In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) and Danny (Writer – @danny_new_) gave their thoughts of our comfortable 5-1 victory against Chesterfield against Spurs. They also look ahead to the game against Spurs on Wednesday, as well as giving their thoughts on a potential formation change and the current wingback situation.
In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Danny (Writer – @danny_new_), Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) & Dan (Host – @danbarkzr) discuss the latest news including Chalobah’s breakthrough into the first team, the midfield/defence dilemma and the possibility of Loftus-Cheek/Ampadu staying! The boys also look ahead to Sunday’s game against Arsenal, where they were perhaps a bit too pessimistic..
When Frank Lampard became the manager of Chelsea FC in the summer of 2019, many didn’t know what to expect. Coming off his first full season as manager for Derby County in the EFL Championship, his side finished short of being promoted back to the English Premier League. They lost 2-1 versus Aston Villa in the final of their playoffs and, despite that, they had a successful season that saw the team mature and grow.
Lampard, who spent 13 seasons with Chelsea as a player, had a positive first season as manager of the club. He led his side to a fourth-place finish in the Premier League, which secured their spot in the Champions League for the 2020/21 campaign. Additionally, Chelsea advanced to the FA Cup finals versus Arsenal, yet lost 3-1.
However, they weren’t as fortunate in the League Cup and the Champions League as they had bitter defeats versus Manchester United and Bayern Munich, with the latter proving to be too much to handle. It was a learning curve for Lampard as it was his first time managing a club in the Champions League. A tough task to do with limited managerial experience.
In Lampard’s first season, he exceeded expectations for his side after a transfer ban in the summer of 2018. He had the daunting task of not being able to sign players that he would have wanted to and, instead, had to depend on players who returned from the prior season and also relied on the Youth Academy. Although the ban was lifted and they were able to sign players in the winter transfer market, not much was done, which left Lampard in a difficult situation.
Most managers would prefer to arrive, transform the club as to how they would want it and have the flexibility to buying players in the transfer market. Lampard took on a challenging task and, in doing so, he has been able to take many Chelsea academy players to the next level in their young career.
Last season, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James broke into the first team and got their opportunity to show what they could provide to Chelsea. All three players didn’t disappoint as they finished the season rather impressively. Mount and Abraham had a combined 22 goals in the Premier League, while James proved to be a capable backup to Cesar Azpilicueta for the foreseeable future. He is a physical defender, with strong tackles and a good read for the game.
Heading into the 2020/21 season, expectations became much different for Lampard. This time around, the club had a full summer transfer window to purchase and were quite active, to say the least. They brought young, highly talented players, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell. They also brought veteran Thiago Silva to provide leadership and experience in the backend. They spent an excess of 200 million Euros in the summer transfer window and expectations were high.
Lampard’s job was in jeopardy at the mid-point of the season as his side had failed to produce. They exited early in the League Cup versus Tottenham Hotspur, advanced his side to the round of 16 in the Champions League and won against Hull City to advance into the fourth round of the FA Cup. Prior to his firing, Chelsea was sitting in ninth place in the Premier League. The results were encouraging yet not enough to save his job.
Lampard’s first season was more lenient given the circumstances the club faced however in his second season, club owner, Roman Abramovich, didn’t wait to evaluate Lampard’s performance as manager. The club decided to replace him with ex-PSG manager, Thomas Tuchel, which caught many by surprise when the deal was announced.
While it was sad to see Lampard leave Chelsea, he did his best in a tough situation the past two seasons. One noticeable area of concern was Lampard’s lack of managerial experience. Far too often this season, he had players in positions that were not their regulation position. Specifically, Werner, who was used as a left-wing but spent most of his time as a centre-forward with RB Leipzig. The German has struggled to find consistency, along with not scoring at the same rate he did in the Bundesliga.
All the blame shouldn’t be squared solely on Lampard. It was well known that he had limited managerial experience and he was going to need time to learn and adapt. Many successful managers have advanced through the youth rankings or have managed the lower divisions to help them gain experience. Lampard should have been given the proper time to adjust and figure it out with Chelsea. That’s never the case with Abramovich, who is known to have little patience.
Additionally, Chelsea acquired a plethora of new players in the summer transfer market and they had limited time to become familiar with each other. Training camp was shortened this season as Covid-19 altered the season and the scheduling. Injuries and illnesses also hampered Lampard’s squad, which made it difficult to have a full roster where players could play regularly.
While it didn’t go as planned this season, the Englishman was able to keep Chelsea on course through difficult times. Now he will embark on a new journey in his managerial career. Regardless of how it went, he will always be a Blue who gave it his all just as he did when he was a player with the club.
In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho) and Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) were joined by special guest Will Dalton (@WillDalton01) who talks about getting into Journalism and working for Chelsea TV and Premier League productions, meeting the likes of Tammy Abraham when he was 16, who he’s impressed most by in the U23’s, the importance to give Werner and Havertz time, the upcoming Arsenal game and so much more!
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Frank Lampard enters his second season as manager of Chelsea and comes off an impressive year where he finished in a top four spot in the English Premier League. In doing so, Chelsea qualified for the Champions League for a second straight season and did this with the loss of their star player, Eden Hazard. The Belgian was sold to Real Madrid as he wanted to play under Zinedine Zidane. Additionally, a transfer ban last summer restricted Chelsea from purchasing players and strengthening their squad.
The youth academy finally became a focal point as young touted players such as Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham finally had their chance to showcase their skills. Mount and Abraham each flourished in their first season in the EPL as they scored seven and fifteen goals, respectively. They have continued that trend into their second season and have excelled.
With the transfer ban no longer an issue this season, the summer transfer market was boisterous for Chelsea. The Blues caught many by surprise with their marquee signings as they were able to sign elite players such as Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. To add to the mix, Abraham has started to emerge as an elite striker so Lampard has plenty of options at centre-forward.
So where does this leave Olivier Giroud? The Frenchman signed a one-year deal last season to extend his stay with the Blues but this decision has backfired. He has started in five of their twenty-one matches in all competitions this season and regularly appeared as a substitute. In recent times, he has grown frustrated and has fallen down the pecking order. The forward needs to play more if he is to secure his spot in the Euros for France come June.
Giroud has mentioned that he’s grown frustrated and that he will decide on his future come January 2021. Lampard wants the forward to stay, however, Chelsea will not get in the way if he decides to leave. Since arriving from Arsenal, Giroud has helped Chelsea win a FA Cup and the Europa League.
Near the midway point of the season, Mitchy Batshuayi was the backup to Abraham and Giroud was third in line.
Batshuayi’s performances declined back in February and this prompted Lampard to move Giroud behind Abraham. He too was struggling as scoring and his inability to finish started to become an issue. While this compounded midway through the season, this gave Giroud an opportunity to make his mark as the number one choice for his manager.
Although Abraham recovered from injuries before Project Restart, he faltered down the latter part of the season as he scored twice in their final 13 appearances (between the EPL and FA Cup).
Rumoured to be joining clubs such as Inter Milan, Lazio and Tottenham Hotspurs last January, this never materialized as the Frenchman stayed with Chelsea for the remainder of the season. Had he left, Lampard’s options would have been Abraham and Batshuayi and, with the latter no longer part of his plans, he couldn’t afford to lose Giroud without a sufficient replacement. In April, Giroud renewed his contract and decided to stay an additional season with the Blues.
While Giroud wasn’t a starter last season, he still showed determination when Lampard called upon him to enter as a substitute. The Frenchman proved himself and was inserted in the staring lineup when the season re-started. He provided stability up front and scored eight goals in thirteen EPL matches and one goal in the FA Cup Semi-Finals.
Fast forward to this season and Giroud found himself in a situation he didn’t want to be in. He was in a lesser role with Chelsea now that Havertz and Werner joined the club. Along with the emergence of Abraham, the Frenchman had every reason to leave the club. In recent times, that hasn’t been the case as Werner, Havertz and Abraham are struggling as they’ve been in poor form.
He wants to secure his spot in the upcoming Euros with France and also play regularly. That may be a possibility as the Frenchman is having another good season with the Blues. He has scored eight goals in fourteen games across all competitions and is on pace to surpass his numbers from last season.
Earlier this season, Giroud played a meaningful part in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Stade Rennais F.C. in the Champions League as he scored the winner in the dying moments. A great moment for the Frenchman and the Blues which shows the kind of player they have, yet he will need a more significant role with the club if he is to stay.
“I think everybody feels from the outside what a great professional [Giroud] is and how highly regarded he is by his teammates and by myself,” said Lampard.
“And for him to get a goal, you’ve seen the reaction of his teammates, he’s so professional in how he trains and looks after himself that age isn’t even a factor.
“Even though he doesn’t play all the time,” he continued.
“I hope and I think he knows that I’m happy with him and how much I rely on him.”
His time with the Blues will always be remembered for scoring pivotal goals and helping them win two important trophies. Chelsea have gone in a new direction with young talented players that will become the future of this club. Yet, if Werner’s struggles persist and Lampard continues to be reluctant to use Havertz as a number nine, this will leave him with just Abraham.
Lampard wants Giroud to stay so what looked like a bad situation may have changed its course for the Frenchman to reconsider leaving. However, if he is to leave, let’s take a moment to be thankful and grateful for his time with Chelsea. He arrived to Chelsea leaving with trophies, scoring pivotal goals and becoming a Blue’s player to remember and love.
Jerry Mancini spoke to Mark Worrall, author and publisher for Chelsea FC related books. He has written books such as Chelsea Here Chelsea There, ‘Blue Murder: ‘Chelsea Till I Die’ and Chelsea Football Fanzine.
How would you rate Frank Lampard’s first season with Chelsea? Additionally, why is Lampard struggling to coach defense?
“A very solid 7/10 for Super Frank. [A] victory in the FA Cup Final would have pushed it to 9/10. Achieving [a] top four [position in the English Premier League] in spite of having lost Eden Hazard and not being able to sign new players was commendable.
“Defence issues were there from day one. Frank permed every option available to him as far as centre-back pairings and 3 at the back was concerned without ever achieving consistency. Clearly there is the need for a quality centre-back to be added to the squad and a left-back. Goalkeeper has also been an issue which has led to a crisis of confidence on several occasions. I’d like to believe it’s a personnel issue rather than a coaching issue…. We will find out next season, if the squad is improved in this area.”
Willian left Chelsea after seven seasons to join Arsenal. Did you feel this was the right move by Chelsea and the player? Also, how do you view his time with the Blues?
“I love the bones of Willian. He hates Tottenham of course! Joking aside, every Chelsea manager he played for rated him and there were always offers coming in for him. I think he found it hard to be constantly in Eden Hazard’s shadow, but his contribution and work rate were top notch.
“The move to Arsenal, is proof that at 32 he’s not a spent force. Personally, I don’t like to see Blues players move to rival Premier League clubs, especially London clubs. Was it the right move for Chelsea? I think so. I’m not sure he would have got much in the way of game time next season the way the team looks to be shaping up with new players.”
Chelsea shocked many with the signing of Timo Werner. How do you see the German fitting into Lampard’s plans this upcoming season?
“If [he is] playing through the middle, [Timo] Werner will hopefully be the man to consistently convert the chances that Chelsea create down the flanks. There is flexibility though and he can play left-wing with Tammy [Abraham] as centre forward. Either way, he’s going to be one of the first names on Super Frank’s team-sheet and if he stays injury-free then a 50+ appearances season beckons.”
Which area should Chelsea focus on the most in this transfer market window?
“Goalkeeper needs to be addressed and one centre-back – I actually think left-back is less of an issue for now while Kai Havertz is a luxury signing. It looks like [Roman] Abramovich is motivated to spend, spend, spend and so it’s a question of finding the right players and getting the deals over the line.”
Chelsea have been very active in the transfer market. They have acquired Werner, Hakim Ziyech, and look close to signing Ben Chillwell and Kai Havertz. Which players do you believe will not benefit from all these players joining Chelsea?
“There’s quite a list, but avoiding the obvious ones who will be sold or loaned I do wonder how much game-time the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy and perhaps also [Christian] Pulisic and [Mason] Mount will get over the course of the season.”
Do you think César Azpilicueta is the best captain in Chelsea’s history?
“Short answer, no. César Azpilicueta is a terrific ambassador for the Club and a loyal, dependable and versatile defender… but he is nowhere near John Terry in terms of providing do-or-die leadership on the pitch.”
What has been the downfall to Kepa’s career and do you see the Spaniard in goal next season for Chelsea?
“Kepa’s downfall started with his player-manager escapade at Wembley in the 2019 League Cup Final v Man City. He then allowed personal issues to cloud his game (girlfriend trouble). Having a shaky defence in front of him hasn’t given him confidence and that’s a two-way street. Being dropped for the latter stages of the 2019/20 campaign spoke volumes about how much the manager trusts him – he doesn’t
“Without the benefit of a decent pre-season to see if he can be trusted with a better defence in front of him (assuming new signings) I don’t see how Lampard can re-evaluate him and, on that basis, I can’t see him getting a game. That said, if Chelsea don’t sign another goalkeeper and something happens to Willy Caballero there may be no option other than to play him.”
Lastly, how do you see Chelsea finishing this season and do you think they will progress this upcoming year?
“Progress will largely depend on fixing the defensive problems that plagued Chelsea in 2019/20. Do that, and with exciting new attacking talent already on board and the promise of more to come then the Blues could give Liverpool and Man City a run for their money in the Premier League.
“Realistically, going one better and winning the FA Cup this time around looks like the best option of silverware with the League Cup as a back-up… or why not win both? The new season is all about finding the right formula team wise, do that and we should be seriously challenging for top honours including the Champions League within the next couple of years.”
As one chapter begins, another one must come to an end. That is the case for this season’s number 10, Willian, as a move across the city to Arsenal has been confirmed. Willian has enjoyed a superb innings at the club, after signing in August of 2013 for a fee of £30m. In this piece, I will look at Willian’s best moments, my favourite memories and give an overview of his time in the famous royal blue shirt, as we bid farewell to our number 10.
The landing of Willian was a huge breath of fresh air for Chelsea, as the then 24-year-old had also attracted the eyes of Tottenham, and the North London club was desperate to land the Brazilian. Willian completed a medical at White Hart Lane before deciding he wanted the Chelsea move. The player has since claimed he always preferred the option of Chelsea, and that he would only have chosen Spurs had the Chelsea deal fallen through. This created the infamous “Willian Saw The Light” chant that echoed around Stamford Bridge on a weekly basis.
Willian made his Chelsea debut in the Champions League group stage against Basel, during Chelsea’s return to the competition after competing in the Europa League the season prior, and winning the whole thing. His first Chelsea goal came during a 3-1 victory over Norwich City, where the winger fired a stunning long-range strike past John Ruddy, which was nominated for the club’s goal of the season award. The Brazilian struggled to keep momentum following this game and took his time to acclimatise to the pressure and standards of the Premier League, but he eventually found his feet and cemented himself as a key Chelsea player. Willian earned himself a call up to Brazil’s World Cup squad for 2014, which was testament to his solid form for Chelsea.
As the 2014/15 season rolled around, Willian was now part of the devastating front 3 alongside Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, who decimated the league during this campaign and helped secure Chelsea’s 4th Premier League. Willian enjoyed a fantastic campaign and topped it off with two trophies, playing 36/38 League games for the Blues. He was also involved in the goal that won the Capital One Cup against Tottenham at Wembley, which was the perfect way to wrap up an exceptional season for Chelsea.
Over the course of his Chelsea career, Willian cemented himself as a serial winner, and his trophy cabinet is nothing short of impressive. The Brazilian won 2 Premier Leagues, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 1 Europa League, and also won the Chelsea Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season in the 2015/16 season. This range of accolades proves the quality and importance he had to the club.
Some Of My Favourite Willian Moments:
The opinion splitter himself has had some very memorable moments in a Chelsea shirt, some good, some bad, but memories us fans will have forever. Here are just a few of my favourite Willian moments:
THAT goal vs Manchester City (2016/17)
This game remains one of my favourite Chelsea games, as it outlined just how devastating we can be on the counter. After going 1-0 down after a Gary Cahill own goal, we turned it around in style and scored 3 tremendous counter-attacking goals, the second coming from Willian. As Costa picked the ball up on the halfway line, Willian had already flicked the burners on and destroyed Alexander Kolarov in a race to the ball and slotted it home to take the lead. A real showcase of the true speed he had.Brace vs Tottenham (2019/20)
The Brazilian helped the Blues pick up an all-important victory over Spurs this season, which set Frank Lampard up to be the first manager in history to do a league double over Jose Mourinho. Willian netted twice, once from the penalty spot, and one scorcher on his right foot following a short corner, which set the away end alight. This performance really highlighted his importance to the side.
Identical free-kicks against Dynamo Kiev (2015 and 2019)
This moment was one of the most exciting things we’ve seen Willian do at Chelsea. A moment of sheer beauty in our Europa League game against Dynamo Kiev in 2019. Willian put his freekick into the top left-hand corner, which was an absolute peach of a goal. This goal would have likely made the list on its own, but the fact it was absolutely identical to the one he scored past the same side in the Champions League in 2015 is what makes it so special. Us fans thought we’d gone back in time when this one hit the net, a real favourite of mine.
4 in a row (2015/16)
A particular run of events springs to mind when I think of Willian. Back in the 2015/16 season, the Brazilian netted four freekicks in four games, and each one was special. The best of the four came against Southampton, and what a freekick it was. Bent from 25 yards across the goal and in off the far post, this moment stands out to me as one of his best goals in blue.
Whether you love him or hate him, we can all agree he helped out on numerous occasions and gave us many memorable moments. Willian has been a terrific player for Chelsea, and we are grateful for the time he spent with us. Thankyou Willian.
The time has finally come. Again. Chelsea and Arsenal take centre stage at Wembley in the FA Cup final for the third time. Arsenal have the historic advantage, having won the competition more times than any other team (13), but can Chelsea dig out that all important performance for when it matters most that we have seen so often in recent years. The last time these two sides faced each other in a cup competition was in the Europa League final in Baku last year, a fixture that Chelsea fans will remember forever, which included a dominant display from Eden Hazard in his last appearance for the Blues, and also featured a cameo goal from former gunner Olivier Giroud.
Both sides come into the game coming off the back of a victory on the last league game of the season, however Chelsea made it look a lot easier than Arsenal, with the Gunners just managing to keep Watford at bay. Arsenal are sure to have a vendetta as this is their last chance to secure European football for next season, after Mikel Arteta’s side missed out on Europe after Arsenal suffered their worst Premier League finish in over 20 years. This final will be the first time since 2012 that two managers will face each other after playing against each other for their respected clubs, with both bosses hoping to achieve the bragging rights as well as the lucrative trophy.
As mentioned previously, Arteta’s side have struggled for the majority of the season, and finished lower than both Chelsea and Tottenham, which is sure to be a significant blow to the sides confidence going into the game. Chelsea achieved a top 4 finish which surprised the entire footballing world, and the Blues will hope to keep the dream going for a little bit longer. Can Lampard be a thorn in Arteta’s side once more, or do the Gunners have what it takes to fight one last time.
Team news and press conference updates:
Frank stated in his press conference that N’Golo Kante and Willian are back in the squad, which is a huge boost for the Blues, as a player of Kante’s quality is missed greatly when he is absent, and Willians form since the restart has been exceptional which will also benefit the Blues. Disheartening news followed, as Ruben Loftus Cheek is out of the squad after picking up a minor injury in training yesterday. Frank expressed his feelings on the absence of the fans for the game, saying he expects a different game without them, and is sad they won’t be in attendance, but he aims to get his hands on the silverware on behalf of the fans and the club. He followed by saying he expects a very tough game against a side who showcased their ability in the semi final.
Lampard also said that his selection for the game will be difficult, as everyone wants to play in the final, but he hopes his team can stick together and try and win together. He also spoke from experience when he said “you learn more with every final you play in”. Lampard and his men will be hoping this is the first of many for his young side.
Players to watch:
Mason Mount: Mason has had an absolutely phenomenal first season at Stamford Bridge, and what better way to culminate it than at Wembley in the FA Cup final, playing for his boyhood club. Mount set the stadium alight in the semi final with a standout performance against Man United, which featured a wonder strike from himself that David De Gea failed to keep out. Mount also struck gold in the final Premier League game of the season, netting a free kick from nothing shy of 20 yards. The youngster will aim to carry this momentum through to the final, and will hopefully get his hands on some silverware for the Blues.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The Gabonese international had a wonderful performance against Manchester City in the semi final two weeks ago, which included a brace from the striker. He also had an incredible season, given the circumstances of Arsenals poor finish, finding the net 22 times, just one short of the golden boot award. Arteta will hope that the Gunners see the best of Aubameyang in the final, as he is the sides best chance at securing the vital win.
Christian Pulisic v Hector Bellerin/Cedric
Whoever starts at right back for Arsenal will be sure to have their work cut out for them, as Chelsea’s “Captain America” has been in fantastic form since the restart, and the young man appears to have really found his feet at Stamford Bridge. The winger will hope to achieve glory in his first season in England, and will be a serious threat to the Arsenal defence, given his sheer pace and low centre of gravity that reminds Chelsea fans of a certain Belgian that haunted Arsenal fans for 7 years. Pulisic can however be matched at pace by Hector Bellerin, as the lightening fast defender can put up a good fight against Chelsea’s playmaker. Cedric on the other hand may struggle to keep up with Pulisic, but given the intense circumstances of the final, the Portuguese international may be able to get one up on the Chelsea winger. Whatever the outcome, this battle is sure to impress.
Frank Lampard becomes the 6th Chelsea manager to take the Blues to the FA Cup final in their debut season in charge, and will hope he can bring the trophy home to top off an already impressive season.
In our twenty seventh episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho), Paree (@ACParee) and special guest Sam (@ElvidgeSam – Arsenal fan) discuss the upcoming game against Arsenal in the FA Cup Final where we talk about possible lineups and formations, key battles during the game, a combined eleven and score predictions.
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In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, we got the great opportunity to talk with Chelsea fan and social media influencer Zac Djellab! A big thank you to Zac of course for taking his time out to talk to us, and also our hosts Dan (@danbarkzr) & Orlando (@0rland1nho).
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In our twenty first episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho), Danny (@danny_new_) & Paree (@ACParee) discuss the great 2-0 victory over Wolves to qualify Chelsea for the Champions League next season. The boys also discuss the developments in Kai Havertz to Chelsea, the breakthrough in Willian signing a new contract and a lot more!
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Willian has long been Chelsea’s ‘marmite player’. Years before Jorginho came in and challenged the Brazilian for his title of the most divisive player at the club, Willian was either loved or hated by most fans, with very few sitting on the fence. With a potential reunion between the man who ‘hates Tottenham’ and Jose Mourinho in North London this summer, I will try and give a breakdown on Willian’s time at Stamford Bridge, and whether or not we could see him stay past this summer.
Having reportedly turned down an offer of a two year contract extension, telling Esporte Interativo that he wanted ‘three more years’ at the club, Willian is free to find a new team come the season’s end. The interview, given after the Bayern Munich game in March, angered Chelsea fans worldwide. Club legends, such as John Terry and Frank Lampard, were only offered one year contract extensions after turning 30 – due to club policy – and now that the board has eased its stance for Willian, they had been rejected. In a column written for The Players Tribune, the Brazilian said, “If you ask my wife if she wants to leave London, she’ll say no”. This has led to him being linked with two of Chelsea’s biggest rivals, Arsenal and Spurs, so clearly Willian is a man in demand. After his most productive season in blue to date, why would so many fans be keen to see the back of him?
Well, despite numerous incredible displays, most notably against Barcelona; where he hit the post twice before scoring in a 1-1 UCL last 16 tie in 2018, tempting the Catalan giants to make a £50 million bid for the then 29 year old, which was promptly rejected. An excellent performance against Spurs earlier in the season will also be fondly remembered by many fans. In fact, Willian has long been the scourge of our London rivals, not only did he score both goals in our 2-0 away win over them in December, but he also backed out of a seemingly agreed switch to White Hart Lane in order to join Chelsea. However, Willian’s Chelsea career has been tarnished by an incredible inconsistency. The forward has posted an underwhelming 74 goal contributions in 230 league appearances, at a rate of one every 3 games. For context, his predecessor in the number 10 shirt, Eden Hazard, racked up a huge 146 goal contributions in 245 league games, at a rate nearly double that of Willian.
Another aspect of the Brazilian’s character which has not endeared him to fans was his attitude towards Antonio Conte. Immediately after the 2018 FA Cup final victory over Manchester United, Willian uploaded an image to his social media accounts of the trophy presentation, edited so that the Italian manager’s face was covered by emojis. He insisted his daughter had done it without his knowledge. Such pettiness didn’t go down well with Chelsea supporters, with the popular Conte sacked a few weeks later only a year on from his incredible league success.
However, despite all of the negativity surrounding previous antics, there is a reason that Chelsea offered Willian a two year contract. He has proved to be an extremely valuable player this season, regularly starting in the 3rd youngest squad in the league (with an average age of 25.3 years). Azpilicueta, Kanté and the Brazilian are the only players aged over 28 to start more than half of the league games played so far this season, building an experienced spine to Lampard’s youthful side. Despite his advancing years, the Brazilian has managed to start 25 of the available 33 league games, notching up an impressive 9 goals and 5 assists (including 3 penalties). Statistically this has been his most productive season in front of goal for the Blues already, beating his 13 goal contributions in the 2017/18 campaign. With Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic struggling for fitness for large parts of the season, Willian has stepped up and dragged Chelsea through some tough encounters. But does his form this season mean he deserves a three year contract extension?
Chelsea have been aggressive in the market, sealing deals for both Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner before the transfer window has opened. Both recruits are extraordinarily talented, and – unfortunately for Willian – are able to play on the wing. Although Werner is naturally a number 9 or a second striker, he has adapted his game to make darting runs in from the left flank, helping him to bag a phenomenal 36 goal contributions in 34 Bundesliga start this term. Ziyech, meanwhile, is a more natural winger, playing mainly on the right flank and cutting in to provide 6 goals and 13 assists from 21 league outings. With Christian Pulisic in extraordinary form and Hudson-Odoi a hugely talented youngster waiting for his chance, Willian would probably find himself to be a bit-part player at best next season. He is clearly a player with huge self-confidence, and doesn’t appear to be happy to sit on the bench. Could this push him towards the exit door?
It is worth noting that Willian has performed admirably this season, not just in terms of goal output. He tops the squad for key passes, creating an average of 1.9 chances every league game, as well as sitting third for dribbles, with 1.8 completed every game. He also draws more fouls than anyone in the squad (1.3 per game), and gives the ball away less than half as often as other key winger Pulisic. The fact that he has accumulated the fourth most playing minutes in the league for us this season demonstrates how highly rated he is by the manager, and should we lose him this summer it is clear that whoever starts on the wings next season has big boots to fill.
Finally, when debating whether or not Willian should stay, it is vital to note his incredible work rate. Our 2015/16 Player (and Players’ Player) of the season, has managed the most tackles and interceptions of any of our attacking players to have started at least 5 league games, with an average of 1.9 in the league this season. This demonstrates his willingness to track back down the right flank and support whoever plays at right back. Whilst his inconsistent application – unless a new contract is up for grabs! – of his obvious talent frustrates all Chelsea fans, his effort and passion cannot be called into question.
Whenever Willian leaves it will naturally be to a mixed reception. Some will remember him at his electric best, others will remember him for constantly hitting the first man at corners, but there is no doubting how crucial he has been to Chelsea this season. With a three year contract unlikely to be offered – Willian would be pushing 35 by the time it runs out – and talents like Tino Anjorin pushing for first team minutes, it could be for the best that Willian leaves. He could probably be useful as an impact substitution, with his pace causing problems late on against weary defenders, but it is unlikely that he would be happy to fill such a role. Whatever your opinions on Willian, we can all be thankful that he signed a short-term extension in order to see out the rest of the season, when others would have looked after their own self-interests and left at the end of June. The Brazilian’s goals may still fire Chelsea to Champions League qualification, so for the rest of the season we should all get behind our number 10. After all, Spurs may have bought his flight, but…