Chelsea

Charlie Colkett: How a move to Holland may be the making of the Chelsea midfielder

A Chelsea youth product signing a season-long loan deal at feeder club Vitesse Arnhem is nothing new, but the Dutch club being the making of one of those players just might be.

The love-in between the current Premier League champions and Vitesse of Holland has always been a contentious one, not least because it practically never leads to Chelsea promoting any of the loaned-out kids to the first-team fold.

What Vitesse have managed to do, however, is be the first step, at least, to a more successful career, more often than not, away from Stamford Bridge.

Nemanja Matic, who was one of the first to move to Arnhem in 2010 when the link was first born, is the most, and arguably only notable success of those that remain in west London, but even he was sold to Benfica, and then bought back a few years later.

Patrick van Aanholt have all gone on to establish decent career for himself at the likes of Sunderland and Crystal Palace while Christian Atsu and Bertrand Traore have departed this summer after different successful loan spells at Newcastle and Ajax.

Even Dominic Solanke, who had a decent spell at Vitesse two seasons ago (scoring seven goals in 25 games) got sick of being patient and declined a new contract at Chelsea to move to Premier League rivals Liverpool for a fee pending tribunal.

He wasted no time in showing Chelsea what they might end up missing, as he was named the best player at this summer’s Under-20 World Cup, which England won.

Meanwhile, Charlie Colkett, who captained Chelsea to back-to-back UEFA Youth Leagues (the under-19 Champions League) and back-to-back FA Youth Cups, is already in the process of having to rebuild his career somewhat, at the tender age of 20, after two loan spells in England’s third tier that left an awful lot to be desired.

A loan move to Bristol Rovers did not go quite as planned, with Colkett struggling to really set fire to the Gas, who Colkett admits never suited his playing style anyway. So much so that Chelsea recalled him in January and immediately sent him back out on loan, to West Country rivals Swindon.

Swindon over the past few seasons have garnered a reputation for a passing style of play, or a “footballing background” which Colkett says attracted him to the Robins, but with Town in a perilous position, easing their way down into League Two, Colkett was on a hiding to nothing through little fault of his own.

Irate fans are not going to take easily to a Fancy Dan trickster while getting out-fought and out-thought by Scunthorpe.

However, with Vitesse being a good standard of side – they qualified for the Europa League last season, it should give Colkett more freedom to be, Charlie Colkett.

Off the pitch, in interviews at least, Colkett is painfully shy and rarely answers a question with more than one sentence, but when on grass, all that fades away and, to use a well-worn cliche, he lets his football do the talking.

Even when not having the best of times at Bristol Rovers and Swindon that was more than apparent, with a couple of flicks against MK Dons and Coventry soon lashed into ‘Best Skills’ compilation videos.

In a league such as the Eredivisie, which has always favoured the flashy and the flamboyant, a player such as Colkett should thrive, much like fellow English midfielder Lewis Baker did last season, as he netted 15 goals in all competitions, which made him their second-top scorer last campaign.

Realistically, Colkett will never make the grade at Chelsea but if and when he is sold on for a healthy profit like so many more before him, he could well be looking back at his year in the Netherlands more favourably than the English lower tiers.

Is The Special One’s Football Dull? No way, Jose

“Ironic cry of boring, boring Chelsea as RAMIRES CLINCHES THE POINTS! The title is almost theirs!” That was the line of commentary when the Brazilian box-to-box midfielder rifled home the third in a 3-1 win over Leic that secured the Blues’ 24th win of the 2014-15 season from just 34 league matches and simultaneously left Jose Mourinho’s side just one win away from clinching the Premier League title for the fourth time.

Chelsea fans have had to put up with their beloved club being labelled boring over the last decade or so which offends the older generation of supporter who grew up in the swinging sixties with the west Londoners being the great entertainers of attacking flair in the age of the football maverick when Tommy Docherty’s men were dubbed ‘the Kings of King’s Road.’

Back then they boasted the names of Ron “Chopper” Harris, Peter “the Cat” Bonetti and the King of Stamford Bridge that was Peter “Ossie” Osgood and a later breed of Chelsea fan were captivated by such names as Roberto Di Matteo, Ruud Gullit as well as a certain Italian who goes by the name of Gianfranco Zola.

When Roman Abravomich invested his Russian billions into Chelsea though Mourinho soon followed off the back of the biggest shock in European football since Louis van Gaal guided a once-in-a-lifetime group of players that made Ajax European champions for the first time in 22 years.

Mourinho’s plucky Porto will never be remembered for being easy-on-the-eye either but it is forgotten that this team of then unknowns got a draw at Santiago Bernabeu, home of Real Madrid who had won ‘Ol Big Ears’ just tournaments previously, and featured the footballing artist Zinedine Zidane as well as Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo and Ronaldo among others. It was not down to sheer defensive solidity either, Porto matched them for goals and outdid the Spanish giants for total shots 8-11.

The Round of 16 would introduce Mourinho to the world. First the Portuguese would guide his domestic champions to a 2-1 home win against Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and the friendliest of rivalries was born. In the second-leg the Blue and Whites snatched aggregate victory with a last-gasp away goal after again dominating one of the world’s best teams. United had three shots to Porto’s nine and the game ended with the first iconic Mourinho image – the touchline run.

Lyon and Deportivo La Coruna were dispatched in the quarter and semi-final respectively and although they may sound easy on paper Lyon were the French champions who had Juninho and Karim Benzema while Deportivo had earlier eliminated holders AC Milan 5-4 on aggregate after losing 4-1 at the San Siro in the first-leg. Porto would then dismantle an AS Monaco side that had knocked-out Real Madrid and Chelsea. Winning a Champions League final 3-0 is only boring to those who want some sort of contest, but viewers got that too as Porto only went 2-0 up in minute 71 and four minutes later it was three. Porto also won the Primeira Liga and scored 63 goals, more than any other side.

Chelsea was next and the ‘boring’ jibes truly began. Mourinho batted the accusation away like only he can.

“Tell me”, he started, musing on a public put down as his famous long-standing feud with Arsene Wenger started to take shape. “In England, which team plays better than Chelsea? Arsenal?”

ITV reporter Gabriel Clarke, already hesitant under the brunt of the enigmatic, brash, arrogant but assured Mourinho hesitantly came back with: “They might get more critical acclaim sometimes.”

Mourinho interrupted: “Better than us, yeah? Yeah. Ten points behind. Ten points behind.”

Chelsea were dominant over Arsenal and every other English club that year by quite a distance, winning the league by 12 points, but contrary to many’s belief it was by style as well as substance. Yes, Chelsea was built on a rock-solid defence of Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry and William Gallas with Claude Makelele in the holding role as well as one of the world’s best goalkeepers Petr Cech behind them and they only conceded 15 league goals all season but on the attack they were fierce, deadly and never hesitated in wiping out the opposition.

They had Frank Lampard in his peak who was joint fourth top scorer in the Premier League with 13 goals from midfield, they had lightning quick wingers in Arjen Robben, Damien Duff and Joe Cole who would kill teams on the counter attack and they had Eidur Gudjohnsen and Didier Drogba who scored 12 and ten goals respectively. Chelsea scored 72 Premier League goals in 2004-05, one more than the ‘Great Entertainers’ that were the Arsenal Invincibles team of the previous season and just seven fewer than the equally famous treble winning Manchester United side that had one of the best striking duos in footballing history – Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.

The Champions League was no different. Ask any Chelsea, or football fan, if they were bored when the Blues raced into a 20-minute 3-0 lead against Barcelona, a Barcelona even back then with Carlos Puyol and Andres Iniesta as well as Samuel Eto’o, a developing Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho the year he won his solitary Ballon d’Or – Chelsea would end up winning 4-2.

Bayern Munich were on the wrong end of the same score at the same ground in the next round, the quarter-finals, and Mourinho’s men were just as rampant domestically.

After five of Chelsea’s first six league wins were decided by one-goal Blackburn Rovers and West Brom were both hit for four in consecutive weeks as were Fulham a fortnight later, and Charlton a further two weeks after, and Newcastle the following Saturday and Norwich were a further two games in the future. 2005-06 was not much different; you only need to watch the game that wrapped up a second title on the bounce – a 3-0 win over Manchester United who finished second that season, eight points behind the champions.

Both of his two years at Inter Milan, which ended with Scudettos, they were top scorers in Serie A and I Nerazurri scored three or more goals on eight occasions during the 2008-09 campaign and the following year, in a treble winning season, Internazionale netted at least three in seven of their 38 league matches as well as triumphing 3-1 over Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

Real Madrid’s debut season with Mourinho would end with them losing out on the title to their fierce rivals Barcelona but the all-whites out-scored the Catalan giants, finding the back of the net 102 times compared to the latter’s 95.

Madrid would regain their status as Spain’s top club a year later but what would remain the same is that the modern Galacticos would score more goals than Guardiola’s Barca. Mourinho’s men scored a whopping 121 goals in the 2011-12 season – it remains a La Liga record.

Mourinho at Madrid where they broke a La Liga record for most team goals scored in a season. It still stands today.

Mourinho at Madrid where they broke a La Liga record for most team goals scored in a season. It still stands today.

The Special One’s much-awaited return to Chelsea did not bring about it many goals, but the team who would end up as champions for the first time in five years were back to being incredibly tough to beat. Although, when they did play in an attacking style it always seemed like they were never too far away from being punished.

This was most evident in the barnstorming 5-3 loss to a Harry Kane-inspired Tottenham Hotspur, but there was pre-warning to this before when the Blues, playing in yellow that day, conceded three to the Toffees, unfortunately for the home side however, Chelsea scored double the amount.

Because of his marmite-like qualities of a human being Jose Mourinho may not be remembered for being a man who entertained the neutral fanbases but he may be the man who defines how important it is to be well-rounded as a football manager. The builder of teams who are defensively strong and yes, when needed, dynamic in attack and superb to watch. Boring, boring Mourinho indeed.

 

Chelsea’s signing of Pedro further enforces how much the top English clubs are lagging behind

Chelsea today announced the signing of Barcelona forward Pedro for £21 million, beating rivals Manchester United to his signature, but it highlights the fall in the Premier League’s pulling power.

There is no doubting the quality of the man who boasts three Champions League medals, five La Ligas, one World Cup and a European Championship among others in his collection, but he has only come available once deemed surplus to requirements at Barcelona following the arrivals of Neymar and Luis Suarez in recent years.

One of Jose Mourinho’s big money additions last summer Cesc Fabregas arrived in England under similar circumstances, leaving Catalonia after only winning one La Liga and one Spanish Cup domestically back home as well as Ivan Rakitic pushing him out the eleven.

Making himself at home: Pedro reunites with friend Fabregas

Making himself at home: Pedro reunites with friend Fabregas

Not only that, but back in 2011 he departed the club that gave him his professional debut, Arsenal, as soon as boyhood team Barcelona came calling again.

Arsenal’s big money moves from recent seasons, Mesut Ozil (£42.4 million) and Alexis Sanchez (£35 million) were too both castaways from La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

The Gunners are currently too in the hunt for Madrid’s Karim Benzema, a talented striker, but one that scored just 15 goals last term, 33 behind leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.

Even giants Manchester United are losing the ability to attract the biggest talents on the planet. Angel di Maria joined from Madrid this time last year for a British record fee of £59.7 million after he found himself out of favour due to political reasons of not being as globally marketable as James Rodriguez who shone at the 2014 World Cup prior to joining the Spanish capital.

Di Maria flopped at Old Trafford and promptly signed for PSG, the club he reportedly wanted to be at instead of Manchester United, earlier this month.

City of Love: Di Maria has left for PSG after never being fond of England

City of Love: Di Maria has left for PSG after never being fond of England

Louis van Gaal’s side added Bastian Schweinsteiger to their ranks during pre-season, but his ex-manager Pep Guardiola has said the German is past his best so was evidently happy to sell the one time World Cup winner.

Fellow Bayern Munich man Thomas Muller is also being targeted, but the chances of signing Bavaria’s favourite son will be slim, with a £60 million bid already rumoured to have been rejected.

Attempts to sign Sergio Ramos too were rebuffed, while first choice goalkeeper David De Gea is also likely to leave if Real Madrid show the desire to sign him.

The Premier League may well be the most watched and most competitive league in the world, but when it comes to the transfer market, the world’s elite would rather stay at home.

Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Chelsea

Edinson Cavani’s second-half header denied Chelsea a key away win in the first-leg of their last 16 Champions League clash.

Uruguayan Cavani swept in Maxwell’s delivery from the left hand side nine minutes into the second half to ensure that PSG earned a share of the spoils.

It was his sixth goal in the Champions League this season which makes him the tournament’s third top scorer.

Branislav Ivanovic had initially given the English side the lead with a headed goal of his own 36 minutes on the clock in what was his 30th goal in Chelsea colours and his 27th since August 2010.

John Terry’s low cross was flicked on exquisitely by Gary Cahill into the path of defender number three in the move Ivanovic for the vital away goal for the Blues.

PSG were the ones who looked more likely to go into the Stamford Bridge second-leg with the advantage from the off.

Blaise Matuidi had a header palmed away by Thibaut Courtois and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was foiled seconds later, again with a headed effort.

Chelsea took the lead against the run of play, but the Parisians were not deterred, with Ibrahimovic coming close again, denied by Courtois’ feet and then Cesar Azpilicueta blocked Matuidi’s goal-bound shot.

Cavani had another go in the closing stages, but shot wide after a neat bit of footwork but this was a match with little goal-mouth action.

Jose Mourinho’s side were below par but that away goal gives them advantage for the rematch in three weeks’ time.

PREVIEW: PSG v Chelsea

Diego Costa’s much awaited return to the Chelsea fold has been confirmed by manager Jose Mourinho ahead of the Blues’ showdown with Paris Saint-Germain.

Mourinho is worried, however with the lack of game time from his powerful centre forward due to a suspension that was dished out in the 1-0 win over Liverpool in the Capital One Cup.

“He will start but a long rest is not good for him,” the Special One conceded. “I don’t think it’s good for a player to be three weeks, or three matches, without starting a game. So I don’t think he’ll be in the best condition.

“A little rest is welcome for everyone; a big rest isn’t good for the players. So we are not going to see the best Diego. I hope I’m wrong, but probably he will need this game to try to get back to his best.”

Costa has not scored in the Champions League yet for Chelsea, despite leading the club’s goal scoring charts with 17 goals.

It is not a good omen for the West Londoners, who have not won on French soil since a 3-0 win, coincidentally over PSG, in September 2004, in what was Mourinho’s first Champions League match as Chelsea manager.

PSG themselves are unbeaten in 32 Champions League matches at home, a record that stretches back to December 2004, with their last home loss coming at the hands of CSKA Moscow, who won 1-3 at the Parc des Princes.

Laurent Blanc, PSG manager, is anxious of his side’s injury woes though, stating “You cannot play against Chelsea without being 100%”.

Yohan Cabaye (groin), Serge Aurier (thigh), Lucas Moura (also groin) and Thiago Motta (calf) will all miss tonight’s encounter

Not a problem Chelsea have though as only John Obi Mikel (knee) is unavailable for the away side and January addition Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina is eligible.

Oscar and Willian have “little problems” but are in contention for a starting birth, and the same can be said of play-maker Cesc Fabregas who looks to have recovered from a recent illness.

Chelsea are the only English team to have beaten PSG in France (with the aforementioned 3-0 in 2004, along with a win by the same score line in 1994-95).

Costa and co are the highest scorers in the Champions League this campaign with 17 goals, seven of which have come on the road, which will concern their French counterparts, as they have kept only one clean sheet in this season’s tournament (a 1-0 win over APOEL).

The 2012 champions are also unbeaten in their last four away European matches, as they look to take revenge from the 3-1 defeat they suffered here last season.

Ezequiel Lavezzi, an own goal by David Luiz (now at PSG), and Javier Pastore scored the goals for the hosts in April, with Eden Hazard’s penalty provided an away goal for Chelsea.

Andre Schurrle and a last minute goal by Demba Ba (both have since left Stamford Bridge) sent Chelsea through to the Semi Final.

Nemanja Matic is the lynchpin of the modern Chelsea

He may not be the man who grabs all the headlines but the defeat to Newcastle proved that Chelsea do not fully tick without their dynamic Serbian.

Chelsea lost their unbeaten run that stretched back to late April, 24 games in total, in the North East on Saturday lunchtime – the only game Nemanja Matic has not featured in in that time, due to a suspension.

The absence of Matic was clear to see, Cesc Fabregas struggled to find the space to be the orchestra of Chelsea’s attack and therefore the normally prolific Diego Costa had limited chances and ultimately failed to hit the back of the net.

Matic has made 840 successful passes with an 89% completion rate, won 37 tackles, made 29 interceptions and made 44 clearances. The last three totals are the highest out of the rest of Chelsea’s regular midfield five of him, Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar. *

Fabregas is the man that unlocks defences, contributing 38 key passes and 11 assists in his 15 league games this season but the physicality of Moussa Sissoko, Chieck Tiote and most notably Jack Colback stunted the Spaniard at St.James’ Park.

It was a problem Chelsea had in the Champions League last season too with Matic ineligible having already featured in the competition for Benfica.

The West Londoners needed a last minute winner to overcome Paris Saint-Germain in the Quarter Finals and played six defenders in the 1-3 defeat at home to Atletico Madrid (Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole and Cesar Azpilicueta).

Not a problem the Blues have had this campaign, winning three and drawing two and already securing their spot in the last 16 with one game remaining.

Chelsea’s unbeaten run may be over, but a Chelsea with Matic on the pitch remain without a loss. That may continue for a long time to come.

*All stats via Squawka

League Cup Quarter Final Draw

Chelsea have been drawn against lower league opposition for the third round in a row in the Quarter Finals of the League Cup.

The Premier League leaders will have to travel to Derby County in the next stage as they attempt to win the competition for the first time since 2007.

Elsewhere Liverpool will have to overcome Bournemouth at the Goldsands Arena in a repeat of a fourth round tie in the FA Cup earlier this year.

Liverpool won 0-2 in Bournemouth on that occasion thanks to goals from Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge.

Draw in Full:

Derby County vs Chelsea
Bournemouth vs Liverpool
Sheffield United vs Southampton
Tottenham vs Newcastle

Ties are due to be played during the week commencing 15 December.

Chelsea 6-0 Maribor (Remy ’13, Drogba pen ’23, Terry ’31, Viler OG ’54, Hazard pen ’77, ’90)

Chelsea strolled to an emphatic 6-0 win over Slovenian champions Maribor to remain top of group G after three matches.

Goals from Loic Remy, John Terry, an own goal by Mitja Vila and two penalties from Didier Drogba and Eden Hazard secured the three points for the Blues at Stamford Bridge in what was a comfortable night for the Premier League leaders.

Remy opened the scoring 13 minutes in when he cut inside a Maribor defender and buried a shot into the bottom right corner past Jasmin Handanovic.

The France International had to be replaced soon after though due to an injury he suffered during the celebration of his second goal for Chelsea.

His replacement Drogba made it 2-0 to the hosts after 23 minutes with a penalty following Ales Mertelj’s handball.

It was three nine minutes later when captain Terry slid in to convert Cesc Fabregas’ low cross across the face of goal.

Number four came on 54 minutes through a Vila own goal, diverting the ball into his own net from Eden Hazard’s cutback.

The fifth was a second penalty coming 13 minutes before the end, Hazard calmly sending Handanovic the wrong way but sending his team very much the right way.

Maribor did have the opportunity for a consolation with a penalty of their own midway through the second half when Agin Ibraimi was brought down by Nemanja Matic in the box but the Maribor midfielder who took the spot kick himself was denied by the post.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Luis, Fabregas (Ake ’60), Matic, Oscar (Solanke ’73), Hazard, Willian, Remy (Drogba ’16)

Subs not used: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Salah

Maribor: Handanovic, Suler, Filipovic, Mejac, Tavares (Mendy ’72), Ibraimi (Zahovic ’68), Rajcevic, Viler (Vrsic ’57), Stojanovic, Bohar, Mertelj

Subs not used: Cotman, Ndiaye, Sallalich, Arghus

Arsenal must toughen up to become a top side again

As a result of their 2-0 loss away to Chelsea on Sunday, Arsenal have now gone 14 games without being able to defeat a side in the previous season’s top four.

Eden Hazard and Diego Costa provided the goals while the away side did not even fashion a shot on target at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal have been bullied by the top sides in recent seasons. Chelsea have notched eight goals and conceded none in the last two meetings between the sides, Liverpool romped to a 5-1 win at Anfield last season, Manchester City won 6-3 at the Etihad and even David Moyes’ under performing Manchester United side took four points off their old adversary in the 2013/14 campaign.

Many suggest the reason behind this is that Arsenal get out-thought in midfield, esteemed pundit Gary Neville labelled them “confused” after their 3-0 loss away at Everton in April.

“Arsenal become so confused by it, if you’re going to defend in a four-four-two system you need legs and you need discipline, everything this Arsenal team didn’t have.

“They don’t understand how to defend a cross, they don’t understand the fact that when a left sided player goes across to the left side, the midfield player comes across.

“This is why Arsenal will never move forwards playing attacking players with attacking mindsets”

The likes of Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour and Gilberto Silva who were all so prominent in the 2003/04 “Invincibles” side are long gone and have been replaced by a new brand of midfielder who play a with a delicate passing style.

Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are the three players most likely to provide bite in the middle but Wilshere is too often sidelined and it is no secret that Wenger is looking for a new defensive midfielder.

Happier times: Arsenal haven't quite been the same since Viera's departure.

Happier times: Arsenal haven’t quite been the same since Viera’s departure.

Sami Khedira and William Carvalho were both heavily linked to a move to the Emirates but neither signed on the dotted line at the North London club.

Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have all added top class defensive midfield players in the shape of Nemanja Matic, Fernando and Daley Blind respectively.

Arsene Wenger’s outfit are already nine points behind the league leaders only seven games in, only two of which have been won along with four draws.

Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal

Chelsea ended a high tempered London derby triumphant over Arsenal, winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.

Costa sealed the three points 12 minutes before the end when he lobbed Wojciech Szczesny after being set up by a delicious Cesc Fabregas pass that beat the Arsenal defence all ends up.

Hazard opened the scoring for the West Londoners when his run where he dribbled past three despairing defenders culminated in Laurent Koscielny bringing down the Belgian in the box and the defender maybe should have been shown his marching orders.

23-year-old Hazard stepped up himself and slotted it past Szczesny with 27 minutes played.

Events off the pitch were the main talking points of the first half however with managers Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger engaging in a touchline spat as a result of a crunching Gary Cahill challenge on Alexis Sanchez.

Wenger was of the opinion Cahill should have seen red for his foul and, after some wind up tactics from his adversary Mourinho, pushed the Portuguese coach in the chest.

Calum Chambers was arguably fortunate to stay on the pitch as well, not picking up a second yellow card for pulling down Andre Schurrle.

Eden Hazard opens the scoring from the spot.

Eden Hazard opens the scoring from the spot.

Arsenal also had reason to feel adjudged by referee Martin Atkinson when Jack Wilshere’s shot was blocked by the hand of ex Gunner Fabregas.

Chelsea were worthy winners but an early injury to Thibaut Courtois provided a minor bleak point to their victory. He was replaced by Petr Cech 24 minutes in.

Chelsea: Courtois (Cech ’24) Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Schurrle (Mikel ’69), Oscar (Willian ’87), Hazard, Diego Costa

Subs not used: Zouma, Filipe Luis, Salah, Remy

Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Wilshere (Rosicky ’83), Flamini, Cazorla (Oxlade-Chamberlain ’69), Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck

Subs not used: Martinez, Monreal, Coquelin, Campbell, Podolski