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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Premier League Match Report - West Bromwich 0 Chelsea 4

West Bromwich 0 Chelsea 4
Antonio Conte’s 50th Premier League game in charge was celebrated in style, with our joint-best win in the competition this season.

Outstanding displays from our front two of Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard, who contributed three of the goals, were backed up by plenty of other strong contributions in a dominant display which yielded a fourth league win in a row and a third consecutive league clean sheet.

There was plenty to admire about both Morata’s opener and Hazard’s first of the game, and Marcos Alonso from a set-piece established a 3-0 lead by half-time. Hazard netted his second and the fourth goal overall just past the hour to send the team to Azerbaijan in good spirits, and above Tottenham in the Premier League table after their defeat in the north London derby earlier in the day.

For our match in the Midlands, Conte unsurprisingly named a side unchanged from the one which had beaten Manchester United impressively two weekends ago, and they justified his decision.
West Brom had a brief flurry early the game but once Chelsea had seen that off and taken the lead, this was a win that was never in doubt and the home fans, whose side had only won two of their previous 20 Premier League games, were audibly disgruntled long before half-time.

The Baggies had the first attack of real penetration, Jake Livermore at its heart, and the first effort on-target when Jay Rodriguez’s header was saved by Thibaut Courtois. Although our keeper could not do similar moments later from Salomon Rondon, the offside flag went up as the ball crossed the line.

Rondon was found inside our area again on nine minute but the closely marking Cesar Azpilicueta was able to snuff out the danger on that occasion, and it was time for the Blues to properly take control.

Andreas Christensen initiated an attack but when Davide Zappacosta’s cross came over, neither Morata nor Tiemoue Bakayoko could make it pay, and nor could the French midfielder soon after when he did everything right in taking a Cesc Fabregas pass and spinning to face the target, but he hooked the ball wide.

So we reached the quarter-of-an-hour mark goalless but the wait for the opener lasted only two minutes more as with his first chance of the game, Morata scored his ninth goal of the season. It was an expert finish too, the ball hooked in low first-time by the Spaniard’s left foot after Ben Foster’s dive and save had kept out Hazard’s stinging shot from distance. A long passing move had preceded that goal.
It was Hazard soon after who was surprisingly the first of five players booked for a barge on Grzegorz Krychowiak but he was soon making a positive contribution again with a sublime second goal. Fabregas played a pass through the middle which was helped on its way by a touch of first-class vision and technique by Morata. Hazard took the ball wide of Foster and then found the net; his turn to score with his left foot.
Foster escaped gifting the Blues another goal with a careless piece of control inside his penalty area. His follow-up stretch reached the ball just before Morata but another goal did come before the break and again our centre-forward was involved.

This time he won a free-kick on the left edge of the penalty area with powerful play. Fabregas delivered to the far post and Alonso kicked it into the roof of the net. Simple as that. 3-0. Thirty-seven minutes played.

Into the second half, Hazard’s brilliant run as Chelsea counter-attacked from on our own box nearly increased the Baggies’ misery but Foster saved well and when Fabregas latched onto the loose ball and was challenged, he was cautioned for simulation, as was the home team’s Rondon down the other end soon after.
Great play from Morata then forced another save from the West Brom keeper. The Spaniard was exposing the defence time and time again, as was Hazard with his bravery in attacking the opposition through the middle. Fabregas, almost needless to say, was the man who picked out our no.10 for his second goal of the game and having manoeuvred away from Ahmed Hegazi, Hazard patiently waited for the right moment before smashing the ball into the net.
Morata scooped another chance over after Kante had split the defence. On this second game since injury, the French dynamo again caught the eye.
The clean sheet was almost spoiled when James McClean was allowed a clear run on goal inside the final 10 minutes but the substitute wastefully shot wide, so our best-ever winning margin at the Hawthorns was assured.

Chelsea (3-5-2): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill (c); Zappacosta (Drinkwater 67), Kante (Willian 76), Fabregas, Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard (Pedro 70), Morata.
Unused subs Caballero, Rudiger, David Luiz, Ampadu.
Scorers Morata 17, Hazard 23, 62, Alonso 38
Hazard 19, Fabregas 50, Morata 89

West Brom (3-5-2): Foster; McAuley, Hegazy, Evans (c); Phillips (McClean 83), Krychowiak (Yacob h-t), Barry, Livermore, Gibbs: Rondon, Rodriguez (Burke 70).
Unused subs Myhill, Nyom, Brunt, Robson-Kanu.
Rondon 54, Yacob 88.

Referee Jon Moss
Crowd 23,592

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Premier League 2 Match Report - Tottenham 2 Chelsea 3

Tottenham 2 Chelsea 3
Our development squad collected three points on their travels for the first time this season as Martell Taylor-Crossdale’s brace and a late penalty from Callum Hudson-Odoi earned a deserved victory for the Blues.

The win helped Joe Edwards’s side rise three places to seventh in the Premier League 2 table and was entirely merited on the balance of play. They led as early as the second minute after Taylor-Crossdale poked in from close range, though the lead lasted less than 10 minutes as Shayon Harrison levelled for Tottenham.

It was 1-1 at the break before Taylor-Crossdale headed us back in front and then Hudson-Odoi converted a stoppage-time penalty after substitute Luke McCormick had been felled in the box. Kazaiah Sterling’s looping header ensured a nervy final couple of minutes but the visitors held firm to claim an important win.

Edwards made three changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Arsenal three weeks previously as Dujon Sterling travelled to the Hawthorns with the first team squad and Charly Musonda was sidelined with injury. Reece James came into the team at right-back, joining Trevoh Chalobah, Jake Clarke-Salter and Josh Grant in a back four protecting Jamie Cumming in goal.

Taylor-Crossdale continued to lead the line up front supported by Harvey St Clair, Jacob Maddox and Hudson-Odoi. The latter, one of our England Under-17 World Cup winners, had signed his first professional contract at the club the previous afternoon. In central midfield, Kyle Scott partnered Ruben Sammut.
Spurs included Argentinian international Erik Lamela in their starting 11 but it was the visitors who struck an early breakthrough on a drizzly afternoon at the Tottenham training ground. Creative short corner routines were a regular feature during Tuesday’s Cobham friendly win against Leyton Orient and it was a similar set-piece that fashioned the opening goal.

St Clair and Hudson-Odoi worked the ball to find the clever forward run of Scott and the midfielder squeezed a low cross into the six-yard box from the byline. There were bodies packed into a confined central area but Taylor-Crossdale found some space and provided enough contact on the ball to poke it over the line.
The Blues were buoyed by their early advantage and created further chances to extend the lead. Sammut and St Clair charged down the right channel but Japhet Tanganga covered enough ground to block St Clair’s strike before another short corner found its way to Maddox on the edge of the box, the midfielder’s drive diverted from danger.

Spurs restored parity with their first opportunity of note after 11 minutes of action. Marcus Edwards played forward to find Harrison’s run in behind and the striker, a familiar foe for our youngsters, struck low and inside the near post via a deflection from Chalobah. It was his 15th goal against us in just seven matches.

The momentum of the contest then swung in favour of the hosts, who went close with a free-kick from Edwards that curled narrowly wide before Lamela’s rising drive was tipped behind courtesy of an excellent save from Cumming.

Two good technical teams continued to carve out opportunities down both ends. Hudson-Odoi bent an effort just beyond the far post and Maddox couldn’t stretch quite enough to make decent contact from 15 yards out, both following St Clair’s supply from the right flank. On the opposite wing, Hudson-Odoi’s influence slowly grew and a dangerous inswinging centre narrowly evaded the lurking Taylor-Crossdale.

Lamela and Edwards were knitting play together neatly for Spurs in the final third, combining for Shilow Tracey to take aim from distance, though Cumming was watchful and held the powerful effort down low as it skimmed off the greasy turf.
Before the break, both sides had sights at goal that ought to have been capitalised upon. Hudson-Odoi (pictured left) demonstrated his quick footwork in tight areas to skip to the byline and cut the ball back invitingly into the box, though St Clair’s left-footed shot was expertly turned away on the line by Keanan Bennetts. Tracey then advanced threateningly towards goal but was thwarted by impressive defending from James, who resisted the urge to dive in and shepherded the winger away from danger.

It took six minutes longer for the visitors to net in the second period than it had in the first, though another bright opening paid due dividends for Edwards’s side. Hudson-Odoi flashed the ball dangerously across the face of goal moments before St Clair turned provider from the right. The wideman’s perfect cross found Taylor-Crossdale at the front post and the striker headed decisively beyond goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman for his third goal in the last two PL2 outings.

The rain came down with more intensity after the restart and the Blues settled into a useful 20-minute spell of uneventfulness. They continued to press from the front as Spurs attempted to play out from the back, cutting the home side’s threat at source and often turning over possession in advanced areas.

James advanced from full-back and latched on to Taylor-Crossdale’s square pass, firing over as the ball bounced up invitingly for him to strike, while St Clair crossed again for Taylor-Crossdale, whose header this time had too much height to test Whiteman.

Without a killer third goal approaching the final 15 minutes, there was also a danger that Tottenham would snatch two points from the grasp of the Blues, just as Arsenal had with a 90th-minute equaliser last time out. A lovely move from back to front carved open the hosts as Cumming clipped a ball to the left for Grant to flick on and Hudson-Odoi advanced. The forward found St Clair in support but our Scotland youth international was denied with a crucial block.

Substitute McCormick brought energy and passion to midfield, drilling a low shot straight at the keeper before charging forward to support a counter-attack. St Clair had released Hudson-Odoi down the right and the forward rolled a pass into the centre for McCormick, who made first contact but was clattered by Whiteman. The ball rolled wide and the referee pulled it back to award a penalty, which was confidently dispatched by Hudson-Odoi.
There was still time remaining for Spurs to pull a goal back, Sterling’s looping header dropping over Cumming and the jumping Clarke-Salter to nestle in the far corner, but it proved too little, too late for the home side. Edwards and his players punched the air in celebration and relief at the final whistle, a first victory since August ending a difficult winless period.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Jamie Cumming; Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah, Jake Clarke-Salter (c), Josh Grant; Ruben Sammut, Kyle Scott; Harvey St Clair, Jacob Maddox (Luke McCormick 67), Callum Hudson-Odoi; Martell Taylor-Crossdale (Cole Dasilva 88)
Unused subs Joseph Colley, Marcin Bulka, Kylian Hazard
Scorers Taylor-Crossdale 2, 53; Hudson-Odoi (pen) 90+2
Booked Chalobah 15; Sammut 79

Tottenham Alfie Whiteman, George Marsh, Keanan Bennetts (Christian Maghoma 62), Oliver Skipp, Japhet Tanganga, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Shilow Tracey, Luke Amos (c), Shayon Harrison, Marcus Edwards (Kazaiah Sterling 75), Erik Lamela (Joe Pritchard 60)
Unused subs
Charlie Austin, Ryan Loft
Scorers Harrison 11; Sterling 90+4
Booked Pritchard 62; Whiteman 90+1
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Saturday, 18 November 2017

U18 Premier League Match Report - Chelsea 1 Brighton 0

Chelsea 1 Brighton 0
Our Under-18s took their time to break down a resilient Brighton side but a wonderful free-kick from Billy Gilmour (pictured above) 10 minutes from time sealed the league points for Jody Morris’s men.

Marc Guehi’s header hit the bar and Charlie Brown’s penalty kick was saved in the first period, with Guehi also having to clear off his line after a rare attacking foray from the visitors. It was a frustrating evening at a clear and cold Cobham for the hosts as it looked like a breakthrough goal would evade them, though Gilmour’s brilliant bending finish late on ensured the league leaders claimed a deserved full complement of the points.

Morris made three changes from the side that were 3-0 winners at Brighton in the Under-18 Premier League Cup a fortnight previously, with goalkeeper Nicolas Tie, Marcel Lavinier and Jon Russell returning to the side.
The Seagulls had just two alterations to their team and arrived at Cobham keen to make amends for a painful previous visit in which they were beaten 13-0 back in February. Morris conceded in the build-up how that was a freak result and warned his side to be wary of Brighton’s qualities, though it was the hosts who made a bright start in the opening five minutes.

Brown was heavily involved up front, heading an inswinging George McEachran corner off-target before racing clear through the middle but dragging his finish just wide. A clever run off the defender’s shoulder moments later fashioned another sight at goal following Conor Gallagher’s forward pass and the visiting goalkeeper got his timing badly wrong as he took the striker down with his attempt to play the ball.

It was the clearest of penalty decisions for the referee but far from decisive contact from 12 yards as Tom McGill made amends and pushed Brown's effort to safety down low to his right. From the following corner, Guehi rose highest in the middle and directed a header towards goal but saw his effort clip the top of the crossbar and bounce behind.

Brighton’s early attacking intent was minimal, with Tariq Lamptey’s flicked header away at the back post the only notable defending required of the hosts in the first half hour. Brown continued to pose our biggest threat, bringing down a high ball with super control, though his lobbed finish dropped just wide.

The Blues soon lost their early impetus in the face of resistant defending from the visitors, whose best chance was fashioned by Mamadou Kone delivering from the left and Isaac Hutchinson volleying harmlessly over Tie’s bar.
Down the other end, Guehi poked wide after Brighton failed to clear a corner and both Gallagher then McEachran brought routine stops from McGill. Gallagher continued to drive the team from midfield, charging forward and exchanging passes with Daishawn Redan but his shot lacked the accuracy to trouble the goalkeeper.

Another of our England Under-17 World Cup winners made a telling contribution right before the break as Ian Buckman’s side threatened to strike first. Hutchinson delivered a deep cross towards Stefan Ljubicic at the far post and the big striker nodded back across goal, though Guehi read the danger and was well-positioned to clear from the goal-line.

Morris made tactical and personnel adjustments at the interval, swapping Juan Castillo for Brown and switching to a 3-4-2-1 shape. The game’s momentum remained with the Blues, who controlled possession and continued to probe in the attacking third. Gilmour swung in a free-kick but Guehi’s header was an easy catch for McGill, while Lavinier latched on to a loose ball in the box but smashed a strike a whisker wide.

Frustration grew as the half progressed without a breakthrough for the hosts. McEachran curled a deflected effort wide after Redan and Gilmour failed to get their close-range shots away, while the Seagulls flew under the radar in an attacking sense, offering little in the way of a final third threat.
Schoolboy Tino Anjorin was introduced with 25 minutes remaining and it was his burst forward that earned a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the box. Gilmour had proved his danger from similar positions in previous games and the Scottish midfielder did not fail to produce when required, bending a brilliant effort over the wall and inside the near post.

It was no less than the dominant home side deserved for their efforts. Teddy Hoare fired a speculative attempt wide and Gallagher went close to doubling the advantage late on with a curling, dipping strike from 20 yards but the solitary goal was enough to secure the three league points, extending our lead at the southern section summit to eight.

Chelsea (4-diamond-2) Nicolas Tie; Tariq Lamptey, Marc Guehi, Marcel Lavinier, Jon Panzo; Jonathan Russell (Tino Anjorin 66), Billy Gilmour, Conor Gallagher (c), George McEachran; Daishawn Redan, Charlie Brown (Juan Castillo h/t)
Unused subs Renedi Masampu, Karlo Ziger, Clinton Mola
Scorer Gilmour 80
Booked Gallagher

Brighton Tom McGill, Hamish Morrison, Mamadou Kone, Tareq Shihab, Ben Clark-Eden, Hayden Roberts, Isaac Hutchinson, Jordan Araujo (Teddy Hoare 64), Stefan Ljubicic (Charlie Ferguson 78), Dan Cashman (Ryan Longman 67), Alex Cochrane
Unused subs
Cameron Tutt, George Bentley

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Thursday, 16 November 2017

UEFA Women's Champions League Match Report - Rosengard 0 Chelsea 1

Bayern Munich 2 Chelsea 1 (Chelsea win with agg. 0-4)
Chelsea Ladies are in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Champions League for the first time after Ji So-Yun’s goal made it two wins out of two against Rosengard.

The Blues had done much of the hard work in the first leg and they finished the job off in style tonight with another convincing victory against the third-ranked team in Europe.

Chelsea had chances throughout but one goal was enough in the end, Ji the scorer following some fine individual work by Crystal Dunn.

This was another outstanding collective performance, though, and when European football resumes next year Emma Hayes’s side will be full of confidence having already knocked out two of the best teams in the competition.

The draw for both the quarter-finals and the semi-finals is on November 24, with the last eight matches themselves taking place in the final week of March.

Hayes opted to make a single change to the team that had won so convincingly in Kingston a week ago, bringing in Erin Cuthbert for Fran Kirby up front.
Our hosts also mixed things up in attack, with German striker Anja Mittag, the all-time UEFA women’s club competition scorer, selected to lead the Rosengard line.

The Blues started brightly on a cold night at the Malmo IP Stadium. Inside the opening 90 seconds, Ji bent a curling effort a fraction wide of the far post after good work from Ramona Bachmann, and it epitomised a confident first 10 minutes during which the Blues forced Rosengard onto the back foot.

The Swedish side would have wanted an early goal to try and get a foothold in the tie and they nearly got it at the end of a flowing move down our right, but thankfully for us Sanne Troelsgaard fired wide after Ali Riley had squared invitingly.

Cuthbert was proving a willing runner and when she was felled 25 yards out, Ji stepped up and brought a diving save out of Zecira Musovic between the Rosengard posts. From the resulting corner, played short, the keeper had to turn Bachmann’s dangerous, deep cross over the bar.
Chelsea chances kept coming before the midway point of the half had even been reached. Cuthbert and Bachmann combined to tee up Mjelde, who skewed her left-footed shot well off target, and shortly after, Ji’s goalbound effort was blocked.

On 33 minutes, with the game now evenly balanced, an unmarked Gilly Flaherty headed another well-worked corner wide.

It proved the final clear opportunity of a half the Blues had certainly had the better of, and we could perhaps count ourselves unfortunate not to be further ahead in the tie.

As it turned out, we didn’t have to wait long to take the advantage on the night and all but put the tie to bed.

The goal owed much to the pace and skill of Crystal Dunn, who tricked her way past her marker and into the box before finding Ji. The South Korean’s first-time finish took a slight deflection off Glodis Viggosdottir, which helped it past Musovic.

Rosengard now needed to score five but it remained the Blues who looked more likely. Bachmann blasted a whisker wide a couple of minutes after Ji’s goal, and Mjelde’s clever header drew Musovic into action again.

There followed a couple of minor scares for Hayes’s side but as has been the case for so much of this European, and indeed domestic, campaign, the defence held firm and picked up another clean sheet.

Bachmann had shone against her former club and it needed a good save from Musovic to deny the Swiss star from a similar position in which she had scored in the first leg.

On 75 minutes, Mjelde passed up two glorious opportunities to add her name to the scoresheet, first heading a free-kick over, and then finding herself one-on-one but thwarted by the busy Musovic.
The keeper tipped over a rising Kirby drive shortly after the former Reading striker had come on for Katie Chapman, but by now it was incidental with the job well and truly done.

All that was left to do was to celebrate another landmark achievement in Chelsea Ladies’ history.

Chelsea Lindahl; Bright, Flaherty, Eriksson; Thorisdottir (Blundell 62), Chapman (c) (Kirby 78), Mjelde, Ji, Dunn; Cuthbert (Carney 69), Bachmann.
Unused subs Telford, Rafferty, Spence, Aluko.
Scorer Ji 53
Booked Bachmann 67

Rosengard Musovic; Sorensen, Asante, Viggosdottir, Riley; Folkesson, Seger (c), Wieder; Troelsgaard (Hellstrom 78), Mittag, Landeka.
Unused subs McLeod, Sundqvist, Svensson, Torisson, Filekovic, Lyberg.

Referee Esther Staubli from Switzerland

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Monday, 13 November 2017

FA WSL Match Report - Reading 2 Chelsea 2

Reading 2 Chelsea 2
Goals from Karen Carney and Eniola Aluko helped the Blues come from behind against Reading, but a stoppage-time leveller for the Royals ended our flawless start to the WSL1 campaign.
The Blues recovered from the novelty of trailing in the league for the first time so far this term and looked to be heading for a fifth straight victory in the WSL1. Fresh from her decisive contribution last weekend, Carney found the equaliser from another flawless set-piece, before Aluko netted her fifth goal of the season to put us ahead. However, an own goal from Magda Eriksson deep into injury time ensured it was only a point for the Blues.
Emma Hayes made limited changes to her line-up for what promised to be a demanding league encounter, though sandwiched in the middle of our Champions League round-of-16 tie against Rosengard. Gemma Davison was one of three English players back in the starting XI, replacing Crystal Dunn having appeared from the bench in our previous two games.
Drew Spence and Carney also returned to the side. Spence led the line alongside Fran Kirby in place of Ramona Bachmann, while Carney, who scored a stoppage-time penalty to earn us three points at Bristol, came in for Ji So-Yun and operated in a free role behind the front two.
Both Reading and Chelsea, playing in our third kit, wore poppies on their shirts and took part in a minute’s silence before the match to honour Remembrance Sunday.
The opening exchanges set the pattern for the rest of the match, with Chelsea preferring to play out from the back and dominating possession. Meanwhile, Reading pressed us high up the pitch and searched for direct passes into their attackers whenever they won the ball.
Spence forced a decent save from Mary Earps within the first five minutes thanks to some tenacious play inside the penalty area. The Blues No 24 fought hard to forge a yard of space and test the goalkeeper with a low, left-footed strike across goal, albeit at a tight angle.
Kirby was next to challenge her England colleague. A perfectly weighted pass from Davison put her through on goal, but an onrushing Earps quickly snuffed out her dipped finish. We had another chance to go a goal to the good shortly afterwards when Davison decided to cut inside herself on this occasion and launched a piledriver narrowly over the crossbar.
Reading threatened for the first time after 13 minutes as Fara Williams, who scored the winner for the Royals straight from the kick-off against Arsenal last Sunday, unleashed a characteristic long-range effort towards Hedvig Lindahl but her volley was off target.
Carney delivered a peach of a cross towards Spence as we approached the half-hour mark but the experienced defender Jo Potter managed to get her head to it first. Katie Chapman followed up moments later with a powerful shot from 30 yards, but the WSL1 leaders were beginning to look a little frustrated in the face of disciplined defending from the hosts.
We conceded our first goal of the league campaign on 35 minutes after failing to clear a speculative ball into the box. A punched attempt by Lindahl ultimately fell to Williams, who left Remi Allen with a simple finish after supplying her late run with a smart backheel.
Chelsea responded with intent in the second half as Dunn replaced Maria Thorisdottir in an attacking substitution. Kirby burst into the Reading box a couple of times after the kick-off but her crosses did not quite produce clear-cut opportunities against her former club.
The Blues eventually found our equaliser on 56 minutes through a pinpoint free-kick by Carney. Our wily winger had earned the chance herself in a dangerous position on the edge of the 18-yard box, curling a corker of a strike over the wall and smoothly past Earps.
The match briefly resembled a kicking contest as Williams struck the woodwork from a similar position at the other end. Chelsea regained the ascendancy, though, and Spence gave herself a good opening on the counter-attack before seeing her shot well saved.
Kirby came close for the visitors using her typical close control to weave her way into the area. Spence was again lurking in front of goal, ready to seize the rebound, and it took some wonderful defending by Harriet Scott to turn away a left-footed shot from the former.
Reading were prepared to put their bodies on the line several more times, Kirsty Pearce denying Kirby a tap-in and preventing Davison from capitalising on a positive run down the right wing. Still level with 20 minutes remaining, the game was hanging on a thread.
However, the Blues took the lead for the first time and it was a superbly worked goal featuring a patient build-up and then a wonderful finish at the decisive moment, as Aluko struck firmly into the far corner from the edge of the box to give us the advantage.
It looked to be enough to secure a fifth win out of five in the WSL1 as Reading saw two clear-cut opportunities kept out by Lindahl, but there was one final twist in stoppage time as a hopeful free-kick into the box was headed past her own goalkeeper by Eriksson.
The next task for Chelsea Ladies is to protect our three-goal advantage against Rosengard on Wednesday night as we aim to reach our first-ever European quarter-final. The second leg in Malmö kicks off at 5.30pm (UK time), with live coverage available via Chelsea TV or our YouTube channel, and is the last fixture ahead of the November international break.

Reading Earps, Scott (Jane 81), Williams (Linnett 79), Bartrip, Pearce (c), (Van Den Berg 88), Furness, Allen, Bruton, Chaplen, Potter, Rowe
Unused subs Moloney, Green
Scorers Allen 35, Eriksson OG 90+2
Booked Chaplen, Pearce

Chelsea (3-4-1-2) Lindahl; Bright, Flaherty, Eriksson; Thorisdottir (Dunn 45), Mjelde, Chapman (c), Davison (Blundell 76); Carney; Kirby, Spence (Aluko 66)
Unused subs Spencer, Ji, Cuthbert, Bachmann
Scorers Carney 56, Aluko 75
Booked Thorisdottir, Eriksson

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Friday, 10 November 2017

Chelsea Legend - Michael Ballack (2006-2010)

Michael Ballack
Ballack agreed to join English Premier League club Chelsea on a free transfer on 15 May 2006. During his last season with Bayern, there were rumours of interest from Manchester United, Real Madrid, Internazionale and Milan, but Ballack instead chose to go to Stamford Bridge. Shortly after arriving at Chelsea, Ballack stated that he hoped to end his career at Chelsea.

2006–07 season
Ballack's debut for Chelsea came on 31 July 2006, during a practice match at UCLA's intramural football pitch. Chelsea presented him to the media the following day where the club also gave him his favoured number 13 shirt, worn throughout his career. Upon doing so, William Gallas, who previously wore the number 13 shirt for Chelsea, was given the number 3 shirt. This move created animosity between Gallas and the club as Gallas felt that he was underappreciated. On 27 August 2006, Ballack made his Premier League debut for Chelsea against Blackburn Rovers. On 12 September, he scored his first goal for the club on his Champions League debut against Werder Bremen.

He received the first straight red card of his career in Chelsea's 1–0 win over Liverpool on 17 September 2006, after being judged to have stamped on Mohamed Sissoko's leg. Ballack scored his first Premier League goal on 21 October 2006 against Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge with a header. His first FA Cup goal came in the 109th minute in the semi-final against Blackburn on 15 April 2007. This goal resulted in Chelsea progressing into the FA Cup final. He scored eight goals in all competitions for the club in the 2006–07 season, including a free-kick against Everton at Goodison Park, as well as a half-volley against Porto which sent Chelsea through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Throughout his first season at Chelsea, Ballack was criticised for his lethargic performances – for playing as though he had "a huge cigar in his mouth".

On 29 April 2007, Chelsea released a statement on their official website, informing fans that Ballack had undergone ankle surgery in Munich. As a result, Ballack did not play in the FA Cup final against Manchester United, which Chelsea won 1–0 through Didier Drogba's extra time goal. This was Ballack's second trophy this season, his first being the League Cup, the final of which he started.

2007–08 season
Despite persistent rumours in the summer 2007 transfer window, Ballack denied that he wanted to leave and no such move materialised. Chelsea left Ballack out of their Champions League squad for the 2007–08 group stage as they realised that his injury would prevent him from playing any useful part and preferred to select the fully fit Steve Sidwell. The German international had an ankle operation in the summer and Chelsea could not take the risk of him not regaining full fitness before the end of the group stage. Thus, Ballack could not play in the Champions League before the knockout stages began in February. The club was only able to select 23 out of a possible 25 players for their Champions League squad due to the new UEFA regulations on "association-trained players" and "club-trained players". Due to this regulation, Chelsea were also unable to select young player Scott Sinclair and could only pick 23 players as their only "club-trained player" was John Terry. For this reason, it was deemed unwise to gamble on Ballack being fit at some point.

Ballack made his return to the side in Chelsea's 2–0 League Cup win over Liverpool on 19 December 2007. Ballack tallied an assist late in the game to striker Andriy Shevchenko. On 26 December 2007, Ballack made his Premier League return in a thrilling game against Aston Villa which ended 4–4. He came on for Frank Lampard in the 26th minute after the latter had picked up a thigh injury. In first-half stoppage time, he won a penalty after being brought down in the box by Zat Knight, which Andriy Shevchenko converted. In the 88th minute, with the score tied at 3–3, Ballack stepped up to take a free-kick, which he buried into the bottom left corner of the goal, but the match ended in a 4–4 draw.

Ballack captained the Chelsea team in the absence of captain John Terry and vice-captain Frank Lampard in a 2–1 win over Newcastle United on 29 December 2007. Ballack then played his 50th game in a Chelsea shirt in a 2–1 win against Fulham in which he scored the winning goal for Chelsea.

He also scored the only goal that won the match for Chelsea against Reading to extend the blues' winning streak to a record of nine. And, on 5 March 2007, he scored again, this time against Olympiacos in the Champions League round of 16 in a 3–0 win. He scored the winning goal in the 2–0 win in the second leg of the quarter-finals against Fenerbahçe, a victory that secured Chelsea a place in the semi-finals.

Ballack continued to score vital goals and, on 26 April 2008, he scored a header and a penalty to give Chelsea a 2–1 win over Manchester United. He was named Man of The Match for his performance. It brought the two teams level in the race for the Premier League title only two matchdays before the end of the season.

The season ended on a low note for Ballack as Chelsea finished runners-up in the League Cup, Premier League and Champions League. This completed another treble horror for Ballack and his club. On 29 June 2008, Germany, captained by Ballack, lost to Spain 1–0 in the final of UEFA Euro 2008. This became the second season in Ballack's career after 2002 that he was runner-up for four major trophies.

2008–09 season
The 2008–09 season started well for Ballack, as he set up Joe Cole to score the first goal in a 4–0 win over Portsmouth in the first game of the season. Ballack was injured shortly after missing the games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. Ballack's return from injury has been a lift for Chelsea as he set up Deco to score a scissor kick in a 2–0 win against Bolton Wanderers. Ballack's first goal of the '09 season came against Southend United in their FA Cup replay, a match which Chelsea went on to win 4–1. Ballack's first Premier League goal of the 2008–09 season came on 11 April 2009 in a match against Bolton, ending 4–3 for Chelsea. He came on as a second-half substitute as Chelsea won the 2009 FA Cup final. On 2 June 2009, Ballack signed a one-year contract extension with Chelsea.

2009–10 season
In Chelsea's second game of the season, away at Sunderland, Ballack scored his first goal of the 2009–10 campaign in their 3–1 win. Ballack also scored against Burnley in a 3–0 win. Ballack made his first Champions League appearance for the season against Porto. On 20 September 2009, he scored his third league goal, against Tottenham. On 17 January 2010, he scored his fourth league goal and third assist in a 7–2 win against Sunderland. In Chelsea's fifth round FA Cup tie against Cardiff City, Ballack scored the goal which put the Blues back in front; Chelsea ultimately won 4–1.

Ballack was sent off in Chelsea's 4–2 defeat against Manchester City on 27 February 2010. Chelsea went on to win the 2009–10 Premier League, Ballack's first league title in England. He also started as Chelsea were victorious against Portsmouth in the 2010 FA Cup final, however he would come off injured shortly before half-time after a tackle by Kevin-Prince Boateng. As a result of the injury, Ballack was not able to participate in the 2010 World Cup.

On 9 June 2010, it was announced that Ballack, along with teammates Joe Cole and Juliano Belletti, would leave Chelsea on a free transfer after his contract was not renewed. It was reported that while manager Carlo Ancelotti wanted to retain Ballack, club owner Roman Abramovich was only willing to offer a one-year deal due to Ballack's age.

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Chelsea Legend - Florent Malouda (2007-2013)

Florent Malouda
Malouda made public his wish to leave Lyon at the end of the 2006–07 season, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid showing interest in the winger. On 29 June 2007, Malouda told Lyon-based newspaper Le Progres that he has his heart set on a move to Chelsea, confirming that Chelsea had lodged a €17 million bid for him. Malouda later repeated this comment in an interview with the Daily Star. On 5 July 2007, Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon told Sky Sports News that Chelsea had been in discussions with Lyon regarding Malouda's transfer and were hoping to tie up the deal before Chelsea's pre-season tour of the United States.

On 8 July 2007, Lyon club president Jean-Michel Aulas announced that the club had accepted an undisclosed bid, rumoured to be around £13 million, from Chelsea for Malouda. Chelsea later officially revealed that Malouda would be traveling to London on 9 July for a medical and to discuss personal terms. Malouda had looked set to join Liverpool until their Premier League rivals Chelsea intervened. At 7 pm on the same day, Malouda officially signed a three-year contract with the club.

He was handed the number 15 shirt. Chelsea manager José Mourinho described Malouda as a mature and proven player who was up to the challenge of adapting to the fast pace of English football, and hinted that Malouda would be fielded in tandem with Dutch winger Arjen Robben.

In his first game for Chelsea, a pre-season friendly against Mexican side América, Malouda scored the equaliser and set up John Terry for the winning goal for Chelsea and went on to win 2–1.

Malouda made his competitive debut for Chelsea against Manchester United in the 2007 FA Community Shield on 5 August 2007 in a 1–1 draw; despite Chelsea going on to lose on penalties, he scored in what was an impressive display. Malouda started against Birmingham City on 12 August on the left wing, a position previously adopted by Arjen Robben and Joe Cole. Malouda scored Chelsea's second goal in a 3–2 victory, before being replaced by Steve Sidwell in the 83rd minute, with the win cementing Chelsea's place in the history books by overtaking Liverpool's record of 63-straight home games unbeaten.

On 13 August, Malouda won a penalty awarded by referee Rob Styles in a Premier League match against Liverpool. Replays of the incident indicated Malouda had backed into Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher after trying to leave the ball for the unmarked Didier Drogba. The penalty kick was given and Frank Lampard scored. Referee Rob Styles was dropped from the next weekend Premier League games as a result of this incident and some other contentious decisions during the game.

Malouda scored against Schalke 04 in his first Champions League match for Chelsea, squeezing the ball through keeper Manuel Neuer's legs after turning his marker Rafinha. On 23 January, Malouda set up Joe Cole with a long pass to score against Everton in the League Cup; Chelsea won the tie 3–1 on aggregate. On 5 May 2008, Malouda scored his second Premier League goal in the penultimate game of the season against Newcastle United, converting a Frank Lampard through-ball. Malouda ended his first season in English football with two goals and one assist in the league, a relatively poor return due to being second choice on the left wing to Salomon Kalou for the majority of the season and the shock arrival of Avram Grant as Chelsea manager.

Malouda scored his first two goals in the Luiz Felipe Scolari era against French outfit Bordeaux in the Champions League group stages on 16 September 2008, and in the League Cup third round tie against Portsmouth. Both games went on to be 4–0 victories for Chelsea. His first league goal of the season was against Middlesbrough in a 5–0 win. The Frenchman scored the crucial second goal in a 2–0 win against Newcastle, scoring from Frank Lampard's pass in what was almost a carbon copy of the goal he scored at St James' Park the previous season. Malouda then played one of his best games for Chelsea in a 3–1 win over Liverpool in the Champions League, supplying crosses for Branislav Ivanović and Didier Drogba to score. He then scored the leveling goal against Arsenal in what would be a 2–1 victory for Chelsea in their FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium.

On 2 May, he netted in Chelsea's 3–1 win over Fulham at Stamford Bridge. On 6 May in a Champions League semi final against Barcelona, Malouda was disallowed a potential penalty by the controversial referee, who disallowed numerous other Chelsea appeals for a penalty. He scored the fourth goal in a famous 4–1 victory over Arsenal which was their biggest defeat in the league at home for 38 years. The game marked his 50th Premier League match for the Blues.

The next match in the Premier League was against Blackburn Rovers. He scored the first goal in the game from a fine header. In the 2009 FA Cup Final against Everton, he played a pivotal role in Chelsea's 2–1 win setting up Didier Drogba's equaliser but was then later denied a superb goal when his 36-yard strike hit the underside of the crossbar, despite replays showing it crossed the line.

Malouda's impressive form in the last half of the season prompted interest from big teams such as Barcelona and Milan. On 23 June 2009, however, Malouda proved his loyalty by signing a new four-year deal with Chelsea which would keep him at Stamford Bridge until 2013.

After the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti in the 2009–10 season, Malouda found himself playing in a more central role on the left of Ancelotti's preferred diamond formation in midfield. On 12 September 2009 against Stoke City he grabbed the winner on the 94th minute to get Chelsea all three points. On 4 October 2009, Malouda scored the final goal in a 2–0 win over Liverpool. He continued his fine form scoring the second goal in a 4–0 win over Bolton Wanderers in the League Cup. On 3 November 2009, Malouda made his 100th appearance for Chelsea in a Champions League match against Atlético Madrid. On 21 November 2009, he scored the first goal in a 4–0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, which was in the fourth minute and from 25 yards out. On 26 December 2009, Malouda was sent off for the first time in the season for tackling Stephen Carr in a league game against Birmingham City at St Andrew's.

On 16 January 2010, Malouda scored a superb solo goal against Sunderland in a 7–2 win. In a Premier League match against West Ham United, Malouda was voted Man of the Match, delivering 16 crosses, two of which were turned into goals (thus counted as assists) and scoring one. Malouda scored a brace against Portsmouth on 24 March, a match Chelsea won 5–0. On 27 March, Malouda scored two more goals against Aston Villa in the match which Chelsea won 7–1.

In Chelsea's most important fixture of the 2009–10 Premier League campaign against title rivals Manchester United, Malouda played a pivotal role in setting up the first goal of the match. By evading Antonio Valencia and Darren Fletcher en route to the penalty area, Malouda was able to deliver a low cross to Joe Cole, who redirected the ball with his back heel past goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. Chelsea would go on to win the game 2–1. Malouda was designated for the first time as Premier League's Player of the Month in March 2010. He scored the second goal for Chelsea in a 3–0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final for the second successive year on 10 April 2010.

Malouda was one of the stand-out players in the league during the 2009–10 campaign. He was controversially not included in the Team of the Season despite compiling an impressive 12 goals and 8 assists. Overall, he scored 15 goals and provided 15 assists during the 2009–10 season. He finished joint 12th top scorer in the Premier League that season with Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov.

Malouda began the 2010–11 Premier League season for Chelsea by scoring the first goal of their Premier League campaign against West Bromwich Albion, and later getting another in a record 6–0 opening day win. He scored his third goal of the season in another 6–0 demolition of Wigan Athletic. Malouda scored his fourth goal of the season against Stoke City in a 2–0 win. He continued this prolific form against Blackpool, scoring 2 more goals to take his goal tally to six only five games into the season.

On 24 January 2011, Malouda scored in the 41st minute against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium in a 4–0 victory for Chelsea in a game in which he completed the full 90 minutes. On 20 April 2011 he scored 2 goals in the game against Birmingham City at Stamford Bridge, starting in a 3–1 win. As of May 2011, he had scored 41 goals in 179 matches in all competitions since making his debut back in 2007. Florent is also widely known for his hairstyle changes. During the 2010–11 Premier League season he was Chelsea's top league goalscorer, with a total of 13 goals, ahead of the likes of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.

During the summer of 2011, following Chelsea's signing of Spanish World Cup-winning winger Juan Mata, Italian Serie A giants Juventus were strongly linked with a move for Malouda, having previously been linked with the winger, and were reportedly looking to make a bid for Malouda. Following the speculation Malouda, speaking ahead of France's European Championship qualifier against Albania, Malouda insisted that he wanted to stay at Stamford Bridge until the next World Cup at least. As France captain speaking on 31 August 2011 to the press, he said, "I've always been clear in my choices. It's going to be very difficult to take me out of my club ... I've still got two years left on my Chelsea contract. My objective is to extend by one year until the 2014 World Cup ... That hasn't changed and it won't change tonight."

Malouda scored his first goal of the season during Chelsea's Premier League clash with West Brom, a 2–1 Chelsea victory. His second goal of the season came in the 5–1 demolition of Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley during the FA Cup semi-final. On 21 April, Malouda made a rare start for Chelsea as they played out a 0–0 draw with rivals Arsenal. This was followed by another goal on 29 April in a 6–1 thrashing of local rivals Queens Park Rangers.

Malouda came on as an injury time substitute in Chelsea's 2–1 defeat of Liverpool in the FA Cup final on 5 May, and collected his third FA Cup winners medal. He picked up a small injury in the club's last game of the Premier League season, a 2–1 defeat of relegated Blackburn Rovers which left him in doubt for the Champions League final. He passed a late fitness test and started on the bench for the Champions League final in Munich. He came on as a second-half substitute for Champions League debutant Ryan Bertrand in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich on 19 May at the Allianz Arena. The game was decided by spot kicks as Chelsea ran out 4–3 winners, with Malouda helping them become the first London club to win the European Cup/Champions League trophy. Following an up-and-down season where he was regularly out of the first team, Malouda pledged his loyalty to the club and promised that he would work his hardest to prove his worth again to the club and fans.

Malouda missed some of Chelsea's pre-season matches as he was given extra rest following his inclusion in France's UEFA Euro 2012 squad. He was used as a second-half substitute in the pre-season matches against Paris Saint-Germain, MLS All-Stars, and Milan.

Malouda requested a transfer away from Chelsea during the summer. A number of teams in Brazil, as well as his former club Lyon, all showed an interest while the window was open, but Malouda refused to take a significant wage drop from his £80,000 a week. As a result of his refusal to move, he was not picked to be a member of the Chelsea squad in any competition. He was instead ordered to train away from the regular team with the under-21 squad.

On 30 June 2013, Malouda was released by Chelsea.

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