Chelsea 4-1 MSK Zilina: The Match Report (The London Derby)

Champions League Match Preview (The London Derby)

The State of the Bridge Address: At a Crossroads

UEFA Champions League

It is two days before our first match of the 2010/11 Champions League campaign against Zilina, and as always, it is filled with excitement. However, there have been questions that have begun to haunt us. When will we win the Champions League? With our key players entering the twilight of their careers, is this our last great opportunity.

This season already has seen Chelsea get of to the hottest start in Premier League history. As a result, confidence has been at an all-time high at the Bridge. But as we all know, the football season is a marathon, not the 100-yard dash; we still have to approach every team with caution and respect.

As far as the UCL goes, the group stage has our name written all over it. The two wins over MSK Zilina are a must, at least one win against Marseille, and a sweep of Spartak Moskva.  It is in the knockout rounds where we should step up and show the heart of champions.

Although this has been out eighth consecutive year in the Champions League, we only have three men in our staff who have actually won the coveted trophy. Bosingwa and Paulo Ferreira won it with FC Porto in 2004,  and our boss Carlo Ancelotti won it with AC Milan both as a player and as a coach.

The real reason why I wrote this article is to address an issue that has affected us dearly, and that is age. Lampard, Drogba, Anelka, Ferreira, Terry, Essien, Cech, and Malouda are players who either are 30-plus or awfully close. And with these players playing an important role in the club, we should also be cognizant that they might have just a few seasons of top-quality football left in them. Young stars such as Kakuta, Bruma, and Van Aanholt might be rising through the ranks, but in no way should we expect them to be World-Class anytime soon. What worries me is that we might have to resort to another spending spree in order to continue competing until our youth system is up to par.

Although this season is starting out as what could be the best in recent memory, if not ever, I believe that we should make a serious effort at winning the Champions League if this season is to acquire any legitimacy. If it is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, let us get on the right foot with a win over MSK Zilina.

-As always, feel free to correct me on any and all of my points.

–KTBFFH

Chelsea 2-0 Stoke City: The Match Report

Malouda scores the opener

Starting Lineups:
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech, Ferreira,Cole, Terry, Alex, Mikel, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka, Drogba
Stoke(4-4-2): Sorensen, Shawcross, Faye, Huth,Collins, Wilkinson, Delap, Etherington, Whitehead, Walters, Jones

Scoring:
Chelsea 2:  Lampard (miss pk ’11) Malouda (’32) Drogba (pen ’77)
Stoke 0: N/A

Substitutions:
Chelsea 3: Kalou for Lampard (72) Sturridge for Anelka (81) Essien for Ramires (85)
Stoke 3: Whelan for Wilkinson (51) Fuller for Jones (68) Pugh for Delap (86)

Referee Martin Atkinson
Crowd 40,931

In a match that lacked the clinical finishing of the two 6-0 wins that started the season, Chelsea still claimed the maximum three points against Stoke City with a score of 2-0.

Chelsea also remain the only club to have a 100% record in the Premier League, maintaining their position at the top of the table.

Chelsea seemed bent on starting another rout when Ashley Cole recieved a pass from Michael Essien and attempted a placed shot that went wide of the far post.

Stoke also had a chance of drawing first blood when Dean Whitehead’s shot from outside the box was parried by Cech after a nice one-two with Kenwyne Jones.

After a foul  on Didier Drogba by Ryan Shawcross in the box, Frank Lampard hit a lazy penalty that was easily saved by Stoke ‘keeper Thomas Sorensen. He also saved a well-hit free kick from Drogba which had every intention of hitting the back of the net.

Florent Malouda opened the scoring after a killer John Terry ball with a clinical right-footed finish against a defence that started four centre-halves, probably to prevent something akin to the 7-0 thrashing they recieved at the hands of the blues last season.

Ashley Cole almost doubled the Chelsea lead after his savage volley hit the crossbar with minutes left in the first half.

In the second half,the Chelsea domination continued. Sorensen was called again to save a header from Drogba after a floating pass from Anelka.

Much to Stoke’s credit, they did not throw in the towel. In fact, they provided the shot of the game when Glenn Whelan’s cracker from 25 yards out beat Cech but clattered off the crossbar.

But Chelsea sealed the points when Sorensen’s foul on Anelka in the box led to Drogba slotting home the spot-kick. Also, Chelsea new-boy Ramires made his debut with 5 minutes left in normal time. I, for one, want to see more of him as the season wears on.

Three Matches. Nine Points. Fourteen Goals. None Conceded. Confidence is high at the Bridge.

Man of the Match: Florent Malouda. Clinical finish to put Chelsea on top; he was also quite aware in  the field.

*KTBFFH

Chelsea 6-0 Wigan – The Match Report

Drogba and Ivanovic celebrate Malouda's goal

Scoring Report:
Chelsea-  Malouda (34) Anelka (48,52) Kalou (78,90) Benayoun (90)
Wigan- N/A

       Chelsea once again produced a masterclass as they hammered Wigan Athletic 6-0 at DW Stadium.

      It started out as a close game, with Wigan enjoying the lion’s share of possession and shots on goal through the first 30 minutes of match time. It took a successful Chelsea counterattack to break the deadlock, with Malouda mopping up a messy rebound conceded by Wigan ‘keeper Chris Kirkland. The score remained 1-0 entering halftime, and it looked like Wigan needed to find a little extra to equalise and turn the tide back to the Latics.

      Instead, they lost it all. Another Chelsea breakaway saw Anelka take a beautifully weighted ball from John Obi Mikel and clinically finish it into the bottom corner; the lead was doubled 2-0. A third goal was added when Malouda’s cross found Drogba in the box, who laid it off for Anelka to nod it home. The rout was on.

     After Malouda gave seventy minutes of valiant Chelsea football, he was substituted for Salomon Kalou; this turned out to be the best substitution of the Premier League so far. In the 77th minute, Drogba broke free of the dismal wigan defence and laid another beautiful ball for Kalou, who slotted it home for a fourth Chelsea goal.

      Kalou made it five in the 90th minute after being on the recieving end of a beautiful cross byDrogba (surprised?) And Chelsea new-boy Yossi Benayoun put the cherry on top after recieving a pass from Paulo Ferreira.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Didier Drogba. 3 goals 1 game, 3 assists another. He proves that at 32, he still can be the fulcrum of a world-class attack.

ON TO STOKE–Blue is the Colour

Match Report by BBLBDB

A Sad Day; Hutchinson forced to retire due to knee injury

Sam Hutchinson

The 21-year-old youngster has struggled with his fitness for several years, leaving him unable to build on a career that saw him handed his first senior game at the end of the 2006/07 season by former coach Jose Mourinho

The Portuguese coach spoke of his ability to become a key member of the first-team, however despite his immense potential he has consistently been hampered by a recurring knee injury and has now chosen to quit professional football.

Hutchinson had bright prospects after several appearances for the reserves and also earned a place in England’s Under-21 squad, as well as making three appearances last season.

He will now be given support by the club to study sports science at university and will work on his coaching qualifications as part of Chelsea’s coaching academy.

It is a sad day, I was hoping that he would make some cup appearances. I though that he would be an eventual replacement for Ashley Cole, who is entering the twilight of his career.

-KTBFFH

My first “State of the Bridge” address

Florent Malouda celebrates his goal in the 6-0 WBA win

         Just two days ago, Chelsea started on the Premier League marathon with style in a 6-0 bashing that sent a message to the league that they intend to retain their premier league title. Although Chelsea played like champions, what struck me was West Brom’s horrible set-piece defending. Also the fact that three of the four players that made up the WBA backline were making premier league debuts. But enough about sorry WBA, this is a Chelsea blog.  

       Didier Drogba was again world-class, scoring a hat trick. Florent Malouda added a brace, and Lampard put himself on the scoresheet as well. What really impressed me was the stabilility Chelsea played with, as if they knew each other. In my opinion, this will work in Chelsea’s favor as the season wears on. 

Ramires Santos do Nascimento

               This also marks the beginning of what I think is a new era of Chelsea football. We have lost the likes of Ballack, Deco, Joe Cole, and Belletti, among others. Bringing in Ramires was a great signing, a young midfielder with potential whose immense ability as a box-to-box midfielder will free up Michael Essien to make the trademark attacking runs we have sorely missed in his past two injury plagued seasons. Yossi Benayoun might turn out to be a better midfielder than Joe Cole; he is a more tactically aware midfielder who can be used in various positions around midfield.

Neymar

          Another Brazilian that has been in Chelsea’s sights is Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, or simply Neymar. Touted as the best 18 year-old in world football, he definitely seems like a great add for a Chelsea side with two forwards over the age of 30. A major stumbling block would be his price, with current club Santos demanding the buy-out price of £29million. Also, his small, lanky build leaves doubts in some Chelsea supporters’ hearts as to if he can stand the physicality of the Premier League. I say we don’t rush; we pay the money, and have him injected as a sub in games against major to mid table opponents. Also, he should get starts against relegation-threatened sides and in cup matches. If we do that for at least a year, he can get used to England’s physicality; hell, he can build some muscle of his own. By 21, this guy might just be the real deal. In essence, what I am saying is that he doesn’t need to be world-class now.

       In this address, I should also take some time and talk about the next match, against Wigan. Last time these two sides met, Chelsea won 8-0. But by no means am I expecting the same result (although I wouldn’t be surprised.) Against a disorganized and unspirited squad, Chelsea should win by a score of 4-0, and we should see a cameo appearance for Ramires.

       In conclusion, the season looks bright for our Blues. We started the season in the best way possible, showing the determination and resolve of champions. I believe that currently we have a squad that can compete on all fronts, despite calls for 1-2 more signings. In the words of Terrell Owens, you “better get your popcorn ready,” because I believe our Blues putting on a show at the DW stadium-or any other stadium for that matter.

-As always, feel free to comment/correct me on any/all of my points.

–BBLBDB