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Leicester Chairman Death Brings Empathy & Painful Memories Of Matthew Harding

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The confirmation of the death of Leicester City owner will bring back painful emotions for Chelsea fans who remember losing a driving force in our club in similar circumstances two decades ago.

Our thoughts go out to the entire Leicester City family including the Srivaddhanaprabha family and we hope the footballing family will support you in this horrible and painful time.

At Chelsea this incident brings back pain of our own and we were struck by

the shared traits that both men shared.

View of the pitch from the away end Leicester City

Matthew Harding

Leicester City owner Vichai died just days after the 22nd anniversary of the death of Chelsea fan and investor Matthew Harding who was also victim of a helicopter crash.

Both men shared more of a story than just the ending.

Both went into football clubs with storied pasts but with a complicated situation and helped turn them around with both enthusiasm and investment. Their attitude and actions would lead to the respect and admiration of football fans inside and outside of their clubs. Fans who are cynical at best.

The only minor difference is that the success this investment fuelled came before the tragic events of the weekend for Srivaddhanaprabha whilst Harding’s came just month’s after his death.

Both men changed football, Harding sparked the revival of a club in the doldrums and put the wheels in motion for Roman Abramovich to swoop in seven years later and turbocharge the foundations his investment had built.

Srivaddhanaprabha pulled Leicester back to the division they feel they belong, ended their yoyo to the Championship and back and delivered the impossible.

Under a former Chelsea manager Leicester did the unthinkable, they took a team ranked 5,000 – 1 outsiders and won the Premier League title in style. In doing so they got the love and respect of the entire world and it became clearer more than ever Srivaddhanaprabha was more than just an owner.

Like Harding you could see that the club meant the world to him, something went beyond the kind gestures of a free pint here or a complimentary pie there. He had become the outsider that had been adopted and made the head of a footballing family.

Even with a shared experience, there are no words we can write here that can lessen the pain and emotions fans must be feeling right now.

But from one football fan to another we can say, we are devasted for the club, his family and the game as whole. We have all lost a giant.

Come on you Blues!

Chelsea’s English Midfield Conundrum

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The retirement of Frank Lampard and John Terry and Gary Cahill joining the fringes of the first team has created a lack of English players in the team. Can Ross Barkley or Ruben Loftus-Cheek fill the void?

There are a phalanx of young players challenging to keep an English presence in the team. If you signup here to Novibet you would have a hard time betting on who would be the next Englishman to establish themselves in the first team.

Whilst there is a strong youth team at the club, genuine challengers for first-team football have been few and far between. With the exit of Gary Cahill becoming more likely as he rides the bench there is a desperate need for English influence on the team.

Whilst the goalkeeping, defence, and striking positions have no natural successors from the youth team (except possibly Callum Hudson-Odoi) the midfield and attacking midfield positions have two English players fighting for game time and giving Sarri a selection headache.

Chelsea’s English Midfield Conundrum

The Chelsea midfield is very competitive with Sarri enjoying immense squad depth.

At the start of the season his two English options Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were in the weeds with Jorginho, Kovacic, and Kante the preferred starting trio.

Both players though have trained hard and been given chances by Sarri to shine and taken them with both hands.

Barkley has scored in his last 3 Premier League games including a last-minute equaliser against Manchester United. Against Burnley, he started and scored with an excellent long-range effort to give Chelsea a comfortable lead in the game.

Not been outdone Loftus-Cheek has also hit a rich vein of form and put himself back in the selection mix. He scored a hat-trick against Bate Borisov in the Europa League.

Despite being dropped for the trip to Burnley he came on after half an hour and scored in the second half of the game to keep the pressure on Sarri for his omission.

Who Will Prevail

To get a regular first team place either will have to either convince Sarri they deserve to start ahead of Kovacic or that they can play in the attacking midfield positions ahead of Willian or Pedro.

This will be a tough ask but not implausible.

Barkley has been played in rotation with Kovacic so maybe he can with consistency make the role his own. Loftus-Cheek replaced Pedro in the first half of the Burnley game which could mean that he could be considered for that role in the future.

Either way Sarri has something that we can call a “good problem”

 

Can Sarri drop Loftus-Cheek after hat-trick heroics

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Can Sarri drop Loftus-Cheek?

Ruben Loftus-Cheek kick-started his season with a hat-trick against Bate Borisov to make life difficult for Sarri in Chelsea’s overcrowded midfield.

With Burnley up next will he be dropped for the trip north?

Thursday’s performance was dominating with Loftus-Cheek looking like he would score every time he touched the ball and he could have had more.

It was a huge relief to Chelsea fans who are desperate to see home grown talent established into the first team. The nation is watching as well after England’s inspiring World Cup run.

In the squad instead of being sent out on-loan expecations have been high, but so far he has been almost anonymous as Sarri has had a wealth of midfield riches to choose from.

For the national team his team mate Ross Barkley has come back to form and kept Loftus-Cheek out of England and Chelsea contention. He is also competing with Kovacic, Kante, Jorginho, Barkley and Drinkwater competing for the midfield slots.

Bate Borisov Hat-Trick

Selection in the Europa League was expected and it was clear he needed to do something to convince Sarri he should be in the midfield mix.

He grabbed this opportunity with both hands and has now left Sarri with somewhat of a quandary. How can Sarri drop the English youngster after he has scored a hat-trick it would surely be some kind of horrific record.

Can Sarri Drop Loftus-Cheek

The obvious answer is of course, Sarri has started the season well and has free reign with the squad. From a confidence level though, it sends a horrific message to Chelsea’s youth and squad players that even performances will not get you more first team game time.

Potential fixes would be to play Kante, Jorginho and Loftus-Cheek with an end to the experiment of playing N’Golo further forward.

This would add more balance to the side and get Kante back into the engine room whilst Hazard is supported by a more natural attacking midfielder.

We really hope Loftus-Cheek starts against Burnley.

Can Sarri drop Loftus-Cheek?

One Chelsea Fan Whose Name Is Sung At Every Game Home and Away

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Today marks the anniversary of the death of one of the most influential men in the modern history of Chelsea Football Club.

He was more than just a businessman with a toy, he was a lifelong fan.

Matthew Harding was a Chelsea fan who just happened to be a millionaire with the means to invest money into the club and join the board. He helped fund the investment in the club that led to the regeneration of the ground and the team.

To the frustration of owner Ken Bates, Harding was adored by Chelsea fans who in part saw him as one of their own, someone who loved the team inside out.

This and boardroom wranglings made Harding hated by Bates who whilst appreciated by Chelsea fans for saving the club had never been loved by them due to his eccentric and often confrontational relationship with them.

Harding was a man of the people who watched games with the fans, whereas Ken Bates was seen as high and mighty and lived in the boardroom. The contrast between the two men could not have been clearer.

The boardroom wranglings may have largely been forgotten, but the man has not.

Today marks the 22nd anniversary of Harding’s death in a helicopter crash after a League Cup game against Bolton. The club has changed markedly since that fateful night Chelsea FC would not be what it is now without him and the fans know it.

The warmth and love for Harding from fans have not diminished over time, he may be the only Chelsea fan who has his name sung at every game home and away.

After his death the North Stand the development of which he helped fund to be named in his honour in an emotional ceremony against Tottenham just days after he died.

Chelsea fans all over the world remember fondly the fan Matthew Harding.

Matthew Harding’s Blue & WHite Army!

 

The Odds of It Being Chelsea’s Year

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Sarriball Shed Upper Stamford Bridge

It may be early in the season still, but the Blues have come out with something special this year — an attacking mindset, a cohesive team, and a star player in possibly the form of his life in Eden Hazard.

All that adds up to create something that should be capable of beating any club they come up against. And, though it may not mean much yet, Chelsea now find themselves at the top of the league with favourites Manchester City, and last year’s winner Liverpool, after those teams met in a drab match last weekend that culminated in a draw.

Chelsea, on the other hand, put three unanswered goals past Southampton with a fantastic performance, and they just seem to be getting better and better as each match goes by. It’s surprising looking at premiership predictions from Betfair in light of all this.

While Chelsea’s odds to win outright aren’t bad (15/2), Man City and Liverpool have both been given much shorter odds, with 4/6 and 5/2, respectively.

But of course, odds aren’t everything and Chelsea will be looking back at their performance against Southampton with a lot of confidence and much to be happy about.

Perhaps the thing they can be most pleased about was the performance of Ross Barkley in the midfield, which won him high praise from the head coach Maurizio Sarri.

Not only did he set up The Blues’ first goal, beautifully put away by danger man Hazard, he also went on to score himself, becoming the first English Chelsea player to do so in the Premier League since a certain Frank Lampard did the same way back in December 2013.

Barkley’s performance prompted Sarri to say that the player will be an extremely significant asset to the England side. Hopefully, he’s right.

But in the meantime, Chelsea have so much more to be happy about. They’ll look forward to hosting the out of form Manchester United on October 20 and will be looking to repeat their performance against Southampton.

The only thing they may not want to emulate from that performance was a few defensive errors. There were times where they did not look as solid at the back as they should have been and they were lucky to watch a poor Danny Ings effort sail over the crossbar.

Equally, goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga showed some real promise, picking up the pieces and seems like the kind of player Chelsea will be able to rely on to get them out of sticky situations in the future.

Ultimately, it probably is too early to speculate as to whether Chelsea can win the league this year. What we can say though, is that they’ve shown great promise at the start of the season and their attacking play is both exciting and clinical.

Judging by their start, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to expect the boys in blue to fetch a top-four finish. Either way, what a season we have in store with three undefeated teams at the top of the table and a lot of talent on display at Stamford Bridge.

Five Reasons Chelsea Can Mount A 2018/2019 Title Challenge

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Top of the table after eight games, fans and pundits still don’t think Chelsea will  challenge for the title this season, results, and style suggest it is time to change that thinking.

The season may still be young but there is a level of optimism about everything Chelsea at the moment.

The results speak for themselves; 8 games, 6 wins and two draws. A run that has seen the Blues beat Arsenal and come close to defeating an otherwise rampant Liverpool.

Before the season began the Premier League best predictions were that Manchester City and Liverpool would go toe to toe fo the title with Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham battling it out for the other two Champions League spots.

Liverpool and Manchester City have met this expectation so far with both clubs sharing the lead at the top with the Blues on 20 points apiece. Manchester United have struggled under Mourinho, whilst Tottenham and Arsenal sit just two points behind the league leaders.

Sarri has so far continued to dismiss the prospect of a Chelsea title challenge but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

New Signings Have Blended Into The Team

Sarri may have arrived late to Cobham after the World Cup, but he has been given a few talented new players to work with and they have hit the ground running.

Kepa Arrizabalaga has made Thibaut Courtois a long lost memory, Jorginho is making the midfield sing and Kovacic looks like an incredible player considering he is on loan as a makeweight in the Thibaut Courtois sale to Real Madrid.

The Style Of Football Is Sexy

Chelsea have not played with such an attacking style of football in over a decade. Against Southampton there were 31 passes across both sides of the pitch before Alvaro Morata was played in to score the third goal.

The Blues look solid on the ball and have so far provided goals to match the slick passing and fancy flicks, fans are excited and it translates to results.

Eden Hazard Is On Fire

Despite his attention being slighty turned by Real Madrid, Eden Hazard has taken his game to the next level since returning from the World Cup. He has scored 10 goals across all competitions and been the match winner on multiple occasions.

His opening goal against Cardiff was magnificent and he seems to be on a one-man crusade to score the goal of the month every time he steps onto the field of play.

Squad Depth

Chelsea have one of the strongest squads for a Premier League season since the Mourinho era with depth in every position.

In goal Callabero, Green and Bulka sit basking in the talent of Kepa, in defence Gary Cahill and Andreas Christensen are warming the bench behind Rudiger and Luiz.

In midfield there is an embarrassment of riches with Kante, Jorginho, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Pedro, Willian, Drinkwater, Kovacic and Hazard all able to be rotated and rested as required.

A key development has been the fitness and emergence of Ross Barkley who is being tipped for great things by Eden Hazard. His form has seen him return to the England squad and onto the scoresheet against Southampton.

Up front we have a £57m striker just finding his feet after a rough couple of months who is being pushed all the way by Olivier Giroud who offers a different kind of tactical option for Sarri to unleash from the bench.

Lack Of Champions League Football

FA Cup or Champions League

Already in the Europa League we have seen key names like Kante and Hazard rested or even left at home when traveling across the continent for games.

With advancement to the knockout stages with games to spare extremely likely the squad is likely to be well rested heading into crunch games over Christmas.

The squad depth is matched by a lack of Champions League football which means that despite the number of games Sarri is going to be more empowered to rotate the squad.

Sarriball Most Attacking, Free Flowing Style Since Ancelotti?

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Sarriball Shed Upper Stamford Bridge

Chelsea have started the Premier League season with five wins on the bounce as Sarriball takes hold. With Eden Hazard firing on all cylinders and a midfield that clicks Blues fans are being treated to an attacking football masterclass.

Is it one that makes it the most exciting teams the Blues have had for almost a decade.

Cardiff, Huddersfield and Newcastle have all tried to upset the expert weekend accumulator tips and bust a few coupons with defensive teams and tactics that have taken time to break down.

Chelsea are managing to break down even the most defensive of opposition tactics through sheer weight of passing and being able to change gears and add a touch of class at just the right moment.

When early goals have not come, they have stuck to their task, probing and passing their way to create chances and puncture the opposition with sheer weight of effort.

Sarriball means Jorginho is having more touches of the ball than the entire outfield unit of opposing teams as the Blues recycle the ball and probe defences. When the time is right Hazard, Pedro, Giroud and even Morata have been there to add a sprinkle of class to make the difference.

Sarriball dominates  Dominate & Add Attacking Excitement

Against Cardiff Chelsea played with a zip and intricate passing that had Cardiff on the back foot the entire game.

The Blues have stood up to the tests ahead of them and top the table on goal difference. A stat that shows just how prolific the Blues have been despite conceding against Newcastle and Cardiff.

Whilst defensively there are questions to answer it was an incredibly enjoyable site to see the Blues building attack after attack in a game where they could have scored 7 or 8.

We were watching from the Shed End and even though the Blues went behind they produced an almost instant response and were deservedly ahead before the break with the equaliser a showcase of the attacking flair and movement we currently possess.

The last time Chelsea were such a consistent threat was under Carlo Ancelotti in 2009/2010 season when the team scored 103 goals on the way to a historic league and cup double.

This team has potential, but it has not yet been properly tested. The true challenge will come when autumn turns to winter and the Blues travel to sides with no intention to give Chelsea space to attack into.

There may not be Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba tearing up defences and scoring goals this time around, but Eden Hazard looks like he might take a stratospheric jump and place himself at the pinnacle of Europe’s elite.

Sarriball looks like an exciting experiment.

Video of Loanee Mason Mount’s Goal In Lampard’s Managerial Debut Win

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Frank Lampard’s Derby kicked off the start of the Championship season against Derby and it was Chelsea loanee, Mason Mount who struck the first blow for the Rams who scored a late, late winner.

Mount played the whole 90 minutes of his Derby debut and looked solid throughout, his strike got the Rams up and running after they fell behind to a Bodvarsson goal.

This helped set up a stunning stoppage-time winner, to give Lampard a winning start to his managerial career.

Lampard’s first competitive game as a manager was against a manager he will know well from his playing day’s. Former Chelsea assistant manager Paul Clement was in the dugout falling victim to a bit of a smash and grab raid from the Rams.

Derby loanee Mount is a talented member of the Chelsea academy. It is no surprise that Lampard wanted to take the attacking midfielder who has been likened to the Blues legend with him to Pride Park (or whatever they call it now).

He had this to say about his debut

Yeah, the manager has put a lot of faith in, we got our rewards for keeping going. It is unbelievable to score on debut, this (Derby) is a great club.

Mount has yet to play for the Chelsea first team, however, he has been part of the all-conquering FA Youth Cup teams over the years. A year in the Championship could be a good building block for a future career at Stamford Bridge or somewhere else at the top of the game.

The season has literally only just started, but it is an exciting highlight of the opening weekend.

With his time at Chelsea and Gianfranco Zola the new assistant manager, I think we can look forward to more than a few Blues youngsters getting the opportunity to shine in the Championship at Derby.

Best of luck to Mason Mount, Frank Lampard and Paul Clement for the season ahead.

Fantasy Football Can You Beat Your Man Utd, Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal & Spurs Mates?

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Fantasy Football is one of the best things about pre-season as fans get to pore through the new signings to pick their team for the year ahead. 

Unlike our childhood most games are now free to enter and are a great way to prove to your mates that you know the game better than they do!

It is great to beat your mates, particularly if they support a different team. Although it can be conflicting when you have Harry Kane in your fantasy team and you almost fist pump when he scores to boost your points total.

This year we have partnered with Fansbet to offer a FREE fantasy football game. There is a top prize of £20k and it is free to enter – http://bit.ly/2M3m6yl

 

Should Chelsea Sell Gary Cahill?

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Having won every conceivable trophy since arriving at the club and being our captain, Gary Cahill is a hero to many Chelsea fans.

Unfortunately, as time moves on his credentials as a top-level Premier League central defender are being severely tested. He did not have his best season in Blue last time out and lost his place to Rudiger in the New Year and only got back into the frame at the back end of the season.

If Chelsea sign Danielle Rugani then the writing would really be on the wall for Cahill. He is already going to be competing against Kurt Zouma, Rudiger, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and even younger guns such as Ethan Ampadu.

Why Should Cahill Stay

The argument for keeping Cahill is simply his previous record and the influence he can have on a team in transition. He will undoubtedly add something to the dressing room but may struggle to get game time.

The real question is can he rally and get back into a position as a first choice centre-back?

If he can then he should definitely stay and remain as captain in the Sarri ball era.

However if not then it might be time for Cahill and the club to look at other options as he deserves to be allowed to leave the club with dignity and plot the path for the rest of his career.

Where Would He Go

Cahill is at an odd point of his career.

At 32 he is too young to be put out to pasture and could still do a role in a Premier League club and is not ready for his MLS or Chinese payday.

He could walk into any Premier League defence outside of the top six or he could go abroad, hopefully the decision to stay or go is in his hands.