@ChelseaFC brought beauty back to the game

The lads got it done

Today was the kind of day that you wait weeks for, and it wasn’t just because the Blues came out victorious with a win at Tottenham. The match was a pure 90+ minutes of incredible play, showing Chelsea in rare recent for.

Match Formations

Frank Lampard set the boys in with a new formation, one that worked very well to their comfort zone. Both of the goals were scored by Willian, first at the 12 minute mark and then again right before the whistle blew for half-time. There wouldn’t be another goal in the match, but Chelsea held off Tottenham thoroughly throughout the remainder. Tottenham simply couldn’t get it together.

Though Chelsea had only a little more than half of the possession, check out how dominate and effective the Blues’ play was. More shots, more shots on target, better pass accuracy. Tottenham is a fairly technically proficient team. They simply weren’t creating opportunities today.

Now for the Ugly Bits

Sixty minutes into the match, Rudiger fouls Son, who then kicks his foot up (cleats up) into Rudiger’s chest and Rudiger goes down. It looks blatant. Son gets the red card after a bit of theater from the Spur and gets sent off. Shortly thereafter, you could hear the Spurs crowd taunting monkey noises at Rudiger.

The referee halts the match momentarily to handle the report from Rudiger that he’s being verbally taunted and Spurs supporters in the stands are making monkey gestures at him. As all of this is happening, someone throws a drink out onto the pitch at Chelsea’s goalkeeper, Kepa. There are three different PA announcements about refraining from racist behavior in the stands. Three. You can’t make this up.

And this is the sour to a great match-up. Going in, you had all the drama of the story line between Spurs’ Mourinho and Chelsea’s Lampard, the master and the student. You have a young Chelsea team that are steadying their pace as they hold onto the top tier of the table, while Tottenham is working to right the ship as they’ve come out of a dark period under their former manager. Lampard brings in a very effective formation and things start clicking immediately.

Then you have the idiot Spurs supporters who caused all the ruckus in the stands near the end of the match and swayed all the attention from a perfectly good Chelsea thumping to a storyline of racist actions by supporters.

There should be cameras everywhere in the stadium. As Tottenham review the incident, they should be able to figure out who was behind this ugly distraction. And, to be completely transparent, an ugly distraction is the watered down version. I can’t imagine that whoever is behind the incident are REAL supporters. And, if they are, it says a lot about the state of our beautiful game. A lifetime ban from English football would be a starter. Getting a good thwacking from some visiting St. Pauli’s guests would be one better.

People from all different walks of life and places the world over come together to make soccer the greatest sport ever played. If, as a supporter, you have to rely on vile, racist/homophobic taunts and insults to defend your club’s short-comings, cash in your chips and get out of the game. I hope the Premier League, and every league for that matter, make a very strong stand that individuals who display these ugly tendencies have no welcome in our stadiums. They’re not real soccer fans. They’re not true club supporters.

Sometimes You Just Gotta #Pass

Something that has really surprised me this season is how many short passes Chelsea is doing in the backfield. Take Saturday’s match at Stamford Bridge against Bournemouth. Chelsea completed 487 successful passes of 590 pass attempts. That seems like a lot, right? Well, yeah, when you consider that Bournemouth (the match winner) only made 192 successful passes of 293 overall. This is what the Chelsea nonsense looked like.

Note: None of this passing resulted in a goal

You’ve got to ask yourself, “Well, where is all this passing going?”

To the left, to the right, to the left, to the right

The top two most frequent pass combinations were Rudiger to Zouma and Zouma to Rudiger. Now, I get it…you might not be a massive Chelsea supporter and you may not know exactly who these two Blues stars are, but let me break it down for you. Rudiger and Zouma are both in the back line. That means that a whole lot of passing was going back and forth and not moving forward.

Remember, you’ve got to move the ball forward to actually score

Now, another way to look at this is that 28% of passes moved backward and 24% moved squarely. That means that less than HALF of all passes were moving forward. Also, only 4% of passes were long passes. The rest of this nonsense was short, safe passes and a lot of them were kicking the ball around in their back third of the pitch.

Here’s an idea to put points on the board. MOVE THE BALL FORWARD, LADS! Good grief.

#Chelsea’s Front Line

With the winter transfer window just upon us, I thought it might be a good time to review some stats on the front line to see who’s doing what. The following are stats from Transfer Markt on Premier League appearances. There has clearly been some scoring in the Champions League group run, but those stats are held out for a review of general league play.

Tammy Abraham

Christian Pulisic

Michy Batshuayi

Willian

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Pedro

Olivier Giroud

Transfer Window

Here’s hoping Chelsea can pick up a little more defense in the back line and maybe some additional play-makers in the mid-field. Pedro and Giroud have been two of my favorite players for some time, but neither are making things happen on the pitch in the Premier League and Chelsea simply needs to defend its spot in the Champions League moving into the next season. Giroud, for as brilliant as he was on the France National Team in 2018, simply hasn’t been played in the current season’s rotations. That lack of play time is starting to rust his play. Pedro’s been out as well, and for someone who was so critical to the Chelsea composition over the past few years, I’m not sure he has a fit any longer. Currently, Pedro is valued at just shy of $20m and Giroud is just over $10m. Both could be options to move on, if needed to free up reserves to bring in some additional defensive players. Chelsea also needs a little more action from the front line to rest Pulisic a little more. With Hudson-Odio valued just shy of $40m, he could be moved to open up reserves for another front line play-maker. Especially considering Mount has a higher level of scoring, even from the mid-field.

Up Next – #Chelsea vs #AstonVilla

On Wednesday, Chelsea faces Aston Villa at home and I’m expecting to see a bit of a change-up in the roster for this match.

The UK’s Sports Mole published the following potential line-up and I think this makes a lot of sense, considering Chelsea’s performance against West Ham United this past weekend.

From Sports Mole

Four of the frequently played are likely out for this match (Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles), Antonio Rudiger (groin), Ross Barkley (ankle), Tammy Abraham (hip)), so it would make sense to go with the options above. Giroud is a player who is highly specialized in a few tactical options (and incredible in those specific set-ups), but with Abraham still likely to be out, it would make more sense to put Batshuayi up front. Also, seating Pedro, James and Kovacic only makes sense considering their performace against The Hammers.

Although Aston Villa drew their last match against Manchester United and won over Newcastle, the club did lose their previous three matches.

Chalking up #Chelsea v #WestHamUnited as #Lampard’s Olive Branch to #Pellegrini

Good grief. There have been better days for Chelsea FC. Today was certainly not one of them.

The best defense is to step aside, as to not get hit by a flying ball

West Ham United looked better than they have in weeks. I have to think this was an early Christmas gift from Frank Lampard to Manuel Pellegrini. Not to discount West Ham on any level, but boy oh boy, Chelsea was a mess. Just look at the game stats.

Could have saved a lot of space and just wrote “Chelsea couldn’t hit a goal all match.”

Chelsea ran with the majority of possession, strangely had 666 passes (oooohhhh yeah in a crazy Devil voice) and somehow committed no fouls. (WHAT?!?!?) The Blues had Mount, Pulisic and 2018 World Cup winning Giroud on the attack. That’s how you get 19 shots and 6 of those on target, though West Ham were simply more accurate and precise with their shooting today.

Lampard: Let’s let the defensive line play as midfielders and leave the real defense to the midfield and the attackers.

A few items to note:

  • Why on earth was James playing forward Pedro in so many situations? He was useless in setting up opportunities for the attackers. And, in doing so, was often late to get to the backfield to defend (which is what he was there to do). It left a huge exposure for Chelsea and honestly, I’m surprised it was 0-3 by the half.
  • Chelsea spent way too many passes moving the ball backward into their own defensive territory. At the half, more than half of possession play was within the mid-field. Chelsea simply wasn’t moving it forward, which was astounding when you consider the line-up of attackers at the front, but then again, the mid-field was simply a mess and for some unknown reason, James (THE DEFENDER) spent to much time trying to set up shots, which he simply couldn’t do.
  • Where there weren’t large holes in the defensive line, the defenders were slow to get to the challenge and Zouma seemed at times like he was afraid of taking a hit from the ball.
  • But, obviously, defense doesn’t win the match (even when James thinks it might). Quality striking felt like it was coming from too far away. It was like watching a dad throw softballs to a kid, just hoping that something would connect. It clearly never did.
“Hey look, I’ll try to score too.”

Today was pretty clearly a hiccup for Chelsea, who has been playing well for some time. Last weekend’s loss to ManCity was expected and the draw against Valencia (in the Champions League) wasn’t totally out of nowhere. But the lads need to get it together and Frank’s got to make some better learning moments out of a day like today.

Lampard looks ready to run out there and win it himself.

And, the commentary is not to discredit West Ham United. They played strongly today. They appeared to easily strip away the ball from the finest of Chelsea players. Even though they appeared to tire late in the match, they still clearly did what they needed to do. Hopefully, this is a bit of a turnaround for Pellegrini’s boys.

Chelsea FC Women Clean the Pitch Against Birmingham City

Chelsea FC grabbed their largest win of the season in a visit to Birmingham City with a 0-6 win over the home team (Chelsea grabbing 6 points and walking away with a clean sheet against Birmingham City).

  • This is the 25th consecutive WSL match on the road that they’ve won
  • The no-loss run on the road dates back to May 2017
  • Scorers included Ji (2′), Bright (37′), England (45’+1′), England (63′) and a pair from Spence (48′ and 52′)

Just a reminder, you can watch all of the Super League matches on the FA Player app or your desktop. Visit https://faplayer.thefa.com/home/womens-super-league to sign up today.

Chelsea take on Everton at Everton on Dec 1. (Full schedule is also found on the FA Player site.)