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Yesterday’s win against Aston Villa marked Jose Mourinho’s 250th game in charge of Chelsea. It would also be his 165th win as manager of the club.

Oscar settled any nerves early on when scoring from Willian’s hard-worked assist. The Brazilians combined to produce a relatively simple tap in for Chelsea’s new number 8.

With Villa posing little threat, the home side were able to control the game deep in the opposition’s half. Frustrations grew however as Chelsea struggled to find a way through and double their lead.

Diego Costa’s persistent aerial efforts eventually paid off in the second half, as the in-form striker got up to score from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross. At 2-0 Chelsea were looking comfortable, still unthreatened by a Villa attack.

Diego Costa looked sure to score again as he cut into the Villa penalty area, beating two defenders. His shot was saved by Brad Guzan but bounced into the path of Willian who finished from close range.

Final score: Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa

Oscar (7 min)
Diego Costa (59 min)
Willian (79 min)

Written by Chris Edwards

Follow Chris @CynicalCME

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On the back of that heartbreaking equaliser from Frank Lampard for Manchester City, Chelsea were looking to lift spirits in their Capital One Cup, third round tie against Bolton Wanderers. Stamford Bridge was almost at full capacity as the home fans looked to see their side return to winning ways.

Line Up and Squad Rotation

This midweek fixture provided game-time for some of the team’s younger players, including Kurt Zouma and Nathan Ake. First team regulars, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Andre Schurrle and Oscar all started, with Petr Cech making his first appearance of the season.

An in-voice Stamford Bridge enjoyed a strong start from the Blues as they pressured Bolton’s defence from the offing. Andre Schurrle was the main threat, making several dangerous runs from the left against Bolton’s hesitant defence. The German soon had a long-range free-kick tipped onto the crossbar by Lonegran.

Taking The Lead

Chelsea took the lead in the 25th minute through debutant Kurt Zouma. A scramble in the box after a corner eventually ended with the French centre back poking the ball beyond the reach of the goalkeeper.

6 minutes later Bolton captain Matt Mills delivered a surprise equaliser, heading home a free-kick from Liam Freeney, sending the sides in level at half time. Chelsea have only managed one clean-sheet so far this season.

The home side started the second half in a similar fashion to the first, providing chances and testing the Bolton goalkeeper. Andre Schurrle continued to threaten, but despite accumulating a dozen shots and hitting the woodwork again, the German was unable to find the back of the net.

In the 55th minute Oscar put Chelsea ahead with a well-placed, swerving strike into the bottom left-hand corner. The Brazilian’s goal proved to be the decisive one, sending Chelsea into the 4th round where they will play Shrewsbury away.

Final score: 2-1

Zouma (25 mins)

Mills (31 mins)

Oscar (55 mins)

 

Written by Chris Edwards

Follow Chris @CynicalCME

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The end of the season is approaching and we’re being linked with anyone that has two legs. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. Us Chelsea fans are used to it, and other supporters are probably sick of it (can’t say I blame them). But what if there was a cheaper and more effective solution?

The players in question are strikers (shock) Diego Costa and Edison Cavani. There’s also been some talk about Mario Mandzukic, who may struggle to make it into Bayern Munich’s first team when Robert Lewandowski arrives next season.

Not a single one of us has forgotten about Romelu Lukaku though. How can we? He’s fucking massive. He scores for fun too. The only problem with the young Belgian is that he doesn’t have the ‘world class’ status we seem to demand at Stamford Bridge. This was exactly how some Chelsea fans felt about Daniel Sturridge and, well, look how that turned out. So why don’t we learn from out mistakes and put our trust in the Everton loanee?

To make this more of an appealing proposal, let’s explore some of the reasons why we shouldn’t sign the previously mentioned strikers.

First up: Diego Costa. I think we’d all like to see this guy in Chelsea blue, but despite persistent speculation from various sources, is it really a realistic deal? If Athletico Madrid manages to win La Liga and dare I say, beat us in the Champions League semi-final, will he have much reason to leave? We should also take into consideration that there might be a teething period if he comes to England – something we’re all too familiar with.

So what about Edison Cavani? He’s probably a little more agile than Diego Costa and despite being played in a wide position for PSG he has still managed to accumulate an impressive number of goals. Chelsea may be able to tempt the Uruguayan with the promise of a leading role up-front, but he would surely cost a hefty fee. A deal may even have to include one of our players. I very much doubt that would be Hazard, but given Oscar’s lackluster performances in the second half of this season, I can see the Brazilian being a far more likely swap. I don’t particularly want this to happen, especially if we have to fork out an additional thirty-plus million.

Finally, Mario Mandzukic. Admittedly, there have only been murmurings about this one, but it’s perfectly logical to assume he’ll be looking for a move out of Germany. However, I don’t see how that links him to Chelsea. We may as well be linked with Ian Beale, or anyone else that becomes available every six months.

Taking all of that into consideration, I think Lukaku now looks like the best option. He’s already proven in the Premier League and he wouldn’t cost us a penny. I think that’s a far more pleasing outcome for the club and fans.

There’s no reason to think he won’t score, assist and hold up the ball, because we’ve watched him do it all season for Everton. Speed isn’t an issue either.

Granted, if Torres and Ba are on their way out then we’re going to need back up. Personally, I think Eto’o deserves an extension on his contract (if he wants one), but that would still leave us with only two strikers.

If we can muster the money for a third striker from the sale of Torres and Ba then maybe we should go for someone who can compliment Lukaku rather than keep him out of the first team. Loic Remy perhaps?

We spent 18 million on Romelu Lukaku and I see no reason why we should be benching or even selling him when he continues to be prolific in the Premier League. For the same reason, I also think he’d have a more successful first season than Diego Costa or Edison Cavani.

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Kevin De Bruyne returns to Chelsea after loan

Kevin De Bruyne

He had an impressive pre-season with Chelsea and was named the man of the match in his Premier League debut. A lot of the attention is focused on Eden Hazard, which could allow De Bruyne to perform without pressure. With his pace and aggression I can see him holding down a place in the starting 11 and becoming one of the club’s surprise star players.

Joe Cole

The former England international may seem like a new signing for West Ham having been injured for large parts of the previous season. Whether he appears on the score sheet or gets an assist, you can expect to see the midfielder have a significant influence on what I think will be a great season for West Ham.

Wilfried Bony

He came on as a substitute in his debut against Manchester United and managed to grab their only goal in a 1-4 defeat. When he joined the game there was a notable difference in Swansea’s performance, particularly upfront, as the striker seemed to link well with Michu. I expect Bony to be one of the top goal scorers in this season’s campaign.

Romelu Lukaku

Providing Chelsea do not sign a marque forward I think the Belgian will be the club’s top scorer. He was only given 15 minutes against Hull on the first game of the season, but his strength and pace made almost an immediate impact to their attack. His West Brom form was carried into pre-season where he scored in almost every game he played and constantly threatened the opposition. If he gets enough playing time I can see Lukaku being one of the top five goal scorers this season.

Coutinho

He was relentless against Stoke in Liverpool’s first game of the season, showing as much promise as Eden Hazard. He had plenty of shots at goal and played various key passes to the forwards. By the end of the year Coutinho will be considered one of the most dangerous midfielders in the league.

Kevin Mirallas

Despite missing parts of last season with injuries the Belgian was still able to score six goals and assist five. With the forward fully fit and Everton taking on a more attacking style under Roberto Martinez, I expect Mirallas to have a successful year at Goodison Park.

Written by Chris Edwards

Follow Chris @CyncialCME

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Gareth-Bale-shootsGareth Bale and Luis Suarez are priceless to their clubs, but with the sharks circling both may have to accept that their sale is inevitable.
Usually I would refrain from sharing my thoughts on mere speculation, but I think there’s something far more interesting about the rumors circulating this summer that I just can’t ignore.My silence was ultimately broken by the unavoidable price tag slapped on Gareth Bale’s head.

In my (most likely bias) opinion it is a ridiculous sum of money for a player who has not even come close to levelling himself with Cristiano Ronaldo, however I don’t want this to turn into some sort of blind rant, so I’m going to try and logically assess how clubs come to these astronomical evaluations.

Firstly, £85 million? If I were Spurs I’d be biting Madrid’s hands off. Fair enough they’d lose one of the best players in the league, but with that kind of money they could form a much stronger team. Ibrahimovic, a couple of world-class wingers and a centre back would make them a far greater threat and they’d no longer be reliant on an individual. That’s the argument though. For Tottenham to fill the void of the Welsh midfielder, they’d have to purchase all of that talent.

That’s not to say that he’s actually worth that transfer fee, and I’m not saying he’s worth less either. He’s worth whatever the club need to equal or slightly improve on their current level of performance.

The same can be said for Luis Suarez. He too is worth the entire cost of his teammates and on that basis is priceless to Liverpool. From a Chelsea perspective Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are also irreplaceable. I wouldn’t sell either of them for £100 million at this moment in time because they’re quite simply our best players.

So it seems that financial fair play has not only failed to change the mentality of big spending clubs, but it has also forgotten the basic principle that the best players cannot be reasonably priced.

Follow me @CynicalCME 

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keep

Chelsea’s long search for a clinical striker looks set to continue as reports suggest Edison Cavani is close to agreeing a deal with PSG. Having already missed out on Radamel Falcao, this latest news will come as a major blow to the London club. Here are five alternatives that Jose Mourinho may have to consider.

1. Wayne Rooney

It is no secret that Mourinho is an admirer of the Englishman’s ability and recent reports are linking the want-away United player with a move to Stamford Bridge. He played the best part of last season in a deeper role, allowing Van Persie to take on the goal scoring responsibility, but at Chelsea the Liverpudlian could be given a new lease-of-life. Rooney is a proven goal-scorer in the Premier League, and with an array of creative midfielders behind him, he could have the tools to become a leading striker once again.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

If Cavani does move to PSG then Ibrahimovic could become available. He would be the ideal replacement for Didier Drogba with his strong style of play and he could bridge the gap until Lukaku breaks into the first team. A younger signing might see the Belgian condemned to the bench, preventing him from developing his game.

3. Romelu Lukaku

Chelsea could place their faith in the young striker at an early stage and make him their main man. It seems unlikely that Mourinho will place so much weight on his shoulders (not that he could reach them), but if he can replicate the form he had at West Brom then it could impossible to ignore the option.

4. Robert Lewandowski

His more agile style of play could suit Chelsea’s new, attractive approach to the game. Reports are suggesting that the Pole is most likely to join Bayern Munich, but should that fall through, he could be a great alternative for Jose Mourinho.

5. Stay put

They currently have Fernando Torres, Demba Ba, Romelu Lukaku and Andre Schurrle who can play as a centre forward. While there may not be an obvious choice there Chelsea could benefit from rotating them all. Without the pressure on a singular man, they will all have the chance to contribute goals and compete for a starting place.

Follow Chris @CynicalCME

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Essien

The football season is fast approaching and excitement is starting to build as the rumour mill goes into overdrive. For Chelsea fans this usually spells a great deal of activity, but what does this mean for the existing players and how will the side shape up for the next campaign?

After the additions of Andre Schurrle and Marco Van Ginkel the midfield has to be the most uncertain area of the pitch. Frank Lampard is likely to be rotated and the ‘Three Amigos’ are constantly fighting to solidify their place in the first team, so choosing a starting eleven could prove to be problematic for Jose Mourinho.

For me the missing ingredient is pace. Eden Hazard is currently the only fast player utilising the wings, but now Chelsea have the speed of Schurrle who can play on both sides. This could provoke the Special One to give the German regular playing time, which might see the likes of Oscar dropped to the bench.

Oscar in himself is another matter (no pun intended). He performed brilliantly in the final of the Confederations Cup, helping his side to a 3-0 victory over Spain. In a high-tempo game, Juan Mata failed to produce the same standard, which raises questions as to who should be in the middle of our attacking midfield.

Michael Essien is also making his return and based on the amount of playing time Mourinho gave him at Real Madrid, it seems likely that the Ghanaian will feature regularly. If that is the case, there could be repercussions for David Luiz who at the end of last season took to his new role in holding midfield. Mourinho will have to decide if the Brazilian is disciplined enough to be part of the back four, and that would subsequently lead to a reshuffle of the defence.

In terms of striking options, it’s anyone’s guess how it will shape up. Edison Cavani certainly seems to be the ideal option and the fans’ number one choice, but if they don’t manage to acquire his services they may have to consider other alternatives or even stick with the current three forwards.

Potentially there could two or three more signings before the start of the season, but this is what I think the starting eleven will look like.

 

Cech

 

Ivanovic

Cahill

Luiz

Cole

 

Essien

Lampard

 

Hazard

Mata

Oscar

 

Cavani/Lukaku

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The last couple of weeks have been too much. I’ve barely settled down after screaming my heart out against the Basel fans last week, and the week before that I was nervously clenching my girlfriend’s arm in the hope of beating Swansea. Those are the only two games I’ve been able to watch at the Bridge this season, but they’ve proven to be vital in our quest for a successful campaign. Since then, we’ve also beaten United, gained a crucial point against Spurs and learnt that Mourinho’s return is now even more likely… Allow me to catch my breath.

Let’s start with the Swansea game. I was fortunate enough to meet up with a Chelsea legend who took me under his wing for the day and made sure I got the best possible experience (as part of a birthday present). If that wasn’t already enough, the seats turned out to be the finest I’ve had in my many years of visiting Stamford Bridge. There’s something about being there that allows you to analyse the game properly.

Subsequently, my verdict is that Lampard is Jesus. Seriously though, when you watch that man live, it really is something else. This was also my first sighting of Hazard, who again looks incredible on TV, but even better in the flesh. I’d go as far to say he’s the best dribbler in the league. As for Mata, I saw him play one of his best games in a Chelsea shirt last season when we thrashed Spurs 5-1 at Wembley, so I was pleased to see him a year on – even better.

Sitting in a family area with my girlfriend meant I wasn’t able to vent my frustration at Oscar, who for some reason winds me up. I don’t think he’s quite there yet, but he’s certainly coming along. Anyway, he scored, and he’s making a habit of that lately. I’m going to put that down to quality service. Speaking of which, his assister, Lamps, made my heart flutter once again as he scored on my birthday for a third consecutive year. Up the arms went. 3 points in the bag. Easy.

A few days later I’m back at the Bridge for the Basel game. Shed End this time – right next to the Basel fans. Safe to say, the seats were nowhere near as good as the previous ones, but being alongside the away fans made for an entirely different experience, and an atmosphere that eclipsed the Swansea game.

I wasn’t too worried when they scored first. I knew we’d win it eventually, but I just wanted to wave them goodbye as soon as possible. It had gone beyond pointing and laughing when David Luiz’s wonder goal went in. Instead I was screaming “Did you see that?!” They knew enough English to chant “You only sing when you’re winning”, so I’m pretty sure they could understand me. I had two hotdogs after the game to celebrate…

Now on to more recent affairs. A hard-fought win against United saw me run out my bedroom screaming and jumping in the hallway, and I smacked my head into my hands about as hard as Ramires’s fall when he failed to convert a counter attack against Spurs. I think we’ve done enough now. Villa won’t be easy and Everton will want to give Moyes a proper sign-off, but I’m confident we have the quality to find at least one more win.

If all this wasn’t enough to bugger my blood pressure, we’re now agonisingly close to bringing back The Special One and consequently agreeing a contract renewal for Frank. If we win Europa and manage to finish in the top 4, the players, manager, club and fans will breath a sigh of relief, as this has been one of the hardest campaigns in the club’s history. When it’s all in the past, we can look forward to the presents the future may bring – hopefully spelt F.A.L.C.A.O.

Follow Chris @CynicalCME

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It has been a while since my last post and as expected there has been much development in the world of Chelsea during my absence. We’ve knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup, progressed to the semi-final of the Europa League, seen a slight change in mood towards interim manager, Rafa Benitez, but perhaps the best news of all has been Fernando Torres breaking his nose.

No matter how busy my schedule might get, I will always find time to watch The Blues, and the less attractive fixtures like Steaua Bucharest serve as no exception. In that particular game Fernando Torres got his head kicked in, which evidently didn’t go down too well with the Spaniard, as he proceeded to angrily charge around the pitch until someone let him score a goal.

In actual fact, he played very well. A crooked nose, two blood-covered shirts, including one with no name or number on it proved to be a far more effective combination than a long haircut and a bottle of blonde bleach. Regardless, a change of shirt for every game just isn’t a sustainable method of keeping a striker firing. Instead the kit men would have to come up with something far more feasible.

Admittedly, it might have had something to do with the broken nose, but they decided on a rather stylish, Dark Knight-esque mask, and since putting it on, Torres has become a new man, assertive, determined and most importantly, clinical. Such a surge in form can only lead us to question if the accessory has transformed him.

I’ve always thought Torres was a very human player, one who thrived on confidence rather than raw talent itself, but just like Batman, he now has something to hide behind. I’m insinuating that the mask has quite literally made him feel like a superhero.

Now this would suggest that there are serious psychological issues influencing the Spaniard’s game, as most players only impersonate a superhero after they’ve scored. What we get is the reverse. For a brief moment we can see the Torres of old when he celebrates scoring a goal with his trademark slide of the knees and out-stretched arms. His human side is accompanied by a huge sense of relief every time he does something right for Chelsea, which for me, clearly says that he is a man battling against his own insecurities.

For the fans it is understandably hard to come to terms with, and in such a demanding position, the club can’t really afford to rely on him. I for one can’t help but sympathise for our number nine, and would take great pleasure in seeing him resolve his issues, if not for the club, then for himself as a professional. I fear that a move abroad could be imminent, although I’d happily see him move to another team if it meant the revival of his career.

In the meantime, we can enjoy the persona he has taken on in the mask and hope that Spanish bones don’t heal in a rush. Keeping it on could make all the difference as we challenge for yet another FA Cup and European title.

Follow Chris @CynicalCME

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Formation: 4-2-3-1

It’s the standard set up for most Premier League teams now, and I can understand why. It provides cover for the defence whilst 3 players have the freedom to support the attack and play the wings. I prefer the central attacking midfielder to have a striking role though – much like Rooney. I think Mata has emulated that for us this season although I thoroughly believe that two strikers can make a significant impact. This would take more of a 4-4-2 shape.

Goalkeeper: Cech

This pretty much goes without saying. Hopefully we have many more years of Petr in goal, but it’s great to know our future rests in the capable hands of Courtois.

Right back: Azpilicueta

Ivanovic has been one of our best players in this position at times, but Cesar has really come along since finding regular first team football. His pace, crossing and defensive qualities make him a complete fullback, and personally I think he’s been one of the best signings this season.

Left back: Cole

An obvious choice, although I’m excited at the prospect of Bertrand who when called upon has really impressed.

Centre back right: Cahill

For me Cahill is a must. He’s everything Terry used to be, but faster and younger. If anything he needs to develop his voice in the back four and become one of our new leaders.

Centre back left: Luiz

This is where it gets difficult. This choice is more for the future as there’s still some room for improvement. I’m basing this purely on his potential and obvious talent. Until recently I would have placed him in defensive midfield, but Luiz is a leader and his partnership with Cahill proved its worth in the Champions League final. The most important factor for me is his pace. Formerly, when a striker like Suarez or Aguero sidestepped Terry, there was no way the skipper would catch them. Luiz is a different story. Just because he’s beaten doesn’t mean he won’t come back to win the ball.

Right midfield: Moses

I’ve been calling for a proper winger for years. Most top sides utilise the flanks and it’s been the key to United’s success. Victor has incredible pace, supports both the attack and defence, he’s competent in the air, strong and possesses a powerful shot. It’d be great to see one of our cheaper signings making regular appearances in the first team.

Left midfield: Hazard

Hazard has to become our best player. Mata is our main man at the moment, but we need an explosive player to become the centre of our performances. Mata’s build up play, creativity, and scoring ability has been second to none this season, but we still need someone who can take the ball from one end of the pitch to the other and score. Hazard has to become our Bale.

Centre midfield right: Ramires

He’s a workhorse in the middle. He can defend and attack for 90 minutes – the closest thing to the Essien of old. Paired with Lampard, he’s more likely to sit back, although they’re great at taking it in turns. Their partnership is the perfect example of how two similar centre midfielders can play together if they have an understanding.

Centre midfield left: Lampard

He’s Lampard. I don’t need to justify this choice. The best player in our history, and If he leaves at the end of the season the heart of Chelsea will die.

Attacking midfield central: Mata

He’s been our best player this season without doubt. Assists, goals and man of the match performances galore. He tends to play on the right although his success has come from behind the striker. This is where he needs to play.

Striker: Ba

Next season I want it to be Lukaku, but for now Ba is the best striker we have. As much as I’d love to see Falcao next season I really don’t want us to spend £40 million plus when we’ve already spent 18 on a 19 year-old who looks like he can be even better than Drogba. Ba gets the job done though – which is more than I can say for a certain blonde-haired Spaniard. I’d also like to see Ba and Lukaku in a partnership. There has to he goals in that combination.

Roundup:

The omission of Ivanovic, Terry, and Oscar is admittedly controversial even if I have justified my selection. This team does however give consideration to current form and functionality – particularly for the wide position. Ivanovic was the hardest player to leave out. He’s worked incredibly hard for us over the last couple of seasons, but I think he makes one too many mistakes. Our centre backs have to be completely reliable. It was also difficult to leave out Oscar, although he is very similar to Mata except the Spaniard is more consistent and evidently more capable of producing goals.

 

Written by Chris Edwards

Follow Chris @CynicalCME

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