Category Archives: Chelsea

Luka, Luka, Luka

I was delighted to hear Daniel Levy’s statement yesterday lunchtime after seeing Luka Modric plastered over a number of newspapers saying the time was right for him to leave the club. In all honesty I can’t say I blame Luka as from the moment I saw a paper suggestion that Chelsea would pay £140,000 a week to him I fancied his head might be turned; I know mine would be.

But a contract is a contract and whilst Luka may claim that he made an arrangement that should a decent offer come in the Chairman wouldn’t stand in his way he has to get a little bit realistic. Whilst the wages might be the transfer fee is not. 

What now follows will be interesting. Will Luka put in the transfer request he feels uncomfortable in making? Clearly if he does so it will hurt him financially in the coming months but the extra wages from a new job will soften that blow. 

Then we have his wish that he remains playing for a London club, probably so that he can stay close to Charlie and not disturb the family. It shouldn’t work like that as we all know but with player power seeming to be what it is anything goes. The Berbatov transfer proved that in many ways with him wanting to go to United but City making a higher bid.

Naively, I hope that this is the end of the “crisis” but I doubt that will be the case. One has to hope that if it drags on other clubs outbid Chelsea so that Luka ends up considering a move to a city he doesn’t really fancy. What that bid may end up at who knows. But having watched £18 million Henderson play two games for the Under 21’s and look anonymous on both occasions Luka must be worth at least twice that sum.

If Levy is serious – and I hope he is – Luka will have a couple of uncomfortable training sessions but then life gets back to normal. Players understand these matters and whilst a couple might have felt it offered them a better chance of a game if the club gets off to a flying start it will all be forgotten pretty quickly. Luka might then understand that we too would like to win the League and with the right striker signed might make a challenge.

If we eventually cave in how bad is that? In honesty it is pretty serious but we might be able to cope. As he settled in Rafa looked comfortable in a similar role and often dropped deep to try and take charge of proceedings. That left us light up front and so a Modricless side would be able to afford two proper strikers and we would certainly have the money to buy a very good one.

The Chairman does have other problems to face this summer. His valuations of some squad members is likely to cause him problems as time passes with no Champions League money to contribute towards wage costs if they don’t move on. The squad remains large and with new faces to add quite a bit of business needs to be done.

Paper talk suggests that Martin Jol might like to take some of his former squad to Fulham and QPR were rumoured to be showing similar interest. Last year Alan Hutton could have gone to Sunderland but they were unwilling to match our price. This year that attitude will have to change if we are to do business on Hutton, Jenas, Bentley, Keane and Pav.

Typically we are in for an interesting period but once again the headlines surround one of our best players leaving rather than an outstanding one being added to the ranks.

So near – but yet so far: Chelsea 2 Spurs 1

If its not one thing it’s the other. Having put up with another dreadful performance from Pav in the first 45 minutes Gomes takes over as only he can and allows the Chelsea crowd to draw the linesman into making a howler of a decision in awarding an equalising goal. 

Then to compound things he misses an offside decision in the second half allowing Kalou to knock in the winner on 89 minutes. During the second half Chelsea were by far the better side and put us under lots of pressure. We were lucky to survive a strong penalty shout half way through that period which would have given lots of momentum to them but without Gomes mistake the half time team talks would have been much different.

Despite sticking up for the keeper during his press conference with Andy Burton it has to be time up for Gomes for this season at least. There comes a time when defenders cannot trust the man behind them and it interferes with concentration and that point must now be reached. A dreadful parry in the second half was another example of the damage done to his confidence and if we want to press on he has to step back.

I wouldn’t have started with Pav. I know some of you think that with more playing time Pav could be the man but to be fair Gandalf could grow his beard from scratch before that point is reached; it’s just not going to happen. It can be like starting the game with 10 men and today was one of those occasions.

Within five minutes of coming on Defoe had done more to threaten Chelsea in an attacking way and at that point we were being stretched and pushed as Chelsea looked for the lead unlike the first half when we were much more competitive. I’m not saying he would have scored because he isn’t in great form but we lacked something in the final third throughout the game and you cannot win these games if that is the case.

The midweek debate we had (Berbatov or Drogba would they work at Spurs)certainly continues for Drogba finished the game string and dominant and a real handful to our defenders, if only he had been on our side at the beginning.

I wanted Sandro to start, he did and what a goal he scored. Certainly the goal of the game from Rafa’s clever overhead kick and leaving Cech with no chance whatsoever of saving it. Did Modric get a touch? If he had it would have knocked him over as it was certainly travelling. 

Harry tried to get him to sit deeper thereafter as we were giving up space and Torres was threatening and he did so winning countless challenges and breaking up play. Modric too was exceptional. He was all over the pitch but ended the game as he had started it running freely. Lennon did not. His socks were down and he looked weary but both he and Bale were cleverly marked so that when the ball came to them nine times out of ten they were standing flat footed unable to do damage. 

That left Kaboul as our attacking force down the right and whilst he started well, in the second half he was getting tackled every time and was then too far up the field. Bale was casual in conceding possession in an identical position to the Stoke game and having dropped to left back tried to take on Drogba to break out. Thankfully only a throw resulted. 

It is delightful when your players have the confidence to try these things but sometimes a little common sense has to come to play. If you are defending away from home don’t muck about get it downfield if you are the last man rather than trying to take on the whole team.

So a spirited performance which offered much but delivered little. Sky were predictably trying to suggest that this defeat will cost us £30m by missing a Champions League place but that honour has so many homes this season this is just a small step along the way. One point off Wigan, Bolton and Blackpool away, West Ham or West Brom at home and maybe allowing Arsenal to get two goals ahead before turning up. Yes today was a final nail but it is certainly not in isolation.   

We haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 1990 and whilst we were competitive we were nothing more. If we wanted to win at half time we had to score a second and I don’t recall many Spurs shots in the second half. Chelsea are rarely held to “nil” at home so a second goal is a necessity. Yes the officials got it all wrong and cost us a victory but had they not got the first goal wrong would they not have awarded them a penalty? It’s an irrelevant debate of course and not one we should dwell on. 

Chelsea are back to form and incredibly difficult to overcome on their own ground. Like all of the top teams they finish the game strongly and nothing is guaranteed till the final whistle. Certainly we were mugged and hearing Frank Lampard telling us how it was all fair does nothing to make it feel any better.

Next up Blackpool and then another tricky game at Liverpool. That may well be the decider for fifth place as even if West Ham do us a massive favour tomorrow the points gap is still too wide to catch City.  

Sandro must start: Chelsea V Tottenham preview

By the time this gets posted the teams might well have been announced but I doubt my thoughts on selection will mirror those of Harry. After last week’s draw we need to win this game to bring the points tally for those two games to four which I suspect was the target. It’s a tough ask since we remain without a win since 1990 but then we had a poor run against Arsenal away too till this season. 

More difficult too is that Torres has now scored (as has Dzeko and Liverpool can’t stop!) so we may see a different attitude and more positive body language from him today. We can stop him as long as we defend from midfield and keep the ball from him.

Sandro must start this game if we are to have much chance and the midfielders will have to stick to their job and try and counter attack. With Benny absent with a hamstring whether Bale drops back or we push Gallas out left is a big question. I fancy that Bale will get asked to drop but if he does he will need to stick to his defensive job for most of the game. Can he do that? Not sure is my answer to that.

I would go with Gallas and bring in Bassong at centre back. My first objective would be to not lose the game and with a back four of Kaboul, Dawson, Bassong and Gallas we have a chance to balance our abilities on the ground and in the air. It was DavSpurs who suggested that this might be a decent formation against the big sides in these away matches and with our current injuries this might be the game to test it out.

I also want to see Lennon out on the right. He has played well all season and last week Kaboul was asked to do a heck of a lot of running. Away from home we cannot expect that so Aaron needs to be in front of him taking that strain. Last season Modric played a pivotal part in beating Chelsea at White Hart Lane in centre midfield. He will need to match that level of performance this afternoon in the defensive side of his work for us to have a chance.

That leaves Bale to play on the left in a more counter attack minded role. In that way he assists Billy on the left flank whilst offers a threat as we break that will make Chelsea mindful of our strengths. Having seen last weeks game Crouch has to start. We need someone to bang crosses at and it was noticeable last week how easily the low cross was blocked. Crouch can also help in defensive set pieces to keep Chelsea out.

I would certainly put Rafa up front with Crouch and ask him to get in the box when we have the ball so that he can do what he has been doing for us better than our strikers this season. Score! If we don’t do that we have no chance of getting a draw let alone a victory and fourth spot, now an uphill climb into a distant memory. 

I don’t think we will finish fourth but if we could get to the last 8 of the Champions league and win at both Arsenal and Chelsea that might make the consolation a little sweeter. 

Prediction: If we get a draw I consider that a good result. We can win it but for me the boys look as much mentally tired as physically and that results in sloppy passes. That’s been our downfall in recent weeks so let’s hope we can rectify that today and hit their net one more time than they hit ours.