Tag Archives: Chelsea

England

Where is it going wrong for Chelsea?

Chelsea went into the 2015/2016 Premier League season as favourites due to the supreme level of football that swept everyone that stood in front of them to one side with unerring ease last year, but the defending champions have looked anything but contenders. Jose Mourinho has cut a forlorn figure on the sidelines as his team have found it difficult to impose themselves, with just one win and a draw from their opening five fixtures leaving them an incredible eleven points behind early pacesetters Manchester City.

The pressure is already on the ‘Special One’ to transform Chelsea’s fortunes, with Bookies.com highlighting that he has dropped as short as 9/2 to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked. Although this seems unlikely given that Mourinho signed a three-year contract extension at Stamford Bridge during the summer, there are a number of factors that have contributed to their surprisingly poor start to the campaign that must be addressed sooner rather than later.

Defence all at sea

The one thing that you would not associate with Chelsea is defensive frailties and vulnerability that results in them leaking goals. However, they currently look a shadow of the backline that conceded a mere thirty-two goals to record the best defensive record in the Premier League last season. John Terry is showing signs that his best days are behind him, while Branislav Ivanovic, widely considered as one of the best full-backs in Europe, has endured a torrid time and continues to struggle. More importantly, Chelsea’s defence as a collective unit look all at sea; there appear to be a distinct lack of understanding and leadership at the back, and although Thibault Courtois’ opening day red card against Swansea has not helped matters, Asmir Begovic has been left exposed on a number of occasions.

It has culminated in an awful start to the season in which Chelsea have not only lost three of their first give games, but also failed to keep a clean sheet and subsequently have the worst defence in the Premier League. Signing Baba Rahman, Papy Djilobodji and Michael Hector in the last few days of the summer transfer window has done little to appease fans’ concerns that Chelsea lack the defensive solidity that was pivotal to their Premier League success last season, but although Mourinho has denied he is under pressure, he will have to come up with the answers soon before they find themselves even further behind Manchester City.

Midfield protection

It can be easy to define individual areas of the pitch in which players are responsible for their own duties, but the key to any successful team is how they are able to attack and defend as a unit whilst also remaining disciplined and sticking to the tactics enforced by their manager. Nemanja Matic was undoubtedly an unsung hero last season for the way in which he provided superb protection in front of the back four and offered the service to the more creative players further upfield, but he, and the midfield on the whole, have been well short of the intensity levels and work rate that made them so difficult to get past. Teams this season, particularly Everton and Manchester City, found it easy to get players between the lines of the defence and midfield without much pressure being applied on them, which in turn has left the likes of John Terry exposed to either pressing the ball or going with the runners behind

them. There also appears to a lack of bite or intensity in pressing the ball and winning possession back; although this is something that Mourinho can work on at the training ground, Chelsea have to rediscover those qualities as it is what makes them so difficult for opponents to get past.

Out-of-form stars

Some may point to the fact that Mourinho’s decision to shorten pre-season preparations to just four weeks is why Chelsea’s star players, namely Ivanovic, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, have failed to hit the same heights as last season. The team, on the whole, look unprepared and unorganised as a result, but Hazard and Fabregas in particularly have looked nothing like the players that set the Premier League alight as they stormed to the title. The former has barely featured in the opening five fixtures and appears frustrated at the lack of service, while the latter has found that his usual high standard of passing has been way off the mark as promising attacks have often fell short before they develop even further. Diego Costa has also found it difficult to impose himself, and although he continues to give defenders a tough time, the Spaniard has been starved of the quality service he received in abundance last season.

It would be highly unwise for fans, Bookies.com and other teams to write Chelsea off, particularly after just five games, but their current league position reflects a team that clearly have problems to address. The upcoming fixture against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge could ultimately define their season, but it also presents an opportunity for Mourinho and his players to prove they have what it takes to defend their Premier League crown.

England

Clean sheet triumph for Jose Mourinho

As if being on top of the Premier League wasn’t enough, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho now has another accolade to add to his list of impressive achievements.

Mourinho now holds the record for the fastest team to achieve 100 clean sheets over the course of the British Premier League under the same manager.

It was Chelsea’s recent 1-0 victory over West Ham United that saw Mourinho marking his 100th clean sheet, a game which also helped them to maintain their four-point lead over runners up Manchester City.

The Portuguese prodigy will have been particularly satisfied with the victory given the men he beat to get the title, namely, Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafael Benitez, with whom he has shared great rivalries in the past.

While Chelsea’s previously undefeated record in this season’s Premier League has now been tainted, their 100 clean sheets is a testament to their outstanding defence, which includes the inimitable John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanović.

So just how did Mourinho manage such a feat? He cannot fault his sterling defence team, and he certainly acknowledged this after their most recent match against West Ham United. He said: “There are matches when you need your quality to win, others when you need luck and others when you have to adapt to the opponent and we had to do that with Terry, Cahill and [Kurt] Zouma for the direct football, and [Thibaut] Courtois amazing in everything.”

The statistics speak for themselves when it comes to Mourinho’s record. In 185 matches, Mourinho’s Chelsea has 100 clean sheets – that’s a ratio of 54 per cent. Comparatively, Rafael Benitez sits far behind in second place with 114 clean sheets in 254 matches – that’s a ratio of 45 per cent – while West Ham United’s Sam Allardyce is in joint bottom place with Harry Redknapp, with a ratio of just 28 per cent.

On the flip side, out of 185 matches, Mourinho’s Chelsea has managed to concede 116 goals – around 0.63 per match – compared to Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City, who have 0.97 goals conceded every match, with goals scored in 64 out of 66 games. Could this be the reason that Chelsea are flying high in first place while last season’s winners hang painfully behind in second place?

Of course, there are two months until the end of the season, and that’s a long time in football time. However, if by some miracle Chelsea do not win the Premiership, Mourinho can still hold his head high with yet another accolade.

England

Checking in on the Premier League contenders

At the end of the Premier League transfer window last summer, we posted an article projecting the potential top finishers in the league. At the time, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United looked to be the most interesting clubs, in terms of moves made at that point and the potential to contend for a title. Well, now the 2014/15 EPL season is nearing its midpoint, and with the January transfer window open, here’s an updated look at the teams to watch.

Chelsea

In the summer article, we pointed out that all eyes would be on Jose Mourinho’s La Liga acquisitions (Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa) to make the Blues’ season a successful one. But no one saw a Diego Costa performance this good coming. ESPN FC lists Costa with 14 goals through 17 Premier League performances thus far, and behind this superb play Chelsea has established itself as the league leader and likely champion. It’s worth mentioning that in recent weeks the Blues have come back down to Earth after a sensational first few months to the season. At one point Chelsea looked like an absolutely sure bet to win the title. Regardless of recent struggles or January transfer news, Jose Mourinho’s club remains the favourite.

Manchester City

It seems almost shocking to say so after Chelsea’s aforementioned hot start, but Manchester City has pulled even in the league standings with 46 points through 20 games played. They may get even deadlier in the attack if the transfer window goes as planned. BBC Sport’s football report suggests that City is inching closer to signing Wilfried Bony, who scored 20 goals in the league in 2014 and has unquestionably been Swansea City’s best player. We’ve seen time and time again that chemistry matters as much as talent in EPL play, and not every new addition comes in as seamlessly as Diego Costa did for Chelsea. But Bony would likely make Man City an even more formidable contender as it seeks to defend its 2013/14 title.

Manchester United

Manchester United began the league campaign looking somewhat shaky. It seems as if first-year manager Louis van Gaal has now earned the trust and confidence of his players, and Man Utd. is rolling in a way we haven’t seen in a few seasons. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie have been terrific in engineering the Man Utd. attack, and summer addition Radamel Falcao hasn’t really even gotten going yet. But it’s on defense, and in goal, that Man Utd. is making the biggest difference. Despite the outstanding quality of keeper David de Gea, betting.betfair’s football news section reports that Man Utd is on the cusp of signing Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes without a fight (more on that here). It’s a strange decision, but gives the club incredible depth in the back and a nice insurance policy moving forward. There’s still ground to make up in the standings, but United has moved within striking distance should Chelsea and Man City falter.

Arsenal

And finally, there’s Arsenal. After the summer signing of Alexis Sanchez, they looked to be one of the league’s most talented sides. The Gunners have been great at times, but they have also struggled to put together any sort of consistent run that could propel them to the top of the league. Arsenal currently resides outside of the top-five in the standings, but an active January transfer window could set the team up for a nice few months to finish the season. Having already been linked to the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Edinson Cavani, Arsenal is now rumoured to be pursuing Luis Suarez, who hasn’t quite found his groove at Barcelona. Any move of this magnitude would keep the 2014/15 Gunners very interesting.

England

Who will take the Premier League title this year?

Just a few weeks remain until the Premier League season kicks off once again this August, and the league’s top managers are doing their best to make key last minute transfers to their teams.

The title is currently sitting in the hands of Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City, but their current changes could make or break their latest Premier League campaign. With three changes to their defence, it could be a case of fixing what isn’t broken for Manchester City, and with their Premier League rivals making important changes, they could struggle to defend the title.

Arsenal

Alexis Sánchez is the topic of the hour for Arsenal, who have been typically frugal in making transfers this year. While manager Arsene Wenger is renowned for not making transfers until the last minute, he did make one essential change to the team, signing the Chilean right winger for £35 million. Sanchez has shown incredible potential in this year’s World Cup and Spanish tournament La Liga, and his skills could put a halt to Arsenal’s fourth place reputation once and for all.

Chelsea

Jose Mourinho has not been so frugal, having pinched former Arsenal striker Cesc Fabregas for £30 million. The 27-year-old was enjoying a spell at Barcelona, but will now be moving to cooler climates along with Atlético Madrid’s Diego Costa, giving Chelsea average odds of 15/8 to take the title. Romelu has returned to do what he does best, but all eyes will be on La Liga boys to make this year Chelsea’s year.

Liverpool

In an effort to make sure they don’t finish in second place once again, Liverpool have made some vital transfers this season, including the signing of young blood Lazar Markovic and Emre Can. The Reds will surely have an interesting opening Premier League game as they take on Southampton, which has recently sold two of its former stars Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana to Liverpool. Despite losing Suárez, a little fresh meat and a bigger incentive than ever to win the league could make this Liverpool’s year.

Manchester United

With the departure of long-suffering David Moyes comes Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, who has made no bones about big changes he’s going to be bringing to the team. It’s rumoured that up to ten players are on the chopping block for Manchester United, who finished in an embarrassing seventh place last year. The team already signed Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw prior to Moyes’ exit, but it’s the next few weeks that will really make or break Manchester United as van Gaal begins to crack the whip.

England

Premier League coming down to final month

Last season Manchester United ran away with the Premiership crown, clinching on April 22 and finishing 11 points clear of their Mancunian rivals to secure their record 20th top-flight title. Unlike that season, the 2013/14 campaign is packed with the kinds of drama the previous year lacked, as every fixture down the stretch for the top three clubs is crucial to their chances.

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England

Mind Games: Premier League preview

We appear to have arrived at the point in the season where certain managers decide that the best way to upset and distract their rivals is by doing a bit of trolling. Jose Mourinho displayed a lack of gracefulness a few days ago, and now Manuel Pellegrini has decided to rub David Moyes’ nose in a mess which, to be fair to Moyes, was left at Old Trafford (at least in part) by someone else.

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England

Mourinho the master

This season was always going to be one of unpredictability. With the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson the seat at the head of the Premier League managers’ table was vacant for the first time in decades. The return of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea seemingly left this seat open for him to succeed and on the evidence this season this theory would seem correct.

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England

The League Cup should be taken seriously

League_Cup

Sitting in front of Arsenal vs Chelsea last night it seemed obvious that the league cup really should be taken a little more seriously. Whilst fixture congestion certainly played a significant part in the starting elevens in this particular game, it clouds the main issue; the league cup means nothing to far too many teams any more.

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England Germany

European Super Cup preview part two: Bayern Munich vs Chelsea

Later on today the 2013 European Super Cup will be competed for between Bayern Munich and Chelsea. Following yesterday’s look at how the two sides won their respective European trophies today we are looking a little more closely at both sides.

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England Germany

European Super Cup preview: Bayern Munich vs Chelsea

This Friday Bayern Munich and Chelsea will play each other at the Stadio Eden in Prague to see who lifts the European Super Cup 2013. The annual competition pits the previous seasons UEFA Champions League winners against the UEFA Europa League winners.

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