Archive for the ‘Andres Villas-Boas’ Category

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Here at Chelsea Headache, we love to welcome guest writers to express their thoughts on Chelsea. Today, we have the great opportunity to host the opinions of a certain @ChelseaRumours:

Thursday, 20th September 2007.

This was the day the world woke up to the news, that José Mourinho and Chelsea had parted company. Having won back-to-back titles, the 2nd and 3rd championships in the club’s history, Mourinho had already cemented a special place in Chelsea supporters’ hearts. However, an indifferent start to the 2007/2008 season that culminated in successive home draws against Blackburn Rovers and Rosenborg became the end of Mourinho’s era at Chelsea. It was to become the start of a season of heartbreaks, as we lost the league cup final to Tottenham in extra time, and then the lowest point in recent Chelsea history – losing to United on penalties, after John Terry slipped and hit the post.

Since, we have enjoyed mixed fortunes and under several different managers. Avram Grant took over immediately after José, but was never seen as a long-term solution by anybody. He was fired immediately after Chelsea’s champions league final defeat.

When Scolari was appointed in July 2008, hopes were again high at Stamford Bridge – but some zonal-marking later and we were managerless once again. Guus Hiddink took over, a favour for his old pal Roman Abramovich, and it was public knowledge that he would only be in charge for the rest of season. He did fantastically well in his brief period as manager, and by the end of his reign, many fans were wishing he would stay. A win % of 73 says it all, just one defeat in his 22 games in charge – and as all Chelsea fans will remember, the win percentage would’ve been even higher had a Mr. Øvrebø not decided to forget to put on his contact lenses when we faced Barcelona at the bridge. (Barcelona then played United off the pitch in the final, and that left all Chelsea fans wondering what might’ve been…) Never the less, Hiddink won us the FA Cup and left with his head held high.

Then came Ancelotti – and boy did we turn on the style in 2009/2010! 103 league goals, one FA Cup and one Premier League title later, and we’d won the first double in the club’s history. However, Ancelotti’s reign came to an end after a trophyless 2nd season, where a winter slump essentially cost us the title – we very nearly won it in the 36th round when we faced United at Old Trafford, but they ran out 2-1 winners and more or less secured the title that day. Fans and pundits alike were outraged when the news broke that Carlo had been fired – and looking back at the 2 seasons that have followed, it probably was a big mistake.

André Villas-Boas was the hottest manager name in the game when we appointed him, but some dreadful man-management skills and drastic tactics soon meant that he was unemployed again. His assistant Roberto Di Matteo, already a name known to the Chelsea supporters of course, took over – and we all know what the lead to. FA Cup glory and a Champions League won through shere determination against opponents who had far better players than us saw Roberto being offered a 2-year contract, which he signed. However, people were already saying that he was just a short-term solution before Abramovich could get his preferred manager in: Pep Guardiola. It proved to be a very short term solution, as we crashed out of the Champions League in the group stages and suffered a few poor results in the Premier League… things seemed bleak…

And then Rafa took over. As much as Chelsea fans unite in glory, here they united in rage. Some went as far as to saying that it was the worst possible replacement for a club legend – and many agreed. Results such as 0-1 at home to QPR and throwing away a 2-goal lead at Reading didn’t help Rafa convince the supporters that he was the right man for the job either, however a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford proved to be the turning point in our season – a few good results later, and Champions League participation as well as the Europa League trophy had been secured. Rafa left, and fans were now wondering who would take charge at the Bridge.

We were all hoping.

We were all dreaming.

But when it finally happened, we couldn’t really believe it. José Mourinho, the man who left Stamford Bridge on that Thursday in September 2007 had returned.

“I had in my career two great passions, Inter and Chelsea, and Chelsea is more than important for me. It was very, very hard to play against Chelsea and I did it only twice which was not so bad so now I promise exactly the same things I promised in 2004, with this difference which is I’m one of you.” – José Mourinho’s first interview during his second reign as Chelsea manager.

In many ways, Mourinho put more effort into this interview than he needed – he had us at ”I’m very happy.” – he’d continue his winning form at Chelsea by winning 2 italian titles with Inter as well as the Champions League, before winning the Copa del Rey and La Liga with Real Madrid. We’ve never doubted his managerial skills, and when Chelsea finally announced his return, my Twitter timeline exploded with happy tweets… After such a season with a manager like Benitez, it’s difficult to remember the last time we’ve all been this happy. (19/05/12)

Furthermore, Mourinho has stated that he’s in it for the long haul this time around. He says he’s much more mature, ready for a different kind of long-term project, where his previous clubs have mostly been about achieving immediate success – which, granted, he has done.

This new project includes establishing a confidence in the young players we have in our squad, a confidence that will see them achieve great things – which talents like Oscar, Eden Hazard and Lukaku as well as our youth players (Chalobah, Baker, Piazon, Aké and Loftus-Cheek spring to mind) are destined for. We might not see immediate success, but at the same time we are only one or two additions away from having a squad that is ready to challenge at the highest level – and I’m sure Mourinho has some players in mind.

Some of the big dilemmas he’ll face though, is whether to keep the likes of Petr Cech and Frank Lampard in our first XI, or whether to replace them with the huge talents that are Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne. While it is always hard enough to just say goodbye to legends like these, they might also be an important part of Mourinho’s plans in terms of the balance of experience and young talent – and it is no secret that these two as well as Terry and Ashley Cole are great friends with Mourinho, and could be vital for him to obtain a ”daddy” status (as Essien has labelled him) for some of our newer additions to the squad who aren’t familiar with José and his training methods.

Additionally there is the question of whether we need to sign another striker, with a big money move for Edinson Cavani being discussed. Romelu Lukaku has publically stated that he’d prefer to be loaned out if we do sign Cavani, as he fears he wouldn’t play frequently. Admittedly at his age, minutes on the pitch are a necessity, and Mourinho must decide if he trusts him to be our first choice striker (or whether Demba Ba or Fernando Torres are good enough for that!)

With André Schürrle all but one foot in Chelsea, maybe Mourinho will think of that as enough goal-scoring talent in the squad, with the likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard regularly hitting the back of the net – not to mention our defence who scored 27 goals this season, a quite spectacular amount of goals!

Mourinho will have many tasks to face as Chelsea manager, but he is up for the challenge – in fact he stated in his first interview that ”he wishes they’d start tomorrow.” while recognising the fact that the players obviously need a holiday. He’s determined, he’s got a plan and he’s at home here, so why shouldn’t it work out? It will most likely be a different story, but he has already said that himself as well – this is a new project, hopefully a long term one. Ultimately, this is what all Chelsea fans wanted to hear, many have screamed out for stability since Mourinho’s first reign as Chelsea manager, and is there anyone we’d rather have in charge of a long-term project Chelsea than The Special One? I doubt it.

He is one of us.

*This post was written a week or so ago so some topics such as Schürrle signing have now developed

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Terry Glad Players Are Unhappy

Posted: January 19, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Andres Villas-Boas, Chelsea, Terry

The heading will of course give the wrong impression but the following post should explain all.

Terry claims everyone at Chelsea wants to achieve the same goal. And rightly so. He also says that he’d not be impressed if there were players who were content to sit on the bench. Terry also explains how the media warp, players being unhappy about not featuring in a game, to being annoyed at the manager.

“Unfortunately when people do not play, you get people writing ‘this player is unhappy with the manager’, which I don’t think is the case – they are unhappy they are not playing. For me, whether you are young or old, you want to play every single week, regardless of the competition. That desire is what I want to see. If there are some players in our squad who are unhappy that they are not playing, I would rather that than players prepared to tick along, collect their wages and not care if they are in the side or not. For me, it is a good thing to have, a passion and belief they should be playing.”

Basically John Terry has looked at players stating their unhappiness from a different perspective and I think he’s really hit the nail on the head.

Lampard is not unhappy at Villas-Boas, he is unhappy to be not playing. Over time that could change but from my understanding they have a good relationship so we shouldn’t need to worry too much.

I’d like to think Malouda is silently improving in training and adapting to Villas-Boas’ style but things are looking just a little bleak for him.

So, apart from a minor amount of cases, next time you see a player grumbling because he’s not playing, the chances are he is trying very hard to improve and get back into the team. Competition for team places will keep the playing standard high.

Can only be a good thing, surely?

@GaryCRobertson

First of all, happy new year to all our readers! We hope you had a nice time over the festive season. All the best for 2012.

And now onto what this blog is all about – Chelsea.

This could be a pivotal few months: Torres almost guaranteed a starting place due to Drogba and Kalou away at AFCON, McEachran likewise but with Swansea (loan) and also potential new signings slotting into the side.

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It’s getting near the now or never stage for Torres to perform consistently. I firmly believe he will get there and with Drogba unavailable for selection, pressure may be dropped from his head. New attacking signings which may be made this month could prove to be vital in Torres’ future with Chelsea. As has been suggested before, a Mata-Torres partnership (4-2-3-1) would be a successful way to go but would mean altering the formation just for him – something Villas-Boas probably wouldn’t be too pleased to do to suit one player but you never know, he’s surprised us before.

McEachran’s loan to Swansea is something that I’m looking forward to as well. We haven’t been able to see Josh play week in week out in the top tier but now it might just be time to see him playing first team football for the Welsh pass meisters. I think we may be watching some more Swansea football on MOTD now that he’s going to be active in the Premier League. It’s obvious Brendan Rodgers is over the moon that he’s been able to get McEachran on loan – he will definitely utilise him properly.

And then we have the possibility of fresh new signings. Everyone likes new signings but I think I speak for everyone when I say, the Cahill transfer is getting a bit boring. Either sign or don’t! We’re getting fed up. There’s also been a number of rumours linking us with players including Eden Hazard of Lille and Di Maria from Real Madrid (most likely false). But it would seem the press are finding it difficult to find out who Chelsea want to sign so have reverted to who they will get rid of. Laughable at times. Best thing to do is wait until the club officially announces anything. That way it’s genuine.

So yeah, these next few months will be important in shaping the future of Chelsea. When (not if) McEachran succeeds with Swansea he will undoubtedly be a front runner for our first team next season. Torres, as I’ve said already, will have a  perfect opportunity to prove why he’s still one of the deadliest strikers in the world. And we could be gifted with a bunch of new faces too to liven up competition for places in the team. I’d also like to think that in the next few years, some of the young talents from the reserves will be able to make the leap into the first team.

All in all, there’s plenty to look ahead to.

(Also ESSIEN IS RETURNING SOON which is truly splendid)

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.

With the new season drawing near, we are all 100% focussed on the Premier League, THE most important trophy to win in my humble opinion. However, there has been a long standing elephant in the room, with two very big ears – The Champions League. Fleet Street’s finest (if there’s such a thing) claim it’s an obsession whilst the players play it down somewhat. We know however, that deep down, the likes of JT, Lampard, Drogba and Ashley Cole will forever regret it if they don’t win this famous trophy.

Fans of other clubs say Chelsea will never be seen as a top club until we have won it, and we all know that Roman has his eyes firmly set on this particular prize. So what are our chances this year? I have picked a handful of teams that I feel will challenge for the title and given my thoughts on how they will fare.

Barcelona:

No better place to start than the champions. Play the most attractive football in the world? Yes. Full of world class players including in my opinion the best ever? Yes. Possibly the best team of our generation? Yes. Can they be stopped? YES.

As good as they are, and as deserving as they are to be the European champions, I think they will come unstuck this season in Europe. I predict they will do well and advance to the semi-final stage before losing over two legs to one of these three teams….

Manchester United:

Yes, they were totally outplayed in last year’s final by the Catalan giants. But I just have a sneaking suspicion that if they are paired up (over two legs) again this year, it will be a different outcome. I feel Man United were a game changing player short of brilliant last season. Rooney may be an outlet but can’t be relied on all the time in every big game. If United secure the services of Dutch magician Wesley Sneijder, then I think he is the added impetus needed to tilt a big game in their favour.

From back to front they are strong but just lack that creative genius in midfield to take them up a level. Added to the fact that Fergie rarely loses to the same team three times in a row (not including the meaningless pre-season friendly), I think United could surprise a few people.

Chelsea:

A poor showing over the last two years by their usually high standards from Chelsea in Europe’s elite competition – Chelsea will be extra motivated this season I suspect. Why? Well as I mentioned, the backbone of Chelsea’s team won’t have many more chances to land the only prize which has eluded them thus far, added to the fact that AVB is a master of the art of motivation and team spirit.

We know Chelsea have the pedigree and the ability to beat Barcelona over two legs, we just need that little bit of luck (or cheating) to go our way this time. I believe we will win it this year; my only worry is if we draw man City over two legs – it’ll remind me of when we beat Arsenal at Highbury in 04.

Real Madrid:

Jose is a very quick learner. Like Fergie, he doesn’t lose to the same team too many times. The last four El Classico’s ended in a win each and two draws – compared to the 5-0 drubbing previous to that…is he turning the tide in the head to heads? Add Nuri Sahin to their squad and possibly Neymar in January and we are looking at a serious squad of players. I think they’ll be well groomed into the Mourinho ethos this season and will not be such a pushover as they were earlier last season.

Barcelona are clear favourites, no doubt, and Guardiola will like to finish with a bang at the Camp Nou this season if the reports of him leaving are to be true. Mourinho is Mourinho and we know Fergie loves this competition. But there’s a new kid on the block now, and wouldn’t it be one hell of an achievement if he wins this competition at his first attempt (Remind you of anyone?).

Just to get the monkey off our backs, let’s win it this season boys!

An Open Letter To AVB

Posted: August 5, 2011 by superjourno in Andres Villas-Boas, English Premier League, Random

Dear Andres Villas-Boas (AVB)

FANS, more especially football fans, are a fickle bunch. In more ways than one, they have a love/hate relationship with managers of clubs they would kill so see win – most of the matches. It would then be to your (our new Chelsea manager) benefit to find out just how “fickle” the Stamford Bridge fans are, with just over a week before the club’s first match. That’s an away clash against Stoke City on August 14 and I know you are aware of this.

A win away from home is still important, but not as crucial AVB’s first league match at Stamford Bridge a week later against West Bromwich Albion.

Managers – they won’t ever admit this – but can’t stand the fans. They feel they don’t have to answer to them, but sometimes they forget that club presidents give the supporters some power to have their say. So, up until now, the fans have loved you and showered you with praise. The more patient of the lot will allow you time to settle in and play around with a few ideas, chopping and changing the line-ups here and there. Fernando Torres or Didier Drogba upfront, it’s up to you, but a few defeats down the line, then you begin to feel the might of the Chelsea fans.

Your predecessor, Carlo Ancelotti, won the double (Premier League title and the FA Cup) in his first season and we absolutely loved him. His second season was marked with major disappointment and a full campaign without a trophy, we still kind of loved him. But the easily heartbroken (and rightfully so) large number of us hated him for allowing us to be the butt of jokes among our friends. AVB, we are just a few years apart and we know some of the players are older than you are. If this was going to be a problem for you at the club, you probably wouldn’t have taken the job and left your beloved FC Porto. Roman Abramovich would not have paid so much money to re-unite you with top players such as John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba. We hope the age debacle doesn’t surface sometime during the season as the reason why you aren’t getting results at Chelsea this season. And God forbid we are lying outside the top four by Christmas.

You have a lot on your plate and we get that, but please deliver us to our Holy Grail – the European Champions League. I doubt many of us were as obsessed with the Champions League as your new (there’s that word again) boss. But seeing our rivals Manchester United reach the finals was a bitter pill to swallow. It all brought back memories of our players being robbed of a victory against Barcelona, John Terry slipping and missing a crucial penalty in Moscow and Drogba, Michael Ballack and Jose Bosingwa being banned by Uefa – not necessarily in that order. I have a mouthful to say ahead for your first official match in charge of Chelsea this season, but let’s hold it right there for now. My last words are: No matter what you think of the fans, don’t hit us or end the season without silverware, heck even the Carling Cup will do.

Yours truly,

Mazola J. Molefe (@superjourno), one of many die-hard Chelsea fans.

Have you been wondering why Chelsea’s new manager, Andre Villas-Boas, hasn’t said a word about signing a big name player before the start of the season? (Well, apart from a few words here and there about Chelsea target Luka Modric just to give reporters something to chew on). The squad at Stamford Bridge is quite capable of winning trophies and, by no stretch of the imagination, possess great individual players who just let their egos get the best of them when they were close to cutting the three point gap between them and rivals Manchester United last season under Carlo Ancelotti.

Take this bit of rant by Salomon Kalou at the end of the season, where some claim he lifted the lid of the squabbles in the Chelsea dressing room:

“Our players were preoccupied with finding out who was in the side and who wasn’t. This disrupted our progress,” Kalou said, according to The Sun

“It is better to build a team gradually than to bring in players who will pout and sulk.”

In case you missed it, the Ivorian was having a jab at Fernando Torres, who arrived at Chelsea in January after being bought for £50 million – to score goals. But Kalou doesn’t stop there. He goes on: “Our team is used to winning and when we end up losing, things become hard for us.”

For me, among other special memories of this club, that is proof enough that Chelsea, with the current crop of players and not a player more, are unstoppable. Villas-Boas isn’t worried. He might want to inject some youth into the team, as we have seen with pre-season matches, but any manager would be ecstatic to inherit such a team. Despite most of them being older than the gaffer and approaching 35. Look at this team.

1. Peter Cech – of the 38 league matches, you can bet on him getting a clean sheet in just over half those games.

2. John Terry – forever solid at the back when not injured. That’s a pretty solid defender when he is not facing personal issues.

3. Alex/David Luiz/Slobadan Rajkovic – only the last name is untested at central defence

4. Ashley Cole – We all know he is the best left-back in England, if not the world.

5. Jose Bosingwa/Branislav Ivanovic – I thought so.

6. John Obi Mikel/Michael Essien – These tough as soldiers midfielders have more than 10 seasons between them.

7. Frank Lampard – Last chance for Holy Grail.

8. Didier Drogba/Nicolas Anelka – Like Lampard they are thirsty, and have had enough of being called underachievers.

I could go on, but you get the picture. We’re full of geezers, but they can do the job. With a manger as obsessed with details as AVB, expect one hell of a season.

Being manager of a team where your best players are eventually poached for better things must be an extreme annoyance. But after reading Owen Coyle’s recent comments on a potential Gary Cahill transfer, it would seem he is trying to generate some solid interest.

Long has it been known that Gary Cahill of Bolton is a player who has the feet for a bigger club. With Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal all rumoured to be interested in the England centre back, maybe it is time for Mr Coyle to let the floodgates open and let the bidding war begin.

Owen Coyle: “I think it is well known the belief I have in Gary Cahill and the quality he has.”

Now in that comment all we are hearing is that Coyle knows the sort of player that Cahill is and the skill he possesses. When you look at his next comment, you will realise that Coyle knows his days with Cahill are coming to an end:

“It only takes a phone call for it to all change but I have said to him he is a Bolton Wanderers player, he is well paid by Bolton Wanderers and he has to make sure he is focused to do the job in hand until something was to change. I know there is interest from other clubs, nothing concrete in terms of offers, but all these elite clubs know he is an outstanding player so we will have to wait and see what happens with that.”

All that tells us is that Owen Coyle is fully aware that Cahill will not be at the club for much longer, if bigger clubs become eager to buy him, and that he is perhaps even keen to get some concrete offers on the table as soon as possible. Wise move? In a sense, yes. By stating such things, he’s basically informing interested clubs that Cahill is available (for the right price). However, I believe that price will not be cheap. If a manager is on the verge of losing a key player, he will juice every penny out of the club that are in for him.

What’s more, Owen Coyle will no doubt be alert to Andre Villas-Boas’ enthusiasm about getting his hands on an English defender.

Part three of my Chelsea Squad Assessment sees me look at our much maligned midfield. There have been numerous press reports bemoaning our lack of creativity and pace in the central areas. Let’s take a closer look to see if these ‘experts’ are right:

Frank Lampard:

Super, super Frank; the man is a machine. Last season saw him suffer his first serious injury setback in his whole career, something which took him time to get over. He said it himself, he gets fitter and fitter the more he plays and it took him a few games to get back in the full swing. People criticised his performances last season but I am very strongly opinionated on this issue. Frank was injured for four months of the season and still managed to be the league’s 4th highest midfield goalscorer last season with 10 goals (13 in all competitions). Over the last five years Frank is the highest scoring midfielder and the second highest in the assist chart. He is a Chelsea legend who will never be replaced and he is far from past it. If he stays injury free this season (and depending on AVB’s playing style), expect 20 goals this season.

Rating: 8.5/10

Ramires:

After a relatively slow start where I admit I had him written off, he completely turned it around and was one of Chelsea’s best players later in the season. I will happily admit he made me eat humble pie, and it tasted good. Ramires has speed, strength and incredible stamina. He has become technically better than early last season where he misplaced lots of passes; which could have been down to confidence. He will go from strength to strength and could very well be a star with a year or two. I hope he plays in his natural central position this season.

Rating: 7.5/10

John Obi Mikel:

A bit of an enigma for Chelsea fans. He possesses undoubted talent, he is strong, he reads the game well and he rarely loses the ball. However, he often slows the pace of our game down too much and can dwell on the ball at times when we need to be quick. He can seem a bit lackadaisical at times but that’s just his style. He is a good player but it seems he has potential to be even better. I look forward to seeing him this year under AVB because one of his main promises is unlocking the potential of current players. Come on Obi (or Traci Chapman as his team mates call him), let this year be your year!

Rating: 6.5/10

Michael Essien:

An heroic performer in his prime. Unfortunately for Michael, I can’t see a way back after this latest injury nightmare. This season was very important for him to re-establish his best form. He was below par last season by his standards but that was understable, he needed time and we didn’t have the depth in the position to nurture him back. After serious knee injury number three, I can see it being just too much. It’s not just the physical side, it’s the mental side also. They (whoever ‘they’ are) say that they never get back to 100% after such injuries and I tend to agree. However, that Ramires based humble pie tasted so good I’d gladly have some more at the end of the season courtesy of the Bison. Get well soon Mick.

Rating: 6.5/10

Yossi Benayoun:

Yossi is effectively a new signing. He was unfortunate last season to suffer such a bad injury and I think he will turn out to be a bargain at £6m. He is extremely clever and the best word that describes his style is ‘guile’. He is underrated by the media and only Liverpool fans will know what he brings to the team. I think if he’s given an important role in the team he won’t disappoint and could well be the creative player we so badly desire. He has a great eye for a pass, but more importantly the ability to execute it. Yossi comes up with his fair share of goals also and for these reasons I do not think signing a ‘creative’ player is our biggest priority. You’ll have to check out the Forwards Assessment tomorrow to find out what I think we’re most lacking.

Rating: 7.5/10

Josh McEachran:

Deep breaths everyone… and relax. Thank you. Josh is 18 years old, just remember that. There is no doubt he’s going to be a star, no doubt at all, in fact he is probably good enough to be a regular in this team already. But…yes, there’s a but – look at any talented player who was played a lot and put through the rigours of the Premiership at an early age. Fabregas, Owen, Kewell, Dyer etc. Notice any trend? Injuries at an early age that have ruined season after season for these players. Of course there are exceptions to the rule but Josh has a lot of growing and filling out still to do and I would like to see him gradually nurtured and given the correct amount of game time over the next 2 seasons. Maybe 10 starts this season, 20 the following and so on. I would rather have him for 15 seasons at Chelsea rather than for the next 6/7 before his body collapses. An absolute gem, but lets make sure this acorn grows into the oak tree before he has to be chopped down.

Rating: 7/10

Yuri Zhirkov:

A tough one this. Yuri is a very very good player but he is always played out of position. I would like to see him deployed on the left wing. He is a great dribbler and he has a very good cross. Just what we need, someone who looks for the touchline. He can fill in at left back (not that we’re short in that position) and in midfield quite comfortably also. If he can stay injury free and is given a run of games we could see the player we all know he is. A good squad player, but I’m not sure he’s happy being that.

Rating: 6.5/10

Gael Kakuta:

When I first saw this kid I thought we had discovered the next Messi-type world star. Now don’t get me wrong, he still has the potential to be a top player but he has taken a step backwards recently. His loan to Fulham last year was iffy at best. I think another loan this season would benefit him, but it should be somewhere where he’ll play regularly. Only then can we assess him properly.

Rating: 5.5/10

Overall rating of Midfield Position: 7/10

Our midfield was not the force it always was last season. I think releasing Ballack was a mistake (and a year too early) as he was a huge presence for us. However, along with seasoned pro and man-machine Lampard, we have serious potential in Ramires and Josh in particular.

We have been heavily linked with big money moves for Pastore and Modric recently but I’m not sure that’s what we need, I would like to see us spend that money elsewhere. Benayoun provides the creativity along with Josh (and let’s not forget Frank’s stats), and Mikel will cover Essien while he’s injured. We have options to go wide with Zhirkov and Kakuta but we still need to add some more wide options, which will be further discussed in tomorrow’s Forwards Assessment.

Agree/Disagree? Please comment below or let me know @fattyfoulke

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Article by Derek O’Rourke

Follow me on Twitter: @fattyfoulke

Daniel Sturridge was amongst the goalscorers as Chelsea beat Kitchee in the semi-final of the Barclays Asia Trophy at the Hong Kong stadium.

Early proceedings were slow yet controlled by Chelsea, and in the first 10 minutes there were only two instances to note, Yuri Zhirkov volleying wide and Slobodan Rajković making a hash of a clearance. For the first half, Chelsea mainly focussed on keeping possession rather than surging forward everytime they got the ball. 16 minutes into the game, and a brilliant Didier Drogba cross was met by Salomon Kalou, who headed into the ground before the ball bounced up onto the bar, followed by Yossi Benayoun attempting a bicycle kick into his own face. Once Kitchee’s first substitution was made, the tempo did slow down, though Chelsea remained the dominant side.

Kitchee’s tactics of defending in numbers kept the score at 0-0. Kalou almost lobbed the ‘keeper Wang Zhenpang with a cross/shot in the 34th minute. Though in the 36th minute, Benayoun was brought down inside the box, with Lampard slotting the resulting penalty down the middle to make it 1-0.

Almost immediately after, Chelsea could’ve doubled their lead but Drogba headed across goal instead of at it and Kitchee were let off the hook. Drogba caused more trouble for the opponents on 43 minutes with a free-kick that forced Zhenpang into making an awkward diving save. Turnbull had very little to do in the first half, and when he did, he was almost caught out with a lobbed shot that ended up going over the bar.

To finish off the half, controversy, as Florent Malouda, as played through from a through ball from John Terry had a shot saved off the line by a defender with his arm, which would’ve resulted in another penalty and a sending off this time for sure.

With only one Kitchee sub at half-time, Chelsea players had more time to impress new boss Andre Villas-Boas. Zhirkov may have been a bit too keen though, as his wanting to impress landed his name in the book by referee Phil Dowd. After Kalou was fouled by Dani Cancela on the edge of the box after 48 minutes, Drogba fired onto the top of the net. A minute later, a Malouda cross was bundled into his own net by defender Ubay Luzardo.

After the second goal, Kitchee tried to press a bit more, but as soon as Chelsea got the ball back each time, normal service resumed. The only time they ventured upfield was around the 52nd minute, but the ball was ran out of play for a throw in. Malouda got another assist on 60 minutes, when his cross was met by a brave diving header by Didier Drogba, who was immediately substituted as Chelsea made six changes in two minutes. One of the biggest cheers of the night came when record signing Fernando Torres came on. As John Terry came off, the captain’s armband was given to Ashley Cole. The first substitute to make an impression was John Obi Mikel with a header from a Benayoun cross that went wide.

The next man to try and make a mark on the game was Daniel Sturridge, his first effort going well wide. However, after a free-kick that went over the bar, on the 77th minute, following lovely footwork he beat the ‘keeper at his near post and got the fourth and final goal. Benayoun won man of the match for his efforts.

Late in the game, even though 4-0 up, players were still looking to impress and put pressure on their opponents. Torres, in the 87th minute had a go with a free-kick, which flew over the bar. Though he improved, as the game reached the end, with a turn and shot hitting the post from a good 20 yards out. With an uneventful final two minutes of stoppage time, Chelsea finished the game like they had for the majority of the game, in possession. Another win, another clean sheet and no more injuries, which should please Andre Villas-Boas and Chelsea fans alike. Chelsea’s next game is against Aston Villa on Saturday 30th July at 13:30 BST.

Attendance – 33,900

Chelsea – Turnbull (Hilario 63); Ferreira, Rajković (Chalobah 76), Terry (c) (Ivanovic 63), Cole; Lampard (Mikel 63), Zhirkov (McEachran 61); Kalou, Benayoun, Malouda (Sturridge 61); Drogba (Torres 61).

Kitchee – Wang Zhenpang; Dani Guerrero, Fernando Recio, Ubay Luzardo (c), Dani Cancela; Jordi Tarrés (Lo Chi Kwan 21) (Ngan Lok Fung 78), Huang Yang (Lo Kwan Yee 72), Gao Wen (Dean Evans 53), Tsang Kam To (Liu Quankun 85), Liang Zicheng (Chu Siu Kei 58), Roberto Losada (James Ha 82).

Referee – Phil Dowd

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Match report written by Callum Maclean. You can follow Callum on Twitter @callummaclean91