Potentially finishing 3rd in the table and reaching a European Final would normally be a good season. The true story is inconsistency and frustration saved by three fierce rivals imploding.
In the last few months, it has appeared that no one has wanted to qualify for the Champions League. Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United fell off a cliff in the last month.
Chelsea were the club to cobble just enough together to stay afloat as others sank.
So How Did We Get Here?
It has been an odd season for Chelsea fans with the negative morale of fans who booed at half time against Watford contrasting starkly with where the club has ended up.
It all started so differently…….
Sarri came in with a heralded style and his own midfield engine in the form of Jorginho. We even had Gianfranco Zola back at the Bridge as part of the coaching staff.
Initially, it garnered some good results with the club going 18 games unbeaten. The early signs suggested something could be built around the possession and short passing the Italian loves and the media call Sarriball.
The problem was that teams up and down the league worked out his style after a couple of months and adapted to blunt Chelsea as an attacking force.
Sarri had no such plans and continued to pick the same team in the same formation and ever decreasing returns.
Teams defended resolutely letting the ball be played to the wings where a cross would be met by 8 well-positioned defenders. Who had plenty of time to get in position and box out the lone player we would have in the box.
Jorginho went from superstar to donkey.
A symbol of our slow and uninspiring attack, earning huge pass completion numbers but failing to get things moving. He was vilified as the player that moved Kante out of his natural position. Something that still makes no sense to fans.
Somehow we have stumbled along and got the odd result here or there and kept in with a shout for the top four. It has only been the horrific form of Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United that have masked poor performances and inconsistent results.
Take the weekend, all three managed to drop points against teams in the bottom half of the table effectively gifting a top four place in what should have been a dramatic final day.
It does not feel like we have played well enough to gain the top four this season. Few Blues fans will complain though.
This situation clouds the future of our management. A few months ago I thought Sarri had limited time left and would leave at the end of the season, if not before.
Without much tangible improvement in style or quality, the situation has improved and he has achieved his objectives.
The Future Of Sarri?
Sarri is still not popular with fans who mock his tactical inflexibility and love of Jorginho. Few want him to stay and fans rightly see our final league position as luck rather than judgment.
Yet, with a transfer ban incoming and Champions League football secured the board may feel otherwise.
If he does go on to lift the Europa League then that may be the final thing he needs to convince the board. It would also help with the fans as it would deprive Arsenal of Champions League football.
Laughing at Liverpool’s failure to lift the Premier League trophy is an annual ritual. Fans calling for a trophy for 2nd remind us why the entitlement of their fans knows no bounds.
Jokes aside (we will get to them) we will acknowledge that Liverpool have had an impressive season.
They have been breathtaking at times and given the imperious Manchester City, who can claim to have one of the greatest squads in Premier League history a true run for their money.
They still have a chance of winning the Premier League and the Champions League, but will need an improbable swing in both competitions to lift silverware.
The cruel nature of football means that despite their football they will likely end the season trophyless, which would be pretty darn funny.
Funny Watching Liverpool Go Trophyless
Think about it, Liverpool could finish with 97 points, a total that would win the title any other season in the history of the Premier League and still finish 2nd.
This is possibly the most beautiful thing imaginable to happen to Liverpool (well excluding this)
It would also be a service to normal football fans, who will not have to suffer the media fawning for months and months.
We will instead have to listen to bleating about how close they came for a while, which will be funny not annoying.
Liverpool 2nd Place Trophy
Some Liverpool fans have even tried to advocate for a trophy for 2nd place.
This just sums up the level of entitlement Liverpool fans have, to even think about suggesting something so cringeworthy.
No, just no!
Any other club and we would probably argue they deserve something, but we would never actually advocate a trophy for being 2nd. The Premier League is about being champions, not about keeping up the pressure.
Just ask Tottenham fans how many trophies they would have if “keeping up the pressure was a thing”
I have been receiving Chelsea related gifts ever since I got my first Chelsea shirt for my 7th birthday in 1993.
Since then parents, aunties, uncles, grand parents and more recently the in-laws have used my support of Chelsea FC as an easy way to sort gifts for occasions they want to, or more likely feel obligated to get me a gift.
On the whole this is awesome, however once people know you like something whether it be football, a hobby or even just a favourite animal they can latch onto it and can buy you things without knowing if they are relevant or exciting.
I have been lucky and received some great gifts, but I have also received some clangers.
These gifts range from the awesome match tickets, a frame and picture to go with my 2012 Champions League Final ticket to the underwhelming market stall tat with dodgy logos and dubious certificates of authenticity.
The Perfect Gift For A Chelsea Fan
Finding the perfect gift for a Chelsea fan is like finding a gift for anyone. The better you know the person and understand what they like the more likely you are to get a “wow” rather than a “meh” when they open the gift.
A good way to do this is to get something different that stands out from the usual stuff.
This however can be tricky if your knowledge of the club is not great. It could be easy to mistake different as automatically good, buying something with the face of Diego Costa may be well received in 2015, but will have looked slightly tacky in December 2016.
Personalised gifts are always a good way to go as it shows some thought has gone into the gift and makes it unique to the person you are buying it for.
Here is an example of something we found that fits the trifecta of being personalised, quite cool and practical for the day to day (it is not sitting on a shelf gathering dust.
The Chelsea hierarchy stunned fans this morning 1st of April by announcing that Italian manager has been handed a new five year contract.
The club is heralding the announcement as a reward for the club dominating possession and bringing consistency and predictability to the club’s play.
The guarantee of Europa League football also seems to have helped secure Sarriball as the future of the club on the 1st of April 2019
Club Spokesperson told us that a bigwig nobody knows but has all the power in the club had said the following
Possession is important, we have all the possession and that makes us very happy.
We also like the predictability of the substitutions as it allows us to calculate game bonuses in advance. For example we know already that we don’t have to worry about giving Callum Hudson Odoi a Premier League starts bonus.
This is very helpful for admin.
Secret club bigwig
No-one has bothered to ask the fans their opinion on the manager just yet, so we thought we would find this dated and out of context YouTube video to fully prove our point!
Since the days of Chelsea greats John Terry and Frank Lampard leaving
Stamford Bridge, England players and future prospects have found it hard to get
into the Blues’ first team.
As Premier League heavyweights who feature prominently in the betting on a
top-four finish at 6/5 most seasons, their scouting network scours the
globe to find the best talent in world football. That has often come at the
expense of homegrown players, but Chelsea are not alone in that among the
Progression from the academy into the senior squad and becoming a regular is
one particular problem area, so which England players – and some for the future
– need to seriously think about leaving the Bridge this summer?
veteran Cahill needs move
Blues centre-back Gary Cahill has been a tremendous servant, winning every
major honour going, including the UEFA
Champions League, since arriving in West London midway through
the 2011-12 season. He is 33 now, however, and out of contract at the end of
Chelsea only give one-year contracts to players over 30 and Cahill has been
on the fringes under Maurizio Sarri, who is a strong 1/6 favourite
in the Premier League sack race. A change of tactics during the
former Napoli manager’s time in charge from a wing-back system to four
defenders has also limited the starting places available to centre-halves.
At his age, Cahill needs to be playing regularly and, given his
impressive CV, won’t be short of offers at home and possibly abroad. David
Luiz’s deal with the Blues is also up this summer, so they could lose two
senior defenders in the same transfer window.
While the former Brazil international has played regularly during
Sarri’s tenure, Cahill is behind Antonio Rudiger in the Chelsea pecking order.
The Blues also have Denmark international Andreas Christensen and Spain’s Cesar
Azpiliceuta who can play at centre back on their books.
betting favourites to sign Hudson-Odoi
A new trend among English youngsters of going to play in the German
Bundesliga has arisen. Teenage winger Callum Hudson-Odoi has seen the
likes of Jadon Sancho stealing the show for Borussia Dortmund and has attracted
similar interest from Bayern Munich in his services.
The Blues stood firm against their overtures
in the January transfer window, however, and Hudson-Odoi remains at
the Bridge for now. While he’s had plenty of action in the Europa League – a
competition which Chelsea are 4/1 betting favourites to win again after
previous success in 2013 – his Premier League career is yet to take off.
Not only is Hudson-Odoi yet to start a league game but he has not
even completed a full half. He’s also seen the Blues buy Christian Pulisic from
Borussia Dortmund for next season and could be forgiven for wondering if
the American talent will block his own path to progress.
Throwing his lot in with Bayern, who are rebuilding their wide options
due to the imminent departure of long-serving duo Franck Ribery and Arjen
Robben, looks a better prospect. They are favourites to sign Hudson-Odoi at 4/1
and using the
best site for free bets for a punt on his next club could prove a
Midfielder Drinkwater has gone from Premier League winning hero at Leicester
City to frozen out completely at Chelsea. Having bought France anchor man
N’Golo Kante from the Foxes following their amazing against all odds title
triumph, the Blues also thought to add his engine room partner.
The pair have seldom played together since, however, which doesn’t make much
sense given that was the likely intention. It simply hasn’t worked out for
Drinkwater at the Bridge and it’s plain he needs to rebuild his career
West London neighbours Fulham did show rumoured interest in taking him
to Craven Cottage but nothing ever really materialised despite former
Chelsea and Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri taking over there before Christmas.
Perhaps a relegation battle at Craven Cottage, with Fulham as short as
1/14 to go down didn’t appeal,
Drinkwater has found competition for a spot in central midfield somewhat
cut-throat. Including Cesc Fabregas, who was sold to Monaco in January, he has
been competing with the likes of the Spain centurion, Real Madrid loanee Mateo
Kovacic, summer signing and Sarri favourite Jorginho, and Ross Barkley for a
requires regular football to flourish
Another Blues academy product Loftus-Cheek, like Hudson-Odoi, has done his
best to take what chances of first-team football have come his way. He hit a hat-trick in a
Europa League group stage game but was back on the bench for the
next domestic game.
That sent a clear message about where the England midfielder, who
showed flashes of potential on loan at Crystal Palace last season and at the
World Cup in Russia, lies in the pecking order. Loftus-Cheek, to his credit,
came off the bench against Burnley and score again, but he’s still had to
content himself with being in and out.
He’s played a full match just once in the Premier League this
season. Loftus-Cheek has got more minutes in Europe in half the games and
is often restricted to league cameos in the final quarter of matches. If he’s
to fulfil his potential and be an England regular, then a permanent move
may be needed.
Making the tough decision to leave a big club in search of regular
first-team football is a gamble. Loftus-Cheek is 23 now though and has scored
Premier League goals for both Chelsea and Palace. His future is of great
potential interest to the national game with Euro 2020 looming on the horizon.
Chelsea football club has a problem with antisemitism.
That may seem obvious given the reports from the away game at Vidi, but it is really uncomfortable to say as a fan of the club that knows that for a tiny but vocal majority this is true.
As a Chelsea fan, I have heard chants that make me cringe in disgust, chants referencing the horrific crimes of the Holocaust that have no place in football or any other aspect of life.
Now let’s be clear these are made by a tiny minority of fans and they are never made at Stamford Bridge or any other UK football stadium for that matter.
This is not a culturally endemic state of affairs or the norm, rather an anachronistic throwback to a handful of fans that have not accepted the modern reality that racism of any form is not tolerated in football like it was in the 70’s and 80’s.
The club and football authorities have made it clear that this is unacceptable and stamped out the behaviour in the public eye.
However the problem is still there and from time to time rears it’s ugly head.
Chelsea Antisemitism Problem – The Club
The club has a Jewish owner and I am sure the club is horrified to be dealing with another alleged incident in the space of a few days.
The problem the club has is that despite huge efforts (it is not often this blog will applaud the club but they have gone all out on this) there is little you can do to stamp out the actions of people in private or thousands of miles from home.
Just as you cannot stop what people do on a tube in Paris, you cannot easily prevent what people do in a pub or thousands of miles from home.
The club can only keep doing what it is doing and hope that the idiots see enough sense to stop shaming the club.
The main problem they have though is that these fans are not casual fans, they are the loudest most loyal fans the club have.
Whilst the media may argue that fans that embarrass the club are not loyal. These are people that travel tens of thousands of miles every season to follow the team.
Fans that traveled all the way to Budapest to watch a reserve team play out a dead rubber, fans that sing the loudest and create the atmosphere that the corporates love as a promotional tool but have disdain for. A tiny subset of which are responsible for the headlines today.
Chelsea Antisemitism Problem – The Fans
Whilst I was saddened by the reports about what happened in Vidi I was not incredibly shocked as I have heard these kinds of chants a handful of times.
For those who might ask if I reported them the answer is no, these acts do not typically take place in football stadiums they take place away from the public eye and it is not as simple as asking nicely or telling a none existent authority figure.
The club has a shameful past when it comes to racism (booing our own players in the 80’s) that it has worked so hard to eradicate, it is sad that some have not seen sense.
Antisemitism is an ongoing issue of debate as Chelsea fans have historically had a complicated relationship with antisemitism, due in part to the determined use of the word “yid” by Tottenham fans who have a historic connection with the Jewish community.
In the modern day, the use of the word persists despite the overwhelming majority of Spurs fans not sharing that historical background.
This has given the cover that using the word “Yid” is ok at football in songs about Tottenham as they use it as a badge of honour themselves. Many fans calling themselves the “Yid army” and
This emboldens idiots to go beyond what they could argue was a grey area (seems clear to me) and argue that these horrific chants are not antisemitic but anti-Tottenham and part of the banter of football.
They are not.
I hope the club can use this publicity to make it clear once and for all this is not acceptable and that we can move past it and focus on what really matters which is football. I say once again this is not what Chelsea fandom is about to me and only a handful of people are once again shaming the club.
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.
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.
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”
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.