Groundhog Season

I don’t need a calendar these days – I can typically take one look at the current situation that Chelsea find themselves in and instantly know what time of year it is. Somehow turning a three team title race into a panicked scramble for top 4? Accusations of squad motivation coinciding with an uptick of individual errors? Calls for the managers head as we hand out points to any team fortunate enough to be paired against us? Despite all this, a cup final on the horizon that seems to hold all the power on whether the previous year is deemed as a success or not? Well, it must be May, right?

I want to be surprised that once again we have dusted off the ol’ trusted script and turned a season which started full of hope and excitement into one of dejection and concern. But, in reality, should we be surprised at all? Has anything really changed over the previous summers that would prevent this seeming inevitability from occurring? In truth, we should have seen this coming. The 21/22 summer represented almost every summer which had proceeded it, the first summer for a new manager to ‘make his mark’ on the squad, following by a marquee signing which divided opinion and a couple of squad signings which left little to be excited about. Yet, despite overwhelming concerns that the majority of issues in the squad hasn’t been addressed, Chelsea started the season like a runaway train and we all hopped on board for the ride, forgetting that we’d travelled this route many times before.

On the surface, you can easily find explanations as to why what has taken place over the following 6 months was out of our control. Incredibly ill-timed injuries to Chilwell, James, Lukaku, Kante and Kovacic put a grinding halt to our momentum. Competing for 7 trophies had the team regularly playing twice a week and of course, the small issue around Abramovic being sanctioned and forced to sell the club. These are all, to a certain degree, valid justifications for dips in form but to take them purely at face value would be slightly naïve to the real reasons behind Chelsea’s all too frequent drop off.

So who is to blame? For some it’s the manager, for some it’s the misfiring front line, for some it’s the board and for some it’s a sport wide conspiracy against the club (..honestly), but really is it down to one factor? The truth, as it often is, is that it’s down to a little bit of all of the above (with the exception of the conspiracies, of course).

I don’t want to spend too much time on Tuchel, as I believe the majority of the blame sits above him and took place prior to his arrival which I will delve into throughout this article, but I would be remised to absolve him entirely. Concerns over his in game management have become more prevalent and justified as the season has evolved with substitutions often coming late and failing to make an impact. In addition to this, having been previously heralded for his ability to rotate effectively, certain players, such as Chalobah and Lukaku, are struggling to get a look in despite those ahead of them failing to make a consistent impact. Under normal circumstances you’d look to pin the lack of player motivation and performance on the manager but this is and issue that so many of his predecessors have also been exceptionally vocal about before ultimately seeing the door. Tuchel, like those above him, has room to develop but I think it’s clear to all that what he has showcased so far is that he’s a manager of the highest calibre and is absolutely the right man to take us forward.

The Squad – Depth in quality, quantity or neither?

It is quite easily to look at this Chelsea squad and marvel at the strength in depth that they posses with quality all over the pitch. A quick look at the 25 man squad showcases a mixture of Ballon D’or nominees and experienced internationals with the most sought after young talents from across Europe and Cobham. It’s very easy to see why many deemed Chelsea genuine title contenders and even favourites going into this season. However, the depth only goes as far as names on a sheet of paper, the real issues begin when you start trying to combine those names into a coherent team that can provide you with the consistency and quality that is required to compete across a gruelling Premier League season.

Doing exactly that starts to highlight the underlying issues within the squad, this isn’t a squad of players with a cohesive, consistent approach to how they like to play. This is a squad full of players that represent different styles and approaches of previous Chelsea managers. At a high level you have a defence primarily forged by Antonio Conte’s pragmatic structure with specialist wing-backs and centre backs that are far more comfortable in a 3. In front of them, you have Sarri’s possession oriented and risk averse midfield and leading the team you have Lampard’s front line of high volume forwards with a reliance on quick transitions and balls in behind. It’s fundamentally because of this mismatch of styles that we find ourselves in situations where players appear to be playing out of position or in roles that quite evidently do not play to their strengths.

As highlighted by @OllyCFC on twitter, the squad composition includes input from 6 managers of varying tactical approaches

As Tuchel found at the start of this season, the overall quality of these players, combined with the malleable and adaptive Cobham graduates, means that a fully fit, well rested squad can still compete with the very best, especially in one off cup ties. The problem is that the cracks immediately start to show when player absences kick in, which they always will across a 60 game season. This is primarily down to the fact there are very few, if any, like-for-like replacements within this Chelsea side, especially not for key players.

The Goalkeeper

Arguably the one position that we don’t need to worry about. Mendy offers the composure and technical ability that is required from a modern goalkeeper whilst regularly producing world class saves. It may have taken us around £100m to get to this point, and we’ve still the most expensive back up keeper in world football but for the time being, we seemed to have eventually got this one right.

The Left Wing-backs

The first few months of this season were spent watching Ben Chilwell maraud down our left side, linking play quickly in the middle of the park, moving the ball forward at every opportunity and getting in the box at every opportunity. His energy and persistent threat, combined with Reece James doing the same on the right hand side allowed us to stretch teams and offer a threat down both flanks. His replacement Marcos Alonso, offers something completely different. Whilst still posing a goal threat and another aerial option, Alonso lacks the mobility to stay ever involved in the game and doesn’t possess the on-the-ball ability to link play and keep the ball moving forward. This isn’t to say that Alonso has performed badly this season, but what he provides the team is completely different to Chilwell and we’ve struggled to adapt to the Englishman’s absence.

The Right Wing-backs

You can somewhat copy and paste what I’ve written above when it comes to Azpilicueta replacing Reece James. It is never going to be easy to replace a player of James’ ability but the drop off in both mobility and on the ball threat when Azpilicueta plays is noticeable and has caused Tuchel to experiment with forwards like Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech and Pulisic all dropping into that role. This issue of course is even harder to take given that Chelsea had let Tino Livramento and Tariq Lamptey leave the club in the last 18 months, both of whom would have been perfect replacements. For a system that was so reliant on it’s wing-backs, to not have suitable replacements for either was only going to end one way.

The Centre Backs

Whilst it could be argued that the centre-back selection features players who perhaps require a 3 man system to succeed, this is perhaps the one position where going into this season we had ample, suitable cover. The emergence of Chalobah and Reece James as options on the right in addition to the existing cast of Silva and Christensen in the middle meant that there was never a real drop off in quality or suitability. The issue at centre-back primarily reared it’s head when Antonio Rudiger, arguably our most influential defender, had only Malang Sarr as his understudy. The Frenchman, who was due to go on loan to a relegation fighting Bundesliga side offers neither the tenacity or ability to drive at defences which the charismatic German has in abundance. Again, like at right-wing back, serious questions over long term strategic planning have to be asked as the club enter a position where it’s likely 4 of these options will leave the club this summer, forcing external recruitment whilst Marc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori, opportunistically sold, flourish at the highest level.

The Midfield

The midfield is arguably the biggest issue in the squad right now, not so much from a like-for-like replacement perspective but more down to the glaring absence of desperately needed profiles and a lack of compatibility with the current forward line. The absence of a disciplined, defensive minded 6, a role that we’ve lacked since the departure of Nemanja Matic in 2017, has contributed to our reliance on a 3 at-the-back system whilst also welding us to a possession oriented, risk adverse approach which in turn prevents us from making use of the abundance of natural 8s at the club. In addition to the lack of defensive discipline, quick and progressive distribution has been sorely lacking since Cesc Fabregas was replaced by the more metronomic and cautious Jorginho, this has been felt the most by our front line of forwards who thrive on balls in behind. Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus Cheek both offer the ability to progress play through their fantastic driving runs but end product across the entire midfield leaves plenty to be desired with an accumulative 6 goals and 17 assists across all competitions, excluding Jorginho’s penalties (for reference, Mason Mount has 12 goals and 15 assists individually.) It could be justifiably argued that N’golo Kante is irreplaceable and as such, it’s perhaps harsh to pinpoint the lack of an adequate replacement but there is not a single player in the Chelsea squad with a skillset even remotely comparable to the Frenchman which is absurd for such an important, yet injury prone player. All of these factors combined has left Tuchel with a midfield that is defensively suspect in transition and ineffective at linking us with his front line which leads me to..

The Forwards

I genuinely don’t know where to begin with this one. The Chelsea front line almost perfectly represents the chaos and opportunistic approach of Chelsea’s recruitment process over the past 5 years, and that’s before we even begin to look at those who have already left the club. As it currently stands, despite spending in the region of £300m on forwards, Chelsea’s best forward is the aforementioned Mason Mount, a midfielder from the academy. Despite this, Mount has become completely irreplaceable as the connection between our midfield and attack, showcasing the ability to pick up the ball in half-spaces, turn quickly and release others whilst also offering a goalthreat himself. However, like N’golo Kante, despite being such a pivotal part of Chelsea’s success, there is not a single player who can replicate the skillset offered by the energetic England international and certainly not with the same offensive output.

Onto the big recruitments, Romelu Lukaku, the only real signing of the Tuchel era, was purchased for just shy of £100m and has returned 10 goals in a season filled with outspoken discontent, injuries and long spells on the bench. However, the returning Belgian’s troubles were predicted by many due to a complete clash of styles between club and player which Lukaku himself controversially verbalised in his ill-advised interview with Sky Italia. Chelsea had found success the previous season with a high energy, high pressing front line which was a far cry from the system which saw Lukaku thrive in Italy under previous Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. As such, despite promising signs early on with a couple of spectacular goals, Lukaku’s presence tended to destabilise the Chelsea attack and saw the team frequently give up control of games and resort to using the former Inter Milan striker as nothing more than a Target Man doing his best Andy Carroll impression. As for the two Germans, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, their struggles have been widely evident. As two players who thrived in the quick transitions and space offered up in the Bundesliga, the latter regularly finds himself as a winger who is required to get involved in build up (with varying success…) and the former is often asked to play as a sole striker, spending large portions of the game chasing down defenders and patiently waiting for the often singular chance that is created for him by an exceptionally risk adverse set up behind him (again, with varying success).

Callum Hudson-Odoi has struggled to find consistency this season, although it should be no surprise that one of Chelsea’s most offensively productive spells was when the Cobham graduate got a consistent run of games. The only real winger in the squad, Callum arguably offers the most versatility in offense with his 1v1 ability and ability to progress and create through dribbling, passing and crossing. That versatility cannot be said for the final two recruits in Pulisic and Ziyech, two players who have failed to carve out a consistent role in the team and often look like square pegs in round holes, offering little more than the occasional moment but at a frequency which doesn’t justify continued involvement.

When you breakdown that list of players what you are left with is 7 players of wildly different skillsets that require wildly different set ups to thrive. This goes a long way to explain their inconsistencies as individuals but also forces Tuchel into huge tactical changes whenever we look to make any amendments to the front line. This is best evidenced in Chelsea’s 3-2 loss at Madrid where a dominant Chelsea side, set up perfectly to progress through to the Champions League Semi-Finals, were continually made weaker by substitutions, enforced through tiredness, which completely altered the Blues approach and effectiveness in the game.

Whilst I appreciate this looks like a scathing attack on the majority of the front line, the truth is that I’ve a large degree of sympathy with all of these players. There was an understandable excitement when all of these players were purchased due to their performances on the continent and the reputations they had deservedly carved for themselves. However, these players weren’t signed with any real plan of how to replicate and build upon the success they had experienced elsewhere. These aren’t bad players and didn’t become so overnight, we just quite simply do not have the ability to replicate the environment that allows them to thrive. As previously mentioned Timo Werner put up huge numbers in the Bundesliga playing in a quick transitioning, high chance volume Leipzig side alongside a focal point in Yussuf Poulsen but is now playing out wide with ball to feet and back to goal. Lukaku became one of the best strikers in world football playing alongside the dynamic Lautaro Martinez and having the freedom ability to occupy space on the right but is now being used as a back to goal backboard, watching players regularly opt to pass backwards than play him in. Even the best players will fail if you don’t set them up to succeed.

Conclusion and Solution

In summarisation, our recruitment has been heavily driven by opportunistic market signings and short lived managerial “projects”, leaving us with no clear style of play, ill-fitting specialists and a distinct lack of adequate replacements for key players. This essentially means that every single injury requires a complete shift in tactical approach, both offensively and defensively. It’s quite easy to see how a couple of key injuries derailed us to the extent that they did, let alone the amount we suffered heading into Christmas.

But is it all negative and are we doomed to watch this exact scenario play out year on year? Thankfully not. The imminent arrival of new ownership presents the perfect opportunity to right the wrongs that the previous administration were too proud to do. Failed vanity projects and the sunk-cost that has been continually pumped into ill-fitting players can be scrapped and a clear strategy and philosophy can be established and ingrained from the top down. Players such as Jorginho, Alonso, Azpilicueta and Barkley with imminently expiring contacts can be moved on to open up squad roles for more suitable, long term options. Players with more time left on their deals but are unlikely to suit our development, such as, but certainly not limited to, Pulisic (2024), Sarr (2025) and Kenedy (2024) can also be moved on to create both space and funds which can be reinvested back into the team. And finally, there’s some very tough decisions to be made on some expensive acquisitions, that’ll likely have to be sold at a loss, if they do not match the strategic vision on the club.

The positives is that many of the solutions appear to already be at the club. Conor Gallagher represents another high intensity midfielder in the mould of Mount who offers a realistic goalthreat both in goals and assists. Armando Broja presents a high pressing forward on an upwards trajectory with proven Premier League quality. Levi Colwill is a ready made solution to our self imposed void at LCB, offering the composure, distribution and defensive ability that could make him a mainstay in the Chelsea defence over the next decade and go a little way to right the wrongs of the Tomori and Guehi departures. There’s also genuine discussions that could be had over whether the likes of Billy Gilmour, Ethan Ampadu, Dujon Sterling, Ian Maatsen, to name by a few, could offer genuine suitable replacements at a fraction of the cost.

Once a strategic vision and philosophy is in place, external recruitment can also become far more targeted and productive. Highlighting missing profiles in the squad and recruiting smartly to fill those gaps will make the squad as a whole far more complete and cohesive, offering Tuchel the tactical flexibility and genuine strength in depth that we sorely lack as it currently stands which in turn will allow us to fairly assess both the manager and the players.

Whilst I’m loathed to credit them too much, we need only look above us in the table at City and Liverpool as examples of how we need to operate. Their philosophies, whilst linked to their managers, is deeply ingrained within the club as a whole. Every bit of recruitment makes logical sense within the overarching framework of their tactical set up, allowing seamless rotation on the pitch but also off of it too. The moment Klopp and Guardiola leave, the manager incoming will almost certainly match that of their predecessor and the vision and progression of the club as a whole remains undisturbed and forward moving. For example, you won’t see Manchester City looking at Antonio Conte as their next manager as it wouldn’t make logical sense and likely set them back years (we still have 5 of his players, for what it’s worth).

There’s plenty to be optimistic about however and this summer, under new ownership, represents our best chance to right the wrongs of previous seasons and hopefully next season I’ll need to buy that calendar after all.


It’s a Make or Break Season for Christian Pulisic

It’s been about two and a half years since Christian Pulisic signed for Chelsea in a big 58 million pound move and he’s about to enter his third season playing for Chelsea at the age of 23. However, its safe to say that his time at the club has been quite back and forth. It was about two years ago when he scored THAT hattrick against Burnley, which was the first real glimpse of his potential in a Chelsea shirt and about eight months after that, he announced himself, quite remarkably, to English football with his stellar form for the two months of football after lockdown in the 19/20 season. However, in between those phases and since his incredible end to the 19/20 season, his time at the club has been riddled with injuries, inconsistency and all in all lackluster performances where he really hasn’t displayed or performed nearly as well, as he has shown he can in glimpses.

Its important to understand how we got to this point. To demand a price tag of 58 million pounds at the age of 20 meant that he was incredibly highly rated by a number of clubs in the world. The major criticism then which has bled into his criticisms today is that, even though his potential could definitely be seen, his output didn’t standout among other forward players in his age group. Even the season after he left Dortmund, Jadon Sancho taking over his place and, by far, producing and performing better at the same age was definitely not a good look for him. But in his first season at Chelsea, there were definitely a number of bright spots and bright performances that made a number of fans believe that he could become a very special player for the club. At the time, he offered a different profile in the Chelsea squad than what we had with the likes of Willian, Pedro, Hudson-Odoi and so on. He was incredibly sharp, had great close control dribbling and an incredible burst of pace to get past his man on the ball, making him a very exciting player to watch and prospect at the club. Over time in the season, it was clear that Frank Lampard had also put an emphasis on him improving his off-ball movement to develop into a dangerous and complete inside forward. Though inconsistent, his performances on the pitch in the 19/20 season were gradually getting better and better and he left fans a lot to be excited about. However, he could never string together a consistent run of games as he was constantly plagued by a number of muscle injuries, a patter we would see continuing for a while…

The FA Cup Final of the 19/20 season in July, might have been the tipping point in terms of the fanbase’s view on his injuries. After an incredible two months where he pushed the team into the top 4 with his performances, he would go down again in the final due to a hamstring injury that looked pretty bad and was reported to take atleast 5 weeks to recover from. He would come back after it but the next season he had major competition in those forward positions with the arrival of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech. His performances to start the 20/21 season were nothing short of awful and it never truly got too much better. Even with the arrival of Tuchel halfway through the season, most of his roles in games were reserved to mediocre stints off the bench. Of course, there were glimpses of his talent with standout performances against Porto away and Real Madrid at home in the Champions League, both performances being pivotal for Chelsea to eventually lift the trophy. But most of his minutes were still marked by awful decision making and mediocre showings and he could never really break into that front three with Mason Mount and Timo Werner being preferred to take the spot of the left forward in the starting line-up.

Objectively looking at his role and development as the squad currently stands, he has stalled, maybe even regressed when looking at it from a harsh standpoint, since his ‘purple patch’ at the end of the 19/20 season. For a player who’s entire profile emphasises output, he ended last season with a mere 6 G/A in the league in 27 appearances. Its pretty clear that a big part of the fanbase and the club have incredible faith, as shown in him being given the iconic Chelsea no. 10 jersey just after one full season at the club. However, patience is running thin and he can only be given the benefit of the doubt of being a ‘young player’ for so long. After two years at the club, where the entire time is marked by short glimpses of talent in large periods of mediocrity and injuries, it is time for him to start and provide tangible performances for consistent periods of time to really show the club and the fanbase to continue placing faith in his abilities and potential. I believe in his potential and in terms of talent and technical ability, I do not see many players in the squad who eclipse him. When he is at his best, he’s probably one of the best performers on the pitch, overlooking some clear flaws in his game. But, it is high time he starts to live upto the potential consistently and if not, with the number of forward options emerging at the club each season, it is very easy to see him getting overshadowed and eventually finding himself on the outside looking in at the end of next season when he’ll be 24 and entering into his prime. With a full pre-season after a great summer for him in the international stage, the 21/22 season is going to extremely pivotal for the future of his Chelsea career, a make or break season for him.

Just how sensible have Chelsea been this silly season?

As we enter the final month of the 2021 summer transfer window, Chelsea are finally beginning to make some moves with the pursuit to bring Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge looking increasingly more likely by the day. However, as silly season comes into full effect, just how sensible is Chelsea’s recent transfer activity?

As is the case with most high profile signings in contemporary football, the numbers involved are staggering. The widely reported €120m (give or take a few free unwanted players thrown in for good measure) would be a British transfer record, topping the recent £100m acquisition of Manchester City, Jack Grealish, by a mere £1-2m. Yet, at a point in time in which elite goal-scoring 9’s are at a premium, the signing of Lukaku, who put up 30 goals in 44 games as he spearheaded Inter Milan’s first title win in 11 years, was always going to be an expensive one.

With such a high transfer fee comes undeniable risk, at the age of 28, Chelsea is signing a striker in his prime with the returns on the investment being solely reliant on him being a blistering success in front of goal. Despite Chelsea being no strangers to expensive acquisitions, previous recent high profile signings of players like Werner and Havertz were made with the reassurances that whilst an immediate impact was expected, they were also signing players who would develop and contribute to the club over a long period of time with an asset value that could well increase. With Lukaku, there is no such safety net of retained value, Chelsea will need the Belgian to put up strong numbers for the majority of his contract to justify the expenditure. Additionally, the pressure will be on Chelsea’s young core to ensure their development continues at an exponential rate in order to maximise the peak of Lukaku’s powers.

A lot has been made of the lack of resell value, with comparisons being made to the acquisition of Didier Drogba, aged 26 for £24m, however, in truth, the most comparable signing of this profile is that of Fernando Torres in 2011. The Spaniard, despite rumours of injuries already taking hold, was signed for a record-breaking fee at the age of 27 with the hopes that he could push Carlo Ancelotti’s side to the next level. Despite a few unforgettable moments, El Nino’s time at the club was largely underwhelming, with the club struggling to move the player on when it became apparent to all parties that the desired outcome was likely never going to be achieved. This not only cost the club a lot of money but also restricted opportunities to implement alternative solutions, including a newly acquired Romelu Lukaku from Anderlecht. Such an experience will have undoubtedly played a part in the club’s cautiousness to pursue a transfer of this profile up until now, an entire decade later.

In isolation, Lukaku the player is rightly a reason to be excited. A versatile, determined and effective leader of the attack, Lukaku will likely provide the clinical instinct and mentality that an all too frequent toothless Chelsea attack has lacked. However, what in a single moment in time is a very exciting prospect perhaps masks a much more worrying underlying narrative of how the club have got to this point. It’s hard to find a player who represents the ugly side of Chelsea’s mismanagement of assets more than Lukaku himself. Signed as a promising talent in the Summer 2011 window, Lukaku’s time at the Blues was largely spent on loan as he struggled to secure a spot ahead of the aforementioned Torres, in addition to the likes of Demba Ba, Samuel Eto’o and Loic Remy before departing the club permanently in 2014 to Everton. 

The club were interested in bringing the Belgian back to Stamford Bridge in 2017 however the board, largely unconvinced by the reported transfer and agent fees, ultimately lost out to Manchester United and instead focused their attention to Alvaro Morata (although the less said about that, the better). In fact, it appears to have taken Lukaku finally playing under Antonio Conte, the exact manager they didn’t provide Lukaku to in 2017, to convince the club to part with even more money than they would have had to pay 4 years earlier. 

Whilst admittedly, it’s easy to call out these mistakes with the power of hindsight, there’s still plenty of signs to suggest that the club are arguably making the same mistakes this summer, partly to fund this deal. Before the excitement surrounding the opening of Roman’s wallet, the feeling around the club was one of frustration as a large number of highly promising Chelsea youngsters departed for a host of reasons, primarily centred around a lack of belief in first-team opportunities. Despite the inclusion of various clauses that may one day see those players return to the club, there should be no greater example for persevering with suspected elite talent as you never know, it might just save you £100m one day.

The sale of such assets has largely been inevitable when combined with the fact that the club is unable to shift a large number of ageing players with depreciating value, both on the pitch and financially. This pre-season specifically acting as a worrying representation of the ghosts of transfer windows past as the likes of Danny Drinkwater and Davide Zappacosta took to the field as the club struggle to find suitors. The positive for fans is that such transfers weren’t repeated last summer and show no sign of taking place this summer either (despite a brief flirt with Adama Traore), yet the presence of so many players, combined with a look at the talent that has departed, should act as a startling reminder of the damage that can be done if the club doesn’t correctly manage their assets. Ultimately, continued selling of your 19 to 23-year-old Lukaku’s will ultimately prevent you from signing your 28-year-old Lukaku’s eventually.

It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. Chelsea, as European champions, are on the brink of adding one of the best strikers in world football to their squad. A board that has been frequently guilty of failing to strengthen from a position of power, appear to have learned from previous lessons and wish to take the club to the next level. In Tuchel, we have a manager that deserves to be backed and whilst it’s undoubtedly a risk, if the club insists on releasing Tammy Abraham this summer then it’s hard to argue that the club hasn’t gone all-in on the best option available. It just so happens that Lukaku might not only be Chelsea’s most expensive signing, but also their most expensive lesson.

The Cobham Crossroads

It used to be so straightforward.

Those of us who had an invested interest in the graduates of Cobham knew the deal. You’d watch as a promising group of young talents dominated both domestic and international youth football, the best of which would be “promoted” to the first team. That promotion would be met with the annual pre-season oath that “*Insert Youth Player Here* will be a very important player for us this season” as a single 20 minute Carabao Cup cameo would be swiftly followed by a silent departure to pastures new. Whilst ultimately disappointing, you knew the deal and you could accept it.

Then we had to go and ruin it by giving them a genuine chance.

The perfect storm of a transfer ban and the bravery of newly appointed coach Frank Lampard brought with it an influx of youth graduates, the likes of which had long been desired but never seen within the club. Unlike the Jeremie Bogas, Gael Kakutas and Ola Ainas of this world who were shipped out without a real look in, the new generation came in and more importantly, remained, despite scepticism from fans and media alike, including a certain Jose Mourinho.

That show of faith has proven to be the most successful gamble that the club has ever made as the class of 2019 not only helped Chelsea qualify for the Champions League against all odds, but drove the team forward to a convincing European triumph the very next year as Chelsea picked up their second Champions League trophy. The smoke cloud that surrounded the club following Sarri’s 18/19 campaign was lifted and revealed a bright new future that was forged primarily in Cobham.

Chelsea’s academy products celebrating with the Champions League Trophy (Source:

I previously wrote about how the academy should be at the core of Chelsea’s financial and footballing model moving forward. Rather than spending large fees and wages on squad depth, those rotational minutes should be given to Cobham graduates. The upshot being that not only do you have players on lower wages who didn’t cost you a penny to sign, you have players with a much higher talent ceiling that can either go on to become first-team regulars or be sold for pure profit if they don’t quite make the required grade.

The positives are obvious, for every £22m spent on squad players like Zappacosta, you could have easily had a Reece James, a Tariq Lamptey or an Ola Aina. All of whom could genuinely stake a claim to have made a bigger Premier League impact. That money saved then subsequently gets spent on genuine top talents who improve the first XI. It wasn’t just the footballing exploits of Mount and Co on the pitch that allowed the previous summer’s spending, it was the positive impacts they had on the books too.

With all that said, this step into the unknown has lead us to questions we’ve never faced before. What happens when these graduates want more? What happens if another club wants to turn one of our developmental talents into a first-team regular? What happens if the youth conveyor belt moves faster than the club can manage? We got a sneak peek of this impending dilemma in January 2020 when Tariq Lamptey left for a cut-price £3m as the club couldn’t guarantee him a pathway ahead of Reece James who was only one year his senior.

Tariq Lamptey celebrating a late winner on Chelsea debut (Source: The Athletic)

Now, as we move into a summer transfer window that many expect will propel the club even further to sustained success, we’re almost certainly going to see both Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori creep out the back door. Two of the five that were instrumental in the youth revolution at the club departing within 2 years, one inexplicably left out by Lampard, the other not to the new manager’s liking. Unlike the other departures I’ve mentioned so far in this article, this isn’t a case of selling a young talent without knowing what they could contribute. These were two talents who took their chance with both hands and showed they belong before ultimately facing the same fate as those before them.

What is unclear this time around is whether this a sign is that the club is taking a step backwards and reverting to type or whether this is a necessary step forward in the development of the “new” Chelsea that many have subscribed to. The reported £25m for Tomori, whilst still feeling slightly low, is pure profit for a player that cost the club nothing and was deemed surplus to requirements in a position that has had a dramatic change in fortunes under Thomas Tuchel. The answer to that question will likely come in the form of how the club looks to replace the departing centre-back. With Marc Guehi impressing on loan and the likes of Levi Colwill, Xavier Mbuyamba and Sam Mclelland looking to make that next step, there’s a strong case to be put forward that the Tomori approach could be replicated again and again to great effect. At the time of writing, the club is yet to be seriously linked with any inbound centre-backs, which would have been unthinkable back in January but is perhaps the most telling sign yet that valuable lessons are being learned and the model hasn’t been abandoned at the first sign of success.

On the other hand, you have the curious case of Tammy Abraham. Finishing top goalscorer in the 2019/20 season with an impressive 15 goals, none of which came from the penalty spot, and joint top goalscorer in 2020/21 despite missing half the season. His exclusion from the squad has been frustrating, if not inexplicable at times, however, he is perhaps the clearest example of the crossroads the club face when a Cobham graduate is no longer viewed as just a “youth player”. Abraham has now found himself in the awkward position of being too good for a backup player, yet perhaps not good enough (yet) to be a first-choice striker for a club that now expects domestic success. There is a certain irony in the fact that one of the superstar strikers that are rumoured to replace him is Romelu Lukaku, a man who left the club in somewhat similar circumstances, all be it the Belgian proved his Premier League credentials on loan rather than at Stamford Bridge.

That comparison perfectly represents the impossible situation that Chelsea face this summer. Hindsight could tell you that the club should have stuck by Lukaku and as such, wouldn’t have to break their transfer record to recruit a striker this summer. Doing so, however, could just have likely seen Chelsea’s 2014/15 Premier League title not happen without Diego Costa leading the line, or alternatively, Lukaku’s development could have stagnated as he watched from the bench. Fast forward to today, a somewhat unexpected Champions League win has put Chelsea in an enviable position in the transfer window where they can genuinely target some of the best talents in the world, a position that is not guaranteed next summer.

Tomori & Abraham celebrating Tomori’s stunning opener vs Wolves (Source:

It then becomes increasingly clear that a move benefits both parties. For the club, they can utilise Abraham as a pivotal negotiation tool in their pursuit of a world-class striker. They can either generate pure profit for a high potential striker who didn’t cost them a penny or equally attempt to use the player as a makeweight in a potential swap deal to reduce the financial outlays even further. For Abraham, a player who has proven he can perform at the top level, he can continue to develop even further at a club that will trust him to be their number one option.

We ultimately will not know the exact motives behind these sales, and whilst on the surface, it’s disappointing to see two of our own leave the club, there is certainly a lot of encouragement that can be taken from the situation. Two players who have come through the Cobham pathway have left a positive impact on the club both on the pitch and on the books. If reports are to be believed, the club could generate north of £70m for two academy graduates. One moved on for a profit to free up space on the production line and the other let go to assist the club in securing world-class talent. Whilst it’s sad to see these players go, it’s further proof that Cobham should be the foundation that this club is built on for sustained success in the future.

The key behind the success is in long term planning and stability, and whilst the stories of Abraham and Tomori could be positioned as positive ones for the club, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. A less successful story, at least from the viewpoint of the club, is that of Tariq Lamptey. At the point of his departure early in 2020, there was a reluctant acceptance that despite his high potential, there wasn’t going to be a space for him to develop with both Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta ahead of him in the pecking order. Fast forward only 18 months and the club is now looking to spend big money on Inter Milan’s Achraf Hakimi to provide an attacking option at RWB in Tuchel’s system. Hakimi, a top talent in his own right at only 22 would naturally become first choice at RWB, with James and Azpilcueta providing rotational cover whilst primarily focusing on their RCB role. That RWB role, however, would have been perfect for the homegrown Lamptey who has excelled there for Brighton and caught the attention of the “big 6” with his standout performances. This not only could have saved Chelsea an outgoing £60m transfer fee but could also have seen the club generate a large incoming fee of their own if the time ever came to move Lamptey on. Whilst hindsight is 20-20, and perhaps nobody could have seen a move back to a 3ATB system (despite the remaining Conte influence on this squad), the whole situation is evidence of the negative impacts that a lack of planning can have when handling youth players.

The Hakimi situation then becomes even more interesting when you bring Tino Livramento into the mix. The 18-year-old, who won Youth Player of the Year this season with his standout performances at wing-back only has a year left on his contract and has already caught the attention of some top European clubs. The introduction of Hakimi undoubtedly impacts the minutes available to Livramento, especially with James (21), Azpilicueta (31) and to a lesser extent Hudson-Odoi (20) all providing ample rotational options. There is then every possibility that as Lamptey did, Livramento may decide to reject a new contract that would force the club to sell at a fraction of his real value.

Chelsea’s production line shows no sign of slowing down (Source:

What’s important is that in the midst of this unexpected success is that Chelsea doesn’t lose sight of the foundations close to home that got them there. Whilst the temptation is always to look to the transfer market for solutions, the past two years are clear evidence that keeping a pathway from Cobham to Stamford Bridge is not only beneficial for the club in the short term but critical to our long term success. It is no coincidence that it’s the academy products who are proving easy to sell, whilst the likes of Marcos Alonso and Emerson, who despite being internationals, have seemingly been priced out of a sale due to their initial cost to the club.

What the sales of Tomori and Abraham should remind us is that opportunities for these youth talents should not be viewed as having the sole aim of making them first-team regulars (despite the unbelievable success of Mount and James). Not every youth player will be able to remain at the club and whilst it’s unrealistic to expect us to consistently compete with a squad full of academy products, it’s equally unrealistic to expect us to compete, both on the pitch and financially, without them.

Every Portuguese Chelsea Signing Ranked From Worst to Best

There is a plethora of talent from Portugal that has played in England and most predominately the premier league. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Nani are just a small account of Portuguese nationals that have proved their worth and showcased their talent in the Premier League. We have signed 14 Portuguese players over the years and I have judged and ranked these players in terms of their time at Chelsea and not success related to other clubs they may have played for.

14 = Eduardo

In the summer of 2016, Eduardo Carvalho was signed on a one-year deal. The experienced goalkeeper was brought in to slot in as the 3rd choice behind Courtois and Begovic. Eduardo played a grand total of 0 senior matches for Chelsea and therefore did not receive a Premier League winners’ medal due to lack of games. During his 3 year stay at Chelsea, Eduardo only went out on loan once to Vitesse in the Eredvisie. On 1st July 2019, Eduardo finally parted ways with Chelsea with even some diehard Chelsea supporters having absolutely no idea who the man was. He joined Braga in his home nation of Portugal and only featured 9 more times before announcing his retirement from professional football.

13 = Filipe Oliveira

The relatively unknown teenager ‘Filipe Oliveira’ was signed to Chelsea for a relatively large sum of £500,000 in 2002. Featuring for just one minute in his debut against Manchester United and only accumulating 77 minutes of playing time throughout his whole career at Chelsea, Oliveira fell victim to the Chelsea loan cycle where he would be trapped for 4 years. A loan to Preston North End and Marítimo followed and a mutual agreement for him to be released occurred. A player who could play in virtually any position on the pitch, it was a true shame that Filipe Oliveira never achieved anything of substance as he failed to register a single goal for the whole time he was at Chelsea. Oliveira eventually signed for Marítimo and immediately began to play first team football again.

12 = Fábio Paím

When Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at Manchester United in the early stages of his career, he uttered the words to the media “If you think I’m good, just wait until you see Fábio Paím”. Fame and especially fortune got to the young talents head and the player contracted to Sporting would join Chelsea on a short term loan deal in 2008. Lasting little over 4 months in West London, Paím’s loan spell was over and he had little to show for this stint. According to many websites, Paím featured for the Chelsea reserves but there is not much proof of this even happening. By December rolled around, the 20 year old was shipped back to Portugal and his career entered turmoil. Various loan spells and short term deals at low level clubs meant the supposed wonderkid would never reach anywhere near that standard ever in his career. Fábio Paím is now 33 years old and his footballing journey ended in 2018 with the reserves of Leixoes B.11 = Nuno Morais

The defensive midfielder was signed from the Penafiel Youth setup in 2004 after a successful trial period. Nuno’s career went down a similar path to that of Filipe Oliveira, as they would only be given minimal minutes in the league and would sometimes feature as a rarity in cup competitions. The main highlight of Nuno’s time at Chelsea would have to be a 90 minute performance against the mighty Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup. 2 years later in 2006, Nuno joined Oliveira on loan in Marítimo. Returning from the loan in 2007, Morais was still not getting the minutes he desired and was consequently granted a move to Cyprus powerhouse Apoel FC on a free transfer.

10 = Ricardo Quaresma

The eloquent skillful player we have all come to know in Quaresma was not what we got in 2009. A ridiculous decision in 2009 saw us signing Quaresma from Inter Milan on a short term loan deal, just a season after he was awarded with the notorious ‘Bidone d’oro’ which translates to the ‘Golden Bin’… This was an award given out to the most dissapointing player in the Serie A for the 07/08 season. Quaresma only ended up playing 5 games for Chelsea in all competitions (4 appearances in the Premier League and 1 appearance in the FA Cup). During his one and only FA Cup appearance, Quaresma provided his only assist in a Chelsea shirt to Alex against Coventry.

9 = Fabio Ferreira

Ferreira was a part of Sporting CP’s youth academy and when he was 16, he had allegedly trained with Chelsea illegally. The 2005 training session hosted by Chelsea included the 16-year-old Ferreira and Sporting CP made a formal complaint to FIFA regarding the issue. Nothing ended up happening about the complaint and the right sided attacker joined Chelsea for free the next year after the incident. Ferreira played 12 times for our reserves, netting himself 8 goals. Despite the opposition, Fabio Ferreira looked like quite the prospect as 0.66 goals per game as a right winger was quite an impressive number. Still just a teen when he was in the reserves, Ferreira was sent out on loan to Oldham Athletic on a one month deal that was later extended to two months. Fabio only made one appearance for the Latics and was sent back to the Bridge following a disappointing two-month stint. This loan spell sent alarm bells
ringing at Chelsea about if his performances in the reserves were a fluke and Chelsea decided to release Ferreira in the summer of 2009. He went for a trial at league two side Gillingham and was turned away, this lead the once promising talent all the way back to his home nation and into the Portuguese 3rd division with Esmoriz.

8 = Maniche

A 28-year-old central midfielder by the name of Maniche was loaned from Dynamo Moscow in January 2006 to the Blues. The Portuguese connection to Mourinho was a driving factor related to this transfer and the midfielder in his late 20’s was brought in quite questionably due to the strength already present in the rock-solid midfield. Despite being part of the 05/06 Premier League winning squad, Maniche had a nightmare start to his Chelsea career and that foreshadowed the rest of his time in West London. His first league start came against West Ham United in April of 2006 and he made his mark immediately in the league by smashing a wayward shot from 6 yards out against the crossbar in the opening minutes of the London derby. Missing an open goal was not the most of his worries, as in the 17th minute Maniche was shown a straight red card, no doubt leaving Mourinho in a blistering fit of rage. Battling with the likes of Frank Lampard and Makelele for a starting spot, Maniche only played 8 league games during his tenure at the Bridge and Chelsea denied the offer to sign him for £5m after the loan period was up and Maniche returned to Dynamo Moscow.

7 = Hilario

Hilario was another Portuguese goalkeeper that was signed, but this time it was under his former Porto boss Jose Mourinho. In the summer of 2006, Hilario was signed to be the 3rd choice goalie under Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini. Due to injuries sustained to both goalkeeper’s in front of him against Reading (Petr Cech’s injury that lead to him wearing a protective helmet for the rest of his career), Hilario was handed a starting spot in the Chelsea line-up. His competitive debut for Chelsea came in a 1-0 win against Barcelona of all teams at Stamford Bridge. Hilario made 18 appearances that season and kept a clean sheet in 8 of those matches. After Cech recovered and was back to full fitness, Hilario would only find himself in the starting line-up if it was truly needed and spent a lot of his time on the bench from here on out. In June 2011, 35-year-old Hilario was granted a one-year contract extension. Hilario miraculously survived so long at the club that when his contract was finally due to run out, Mourinho returned for his second tenure at the club and somehow Hilario signed yet another contract extension. On 23rd May 2014, 38-year-old Hilario was finally released from Chelsea. 8 years at the club, only left him with 39 senior games played. Just 2 years later, Hilario was back at Chelsea, this time enjoying the role of assisting goalkeeping coach. When Lampard took over, he kept Hilario as part of the staff and Thomas Tuchel has followed the trend and decided to also keep Hilario at Stamford Bridge.

6 = Tiago

Tiago arrived at the club with a hefty price tag of £15m, Mourinho continued his outrageous spending spree that was the 04/05 summer transfer window, and this marked his sixth signing of that year. Tiago only spent one season at the club but was a regular starter during his time in West London. 51 appearances in one season for the central midfielder saw his Chelsea career flash by as the next season the arrival of Michael Essien thawed his chances of being in the starting line-up. Tiago amassed 7 goal involvements in the 04/05 season in the league and was a key part of what led Chelsea to one of the greatest Premier League title wins ever. Only losing 1 game the whole of the 04/05 Premier League season saw Tiago leave the Bridge with a 97%-win percentage in the league. In August 2005, Tiago joined Lyon and was a part of their league winning side of the 05/06 season. Short and sweet is the perfect way to explain Tiago’s successful Chelsea tenure.

5 = Raul Meireles

Due to an injury sustained by Michael Essien -that would side-line him for a long stretch of time- Raul Meireles was signed on a 4-year deal from Liverpool for a fee of around £12million. The Premier League experience that Meireles possessed would come in handy as we waited for Essien to return to full fitness. Occupying the number 16 shirt, Meireles chipped in with numerous important goals in big matches. He would score his first league goal against Manchester City in December 2011, scraping us to a 2-1 win. One of his best performances in the blue came against Leicester in the quarter finals of the FA Cup. In the thumping 5-2 win at Stamford Bridge, Meireles contributed 2 assists and scored a goal himself to carry us forward and eventually win the competition. Of course, his most memorable moment in a Chelsea shirt was on an April night against Benfica. That legendary counterattack that eventually led to Meireles scoring an absolute screamer in front of the Shed End in the last minute to help us continue in the Champions League. Although he missed the Champions League final through suspension (just like John Terry and Ivanovic), he would receive a winner’s medal after the best moment in Chelsea history. Meireles’ ability to score clutch goals and step up in the biggest of occasions truly encapsulated his stint at Chelsea. Every team needs a player to show up in the big moments and Meireles turned out to be that player in that infamous 2011-12 season. Although he only spent a year and a bit at Stamford Bridge, he will always be remembered by the Chelsea faithful for his important goals and contributions throughout that time.

4 = Deco

Luiz Felipe Scolari (through his connections with the Portuguese national team) signed the former Porto and Barcelona midfielder for £8million in the summer of 2008. Surprisingly, this signing happened 4 years after this exact transfer was almost set-in stone with even Deco announcing on a radio station that he would be signing for Chelsea under Jose Mourinho. Unlike Maniche, Deco had a blinding start to his Chelsea career, with a 30-yard screamer to help the side to a 4-0 whitewash of Portsmouth. A free kick stunner against Wigan accumulated in Deco being awarded the coveted player of the month award for the month of August. All was going well until the start of February 2009. Scolari was sacked after 7 months in charge and a few poor performances found Deco left out of the starting 11. In the June of that same year, Deco announced “I do not want to say”. Frequent radio appearances and controversial quotes left Deco unfavourable to be picked anytime soon in the starting 11. It was Carlo Ancelotti who completely changed the mindset of the midfielder in his early 30’s. Injuries hindered Deco becoming an even better player at Chelsea but despite the reoccurring injuries, he was an integral part in Chelsea winning the double in 09/10. Deco and the club itself came to an agreement to let Deco move to Brazilian club Fluminense on a free transfer. In an interview with the Sun, Deco said, “I want to go back to Brazil” and “I want to be near to my kids”. I believe that if Deco had stayed longer in West London that he would be higher on this list but due to the short extent of his career at Chelsea he is ranked 4th.

3 = Jose Bosingwa

Luiz Felipe Scolari yet again decided to splash the cash on another player he was familiar with, this time being a Champions League winner in Jose Bosingwa. The experienced right back, who was still only entering his prime, was brought in for a fee of around £18 million. Bosingwa signed a three-year deal and was signed at the same time as fellow countryman Deco. He also made his debut alongside Deco in the 4-0 win against Portsmouth. A few months after signing, Bosingwa was involved in a collision with Benayoun where Bosingwa intentionally kicked him with his studs up directly into his back. Controversy and injury ruled Bosingwa out for a long stretch of time and consequently meant he would not be able to compete at the 2010 World Cup. One of Bosingwa’s greatest moments in a Chelsea shirt was the great performance he put in against Barcelona in the semi-final of the 11/12 Champions League campaign. Bosingwa replaced Gary Cahill after a matter of minutes and had to slot in at centre back. Some people claim that the defensive performance displayed that night was the “biggest bus ever parked” and Bosingwa dealt with the Barcelona team rifling with talent such as Messi, Iniesta and Fabregas seamlessly. Another impressive defensive performance occurred in the Final against Bayern Munich in their own backyard also. Bosingwa played in his natural position of right back in this game and kept Franck Ribery quiet on the left flank. 120 minutes of solid defending and Chelsea were rewarded with the greatest achievement in all of football, a Champions League trophy. Strangely, Bosingwa would leave the club for free as Chelsea told him he could leave when his contract was up. There was never really a reason as to why Bosingwa was given permission to leave and why he was not given another contract as a reward for his excellent service in two monumental games. Bosingwa will never been forgotten for his impressive performances against two of the biggest clubs in world football and just like Meireles, he performed when his team needed him most.

2 = Paulo Ferreira

In the summer of 2004, Mourinho decided to bring the 25-year-old who he had managed at Porto to Champions League triumph, over to West London. The fee of around £13million was a record at the time for a right back in English football and Mourinho thought that Ferreira was the man to help him achieve success in England as they had in Portugal. In his first season at the club, Ferreira was introduced to the starting 11 where he would join the likes of John Terry and William Gallas in the greatest defence in Premier League history. His 29 appearances helped Chelsea to only concede 15 goals all season. Not the kind of attacking full back we are used to seeing in football nowadays, Ferreira only scored 2 goals over his entire Chelsea career and assisted 7 times. Never exactly the standout player, Mourinho credited Ferreira as “a player who will never be man of the match but will always score 7/10 for his individual display”. Ferreira only managed to feature in two matches in the legendary 11/12 Champions League campaign and was an unused substitute in the final against Bayern Munich. The summer of 2013 spelt the end of Ferreira’s time at Stamford Bridge as the club and himself agreed to let the contract run out. In the last few years of his time at the club, Ferreira was rarely featured in the starting line-up and was used as a senior player for the dressing room. However, this does not distract us from the plethora of silverware Ferreira accumulated over his 9 seasons at the Bridge. 3 Premier League titles, 1 Champions League, 3 FA Cups and 2 League Cups. Ferreira will be deemed as an important servant in Chelsea’s history as he was there throughout many great times at the club and always put in a great performance when he was granted the opportunity. The sheer amount of time he spent at the club grants him a high place on this list as he continuously gave his all when needed and truly loved the club. Ferreira retired after a standing ovation at Stamford Bridge on 19th May 2013 and will be remembered for generations to come.

1 = Ricardo Carvalho

Carvalho was another Portuguese national brought in by Jose Mourinho alongside Paulo Ferreira. The fee of around £20million was fully justified by his prior performances in the Champions League winning campaign in 03/04 and was rated as one of the best centre backs at Euro 2004. His first season was immaculate by all standards and adjusted greatly to the ways of the Premier League. Carvalho was an integral part of the legendary 04/05 Premier League team and his partnership with Englishman John Terry will forever be known as one of the greatest centre back pairing in Premier League history. In 2007, Carvalho was rewarded with a 5-year contract which was fully justified with his outstanding performances that helped Chelsea achieve two Premier League titles in two years. Regardless of Mourinho leaving in the 07/08 season, his stellar performances continued to reign supreme as he was a main factor in Chelsea getting to the Champions League final, that we eventually lost on penalties. He was awarded Chelsea’s Player’s Player of the year for his incredible work during that season. Injury and a suspected move to Inter Milan to reunite with Mourinho nearly halted his Chelsea career. However, the defender (now in his 30’s) decided to stay at Chelsea under new boss Carlo Ancelotti. Carvalho’s career was given an extra spark due to the new management as he made an impeccable start by contributing with a goal in the Community Shield against Manchester United. Chelsea went on to win this game on penalties and it added to the abundance of silverware already in his collection. More injuries later in that season unfortunately spelt the end of his time at Chelsea as he went on to win his third Premier League title in the year we won the double. In his 6 year stay at Chelsea, Carvalho played 210 matches in all competitions and achieved a staggering 2.20 points per game over this period. To add to his 3 Premier League trophies, Carvalho also won 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups and a Community Shield. The combination of raw strength and spectacular technical ability meant Carvalho was destined for success in the Premier League and he certainly exceeded expectations. Hard hitting with a tremendous footballing IQ, Carvalho always wore his heart on his sleeve and gave his all for the team. Whenever Carvalho was playing, you knew not to expect many opposition goals and he kept numerous legends of the Premier League quiet in front of goal. Carvalho is an unsung hero of the club as his ridiculous number of trophies and winners’ medals is not nearly spoken about enough. A classic centre back that was tough as nails alongside the great John Terry led to Chelsea only conceding 15 goals in 38 games. Whether he was alongside Terry or not, you could always expect a tough night for strikers when they came up against Ricardo Carvalho.

Written by Frankie.

Can Marc Guehi Break Into The Senior Team Next Season?

With the imminent departure of Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea, the lack of young defenders from the academy ready for first team football is sparse. The likes of Xavier Mbuyamba and Dynel Simeu have been proven at the U23 level, however their lack of first team football and senior experience greatly reduces their chance at featuring for the first team in any capacity. Chelsea have four centre backs in the senior squad for now and the formation we are now playing in seems to include three centre backs. Azpilicueta has been featuring in the right centre back role, which sums up how much Tuchel trusts his centre backs to do a job. A player with experience at a fairly high level and with bundles of talent could be the spark needed to encourage performances to improve.

Marc Guehi fits the spectrum of this kind of player perfectly. The 20 year old is currently on loan to Swansea, who impressively sit 3rd place in the Sky Bet Championship. This season Marc has played 25 times for Swansea in the league (starting all of these 25 matches). Helping the Swans to 12 clean sheets as of this moment. Guehi has also amassed 1.7 interceptions per game, 1.8 tackles per game and 2.8 clearances per game. The Englishman is unlike the other loanees from Chelsea in the championship regarding minutes. Compared to Jake Clarke-Salter, who is also on loan in the Championship with Birmingham, Guehi has played over 1600 minutes more. Guehi only featured twice for the senior blues before his move and he started and played 90 minutes in both of these appearances. Although these games were in the EFL Cup last year, he proved he could perform at the highest level as he played admirably against Manchester United in a controversial 2-1 loss at Stamford Bridge.

Guehi is on the shorter side of centre backs in comparison to the rest of the Championship and for most leagues in general. Standing at around 5″10, Marc definitely is not known for his size and aerial abilities. However, for what he lacks in height he certainly makes up for it in speed, anticipation and versatility. His concentration and awareness are main parts of his game and severely outweigh his lack of aerial dominance.

Marc’s tactical versatility and ability to play anywhere across the backline could be of massive benefit to Chelsea. At just 20 years old, the range of different positions Guehi has featured in throughout his career is astounding. This season, Guehi has been featuring mainly as a left sided centre back in a 3 at the back formation. This is impressive as Guehi feels comfortable and is trusted enough on the left side of the defence, despite being right footed. Being able to play a wide variety of positions is useful to everyone and proves that he has the ability to play right at the top level.

At Swansea, Marc is being managed by Steve Cooper. Steve was Guehi’s manager for the infamous England U17 World Cup winning team in 2017. Cooper has a great understanding of Guehi’s ability and puts a lot of trust in these skills. Guehi also scored the final goal in a 5-2 drubbing of Spain’s U17 in the final to secure the trophy.

Having played 28 times this season in the Championship, Swansea have conceded the fewest amount of goals this season at just 15 and also have the most amount of clean sheets, also at 16. A whopping 57% of Swansea’s matches this season in the championship have resulted in a clean sheet for Swansea. There is no doubt that acquiring Guehi on loan this season was tremendous business by the Swans as he has helped massively by starting in over 88% of their Championship matches.

Guehi has played with numerous different players within the two other centre back slots this season. Steve Cooper is very indecisive about his defensive options and struggles to pick the same three centre backs consistently. However, Guehi has solidified his place in the starting lineup due to his impressive performances. Guehi’s defensive partner at the start of the season was Joe Rodon. He found a move away from the Swans to Chelsea rivals Tottenham. Rodon has found himself on the brink of starting and has featured in the Premier League 7 times this season. Marc has also featured alongside other Premier League veterans in Ryan Bennett and Kyle Naughton during his ongoing spell at Swansea. The experienced gained from long time professionals and defenders with Premier League game time could be vital to Guehi’s development and future as a Premier League defender.

Marc Guehi will be coming back from Swansea with a wealth of great experience and solid minutes in a tough league under his belt, hopefully gearing him up for fighting for a place in the Chelsea team. Many people seem to think that Marc Guehi is “the best defender in the Championship” and it will be an exciting challenge I’m sure he’s ready for, to compete in the biggest league in the world.

We can assume that Ethan Ampadu, currently on loan at Sheffield United, will also be returning to Stamford Bridge along with Guehi and I personally think they have a high chance of playing some regular football next season. Ampadu has also been utilised in the left side of a back 3 (similarly to Guehi) this season after a dip in performances in the defensive midfield role.

Tuchel has already proven 3 games into his reign that he is not scared to play the youth and introduce them when he feels they are ready. Tuchel was a main part of Christian Pulisic’s uprising at Dortmund and hopefully he can utilise the talent that Guehi evidently has and turn him into a great Premier League centre back. Guehi’s ability on the ball could also be a driving factor in the amount of minutes he plays as Tuchel has made it obvious that he is not a fan of Zouma’s technical ability, especially on the ball.

It will be important for the club and Guehi himself that we avoid another Fikayo Tomori situation. Losing another young, promising centre back that excelled in the championship could be a big blow to a whole range of factors. Many of the centre backs coming through the ranks in our academy will feel that they are not going to get the chance to play for the first team regularly if we fail to incorporate Marc into our first team setup, following the demise of Tomori at Chelsea.

Guehi’s loan at Swansea expires at the end of the season, hopefully giving him the chance to adjust to Tuchel’s philosophy throughout pre season and get used to his team mates. If Chelsea fail to sign Upamecano, Boateng or fail to recall Tomori, Guehi should definitely be given the chance to prove himself in the Premier League.

Written by Frankie

Whether it’s Frank In or Frank Out, nothing should change at Chelsea

As January rolls into town, Chelsea are midway through their annual end-of-year tradition of handing out points to those who need it most and with that comes the inevitable rise of the “*Insert Manager Here* Out” brigade, singing festive hymns of reactionary takes and short term solutions. It is, of course, no surprise, that here at the start of January, as Chelsea sits on 1 win in their last 6, the fanbase appears very much divided on whether Frank Lampard is the right man for the job. This annual furore has been fuelled largely by a Chelsea model that has seen ruthless decision making deliver instant success. None more so than the removal of Andre Villas-Boas in March 2011, replaced by Roberto Di Matteo who then delivered the club its first Champions League trophy. History somewhat repeated itself the very next year when Di Matteo’s reign was cut short in November 2012, replaced by Rafa Benitez who guided the club to its first Europa League triumph. Therefore, it is no surprise that many fans are calling for change, however there is much more at stake this time around.

Image source – The Guardian

Chelsea, for the longest time, has been stuck in an internal conflict between the pragmatic style that delivered them success under managers like Mourinho and Conte and a desire to become a more expansive and expressive side, as seen with the short-lived appointments of Sarri and Scolari. This struggle between the two polarising approaches has seen the club frequently throw away long term planning for a chance at instant success. The trophies continued to pile up, however, the foundations they were built upon were seemingly growing weaker with every annual switch in philosophy. The prime example of this being the well-reported casualties of the 14/15 Premier League title win in Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Mo Salah (what are they up to these days, anyway??).

Those 3 players weren’t the only casualties of course. Promising youth players were farmed out before getting a sniff of the first team, squad players were signed for large fees and wages before immediately being deemed surplus to requirement and squads were ultimately left consisting of players who rarely matched the desired style of the incoming coach. On reflection, it shouldn’t be overly surprising that a squad built by Jose Mourinho struggled under the tutelage of Scolari, yet flourished under the more pragmatic Guus Hiddink. We all watched in bemusement as Frank De Boer and Marco Silva struggled to turn teams previously managed by Sam Allardyce into free-flowing attacking units, yet Chelsea has been equally as guilty. Managers, like players, frequently require the right environment and tools to flourish and whilst not free from blame (looking at you, AVB), the club has to take the lions share of responsibility.

So what’s different now? Well as with most things in football, money talks, and despite a transfer ban supported spending spree last summer, Chelsea quite simply cannot afford to think in the short term anymore as any major missteps could set the club back years, as we’ve seen in recent history with both Manchester United and Arsenal. The club’s hand has been forced to make a shift in philosophy that whilst desired for a long time, has never been committed to. The difficulty now is that such a transition is not being made from a position of power. Chelsea does not have the financial superiority they once had and success has dipped in recent years as Liverpool and Manchester City have continued to advance.

This shift in focus, arguably the biggest transitional phase since Roman first purchased the club in 2003, calls into question what the expectations of Lampard should be. Do we judge him on performances and results as we’ve done for those before him, or do we judge him on the long term progression of the club? The answer, as it often is, is somewhere in the middle. Whilst the immediate results have been inconsistent and at times frustrating, we cannot lose sight of the framework that is being built within the club to ensure long-term stability and success. Rome wasn’t built in a day, it took Klopp 4 years to make Liverpool competitive and despite City building for Guardiola’s arrival years in advance, instant success still wasn’t achieved there either. Additionally, you only need to look at the other side of Manchester to realise that money spent isn’t a guarantee of success.

Image source – Football London

With that said, both Klopp and Guardiola are two managers who between them boasted 27 trophies before moving to the Premier League and were widely regarded to be two of the best managers world football. Their experience, whilst increasing initial expectations, provided confidence to fans and the board alike that even in moments of inconsistency, they had the ability to deliver long term success. This is where Frank Lampard, despite 14 trophies as a player, is at a disadvantage. In only his third year in management, the minimal experience and relative lack of success makes it incredibly difficult to make a definitive call on whether Lampard can deliver the success that Chelsea, sooner rather than later, will demand.

Even the most die-hard fans of Lampard would not try and convince you that his appointment in July 2019 was primarily driven by his performance as Derby manager. Chelsea at the time was a club that required structure and direction following the fallout of Antonio Conte and the divisive season that followed under Sarri. Without a doubt, the high pressing, possession-oriented football he played at Derby would have helped his cause but the club required more than just a tactical shake-up, this was a team that had been accused by the last 3 managers of lacking motivation and an elite mentality. Lampard inherited a squad that perfectly summarised the mismanagement of seasons past, a combination of players signed for the conservative football of Mourinho and Conte, a limited, possession-based midfielder in Jorginho and a seemingly never-ending list of squad players from the past, returning from their 10th loan spell. However, unlike Sarri before him, Lampard had to continue the transition to a more expansive style of play without Eden Hazard, a man who had been involved in 49.1% of Chelsea’s goals the season before and who’s individual brilliance frequently masked the declining quality in the squad around him.

What Lampard did, however, is something that no manager under Abramovic has done before, utilising the resources already at the club within the academy to revolutionise the squad. Many managers in the past spoke positively of the youth but opportunities for the players were limited to little more than cameos in dead rubbers, such as Mourinho’s “Academy Day” which saw Ruben Loftus Cheek get an 8-minute outing in a game of zero consequence. Many will say Lampard’s hand was forced by the transfer ban however the immediate and consistent use of Mount (2nd highest at 3,741 minutes), Abraham (8th highest at 2,960 minutes), James (9th highest at 2,386), Tomori (15th highest at 1,868) and to a lesser extent Hudson Odoi (1,472) and Gilmour (508 minutes), over their more experienced counterparts, was a decision made out of choice rather than necessity.

Image source – Football London

The benefit of Lampard’s brave selections has also had a substantial impact on the club’s financial situation and transfer strategy. Given the emergence of the previously named youth players, there was no need to sign squad players and instead, the transfer funds went solely into players who improve the starting line up, with 6 of the 7 first team acquisitions this summer slotting in as regular starters. In addition to this, rather than a squad filled with squad players on inflated wages who may be hard to move on, the squad now largely consists of assets that are consistently growing in value, so much so that Hudson-Odoi was subject to a bid in excess of £70m last summer. This is a stark contrast to the summer of 2017 where the club signed Davide Zappacosta, Emerson and Danny Drinkwater for £74m (excluding wages) in return for a combined 74 Premier League starts at the time of writing. That very same summer, the club sold Nathan Ake, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ola Aina for a combined £34.9m.

Additionally, by Lampard’s own admission, there is still work to be done with the squad, particularly when it comes to outgoings. The impact of Covid-19 on the transfer market has meant that the club has struggled to offload players, preferring to hold onto them instead of taking a financial hit with a reduced selling fee. As such, the squad whilst deep in numbers, is not necessarily deep in quality with injuries to key personnel such as Hakim Ziyech often resulting in wholesale tactical changes due to a lack of alternatives with similar skill sets (see @CFCParee’s article on squad depth for more detail on this here).

Despite the incredible progress made off the field, results in the 2020-2021 have been inconsistent at best with the most recent, a 3-1 humbling defeat at home against Manchester City, calling into question whether Lampard has taken Chelsea as far as he can. As previously alluded to, in years gone by, such a run of results would have seen a change of manager made as fears grew of falling further behind. Lampard himself will know this all to well having seen the likes of Mourinho (twice) and Di Matteo removed from their duties despite their legendary status at the club. However, unlike the aforementioned replacements, the decision to stick or twist runs deeper than just changing the coach, the entire framework that has been put in place must be considered.

It is crucial that fans, and more importantly the board, do not lose sight of what Lampard’s appointment meant for the club. This was a man who lived and breathed Chelsea throughout his 648 games for the club, a man who understood what it meant to be Chelsea and immediately brought unity and excitement to a fanbase that had been divided by the previous seasons. Within a year, the long desired pathway between the academy and first-team squad was established, reducing the temptation to look at the market for squad player and his vision was so appealing that the club were able to sign a number of the most sought after players in the world, something they had struggled to do in seasons past.

Image source – Tirto.ID

There is perhaps merit to the argument that Lampard’s tenure is more akin to Ranieri’s than Mourinho’s, overseeing a successful rebuild of the squad and ultimately setting up someone with more experience to elevate them to the next level, however the decision over whether to replace him is far more complex than simply identifying if a subjectively ‘better’ coach is available. Whereas previously the club would do their best (not always successfully) to match the style of the incoming coach, now the coach must match the style of the club. It quite simply is no longer enough for a manager to join the club with a track record of success, they must continue the progression to the expansive side that Chelsea are becoming, they must share the invested interest in continuing the pathway from the academy and resist the urge to move in the transfer market for anything other than elite players. Failure to make the right call will not only see Chelsea lose a manager who has the best interests in the long term stability of the club, but also the progress that he, and everyone else at the club, have worked so hard to achieve over the last 18 months.

Regardless of the decision that the board make, what is clear is that Lampard, as he did as a player, will leave the club in a much better position than when he joined it.

Olivier Giroud – Chelsea’s underrated gunman

It is all but confirmed that Olivier Giroud is at the sunset of his time at Chelsea. The Frenchman who’s on the verge of leaving the club in the January transfer window needs to be playing regular football in order to secure his place in the French squad for the upcoming 2021 Euros. A career laden with trophies including the FIFA World Cup, I am explaining why Olivier Giroud will always remain English football’s underrated gunman.

Even at 34, Olivier Giroud debatably remains the best target man in the world. A player whose first touch and linkup remains second to none, Giroud is a dream to play with for many explosive wingers in the world. A player who isn’t appreciated by many, he has come up a long way since his dream season at Montpelier.

After a slow start to his life at Arsenal, Giroud quickly became a fan favorite in North London. Even after many world-class performances at the club including THAT Puskas Award winning Scorpion-Kick against Crystal Palace, it was evident that Giroud might make way for fresh blood at Arsenal. The signatures of Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were an important catalyst for Giroud’s move to West London. Despite averaging about 14 Goals a season, Giroud remained underappreciated at Arsenal. Even in 2020, Giroud’s exceptional link-up is underrated by many.

Since Giroud’s transfer to Chelsea in the 2018 winter transfer window, he has been a clutch player for the club. While it is easy to forget his contributions in the FA Cup winning season, he consistently delivered during the Europa League for Chelsea. Giroud has earned rightful plaudits for his heroics in the Europa League campaign under Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea remained undefeated throughout the Europa campaign and the performances of Giroud, along with the likes of Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek deserve far more recognition.

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While Giroud might be criticized for his lack of goal-scoring boots in the World Cup, his aerial threat and his ability create spaces for his team mates helped the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoinne Griezmann be fierce in front of goal throughout the campaign. The fact that Giroud did not have a single shot on target throughout the World Cup surprises many, including myself. However, Giroud remains one of the great examples why stats don’t always matter in world football.

Giroud’s link-up with Eden Hazard was really beautiful to the eyes. Eden Hazard, who’s arguably the most talented player to ever play for Chelsea, hailed Giroud’s influence in the games. Hazard was probably the one player who benefited the most from Giroud’s signature, even calling him the best target man in the world.

Despite warming the bench in the current campaign, Giroud has remained an important mentor to our young players. An extremely dedicated individual coupled with great professionalism is what makes Olivier Giroud special at Chelsea Football Club. One might not rate him alongside other strikers such as Sergio Aguero, Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, but Giroud has indeed been an underrated gem to have graced English Football.

Gilmour and Anjorin can offer us a lot in the next few months…

Yesterday’s game certainly is going to back up a lot of what I’m about to say.

Last night’s challenge against Rennes clearly highlighted the problems we have in midfield. To an average Chelsea fan, or a supporter of another club, many would see the abudance in midfield and question me heavily as to why I’m complaining. After all, we did spend £100 million on Jorginho and Kovacic, the best part of another hundred on Kai Havertz and sent Loftus-Cheek and Barkley out on loan. However, the problem is that with the new way we’re playing, Jorginho and Kovacic are going to struggle.

A topic which has been widely discussed so far this season is the different formations we’ve used – mainly 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1. With the 4-3-3, we currently only have two ‘proper’ number 8s in Mason Mount and Kai Havertz, and with the 4-2-3-1 we are lacking a player who can play next to Kante, as none of the midfield partnerships in a midfield pivot are working at the moment.

Mateo Kovacic has played as a number 8 in the last few games, and has impressed, but he still is learning a lot about the position and it isn’t his natural place to be on the pitch. For Jorginho, as much as I love the man, I think it’s very clear that he doesn’t fit in this system and when he plays we are extremely weak defensively. I mean, just have a look at this…

This, is where I feel Billy Gilmour will help the team so much, and potentially Tino Anjorin too. However, this article may surprise a few people who haven’t watched Gilmour as much, especially when talking about the 4-3-3. Let’s get into it!

Gilmour in the 4-2-3-1

I think the first thing to mention with the Scottish midfielder is that he is just returning from a bad injury, and that it will take him time to get back to his best. He has played for the development squad in the last two weeks, where he looks close to full match fitness and also scored a screamer from the edge of the box against Manchester City. It hopefully shouldn’t take him too long to get to full sharpness, but it’s just something to keep in mind.

A screamer from Billy Gilmour a few days ago…

A lot of last season, and even this season, we have tried to find our best midfield pivot in a 4-2-3-1. And the matter of the fact is that we still haven’t, because they’re all pretty bad. A Kante-Jorginho midfield is very slow, a Kante-Kovacic midfield is not offensive enough and a Jorginho-Kovacic may look aesthetically pleasing, but as I showed above, that type of defending happens many times a game which often goes missed.

Could Gilmour be the perfect person to play next to Kante with Havertz in front? I certainly think so. Billy offers so much on and off the ball, as he holds an exquisite passing range and is very sound defensively. Everyone knows about his passing abilities, both short and long, and some of his best defensive work came against Liverpool in the FA Cup last season where he got stuck in and was able to keep up with forwards such as Mane who were running in behind – something which Jorginho would see but not be able to catch up, and which Kovacic would be quick enough to run but would simply stare at oppositions midfielders running past him. One of Billy’s underrated qualities is definitely his dribbling, something which I will talk about next when discussing his role in the 4-3-3.

This is the incredible piece of defending I am talking about…

Sounds great then. Havertz as the 10 would be able to drop deep and link the play between the midfield and attack; Gilmour could play slightly just ahead of Kante who can sit deep and still have the reassurance that if he wanted to go forward, there would be someone who would be able to temporarily defend.

Gilmour in the 4-3-3

Having said all that, it’s been pretty clear so far this season that Frank is pushing towards the 4-3-3 when all our players are fit. As I said before, this is where most people who haven’t watched Gilmour as much will be surprised.

Last season when Gilmour featured towards the end of the season, he was playing instead of Kante, in the deeper number 6 role. Don’t get me wrong, he can do a very good job there as we saw, and he would be the backup option for Kante until we get Declan Rice either in January or the Summer. But I actually think the best place for him in this system would be playing as number 8, slightly ahead of a sitting midfielder.

When he played in the academy, he was almost always playing as an 8. Most of the time it was George Mceachran who was sitting the deepest, a player quite similar to Jorginho in terms of their style, and Billy in front, with someone like Tino Anjorin or Conor Gallagher to the other side. As an 8 I think he’s got it all – passing, running, dribbling, an eye for goal around the box and most importantly he’s an aggressive player off the ball despite his physique.

Like I said before, at the moment we really only have two natural number 8’s, them being Kai Havertz and Mason Mount. Chelsea have an extremely tight schedule coming up and both players will be needing rest, so Gilmour would be the best player to come in for them.

The last thing to say about the 19 year old is that we have brought in world class players, and they are only going to make him better. He’s going to have one of the world’s best centre-backs in the last two decades behind him telling him where to be and what to do, a generational young talent right next to him, some utterly disgusting pace in front of him as well as a magician. We genuinely could see some huge developments in this game this season making him one of the best young players in the world, I’m sure of it.

Tino Anjorin

I wouldn’t expect Anjorin to feature heavily soon for the first team, but he’s certainly one who we could see on the bench for a couple games, especially having already qualified for the Champions League knockout stages. Tino has been playing for the development squad this season after returning from an injury, and he’s almost back to his very best. I said at the beginning of the year that he was going to be too good for the U23’s, and he hasn’t proven me wrong. Even against men, he looked the most comfortable on the pitch, scoring a brace against League One team Bristol Rovers in the EFL Trophy (or the Papa John’s trophy – whatever you prefer). He definitely needs a challenge, whether that is with the first team or out on loan, because it’s too easy for him at the moment.

For me, his chance is just lurking around the corner. I’m not sure what is happening with the COVID bubbles and whether he’s actually allowed to play with the first team, but if he is, I can see him getting a shot very soon. He trained a lot with the big boys towards the end of last season and if it wasn’t for his injury during Project Restart he almost definitely would have featured. He also received many loan offers in the Summer, but wanted to stay and make himself available to Lampard, and I would assume one main reason behind that was seeing the departures of Loftus-Cheek and Barkley.

In the whole of the club, he is definitely the next most natural 8 after Kai and Mason. Not only that, he can easily play at the 10, fitting the gaffer’s formations perfectly and potentially making him a great asset in the future. We don’t really have someone like him in the main squad, although it could be argued that he has a few similarities to Havertz – they both play in similar positions, have a great eye for goal and are extremely clinical. The main difference between the two is quite obviously their physical status, with Anjorin being one of the strongest guys around, yet still being quick (don’t get me wrong, Kai is still extremely fast.)

Anjorin is more of a bogey player and one to keep an eye out for, as I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets promoted to the first team camp allowing him to feature for the first team, or if a loan deal gets agreed to a Championship or European team.

Do you agree with the idea of Gilmour playing as an 8 and Anjorin possibly featuring for the first team? Make sure to let us know on our social media platforms and my own personal account!

Written by Paree

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.


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.


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.


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.