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FA Cup Or Champions League Qualification Biggest 2018 Priority?

FA Cup or Champions League
Pictogram - Champions League Trophy - Piktogramm - Pokal, Henkelpott - Icon, Symbol, Object

Following a poor run in February Chelsea are battling for their lives to reach the Champions League. Still, in the cup, it is interesting to see fan reactions about whether the FA Cup or Champions League qualification is the 2018 priority.

The FA Cup sees a return to Wembley, an experience cheapened slightly by Spurs tenure at the ground. It is also an opportunity for glory and silverware, a potential final being the focal point and highlight of the season.

The Champions League qualification places are more about the club’s place in the European footballing hierarchy. Qualification is financially more rewarding and a bigger draw for the players we are trying to recruit and even retain within the squad.

FA Cup or Champions League Qualification?

Emotions make the admin side with the idea of winning the FA Cup, we can just about remember a time when Chelsea had been in a drought of more than 25 years since winning a significant trophy.

Little can beat the feeling of winning a trophy, a Fourth place finish is not a trophy. Despite what Arsene Wenger may have told the Arsenal faithful

The idea of prioritising 4th place over an FA Cup win seems bizarre. It is ultimately through a reflection in the changes that modern football has brought.

Since 1997 Chelsea fans have not had to go significant periods without a trophy, fit can be easy to understand why performance in Europe has dominated the focus. The win in Munich in 2012 was a magical moment and we all want to see Chelsea playing on the biggest stage.

The Practical Element

Practicality means that Champions League qualification should be the priority.

From a practical perspective qualification for the Champions League is vital, not only to retain Antonio Conte but also a number of vital stars. If we fail then the futures of Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and N’Golo Kante will come into focus.

This will be compounded by the financial implications of fourth place, money that will allow us to attract more talent to refresh the squad and compete in an ever challenging Premier League table.

Is it time to part ways with Conte?

3d businessman is showing a red card to another that is leaving

After the highs of 2016-17, this season has been a huge let-down for Chelsea fans, from the opening-day defeat to Burnley to crashing out of the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona.

Along the way, Antonio Conte’s side have managed some good performances, including victories over Tottenham and Manchester United and a solid draw in the first leg of their Champions League tie with Barcelona, but the positives have been balanced with negatives.

Losses to Watford, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and West Ham have led to Chelsea slipping out of the top four, with the FA Cup their only remaining route to silverware.

Perhaps most significantly for Conte’s own future, he was forced to acknowledge in February that the club may not finish in a Champions League qualification spot.

Most bookies seem to agree with that assessment, rating Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham as stronger bets to finish in the top four, but it may not have gone down well with the Chelsea owner.

The roots of this season’s struggles lie in last summer’s transfer business.

Instead of building on a Premier League-winning side, Chelsea ended up releasing two of their most important players in Nemanja Matić and Diego Costa.

Where Conte had hoped to be adding to the squad, he spent much of his time trying to replace two big holes in the first team, and worse still, has failed to do so, leaving the front line less potent than last year and putting additional pressure on N’Golo Kanté at the heart of the Chelsea midfield.

With a squad that is probably weaker than last year’s, Conte has had to campaign on four fronts this season. Last time around, he had the luxury of being able to rest his best players while Chelsea’s rivals were busy playing in Europe, but this season the fixtures have come thick and fast and the lack of depth in the squad has been revealed.

The final problem has been the failure to adapt tactically. Last year, Chelsea set the tactical agenda, thanks to Conte’s 3-4-3 formation, which offered both defensive solidity and creativity.

However, this season, opponents have found ways to negate that tactical advantage, by overloading the weakened Chelsea midfield or by targeting the space behind the wing-backs. Conte’s response – to switch to a 3-5-1-1 formation – has been only partially effective and is in any case a reactive move rather than a positive change.

To what extent can Conte be blamed for Chelsea’s current situation? The fact that they have had more fixtures to play this season is not a failing, but the inadequate transfer dealings were largely down to him, and the inability to develop a tactical Plan B is most certainly his failure.

His managerial record entitles him to respect and it would be premature to dispense with his services without giving him the chance to put things right – but whether he gets that chance will probably depend on finishing in the top four of the Premier League in May.

Surrender To Manchester City Embarrassing For Current Champions


The Manchester City game last weekend was one of the most boring and embarrassing games of football I have seen Chelsea play in twenty-five years of following the team.

Antonio Conte’s men lined up with Eden Hazard playing in a false nine position and lacked any attacking intent for 90 of the 94 minutes that the ball was in play.

It is disgraceful to see us surrender our title to champions-elect so meakley without any ambition from trying to win the game.

We did not just try to park the bus but also took out the wheels and removed the fuel from the tank so that no-one could be tempted to move the ball upfield.

It was not the heaviest, most significant or most painful in the history of the club, but that is exactly why it is so frustrating. Chelsea has played this defensively before but there was something on the line, something to defend.

Like the 2012 games against Barcelona where a position in a major final was up for grabs or even 2014 where a draw or victory would deny Liverpool the league.

This time was different though, we are battling for the Champions League and a draw or narrow loss would not cut it in the race.

The loss is not that hard to take in isolation, it is the way in which we kissed the Pep Guardiola ring and meekly surrendered that bites.

Tactically Annilihated

This year’s Manchester City side are one of the best to have graced the Premier League and will win the league at a canter. Respect and care were sensible when taking them on at the Etihad, but Chelsea laid down and surrendered.

The play out from the back necessitated by the pressing of Manchester City and the style of play was haphazard and misguided. Too often the ball would be lumped forward far away from the isolated and ineffective Hazard.

Some would argue that the tactic almost worked, defensively we were solid for all but a handful of moments and went in at half-time level. Had it not been for a lapse of concentration at the re-start we may have gotten away with a point.

Yet going behind did not bring the Blues out of our shell, instead, we played 11 men behind the ball and even when we had it was unable to get past the Manchester City press and impact on upon the game.

It was 76 minutes before a recognised striker was deployed and this had little impact upon the game.

Record Breakers

Manchester City breezed past our embarrassing performance and look set to smash records we currently hold such as most points, best goal difference and goals scored.

Chelsea broke a record of our own during the snoozefest at the Etihad failing to register a single shot on goal in the first half. The first time this has happened since Opta started collecting data in 2003/2004.

We now need an excellent run to stand any chance of finishing in the top four this season, which is crumbling fast.

Olivier Giroud Offers Options After Impressive Full Debut


It was a relief to finally taste victory after a disappointing run of games that have seen Chelsea pitched into a battle to secure a place in the Champions League spots. One of the bright spots was Oliver Giroud who had an impressive full debut.

Giroud had a solid performance one that would make odds of 2.00 @ William Hill for him to keep his place against Hull overly generous should they be offered.

Background on Giroud

Every Chelsea fan was aware of Giroud before he became a Blue, his years at Arsenal mean that opinions on the Frenchman were well formed before he signed on the dotted line.

He was not really on Blues fans transfer radars before mid-January but quickly became part of a transfer triangle with Patrick Aubameyang.

The response to his signing was cautious optimism, he had a decent goals to game ratio at Arsenal but could not get into the team on a regular basis.

Signed as back up, it looks like he could have a decent shot at competing with Alvaro Morata for the sole striker role within the starting XI.

At £18m his signature seems like great value and he should play a big role in our fortunes between now and the end of the season.

Giroud Full Debut Review

After a debut from the bench, Giroud got his chance to start in a Chelsea shirt against West Bromwich Albion on Monday. The Metro reported Giroud’s approach to his arrival at Chelsea , departure from Arsenal and getting to make his debut.

Yeah it’s true, I needed a new challenge. Chelsea gave me this opportunity and I really want to make my debut tonight. I’m looking forward to it.


Giroud looked sharp from the moment of kick off, holding up the ball well, pressurising defenders and using fancy touches to play others into the game at will.

West Brom were in no mood to let him play though, with Giroud the target of a series of crunching tackles and challenges that saw him bandaged up before half time. His most important contribution was his interplay with Eden Hazard.

This came to fruition with a fancy one to that saw Hazard plant the ball in the bottom corner to give Chelsea the all important opening goal against a defensive and combative opponent.

Looking Forward

Signing for Chelsea sees Giroud back in the FA Cup and Champions League competitions. He is eligible as Arsenal only qualified for the UEFA Cup this year and in the FA Cup he missed Arsenal’s defeat to Nottingham Forest.

The FA Cup game against Hull is an opportunity for Morata or Giroud to keep their journey towards fitness and confidence going ahead of tough selection decisions.

Giroud comes into the team during a crucial few weeks that see Chelsea play Barcelona, Manchester City and Manchester United in quick succession.

The Champions League task against Barcelona seems an extremely difficult one but if any team can beat Barcelona then it is Chelsea. Nobody will want to lose to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United or to give Manchester City an earlier opportunity to take our title.


The Conte Sack Race – Chelsea Fans Feel We Have Been Here Before


The life of a Chelsea manager is always a charmed one, balancing a demanding management structure that limits manager control and demands superhuman results.

If you were to look at the odds and get a Betfair review of the year’s annual sack race, even the most successful Chelsea manager is not far from the top of the betting.

Something that has challenged some of the world’s top managers. Jose Mourinho, Roberto Di Matteo and Carlo Ancelotti all got the sack despite winning a major trophy the year before.

Although this time around Chelsea fans will not be able to blame Michael Emenalo for the demise of a manager and will instead have to look at the overall decision-making structure at the club.

The Antonio Conte Sack Race

Over the last six months, there has been a familiar pattern playing out at Stamford Bridge. A popular manager who has delivered trophies complaining about a lack of support and rumours starting that the exit looms.

It is difficult to fathom how despite sitting third in the table and having punched above our weight last season that Antonio Conte is under pressure. I am not talking about the wannabe fans that call for a managers head on Twitter after one bad result, but rather the stream of reports and his demeanour.

There seems to be a feeling of unease from the board, who are pushing back at claims that Conte has not been give the tools to do his job.

It has never been wise to question upper management at Chelsea and whether it is during the current season or the summer it feels that Conte’s time at Chelsea is reaching its expiration point.

It feels we are at the same phase we were with Ancelotti in 2011, we are going through the motions and change is coming.

Conte Has Made A Huge Positive Impact

This is a crying shame, Conte delivered a title to the Bridge after Chelsea had finished 10th in the Premier League the season before. Conte has the passion and tactical nouse that we crave.

There is a reason his name is sung at every Chelsea game and it is more than where we are in the table.

Realistically, it is unclear where the club will go from here. A title-winning manager that delivers despite not having the financial clout of Manchester United and Manchester City it would take a madman to follow Conte.

Here is an interesting perspective on if Chelsea will sack Conte.



Three Chelsea Midfielders Who Made Horrible Career Gambles


Playing for Chelsea Football Club is a draw that many young footballers have found difficult to resist in recent years.

The alluring combination of fame, money and trophies has been hard to resist.

Succeed like Gary Cahill and you can go from fighting against relegation one minute to Champion of Europe and FA Cup winner the next.

However, the dream can sour fairly quickly at a club as big as Chelsea with starlets being sucked into a world of pressure, loans and ultimately rejection.

Scott Parker

Before coming to Chelsea Scott Parker was a big fish in a little pond at Charlton.  Signed for 10 million pounds in 2003 he never really got a chance to prove himself at Stamford Bridge.

He made just 15 Premier League appearances for the Blues over three years as he struggled to get ahead of club legends Claude Makelele and Frank Lampard in the starting XI. He was sold to Newcastle in 2005 and recovered quickly to become one of the most respected midfielders outside of the Premier League elite.

Chelsea fans had a lot of time for Parker, but he never quite made it.

Steve Sidwell

Like Parker, Sidwell signed for Chelsea after impressing at a club outside of the top six. Sidwell joined from Reading in 2007 after leading the Royals to the Premier League with some impressive performances.

Sidwell like Parker before him could not stake a claim in a talent-filled midfield. After one season where he made a respectable 25 appearances, Sidwell was sold to Aston Villa where like Parker he re-established his reputation.

Marko Marin

Marko Marin, who was dubbed as the ‘German Messi’ of his time, had a lot of expectations on his shoulders. He was signed to Chelsea in 2012 after two impressive seasons playing with Werder Bremen. Joining Chelsea Football Club was a dream come true for the German superstar, it eventually turned from a pleasant dream to a train wreck of a nightmare as bad turned to worse as injuries throughout the season plagued him and eventually granted him only six appearances and scoring one goal for the Club.

Overcome with self-guilt and disappointment, the German midfielder left for Olympiakos in 2016 to save face from losing a place in his dream team.

Viva Ross Barkley Chelsea Chant Mocks Scousers


New Chelsea signing Ross Barkley has a song without playing a game for the Blues.

The Ross Barkley chant follows in the tradition of Chelsea songs aimed at Scousers.

Viva Ross Barkley is not likely to be popular with the player himself who is a Liverpool local, but I’m sure he’ll take it with a sense of humour.

This song got going Chelsea v Norwich the first game after he signed from Everton.

Viva Ross Barkley, Viva Ross Barkley
He left the Scouse cos they robbed his house, Viva Ross Barkley

Michael Essien Statue Is A Thing Of Beauty


Getting a statue is a symbol that you have made an impact in the footballing world. The recently unveiled Michael Essien statue in his homeland was designed to honour one of the best Ghanain footballers of all time and a Chelsea legend.

Essien was a monster for Chelsea who made more than 50 appearances for Ghana.

The statue in Kumasi near a busy road has split opinions. Whilst it has him in his pomp in a Chelsea shirt, the sculpture has raised eyebrows for its likeness (or lack of likeness) to the midfielder.

Whilst it is not as tasteful as the statue of Peter Osgood outside Stamford Bridge it is not a bad effort for an unofficial sculpture. We know who it is and I am sure that Essien is proud that he is being honoured.

Michael Essien Statue Due?

The Bison was one of my favourite players when he was in his pomp at Stamford Bridge, he put his mark on games and seemed to have the energy of ten men. After injury his game suffered but he was still an iconic part of our decade of success after the arrival of Roman Abramovich.

A statue at Stamford Bridge for the Bison may be a step too far, maybe we should just play this goal on repeat before every home game.

Surprisingly Essien is still playing professionally, having decided to see out the last embers of his career in Indonesia.

What do you think of the Essien statue? Would you be flattered if you had a statue in your honour on the M25?



Marcus Alonso Chelsea Song Video – Marcus Alonso Runs Down The Wing For Me


It has taken a while but there is now a Marcus Alonso Chelsea song that captures the cult status that his goals and assists are generating.

We are not sure exactly when it was first heard during a game, but it has been around for at least the Christmas period.

The Arsenal game was the loudest I have heard it, because we were away from home where the atmosphere is always better and because he scored a crucial goal. It is now also common any time we have a free-kick in a dangerous position.

This video was taken just after Alonso scored against Arsenal at the Emirates to give us the lead. Unfortunately, a Hector Bellerin stunner denied us what would have been a hard-fought win.

Marcus Alonso Runs Down The Wing For Me (and scores)

Alonso has now scored more goals than any other defender in the Premier League since and has made the left wing-back position his own. He has scored 12 goals from all over the place and established himself as a free kick specialist.

Marcus Alonso Chant Lyrics

The Marcus Alonso chant is set to the Heartbeat theme tune (a defunct UK soap opera) and is a real favourite of mine.

The lyrics are simple and go like this

Marcus, Marcus Alonso runs down the wing for me

DA dA dA dA, dA dA dA dA dA

Marcus, Marcus Alonso runs down the wing for me


Marcus, Marcus Alonso runs down the wing for me


Repeat to fade

This is no the first attempt at a song for Marcus, but it is certainly the best. The ooooooooooooh Marcus Alonso one is not too bad, but its not got the energy or fun of the one in the video.

Can Tiemoue Bakayoko Fulfil His Potential at Chelsea?


It’s been a mixed start to life at Stamford Bridge for summer signing Tiemoue Bakayoko, but there are signs that the former Monaco man is starting to find his feet in the Premier League. Can the 23-year-old become the dependable box-to-box midfielder that the Blues are crying out for?

Makelele Monaco mentorship

Monaco remain one the powerhouses of French football and have a stellar reputation for developing talent and offering their academy graduates plenty of game time. Bertrand Reuzeau is the academy director and has brought through players such as Valere Germain and Kylian Mbappe in recent seasons. They also have a knack of picking up players at a young age from their fellow Ligue 1 sides and Bakayoko was spotted at Rennes before being snapped up by Leonardo Jardim’s side. After an inauspicious start to life at Monaco, it was the appointment of former Chelsea midfield general Claude Makelele that brought the best out of the floundering Bakayoko. After encouraging the midfielder to knuckle down, switch off his naturally fiery temperament and focus on numerous areas of improvement, a noticeable upturn in performance could clearly be witnessed by the Monaco supporters. He was a regular starter during their 2016-17 title-winning campaign, with 2220 minutes on the pitch where he managed to find the net on two occasions. Importantly, he finished the season with an 87% pass accuracy and created 15 chances for his teammates. Makelele worked extensively with the midfielder and his increased maturity was evident throughout his three seasons in the principality.

Move to Chelsea

His consistent performances domestically and in the UEFA Champions League persuaded Chelsea to take a chance on the midfielder, with the West London club shelling out £40 million for his services. It can often take time for players to adapt to life in the English top flight and it has proved to be a stuttering start for Tiemoue Bakayoko, although his recent performance against Huddersfield suggested that there could be plenty more to come. Against the Terriers, he won every single tackle, successfully placed 55 of his 59 passes and scored the opening goal of the game. He also made a number of key interceptions to help his side bounce back from a disappointing defeat against West Ham. Despite his performances dividing Chelsea fans, a song has been created for Bakayoko that has been heard on the terraces in recent weeks, proving that he is beginning to win over a number of initially sceptical Blues supporters. Antonio Conte’s side sit third going into the busy festive period and Bakayoko is likely to play an integral part in their tussle at the top. Manchester City have looked unstoppable during the first half of the campaign but as of December 15, Chelsea are 9/4 with Betway to finish best of the rest. Nemanja Matic was a key part of the 2016-17 squad that secured the Premier League title and Bakayoko is hoping he can adequately replace the Serbian, who opted to join former boss Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. Chelsea also recruited Danny Drinkwater from Leicester as they bolstered their central midfield positions in the summer, but he has barely featured for his new employers due to injury.

Slow burner in the Premier League?

Being thrown straight into the Premier League is a hugely daunting prospect for any player and there is no shying away from inadequate performances. Pundits such as Ian Wright have suggested that Bakayoko doesn’t offer Chelsea anything new, but a number of Ligue 1 recruits have required at least six months to adapt to the fast pace of the top flight. Antonio Conte appears pleased with the progress shown by the 23-year-old, suggesting that: “He is starting to understand that he is at a club like Chelsea… and I am very happy because he has shown me the right desire.”

The midfielder’s languid style probably doesn’t help his cause but he is slowly becoming more effective and influencing games particularly against sides in the bottom half of the table. He has claimed two assists and netted two goals in 1079 minutes of Premier League football, but with an average of just 0.4 key passes per game, that is an area of much-needed improvement for the former Monaco man. Conte has used him in an attacking capacity but questions remain over whether Kante, Fabregas and Bakayoko can all feature in the same starting 11. Claude Makelele admitted he had to talk to the midfielder every day at Monaco and the pair are still in touch but on a far more infrequent basis. He appears to require an arm around the shoulder and is the archetypal confidence player. Bakayoko must kick on from his performance at Huddersfield and justify his hefty price tag but the signs are positive and his partnership with fellow Frenchman N’Golo Kante certainly has the potential to flourish this season.