Ecstasy to Agony in Madrid – but Blues can be Prouder than Ever

Football, bloody hell.

These were the thoughts of legendary Manchester United custodian Alex Ferguson, following his side’s dramatic injury time triumph over Bayern Munich in the 1999 European Cup final. The same sentiment could be used to describe Chelsea’s trip to Madrid last night, but perhaps from a place of slightly less jubilation.

It’s not often that a side comes to the home of the 13-time European Cup winners and comprehensively outplay them, but that is exactly what Chelsea managed to do. Aiming to maintain their 100% record against Real Madrid in knockout ties, the Blues were 11 minutes from securing the most unlikely of comebacks. It seemed for all the world that London’s finest had booked their place in the semi-finals of Europe’s elite competition when Timo Werner calmly slotted home late on – something in itself that seemed a minor miracle. We all know what happened next: the timeless Modric curling a peach of a ball into the box with his other-worldly right boot, which was dutifully finished by the young Rodrygo, followed by a stooping Benzema header in extra time to consign Chelsea to a gut-wrenching exit. This game went beyond score lines and stats though, and in these most uncertain of times for the Blues, this was a reminder of exactly what it is to be a part of the Chelsea family.

The first half went exactly to plan for Tuchel’s charges. Back in a more familiar 3-4-3 formation following the ill-advised switch to a back four for the Brentford game and parts of the first leg of this quarter-final tie, there were a couple of surprising inclusions for Chelsea. Timo Werner kept his place on the left side of the front line following his impressive performance against Southampton at the weekend, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek did the same, putting in an incredible shift at right wing-back, with Reece James monstrous yet again in his role as the right-sided centre back in a back three. The Blues choked the home side with their aggressive pressing patterns, so often forcing the ball back to Courtois, who in turn would hurriedly clear and present possession back to the away side. It took only until the 15th minute for Chelsea to capitalise on their over-whelming dominance. Following good build-up play by Kovacic and Loftus-Cheek, the ball fortuitously dropped to Mount off Werner’s thigh. The Cobham academy graduate needed no second invitation, exquisitely bending a bouncing ball first-time past the helpless dive of Courtois. It was the perfect start.

Tuchel got his tactics spot on as his side dominated throughout. Photo credit: The Telegraph

Chelsea continued to dominate proceedings without carving too many clear-cut chances for themselves, as the Londoner’s exited the pitch for half-time with their aggregate deficit halved to just the one goal. The second period got off to the perfect start with a towering Rudiger header from a delightful Mount corner evening the scores. The equaliser temporarily sparked Madrid into life, satisfying the baying home crowd with a couple of opportunities, first for Benzema then for Kroos from a free-kick. However, it looked as though Chelsea had completed a memorable comeback when flying left wing-back Marcos Alonso rocketed a dropping ball into the top right of Courtois’ goal with his weaker right foot, only for VAR to chalk off the effort due to the tiniest contact between ball and the Spaniard’s tucked-in hand. 5 minutes later it looked like that decision could have haunted Chelsea as Benzema had yet another free header, however this time the 2022 Balon d’Or favourite could only guide his effort onto Mendy’s upright.

Cut to the 75th minute and the most unlikely of heroes for Chelsea. A perfectly weighted through-ball from the imperious Kovacic (96 passes at a 96% accuracy to go with his two darting dribbles) slipped Timo Werner past Casemiro and Carvajal. Now to the tricky part. The German is infamous for slapping any chance he gets wide of the mark, or for being offside, or a combination of the two. However, on the grandest of occasions he was able to maintain the clarity of thought to cut past a sliding Casemiro, and then a well-placed David Alaba, before firing beyond Courtois. It looked as though the much-maligned forward had finally come good with a winner, following his impressive brace at the weekend. Much like the rest of the German’s Chelsea career however, upset was soon to follow. Five minutes later Modric picked out the perfect pass and that was the beginning of the end for an inspired Chelsea. Substitute Pulisic spurned two huge opportunities from perfect knockdowns from teammates and so this epic was to go to an additional half an hour of extra time.

Werner stepped up on the biggest occasion with a calmly-taken goal. Photo credit: The Telegraph

96 minutes in, Chelsea had made only one change (Pulisic for Werner) and the fatigue from battling for every ball for an hour and a half was beginning to set in. Vinicius Junior was away on the left-hand side, possibly the only time he had been free of a relentless Reece James since the early minutes of the game. The Brazilian once again demonstrated his almost telepathic relationship with Benzema, hanging a perfect ball into the box for the French forward to convert, with Rudiger slipping at the vital moment. The game was far from over. Havertz had bustled with industry and intensity from the very first whistle, and almost caught out former Chelsea man Courtois (which would have delighted his numerous detractors in the fan-base), sprinting and straining to block what he thought would be an up-field punt from the goalkeeper following a heavy touch. However, the Belgian proved his class with a calm Cruyff turn to get himself out of what could have been a very high-profile blunder. Havertz had a much better chance to earn his side a deserved equaliser just minutes later, failing to bury a free header from a magnificent Reece James delivery from the right flank. Finally, it was Jorginho’s turn to snatch at a guild-edged chance at the death, failing to finish a ball from Ziyech from all of ten yards out and under little pressure. The final whistle went, with La Liga leaders Real Madrid clinching a place in the semi-finals.

However, as I wrote at the start of this article: this game was about so much more than the result – despite the fact that the Blues did actually win this match 3-1 after 90 minutes! The perfect story to sum up this game was embodied by Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Forever the nearly-man, talked up by a seemingly endless procession of Chelsea managers as the future of their midfield (despite never being given a consistent run outside of the Europa League), the Englishman put in an incredible performance, little over 12 months since being relegated as part of a poor Fulham side – offering a single goal contribution over his season there. Throw in the horrific ACL injury sustained in a charity match at the end of his first season of regular minutes at Chelsea, which forced him to miss out on a Europa League final as well as the academy revolution of the Frank Lampard era, it looked as though the Englishman was finished at Stamford Bridge, another sad story of wasted potential at the London side. However, given a run of games over winter following injuries to Kovacic and Jorginho, Ruben grew into his role as a deep-lying playmaker and excelled there for a month. His resultant downturn in form coincided with the general December malaise at the club and gametime has been hard to come by since. But following a majestic performance in an unusual right wing-back position on the South Coast on Saturday, Tuchel put his faith in him to thrive in the most intimidating of atmospheres. Seemingly assured by the immense defensive presence of Reece James on his inside, Loftus-Cheek ruled the right-flank with 4 crosses and 2 key passes, as well as playing a key part in Chelsea’s first goal and performing to a high level throughout both on and off the ball, his driving runs from deep a reminder of the dynamic presence he can be.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a dynamic presence down Chelsea’s right. Photo credit: football.london

 Mason Mount again silenced his doubters, with his 23rd and 24th goal contributions of the season (far and away the side’s most prolific player in this regard). The tireless midfielder put in a pressing performance for the ages, whilst finding the time to lay on a match-high 4 key passes and continued his impressive record against Spain’s most successful side, following on from his semi-final goal at the Bridge against the same opposition last year – so much for flat track bully! Reece James completed the triumvirate of academy players starting on such a huge stage. Following a yellow card for a professional foul on Vinicius Junior after getting beaten far too easily, the 22-year-old prevented the in-form winger from creating anything of note until extra time. This was summed up by his astonishing 8 tackles, three more than the next best on the pitch. Once again the Cobham graduate proved his world-class ability at right centre back, as well as bombing forwards to provide precise crosses and a thunderbolt effort which led to the corner from which Rudiger bagged Chelsea’s second.

Finally, there were a couple of stories of redemption on an extraordinary night for Chelsea. Coming into April it seemed as though Timo Werner’s head was fixed solely on his new club (thought to be Borussia Dortmund), as he shirked challenges all over the field and failed to impress during a six-month league goal-drought. However, the German seemed a man reborn following his confidence boosting double against the Saints, and he made threatening runs all night. Loftus-Cheek failed to release Werner on a couple of occasions, but when he was finally given his chance by Kovacic, he took it with both hands, briefly becoming a Chelsea cult-hero. There could yet be time for Werner to save his Chelsea career! Marcos Alonso is another potential summer departure for the Blues, following many questions over his pace and defensive abilities. The Spaniard was even dropped from his left wing-back berth for countryman Azpilicueta for the first leg against Madrid, despite it being the captain’s weaker flank. Alonso was back with a point to prove, and on top of his harshly disallowed goal he was a calming figure for the away side throughout. His joint match-leading 4 key passes illustrated his offensive contribution, as well as his 9 crosses, and he was switched on defensively, helping Rudiger shore up the left flank and preventing Carvajal and Llorente overloading that side.

If there are any Chelsea fans out there feeling awful today I can more than understand why: we were 11 minutes from a well-deserved Champions League semi-final spot and who knows what could have happened from there. But hopefully with a bit of perspective we can all see a bright future for Chelsea, regardless of who takes over. In Thomas Tuchel we have a tactical genius who once again proved he is one of the best coaches in the world. We have a young and hungry squad: Chilwell, Mount, Havertz, Chalobah, James and Hudson-Odoi are all 25 and under. And on top of these crucial factors, we have an innate fighting spirit and a passionate fanbase who will stick by the side through thick and thin.

The away fans at the Santiago Bernabeu put it best as they serenaded their heroes after the full-time whistle: ‘Champions of Europe, we’ll sing that ‘till May’.

One more thing to add: imagine not being Chelsea!

By Daniel New

Podcast: Roman Abramovich is selling the club!

Exclusive Academy Transfer Updates w/Scott Trotter! The Chelsea Spot Podcast

  1. Exclusive Academy Transfer Updates w/Scott Trotter!
  2. Mount shines against Bournemouth & Enzo Fernandez to the Blues?!

In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Orlando (Admin – @0rland1nho) to discuss the crazy last week surrounding Chelsea. Talking about Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool, our instant reaction to Abramovich’s statement that he is selling the club, the problems hidden in the 4-0 win over Burnley and looking forward to Norwich on Thursday.

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Podcast: Everything Chelsea with Matt Selley!

Exclusive Academy Transfer Updates w/Scott Trotter! The Chelsea Spot Podcast

  1. Exclusive Academy Transfer Updates w/Scott Trotter!
  2. Mount shines against Bournemouth & Enzo Fernandez to the Blues?!


In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Host – @CFCParee) is joined by Tom (Writer – @tmdftbl) & special guest Matt Selley (Guest – @matty_selley) to discuss all things Chelsea! Talking about how he became a Chelsea fan, his idols growing up, his current favoured lineup, Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s remarkable return, watching the women’s team and so much more!

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Podcast: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2021 WINNERS!

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS!

Exclusive Academy Transfer Updates w/Scott Trotter! The Chelsea Spot Podcast

  1. Exclusive Academy Transfer Updates w/Scott Trotter!
  2. Mount shines against Bournemouth & Enzo Fernandez to the Blues?!

GET IN THERE! In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho), Dan (Admin – @DanBarkerCoach) and Danny (Writer – @danny_new_) discuss last night’s incredible victory against Manchester City in the Champions League final. Talking about our instant reactions to the game, Thomas Tuchel propaganda, THAT Mason Mount pass to Kai Havertz and so much more!

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The Importance Of ‘Untouchable’ Players At Chelsea FC

When you look at the Chelsea team of 2021, there is a very short list of players who are deemed as ‘Untouchables’ and have earned the right to start every single week. ‘Untouchables’ is a term seemingly coined by Jose Mourinho to describe players who are consistent and are permanently on the team sheet despite the opposition. In 2006, Mourinho listed his Chelsea Untouchables as Essien, Makelele, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Petr Cech. The names listed by Mourinho have a common theme. Every single player listed was willing to fight for the badge, possessed leadership qualities and knew their role to perfection.

Mourinho is a manager who needs players he trusts and especially during his time at Chelsea and Manchester United, he was not worried about criticising underperforming players and shaming them publicly. In this sense, Thomas Tuchel is the polar opposite of Jose Mourinho. It is very clear that Tuchel sees team cohesion and morale as key parts of a title winning side, which explains his recurring theme of never blaming defeats solely on one player. Despite this, a solid ‘spine’ is what many feel is lacking within this Chelsea team as of this moment and to achieve the task of implementing this spine into the Chelsea starting eleven, Tuchel would need to reserve spaces in the team for his most trusted players. This would undoubtedly upset some fringe members of the squad, which on the positive side could possibly bring about a much needed clearance of dead wood.

The only ‘Untouchables’ present in Tuchel’s Chelsea squad are Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta and Mason Mount. This is worrying for a number of reasons, the lack of permanent starters present in the squad causes a lot of tinkering to be done from game to game. Tuchel is notorious for his changing of formation and personnel depending on the opposition, but in the Premier League there has to be some familiarity within the starting eleven.

Mendy is a suitable option for the calibre of goalkeeper needed to challenge for titles and his winning mentality and class has been shown countless times this season. Azpilicueta is still a top right back on his day and one of the most consistent full backs in recent Premier League history, however his decreasing pace is a worrying sign and his performances have somewhat become inconsistent throughout the past season. Tuchel has made it clear several times that he feels the captain of the club should be a regular starter within the team, something Frank Lampard disagreed with. Mason Mount in his breakout year has fought for the badge when others wouldn’t and backed up his performances with an increase in goals and assists. Mason has also shown up in some of our biggest games this season, scoring a fantastic goal against Liverpool in a 1-0 win at Anfield and also securing Chelsea’s place in a Champions League final with a goal against Real Madrid. Showing up in big games is essential to be regarded as an ‘Untouchable’ for Chelsea FC and the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard lived for the big occasions.

The likes of Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta and Mason Mount unfortunately dwindle in comparison to the ‘Untouchables’ of 2006 but players of that nature are hard to come by these days. Players with bundles of skill and flair that are able to compete in the Premier League are easy to come by, but players willing to fight for the badge week in, week out and players that can perform on the biggest stage frequently are a rare breed in todays market.

Looking at the 2006/07 season of the Premier League, Lampard featured in 37 games, John Terry featured in 28 games, Carvalho featured in 31 games and Drogba featured in 36 games. A poor run of form at the end of the season prevented Chelsea from lifting the Premier League trophy for a third consecutive year. However, it is clear to see that a team with permanent starters brings familiarity and solidarity to everyone else on the pitch. Patterns of play become natural and consistency becomes effortless, every player on the pitch knows their roles and this helps to secure the defence, midfield and attack. Permanent starters set the foundations for the whole team to succeed. Reliable players doing reliable jobs to set the whole team up for success. Of course, every player listed as an ‘Untouchable’ by Jose was exceptional but these permanent starters do not have to be phenomenal footballers to become an ‘Untouchable’.

In an era where the highly sought after signings cost upwards of £50m and fans only want the best of the best to join their clubs, it is often tough to identify how a winning team with a winning mentality is established. Apart from the odd occasion in football history, not many exceptional teams are filled with eleven exceptional players. Using our Champions League final starting eleven from 2012, we can easily see that some of the players involved on that day were nowhere near world class. Bosingwa and Mikel both started the Champions League final in Munich and had been main stays in the team for the duration of the competition. Mikel played in 9 games and Bosingwa played in 11 throughout the 2011/12 campiagn. Neither of these two players were regarded as world class for their positions and sometimes you don’t have to be to succeed. There is no doubt that Bosingwa and Mikel provided much needed experience and calmness to players like Ryan Bertrand, who was featuring in his first ever European game for the Blues.

This summer will be pivotal in Tuchel deciding his ‘Untouchables’ during his reign at Stamford Bridge. As with every transfer window looming, Chelsea have obviously been linked with anyone and everyone. Transfers at this point for Chelsea FC are impossible to predict and there is still so much to play for this season but there is some big decisions for Thomas Tuchel to make throughout pre-season and the beckoning summer transfer window. Establishing his set of ‘Untouchables’ , in my eyes signifies that Tuchel accepts the fact that permanent starters are essential to a Premier League winning side and evidently showcases his ever-growing intention to win trophies at Chelsea.

Written by Frankie

Podcast: Chelsea 1-0 Barnsley Review & Newcastle Preview!

In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho) and Dan(Admin – @DanBarkerCoach) discussed the lucky 1-0 victory against Barnsley in the FA Cup including Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount appreciation, why Pulisic and Ziyech have struggled so far, and then also look ahead to Monday’s game against Newcastle!

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Podcast: Chelsea 4-0 Morecambe Match Review!

A game which should help for confidence ahead of Fulham…

In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho), Dan (Admin – @danbarkzr) and Danny (Writer – @danny_new_) discuss Chelsea’s comfortable FA cup victory over Morecambe. Talking about there being no academy kids involved, Hudson-Odoi and Gilmour impressing, the confidence for Werner and Havertz and will Tomori ever play in a Chelsea shirt again?

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West Brom 3-3 Chelsea Player Ratings – Cobham Masterclass!

Chelsea somehow managed to come back from a 3-0 defecit at Half Time, to take a point away after the 90 minuets. The academy boys once again saved us from embarassment, as goals from Mason Mount, Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham clinched us a draw. Let’s get into these player ratings…

Willy Caballero – 6:

Not really to blame for any of the three goals conceded, after individual errors all came from the defence. Didn’t need to do much in the match, but then again conceding three goals shouldn’t be anywhere near the normal, so he can take an average rating of 5.

Reece James – 5:

Not a spectacular performance from the English fullback, but there were some positives for sure. He made a delightful cross in the first half to Tammy Abraham who should have tucked it away, but other than that, most of his crosses and corners didn’t end up anywhere near the right place. Glimpses of his quality was shown but other than that it was certainly an underwhelming performance.

Andreas Christensen – 9:

An outstanding performance from the Centre-Half, today. Normally a player who struggles with consistency as well as these types of clubs who like to hoof the ball up a lot, but his strength and positioning was close to perfect today. He was by far our best Centre-Back today and so far this season has shown very encouraging signs of him becoming the defender we all think he can potentially be.

Thiago Silva – 4:

He took the armband in his Premier League debut, and unfortunately his mistake was so close to us losing the game. Even at 1-0 down, we looked like we could get back into the game but the Brazilian lost control of the ball and Callum Robinson glided past him and tucked it into the corner. Other than that he made some nice passes and didn’t make any other errors, but that one huge mistake certainly decreases his performance rating.

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IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES

Marcos Alonso – 1:

Probably the worst individual performance I have seen in a Chelsea shirt since Bakayoko vs Watford those many years ago. At fault for their first goal by pasing the ball to them, and at fault for him losing his man in the third goal. Frank Lampard rightly hooked him off at Half-Time and called him out twice in his post match press conference, although I have given him one pity point for being played out of position.

N’Golo Kante – 6:

Not his best performance in a Blue shirt either. In the first half he looked sloppy on the ball and made some very light-hearted passes, but then again Kante did what he always does and assembled some very nice tackles and interceptions. Meh.

Mateo Kovacic – 8:

Personally thought Kovacic was very good today, and showed the world what he’s good at. Drove with the ball very quickly in the first half and got us out of so many tight areas – after all, he is one of the best press resistant midfielders in the Premier League. He linked up with our attackers more, which is something we have been crying for from the Croatian. Good shift.

Kai Havertz – 8:

Thought Kai was very impressive today, and it was his first solid performance in the Premier League. He glides with the ball, worked hard, and was involved in and around the box a lot. Made a lovely 1-2 with Hudson-Odoi for our second goal which brought us right back into the game. A lot more to come to, but this was a very good start.

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IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES

Werner – 4

We saw very little of our German forward today. He hit the crossbar in the first half which he arguably should have scored from, but other than that wasn’t involved in the play at all. It certainly will be interesting to see if he starts as a winger next game, or whether he will go back to starting in the central position and drifting wide which he seems a lot more comfortable with. A disappointing performance from Timo but his goal will come, very soon.

Mason Mount – 9:

He’s just too good, isn’t he? First half he was being played out of position on the right hand side, but his versatility allowed him to be one of the better players even then. In the second half when he switched into the 8 role, he looked even better, and Mason was the stem of our comeback, after striking the ball beautifully 25 yards out with 35 minutes to go. He probably needs a rest soon after playing for all 270 minutes, but if you can’t see why Lampard wants to start him week in week out then I have no words for you.

Tammy Abraham – 7:

As he himself said after the game, he should have tucked away the tap in with his left foot in the first half. Other than that he wasn’t involved much in the game, but showed so much passion and clever striker play to get the goal in the 93rd minute to clinch us a much needed point. Didn’t get to see his linkup with Havertz, but it’ll come.

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IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES

Substitutes:

I won’t give ratings to the subsitutes as I think that can sometimes be a bit harsh. But no doubt the two half time changes helped us in our remarkable comeback. Azpilicueta came on for Marcos Alonso and we all know how much effort he puts in every single game, and Dave couldn’t have done any worse.

Hudson-Odoi was arguably our Man of the Match, and he was the main man behind us coming back from 3-0. His second Premier League goal came at 3-1 down after a lovely passing move, and his finish was delightful. For our 93rd minute winner, he put in the delightful cross which eventually led to the goal. Constantly, throughout his 45 minute cameo, he was causing the West Brom defenders havoc and left them panicking. Deserves to start against Spurs midweek.

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IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES

Not enough time to give a real judgement on Giroud, but he wasn’t involved much.

Do you agree with my player ratings? Let me know what you think on our social media platforms or my personal account!

Onto Spurs. Written by Paree

Podcast: Zac Djellab on working with Chelsea players, FA Cup Predictions & more!

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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#TheChelseaSpot | #Chelsea | #CFC

Podcast: Chelsea 3-1 Man U Review & Liverpool Preview!

What a victory!

In our twenty first episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho), Danny (@danny_new_) & Paree (@ACParee) discuss the incredible 3-1 victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup Semi-Final, and also look forward to Wednesday’s game against Liverpool which could secure us a Champions League spot for next season.

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Ranking Chelsea’s 20/21 squad from ‘Star Player’ to ‘Must Be Sold!’

Chelsea have already confirmed the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech and are expected to have a busy transfer window with the club looking to offload a number of squad players.

But where do the new signings rank amongst the squad? Who should be starting every week? Who needs to be sold?

Well, here’s my rankings from “Star player” down to “Must be sold”

Tier List made via tiermaker.com

As you can see, the list is quite ‘bottom heavy’ with a large number of players thrown into the must be sold category. The likes of Bakayoko, Batshuayi and Pedro feature as they look destined to be moved on by the club and I doubt many Chelsea fans would disagree. There are, however, some admittedly controversial picks in this tier.

Jorginho is a player who has drastically divided the fanbase ever since he signed for the club in 2018. Since the restart, Jorginho has been out-of-favour and Chelsea managed to win four out of the five league games in which the Italian midfielder didn’t start, scoring an impressive 12 goals in the process. Due to injuries to both N’Golo Kanté and Billy Gilmour, Lampard was forced to hand Jorginho his first start against Sheffield United and The Blues were thumped 3-0 with many describing the performance as the “worst of the season” and Jorginho faced the brunt of the criticism due to a lacklustre display. Despite beating Norwich 1-0, Chelsea put in another fairly disappointing display which lacked urgency, tempo and attacking quality. Yet again, Jorginho started this game and for me, he’s a big part of the problem.

I personally don’t dislike Antonio Rudiger as much as most Chelsea fans seem to. I think he does offer some leadership and certainly has a physical presence which most of his peers lack, however if I’m being completely honest (and harsh) he simply cannot defend.

Image Source: Chelsea-News.co
He’s a central defender… who can’t defend!

So, not only do I think Rudiger should be moved on but I also believe his calamitous partner Andreas Christensen has had more than enough chances at the club. These two are an actual comedy spectacle when they line up next to each other and while Andreas is still young and could improve, I just don’t think he’s suited to be a Premier League centre-half. Although he’s welcome to prove me wrong!

Finally from the bottom tier, Kepa has to be sold. I’ve never witnessed a goalkeeper at the top level struggle to stop shots so badly. The club are reportedly interested in Jan Oblak and Andre Onana, both of whom would massively improve our squad, so Arrizabalaga has to go.

Just as a caveat, Willian has been included in the ‘must be sold’ category solely based on his contract situation, otherwise I’d be happy for him to stick around for a year as a squad player.

The boys in the ‘loan’ list are fairly self explanatory. The teenage lads from the academy could do with a season on loan in the Championship or even League 1 to get acclimated with senior football. I’ve chucked Kenedy in there too just because I think he’s hugely underrated so I’d like the club to keep him on the books, but it looks likely that he’ll be leaving on a permanent basis.

Image Source: Sportskeeda

The squad players section was fairly easy for me. Not all 23 first-teamers can be ‘world class’ (unless you’re Manchester City) so we need a solid bench consisting of players who can come into the squad when needed and make an impact. Players who “offer something different” are key throughout a squad and the likes of Olivier Giroud, Ross Barkley and Marcos Alonso all tick that box. Giroud has proven his value since the restart and is still a goal threat, while Barkley has actually impressed at times throughout the season and by all accounts works extremely hard to improve himself. The reason I’d keep Alonso around is because he gives us the option to switch to a three-at-the-back system whereas Emerson, for me, just offers very little.

There’s absolutely no reason why both Billy Gilmour and Tammy Abraham cannot be starters next season. They both have the quality as they have proven already, but due the signing of Timo Werner and Lampard moving Kanté into a deeper role, I think that they may not be nailed on to start week-in week-out next year but both will certainly play a crucial role in the long-term.

The regular starters that I’ve selected are a perfect blend of youth and experience in my opinion. Azpilicueta has proven to still be a quality captain and player throughout the season and I believe that Frank Lampard is a big fan of the spaniard, Reece James is also battling for the same position though and deserves to be a starter so we may see ‘Dave’ continue to feature as a left-back. However, if we do sign Tagliafico, Telles, Chilwell or whoever it may be then that could knock one of Azpilicueta or James down a tier.

It’s pretty much impossible to fit all of Kovacic, Mount and Loftus-Cheek into one starting eleven but all three players offer different skill sets which are incredibly valuable to this Chelsea side. Mason Mount has been the club’s player of the season for me, his quality both on and off the ball is outstanding and to have contributed so much in his debut Premier League season is hugely impressive. He’s absolutely key to Frank’s system and therefore should and will start the majority of games next season wether we sign Havertz or not.

Image Source: 90min

I honestly believe that a fully fit Ruben Loftus-Cheek is one of the best players in the Premier League. He’s the definition of ‘complete midfielder’ and can offer both a goal threat and be a creative outlet. His physical strength combined with immense technical ability when in full flight makes him a defender’s nightmare and if he can get back to his best next season then he has to be a starter.

Fikayo Tomori and Callum Hudson-Odoi have both suffered injury problems as of late but are two of England’s brightest talents. Zouma and Tomori’s partnership in the first half of the season was far from perfect but was certainly the most encouraging central defensive set-up we’ve seen. Chelsea fans rightly love Hudson-Odoi and despite all of his off-the-pitch issues this season he has the quality to set the standard for young Premier League players next season.

Werner, Ziyech, Pulisic, Kantè. Is that the best “big four” since the Warriors lined up with Curry, Thompson, Draymond and KD?

Edit by @AAZChelsea

Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech are nailed on to be top, top players next season for Chelsea. They’re two of the most dynamic and exciting players in the Premier League and will improve Chelsea’s already strong attack ten-fold. Christian Pulisic’s form since the restart has all Blues fans convinced that he’s the real deal, adding goals to his game and beginning to remind fans of a certain Eden Hazard due to his immense dribbling ability. N’Golo Kanté’s inclusion as a star player needs no justification, despite injury issues this year he’s clearly a world class player who would start for any and every team in Europe.

So, that’s my personal ranking of next season’s Chelsea squad. Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know @TheChelseaSpot

*I (stupidly) forgot to include Ethan Ampadu in this tier list. Personally I’d like to see him as a squad player next season but he could benefit from another loan.

The Chelsea Spot Podcast #11 – Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa Match Review!

Aston Villa Match Review!

In our eleventh episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho), Danny (@danny_new_) and Ameya (@LampardsLegacy) discuss Chelsea’s quickfire comeback against Aston Villa and talk about Loftus-Cheek’s fitness and him getting the start, Mason Mount’s performance and Lampard’s in game management to bring on Pulisic at the exact right time.

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Lampard Faces a ‘Good’ Dilemma in the Midfield Next Season

Questions have been flying around on social media over what happens to the midfield next year: Who’s starting? Who’s going to be left out? Who should we sell? Well, in this article, I try and answer all of the questions. The key word there is ‘try’, because if I’m being totally honest, we don’t have a clue what Frank Lampard is going to do.

Let’s have a look at the midfield. In the midfield for next season, we have a hugely talented list: Kovacic, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Loftus-Cheek, Ziyech, Barkley, Gilmour, Ampadu, Gallagher and Anjorin. Eleven midfielders who Frank has to somehow entertain, whether that is on loan or kept, or even to be sold. Let’s go through each player…

Kovacic. Most people would say this season’s best player for Chelsea. He has just been outstanding, and his progress from Sarri to Lampard has been unbelievable to watch. We can always rely on the Croatian midfielder, with him even picking up a few goals, something which Chelsea fans never thought they would see. He’s guaranteed to stay next season and should be starting almost every single game.

Kante. The French midfielder has struggled this season especially with injuries, and this has led to many Chelsea fans debating whether it could be worth trying to cash out in the Summer. There is no doubt he has got tons of talent and on his day is one of the best midfielders in the world, but at the age of 29, he may be coming towards the latter stages of his career. I assume that he will still be here next season, but we never know what the board will do.

Jorginho. Another very difficult situation with the Italian. He has turned the fans’ perspective of himself in just a season, with boos turning into cheers. However, despite improving in the Premier League this season, he has still struggled a bit and hasn’t managed to hit the form which he struck at the beginning of the season. With being a vocal leader on and off the pitch, as well as taking the vice-captaincy role, I assume he will also stay next season at Chelsea.

Freed from Maurizio Sarri, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic are becoming ...
Image Source: Getty Images

Mount. The English midfielder has certainly had ups and downs this season, showing impressive signs for a first season in the English First Division. His form dipped after playing many games through injury and having a long wait for a goal, but he managed to get through the season and started to regain his best form after the international break. He is definitely going nowhere this season.

Loftus-Cheek. Unfortunately, Ruben was just getting back into the groove with training, but didn’t manage to get an appearance for the first team this season. His injury problems are something to keep an eye on, with him hitting the age of 24 with only 70 Premier League appearances under his belt. I certainly would keep him, as he’s such a talented player, and Lampard surely can’t wait to include him into the squad as one of the more experienced players.

Ziyech. Our new Moroccan signing is someone who Chelsea fans cannot wait to see play at the Bridge, but his debut may be delayed as we currently do not know what is going to happen with the COVID situation. We are also unaware whether he has been signed to play on the wing or in the midfield, but his versitality is something we will enjoy. Obviously, he’ll be here next season, and we cannot wait to see him play in the Blue shirt.

Hakim Ziyech is officially a Chelsea player
Image Source: GiveMeSport

We’re already six midfielders in, and personally I feel that they will all stay at the club. The average club keeps aroudn 6-7 midfielders, so these next few choices will be very interesting…

Barkley. Ross has certainly had more downs than ups this season, with off the pitch mentality certainly causing problems in the media. However, Lampard has praised his hard-work in the last few months and is a big fan of the English midfielder. He is one who certainly has the talent, yet is so frustrating because we only see this talent a couple times a season. I love the player, but personally for me, it’ll be time to say goodbye.

Gilmour. The Scottish Iniesta, as they say. Recently impressing the world with two Man of the Match Performances in a row against Liverpool and Everton, he certainly will be here next season. The perfect young player to have, who can play almost anywhere in the midfield, as well as having the mentality and ability to go right to the very top.

Ampadu. The Welshman has received little game time at his loan spell in Germany, leaving many Chelsea fans disapppointed. However, he definitely would have learnt many new skills with top players around him, and we all know the immense talent he has. For me, he is one who should stay at the club and we would have seen a real improvement in his game, showing glimpses of what he can be with his Champions League performance against Spurs.

Gallagher. Conor is a player who I have doubted many times over the last few seasons, and was shocked to see him pick up the Player of the Season for the academy last year. However, he has proved me completely wrong, and shown huge signs at both Charlton and Swansea. Saying that, I would still try and send him on loan to a Premier League club next season where he can get some proper experience, especially as he may struggle to break into the Chelsea first team next season.

Chelsea beat Spurs to win U18 PL Cup final
Image Source: Getty Images

Anjorin. And finally, Tino. The Chelsea Spot understand that the plan has always been for Anjorin to stay at the club and try and breakthrough directly like Hudson-Odoi and Gilmour have done. However, things may have obviously changed in the last few months since we heard this news, and it may best for him to go try and get some gametime, as we all know he is way too good for youth football.

I haven’t gone into too much detail on some of the players as possible, as in the next few days there will be more detailed articles on The Chelsea Spot on what to do with Kante and Barkley, so make sure to follow us on all our social media platforms!

So, we’ve gone through all the players. I’ll now try and summarise what I think Frank Lampard will do next season…

Most likely to start – Ziyech, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic and Kante.

In contention to start – Mount, Jorginho, Gilmour.

Loan – Gallagher, Ampadu, Anjorin.

Sell – Barkley.

What would you do with our midfielders? Who would you sell or keep? Let us know on our social media or in our comments below!