Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea’

Analysis: Champions Chelsea unloved but unstoppable

“The Premier League title beckoned for Chelsea from the moment André Schürrle put them ahead after 20 minutes and 45 seconds of their opening fixture at Burnley on August 18. Diego Costa’s first Chelsea goal cancelled out Scott Arfield’s opener and four minutes later Schürrle converted a sumptuous, half-volleyed pass from Cesc Fàbregas at the culmination of a superb 25-pass move. Branislav Ivanović’s 34th-minute goal completed a 3-1 win that took Jose Mourinho’s side above defending champions Manchester City on goals scored at the top of the table, and they have been there largely ever since. “They’ve definitely been the best team in the league,” admits Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey. “They’ve only lost twice this season. Their consistency has been the best and that’s what you need.””

I wrote a piece for AFP on how Chelsea won the Premier League title and you can read it here.

Analysis: Why have English teams flopped in Europe?

“Any evaluation of the English teams’ woes in this season’s Champions League must, however, also take into account the major club-specific failings that led to each side’s elimination. Chelsea showed complacency by electing not to press home their advantage following the dismissal of PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimović in the second leg of their last 16 tie, enabling the French champions to claim a 2-2 draw that sent them through on away goals. Arsenal paid the price for kamikaze attacking — a habitual failing — in their 3-1 first-leg loss to Monaco, while in setting City out in a porous 4-4-2 formation, Pellegrini allowed Barcelona to take control of their tie with a 2-1 first-leg win.”

I’ve written a piece for AFP analysing why England’s Champions League representatives came unstuck in this season’s competition. You can read it here.

Feature: Mourinho ‘monsters’ meet in Matić-Motta duel

“In building his teams, Mourinho has often used the number six as a cornerstone. At Porto he had Costinha, another wiry, combative player, and the scorer of the goal against Manchester United during the 2003-04 Champions League that sent Mourinho sprinting down the Old Trafford touchline and into the wider football consciousness. At Chelsea there was Claude Makélélé, the tip of the inverted midfield triangle with which Mourinho swamped the central midfield pairings that prevailed in England at the time.”

My AFP piece on José Mourinho and the search for the perfect number six can be read here.

Review: New money rises in England as old powers slip

“Manchester City and Chelsea, England’s nouveaux riches, appear poised to dominate the Premier League in 2015, with traditional powerhouses Manchester United and Liverpool working their way through periods of transition. United began this year as champions and Liverpool came agonisingly close to succeeding them, but it was City who prevailed in the 2013-14 title race and it is Chelsea who approach the New Year in pole position.”

My AFP review of the year 2014 in the Premier League can be read here.

Feature: Five great Premier League team goals

“During a 7-0 end-of-season rout of Everton, Arsenal scored a dazzling goal that showcased the sharply honed creative gifts of Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutchman began the move by chesting a Lauren throw-in to Edu, who fizzed a pass forward into the feet of Robin van Persie. Van Persie laid the ball off to Bergkamp and he bisected the visiting defence with an exquisite chipped pass that allowed Vieira to steam in and nonchalantly loft the ball over goalkeeper Richard Wright.”

In honour of Chelsea’s sublime second goal in their 3-1 win at Burnley on Monday, I’ve compiled a list of five great Premier League team goals for AFP. You can see the list (with videos) here.

Soccer Central podcast: Premier League review

I spoke to my friends at Sportsnet’s Soccer Central podcast about the opening round of Premier League fixtures, Louis van Gaal’s defensive problems at Manchester United, the battle for number-one status at Chelsea between Thibaut Courtois and Petr Čech, and Tony Pulis’s abrupt departure at Crystal Palace. You can listen here.

Report: Norwich leave Chelsea’s title bid in tatters

“London (AFP) – Norwich City all but ended Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge and gave themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation by recording a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.”

My AFP match report on the day that Chelsea’s title dream died can be read here.

Reaction: Chelsea wait on trio amid title disappointment

Report: Atlético sink Chelsea to set up all-Madrid final

“London (AFP) – Atlético Madrid set up a Champions League final against city rivals Real Madrid after coming from behind to win 3-1 at Chelsea in their semi-final second leg on Wednesday.”

My AFP report on how José Mourinho was denied a Champions League final reunion with Real Madrid can be read here.

Reaction: Mourinho rues Courtois friendly fire
Reaction: Simeone ‘excited’ by all-Madrid final
Analysis: European exit exposes Chelsea’s limitations

Report: Gerrard slip lets Chelsea back into race

“Liverpool (AFP) – An untimely slip by Steven Gerrard inadvertently helped Chelsea claim a 2-0 win over Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday that reignited their title ambitions.”

My AFP match report on the day that Liverpool appeared to let the Premier League title slip through their fingers can be read here.

Reaction: Chelsea ‘parked two buses’, fumes Rodgers
Reaction: Mourinho revels in Liverpool derailment

Report: Ba breaks PSG hearts as Chelsea scrape through

“London (AFP) – Demba Ba scored in the 87th minute to give Chelsea a last-gasp 2-0 win at home to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday that swept them into the Champions League semi-finals.”

My AFP report on a night of knife-edge tension at Stamford Bridge can be read here.

Reaction: Spirited Chelsea leave Mourinho aiming high

Analysis: Stars align for Chelsea and José Mourinho

“City’s games in hand — away to United, and at home to Sunderland and Aston Villa — will also be complicated by the pressure of knowing that Chelsea have already bagged the points that Manuel Pellegrini’s side are trying to make up. Furthermore, whereas only half of City’s remaining 12 league games are against teams currently in the bottom half of the table, Chelsea will face teams in the bottom 10 in seven of their last nine fixtures. For both Arsenal and second-place Liverpool, meanwhile, only four of their 10 remaining opponents are in the bottom half.”

I’ve written a piece for AFP on why the fates may be conspiring in Chelsea’s favour in the Premier League title race. You can read it here.

Report: Chelsea raid robs Man City of home comforts

“Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Chelsea defied Manchester City’s scintillating home form with a superb 1-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium on Monday that injected fresh intrigue into the Premier League title race.”

My AFP match report on Chelsea’s victory at the Etihad can be found here.

Reaction: Mourinho talks down title chances for ‘little horse’ Chelsea

Report: Eto’o hat-trick sees United sink deeper

“Manchester United’s Premier League title defence died another death on Sunday as Samuel Eto’o’s hat-trick earned Chelsea a 3-1 win that left the champions 14 points off the pace.”

My AFP match report on another chastening day for Manchester United and David Moyes can be read here.

Reaction: United won’t give up on title, vows Moyes

Review: Ferguson exit sparks England’s year of change

“The year had started in familiar fashion, with United romping to an unprecedented 20th league title, but at 09:17 on the morning of Wednesday, May 8, everything changed. A tweet published by the United press office confirmed the jaw-dropping rumours that had first emerged on the Daily Telegraph website the previous night: Ferguson, the father of the modern United, the most successful manager in British football history, was stepping down after 26 and a half record-breaking years.”

My AFP review of the year 2013 in English football can be found here.

Analysis: Mourinho still searching for winning formula

“Upon returning to Chelsea, Mourinho pledged that he would introduce a more proactive, passing style, but he is struggling to find an alternative to the counter-attacking approach that is his trademark. Chelsea have averaged a healthy 56.9 percent of possession in their 12 league games to date this season, but they seem happier when they have taken an early lead and can pick off their opponents on the break. Of their 12 victories in all competitions, 10 have come after they went ahead inside the first 33 minutes and on the five occasions when they have conceded the opening goal, they have come back to win only once, in last month’s 4-1 win at home to Cardiff City.”

I’ve written a piece for AFP on José Mourinho’s search for a winning formula at Chelsea, and you can read it here.

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