying:

“They are the future of the club.”

Photo Credit: Rex Features

Chelsea January Transfer Window – Who could leave?

With the winter window being newly opened, its likely we see some activity from Chelsea Football Club to progress their plans for the squad. However, it seems the focus for the window may be offloading players from the large squad Chelsea now have rather than adding further depth and talent.

Ahead of the Manchester City game, Frank Lampard was asked about the club’s plans for the window ahead and he had this to say:

“I have ideas. We have a big squad, we’ll have to see if that changes, if there are opportunities for players who aren’t playing so much. That will be a conversation between the player, club and myself.”

He continued by adding;

“Then we’ll see if we can strengthen in the right way, but we’re not jumping up and down to do so. My focus this year is purely on work because we have new players, because we have young players, so I’m focusing on that. But we’ll see, it’s a long month.”

Chelsea’s plans for the January window

As Lampard mentioned in his answer during the press conference, it seems the focus is going to be finding moves for players who are lacking game time, whether that be a loan move or a permanent one. Therefore, we’ll go through and discuss the different players we might see find a permanent move elsewhere, and who might be looking for a loan move based on reports, while discussing each player’s circumstances in the process.

Permanent Moves

Antonio Rüdiger

Rudiger is a player who could likely be on his way out this window with hopes of securing a spot to be selected for the Euros this upcoming summer. After being signed by Antonio Conte the summer after Chelsea’s most recent title winning campaign, Rudiger has struggled ever since to remain in the starting lineup under Lampard. Being a prominent player for his international side of Germany, it seems the only alternative is to move elsewhere. Reports came out back in October sparked by Joachim Low himself stating that Rudiger:

“Tried everything to leave Chelsea because the European Championship is very important to him. I think he’ll try to leave again in the winter. He’s doing everything he can to stay in his best form.”

Joachim Low on Rudiger’s situation at Chelsea

With window newly opened, we’ll see which clubs offer for Rudiger in his search for regular game time.

Jorginho

Jorginho was originally signed when Chelsea brought in Maurizio Sarri to takeover from Antonio Conte. It was understood that he was an integral part of the Sarri-ball system and was utilized as deepest midfielder in a 4-3-3 in the famous Regista role. However, it’s likely we see him move on from Chelsea since the sacking of Sarri and his lack of game time under Frank Lampard.

His agent, Joao Santos came out back in November stating that Jorginho could follow Maurizio Sarri wherever his new project may be. This, combined with his original transfer fee of £50M could mean we see him moving on from the club to make space in the already crowded midfield Chelsea have, and recoup some funds for future moves.

Marcos Alonso

Marcos Alonso Profile, News & Stats | Premier League
Photo Source: Premier League

After his poor performances so far in the league this season Alonso has not seen any game time since the 3-3 draw against West Brom. With Ben Chilwell fully fit and the clear first choice, as well as Emerson now seemingly second in the pecking order, Alonso looks to be another player whose time is up at the club.

Originally coming in again under Antonio Conte before our title winning campaign, Alonso proved to be a pivotal player operating in the left wing-back role in the 3-4-3. However, since transitioning to a 4 ATB system, he’s struggled ever since in being able to get up and down the field effectively as well as be defensively reliable.

Reports from The Independent and Sports Illustrated have both discussed a move for the Spanish international back to his home country. Atletico Madrid currently seem the most interested side for Alonso’s services, so it’s possible we see him on his way out this window.

Emerson Palmieri

The alternate left back has also been linked recently with a move away from Stamford Bridge. Signed originally by Conte as well for depth, Emerson was once again is a player who never really broke into the first team.

Reports from Sports Illustrated have stated that two teams have potential interest for the left back, both coming from Italy. First of the two being a reunion with Antonio Conte at Inter Milan who are looking to challenge for the Scudetto this year. The second team being Napoli who are also seemingly interested in the player.

However, as a result of the interest in Marcos Alonso and Emerson’s status as second choice under Lampard, it’s possible Chelsea hold onto him for longer than this window where they can find a proper replacement.

Danny Drinkwater

Danny Drinkwater is another player on this list who never truly got involved in the first team and has recently featured with the U23s. During his spell at Chelsea he’s had a few discplinary issues, including being involved in an altercation during a game with the U23 squad. Drinkwater’s time at Chelsea has been tumultuous to say the least. He was originally signed for a fee of £35M pounds for depth and was rarely deployed, which left many fans scratching their heads.

Reports last year stated the hammers were potentially interested in the player, however it’s uncertain whether this is still the case. Regardless, it’s likely he is on his way out wherever that may be as most fans would probably be pleased to see the back of him.

Others Notable Players

Additional players worth mentioning who could also see their way out include the following:

  • Michy Batshuayi who is currently on loan at Crystal Palace but has been scarce of playing time even there. Although it’s uncertain when he may move on, it seems his time at Chelsea is likely over as well.
  • Davide Zappacosta currently on loan at Genoa C.F.C. Signed originally under Conte for additional depth at right wing-back, failed to truly get involved in the first team and likely to move elsewhere permanently
  • Tiemoue Bakayoko, brought in to fill the void left by Nemanja Matić in 2018 Bakayoko was quickly dismissed by all managers who succeed Antonio Conte who he was signed under. After a couple loan moves at A.C. Milan and this year at Napoli, it seems Bakayoko has recouped enough market value through regular game time for a permanent move.

Loan Moves

Moving onto loan moves, we’ll be discuss players we could see go on loan who are also looking to get more regular game time. This may result for a variety of reasons, namely for certain players to further develop and fight for a place in the first team the following season, as well as others looking to bring up their market value with options to buy for inevitable permanent deals in the future. That being said, we’ll discuss which players could fit into these categories and use reports to further the context of each player and their given circumstances.

Tino Anjorin

Originally, it seemed Tino was set for first team opportunities as he was moved up and training with the squad regularly. Liam Twomey reported for The Athletic at the beginning of the season that Tino was set to stay at the club for this year.

However, with only 3 appearances this season and limited game time, it’s possible this stance is reevaluated this window in a similar fashion that Twomey’s tweet states: “he gets a loan offer that’s too good to refuse.”

Anjorin is an extremely talented player, and ideally if a club in Europe’s top 5 leagues comes with an offer that entails regular game time for the 19-year-old to further develop, it might be one of consideration for the Frank and the club.

Billy Gilmour

After a knee operation which forced Gilmour out of the first team for the rest of project restart, Gilmour has become fully fit again and appeared a couple times already for the club as a sub for a total of 36 minutes. However, last season many saw the remarkably talented player and have ever since been excited for his return to the squad.

Although the club’s plans were likely similar to that of Tino, if not more willing to utilize Gilmour throughout the season, news has come out in the past month of many clubs interested in taking the Scottish midfielder on loan. Reports from a few sources have cited the Glasgow Rangers as a likely destination, and it’s no secret he’s a player of many talents and in demand.

Lampard spoke to BT Sport in reference to his plans for Gilmour stating:

“I’m not sure. The way he trains and plays I can see him with us. I have to make sure the pathway is right.”

Lampard on Gilmour this season

Therefore, we’ll have to keep an eye out for any further developments in regard to Gilmour for the rest of this season and what “pathway” the manager feels is right for him.

Fikayo Tomori

Fikayo Tomori is another player to keep an eye out on with recent development influencing his status and future. Although last season for a time he had been a regular part of the first team and playing often in the league, this season has been a different story with Tomori only having played 45 minutes in the league. In the summer window leading up to the season, the new signing of Thiago Silva, as well as incumbents of Rudiger, Christensen, and Zouma, questions were being asked of Tomori’s position in the ranks. As a result discussions of whether a loan move to another club might suit him for this season came about.

No move was made, and since then it seems he’s become the 5th choice under Lampard with Rudiger and Christensen receiving more time as rotational players and with Zouma and Silva the starters. As a result, rumors have circulated again linking Tomori to clubs such as Newcastle, Leeds, and Rennes for a loan move this window.

Although some sort of move seemed quite likely, reports are now coming out altering this status. With the injury to Christensen against Aston Villa, Chelsea are seemingly blocking any loan offer for the player. Whether Christensen’s injury is severe enough to see Tomori remain with the club is yet to be seen, regardless it’s another player to watch out for in the case that Christensen comes back sooner than expected and Tomori is allowed to leave.

Kepa arrizabalaga

Kepa is our last player in discussion, with his story and circumstances being quite more complex than the others. Being signed as the most expensive goal keeper for a fee of £71m, and on wages of £150,000 per week, his return for the club has been poor to say the least. With Edouard Mendy the clear starter, it’s clear the club are not looking to keep Kepa as the 2nd choice keeper for such an investment, and it’s unlikely he’s content with this role himself.

Reports have come out that Kepa is looking to return to his home country of Spain and is willing to take massive wage cuts in order to do so. Although his form has recently been so poor, that Chelsea would be unlikely to recoup anywhere near the fee they’ve paid for him, hence why is possible he is sent out on a loan move.

The hope is Kepa can move to a club for a season or even two, with his wages subsidized and more minutes to regain his confidence and market value. Ideally, some sort of option to buy clause would be included in the deal, in which case he can then be shipped off permanently, hence the complexity of the deal.

Chelsea Transfer Links – Declan Rice and Erling Haaland

After a successful transfer window in the summer, it seems Chelsea are yet to slow down with some big plans for their transfer targets going into the new year. The first link is already well known with some additional information, while the second being a high profile player likely to surprise Blues fans but also excite them. Therefore we’ll discuss the logistics of each deal, pros and cons of each deal, and end with a conclusion of final thoughts on both deals together.

The story of both targets for Chelsea was originally broken by none other than Sky Sports journalist Angelo Mangiante. He discusses in the tweet below Chelsea’s ambition to step up their pursuit for the West Ham captain Declan Rice as well as pursue Dortmund star Erling Braut Haaland.

Declan Rice

Logistics

Beginning with Declan Rice, this target is nothing new to Chelsea fans. It’s no secret that Chelsea were heavily linked with the English international all throughout the summer and were hoping to add him along the arsenal of players signed in the previous window. Reports from multiple sources have stated Rice is a top priority if not the highest priority of all targets and rumors have come out that the player is also interested in rejoining his boyhood club.

Although it may seem that both Chelsea and the player want the same thing, the difficulty comes down to striking a deal with West Ham for their highly valued captain. With Declan being an integral part of the team and locker room, the Hammers have placed a high price tag on the player with quotes of even £80m being discussed in reports during the summer window.

Additionally, Rice is known to be a highly professional player who would likely not want to leave on any bad terms with the club, meaning he is unlikely to push for a move himself in January, making the probability of a deal this window unlikely.

However, this does not mean Chelsea won’t be looking to sign Rice in future windows as previously stated, so we’ll discuss pros and cons of what a deal for the 21-year-old defensive midfielder might look like for Chelsea and their squad.

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Photo Credit: Faisal HQ on Twitter

Pros

Quite a few positives can be discussed in this signing, firstly Rice is an extremely talented player and already considered West Ham’s best player at 21 as well as being their captain. He is homegrown, and has multiple seasons of experience in the Premier League with very consistent game time.

He fills the need for a true no.6 at the club since the departure of Nemanja Matić, which could allow N’Golo Kanté to play in a variety of roles in the midfield as we saw under Maurizio Sarri, or in a double pivot alongside Rice. In addition Chelsea being Rice’s boyhood club means he is familiar with many of the players already at the club and has a close friend namely in Mason Mount. This, along with already being located in London, should make the transition and settling between the clubs much more seamless in respect to other transfers.

Finally, as aforementioned Rice has proven a strong mentality and leadership quality at such a young age at West Ham being their captain for multiple seasons, and his versatile skill set and quality can allow him to fill a variety of roles, even as depth as a central defender if need be.

Cons

However, there remains a few lingering issues which may accompany the deal that must be addressed. Firstly the price tag is undeniably going to be an issue in negotiating a deal for the player. As we saw in the summer even with the COVID-19 crisis and turmoil at the club, West Ham were still able to hold out for their valuation on the player, meaning he likely will not come cheap.

In addition to the money spent aspect, this could prove to be problematic as we’ve seen expensive transfers before add pressure to young players before whether it be through the media, or an effect on their own confidence and mentality. This means the board would likely have to exhibit a high degree of certainty in their belief of the player’s capabilities and positive influence on the squad.

Finally, Rice would be joining what is an already flooded midfield, and although he fits a niche role it seems no player other than N’Golo Kanté can fit, many players from Chelsea’s midfield will likely have to be shipped out to make up some funds and space for the move.

This theme will be further discussed in regard to the second main target Chelsea have been linked with, Erling Braut Haaland.

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland
Photo Credit: Sky Sports

Erling Braut Haaland

Logistics

Haaland is a new link which is indicative of the ambitions of the board and the profile of player they’re looking for to progress this Chelsea squad to be a force in all competitions. However, one of the most sought after and talented young strikers in Europe will not be easy to sign and will have many obstacles to overcome in securing a deal.

Firstly, Haaland has stated in interviews before, that in this current moment of time he is not looking to leave Dortmund. Although these kinds of statements often are made even before transfers actually go through, it is likely to complicate negotiations if there isn’t a strong desire for the player to leave.

In addition to this, reports from multiple sources such as the Evening Standard, and NBC Sports have reported that although Haaland has a release clause reported to be in the region of €75m, the clause does not kick in until 2022, meaning any deal which could be negotiated before 2022 will have to cost more than this amount.

Finally, the biggest threat that seems to be in Chelsea’s way of securing the signature of Haaland is likely to be the attraction from other suitors namely Real Madrid who have been most heavily linked with the Norwegian striker.

The tweet below from the Madrid Zone on twitter discusses the idea of a potential deal in place for the 20-year-old forward to join the Galaticos in the summer of 2020, naming the works of Mino Raiola and influence of Martin Ødegaard.

With these hurdles in the way of signing the Dortmund star, it will be a tall task for Chelsea to accomplish. Nonetheless we’ll analyze what pros and cons may come of a deal for Haaland, and how they might effect the the club.

Pros

With a player such as Haaland and what he has shown thus far, it’s clear the first positive of signing such a striker would be his talent in scoring goals. He broke out onto the scene last year in spectacular fashion in the Champions League scoring 8 goals in 6 games for Salzburg, and then another 2 in 2 for Dortmund that same year. In addition, he scored 13 in 15 games for Dortmund last season in the league with 2 assists as well. This season he has improved on his form with 18 goal contributions (16 goals and 2 assists) in 12 games in both the league and UCL. This is likely down to his superb striking technique of the ball, as well as his intelligent movement for a striker his age, allowing him get on the end of consistent scoring opportunities and convert them.

Even so, many times top players from top leagues arrive to the Premier League and struggle to adapt to the physical nature of the league especially as a focal point striker. However, in Haaland’s case at 6’4 and about 200 pounds, he is likely to not only fare well in this regard but to excel. This is due to not only his size, but his mobility at his size. This combination of size, strength, and mobility is likely to wreak havoc in any league making Haaland a very desirable target.

Finally, with the likely departure of Oliver Giroud in the future, as well as the use of Werner out wide so far under Lampard, it seem the only two main options for a focal striker at Chelsea would be Haaland and Abraham in this scenario.

When a talent such as Haaland becomes available its hard to not pursue such a player not only to benefit a club like Chelsea, but also to prohibit other competitors from signing the player. However, this fill in vacancy also poses a possible negative consequence of such a transfer.

Cons

The first idea to discuss in a potential disruption of the Haaland deal, is what becomes of Tammy Abraham. The English striker is clearly favored under Frank Lampard, however if a big money move were to happen for the Norwegian, it’s uncertain if Abraham would retain a first choice position which may unsettle him at the club.

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Photo Credit: Faisal HQ on Twitter

Being 23 years of age, if Haaland were to come in and make the starting role his own, it’s possible Tammy looks for a move elsewhere especially if he feels he is able to play for another Premier League side consistently. With the record Chelsea have of letting blossoming academy talent slip away, this may be a serious consideration for the club.

Building on this same theme, Abraham may represent that such a signing for a striker may not even be necessary. In fact, it may show that the money may be wasted signing a striker of Haaland’s calibre and could be better spent reinforcing other positions of need for the squad. Furthermore, with the signings of Ziyech, Werner, and Havertz, it’s clear Chelsea have already spent a considerable amount bolstering a formidable attack.

With the more urgent needs of a defensive mid, a long-term replacement for Thiago Silva, and added depth at winger and left-back, its possible that the funds used to sign Haaland could be less efficient in improving the overall squad.

Conclusion

Both Rice and Haaland are obviously extremely talented, young, and sought after players whose signings would likely improve the quality of players in the squad. With Rice, the proven ability in the Premier League as well as seamless transition, homegrown status, and desire for the player to join show to be a match made in heaven. However, there is no denying he will likely not come cheap, and a move for him will be most realistic in the summer rather than this window.

With Haaland, it’s difficult to pass on the opportunity of signing a generational talent, and some may even say that’s what inspired our signing of Kai Havertz rather than a necessity for the player. His goal scoring ability and physical talent is one that will surely continue to impress and a talent every team desires. However, outside of just desire, it seems this signing could be the most difficult Chelsea have ever pulled off both as a result of valuation, and other suitors’ desire of the player. Although it looks unlikely or possibly even unnecessary, Chelsea have been in this position before with Werner, Havertz, and Eden Hazard in which they proved to be successful in their pursuit of a player with many suitors. As a result, it would be unwise to count out the West London club in their pursuit of Haaland, and one to look out for in the future.

Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle United Match Report

Coming back from international break Chelsea travel to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle United for the 9th game of the 2020/21 Premier League season. Chelsea were looking for their 5th win in a row in all competitions, however it would not be easy.

With Newcastle winning 5 of their last 7 home games against Chelsea and key players Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz, and Thiago Silva all out for this game, it would be interesting to see how the team got on against this deep holding Newcastle side.

Beginning with the lineup, Chelsea came out in a 4-3-3 as they have in recent games with the starting 11 displayed below.

Source: Chosen11

Starting Line-up: Mendy; Chilwell (Out 82′), Rüdiger, Zouma, James; Mount, (C) Kanté, Kovačić Werner (Out 76’), Abraham, Ziyech (Out 87’)

Subs: Arrizabalaga, Christensen, Emerson (In 82′), Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Hudson-Odoi (In 76′), Giroud (In 87’)

First Half

Chelsea begins the game strong, dominating possession early on as expected with Newcastle sitting quite deep in their own half. However, plenty of chances come early on in the game starting with Timo Werner in the 3rd minute of the game.

He receives ball from Kanté, after Kovačić wins the ball back with some excellent pressing. Werner has a shot from the left side of the box on his weaker foot. the chance is saved by Darlow for a corner as Chelsea continues to pile on the pressure to this Newcastle side.

Soon after in the 9th minute, Ziyech plays a magical diagonal cross from the right-hand side of the box over the top to Tammy Abraham. Abraham gets a strong header that’s met with an even stronger save again by Darlow and goes out for a corner.

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Source: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EnWXoT8WMAAIWOa?format=jpg&name=medium

With the uninterrupted possession of Chelsea and the persistence of the side, the opening goal final comes off a corner in the 10th minute. Mount plays in a short corner which leads to Werner playing Mount inside on the right. Mount’s well played ball finds the feet of Newcastle defender Federico Fernández who is unable to sort his feet and plays the ball into his own net for the opening goal.

The next chance comes in around the 29th minute after again Kovačić wins the ball pressing in the Newcastle half. Mount plays Abraham who lays the ball off perfectly to Werner who has a big chance inside the center of the box and just puts it wide left of the goal.

Newcastle get their first action of the game, with a break on the counter after Abraham gives the ball away. Saint-Maximin drives from the left side cutting in, but the Chelsea defense recovers well and the shot is blocked by Rüdiger and goes out for a corner.

The remainder of the half remains fairly uneventful aside from a couple yellow cards for Newcastles’s Isaac Hayden, and Jacob Murphy. Chelsea go into half-time leading 1-0 and look to kill the game off in the second half.

Second Half

The second half starts similar to the first with Chelsea holding possession for the majority of the time, with the first chance of the half occurring in the 54th minute. Timo Werner consistently being involved in the game thus far finds himself with another opportunity.

With the lackadaisical effort Fabian Schär attempting to control the ball, Werner comes in from behind to steal the ball off of him and is clean through on goal driving from the left side. Rather than taking the shot himself, Werner opts to square the ball to Ziyech. However, the pass is poor and is intercepted by the Newcastle defense resulting in another missed opportunity for Chelsea

Soon after Zouma gets a chance in the 55th off of a corner that is played in by Mount. However he fails to keeper his header on target and this attempt too results in no goal, with the worry being able to score a second building up.

The worry gets even more real, with a chance from Newcastle in the 59th minute. Rüdiger with the ball in his own box, attempts to clear it in an effort to relieve the pressure, however he plays the ball directly into Isaac Hayden. The ball bounces off of Hayden and somehow remains in his path for a clear chance with only Mendy in his way. Hayden takes a shot but is unable to keep it under the bar as the powerful attempt flies over for a goal kick leaving Chelsea fortunate not to concede.

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Source: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EnWlpbbXIAMIZrs?format=jpg&name=4096×4096

A second goal by Chelsea is finally scored around the 65th minute to solidify their lead. Although having missed out on a couple opportunities already, Werner finally gets his goal contribution, by providing an excellent assist to Abraham for the second goal of the game. After winning the ball in their own half, Werner is played the ball.

He decides to push and carry on the attack himself, and with an excellent solo run and his blistering pace he splits two Newcastle defenders just past the halfway mark and continues to drive to play in Tammy with a well weighted ball on the right side of the box. Tammy controls the ball easily and puts in a tidy finish at the near post with the ball clipping the post and popping in for Chelsea’s second and his 3rd in the league.

After the second goal the game seems to be out of hand for the Magpies, however Sean Longstaff comes away with a long range effort to after receiving the ball from the right side of the box. He takes the shot from distance beating Mendy, but not the crossbar as he clips the bar and the shot goes over.

Werner gets yet another final opportunity before making way for Hudson-Odoi in the 75th minute with a great pass by Ziyech which Werner rounds the keeper and scores, but the offside flag goes up.

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Source: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EnWSGSjW8AYy-gd?format=jpg&name=medium

A couple more half chances ensue with Mount missing a shot wide of the post and Newcastle’s Almiron has his shot deflected which is punched out by Mendy. Emerson comes on for Chilwell and afterwards Giroud for Ziyech as Chelsea look to hold on in the final minutes for the win, and they do.

Results and Implications

The result was a solid showing from the Chelsea side following the international break facing a tough team play away from home with many key players missing. However, Chelsea picked up where they left off scoring 2 and keeping another clean sheet, making it 6 clean sheets in their last 7 games. The Team now has 18 points, currently top of the table on goal difference with +12 with the rest of the teams yet to play

The result was very positive for the team as there were quite a few points where it felt the team may compromise the lead and dominance by not killing off the game earlier. The team seems to be maturing and clicking much better than previously in the season. Signs of improvement from last season are evident as this could easily have been lost recalling last season’s 90th minute winner from Isaac Hayden for the Magpies.

Chelsea seem to be finding ways to score goals at an even higher pace than before, being the most prolific team in the league currently. However, they are finding ways to win as well and this likely roots from being able to score while keeping defensively stable in their new found form and their 5th win in a row.