Chelsea were in turmoil, apparently. The players were tired, strikers misfiring, technical directors quitting. Rumours were swirling that another popular title-winning manager would leave soon. Andy Carroll was threatening to sign on a permanent transfer.

And three consecutive goalless draws for the first time in club history. It wasn’t a bad run of results really; Chelsea had stayed in two cup competitions, and gained a point under difficult circumstances in the league. But still, in turmoil by all accounts.

Well… these things happen, and successful clubs find solutions. And Chelsea’s FA Cup replay vs Norwich City was an opportunity to start implementing those solutions.

Norwich City were 13th in the EFL Championship. They’d only played one game since their draw with Chelsea: they beat Bristol City away 1 – 0, which was a pretty decent result considering Bristol were thirteen points ahead of them before their game. […]

After their exertions against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup midweek, Chelsea made a quick return to Premier League football. Their opponents this weekend: eighth-placed Leicester City FC.

Leicester were in relatively decent form; they’d won four and drawn one of their eight league games since the start of December. Their pace and counterattacking style tended to work well against teams at the top end of the league table: the one draw in that run of results was a 2 – 2 vs Manchester United. They also drew 1 – 1 with Manchester City in the league cup, before getting knocked out on penalties.

Chelsea were five places and sixteen points ahead of their visitors overall, but they weren’t that much better in terms of recent form. The London club had five wins and two draws since December; they were only four points ahead of Leicester City in that period of time. […]

Back to the bridge now for the fourth instalment of the Chelsea-Arsenal derby this season. The occasion this time, the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.

Bristol City played well in the other semi-final, but failed to upset Manchester City at the Etihad. If there was going to be a surprise at Stamford Bridge, it would be one of the teams actually winning the game – every time Chelsea and Arsenal have met this season, once in the Community Shield (1 – 1), twice in the league (0 – 0 & 2 – 2), it’s ended up a draw.

Another weird Chelsea-Arsenal 2017/18 fact – it’s been a pretty good fixture for full backs. Four of the six goals in their games so far this season were scored by full backs: Victor Moses, Sead Kolasinac, Marcos Alonso and Hector Bellerin. […]

Arsenal were down in sixth place, seven points behind Chelsea in third, six points behind Liverpool in the last Champions League spot – this particular derby was a must win game for them.

The game started at a relatively moderate pace, and Chelsea had the better early chances. But after referee Anthony Taylor wrongly gave a free kick for a Lacazette dive off a Kante tackle, the Arsenal players seemed to gain confidence and started ripping into their visitors at pace.

Chelsea responded with their own counterattacks, and the game devolved into an attacking free-for-all, with both sides creating brilliant chances, and only failing to score in the first half due to the dazzling form of their goalkeepers. Or in Chelsea’s case, finishing so weak, it made you scratch your head. […]

Chelsea were in a 3-5-2 today, with Gary Cahill, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta in defence. N’golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas were just ahead of them in midfield.

It wasn’t the most aggressive line-up but even taking that into account, they started this game pretty sluggishly. It was almost as if the players were recovering from a really heavy Christmas dinner.

Brighton set up in two defensive lines of four and five, with Tomer Hemed as the lone striker up top. They showed much more energy and desire than the home side in the first half, as well as a willingness to get forward in numbers when the opportunity presented itself.

For a midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko gets into a lot of good positions to score, and he had a great opening early on – but he wasn’t able to get the right contact to put his shot on target. […]

As expected, Antonio Conte started Eden Hazard in place of Morata, with Michy Batshuayi back on the bench as usual. Apart from the game against Huddersfield, whenever Chelsea have used Hazard as a striker this season they’ve been a bit ineffective in attack. It was the same today – lots of chances but no goals.

Everton crowded their penalty area, with only Calvert-Lewin up top. The effect was that Chelsea could easily get back possession whenever Everton tried to go forward, but they didn’t really counter-attack properly, even with speedy players like Hazard, Kante, Willian and Pedro in their side.

This meant Chelsea lost the offensive benefit of the large number of opposition turnovers they forced in their defensive area and in the middle of the park.

They made thirty (!) crosses in total this game – it was difficult to tell at what point they would realize the strategy wasn’t working. They tried 25 shots to Everton’s 5, and although they were 8 – 0 up on the home side in shots on target, only one stat counted at the end. […]

The game looked like it was going to extra time – but apparently nobody told Alvaro Morata, who just two minutes later, sadly ruined the Cherries’ comeback with a really, really inconvenient goal.

Well he might have scored it, but this goal was really all about Eden Hazard. He blazed into the box straight from the kick-off to receive a long cross from Davide Zappacosta.

Then duplicating Kenedy, having made himself the decoy Hazard back-heeled for Morata, who was steaming in behind him to whip it off Boruc and into the net. 2 – 1! It was the ultimate sucker punch, both the move specifically and the goal in the context of the match. […]

The final score was a fair reflection of the game. West Ham had a full week’s rest while Chelsea played a big game midweek, and it showed – the Hammers were buzzing like killer bees from the opening whistle. Chelsea may have tried nineteen shots to West Ham’s five, but both sides had just two shots on target each.

Perhaps Chelsea could have done with two strikers in the second half, as they were chasing the game. Maybe Michy Batshuayi might have worked West Ham’s defenders a bit more than Pedro. Maybe Chelsea’s midfield and attack overplayed it a little bit, passing up simple opportunities to shoot the ball. And maybe all their players need extensive finishing practice.

Whatever the root causes West Ham defended magnificently today, and outworked their opponents at the other end. They were the better side this game, credit to them. And Chelsea… well, they gave another struggling side a reprieve. As is their wont. […]

It was matchday 15 of the 2017 season. Ex-Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United were in London for the first league game of the weekend, against his former club.

November had turned to December, and as Chelsea’s players returned from injury, and Antonio Conte settled on his favoured shape and starting line-up, his team’s defensive inconsistencies were fading into memory.

Newcastle’s recent form was relatively similar to that of the last visitors to Stamford Bridge, Swansea City. They had four losses and one draw from their last five games – but they sat twelfth, much higher up the league table than the eighteenth placed Welsh side.

Chelsea were in third, with four wins and one draw from their last five league games. They had a chance today to draw level on points with second placed Manchester United – if they could take all three points today. […]

London is Blue is a soccer fancast created by Chelsea FC fans from America and covers all things Chelsea. Hosts are @BBBusbee, @DanDormer and @NickVerlaney. London is Blue is proud to be presented by WorldSoccerShop. Visit them at www.WorldSoccerShop.com to find the best Chelsea FC gear! Part 1: Swansea City Review Chelsea vs. Swansea City, […]