CHELSEA v Sunderland: Preview

Date: Sunday 21st May, 2017
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 15:00 BST

Who could have predicted in May 2016 that one year on, the final game of the season would already see us crowned Premier League Champions?
After possibly the worst title defence we could have imagined, the arrival of Antonio Conte ensured the 2015/16 season faded into a distant nightmare we all woke from to happier times. Reinvigorating players like Hazard and Costa from an apathetic stupor, transforming Victor Moses and adding Kante, Luiz and Alonso into a system they can all perform in, has completely turned us around – and then some.
Not only has Conte’s brand of football got our attention though, the manner in which he’s gone about the job this season has won our hearts as well. After those defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool, whilst questions were being asked, Antonio Conte quietly went about his business, ringing the changes and the improvements came. Not for him the media circus that’s surrounded Chelsea manager’s for so many years, he’s gone about winning his first title with us, with humility, integrity and more passion than could ever have imagined from a manager during 90 minutes of football every week.
Anyway, onto the small matter of the game then and the visitors to Stamford Bridge are relegated Sunderland. I say Sunderland, although there appears to be so few of them available to play, David Moyes might be calling in favours from friends and family for his starting XI. Still, if his uncle Jim has a decent enough right foot, they could give us a bit of a game today.
Whatever the scoreline, there’s bound to be a watery eye or two at the final whistle though – and not for the Black Cats – but because this afternoon, marks the final Premier League game for John Terry after 716 appearances for Chelsea. His career at the club has spanned 22 years, during which time he’s become Chelsea’s most successful captain, leading them to five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Cup and the Champions League title since 2004. He may not have featured on the pitch much during this campaign, but his influence in the dressing room and at the training ground will have had no less impact than it has in every season.

Captain. Leader. Legend.

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West Brom v CHELSEA: Preview

Date: Friday 12th May, 2017
Venue: The Hawthorns
Kick-off: 20:00 BST

This time last season I just wanted it over and looking ahead to tonight’s game, there’s a part of me that still wants it over – but for very different reasons – because, if last season was all beer and bad kebabs, this year is all about champagne and caviar. Well ok, maybe not the caviar but the champagne is certainly chilling in the fridge, thanks to the Chelsea boss.
Antonio Conte has been an absolute inspiration this season – and not just because he has us winning again but because of the manner in which he’s done it. Conte has taken us to within one win of the Premier League title but more than that, he’s done it with humility, integrity and bucket loads of character. His management of the same abject group of players who finished last season in tenth place has been nothing short of superb, and for me, he deserves much more credit than any manager who fails to get past the finish line again.
I digress though because we’re not at the celebration stage yet, we’re still one win away from the title and between us and the three points we need are West Brom. They themselves will want to put a decent finish to the season together after a recent run of poor form. They don’t do badly against us at The Hawthorns and could end up with their best Premier League points total if they finish the season strongly, so we won’t want to give them too many set-pieces if those champagne corks are going to be popped before Monday!

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CHELSEA v Middlesbrough: Preview

Date: Monday 8th May, 2017
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 20:00 BST

Last week’s emphatic win at Goodison Park felt like we’d laid down our marker for the run-in. Most of us will have expected Spurs to follow it with a win over Arsenal and yet another little ride around town on their victory bus, metaphorically at least, but what we might not all have expected was for them to follow that by dropping 3 points against West Ham Friday night.
Not that anything has changed for us in terms of the points as such, because we remain 4 ahead at the top of the table. Tonight though, we have the opportunity to increase that gap to 7 points, which would leave us just one win away from the title. First though, we need to get past Middlesbrough and whilst they’ve been pretty grim this season, we have to remember they’re fighting for their Premier League lives and held City to a draw last time out.
With Luiz and Kante both likely to be missing for this one, the fat lady may not start clearing her lungs just yet.

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Everton v CHELSEA: Preview

Date: Sunday 30th April, 2017
Venue: Goodison Park
Kick-off: 14:05 BST

Today’s early game sees us travel to Merseyside for one of our toughest games in the run in, at Goodison Park.
The Toffees come into today’s game with 8 straight wins at home and whilst we might have beaten them 5-0 already this season, there’s no getting away from the fact they’ve won six of their last ten home games against us, three of those being in our last four trips to Goodison.
We might only have lost three of our last 28 games in the Premier League but 2 of those have come in our last five games, cutting our lead at the top of the table to just four points now and with Spurs more likely to beat Arsenal than ever in the late game today, we’ll need to do better at Goodison today than we usually do.

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CHELSEA v Southampton: Preview

Date: Tuesday 25th April, 2017
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 19:45 BST

We had a bit of a battle at the weekend before Eden Hazard edged us in front against Spurs and Nemanja Matic made the win certain with a belter from 25 yards out. So now that our FA Cup final spot is booked against Arsenal, it’s back to the business of the Premier League at home to Southampton.
The Saints have done well away from home lately, with 3 wins from the last 4, and whilst they haven’t beaten any of the current top six this season, they won’t fear coming to Stamford Bridge given their record against us.
Chelsea on the other hand, have lost 2 out of their last 4 in the Premier League and haven’t managed a clean sheet in ten games. This won’t be an easy game by any means but the pressure is on to keep that Spurs bus in the garage for another year.

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CHELSEA v Tottenham: FA Cup Preview

Date: Saturday 22nd April 2017
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT

Today’s game takes us to Wembley Stadium for an FA Cup semi final against Spurs.
A month ago, we might have gone into this game full of confidence but recent defeats to Palace and again last weekend against United have chipped away at that bravado. The manner of last week’s defeat in particular, where we looked completely out of sorts, hasn’t had the best impact ahead of today’s game, although to be fair, the result came against a backdrop of a ref content to ignore Rojo and Herrera hacking at ankles along with the odd handball, and the late absence of Courtois and even later withdrawal of Alonso who’d seemingly infected at least two other team mates on the pitch. This week, Gary Cahill has succumbed to gastroenteritis already so we’ll just have to hope nobody else falls foul of the bug before kick-off.
As for today’s opponents, as well as beating us already this calendar year, they’ve won their last 8 straight and as much as they’re trying to make themselves out as the underdogs, most of the predictions seem to be favouring a Spurs win this evening.
Personally, I’m just wondering how quickly we could spread this bug outside our own ranks.

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Manchester United v CHELSEA: Preview

Date: Sunday 16th April 2017
Venue: Old Trafford
Kick-off: 16:00 GMT

Before the engine has even had time to cool on the Spurs party bus after yesterday’s celebrations, this afternoon’s game sees us up against Manchester United for the third time this season. But are they a much improved Manchester United under Jose Mourinho? The unbeaten run might suggest that’s the case, until you google ‘draw’ and it throws up Mourinho’s latest excuse. They had managed to move up to the dizzy heights of 5th in the league before yesterday’s games, so that in itself will feel like progression, scintillating, attacking football as per ‘the United way’ though? Clearly they’re not there yet.
So what should we expect from them today then?
It’s Jose Mourinho and his side have already lost to us twice this season, so although he’s bound to mention at some point how much more tired they are, you can bet your arse he’ll be sending them out to ‘not lose’, whilst priming Ibrahimovic to take every opportunity to give Courtois a tough day.
As for Antonio Conte, I’d expect him to treat this game the same way he’s treated every game this season. He’ll send the players out there to win, he’ll leap around for 90 minutes like his shoes are on fire – and the rest is up to them.
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Bournemouth v CHELSEA: Preview

Date: Saturday 8th April, 2017
Venue: Vitality Stadium
Kick-off: 17:30 BST

Midweek was a bit of a roller-coaster for us, from the joy at Hazard’s opener and the disappointment of Aguero levelling it, to the high of Hazard’s second and knowing Swansea were ahead against Spurs, we had a nail-biting second half right until Swansea capitulated and we ended the night where we started – 7 points ahead.
Today though, with Spurs playing early in the day, we’re likely to go into the game against Bournemouth with the gap down to 4 points and a bit of pressure on us. Not that we should be relying on other results anyway but that defeat against Palace last weekend has reinstated the nerves a 10-point cushion lessened.
With clean sheets about as commonplace at Chelsea lately as in your average teenage bedroom, and Bournemouth looking pretty decent at the back, we could do with Costa remembering to bring his shooting boots with him today.

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CHELSEA v Man City: Preview

Date: Wednesday 5th April, 2017
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 20:00 BST

We’re heading towards the end of the season but the finish line still isn’t in sight, particularly after Saturday’s defeat to Crystal Palace. Not that our title challenge is entirely on the ropes because we still have a 7 point gap over Spurs – and we’d have given our right arm to even get near the top of the table last season – but we’d made ourselves comfortable at the top of the table before Saturday and we’re not sitting quite as pretty going into this game.
City looked like they might rip Arsenal a new one at the weekend but some iffy defending saw them finish up with their 3rd consecutive draw in the league. They took all 3 points from this fixture last season and they’ll want to do the same tonight rather than accept a 4th draw. Guardiola certainly won’t be sending them out to lose to us for a second time this season, so we’re in for a game of it.
After the doom and gloom that followed Saturday’s defeat, our players will either have to step up tonight, or there’ll be a few mourning this season’s challenge after the whistle.

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CHELSEA v Man City: Stats

Going into tomorrow’s game against Man City, here’s the stats courtesy of Kickoff.co.uk

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