Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea’

Dan Sturridge; Two Sides of the Coin

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Daniel Struridge has completed his move from Chelsea to Liverpool and is move that has been met with a lukewarm reaction from the supporters of Merseyside club. Sturridge has had a mixed career to date and at the age of 23 it really is time for Sturridge to step up and prove he is more than just wasted potential.

There is definitely two ways to look at this transfer. It is either a positive move for both Liverpool and Sturridge or Liverpool are banking on potential talent that simply isn’t there.

Well, lets not be too cynical about it and take a look at the positives first.
It is no secret, that when it comes to the goal-scoring side of the game Liverpool are far to dependent on Luis Suarez. Suarez has weighed in with 13 league goals this season in 19 matches which is 42% of clubs goals coming from the Uruguayan. Suarez, with Borini injured, has been the only central striker at Liverpool at the moment and he cannot be expected to continue at his current goal-scoring rate. If he picks up an injury or a lengthy suspension like last season, Liverpool would’ve been forced to play either Shelvey, Sterling or Gerrard in the central striker role. So Sturridge has been brought in and the burden is lessened on Suarez but what will he add to the team with Suarez? As I’ve said previously Suarez has scored 13 league goals this season, but, those 13 goals have come from a mammoth 116 shots. There is two ways at looking at that stat, a) Suarez is a wasteful or inaccurate shooter or b) that he is forced into shots because of lack of passing options. I said I’d save the cynicism for later so lets focus on the b) option first.
Unlike other strikers with 10+ goals this season, Suarez plays as the only natural forward. van Persie has Rooney/Hernandez, Demba Ba has Cisse and Michu often has Danny Graham. But Suarez doesn’t have this luxury when Suarez looks up in a position where he should probably pass rather than shot he’ll probably see a very promising yet equally very inexperienced Raheem Sterling, after Sterling he may see a slightly more experienced yet still massively inexperienced Jonjo Shelvey. Shelvely’s runs will often come from deeper so his decision-making in what position he takes in the box is key. Two exciting young players yes, but at the moment still learning and can’t be expected to read a game like a forward, especially like an experienced one. So, now Suarez can expect to look up when in these position’s and see another striker looking for the ball, probably taking up a cuter position and a more inviting pass will be on.
On the ball what can be expected of Sturridge? he is a skillful player although like most young players sometimes over does a piece of skill instead of laying a simple pass off. He is a player who if given no thinking time, his instinct can be enough to score a vital goal where others may have panicked. His time at Bolton proved he can be effective through the middle where he netted 8 goals in 11 starts. He has a shot accuracy of 44%.

 

A more cynical look.
Daniel Sturridge has being playing Premier League football for 6 seasons now with his best spell being two years ago with Bolton only playing 12 games, can that seriously be used to evaluate a player now? When he returned to Chelsea the following season he was given plenty of opportunities under initial boss Andre Villas Boas, in the 2011/12 season he started 31 games (Total 63) but only scored 13 goals, what Suarez has managed in half a season. AVB then lost his job and Di Matteo taking over leading Chelsea to a Champions League and FA Cup double, but Sturridge hardly featured under Di Matteo. This season he has only started one game but has played in 7 and has only managed the one goal. He is said to be a selfish striker, which in itself is not always a bad attribute to have as a striker, but Sturridge can be overly selfish at times, and simply makes the wrong decision, often shooting form 25 yards rather than passing the ball and trying to create a better goal scoring opportunity. This Liverpool side has Suarez already and when looking for a second striker would be better suited to find a target man than a selfish, one-minded type striker. With Suarez needing 116 shots to score 13 goals, can Liverpool afford another striker who will squander a lot more of his chances then convert them?
Sturridge is a player whose attributes far suit him to being a winger, right midfielder to be exact and with Sterling being only 18 he could do with longer period of rest between games then he is currently getting, in order to develop and also not to burn out to soon. As a right midfielder Sturridge would be simply asked to provide width, and when he receives the ball beat the full back before passing the ball back inside to the vacated space between himself the midfield and the striker. But alas this isn’t the role Sturridge wants and when AVB played him out there on numerous occasions, he murmured some complaints about wanting to play through the center and even his dad backed him up on his complaints saying “in terms of potential, we have to see him play in that (central) position to see how far he can go” so it can be inferred that Sturridge, in his contract negotiations with Liverpool has stressed the importance of playing as a striker.

All in all, it is a transfer that needed to be made by Liverpool, then needed a striker, Sturridge is a striker, he is also young and English which is sticking with Liverpool’s tradition (Bar Rafa’s). But as much as this transfer appears to make sense, it could easily backfire. At 23 he is no longer a kid and if he doesn’t hit the ground running, the term flop will soon float over his head.

Di Matteo Sacked From Chelsea Post

Di Matteo has been sacked by Chelsea after last nights 3-0 defeat to Juventus. The decision has
been met by shock across the footballing world as just 6 months ago Di Matteo guided Chelsea to a European and FA Cup double. We all know that Abramovich lacks patents but surly this is a step to far?

Di Matteo took over as Chelsea manager with an objective to steady a sinking ship before a permanent replacement was found. In that three months the Italian guided Chelsea to an FA Cup win before a night that no Chelsea fan will forget in Munich when they won on penalties against Bayern. He got the job full time and went about rebuilding the squad. Chelsea finished 6th last season and were virtually out of the tittle race before Christmas. This year they are 3rd playing some of the most attractive football in the league and very much challenging for the league. But alas this was not deemed good enough for trigger happy Roman and Roberto Di Matteo was sacked.

So who will take the post now? It’s hardly an attractive post is it? Not even winning the Champions League in less than 3 months can guarantee your safety when going through a bad spell. Pep Guardiola has been named favourites by most bookies. But Guillem Balague has suggested that Pep is content on continuing with his sabbatical. Former Liverpool and Inter Milan boss Rafa Benitez has also been touted but again according to Balague he has not been approached by Chelsea.

It’s anyone’s guess as to who will be Roman Abramavich’s 9th manager as Chelsea owner.

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The Premiership Enters Winter

The premiership is well under way and it has been as competitive and entertaining as ever. Chelsea got off to a flying start that sees them sit top of the table after nine games. Champion’s City had somewhat of a stuttering start but plenty of late goals has seen them move up to third place. Manchester United rest between them a point behind leaders Chelsea and ahead of city rivals on goal difference. Last seasons overachiever’s Newcastle see themselves in 10th at this early stage and notorious slow starters Everton find themselves in 5th early on. Newly promoted Reading and Southampton are finding the step up tough as both are in the relegation zone. Big spenders QPR are currently last as Mark Hughes’ tries to bed in his new high earners.

 

Chelsea got off to a marvelous start and new signings Eden Hazard and Oscar have been shining lights. With the emphasis being on attack rather than the defensive style that won the Champions League, Di Matteo will be pleased with how his team are adapting to this new style. Juan Mata has also been a shining light the tricky Spaniard has caused problems for every defensive he’s faced this season. Chelsea may be found out as the season goes on though With Fernando Torres still struggling, not having a goal scoring striker may become costly. David Luiz is also a liability. Every game that John Terry has missed through suspension Luiz looks more and more of a threat to his own goal than to the oppositions.

Manchester City have been reliant on the late goals of Edin Dzeko although the striker hasn’t made much of an impact when giving the opportunity from the first whistle. This may result in the striker leaving in January. This would mean that City would only have 3 world-class strikers instead of four -poor them- but with Balotellli prone to do anything and with no one sure where Tevez’s heart really lies City would be best of trying to keep the Bosnian happy. However, City’s season will be decided with how they deal with Yaya Toure’s departure during the African Cup of Nations. They struggled last season and let an 8 point lead slip in his absence. City have signed players to cope with this situation but Jack Rodwell is nowhere near the class of Yaya.

Manchester United have been involved in some of the most exciting and controversial games of the season and having played some tough fixtures compared to their nearest rivals will be very pleased at only being a point off the top. However, United will be wary of the fact that they have had to dig deep to get wins going behind in no less than six games – of those six games then went on to win four – but United are United and you can never write them off, in matches or in championship races.

Everton have finally had a good start to a season. Often on kicking into top gear after Christmas, Phil Neville joked that they were going to have their Christmas party in august. Well whatever they did, it worked. Felliani has proven to be a handful this season and despite not being the most stylish player he certainly is effective. Baines and Pienaar have also worked a good partnership down the left hand side which, as a partnership, is only getting stronger.

QPR have being worrying disappointing. They spent big money this summer and were aiming for a top half finish. But the problem with signing so many players and throwing around stupid money has proven costly as the players signed clearly aren’t familiar with each other and some seem more keen on picking up their pay check on a Friday rather than preforming on a Saturday. Mark Hughes’ job is under threat and if performances don’t improve soon he’ll be out of a job before Christmas.

Premier League Preview: Focus on Chelsea

With two months to go last season, Chelsea where set for their worst campaign since Abramavich took over. But Abramavich made his best managerial appointment in his six years at the club when he brought in Roberto Di Matteo. Chelsea where set to exit the Champions League and where losing ground on any chance of a top 4 spot.

But we all know how it ended for Chelsea, with their Blue Angel sat on the crossbar in Stamford Bridge when Messi and Co came round and in the Allianz Arena the Blue Angel took his spot on the crossbar again and Chelsea were crowned the Champions of Europe. Well that’s how Ruud Gullit will remember it.

But Chelsea, league wise anyway, still have a huge 25 points to overcome before they can challenger for the title again. Chelsea are also rebuilding their squad at the moment and to challenge for the league whilst in a transition period takes a big effort from the squad and with competition for the league at its highest level for some years it will be nearly impossible task for Di Matteo’s men to achieve.

Chelsea’s defence also needs some improving or at least David Luiz and Gary Cahill to improve. Luiz has always been a liability to Chelsea and the stupid mistakes he makes on a regular basics need to be removed from his game. Gary Cahill also needs improvement but I would be more confident that he will improve this season. John Terry as always will be key and if Cahill partners him all season Chelsea should maintain a solid defence but if Terry is missing a Luiz and Cahill partnership may cause problems throughout the season.

Chelsea have spent their money on young talents this summer with three excellent signings, not including, Eden Hazard’s brother Thorghan. The three signings they made were Marko Marin, Eden Hazard, and Brazilian playmaker Oscar. All young prospects with a lot of potential, but all will need time to develop as footballers and will need time to adjust to the fast pace of the Premier League before we see them at their best.

So how much of the 25 points will Chelsea win back this season? Without putting an exact number on it my guess would be around 10-15 points which would be an impressive achievement to make up but sadly not enough for them to make a significant challenge for the league. I do believe that Chelsea are on the right road to overcome the massive deficit and in a couple of seasons’ time they will be out right favorites for the league. But for the time being I think that their fans and Roman Abramavich should be patience. I do believe though that Chelsea will make an appearance in Wembley and would tip their ‘second’ team to win the Carling Cup and reach the semi final of the FA Cup at least.

Final Prediction; I reckon they will finish in the top 4 this year which may disappoint most Chelsea fans but considering how rich the competition will be this year come May it could be seen as an acceptable achievement.

Chelsea’s Season: From AVB to the Champions League final via Roberto Di Matteo

The term ‘crazy season’ has been thrown about this season and rightly so, as it has been remarkable. From Swansea’s dynamic play to Liverpool’s cup runs and dismal league form and that’s before we mention the title race. Don’t forget Manchester United were 8 points clear with a month to go, City overturned the deficit but still needed the last kick of the season for the trophy to move across Manchester.

If there was one club’s campaign that could some up this crazy season it would probably be Chelsea’s, from apparent disaster to their best season ever.

So where did this epic journey begin? Well, it all started in Dublin, in a Europa League final between Porto and Braga. A young manager called Andre Villas-Boas steered Porto to their best ever campaign and was a manager who was itching to prove his skills at the top-level. Up step Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who just sacked his 6th different manager since buying the club.

Abramovich took a chance on the young Portuguese man and must have being hoping he could replicate the success of Chelsea’s former Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho. But it just wasn’t to be for AVB who seemed to lose the dressing room during the turn of the year and there was increase speculation that Frank Lampard would leave the club and up until Paul Scholes did a u-turn on his retirement it looked as if Lampard could end up a United player, something unthinkable looking back. Chelsea’s league form was suffering and looked set to be heading out of the Champions League itself in February after a 3-1 away defeat to Napoli. Abramovich then did what Abramovich does best, he sacked the struggling manager and back the dressing room. With no one in place to replace AVB, his former assistant Roberto Di Matteo took the reins until the end of the season as an interim manager.

The Robbie Revival: Roberto Di Matteo’s first task was not on the field but off it. He tried and succeeded in restoring harmony to the dressing room and by went back to the Chelsea old guard and reintroduced Drogba and Lampard to the starting a move that would richly pay off for the Italian. Chelsea somehow came through the Napoli game winning 4-1 (aet) and also continued their march towards Wembley. Di Matteo’s biggest scalp came in the form of a two-legged siege against defending European Champion’s Barcelona. A backs to the wall job, they also rode their luck at times with Barcelona missing a penalty and they also hit the woodwork on numerous occasions. But Chelsea went through to the final were they would be underdogs again, a role they relished in Europe this season. In the meantime Chelsea also found themselves in the F.A cup final, a trophy they dominated in recent years and they picked up their first trophy of the season with a 2-1 win over Liverpool. So all their was left to do was overcome Bayern in their own stadium the magnificent Allianz Arena.

Chelsea; Champions of Europe

How did Chelsea defeat the Germans? Well, they did it in a way that summed up their season. They had to defend for their lives for the most part went behind and looked destined to lose the prize they wanted the most. But for a Didier Drogba bullet header that took the game to extra time and penalties. Chelsea kept their nerve and it was the same man who got them to extra time that scored the winning penalty, Didier Drogba. A truly remarkable season for Chelsea and one that will never be forgotten by any football fan.

Here’s to many more incredible season and that the Euro’s can live up to the amazing expectation that this season has placed upon it.

Euro 2012 – Group A

Group A is looked at as the weakest group in the European Championships but it’s also extremely well matched. The group contains c0-hosts Poland, Russia, Czech Republic and Greece. There isn’t much separating these sides and any of the four teams could find themselves in the quarter-finals.

Poland

European Championship record: 2008 Group Stage

World Ranking: 65th

The co-hosts Poland only played in one European Championship prior to Euro 2012 where they finished bottom of their group with only one point.  They will get the tournament under way against Greece on June 8th in Warsaw. Bar a few exceptions the Polish team isn’t really filled with well known players. However playing in front of their own passionate supporters will motivate them and could prove to be the deciding factor of Poland’s progression to the quarter-finals.

Key Players:

Wojciech Szczesny 

Poland is known for producing talented keepers and Arsenal’s Szczesny is no exception. With only nine international caps to his name he isn’t the most experienced player but he is arguably Poland’s most influential nonetheless. His form has kept fellow Arsenal team-mate, Fabianksi out of the first team. Although he is only 22 Szczesny is very confident between the sticks and trusts his defenders completely.

Robert Lewandowski

Despite only being 23, Lewandowski has 40 caps for his country already. He has helped lead Borussia Dortmund to their second successive Bundesliga title after scoring 22 goals for the German side. He will more than likely be played as a lone striker. The nations hopes seemed to be on Lewandowski and if he is on form he will be a real threat for defenders this Summer.

Greece

European Championship record: 1980 Group Stage, 2004 Winners, 2008 Group Stage.

World Ranking: 14th

Greece shocked the footballing world in 2004 as they became champions of Europe having beaten Portugal in the final in Lisbon. However in 2008 they didn’t pick up a single point. Now eight years on from their triumph what should we expect from Greece? It’s hard to tell but they remained unbeaten in the qualifiers in a group that contained Croatia, so they will be confident going into the European Championships.

Key Players:

Giorgos Karagounis

A vital part of the team that won Euro 2004, despite missing the final through suspension. Karagounis remains the captain following the 2010 World Cup and was arguably the most influential player during qualification for Euro 2012. At the tender age of 35 Karagounis is the second most capped Greek player ever on 115 and will hope to break the record at this Summers European Championships.

Avraam Papadopoulos

The Australian born centre back was the rock in the Greek defence and is a huge reason why Greece only conceded five times in qualifying. He was voted the Greek Player of the Year in 2011 and will hope to bring that form into Euro 2012.  He could well be a key reason if Greece are to make it out of the group.

Russia

European Championship Record: 1960 Winners, 1964 Runners-Up, 1968 Fourth, 1972 Runners-Up, 1988 Runners-Up, 1992 Group Stage, 1996 Group Stage, 2004 Group Stage, 2008 Semi-Final.

World Ranking: 11th

Russia are many people’s favourites to top the group and progress to the knock-out stage. They only lost once in qualifying (vs Slovakia) and conceded just four times in ten games. A win against Czech Republic in the first game is vital because both Poland and Greece will be tough for the Russians. Russia were the surprise package at Euro 2008 going to the semi-finals knocking out the Netherlands along the way.

Key Players:

Andrey Arshavin

Despite being loaned out by Arsenal to Zenit after numerous lacklustre performances he still remains a key figure for Russia. Arshavin captained his side throughout the qualifiers. It appears that he may have found some form again grabbing 3 goals in 10 games for Zenit so far. There is no doubt about it that Arshavin was a key figure in the Euro 2008 Russian side and put in two great performances to get them to the semi’s. Dick Advocaat could well get the best out of Arshavin again just like he did at Zenit when the lifted the Uefa Cup in 2008.

Alan Dzagoev

The 21 year old is looked at as the next big thing of Russian football. He has been putting in dazzling displays for CSKA Moscow since 2008. He was Russia’s top scorer in qualifying along with Roman Pavlyuchenko on four goals. Dzagoev outfoxed many defenders in this seasons Champions League and will be hoping to do the same at the Euro’s.

Czech Republic

European Championship Record: 1960 Third, 1976 Winners, 1980 Third, 1996 Runners-Up, 2000 Group Stage, 2004 Semi-finals, 2008 Group Stage.

World Ranking: 26th

The Czech’s are very proud of their European Championship record, having won it in 1976 (as Czechoslovakia) and sent a team to every finals since it got it’s independence in 1993. Although they don’t appear to be as solid as they once were. In qualifying they lost three times in only eight games, although two of them losses came against World & European Champions Spain. The other was a home loss to Lithuania. They qualified after beating Montenegro 3-0 on aggregate in the play-offs. Can they scrape through?

Key Players:

Petr Cech

The Chelsea shot stopper is one of Czech Republics most experienced players after making 89 appearances for his country. Cech has been in form this season for Chelsea helping them to the Champions League final and will hoping to lead by example at Euro 2012 to help put his nation through to the quarter-finals. Cech feels like he needs to make up for his blunder at Euro 2008 when he let a cross slip through his hands which allowed Turkey’s Nihat to score and ultimately eliminated the Czech Republic.

Michal Kadlec

He was the only Czech player to play every single minute of the qualifiers which instantly shows his importance to the team. Despite being a defender he scored four of Czech Republic’s twelve goals. Three of which came from the spot. He is clearly an attacking threat as well as being a solid defender. His father led Czech Republic to the final at Euro 96 so Michal will be hoping to somewhat follow in his fathers footsteps this Summer.

Final Verdict:

Russia to top the group and Poland to finish second in front of their home crowd.

Top European Striker Want’s a Move to England

A top European striker wants a move to England.

Fernando Llorente has fast become one the hottest properties in European football and after an impressive campaign with Athletic Club, a campaign in which he helped his team reach the Europa League and Copa Del Rey finals, he is on all the top teams radar.

Athletic Club have been widely praised for their all out attacking style and passionate play and fans. Llorente has been at the forefront of all praise and at the age of 27 this is maybe his last chance to force a move to a top European team.

Many people feel that Llorente is a player designed for the Premiership and this is something he agrees with, he says “I’m the sort of player who would be successful in the Premier League… (But) it’s all hypothetical.” He went onto say that he feels it’s one of the best leagues in the world, saying “I’d love to get to know it and enjoy it” but he did finished off by saying that he was still very happy in Bilbao. But Llorente didn’t stop flirting with the Premiership just yet. When asked what did he like to do in his spare time, he again brought up England. “…I love travelling… We (himself and his girlfriend) went to London on holiday last year, I loved it, I saw Big Ben and Buckingham Palace and went to see the Wimbledon tennis, but I don’t speak English. I need to learn the language.”

Llorente “I’m the sort of player who would be successful in the Premier League”

And it is that last sentence that fuels most of the flames to this transfer rumour. Llorente clearly has strong intentions to return to England and shows a strong intent to stay for a long time. Well long enough to need to learn the language.

But who would be in for Llorente and who could afford him? Manchester City will be the favourites for the marksman but they may not need to sign him if Carlos Tevez decides to stay and if Balotelli isn’t sold. Chelsea will also be in for the Spanish foreword, as Didier Drogba is out of contract in the summer. Manchester United will also have tabs on Llorente as Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen look set to be on the way out of Old Trafford. Others that will have interest are both Tottenham and Liverpool, who will need to reinforce their squads to stand a chance of challenging for a Champions League spot next season.

But out of the five who would be able to afford him? Well, Manchester City and Chelsea will happily spend what is required to get their man. Manchester United would be able to afford him but may struggle to match his wage demands, especially if facing direct competition from rivals Man City. Tottenham and Liverpool’s best chance of signing the Spanish giant would be if City, Chelsea or United don’t go in for Llorente as neither Tottenham or Liverpool could guarantee Champions League football every season.

This rumour could run all the way through the transfer window as the striker will not make up his mind until after the European Championships, where he may have to play a huge part for Spain as David Villa is struggling in his race for full fitness.

Llorente has scored 28 goals already this season and has provided 6 assists for his teammates.

See also; Europa League Final 2012