In September last year, very nearly the whole of Chelsea’s away end at Leicester joined in with an anti-Semitic chant. That set in place a series of events which this week resulted in a club-sponsored trip to Auschwitz for supporters. Dan Levene, on Chelsea at the crossroads.


It is probably 20 years since I wrote my first story about anti-Semitism at Chelsea.

In the time I have supported and reported on this club, a period exceeding 30 years, it has been more or less a constant.

It is a complex matter here, which is not to say the abhorrence of it is in any way diminished.

Many perpetrators claim an antipathy towards Spurs, not Jews.
Some among them probably even believe that.

But the songs about the death camps prevail.

They have ebbed and flowed over that time: from the 80s nadir; to a period where abuse diminished in the post-Champions-League triumph world; to the era beyond the Brexit vote, where aspects of the support have spoken-up with gusto.

Spurs are not Y-ds.

They are a north London team which inhabits a part of N17: once quite Jewish; now very African-Caribbean; with a strong Turkish influence.

Spurs never chose the tag ‘Y-d army’. But they decided to own it: a theoretical strike against the haters. Probably 97% or more of their support is ‘goyim’, as the few remaining Jews in the area might refer to those not of the race.

Had they not taken the moniker on in the 60s, they might have left the search for a badge-of-pride until the 80s or 90s. In which case, would they now call themselves the ‘N****r Army’?

If they did, would that be acceptable? And would abuse of it be tolerable? In both cases, the answer seems obvious.

Chelsea do hate Tottenham, and Tottenham do hate Chelsea, as many are happy to sing. Such football rivalry is to be expected. To be cherished, even, because without it the game is sanitised.

But often, at Chelsea, it feels like many also hate Jews.

“Barcelona, Real Madrid, Tottenham are a load of Y-ds,” goes the song; and absolutely everyone knows what the Y-word stands for.

Should Spurs stop singing it, would it stop?

I recall Chelsea’s Yossi Benayoun, an Israeli international, approaching an away end once to be greeted with a barrage of: “F*** off you Y-d scum” – from his own club’s support. The record books seem to have missed his time as a Spurs player.

So, though many from the north of London sing about being part of a ‘Y-d Army’ with mostly misplaced pride; the songs from the west which mention the word tend to be about hatred, and often threaten.

I’ve had those threats myself, from time to time, over my public calls to stop the racial abuse.

And so to Leicester away last September…

“Its just a football song,” as some insisted to me on the platform post-match.
But when a significant majority of a 2,000+ strong away end sing about a player who ‘hates the f***ing Y-ds’, it becomes a hate crime.

When a supporter I’ve know for years approaches a Jew on that station platform and insists how ‘f**ing brilliant’ his day out was, ‘because of that song’, it elevates the occasion to one of the worst acts of collective racism I’ve seen at football in some years.

If we assume that every single one of those singers: people who live or work in, or visit London regularly, and who presumably know the Jewish origins of their club’s owner, know what the word means; then we must assume they know the chant is racist.

And, on being asked in the immediate aftermath of the match, the club was adamant that it wanted rid of those who thought it acceptable.

A short while later, Abramovich’s campaign against anti-Semitism was born.

I count among my family survivors of the Holocaust. The story of Auschwitz is one that was always known in my youth.

I have made it a part of my existence to hear the testimonies of survivors.

I have learned of history’s most appalling crimes, simply by listening.

But when one such survivor spoke at Stamford Bridge back in March, with incredible power and remarkable fortitude, in front of an audience of supporters – it felt like a watershed.

I sat with Bruce Buck that night, and I will not break the confidence of such a personal moment.

But we spoke of the Holocaust, and he told me of his pride that fans of the club of which he was Chairman would be taken on planes to learn more of history’s greatest ever abomination. To hear, and to share.

On 5th June, there I flew.

On the flight, a mix of Chelsea staff and supporters.


And this, if there is any such point, is where the plan’s flaw is evident.

I saw on that flight people who I knew had spent their lives fighting against any form of intolerance or prejudice.

But I also saw those who I knew to be anti-Semites: with a long history of racist abuse to their names.

The constituency here was clearly a mix of those occupying the echo-chamber of disgust (the majority); and those flying for a freebie.

It is barely possible to do justice to the thoughts and emotions associated with visiting a place where millions were murdered, exclusively on the basis of the blood which courses through one’s own veins.

Though the blood could have been yours, or anyone else’s, depending on the direction in which hate was focused.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is easily written-off as a place created by evil people.

It was not.

It was designed and run by normal people, by all accounts, who took a conscious decision to be evil.

And the bundles of hair, removed from the corpses of the victims are as real as the carpets made by their murderers from those tresses: to furnish the glistening apartments of those who desired them.

It is a place where rape and murder knew no bounds within the confines of history, and where no pantomime villains or Gotham City backdrops exist.

This was your town, with your people, gone horrifically wrong.

Rabbi Barry Marcus, an inspirational man and public speaker, established these physically and mentally draining field trips two decades ago.

And he is rightly given the final say.


Perched atop the memorial at Birkenau, the home of history’s most effective killing machine: he shows sorrow, and respect. And, in a move that removes some from from their comfort zones, pure rage.

And then, as in the case of the hundreds of trips he has led over the years to this place, he offers the chance to say Kaddish – to remember the six million men, women and children snuffed-out.

I saw people who cracked jokes about gas ovens and Spurs on the way there, who remained quiet on the way back. A small advance.

I saw others who claimed to have been cured of any lingering anti-Semitism by the experience. And let time be the judge of that.

And, for the most part, I saw people who happened to be involved in football – for work, for play – who were utterly broken by the sights they had seen, and the stories they had heard.

The images of dead children; the thousands of abandoned shoes or hairbrushes; the utter dehumanisation of beings who were once people.


The test will be how long these reactions endure.

Was the lesson of the Holocaust here learned?

It will be time before we find out.

But if it was, then the take-away for all should be this: the stigmatisation; the victimisation; the dehumanisation which led to the Holocaust – a turn of events seldom easier to replicate these days than in a football crowd – can be halted.

All that is required is for good people to stand in its way.

It has to be hoped a few more know their role in that, from this moment onward.


By, Aldemaro Narvaez


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

My brother, Alfredo, and I are separated by 14 months and very little else.  We grew up close. Went to the same elementary (primary) school, high (secondary) school, and graduated from the same college in Memphis, Tennessee.  We support the same ice hockey team, basketball team, and American football team (New Orleans Saints). We agree on many things.  But, when we began rooting for clubs in English football, Fredo chose Arsenal Football Club while I preferred objectively the best club in London. At least nobody chose Spurs.

Whenever we see each other, inevitably the conversation turns to football, and we are constantly questioning the mentality, strategy, and results from each of our clubs. With the third meeting of Chelsea and Arsenal in the month of January just a few days away, Fredo and I decided to ask each other some of those questions that opposing supporters would ask fans of a rival club.

Aldemaro_CFC: With the strengthening of clubs like Liverpool, Spurs, and City, is a fourth-place trophy still status quo for Arsenal or will a repeat of Europa League occur more often?

A: The fact is that most of the clubs not willing to spend over the odds will end up having to fight for Champions League places now. Even if they do, it’s 4 spots and 6 teams. That means two will be always left on the outside looking in. The easiest way to avoid that is to spend and put yourself in a position of strength to fight off the others. Man City have done that. Liverpool are doing that. Man United are desperate to do that as are Arsenal. The status quo is gone because now you’re not guaranteed even that fourth place trophy even if you do spend. You now have to spend smartly.

Fredo_AFC: Chelsea broke through on the strength of their owner’s financial support and a Premier League that wasn’t ready for the influx of money that was about to hit it. With the new TV deals creating a new financial reality, how are Chelsea working to stay ahead of the pack?

A: The new TV deals have, I suppose, given Premier League clubs higher stacks of money with which to buy players; however, other leagues have done a good job of hiking up transfer fees on English clubs.  The influx of TV cash has had an impact, but the unintended consequences have negated the effects of that windfall.

For Chelsea, the current strategy is to buy young and sell high. That includes targeted, established players in their early to mid-twenties that could fetch a decent transfer fee at the end of their contract, and academy players that don’t make it to the squad. The hoarding of young talent has provided us some gems that made it to the starting 11 like Andreas Christensen and—okay, just Christensen—but there are plenty of others that seem on the cusp of pushing for their place in Conte’s team if given the chance to grow.  Amazingly, our youth policy is both our biggest asset and failure.  The string of thirteen managers since 2000 have all needed to pass on youth for established veterans to save their hide and meet the board’s lofty expectations for silverware and Champions League bounty.  Further development of our exceptional youth prospects through two-year loans and sale of certain players with buyback agreements would continue to provide cover to the big fee players being brought to the club. At this time, however, Chelsea are less “ahead of the pack” and more “trying to keep up” because of what often appears as the club’s bipolar nature in their hierarchy of needs.

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Aldemaro_CFC: Is the Emirates still a destination for world class players, or have years of lackluster transfer and stingy contract negotiations given an air of “baller on a budget” to put off attracting the marquee names?

A: Players chase the money first and always. They’re professional. It’s why so many ply their trade in China now, despite the total lack of footballing pedigree in their league. The catch has always been that the best players want to play for the biggest clubs because they win and because winning for them helped raise their profiles commercially. David Beckham doesn’t become David Beckham if he’s playing for Bournemouth or Sevilla. The difficult catch at Arsenal has been that the allure for world class players has been to play for Arsene Wenger in an Arsene Wenger-styled team, i.e. free-flowing attacks and counterattacks. Now that he’s become the reason for many of the issues at Arsenal, it’s tough to resolve the duality. Mesut Ozil doesn’t come to Arsenal for Sam Allardyce. Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey picked Arsenal because of Arsene Wenger. So one hand, the best reason to come to Arsenal is also the biggest reason why Arsenal run into the same issues year after year.

Fredo_AFC: Is there a concern that Man City has leapt ahead of Chelsea as the de facto strongest team in the league? How do you close that gap?

A: It’s obvious that City were playing chess while those around them were playing beer pong. City managed to get pieces in place like Txiki Begisistain and Ferran Soriano in their front office, players like Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, and Gabriel Jesus on the pitch, and remained competitive while they waited to make a move for Pep. They have the financial muscle to purchase almost any player and a type of football that is attractive to any potential target. There is the potential that City fall back to the pack if their wage structure goes off the rails and players begin to ask for more money, or if their spending gets them into hot water with FIFA FFP (insert laugh here), but those scenarios seem a few years away at best.

The proper way to close the gap is by getting transfers correct and limiting the uncertainty in the club hierarchy.  Clear direction is essential. That has been the failure of Arsenal and Chelsea.  Red London has gone from being commanded by the great General Lafayette in 1780 to being commanded by the once great General Lafayette in 2018.  Blue London has been led by everyone from Napoleon Bonaparte to Napoleon Bonaparte’s Spanish waiter. In either case, both London clubs need to get their generals and troops in order.

Aldemaro_CFC: From an outsider’s perspective, Arsenal FC seems in great position to outbid others for the services of world class players. Why does the Arsenal board spend like a grandmother’s Christmas budget with so much money in the bank?

A: That’s down to Stan Kroenke and his hands-off approach. On the one hand, it means he does not meddle in the running of the club’s day-to-day operations. On the other, he’s not going to be there to tell Wenger and Gazidis that spending 150M pounds on a talent like Mbappe, for example, might be worthwhile. Kroenke’s approach across his various clubs, teams, and franchises is spend just enough to remain good enough. American sports give him some cover in this but there is a reason none of his sides have ever won a championship.

Fredo_AFC: How do you improve Chelsea’s attack this season? Do you just wait for Morata to figure things out?

A: On the pitch, go back to the 3-4-3.  I understand the reasons for the change to the 3-5-2, but Chelsea is better served by playing to our overall team strength out wide.  The interchange of our wingbacks and wingers provide flow to our attack, and bringing in Cesc at the right time often cracked stubborn defenses open during the second half of games last season.  At times we may be well served to go with a five-man midfield, but asking Moses and Alonso to do all the heavy lifting out wide twice each week has only served to wear them out and make them ineffective or get them injured.

As for Morata, Granovskaia is not the type of Director that will chase a 60M pound striker with a 35-40M pound up-and-coming forward in January. So, it’ll be a bit of bargain bin shopping for an older forward in January. Conte obviously doesn’t rate Batshuayi very highly (or at all) finding him much too raw for his liking, but the alternatives that the Chelsea board have reportedly targeted this January window makes it crystal clear that: 1. Someone at the club has a great or horrible sense of humor and 2. They will not upset their shiny new star by bringing anyone that can overtake him in the starting 11.

I like Morata a lot. Chelsea need to give him plenty of time to adjust and excel in the EPL, but it will be kid gloves until at least the end of the summer. Hopefully we can incorporate Tammy Abraham into the squad next term, and whoever we manage to bring in during the January transfer window pushes Morata to a higher level.

Aldemaro_CFC: What does the future hold for the Gunners?

A: Transition. Lots and lots of transition. The fact is, even if he’s not the problem, Arsene Wenger has demonstrated an inability to find the solution. I’m of the mind the club and he will part ways this summer. The two-year deal given to him last summer was a roll of the dice. “Hey, you just won the FA Cup again and maybe you, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker can all bring the team together and finally win the PL trophy! We’ll even buy that striker you’ve needed for last 3 seasons!” It was not the worst idea but they couldn’t countenance Man City’s season or that Alexis really wanted to go in the summer to join them or that Mertesacker was done while Koscielny and Mustafi have picked up injuries. Now with a director of football, a new contract negotiator and new head scout/player personnel director in place, I think the reality is Arsene will get a chance to say farewell at season’s end. Beyond that, we’ve a squad that’s either too old (Koscielny, Monreal, Cech) or too young (Iwobi, Maitland-Niles) or the guys in the sweet peak spot are too injured (Wilshere, Welbeck, Ramsey). Whoever comes in next has an overhaul.


Aldemaro_CFC: Give me the top four things you would do to change Arsenal for the better in the next five years.

  1. Devise a post-Wenger management plan. If that is bringing in established players like Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan and then hiring Ancelotti to oversee things for next 3 years while the squad matures, so be it. If that is chasing Max Allegri or Joachim Low to take over post-WC with a Brinks truck of cash and letting him do what he wills, so be it.
  2. Begin stocking up on young talent. Despite the revenues, we aren’t going to be paying anyone 500k pounds a week any time soon. Nor paying 200M quid as transfer fees. That means finding talent and developing it. Something we were famous for years ago but seem to be falling short in the last few years. We still have kids coming through, but that feels more of a desperation move than a planned growth strategy.
  3. Build inroads with the fanbase. The calcification of the last decade of fighting, feuding and general foolishness among Gooners won’t be broken up in one summer or by one hire. But they have to work towards helping supporters who’ve felt dismissed, betrayed or that have feuded with the club come back into the fold. Not all will, but you have to extend olive branches. Winning will fix a lot, but need to get people on board to avoid the usual happy-to-mad cycle we are on. A committed supporters base helps build that home fortress advantage that clubs seek.
  4. Exercise some of that power we have. Arsenal are the 4th-5th richest club in the world. We used to have David Dein as our face in a lot of the backrooms and power structures of the game. That allowed Arsenal to muscle in and keep up with the bigger boys. Since his ouster, Arsenal have been tiptoeing around the world of football and letting clubs bully them. We’re too nice. Say whatever you want about Real or Barca or PSG or Bayern, they aren’t bullied about. Not by agents or their FAs.

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Fredo_AFC: What happens if Antonio Conte leaves at this season’s end? Who replaces him?

A: Something in me says that Conte is gone, and I’m not happy at all in thinking that. Body language, track suits, beards, and getting into grouchy, old man war of words with Mourinho tell me he’s getting fed up with England. A deep dose of the pressures that comes with Chelsea cannot help at all in getting him settled or convince him to stay. He may try to see what assurances he gets and what happens during the early portion of the transfer window, but I think he will return to Italy in the summer if we don’t make strides the second half of this term. Besides, he managed to win the Premiership title in his maiden voyage and he would leave the club having bested a lot of what his predecessors did. I genuinely hope I’m wrong.

As for potential replacements, I know Chelsea will initially look to tempt Simeone out of Atleti. But getting the Argentine may be far more difficult than just splashing the cash as he has a language barrier to vault, will be limited in his ability to acquire the players he wants to bring in, and he just got the band back together with Diego Costa in their brand-new stadium. I just don’t see Simeone leaving for Roman’s rubles this summer.

Other targets like Jardim (Monaco), Sarri (Napoli), Zindane (if sacked by Real),or Ancelotti are decent options, but the right choice is Max Allegri. He would build on Conte’s work and provide a far subtler personality to the recent string of hot-tempered Chelsea first team coaches.  Juventus just signed an extension with Allegri until 2020 last summer, so getting him out of the Bianconeri would be difficult.  Also, would Allegri want to leave the stability of the Old Lady for the shark tank at The Bridge? Still, Chelsea have shown they can attract the best coaches—keeping them happy is another thing altogether—and paying over the top for what may be the third or fourth best coach in the world would be worth it for me if we lose one of the few coaches ahead of him in Conte.  Something else to consider is that after so many coaches with fiery personalities at Chelsea, Allegri may cut down on the high blood pressure meds CFC supporters have been popping like Skittles for years.


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So you’re going to London, are you? Going to see the mighty Chelsea F.C, play? GOOD! It’s about time you made it across the pond to visit the fortress known as Stamford Bridge and we’ve got some tips to help you if you’ve never been before:

I just landed, what’s next?

After landing and getting your luggage, we recommend stopping by one of the cell phone kiosks to buy a U.K. SIM card and data plan. The three of us purchased a 1-month unlimited data play from O2 for approximately $40 and we never had issues with signal or data throttling. Unlike in the U.S., these plans are pay-as-you-go so you don’t have to sign up for a contract or anything.


How do I get to my hotel?


With the recent legal issues with Uber, and because it’s unique to the U.K., we recommend grabbing a black cab when it’s time to head to your hotel — just tell them you’re going to the hotel at Stamford Bridge and they’ll drop you off literally INSIDE the gates. It’s one of the best first impressions of Stamford Bridge a fan can have after a long flight.

Black cabs also have lots of room for people and luggage unlike other taxis and ride sharing cars. You can use the app “myTaxi” to get a discount on your ride and schedule a pick up time as well:


One of our drivers was a Tottenham fan so we had a great conversation about the rivalry and players from each club as we made the long trek to Cobham to visit Chelsea’s training ground!

If you prefer to take the tube with all of your luggage, you can do that, but it’s not going to be easy…

NOTE: the stop you want to get to Stamford Bridge and the hotel is “Fulham Broadway tube station” which is in Zone 2:

Welcome to the Millennium & Copthorne Hotels at Chelsea Football Club!


Yeah, that’s a long name, so from now on we’ll just refer to it as the Millennium Hotel. Once you’ve checked in and dropped your luggage off, if you’re not completely jet lagged and it’s light outside, start off by walking around outside of the stadium and check of those super touristy photos you know you want to take!

There’s a lot of free Chelsea sights outside of the hotel that are free and of course there’s the Chelsea Megastore too!

Is there any Chelsea history in the area?

Duh. Before our last trip we reached out to Rick Glanvill, Official Chelsea historian, who offered these places as perfect spots to visit, but first, show Rick some support by buying one of his books and following him on Twitter:

Buy Rick’s books: 

Follow Rick on Twitter:

“The Rising Sun pub, now Butcher’s Hook, is the obvious landmark. The club was founded at an upstairs meeting there on 10 March 1905:

Another pub, formerly the Britannia on the corner of Britannia Road/Fulham Road, is where the first fans’ organisation was formed in 1948: the Chelsea (Away) Supporters’ Club. They coordinated away travel on coaches etc and organised dances etc. It still exists: (definitely doesn’t resemble anything Chelsea anymore)

Not sure if you will gain access, but there is a tiny bit of wall down the east side of the Health Club that is the oldest wall on the entire site – it was built by the hospital that was on neighbouring land to prevent supporters traipsing through their grounds after games. The club wrote to request they rethink, adding, ‘Your doctors and nurses will no longer be able to play hockey on our pitch.’ (!)”

Brompton cemetery is also nearby which is the home of a Chelsea-related graves.–.html



By, Ugo Nwogwugwu

The Proof

Tuesday 31st October, Stadio Olimpico – Another evening of Champions League football; Chelsea were in the Italian capital for their European match against AS Roma. It was almost exactly two weeks since the reverse fixture at the Bridge – in which Eden Hazard had somehow prevented his club from turning a relatively straightforward 2 – 0 win into a disastrous 3 – 2 defeat.

Since then, AS Roma had kept three clean sheets and won three Serie A games in a row. They’d beaten Torino, Crotone and Bologna 1 – 0 each, and their top scorer Edin Dzeko was now up to 10 goals for the season. Chelsea had also won their three domestic fixtures since the Roma game. They’d scored seven goals, many more than Roma had, but they’d also conceded three goals in those three matches, all against far more humble opposition than their opponents tonight.

Well, now they had a tough midweek game against Roma, just before another major test at the weekend versus Manchester United. But playing the best in Europe one game, then the best in England the next – these are big team troubles. If Chelsea truly deserved to win anything this season, this was the opportunity to prove it.

Roma full backs Emerson, Bruno Peres and Rick Karsdorp were all out injured. Chelsea’s Victor Moses was still recovering from a hamstring problem. N’golo Kante, although partly recovered from his injury, was not included in the matchday squad.

Roma lined up in a 4-3-3 with Stephan El Sharaawy, Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti up top. Chelsea reverted to their familiar 3-4-3 with Rudiger, Luiz and Cahill in center back, and Cesar Azpilicueta shifted out to right back. Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko started in midfield.

It was a slightly less compact, defensive setup than expected from Chelsea – they were away from home and two points clear at the top of the group – Roma needed a win much more than they did. Either way, Antonio Conte would soon find out whether or not it was right tactical setup for this game.

Line-Ups & Ratings

AS Roma

Becker 7, Fazio 7, Jesus 7, Florenzi 6.5 (Manolas 6), Kolarov 7.5, Nainggolan 7.5, De Rossi 7, Strootman 6.5, El Sharaawy 8.5 (Silva 5), Perotti 7.5 (Pellegrini NR), Dzeko 7.5

Subs Skorupski, Manolas, Under, Gonalons, Gerson, Pellegrini, Moreno


Courtois 5, Azpilicueta 5.5, Rudiger 4, Luiz 5.5, Cahill 5 (Willian 5), Alonso 5, Fabregas 4 (Drinkwater 5), Bakayoko 6, Pedro 6, Hazard 7, Morata 5 (Batshuayi 5)

Subs Caballero, Christensen, Zappacosta, Kenedy, Drinkwater, Willian, Batshuayi

Big Moments

El Sharaawy’s Still Got It

And… less than a minute into the game, Chelsea were a goal down. No, a 3-4-3 with Cesc Fabregas in midfield probably wasn’t the right tactical choice for this game. Pedro had a shot blocked at Roma’s end, then Kolarov carried the ball up the left wing into Chelsea’s half. He played a long ball up centrally to Dzeko, who headed it backwards into the path of Stephan El Sharaawy.

The young Italian striker had been through a few difficult seasons struggling with injury, but he had not lost his pace, or his marvellous finishing ability. He left Marcos Alonso eating his dust, and rocketed a goal in from the edge of the box – Roma were 1 – 0 up.

A couple of minutes later Chelsea broke forward – Fabregas picked out Hazard with an early ball over the top, and he raced down the pitch. Unfortunately he slowed a little at the end of his run, and Alessandro Florenzi caught up with him and leaned on him a little, putting him off his shot – chance missed for an equalizer.

Hazard had another good opportunity just under twenty minutes gone. He drifted in from the wing, and tried a near post shot similar to the one that beat Bournemouth at the weekend. Alisson Becker saved easily.

Ineffectual Play

Roma had been playing it safe since their early goal, sitting deep and only countering when necessary. It had worked really well against the visitors. Alvaro Morata had barely had an impact on the game, and Pedro wasn’t doing much better.

Hazard had been his team’s only spark, albeit a faint one. Pedro centered the ball for him on a rare Chelsea counter, and he rolled his defender and took a shot, but it was more or less at the keeper, another easy save. Then Morata had a golden chance when Pedro charged down a clearance from Kolarov. The ball rebounded to him just outside the six-yard box, but Becker closed him down and he put his shot in the rafters.

On 28 minutes Florenzi sneakily trod on Hazard’s ankle right on the border of the penalty box, but the referee missed it. Fortunately Hazard was not badly hurt, and was able to carry on after treatment.

Roma had another fantastic chance on the counter, when David Luiz failed to control a long ball in midfield. Edin Dzeko gained possession and carried the ball upfield in a three on two break. He passed the ball to El Sharaawy, but this time the wide forward’s shot was tame and Thibaut Courtois saved. The rebound came back to El Sharaawy but his second shot went off Alonso for a corner.

Hard To Explain

Then came a

moment that was almost impossible to explain. Radja Nainggolan played in another long ball from almost the same spot as Kolarov did for the first Roma goal. It should have been relatively easy for Antonio Rudiger to clear it… but he chose to watch the ball bounce in front of him… perhaps entranced by its graceful parabolic arc.

El Sharaawy cut in behind him, and in spite of Azpilicueta’s attentions, must have really enjoyed his easy chipped finish for 2 – 0. The stadium was rocking now, the home fans singing… it was looking like a really good evening for them to go top of their Champions League group.

Marcos Alonso had a good try at pulling one back just before half time – he found space at the left of the penalty box, and tried to curl it in, but Becker got a hand to the ball. Bakayoko had a free header from the resulting corner, but put it just wide of the post. Roma were by far the better side in the first half, and deservedly went in two up at half time.

Crapped Out

Not much changed for Chelsea after half time. Play was a little more even, but Roma were still creating the better opportunities. Ten minutes into the second half, Conte must have decided there was no point playing three center backs if he was going to get such poor results defensively, and replaced Gary Cahill with Willian. Azpilicueta returned to his familiar right center back position, and Pedro replaced him at right wing back.

It was at best a roll of the dice from the manager, and unfortunately, this time he crapped out. On sixty-two minutes, Kolarov intercepted another poor pass from Fabregas on Roma’s left wing, and he passed to Diego Perotti, who had given Chelsea so much trouble in the first game at Stamford Bridge. Perotti dribbled inside past Pedro, and rocketed a low shot past Courtois from distance – 3 – 0.

Conte put Fabregas out of his misery shortly afterwards, hooking him off for Daniel Drinkwater, and then replaced Morata with Michy Batshuayi. It was too little too late though, and Roma were too professional, and Chelsea too shell-shocked to respond. And so at the final whistle, Roma leapfrogged Chelsea to go top of Group C.

Final Score Roma 3 – 0 Chelsea


Thumbnail image courtesy of: Mirror


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By, Ayodeji Itsami (Twitter: @aryhorblueblood)

Stadio Olimpico/October 31, 2017


We seemed to have finally turned a corner after recent wobbles but there isn’t a respite yet as the big matches keeps piling up with two in two different competitions this week. We face AS Roma in the Champions’ League on Tuesday and then we welcome Manchester United to Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Since the first leg of this match two weeks ago, both Chelsea and AS Roma have won the three matches they have been involved in. One thing I’m sure both Antonio Conte and Eusebio Di Francesco will be keen to tell their players is to keep it tight at the back with the way the first leg played out in mind.


This will be sixth time Chelsea and AS Roma will  be facing off with Roma winning just one of the previous five (L2 D2). Interestingly, their only victory came at the Stadio Olimpico, venue of Tuesday night match, during the 2008/2009 Champions’ League campaign. Chelsea has only failed to score against AS Roma just once in a Fairs Cup match that ended 0-0 in October 1965. I expect goals in this match but it’s not likely to be a goal-crazy affair like in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago.

Team Breakdowns


The Bournemouth victory makes it three on the trot for Antonio Conte and his team after the temporary dip in form but a news that’s sure to make the gaffer just as happy is the one that his midfield machine, N’Golo Kante is nearing match fitness and might even feature against Roma on Tuesday night. In the first match against Roma at Stamford Bridge Conte started with the 3-5-2 formation and consequently he switched formation to his preferred 3-4-3 by taking David Luiz off for Pedro so we wait to see how Conte lines up now that he has some of his natural midfielders back in his first match back in his home country since joining Chelsea last season. Being left out of the team to face Everton in midweek seemed to have done the trick for Azpilicueta as he was back to his calm and energetic self at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday evening and I expect that to continue in Rome on Tuesday. Toni Rudiger came in for some racial chants from the Roma fans during his late cameo during the first leg at Stamford Bridge but I still expect him to feature in this one, whether as a LCB, RCB or even between the sticks, because his dynamism is very valuable to the team. Gary Cahill sat out the win on Saturday and it’s yet to be seen whether he gets his spot back for Tuesday and if that’s the case at whose expense. Eden Hazard was at his imperious best at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday and it was no surprise he was the match winner. I’m sure if he plays half as good as he did on Saturday the Roma team will not be able to contain him. Alvaro Morata hasn’t been himself since he returned from his injury but he showed flashes on Saturday and he was so unlucky to have his goal, which would have done his confidence a world of good, chalked off for offside but I still expect him to continue leading the line. For a man of his physique and stature, I think Bakayoko is soft as a central midfield and for me to have noticed I’m sure Antonio Conte would have been drumming it into his ears because he really needs to improve his physicality, especially in the Premier League. I know Danny Drinkwater hasn’t played that much since his return to full match fitness but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Conte decides to throw him into this match to partner Bakayoko with Cesc Fabregas playing ahead of them in a 3-5-2 or Fabregas part of the three in attack in a 3-4-3, because I think the Spaniard is key to this match as long as he doesn’t have too much defensive responsibilities. The combination of Pedro and Zappacosta on the right side gave the Bournemouth defense a hard time on Saturday and Conte may be keen to let the two of them continue playing together in order to curtail the overlapping runs of Aleksandr Kolarov who caused our defense a lot of trouble during the first leg.

Possible Line-up:

Courtois; Rudiger, Luiz, Cahill; Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard, Fabregas; Morata

 Last Five Matches: WWWDL

Injuries: Victor Moses (Hamstring)-Out; N’Golo Kante (Hamstring)-Doubt


AS Roma

The Roma coach, Eusebio Di Francesco, will be keen for his side to get maximum points in this game knowing his next assignment in the Champions’ League is a difficult away trip to face Atletico Madrid, a match that could be the more difficult if, as expected, Atletico defeats FC Qarabag on Tuesday night. In the match at Stamford Bridge, Di Francesco packed his midfield and attack with physical and energetic players and it almost worked for them in terms of the result. The trio of Kevin Strootman, Radja Nainggolan and Maxime Gonalons were very effective in dictating play and neutralizing our midfielders but those three have not played together since. Danielle De Rossi was injured for the match at Stamford Bridge but he’s back playing now and should be line to lead the team out on Tuesday night alongside technically gifted Kevin Strootman and the energetic Nainggolan in Di Francesco preferred 4-3-3 formation. Aleksandr Kolarov caused a lot of trouble down the right side of our defense in the first leg contributing a goal and an assist and the coach will be hoping it’s more of the same from both the Serbian and Bruno Peres on the opposite flank on Tuesday. Federico Fazio’s sublime pass for Edin Dzeko’s equalizer was something the best of the best midfielders would have been proud of but the Argentine is known to cave under pressure, a fact I’m sure Conte would have made known to his strikers. Fazio’s defensive partner, Juan Jesus is something of an unknown quantity even though he’s been playing in the Serie A for six years. In attack Di Francesco will surely be hoping Edin Dzeko is in his element again on Tuesday night the same for Daniel Perotti, who was voted man-of- the-match at Stamford Bridge. For the last berth in attack, Di Francesco has a lot of options to choose from with Stephan El Shaarawy the likely option having scored their only goal against Bologna at the weekend just a day after his 25th birthday.

Possible Line-up:

Allison; Bruno Peres, Juan Jesus, Fazio, Kolarov; Nainggolan, De Rossi, Strootman; Perotti, Dzeko, El Shaarawy.

Last 5 matches: WWWDL

Injuries: Emerson (Knee) – Out; Rick Karsdorp (Knee) –Out.


Key Battles

Alvaro Morata vs. Federico Fazio

Alvaro Morata will be hoping to improve on his showing in the first leg which was his first game back after his injury hence he wasn’t his sharpest, but with some matches now under his belt he’s going to give the tall Argentine a run for his money as the former Sevilla man is prone to making mistakes.

Eden Hazard vs. Bruno Peres

With the form that Eden Hazard is in it’s going to be a long night for the Brazilian full back. His two goals against Roma last time out and his match-winning strike at the weekend will have done his confidence a lot of good and I don’t envy Peres right now.

David Luiz vs. Edin Dzeko

These two didn’t come in contact during the first leg even though they were both on the pitch, for the first hour or so, but on Tuesday it’s going to be a head-on collision between the two with the Brazilian given the tough task of stopping the Bosnian getting on the score sheet.



With Atletico expected to finally get their first win in this season’s Champions’ League against FK Qarabag at the Wanda Metropolitano, both Roma and Chelsea knows a loss, especially for the Italians who visits Spain next, might make qualification a lot more difficult. A win in Rome on Tuesday will bring us within touching distance of top spot in the group with Qarabag visiting Stamford Bridge in the next match day. With Manchester United paying a visit to Stamford Bridge on Sunday Conte may want to get the group sewn up as soon as possible and then he can focus his attention on the league. Until the weekend, Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!


Thumbnail image courtesy of: Evening Standard


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Ugo Nwogwugwu

The Run Starts Here

Saturday 28th October, Vitality Stadium – Chelsea travelled to Dorset for their Premier League game against AFC Bournemouth. It was only the second away game of their five fixtures in October.

Under normal circumstances, the EPL champions would have been favourites for this fixture – they were 5th and Bournemouth 19th as at the start of play. But Chelsea had been well beaten by the bottom club in the league, Crystal Palace, in their other away game this month. In fact, they had not kept a single clean sheet in October, conceding an average of 2 goals per game across their other four fixtures. If they were to have any hope of retaining their title, Chelsea would have to start defending better and find some winning form pretty soon.

On the other hand, Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth had been showing some good form recently. They’d won two and drawn one of their last five games, including a 2 – 1 away win over Stoke the previous Saturday, and a midweek 3 – 1 victory over Championship side Middlesbrough in the Carabao Cup. The week before that, they’d been unlucky to lose 1 – 0 away to Tottenham. They would definitely not be pushovers today.

Ryan Fraser and Josh King were left out for Bournemouth through injury, but Jermaine Defoe had recovered from a hamstring problem, and started this game. Victor Moses was out injured, but N’golo Kante had returned to training for Chelsea – he was not however, included in the squad for today’s game.

Line-Ups & Ratings


Begovic 7, Smith 6, Steve Cook 7.5, Ake 7, Francis 5.5, Daniels 6, Lewis Cook 6, Surman 6, Stanislas 5.5 (Pugh), Defoe 5.5 (Ibe 6), Afobe 6.5 (Wilson 5)

Subs Boruc, Arter, Pugh, Mousset, Gosling, Ibe, Wilson


Courtois 7, Zappacosta 7, Rudiger 7.5, Luiz 7, Azpilicueta 8, Alonso 7, Fabregas 7, Bakayoko 7, Pedro 6 (Drinkwater 6.5), Hazard 8 (Willian 5.5), Morata 7 (Batshuayi 6.5)

Subs Caballero, Cahill, Christensen, Ampadu, Drinkwater, Willian, Batshuayi

Big Moments

Effectively Contained

Bournemouth set up from the start to absorb pressure and play disciplined, defensive football, and although Chelsea dominated possession and chances, Bournemouth were effective at containing their visitors in the first half.

Pedro dribbled past ex-Chelsea defender Nathan Ake for an early opportunity, but blazed his shot high at the end of the move. Alvaro Morata had been working hard to recover form since his hamstring injury, but he wasn’t quite there yet for this game. Eden Hazard created some great chances for him in the first half, but he was unable to take advantage.

For the first, Hazard got to the byline and crossed for him, but Morata put his finish wide under pressure from Bournemouth keeper Asmir Begovic. In the second, Hazard got possession in Bournemouth’s final third and put Morata through for what should have been an easy finish, but again his shot curled just wide of goal. Morata did eventually get the ball in the net, off a trademark Chelsea short corner on 27 minutes. Unfortunately the goal was wrongly ruled offside, as Cesar Azpilicueta was deemed to be interfering with play.

Benik Afobe almost got through on a rare Bournemouth counterattack, when he passed to Daniels on the left and received the ball back in the box. He tried a shot but Azpilicueta closed him down and the ball went out for a corner.

Morata made and almost finished another fantastic opportunity for himself – he received the ball back to goal from Hazard, rolled his defender, drifted left and took a vicious shot. It was on target this time, but Begovic produced a brilliant reaction save to keep it out. Shortly afterward, Pedro put in another low cross for Fabregas in the six-yard box, but Steve Cook intervened twice to prevent him from scoring.

Breaking Containment

Then finally, early in the second half Chelsea made their breakthrough. The goal came off a long ball from Morata in the center circle. Simon Francis attempted to intercept the pass but failed to connect with the ball, and it fell for Hazard on the left, just outside the penalty area. Hazard stormed forward, looked up, and arrowed a shot past Begovic at the near post.

After the goal Bournemouth tried to get forward and create chances themselves, but Chelsea’s defending was much better than it had been in their previous games – maybe the players were benefiting from being rested during the midweek league cup game. On one of their counters, Jordon Ibe took a pretty good shot from just outside the D, but Rudiger got a slight touch and the ball went over the bar.

One Touch Football

As the second half wore on, Chelsea began to play some nice one-touch football. After an exchange of passes with Fabregas, Pedro got the ball in the box but his shot was straight at Begovic. In another move, Hazard held the ball up just left of goal, then slipped a through pass to Fabregas, who had run outside of him. If Fabregas kept his composure he might have scored, but he flashed his shot across goal and the opportunity was wasted.

Eddie Howe had substituted Jermaine Defoe for Ibe at halftime, and halfway through the second period Afobe was taken off as well. Yet as the match wound down Bournemouth became more threatening – they had a glorious chance to equalize in injury time: Ibe centered the ball for Andy Surman, and he passed to Smith in the box, who then laid it back for Steve Cook. Cook curled a shot in but fortunately for Chelsea it was straight at Courtois, and he saved and held it. Although Bournemouth had tried seven shots in the game, this was their first and only shot on target.

At Long Last, A Clean Sheet

And so the game ended in a narrow away win, and with the three points Chelsea returned to fourth place in the EPL table. They’d also succeeded in keeping their first clean sheet in the seven games since beating Stoke City back in September.

Final Score Bournemouth 0 – 1 Chelsea

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Thumbnail image courtesy of: Metro

By, Steven Clarke (Twitter: @StevenClarkeCFC)

Gary James Cahill, born on the 19th of December 1985 in Dronfield England. Grew up supporting his local club Sheffield Wednesday and idolised Des Walker

PES Stats Database.jpg
Source: PES Stats Database

Des Walker was a 6ft centre back that enjoyed a successful career as a full England international. Gary Cahill would go on to mimic his hero’s career and even surpass it.

As a young man Chelsea’s future captain would be scouted by his boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday. Despite the interest from Wednesday and many other clubs, Aston Villa was the club that signed Gary as a youth player for their academy.

Birmingham Mail.jpg
Source: Birmingham Mail

Four years passed and Gary Cahill got his chance at the big time. Two loan spells would prove to be important steps in Cahill’s progression as a centre back. The first was at Burnley for the 04/05 seasons where Cahill would play under Steve Coterill. The second loan spell helped Gary achieve a life long dream of playing for his boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday. It was the 07/08 season which proved to be a below par season for the owls with a 16th place finish and early exits from both English cups. Despite the disappointing seasons for each of the clubs Cahill visited on loan, he was given fair playing time and handy experience in the rough English second division (the Championship).

The man credited with bringing Gary Cahill to his next club, Bolton, was Football talent scout Colin Harvey, who after seeing Cahill play demanded that manager Gary Megson sign the 23 year old. He would debut in a 2-0 win over Reading three days later.

Getty Pictures.jpg
Source: Getty Images

Under Megson Cahill would flourish and the very next season Cahill was voted Bolton Wanderers Players Player of the year by his colleagues. Cahill spent 4 years at Bolton leaving for Chelsea Football Club on the 16th of January 2012.

Chelsea are believed to have payed a fee of 7 Million British pounds for the Centre Back who had since 2010 been capped by the England national team. In his first season at Chelsea, Cahill won the FA Cup and the Champions League, playing a massive part in a show stopping Munich based final.  Since then Cahill has become an integral part of many Chelsea sides including two Premier League title winning campaigns. To date Cahill has 322 Premier League appearances (according to the official Premier League site) keeping a clean sheet in 83 of those games. Cahill has captained his club and his country on numerous occasions all while remaining a stout and professional individual.

So that just about brings us up to date.

For about 2 and a half seasons now grumblings have been coming from a select few fans of Chelsea Football Club. Some voice honest opinions about the deteriorating athletic abilities of Cahill. Some voice irrational and crude hatred towards Cahill.

There is a clear divide in the Blues faithful, some believe he should go and be sold while he could still be an asset to buying clubs. Others (myself included) believe he is a invaluable part of the club who is both underappreciated and irrationally underrated as a player.

I won’t tell you what to think on the debate, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and it is true that Cahill has suffered from some momentary lapses in judgement that have lead to some fairly serious errors. The back passes against Arsenal and Swansea last season spring to mind. In the case of people who wish to judge a player based on these types of moments I would urge you strongly to revisit the famed phrase “ Form is temporary but class is permanent”.

It is however an interesting argument to explore. Steven Gerrard in his final years at Liverpool often suffered similar criticism. While Gerrard is far more beloved at Liverpool than Gary Cahill is ever destined to be at Stamford Bridge, they are both without question legends of their clubs. Steven Gerrard’s biggest error in a Liverpool shirt will be a fond memory for all Chelsea fans. The slip in our 2-0 victory over the Reds that helped end their famed title bid. This is not the only similarity the two Englishmen share either. In Gerrard’s last game against Manchester United he was sent off after 48 seconds when he dove into a seemingly foolish tackle. I would argue a similar thing has recently happened to Cahill in our first game this season against Burnley. Though this type of mistake does definitely not mean the end for Gary it certainly brings back memories of Branislav Ivanovic’s cruel ending to his Chelsea career.

Gary Cahill is a unsung hero for many Chelsea fans like myself. I value his bravery and leadership on the pitch and still believe him to be an asset the team and the club. If we jump on every bandwagon that surrounds a new player entering the club we would not respect our greatest legends. Gary Cahill will not go down as Chelsea’s greatest Centre Back (due to his predecessor) but his outstanding personality and underrated quality as a player will mean he is cherished by all fans who wish to remain true football fans.

Chelsea fans shouldn’t forget

Cahill: He’s won it all.


Thumbnail image courtesy of: talkSPORT


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These are emails exchanged between a fan of the pod and one of our hosts. Enjoy these unfiltered thoughts from two fans.

Hey Brandon,

I hope all is well, at least as well as it could be after today’s shit show.  The thing that stood out to me most, was how Cesc is not a serviceable player as a holding midfielder, unless we got to 3,5,2 with Bakayoko-Cesc-Kante, Cesc looked slow and out of sorts.  I don’t want to bash him, it just isn’t the position for him as he isn’t good enough defensively.
Lampard called out the board that we need more signings, I don’t see anyway we can be successful on any of the 4 fronts without another holding midfielder and a wing back.  Do you guys think we will make deadline day signings like last year (Alonso/Luiz?)
Not sure about getting VVD from Southampton, but I think we will get Drinkwater for better or worse and I am hoping we get a serviceable wingback (just not Candreva in a swap for Christensen!)
Anyway looking forward to the pod, sure you will discuss the harshness of the ref, 3 yellows and a red… which I’m not sure about straight red.  Hopefully my question about signing will make it to the pod if you get a chance, really curious about your guys take.

Hey Erik!

Can’t remember if I replied to your last email about the summer update, so apologies if not. We all took a little break from the Pod in June to recharge for the upcoming season – hopefully you understand!

I personally didn’t watch the game as I’m currently responding on my phone from a beach at a cabin in rural Minnesota 🙃 but watched Twitter enough to feel like I have a decent idea on how things went.

Even without this match we all know Cesc can’t play in a 2-man midfield. We lose too much of what he’s good at and force him to defend an uncomfortable amount over 90 minutes. Another true box-to-box or holding mid is 100% required.

Wing backs, wingback, wing backs. Has to be the number one priority even over a CM. Zero depth in that position is a recipe for disaster. If Sandro and Candreva don’t come in sooner than later, I fully expect at least one wingback we’ve never heard of (a la Alonso last season) to arrive on deadline day for £25-30 million. Only way Christensen leaves is if we pick up VVD and I don’t think that’s needed at this point, but he wouldn’t hurt us, that’s for sure.

Obviously we’ve been talking about signings all summer during the transfer window so I’m sure it’ll come up again.


Hey Brandon,

Very wise of you not to watch the game today, as we just haven’t played up to our capabilities the last two matches at Wembley.  Today’s performance have me concerned about the game against Burnley and especially against Tottenham on 8/20.  It is clear the only defensive mid we have right now is Kante (with the sales of Chalobah and Matic) until Bakayoko is healthy.  This may sound crazy, I would like to play Luiz as a holding midfielder next to Kante, and we give Christensen a chance on defense.  More recently we have seen it done with Zouma, but years ago Luiz played holding mid under Rafa and it was the best he looked at Chelsea until Conte took over.  He is able to spring players (notably Hazard and Mata) with long balls and was able to make smart interceptions – cover a lot of ground defensively.  Again, is it risky to pull him from the role of leading our defense?  Yes, but we have no one else to play with Kante, Cesc cannot handle the defensive responsibility (it stunts his playmaking ability and defense has never been his forte), so either Bakayoko is ready, we purchase Drinkwater or someone capable of playing as a true defensive mid or I say we insert Luiz.  Here is a video of him in that role in 2012:
Sadly I don’t think we will get Sandro… which means as far as I am concerned we should never loan or sell a player to Juve again.  I would like to sign Candreva, he is a bit up there in age and cost will be an issue for the board.  I would really prefer we get Bertrand, proper Chels and boosts our English player total, plus he is younger so I would be willing to pay more.

By, Thomas Wheaton (Twitter: @tj_wheaton)

Ah, the seemingly never ending saga to obtain the signature of Alex Sandro continues. Juventus continues to play hard ball and rejected a €60 million bid from Chelsea for the Brazilian left-back. Should Chelsea meet Juventus’ demand of upwards of €70 million? Let’s discuss.

First and foremost, while this is a technicality and doesn’t really need to be reiterated… money is not an issue as long as Roman Abramovich owns our beloved Blues. It is simply something that we don’t need to be worried about. Frivolous spending on players simply for the reason of buying them on the other hand, that could raise some concern, but buying Sandro would not be waste of Abramovich’s money.

Last season, Chelsea brought in Marcos Alonso on the day before the deadline in what many pegged as a last-ditch response to not making any real big acquisitions aside from N’Golo Kante. As it turned out, Marcos Alonso fit in beautifully with Antonio Conte’s patented 3-4-3 formation. Alonso got the job done, and excelled in the left wing-back position, but can he do it again this season?

I, for one, believed Alonso would be a decent central midfielder playing more on the left side of the pitch. It never really seemed to me like he enjoyed playing defense. He was often up, overlapping with Hazard and/or sending nice crosses into the box. He did have six goals in 35 appearances for the club, which by all means, is not bad for a so-called defensive player. Yet still, I am not a believer in Alonso’s defensive ability. And during the preseason tour, he did himself no favors.

Alonso was caught up the pitch multiple times and the opponents punished him for it. Specifically, the Bayern game was truly atrocious for Alonso as he was almost single handedly responsible for Thomas Muller’s first goal. But Alonso isn’t the focus here, Sandro is.

There is no denying that Sandro would be an upgrade over the incumbent, Alonso. He is faster, better on the ball, and more defensively responsible than Alonso. Also, he has played in bigger games (Champions League for example) than Alonso, so he is undoubtedly more experienced than the Spaniard. There really is not a case for Alonso instead of Sandro at that left wing-back position for Chelsea. Oh, except the part where he is not yet a Blue.

Sandro is a physical specimen. A tall, powerful defender who is also capable of controlling the ball at his feet. Sounds familiar right? Maybe you’re thinking about his future teammates like David Luiz or even Caesar Azpilicueta? Sandro would fit in extremely well in Conte’s 3-4-3 as he is capable of coming forward and engaging in interplay with the likes of Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata. But, is also capable of holding his own on the defensive side of the ball. Better yet, with his pace it is highly unlikely that he gets completely caught out on the left flank, unless he is on the ground or the play is too quick.

While €70 million would be a lot of money, and a world-record for a defender, it is the logical move for Chelsea. They need the depth, because it is unknown whether Alonso can really maintain last year’s performances. Sandro is an elite player who can play in both the left-back role (if Conte moves to a 4-3-3) and the wing-back role (if Conte continues the 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formations).

Chelsea whiffed on sending Matic to Juventus to sweeten the offer as he was claimed by Manchester United this week. Despite the setbacks and Juve standing firm on their demands, Chelsea need to end their hesitant approach to transfers and bring Sandro to Stamford Bridge.


Thumbnail Image Courtesy of: The Sun


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By, Jordan Harbin

Sharpen those pencils, grab your notebooks, and lace up those new Payless sneaks….’cuz school’s back in session! (BOOM)

With Chelsea finishing up it’s pre-season jollies in Asia, it is time to gear up and focus in on a very important role in this Premier League season. Everyone wants them, few clubs truly have them, and all the money is being splashed out to get them…you guessed it….WING-BACKS! Here we will take a look at the three most important reasons why this Premier League season and seasons to come will be heavily influenced by these positions.

Positional Versatility

These feisty defenders bring an exceptional depth to their game that not many other positions can hold. Their ability to defend is just as vital as their ability to attack. This positional versatility gives teams a multi-faceted quality to their playing style. Not only can they stop an attack, but they can also be the first instruments that shift momentum to attack. This is important for Chelsea because of their desire to hit teams on the counter and hit them fast. The wingback provides this flexibility in keeping a defensive player, who has the ability to strategically attack, to be higher up the pitch without sacrificing the space left in behind him. This role requires these players to be in the absolute best shape that they can be in. Because they are the catalysts of the counter-attack, they must be able to press high up the pitch and turn on a dime to get back in the same ferocity.

Teams are looking to splash the cash on these players because they provide such a different form of attack to defenses. In the Premier League, this is such an important role in taking other back lines by surprise when the defender who just made a crunching tackle is now steaming ahead of two, three, or four players up the pitch to put in a lovely cross. They give an added relentlessness to an already grueling competition. However, it is important to find these wing-backs who have a balance on both technique in attack and in defense. A lot of these wing-backs are converted midfielders who lack the defensive know-how, and others are defenders who have no idea what they are doing past the half-way line (wait…how did I get here?) Oh this balance, my friends, is absolutely everything!

Source: Squawka


Attacking Variety

The option to have a defender that attacks is like seeing those fries that have slithered to the bottom of the bag after a completely unashamed late night jaunt that gave you the rumbly tumblies this morning…You didn’t expect them to be there at all, but wow do they taste delicious! They don’t conform to the normal expectations traditional football laid out for them. They jumped out of that greasy fry box and became something great, something special. Managers have chomped at the bit to slap their paws at these pacy predators. Why you may ask? It is because they have the chameleon-like tendencies to be whatever the coach needs them to be. They provide the other attackers with more options. Oh sweet and glorious variety! Watching wing-backs like Moses and Alonso (who do still need experience/competition) carve up defenses and cross a lovely ball onto the path of a prolific Blue attack was a true spectacle to behold. It was, however, clearly evident to see when there was an injury, or an apt attack that sought our fledgling wing-backs out. That is why we need to not only buy these wing-back wonders but more importantly, buy smart.

Source: Fansided

Pressure Consistency

One of the most vital reasons wing-backs are important is fact that they consistently exert pressure on the opposition. When a wing-back provides constant movement and maintains the same distance covered from behind and in front of them it allows teams to find more space untouched farther up the pitch. These guys are holding up and winning crucial canvas space for our masterfully creative midfield to paint with. It allows the midfield to concentrate on purposeful flow in stead of constantly marking the next attack and trying to rebuild after each blow from the opposition. If pressured correctly, defenses will find themselves flustered and most often numerically outnumbered in their defensive third.

Woah, easy….hold it right there partner! I am not saying to buy every player that is listed as a wing-back with some signs of promise on FIFA potential. That’d be crazy…(or Man City). Either way, we do have to be smart. Consistency and balance truly are the keys to a great wing-back. Just because a wing-back has uncontrollable swagger, or exceptionally good hair (…I’m looking at you Marcos Alonso) doesn’t mean we have to buy them all up! We, more importantly the club, need to buy smart. These players don’t come by that often. Some may be listed as wing-backs, but in order to truly be considered one you must have all three qualities and have them perfectly balanced.

Source: TuttoSport

While our deputized wing-backs are still plying their trade on the training pitch, we must be patient. Patient to find just the right balance. Patient to find the next perfect fit for the club. Patient to hold onto this wonderful blue dream of ours. Whether that means us buying one world class wing-back, or three pretty good wing-backs (cough…Man City), we must trust the Godfather. Forza Chelsea!!! KTBFFH


Thumbnail Image Courtesy of: Daily Mail


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