Chelsea and John Terry end on high as five-star Blues demolish Sunderland 5-1

Match Summary

Chelsea round off the title-winning season, and John Terry’s career at Stamford Bridge, in emphatic style with a 5-1 demolition of bottom-of-the-table Sunderland.

The Blues, knowing that if they won they would become the first Premier League side to ever win 30 matches in a 38-game season, fell behind early but re-grouped through Willian, Hazard and Pedro before Batshuayi put the icing on the cake with an injury-time brace late on.

It was the perfect ending to the season, with the Blues finishing on 93 points, as the division’s second-highest goalscorers and Courtois the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets, as Cahill and Terry both jointly lifted the Premier League trophy.

But the headlines will be dominated by the romantic farewell for Chelsea’s captain, John Terry, making his 717th and final appearance for Chelsea, who departed with a standing ovation and guard of honour in the 26th minute of the match, in line with his Chelsea shirt number.

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Antonio Conte would have been forgiven for resting a few players for this dead-rubber, especially with an FA Cup Final to prepare for next week, but the Italian opted for a full-strength starting elevent in front of an adoring Stamford Bridge crowd for the final time this season.

However, it was not the start they were hoping for.

A Sunderland free-kick inside the first three minutes was not properly cleared by the Chelsea back-line, featuring John Terry for the final time, and Manquillo slotted home.

Whilst that was not in the script, this fixture has produced an average of 3.6 goals in the 31 Premier League meetings these sides have met for, and so it was no surprise to see another quick goal, this time in line with the script-writers.

Hazard won a soft free-kick from Jack Rodwell, but referee Neil Swarbrick gave it and Marcos Alonso shaped to shoot. Whilst the distance — 20 yards — was in his range, it cannoned back off the bar, and after some dallying by multiple Chelsea players, none of whom wanted to shoot, it fell to Willian to drive it past Pickford.

After the slow start, Chelsea soon found their gear.

Alonso was next to try and get involved from long range, whilst a Luiz disguised his free-kick, shaping to shoot but in reality finding Costa, who peeled away on the left-hand side but miscued his side-foot volley.

Corner after corner went Chelsea’s way as the Blues kept probing, and in truth it was no doubt from corners that John Terry had the best chance of a parting goal.

But he was not to get one.

Conte had been talking about preparing a “surprise” for this game, and it came in the 26th minute — John Terry’s Chelsea shirt number — when Cahill stripped off to come on for the departing Chelsea captain.

It was a move well-orchestrated — with Pickford making sure he kicked the ball out of play in time for a stoppage in play to occur, and then the Chelsea players formed their own little guard of honour for the Chelsea defender — but whilst the players were in-the-know, it did appear to take the Chelsea fans inside the ground by surprise, with many expecting a hurrah much later.

The game was starting to have a testimonial-like feel, but Costa brought things back to life with his ferocious nature, elbowing John O’Shea off the ball and getting a yellow card for his troubles.

The Sunderland defender could have had the last laugh on Costa and his club, though, when he nearly scored from another Sunderland set-piece, and Chelsea were struggling to deal with them into the second half, with Rodwell heading low and nearly catching Courtois by surprise.

But at the other end, the Chelsea talent shone through.

A long Willian ball presented a quick counter-attacking opportunity for Chelsea, with 2-on-2. Costa passed to Hazard, who was shown onto his outside smartly by the defender, with the Belgian wanting to cut in. Turns out the Belgian’s left foot is just as accurate, firing past Pickford to put Chelsea in the lead for the first time this match.

Conte then opted to preserve the big guns ready for next week’s Wembley showdown, with Costa and Hazard both departing, but their substitutes in Pedro and Batshuayi were no outsiders to the Chelsea title-winning team this season, and proved such by scoring or assisting three remaining Chelsea goals.

A Fabregas long ball left Lescott in a panic, needing to head the ball somehow with Pedro breathing down his neck, but the Englishman inadvertently sent it closer towards goal, and with Pickford off his line and in no man’s land, Pedro raced on to head in a third.

Batshuayi would make things worse for David Moyes’ 499th Premier League game as a manager, scoring twice in the final two minutes.

Pedro found the Belgian for the first one with an excellent reverse pass and Batshuayi beat the offside trap to slide home, whilst the icing on the game was a pure solo goal, collecting the ball on the right wing and cutting inside on his left foot to curl past Pickford.

It was a day of celebration: celebration for the emphatic win, celebration for the title-winning campaign, and more poignantly, celebration of a true Chelsea great in John Terry.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

MICHY BATSHUAYI: Bit-part player? Judging by these last three games, I think not. Michy Batshuayi has had to bide his time to justify his £33 million price tag since his summer move from Marseille, but with the title-winning goal against West Brom, the Belgian only had half an hour on the field today and still bagged a classy brace. With Costa waving to the Chelsea fans on his substitution, could Batshuayi been Chelsea’s leading man next season? 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was in dreamland: “I dreamt this but I must be honest if you asked me on my first day at Chelsea if I would win the league and be in the final of the FA Cup, it [would have been] very difficult for me to imagine this. It is an amazing moment for us to celebrate this win, for me and the players. I think this change [three at the back] was very important for us. We found the right balance and every single player enjoyed this type of situation. It was a key moment for us.”

Terry deliver an emotional farewell speech: “I have been very fortunate to work with some unbelievable players and managers throughout my career. I am thankful to every single one of them. We all have to thank Roman Abramovich. I would like to thank him and all the board. He is the best owner in world football. I will come back here one day, supporting the team for years to come.”

Moyes’ emotions could hardly have been more contrasting: “I am a man who has just lost a game today and I am gutted at the way we have lost it. I am gutted that we have been relegated, I am really disappointed at the way the season has gone.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Chelsea serve fans a seven-goal thriller in 4-3 homecoming victory against Watford

Match Summary

Chelsea made hard work, but ultimately gave their fans an entertaining match, of their first match back at Stamford Bridge since being crowned champions with a 4-3 win against Watford.

With Conte making nine changes since clinching the trophy just 72 hours prior, John Terry was restored to the line-up and made himself hero and villain inside 25 minutes, scoring the game’s first before gifting Capoue an equaliser moments later.

Azpilicueta and Batshuayi put daylight between the two sides but Jaanmart and Okaka had other ideas, before the seven-goal thriller was settled by Fabregas coming off the bench.

Whilst in other circumstances Conte will be disappointed Watford scored from all their shots on target, it proved to be a good run-out for his fringe men as his side equalled the league record of 29 victories in a season, set by the Blues themselves in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

And with Sunderland to go at home on Sunday, there is every chance the Italian could go one better than Mourinho’s run and secure 30 wins.

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The hosts were the division’s highest scorers going into the game with 76 goals, but even the most die-hard of Chelsea fans would not have expected this seven-goal spectacular, especially when noting the starting line-up omitted the likes of Costa and Pedro.

However the tone was set within three minutes by Willian, who was through on goal but cynically brought down to warrant the first yellow card on a busy evening for Lee Mason.

Whilst nothing came of that, great skill at Chelsea’s next attack between Batshuayi and Hazard could have yielded a goal but Hazard could not find the finish when he cut inside.

Batshuayi was then through on goal and his swivel and shot brought the corner from which Chelsea did break the deadlock. Willian’s outswinger was met, at the second attempt, by a flailing John Terry leg to score his first goal for Antonio Conte.

It was a romantic, if scrappy, goal, but the script-writer could not have timed it more perfectly for the Chelsea stalwart who is set the leave the club at the end of the season, for it was the 100th goal of Chelsea’s season, and 1,000th since Roman Abramovich took over, an era John Terry has been the lynchpin of.

Whilst the goal meant the Chelsea captain has now netted in each of his past 17 top-flight campaigns, he would undo the headlines, at least partially, by a momentary lapse in concentration which followed seconds later. A mix-up between Chalobah and himself when clearing the ball saw Terry head the ball too short back to Begovic and Capoue pounced to score just their second goal in 10 hours of action. Not so romantic after all.

Kante was clearly learning from Fabregas on the training field with a sublime Fabregas-esque  80 yard pass to Hazard, whose first touch let him down before Gomes smothered. The Belgian then was fed another delicious 80 yard ball by Willian, cutting inside but dragging wide of the near post.

Kenedy was seeking to establish himself in Conte’s plans for next season and whilst his shot was cleared by Gomes for a corner, it was from this set-piece Chelsea got their noses in front again. The ball fell kindly to Azpilicueta on the edge of the box and the Chelsea defender picked his spot and hammered it past Gomes from 20 yards for his first Premier League goal since January 2016.

The cushion became two early in the second half when Willian’s left-wing strike brought a good save from Gomes when it was destined to curl in, and from the corner Kenedy was urged to shoot. Whilst he did, he slipped and the stray shot found Ake who was deemed onside and the youngster unselfishly squared to Friday’s hero Batshuayi to tap in.

But Chelsea were clearly in party mode as once again Watford levelled within two minutes, with Jaanmart getting on the scoresheet after cutting in from the left.

Consistent Chelsea passages of play could not yet draw out the fourth goal but the hosts were probing. Hazard and Batshuayi got closest but Gomes saved with his feet from 5 yards, whilst Azpilicueta looked to grab his brace from 20 yards again but Gomes blocked this time.

Batshuayi nearly found Hazard racing clean through but for a last-ditch interception — it would have been a devastating counter attack — but Watford were in the mood to spoil a party when Okaka was introduced. Moments after coming on, the man who has played for Italy under Conte, scored against his former national team manager, latching onto a loose ball from a clever Cleverley dinked ball which none of the Chelsea back-three could deal with.

Conte introduced Aina and Fabregas in response and the latter magic man produced the goods once again, striking perfectly from the edge of the box as the game had one more goal in it.

Prodl got his marching orders in injury time for a second bookable offence, but the confetti came out soon after and the Chelsea fans could properly get into the party mood.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

JOHN TERRY: I had to. Whilst he did play a big part in Capoue’s equaliser, the Chelsea captain has been a true stalwart and, in his penultimate ever Chelsea game, it was beautiful to see him roll back the years with a Terry-esque goal to break the deadlock. So scrappy but it sums up the Chelsea captain to throw his head at the ball and then be the first on the end of the loose ball to help his team out. A wonderful story. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte knew the important task had been achieved: “We conceded three goals but we scored four and created many chances. The most important thing was we won. Now we have target to win 30 games. The most important thing was to win the league. Then if we have the possibility to improve these records, we must try. We can reach this target. The players and I want to reach this target.”

Mazzarri enjoyed the spectacle: “I am very proud of my team. We had several players out injured. Congratulations to Antonio Conte because he is a great manager. They have great players. They deserve the title.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea are champions in Conte’s first season after hard-fought 1-0 win at West Brom

Match Summary

Chelsea are crowned Premier League champions for the sixth time in their history, but were made to work for it with a slender 1-0 victory against West Brom.

The Baggies had to withstand 24 shots and surrendered 68% of the possession, but kept the Blues waiting until the 82nd minute, where unlikely hero Michy Batshuayi showed something for his £32 million price tag to score the title-winning goal.

It caps off a fantastic debut season in England for Antonio Conte, who becomes only the fourth manager to lift the Premier League trophy in his first season in England, and means Chelsea secure their fifth Premier League title in the last 13 seasons, a record only matched by Manchester United.

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It was clear Chelsea wanted to win this from the off and leave two games spare to give fringe players a chance and, of course, give John Terry a proper farewell.

However it was not going to be a mere formality. 20 seconds Rondon leapt highest and Chelsea needed a tall goalkeeper in Courtois to to tip over the bar.

But, bar the initial lapse, it was Chelsea chance after Chelsea chance, but credit to West Brom’s disciplined defending.

Hazard drew a foul and an early free-kick opportunity for Fabregas was nearly turned in by Cahill, whilst Fabregas yet again tried to turn provider for Costa.

Pedro took matters in his own hands when he tried to re-create his spectacular opener against Everton last month, but saw his effort sky over the bar.

A marginal penalty claim for Chelsea was ignored by Michael Oliver, the Premier League’s most-used referee this season, whilst Azpilicueta was the next man to have a shot which was deflected behind for another corner.

The warning signs were there though on more than one occasion: Fabregas lost the ball high up in West Brom’s half but all of a sudden a West Brom counter saw two chasing down the solitary Gary Cahill, but Hazard did superbly well to track back and clear danger. Moments later there was another similar West Brom counter, an ominous sign for the visitors but indicative the Blues did not care if they drew or lost — they were here for the win.

More drama saw more set-pieces go Chelsea’s way, firstly Moses was brought down and Cahill had a good chance from the ensuing free-kick, whilst a penalty claim by Hazard, who went down under Evans’ challenge, was perhaps more 50-50. Michael Oliver was right on it.

West Brom were doing well to keeping Chelsea back, with the visitors resorting to long-range 25-yard drives by Azpilicueta or Fabregas. 11 attempts in the first half an hour summed up the persistence, but only one was on target whilst West Brom already had two from just three shots.

Being more clinical was what Chelsea needed to work on after the break and the first two chances went to Moses, who did brilliantly to evade Brunt and McLean but Foster’s hands were strong.

Luiz had to be alert at the other end when Fulham did have the odd chance, but it was West Brom who really had to be on their toes. Fabregas sliced a shot wide, whilst Hazard was nearly through which almost led a Dawson own goal.

The Blues were still huffing and puffing: Costa was found in the centre but dallied with his shot and failed to released Pedro who would have been in, whilst Fabregas was a fraction of a second too slow in releasing the ball to Hazard, who would have beaten the offside trap.

Late jitters gave West Brom the opportunity to steal the unlikely lead. Rondon was one-on-one with Luiz, who tried to bring him down which could have brought the red card, but the Venezuelan kept his footing and raced in on Courtois’ goal. Mercifully Azpilicueta got back.

Then, Chadli was again through on the right flank; another huge one-on-one chance but the former Tottenham man dragged it wide.

It looked like Conte would bring on Kante to sure up the defence which looked prone to a counter-attack, but the Italian was not messing about. Willian and Batshuayi came on, whilst Hazard and Pedro, for all their efforts, had been too well contained by West Brom.

But the night was Chelsea’s; Batshuayi would make his impact within six minutes of his introduction.

Having given the ball away multiple times and conceded three fouls in those six minutes, he would then prove to be the unlikely goalscorer and seal the trophy for Chelsea. The ball dropped nicely to Cahill in the centre of the goal, but his shot was skewed wide. Thankfully Azpilicueta was alert where Brunt was not, and the Spaniard recycled the ball which was not going to go out of play, squaring to Batshuayi to tap home from two yards out.

Five minutes of injury time prolonged the agony and delayed the celebrations, but the bubbly was to be popped open soon enough. Conte had conquered England in his debut season.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

ANTONIO CONTE: Azpilicueta would probably go down as my Player of the Match, but the man underpinning tonight, and indeed the entire season’s success, has to go down to Antonio Conte. Tactics were on-point, as they were early in the season when he spootted the need to change to a back five, but on the night too, unafraid to take off Hazard and Pedro in the pursuit of a more direct option in Batshuayi. And it paid off in some style. 9/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was reflective: “This is a great achievement for the players. I thank them for their commitment and work rate. They show me a great attitude to try to do something great this season. It was not easy for me to arrive in England and try different habits, a different language and inherit players after a bad season. We were not lucky, we did a great job. It’s important to rest. It is a great season but now we can win the FA Cup.” On his animated touch-line antics: “Every game I feel like I have played with my players! I show my passion and my will, my desire to stay with my players in every moment of the game. This is me, I am this. In the present, in the past, I stay with my players in positive and negative situations. We won this title together.” On his switch of formation in October: “That decision changed our season. We had to change and find a new suit for our team. In my mind there was this option to play a 3-4-3 because I knew I had the players to do that.”

Pulis was full of praise for his counter-part: “They’re worthy champions alright. They had a poor start, and Conte had to change things. He has made it his team. He changed their shape and they’ve been superb from that moment onwards.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea make light work by beating Brentford 4-0 in FA Cup Fourth Round

Match Summary

A much-changed Chelsea side saw off Brentford 4-0 to progress to the FA Cup Fifth Round with ease.

Goals by Willian and Pedro set the tone inside the first 20 minutes, whilst Ivanovic and a Batshuayi penalty wrapped things up in the closing 20 minutes.

In the process was a chance for Conte to rest nine first-team regulars and blood the likes of Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek and the returning Ake, who simply had too much quality for the second-division side.

It means the Blues are into the competition’s Fifth Round for the 20th time in 24 years, where the opponents will be drawn on Monday evening.

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The last time these two sides met, Chelsea needed a replay to beat the Bees in the 2012/13 iteration of the competition, with today’s visitors not beating the hosts since 1939, and it did not look like this record was to be broken after just 14 minutes on the clock.

Pedro was blocked off by the Brentford defence and Michael Oliver signalled a free-kick from a promising position 20 yards out. Willian took a quick two-step run up before arrowing it perfectly into the Brentford goal past Bentley, to record his seventh goal of the season.

Seven minutes later and it was 2-0.

A beautiful counter-attack by Willian and then Batshuayi saw the Belgian try to feed Loftus-Cheek who was running in on goal. An astray pass to the Englishman turned into the perfect pass to the man running on the overlap, Pedro, who took the ball in his stride, cut back on his left foot and poked it between Bentley’s legs.

The Spaniard has now scored eight goals after just 24 appearances this season, matching the total number of goals he scored for all of last season (40 games).

The Blues were keen to seal the deal early, and Loftus-Cheek was enjoying his advanced left-wing role, firing a shot via a ricochet which forced Bentley into a good save.

Moments later, a corner by Fabregas saw Ake go just wide, whilst another set-piece opportunity later saw Terry climb highest, and when the ball fell kindly to Batshuayi, the Brentford defence somehow managed to clear the ball away from the goal, with the goal-line technology system in use to show the ball was scrambled away before it crossed the line.

The Blues then had the ball in the net twice in quick succession: firstly Fabregas found Pedro who just went a fraction too early, even if his square ball was tapped in by Batshuayi, and moments later it was a near-identical moment, with Pedro again not in-sync with Chalobah’s through-ball despite Batshuayi again supplying the end product.

Fabregas’ daisy-cutter was tipped away by Bentley as Chelsea were firing from all cylinders, including a pop at goal by Loftus-Cheek, but the youngster lacked conviction.

The second half brought about a resurgence in Brentford spirit, albeit short-lived. Two real opportunities to score were spurned, firstly when the Brentford attack got ahead of Zouma and Terry but could not outsmart Begovic, before a dangerous cross send the Chelsea defence into panic.

Willian was keen to get on the scoresheet from open play and cut in from the left in search of the angle to find his goal, but greedily blazed it wide with many colleagues in better positions.

Michael Oliver was clearly keen to let the game flow as much as possible, allowing as much advantage as possible, and it nearly worked in Chelsea’s favour when Willian skipped nearly four punishable tackles before feeding Loftus-Cheek, who sadly who only hit the top of the crossbar with his deft lob.

Woods then turned Terry and Azpilicueta but failed to beat Begovic, but the real opportunities continued to be at the other end. Ivanovic exchanged one-twos firstly with Zouma and then with Pedro before continuing his run and firing in Chelsea’s third.

The Serbian, who had only just come on for arguably one of his last Chelsea appearances, was then the provider of his side’s fourth, winning the penalty in the 81st minute. Batshuayi, for all his huffing and puffing and good movement, failed to find the goal and so all eyes were on him the the Belgian did not disappoint. It means Batshuayi has been involved in six goals in three starts at Stamford Bridge for Chelsea, and seals a comfortable day for Conte’s men.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

pedro-thumbnailPEDRO: Michy Batshuayi deserves credit for leading the line professionally after an undoubtedly frustrating start to his Chelsea career trying to displace Costa, and many of Chelsea’s youngsters deserve applause for their role in this disciplined display, but the creative engine needs to be there and somehow this season it is Pedro. With Hazard benched and Willian also potent, Pedro has risen to another level and is surely one of the first names on the team-sheet for Conte now. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was pleased to progress in this competition: “When you win 4-0 it’s a good result, and when you score many goals and you don’t concede. I must be pleased because when you change nine players you can see all the players, all the squad are totally involved in our idea of football, our project. That’s very important. I’m very happy.”

Smith was noble in defeat: “It was always going to be tough but I didn’t want to come away from here without us asking a question. The fans were brilliant… it was a local derby and they wanted to see us in the FA Cup having a go. We did that in the second-half, not so much in the first-half.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea see off Peterborough 4-1 in FA Cup as John Terry sees red

Match Summary

Premier League leaders Chelsea saw off League One Peterborough United with a routine 4-1 win, despite being reduced to 10 men with captain John Terry sent off.

The Blues were cruising 3-0 thanks to goals by Pedro, Batshuayi and Willian, but when Terry brought down Angol as the last man, and when Nichols pulled one back soon after, it looked like the comeback was on.

Thankfully Pedro restored Chelsea’s three-goal advantage, and passageway into the FA Cup fourth round, where the next round opponents will be revealed tomorrow evening.

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After a losing start to 2017, and a starting XI that had been tried-and-trusted for the huge majority of the season, Antonio Conte freshened his side up with nine changes that included the re-emergence of the old guard Terry and Ivanovic, alongside the youth of Loftus-Cheek, Chalobah and the returning Zouma.

Gary Cahill, a stalwart in Conte’s sides, was still present and nearly justified the call when he deftly clipped the ball goalward from Fabregas’ corner. At the next Chelsea corner, it was Terry who fired ferociously at the Peterborough goalkeeper, but McGee was standing firm.

But Peterborough were no walk-over and should have had the game’s first goal. Maddison sent in a delicious cross from the right-wing and Angol should have scored from point-blank range, but fired straight at Begovic who spread himself big.

Chelsea did eventually take the lead in the 18th minute with a neat team goal. Both Fabregas and Chalobah had respectable attempts, but the ball fell kindly to Pedro, who dummied his man and curled into the top corner.

It should have been two for the Spaniard at Chelsea’s next noteworthy attack. Loftus-Cheek stung the hands of McGee and fed Pedro who looked to have a more presentable opportunity rather than the Englishman try again. Instead Pedro fluffed his lines, doing all the hard work before hitting the bar from five yards out. It was harder to miss than score.

Batshuayi has not had much of a look-in this season with Costa justifiably preferred but the Belgian had to take his opportunities when presented to him and he did have his moment to shine with the game’s next goal. Ivanovic crossed to Loftus-Cheek who laid the ball for Batshuayi to plant home with little difficulty.

The Blues continued where they left off in the second-half, but this time it was Willian getting in on the act. The Brazilian cut in from the left and curled a fantastic shot past McGee for an excellent third.

Whilst a Bradford-esque humiliation was never on the cards, the jitters started to flow when Terry was given his marching orders by Kevin Friend. The 36-year-old was slow to read Angol’s train of thought when charging straight in at goal and flung himself hopefully at the ball. Instead Terry caught the man and Friend turned foe.

Nichols pulled one back after Chelsea were caught at the back, but Pedro scored his second of the game, despite being played as the game’s left-wing back. The Spaniard’s shot was a near carbon-copy of Willian’s goal and sent Chelsea through to the FA Cup fourth round.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

pedro-thumbnailPEDRO: The Spaniard has not had the more effective of times in London but has really come to life this season, with quick feet and a sharp eye for a pass. The former Barcelona man showed all the skill learnt from his time in Spain with two goals (and an assist), and should have had his hat-trick had he not missed his sitter from five yards. This all came despite being played as left wing-back today, so the 29-year-old should be justifiably proud. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was satisfied with his fringe players: “I am pleased, when you change nine players it is never easy to play a good game and to be a team. Today we showed we were a team. I’m pleased for those who have played less as they have showed me good form.”

McCann was not too downbeat: “I thought we were excellent. I thought we had two or three really good chances. The biggest difference is how clinical they are.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea see off Bristol Rovers in nervy 3-2 cup tie win

Match Summary

Chelsea were pegged back twice, but ultimately prevailed, in a nervy League Cup second-round tie against Bristol Rovers.

Goals from Batshuayi and Moses set the ball rolling but Hartley pulled one back. It was Batshuayi again who restored Chelsea’s two-goal lead but Harrison cut it down to one again, but Chelsea held out for the remaining 40 minutes of the second half.

It means the Blues progress to the Third Round of the competition, the stage they normally have entered at for the last 20 years but for no European qualification this season.

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Antonio Conte opted to use his first League Cup match not to blood young players — Aina and Loftus-Cheek started but Solanke and Chalobah would remain unused substitutes — but to give fringe players like Pedro, Fabregas and Moses a run-out.

The latter nearly provided the game’s first assist but was inches away from finding the feet of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who was enjoying being the main man in a 4-2-4 formation usually afforded to Oscar.

Ivanovic, Moses himself and then Batshuayi all tested Mildenhall’s goal as Chelsea looked to assert their authority against a side two divisions lower, with Pedro fizzing a shot just over the bar soon after.

Loftus-Cheek went on to hit the post, not before Batshuayi dragged a shot wide when in a good opportunity.

But Batshuayi was not to be denied much longer. Matic roamed forward and found the Belgian to stab home from close range. It was a well-deserved goal, and from a well-deserved goal-scorer, with the 22-year-old performing well off the bench in the first two league games and seizing his opportunity when given the start by Conte.

One became two moments later from Victor Moses, who had an impressive enough pre-season to not be loaned out for the fourth season running. Pedro found Azpilicueta on the other wing, who fed Moses to lash home.

Complacency kicking in was apparent as Hartley pulled one back for the visitors just three minutes later, rising highest from a Bristol Rovers free-kick to beat Begovic.

But the quality of Batshuayi was for all to see. The 22-year-old raced onto a Loftus-Cheek pass and tucked in Chelsea’s third — and the whistle had not even been blown for half-time yet.

The topsy-turvy nature of the game continued in the second half with Bristol Rovers replying again, and this time all from a Chelsea corner. The visitors pounced from a loose ball and countered, and when Pedro conceded a penalty in his attempts to defend, Harrison buried his spot-kick in expert fashion.

Moses had more opportunities to make it four for Chelsea, but Conte grew increasingly anxious as the game wore on, as demonstrated by his substitution in of more experienced players in the form of Terry, Hazard and Oscar.

His side did in the end have enough steel to see off Darrell Clarke’s men.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

michy-batshuayi-thumbnailMICHY BATSHUAYI: Chelsea’s new summer recruit is certainly settling into life at SW6 well, putting in superb shifts when required from the bench in the league but, afforded the opportunity to lead the line today, the Belgian took the opportunity with two hands and with two goals. A fearsome predator who hunts for the ball at every opportunity and is a potent threat. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was wary of Chelsea’s missed opportunities: “We must understand that when you have the opportunity to kill the game, you must kill the game. We created a lot of chances in the first half to score many goals. When you leave it open a situation like tonight can happen when you stay afraid of drawing the game until the end.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Costa the hero again with last-gasp winner as Chelsea win 2-1 at Watford

Match Summary

Diego Costa was the man of the moment for a second week running as Conte’s Chelsea made it two 2-1 wins from two.

After a goalless first-half, Capoue opened the scoring for the hosts, and it was looking like the Hornets would seal an unlikely victory. But super-sub Michy Batshuayi equalised with 10 minutes left and Diego Costa proved his worth with another last-gasp winner for the second week running.

It means Chelsea maintain their 100% winning record, and whilst both wins were unconvincing, the attitutde and never-say-die mentality will please the new boss Conte as an indication his side can grind out matches against tougher opponents, though the lack of free-flowing football may not please owner Abramovich.

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A rough start to the match with unfavourable weather conditions saw the opening stages of the match draw plenty of cynical fouls, with Deeney and Cahill both seeing yellow by Jonathan Moss.

Ighalo had the game’s first chance thwarted by Cahill but it was a first-half with little action and a lack of fluency.

The same would not be said about the second half. Guedioura was given time to cross and Capoue capitalised on the space Chelsea afforded him, striking high past Courtois.

The visitors looked to bounce back through Hazard, Pedro and finally Ivanovic, but Gomes was not to be denied.

Moses, Batshuayi and Fabregas all came on in a bid by Conte to inject some pace, and what a triple substituion it turned out to be.

Fabregas instantly found Hazard who fired in a low shot at Gomes’ goal, and despite a good dave, the loose ball found its way to the feet of Batshuayi who pounced to make it 1-1.

The Blues were not content on just the equaliser, with them desperately searching for the winner in the final 10 minutes, but the only obstacle in their way was time.

Batshuayi tried to turn provider by finding Ivanovic but the Serbian was denied. The club he was represrnting for the 250th time would not be denied for long though.

Fabregas again fed a delicious ball to compatriot Costa who took a deep breath and swept the ball underneath Gomes to seal another victory, which could have been made more handsome by Batshuayi in injury time but for the woodwork.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

michy-batshuayi-thumbnailMICHY BATSHUAYI: What a super-sub! The Belgian has been overlooked with Costa preferred by Conte but shows he can still deliver a knock-out blow, equalising well and also hitting the post. The man is a beast and completely justified Conte bringing him on, causing Watford all sorts of problems in the box as the Hornets started to tire. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was delighted: “I’m pleased to see the reaction from my players and this win is very important for us as it gives everyone confidence. I think we showed a great intensity in the second half and we pushed them a lot. I’m pleased for the substitutes. They didn’t start but they showed great attitude and commitment with Fabregas and Batshuayi making a real impact.”

Mazzarri rued lapses in concentration: “I am happy for how we played for 70-80 minutes because we played very well but I am not happy with the result. They scored two goals that could have been avoided.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.