Archive for September, 2011

Mmmm…what’s going on here?

Posted: September 17, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, midfield, Random, Youth

McEachran, Malouda, Meireles, Mikel, Mata, Michael (Essien?).

What do these players all have in common? Aside from each of them currently playing for Chelsea? Yes, they are all midfielders with names beginning with ‘M’ (you can probably tell I’m short on writing ideas!).

Magic, majestic, marvellous, magnificent. They are all ‘mazing in their own special manner:

McEachranmature: Josh has shown great awareness and near perfection when called upon to feature in the first team with minimal fuss.

Maloudamusical: There was a lot talk last year about Flo and Drogba forming a band with Terry and Joe Cole as the singers. Not sure what happened to it but maybe we’ll be hearing them on Radio 1 before long.

Meirelesmohawk: Isn’t it obvious? The Portugeezer has the hair of a punk and the tattoos of Michael Scofield. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Raul owned a motorbike too.

Mikel – mischievous: There’s something about his smile that gives the impression that he’s a right ol’ joker. Maybe it’s just me who thinks this?

Mataminted: An overall, utterly, indescribable man. I think he’s some sort of long lost son of Villas-Boas.

Michael (Essien) – mammoth: His surname begins with ‘E’ but it’s difficult to miss out the bison. Massively unfortunate and unlucky through strings of injury but a mammoth nonetheless.

Other fairly recent (m)idfielders:

  • Makelele (retired)
  • Mancienne (Hamburg)
  • Matic (Benfica; part of the David Luiz deal)
  • Mineiro (TuS Koblenz)
  • Morris (St Johnstone)
At this point, you may be wondering to yourself, what was point in reading this? All I can think of is you were (m)onotonously bored.  Who knows, maybe it will remain in your (m)emory for years to come?
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With Chelsea set to travel to Old Trafford this weekend in what will doubtless prove to be their most challenging game under AVB to date, I ask the question – who should play at Right-Back?

United are in devastating form and Chelsea have been a little laboured if truth be told. So what chance do we have? Well, call me an optimist (you’re an optimist Derek) but I think we can do ‘em up there. I feel we have a big performance in us and a burning desire within the squad to shove two fingers up at the media for their constant badgering.

In spite of my confidence, if David Luiz plays at centre-back, I feel there is a big decision to be made at right back…

The options:

Jose Bosingwa:

Jose has been like a man re-born under AVB and looks somewhat like he has re-discovered his top form after some very indifferent performances last season.

Strengths:

A very quick attacking full back who has a decent delivery and a real knack of getting into good advanced wide positions. He can overlap and/or offer support to our right sided attacker and really adds another dimension to our attack.

We saw against Norwich that he has a dangerous shot in his locker when the situation arises and is in confident form due to his good start this season.

Weaknesses:

Jose can be very suspect defensively. We all remember Ryan Giggs tearing him apart at Stamford Bridge last season in the Champions League. His positional sense isn’t the best and usually comes down to his lapses in concentration.

He is not the strongest individual either – if it comes to an important tackle or block being made you wouldn’t exactly have your mortgage on him would you?

Branislav Ivanovic:

Strengths:

A beast of a man; Branner is a real tough tackling and inspiring defender who has the ability to drive on those around him. He is strong in the air and on the ground in the tackle and is very brave in all situations.

He is a threat in the box from set pieces and has scored some important goals for Chelsea in the past.

Weaknesses:

Branner would consider himself a centre-back rather than a full-back but he has played in the right-back position admirably for some time now.

Not the best at rampaging up the wing and his crossing can leave him down at times. The fact that he’s not a natural attacking full-back means that the opposition can focus on cutting Ashley Cole’s threat off on the other side which affects Chelsea’s balance and ability to create from deep when needs be.

Conclusion:

These two players offer something completely different from right back. Bosingwa is an attacking outlet whereas Ivanovic is a natural defender. If we could morph these two players into one we’d have one of the best right-backs ever. Unfortunately I couldn’t get in contact with Jeff Goldblum this week.

For all the criticism of Bosingwa’s defensive capabilities, let us not forget that at left back in the Champions League a couple of years ago versus Barcelona that one Lionel Messi hardly kicked the ball over two legs when being marked by the pacey Portugueezer. Yes he may get caught out at times but if (big IF), just if he can keep his concentration and be disciplined up against Ashley Young he may well be the man to stop their threat down the left and instigate ours up the right.

Of course this may be all elementary if Ivanovic plays at centre back instead of Luiz, but I enjoyed writing this anyway!

What do you think? Who should play? Please feel free to comment below or tweet me @fattyfoulke

Essien Biting The Dust?

Posted: September 15, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, Essien, Random, Rants

It’s been a little while since I’ve written anything on the blog here, so I thought I’d put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard and write a bit about a certain Monsieur Michael Essien of Ghana.

When I first heard Essien was injured again, I was gut wrenched, heartbroken and grief stricken. Yet another 6 months out. I really feel sorry for the guy. On his day, a true quality player to have on the field, but some would say he’s now running out of gas.

Nicknamed ‘bison’ makes the matter even worse for me. The image in my head of Essien these days is that of a dying animal; trying ever so hard to pull through hard times but nothing going his way.

Michael, Michael, Michael.

Two of my favourite goals in recent years for Chelsea were scored by Essien. THAT goal against Arsenal and THAT goal against Barcelona.  It’s almost as if some football god in the sky doesn’t want him to do well in the bigger picture. The phrase, “too good to be true”, springs to mind.

It’s ironic that such a tough player can also be so fragile.

(*cue violin music*) Life isn’t fair, blah blah blah, but football god, if you’re listening, work your miracles and help Essien come back stronger. I begeth of you. After all what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. I certainly hope that this is the case for Michael but I’m beginning to fear the worst.

Tears of mixed emotion will fill my eyes when I hear the news that Essien will hang up his boots. Likewise with a number of other current Chelsea players. An era is ending while a new dawn begins. Essien, in my opinion, is still in between the two. Does he still have a chance, a last shot at giving it his all one more time? When he returns from injury, will Villas-Boas provide Essien with gradual integration back into the team? Or is his Chelsea career really coming to an inevitable end?

Not everyone will agree, but I do wish that Michael Essien will pull on the Chelsea shirt dozens more times. Injuries may have taken their toll but I believe a miracle (if I can call it that) can happen. He’s too nice a person to just go past his expiry date.

I leave you with a quote from Malcolm Forbes, which I consider to have some significance in Essien’s eventual departure, as well as another few in the present squad who are getting on a bit:

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”

To put it into football terms:

“Too many people overvalue what they have [in their team] and undervalue what they have [and don’t appreciate it]”.

There has been a lot of talk amongst Chelsea fans concerning the price of Champions League tickets. The current price to watch the blues at Stamford Bridge in Europe’s most prestigious tournament is £40 (plus a £1.50 booking fee). This is an increase of £10 when compared to last year. There has been talk of fans boycotting the home game vs Genk to show the club that they are not happy with the price.

Last season Chelsea played FC Copenhagen in the first knock out round. The blues had already won the first leg 2-0 against the less than glamorous side. The price of the ticket was around £50, which left lots of regular fans to decide whether to pay for a ticket or just watch the game at home for free. The issue was raised at the official Fan’s Forum and the results of a survey by the Chelsea Supporters’ Group showed that 69% of the 226 respondents weren’t going to the Copenhagen game. Of those, 96 weren’t going because of the price, but 87% would attend if the previous seasons prices had applied.

Many would argue that the club don’t care about the fans that regularly attend as there will always be other fans who would buy a ticket. This is a money making business and Chelsea is one of the hottest tickets in town. Now, if the Genk boycott does go ahead it will be interesting to see if it has any impact on the attendance. I am highlighting this point based on the crowd size of the Bayer Leverkusen game, which was 33,820.

For those of you unfamiliar with Chelsea’s average attendance, it is above 40,000. So how does last night’s attendance rank since Roman Abramovich took over in 2003? Well, the answer is that only 6 other home games have produced a lower turnout.  It is the lowest attendance for four years, since the blues hosted Rosenborg on the 18th September 2007 (24,973), or better known as Jose Mourinho’s last game in charge.

The only games that have had a lower attendance than the Bayer Leverkusen game have been in the Champions League.

The clever pricing of the League Cup games at £25 each has proven popular, and only 2 of the last 12 games have seen a crowd of less than 40,00 (vs QPR and Notts County). Even the FA Cup ticket prices of £30 have produced multiple sell outs. All 18 FA Cup games played at home since the 2004/05 have seen an attendance in excess of 40,000.

So, will the club panic after looking at the size of the crowd? Based on this evidence I very much doubt it. A game with 40,000 fans paying £30 a ticket brings in £1.2m. The Bayer Leverkusen game of 33,000 fans paying £40 brought in £1.32m. (This is an average price, which does not include concessions, but does also not factor in money spent in the bars/restaurant and club shops at the ground which brings in extra revenue).

So, is the difference income worth the bad name the club may get as well as alienating fans? The Genk game will be interesting to see if the boycott has any affect on future ticket pricing policies.

What do you think?

If you liked this article then follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder

The Ultimate Chelsea Player

Posted: September 3, 2011 by chelseachadder in Chelsea, English Premier League, Random, Tales of the Chadder

The current Chelsea squad is full with young players, international stars and world class players. Each of them have something to give to the blues, whether it’s Frank Lampard’s goals, Didier Drogba’s power, or Josh McEachran’s skill. However, there are some things us Chelsea fans could do without, such as Salomon Kalou’s finishing, Jose Bosingwa’s crossing, and Henrique Hilario’s kicking.

If you had the chance to make your ultimate Chelsea player, mixing the attributes they have, what would you include? The two players I have demonstrate this.

Ultimate Player

Right foot: There are many players to choose from, but for different reasons. Lampard has a fine range of passing and an eye for goal. Essien keeps the ball moving and is accurate in his distribution. Alex has a thunderbolt of a freekick, which we have all seen for its ferocity. However, the right foot I would choose is that of Didier Drogba. He has the power of Alex and can cross a ball better than most of the players in the team. For me though, his greatest attribute is his ability to control any kind of pass instantaneously. I have to admire the way he is able to bring down a long punt by Petr Cech, hold up the play, and cause havoc amongst the opposition defence.

Left foot: It seems as though Chelsea have collected a surprisingly large group of left footed players, although I’m unsure whether this is intentional (probably is). These players include McEachran, van Aanholt, Bertrand, Kakuta, and Sturridge in addition to the established first teamers. Ashley Cole is widely regarded the best left back in the world. I think most people would agree with this, and also agree that he is very left footed! However, the player I’m going to select is Florent Malouda. Yes, his performances over the last few years have been very up and down, but the Frenchman certainly creates chances as well as scoring goals.

Head: John Terry is a man mountain in the Chelsea defence and is often seen towering over opposition strikers (except Peter Crouch). His determination to win the ball is one of his strongest attributes. Didier Drogba is also great with his head. In fact, over the last few seasons, he is one of the top goal scorers in the Premier League for headed goals. He can also be found in his own penalty box heading away the opposition’s corners. However, the player that I think has the best of attacking and defensive heading is Branislav Ivanovic. The Serbian defender has chipped in with his goals over the last few seasons (including against Liverpool) and is rarely beaten in the air.

Work rate: This was a tough choice for me. The emergence of Ramires has really boosted Chelsea’s performances, especially in the last 15 minutes. Essien (when not injured) covers a lot of ground and, when in the Defensive Midfield position, works tirelessly without the ball. However, my choice for fitness would be Frank Lampard. His box to box mentality and immaculate fitness has been the driving force behind the plaudits he has gained from fans, fellow professionals and the media. However, we all know this fitness will not last forever, and I can see Ramires being the next ‘engine’ in midfield.

Skill: Again, a tricky one for me. Gael Kakuta has so much potential. Although he has had a limited number of appearances for Chelsea, his exploits with the French youth teams have really highlighted his talent, especially in the final third. Nicolas Anelka has very good close control, however, his persistence in holding on to the ball frustrates many fans. Chelsea’s new midfield acquisition, Juan Mata, has already shown a glimmer of his ability in his brief cameo. He is the signing that most blues fans are excited about, and we await to see if he is the ‘next Robben’ (or better). However, although he is still very young, Josh McEachran seems to have a natural ability to hold on to the ball, find a pass, and take players on. Therefore, I have chosen the skill of young Josh as my skill player.

Cult factor: There is always a player that the fans take to their hearts. Players like Zola and Osgood are obvious choices, but it’s players like Petar Borota, Mickey Thomas, Pat Nevin and Mark Hughes that really got the crowd going. There seems to be an appreciation for John Obi Mikel amongst Chelsea fans, although rarely gets the fans on their feet. What about ALEX, ALEX, ALEX. This chant can be heard whenever there is a freekick around the box. However, ever since his arrival in January 2011, David Luiz has gained a massive following. He is the reason why #IWantCurlyHairToo and #SideshowBob start trending on Twitter. His ‘crazy’ style of football is matched by his personality, especially the practical jokes he plays, often for the viewers of Chelsea TV.

Worst Player

Right foot: Ashley Cole

Left foot: Henrique Hilario

Head: Jose Bosingwa

Work rate: Florent Malouda

Skill: Paulo Ferreira

Cult factor: Salomon Kalou

Who would you submit as your best/worst player when looking at the current squad? Please put your ideas in the comments box below.

If you liked this article then please follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder

Let me start off by saying our new number 16 doesn’t at the least bit excite me. I am told that he has worked with Andre Villas-Boas before, but was sold at FC Porto after working with Chelsea’s current gaffer for just over a month. I am also told the money was good and it was Liverpool who came knocking asking the Portuguese club if Raul Meireles was available for a move to Anfield. The Porto management obliged and he was sold for around 13 million in August last year.

Meireles has made 44 appearances for Liverpool and scored five goals. While I am not against Chelsea giving the 28-year-old a four year contract, the logic behind the move is mind boggling. But only Villas-Boas will answer my (along with other confused Chelsea fans) questions once he starts playing him, or even once he is unveiled at a press conference sometime next week. Did the Chelsea manager decide hours before the transfer deadline that Meireles was his man? Or did our desperation to say “we also spent some money on deadline day” get the better of the powers that be at Stamford Bridge? Or did we just simply promise to pay him a better package that the “peanuts” he was being offered over at Liverpool? I won’t know until he starts playing for Chelsea. And it is interesting to know where he will play this season, especially given the fact that Villas-Boas hasn’t made up his mind about most of the positions in midfield at the club after some pre-season matches and three Premier League games.

Here’s what I know about Meireles, and all this information from a Liverpool mate of mine, who, I quote, said: “I am not losing any sleep over Meireles’ departure”. And then again, neither is Kenny Dalglish, the manager at Anfield.

1. He has good technique and approach to the game and likes the volleyed shots.

2. He can’t tackle – which rules out the option of him playing John Obi Mikel’s role as a defensive midfielder. Also not strong defensively, although he has claimed he can play there.

3. Clever passes and good movement off the ball.

4. He wasn’t going to start a lot of games at Liverpool because their midfield is ‘packed’.

It seems it was also public knowledge that the tattooed one was unhappy with his wages at his old club (I clearly missed this). While some people might claim Meireles worked with Villas-Boas before and the move made perfect sense, sorry to burst your bubbles, but it was only just for a month before he moved to Liverpool. But perhaps the manager relished the opportunity to work with him again and this time he knows there’s no big money move coming his way – he will at least have two years (the original life span of a Chelsea manager) to work with him.

Also for Chelsea to have signed another midfielder is music to my ears. Although disappointed that we failed to sign Luka Modric from Tottenham Hotspurs, another ‘creative’ mind will not do Chelsea any harm this season. I am, however, still a little bit concerned that Meireles has put paid to what was an exciting transfer window at Stamford Bridge – that being the bravery to have our oldest signing be a 23-year old Spaniard in Juan Mata.

With all signings concerned, I am happy we did not lure hot-head Craig Bellamy and Twitter sinner Joey Barton to Stamford Bridge.