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  1. Transfer Talk Topic

    I wish I shared the enthusiasm for Traoré, maybe 2 years ago he was still coachable but he'll be 26 soon and he's just an average player who's good at getting past people. Given the way our fans get frustrated at our own pretty good players, poor guy would get slaughtered at a club with more exposure. Spurs are rumoured to be interested. They've been for a while. Would be funny given they spent serious money on Emerson Royal in the summer. I know people believe Conte could work his Moses magic into him, maybe he can, but I have serious doubts. Traoré might work in counterattacking styles of football but he's a lot less effective when he has no space to run into, and dribbling is literally his main contribution.
  2. Transfer Talk Topic

    I doubt the Emerson recall will be "forced" - Emerson is playing every minute at Lyon, and he already knows Alonso is ahead of him at Chelsea, so I'm not sure he'll be up for it, especially as I think he knows he won't play big CL games for example. On the other hand, Lyon are in such a bad financial situation that they won't be able to find a replacement. Probably a last minute alternative if there are no options by mid January. Looks like Tuchel wants a RWB rather than a LWB: I think it makes sense short term and "big picture" wise. Another LWB would be overkill with so many under contract already. Also, the LB/LWB market is crap. Digne is on 110k/week, not very good and past his prime, and will be 29 in the summer. Would be a horrible Drinkwatersque transfer, and I think the board has learned from that. Dest fits perfectly. High ceiling as well. Maybe even Adama Traoré. If the club is dropping hints and publicly explaining why a RWB will bought in instead of a LWB - a deal must be fairly advanced. Dest's name truly emerged the past few days, so I'd bet on that if I have to.
  3. Transfer Talk Topic

    a) They're skint; so they have to sell on the cheap. They've loaned out Coutinho to Villa and are paying 70% of his 6 months salary - currently can't register Ferran. Dest is one of their better assets I would say. Bayern like him very much too. If you can get him under his market value, I'd say they're the losers there. b) He's not been used as much by Xavi, but I'd hardly take his judgement on players. He wants Morata. He's one of their better prospects, with actual talent, only 21 and good enough to play right now, on both sides (on the left particularly he's a Cancelo type). Under good coaching, I can only see him improving. I guess it's why Bayern still want him so much. He's on 40k/week at Barça, he'd get what? 70k or 80k at Chelsea. A positive asset, with the ceiling to actually compete with James & Chilwell short and long term. Easy to move if it doesn't work out. Digne is 28, on +100k/week (outrageous) and most definitely past his prime (at his prime, he wasn't good enough for a top club, by the way). He'll never challenge Chilwell, or even worse: if Chilwell isn't back to his best next year, you'll have to go back again in the market to get an expensive LB while carrying Digne's crazy wages. I hope Newcastle baits on the Digne deal like they did for Trippier.
  4. Transfer Talk Topic

    Dest is a name I like A LOT better than Digne. Digne is 28, on +£100k/week, way past his peak. In fact his peak was basically to be a crossing machine with a bit of pace. The pace is gone, the football IQ has always been nonexistent, and we're not a crossing team like Everton. I don't think Everton will go for the loan without option to buy. They know his stocks will crumble soon, he's now basically riding a hype from 2019 maybe - so they better sell him now or be stuck with him on their salary bill without playing. Hopefully Newcastle baits on the (bad) deal like they did with 31 year old Trippier. Dest on the other hand is 21, on much cheaper wages and has actual talent. Still raw, but can already play both sides - which is a welcome bonus. He needs refinement and maturity in his game, but is still fairly coachable. Most importantly, he can provide cover *and* long term competition to James & Chilwell. Also, if Dest doesn't work out: very easy to move. If Digne doesn't work out: you have a Zappacosta situation here.
  5. Chelsea 2 Tottenham Hotspur 0

    A convincing performance that should hopefully stop the nonsense that our players are crap or whatever. Spurs are much improved under Conte, as you'd expect, they dominated Liverpool, they played their main team (Dier the only noticeable loss for them), and we dominated much more, with some B team parts, that our friend Antonio is already trash talking his squad to a comical, but predictable level. I said after the Brighton draw that people are looking for complicated reasons for our slump, including somehow deciding we were never a good team this season or the players were worthless, when it was obvious that injuries+COVID+schedule is the most rational explanation. When we're fresh, relatively fit under Tuchel, we press teams to death, we play at a high intensity, and as a consequence, we play very good football and create tons of chances. Ziyech, Havertz, Lukaku, Saul all fresh players -> 5 PPDA in the 1st half, 7 PPDA in the 2nd half - one of the highest pressing intensity stats of the season. And what was back? Top quality football. All the passing, all the patterns we've been used to under TT. I truly believe that's the key part, not formations. Having Jorginho/Kovacic/Kanté all back (well, let's hope Kanté tests out in less than 10 days) allows to always have quality in midfield, fresh attackers allow a high intensity press, and suddenly the team is humming. The formation - I think we've played variation of this 4222 in games since day 1 under Tuchel. In his first game against Wolves, CHO was a RW more than a RB, Ziyech & Havertz were the 2 10s with Kovacic/Jorginho creating that 4-men midfield. I guess it's more unconventional when it's Ziyech playing instead of CHO or Pulisic. He cuts inside a lot more (but we've seen this from the WBs & James this season), and he has a lot less speed so it feels counterintuitive. Ziyech does have some of the highest workrate of our attackers, he's a pressing player coming from pressing machine Ajax, so I believe Tuchel knows this. It was said in the broadcast that he played the position with Ajax against Bayern once, that was interesting, maybe he volunteered. I believe it worked too because Tottenham's FB/WB are of really poor quality. You can leave Emerson a lot of space and he won't do much with it. It's a risk worth taking in that case. Individually, it was pleasing to see Sarr and Saul much improved. I had, still have some doubts about Sarr's tactical discipline, but he's been really good in his past few games, there might be a player there, he's young enough not to completely discredit him. As a backup it's perfect. Saul, I don't think he's improved suddenly as much as he's learned how to play in this league. He has learned that he can't rely on his ability to resist to the pressure and he won't be given the time he had in La Liga. He didn't hold onto the ball for too long, didn't try to take the ball and dribble past people, release the ball very quickly and even better, always knew where to pass the ball to before it arrived to him. Suddenly, he looks a different player. He looks like a really good player with excellent workrate. He's been given a lot of crap, but it basically took him 6 to 7 games to adapt, that's not actually bad. RLC still hasn't picked up on these things and has 120 PL games, so I think Saul deserves credit. If he can become a usable CM4 for the second half of the season/crunch time, it will be a successful loan in my book. Some other noteworthy performances: Azpi is playing as good as ever, defensively incredible. Alonso, far from the scrub people think he is, if Digne or Dest are coming, they've got a long way before starting over him. Mount playing on the left was refreshing. Similar to his role under Lampard - but this time, playing in a functional "hexagon" system. Havertz was much better than against Liverpool and that's to be expected, he's a player who takes time to recover from injuries/COVID. The overloads he created with Alonso & Mount were interesting. Werner/Lukaku works. It just works. They create space and chances for each other, and I hope we can see it more now (COVID/injuries). Southampton, Spurs in the league, Zenith, and last night. I'm really excited by the linkup. I thought Mendy looked really off on the ball for the past month and in some games, it contributed to some agitation on the back in the buildup. I think Kepa's confidence on the ball will be a real plus in his absence. This might be controversial, you lose some things with Mendy (long shots, claiming crosses) but we gain some things with Kepa too. It's not Lampard Kepa anymore, he's not a joke.
  6. Chelsea 2 Liverpool 2

    That's a completely wrong reading of the game. This was a game without control from either side. Extremely open, extremely direct, tons of chances either way. You do not just take complete control of the game, unless Liverpool completely collapses. They're Liverpool not Newcastle or Norwich. We did retake moderate control of the game - before Jorginho, Liverpool were starting to create a lot more in a one-sided way (especially start of the 2nd half - Liverpool had 10 shots all game, 4 of them came in quick succession between the 45th minute and the 70th minute - right before the Jorginho sub, Liverpool had no shots after he came on). They brought on Keita & AOC, two very good players on the ball to slow us down. It worked, but we also didn't let them control the rest of the game thanks to Jorginho. They had nowhere to go with the ball, nothing to create. On the other side, while we slowed down in attack, we had tons of set-pieces and some sustained pressure. The attackers (Havertz & Mount were exhausted) weren't going to be as active. So it worked perfectly on TT's side. There is no magical unicorn CM who stops the opposition *and* somehow relieves the entire team from the fatigue it accumulated and magically ups the pressing intensity of their tired team mates. Against Brighton, bringing Kanté on, stopped Brighton from creating and that's the control you can get when players are tired and can't press: one player doesn't fix big picture issues (like a collective, coordinated, effective press), they are strategic fixes.
  7. Chelsea 2 Liverpool 2

    That's nonsense. First, he did make a pass a first touch direct pass on the right that lead to the many corners/set-pieces later in the game - nonetheless, he wasn't asked to attack, that'd be stupid, he's a DM. He came on as the deepest 6 to keep Kovacic pushed up on the left to press high and keep giving freedom to Kanté without worrying about space vacated. But mostly, Jorginho came on as reaction what Liverpool did to adjust. When Keita & Jones came on for Liverpool, it meant they had 2 CMs who could actually keep the ball high in our half, as opposite to Milner or Henderson (more dangerous off the ball than on it). That was dangerous for Chelsea, since 1) the team was tired from such a high intensity effort 2) less pressing means more space through the middle and Chalobah off means less pace from CBs to step into midfield and stop counters. It was time to close up shop with 3 CMs, and force Liverpool to create from slow build-up rather than from counterattacks. Liverpool were less dangerous while we still threatened on set-piece. Correct reading of the game, correct decision, Jorginho did the tactical job asked to do. It's what having 3 top CMs does. Options, flexibility, high quality rotation. Tuchel knows this, and he knows he needs all 3 of them available.
  8. Chelsea 2 Liverpool 2

    I think you're misinterpreting here. My "accusation" wasn't towards Kane, it was an observation that white English footballers have a circle of friends in the media that usually protects them, and that's been obvious from quite some time. Kane has been very insulated when he was voluntarily missing training to force a move. Foden & Grealish have escaped most recently. For many years, Sterling had been horribly mistreated. Now I will say, like Droy noted, Black players have wisen up to this and have started to talk more publicly and strengthened their PR arsenal. Good for them. The issue still exists though for Black foreign players, who don't have the network of English players, and are often misunderstood because they come from different cultures (Francophone culture in particular). Anelka, Drogba, Evra in the past, Pogba recently. And now, this story seems to give the green light for a lot of pundits/journalists or whatever to go full blast on Lukaku - lazy, disgrace, diva , troublesome - some of those descriptions are borderline, stereotypes that are easily stamped on these guys, which is always suspicious to me.
  9. Chelsea 2 Liverpool 2

    In what way? Kane signed a massive, massive contract on massive money at Spurs, a very long one, and asked to leave the moment Spurs were clearly chasing after Conte, a few months after the end of Mourinho. I have sympathy for him, because I'm a rival fan and enjoy anything bad happening to Spurs, I wouldn't have sympathy for him if I were a Spurs fan. He went to the Neville show to basically tell the world that Spurs were a worthless club. He never openly talked about his situation to Spurs fans either, just went out about it through his pro-white-English-players friends in the media. As sneaky as it gets. It is different. Lukaku didn't ask to leave in his interview or be transferred, that has been extrapolated. It's pretty clear the "unhappy" comment was out of context. He's not happy with himself, physically and disagreed about his fitness or his playstyle. No big deal to me. His comments about Inter are affectionate fluff for Italian media. Drogba used to tell Marseille fans he'd be back all the time - even at 38 when he was just having fun playing, he didn't go back. It is fluff. Ultimately, players have done A LOT worse and came back from a lot worse. Dropping him out of the squad is a PR move, the same way Kepa was dropped out after the league cup final. Internally, everyone at the club reached the conclusion there was miscommunication between Kepa and the coaching staff during the final, but externally, they made the token gesture to lessen the media noise. This is all about the media noise, Tuchel himself said it. "There was too much media noise when we had a game to prepare. We will protect our player and resolve it internally with everyone because it's not personal to me" - as straightforward and business like as it gets. And it is business, because it is professional sports. Employee-employer relationship stuff.
  10. Chelsea 2 Liverpool 2

    Re: Lukaku's situation. Pretty obvious to me Tuchel might be annoyed but mostly about the media noise more than the contents of it (Media = "the loudest voice in the room"), so this was basically like Spurs not calling up Kane at the start of the season. Kane requested a transfer, leaked info all over the media, did that Neville interview. Sat out one or two games, came back in. Didn't even play well for weeks. Spurs fans are over it. Aaron Rodgers requested a trade in the summer, leaked information all over the media, played his first game and played badly (so really should have sat that one), then went on to play as good as he ever did. Packers fans got over it. Both are set to stay at their clubs. This is absolutely nothing new, and Lukaku's comments are hardly about requesting a transfer, far from it. It will get resolved with a quick talk, media noise will move on to the new Aubameyang case, and we can stop pretending it's something bigger than it actually is.
  11. Chelsea 2 Liverpool 2

    Mané's elbow is as intentional as it gets, as blatant of violent play as you'll see in 2022. The most obvious red card of the season possibly. Amazing how it's easy to bend the rules. Make a blatant red card offense in the 1st minute, you get away with it. Or the Villa defender tackles Lukaku in the last minute, doesn't get a red because the game is done. These two examples are there, and then The Athletic goes on to publish a piece today on how refs aren't biased, it's the fans. Bending the rules for "sympathy" or "not kill a game" is bias. I thought this game is an undeniable proof of what we could have been without the injuries and the acute fatigue/overload players are suffering from. Kanté has played only 30-40% of the minutes available this season. Kovacic, who has improved so much since TT's arrival, has been unavailable for 2 months of football. Having 3 top CMs make such a difference to this team, in terms of intensity and tactical flexibility. Jorginho has been overloaded with number of games without rest, and played through injury. He was dead tired against Villa & Brighton, so he'll need to be the one managed now. Anyone who thinks we can be a serious team without those 3 (all 3 of them) is fooling themselves. Last night was about directness and exploiting Liverpool's highline while matching, if not, exceeding their intensity. I think in terms of intensity, we have to laud the efforts of the guys. They're running on fumes and they gave it all their all. I don't know how can anyone question the "mentality" of this group of players, they've never showcased lack of mentality or effort in games. In terms of exploiting the high line, I think we could have done more with playing long balls and making runs. Werner was a huge loss for this game, he exploits a high line like no one else. Lukaku, too, would have done damage given how fragile the Liverpool CBs looked on 1v1. Plenty of positives for me. This shows we can easily be the 2nd best team in the league, maybe be a bit closer to City, if not for some injury/COVID luck. The whole team played well overall. I can't be too harsh on Chalobah, as it's the first game of this intensity he's played in his career while still carrying that Watford hamstring injury that keeps relapsing. I believe Havertz hasn't fully recovered from COVID and looks unfit still and Mount needs a breather. Think if anyone in the Chelsea hierarchy had any slight doubt about Tuchel*, they were squashed away. He's gone with a high risk gameplan and was very brave. 1 loss in all of his games against City/Liverpool since he became manager and has outcoached Klopp not for the first time. January will still be difficult, not because of the team's quality, but because of the schedule. Tuchel will have to navigate it carefully, take advantage of the 3 cup games coming to rotate smartly for all of them and maybe recreate a physical reset. When we play City, they'll basically have 2 full weeks of rest, which is huge since they looked tired against Arsenal. Thought the positive too is that Azpi & Alonso looked back to their best and played WB as well as at the start of the season. They're reliable players who can still take advantage of the position's attacking space. If we're going to look into the market, think I'd rather take a versatile WB who can cover on both sides and play at one of the side CB positions, Pulisic has been doing better than CHO this season at WB so that's a bonus. (*) not that I believe that, the board when they trust the tactical ability of a coach, let them have the full season, whether Top 4 is in play or not - Ancelotti 2nd year, Sarri, Conte - and pulls the trigger when they know the issue isn't circumstances (injuries, luck) but the coach's ability (Di Matteo, Lampard).
  12. Chelsea 1 Brighton 1

    Absolutely. Who even had COVID in that 2019-2020 season? Everyone got a long break, then you got to have a mini-preaseason and then games were scheduled all at the same time, with only the latter stages of the FA Cup playing a part. Most of the table was decided before the break as well, including Liverpool's title. This time is very different. It will be remembered like the Lakers winning the NBA 2020 in the COVID bubble. Teams not playing for almost a month, teams not playing for 3 weeks at the start of an outbreak, teams avoiding the 48 hours turnaround of Boxing Day fixtures, the Russian roulette of outbreaks & injuries. There were sackings in November, but I doubt we'll see any now, clubs aren't stupid, they know why Leeds have crumbled, why Chelsea have struggled, and no manager replacement fixes such issues. It's fine by me personally. City are a playing at a very high level and went on the same run as last season, that was always going to be hard. If we make sure we're still solidly in the Top 4 by February, we can focus on winning some cups thanks to favourable fixtures until May.
  13. So taken out of context and basically Lukaku acknowledging it hasn't been easy and regretting how he left the Inter fans. Much ado about nothing. Fabrizio Romano trying to generate any social media engagement with this COVID depressed & supremely boring January market.
  14. Chelsea 1 Brighton 1

    It's easy to predict of course, when we're not winning (we're not losing either), that a lot of the talk is about: players not good enough, can't compete with City/Liverpool, we were never good in the first place (weird but whatever), the mentality of the players, the contracts of the players and so on. Of course, football fans are often not satisfied by Occam's Razor reasoning. Why were we not good last season for months and months? The coach was completely inexperienced and had clear and obvious limitations from day 1- that wasn't satisfying enough for fans (and mediocre journalists like Matt Law) so we got the no leadership dressing room stories, the Rudiger stories, the German clique stories and so on. Right now, it really doesn't take much to understand why we're not as good as we've been since February 2021. On the pitch it's obvious, players look unfit, they're late to challenges, the team's shape isn't compact enough, we don't press anymore. All things relative to the physical shape of the squad. It's pretty obvious why, in addition to injuries (2 strikers out for months, 2 CMs out for months and another playing *through* injury, a few short term injuries at CBs, a wingback done for the season and another who will be out for months now too), we've had a COVID outbreak that didn't lead to a single game postponed (United & Spurs basically got a winter break and a preaseason for the latter). When Tuchel says he doesn't know what he can ask from the players. Ideally, his team presses: they can't do that right now. Ideally, his team is compact and doesn't give up space through the middle: they can't run 110km/game right now. Ideally, his team takes care of the ball and keeps it with absolute technical precision: they can't do that right now. They're toasted, they're out of breath. Jorginho has played through an injury and keeps playing and it's catching up to him, Kovacic looks more unfit than a player back from vacation: 2 months off and COVID does that to you. Kanté can only play 30 minutes there, 60 minutes there. Mount plays all the time and has lost some of his spark. You know who looks good? Lukaku looks good, he looks fresh, rested and fit. He hasn't played a lot this season. Kanté looks better than ever when he comes in, he looks fresh, hasn't played a lot too. Heck, Azpi looked very good last night too, he also hasn't played tons this season. There isn't a magical solution. Only rest and recovery cures fatigue. Only being at your best physically can allow for sophisticated tactical tweaks to deal with the loss of players to long term injuries. This is the harsh reality of sports. If you're not fit, it's hard to be good. You can ask Liverpool about that in 2020/2021 when they kept inexplicably losing tons of games at home, or City the year before when they lost 9 games in the season. It sucks but it happens. Not often, but it happens. Happened to Chelsea in 2006/2007. I'm not a believer in the January transfer cures. January deals are 90% bad deals. They're about players with bad stocks in the summer market, players on the wrong side of 20 you can't sell in the summer, they're deals for desperate clubs. So the solution from previous experiences of Chelsea sides or other PL side in injury ridden seasons is again (Occam's razor) simple: buckle down, go through the worst patch of your schedule with gritted teeth, which I imagine will be the case of our next few games: conservative approach, be solid defensively, 3 CMs if need be, let Lukaku+a fresh attacker take what they can take. The takes will be inflammatory certainly. We will emerge from that eventually with an easier schedule in the spring (and really, for the rest of the year - 3 of the Top 4 games will be done by the end of the first month - from Feb. we might be flying most likely), some players who haven't played much in the first 4 months due to injuries/COVID hitting their physical peak. It's damage control time. There's not much else you do when it's something out of your control, there are better days ahead.
  15. West Ham 3 Chelsea 2

    Tuchel just right now: Talent and tactics are one thing, you can be the most talented and have the most on point tactics, but if you're not physically 100% you can't execute. It's basic Physical Education 101 - even if you play in the park with your mates, you should notice that you're less sharp when you're tired. Worse if you're carrying pain in your body. Players aren't machines.