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 edge closer to title with resounding 3-0 win at Everton

Match Summary

Chelsea overcame arguably their biggest test remaining with a comfortable 3-0 win against Everton, and their first clean sheet in 11 matches.

With Tottenham playing later this evening, the Blues had the chance to throw down the gauntlet at their London rivals, but were made to wait until the 66th minute before Pedro made a stunning break-through. In the end, Cahill and Willian rounded off the win, as too did Tottenham in their game against Arsenal.

It means it is as you were in the Premier League table, with still four points separating the two sides, but with Chelsea left to face sides currently 19th, 8th, 13th and 20th, it would appear Conte has passed his biggest test, as shown by his reaction at full-time.

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Koeman’s heaviest league defeats in charge of Everton came against Chelsea earlier this season, but any hope for a similar rout was too optimistic. In fact, inside a minute, Barkley worked the ball well to Calvert-Lewin who hit the post, and it needed Cahill to deny former Chelsea man Romelu Lukaku a tap-in.

Lukaku’s opposite number, Diego Costa, did soon get stuck into the action, but neither he, nor Hazard, nor an advanced Matic, could produce a real tangible chance. Costa then had another glorious opportunity but lashed wide.

Lukaku was not proving his former employers wrong to the extent he would have undoubtedly have liked, but he did go close from 25 yards.

Tit-for-tat ensued for the remainder of the first half with neither Courtois nor Stekelenburg troubled closed up, and it looked like if Chelsea were to get their noses in front, it would need something special from afar.

Enter Pedro.

25 yards from goal and collecting a pass from Matic, the Spaniard dallied around the edge of the penalty area, and with little options, decided to bring the ball onto his favoured left foot and just hoof it. It was a spectacular drive and one which nestled into the top corner.

That opened things up for the visitors, who had before then been well-contained by a good man-marking system employed by Koeman, but with the shackles off, Cahill pounced for another.

A low Hazard free-kick was saved by Stekelenburg but not smothered, and Cahill pounced quickest from two yards out to tap in.

With nine minutes remaining and Conte satisfied to sit on the two-goal advantage, Ake, Willian and Fabregas came on in quick succession, but the latter two would add further delight to their boss’ face with the third seconds after coming on.

Fabregas did well to drive the ball to Everton’s by-line, and a neat cut-back for Willian’s first-touch presented the Brazilian with an open goal to aim at with Stekelenburg dragged out of position by Fabregas.

Especially pleasing for Conte will be Chelsea’s first clean sheet in the Premier League for some three months, especially knowing Everton have averaged 3.7 goals per game at Goodison Park in 2017 prior to this defeat.

Next stop Middlesbrough, but Tottenham will play first, some 72 hours before the leaders kick off.

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

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Man of the Match

GARY CAHILL: The clean sheet cannot be underestimated against such a potent an attack as Lukaku and Everton, and with little defensive solidity from Chelsea for the past 11 Premier League matches, it is about time to recognise the contribution of Gary Cahill. Leading the line well in Terry’s continued absence, dealt with the threat of Lukaku all afternoon, and popped up with the big second goal to kill off all Everton hopes. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was staying calm: “We must be pleased because we played a game with the head and, at this part of this season, it is important to use our head, then your heart and then your legs. I think we must continue this way — to play game by game and take three points in every game. We know every win in this part of the season is very important. The road is long so we need to rest and prepare in the right way.”

Koeman saw positives: “We did well, until 1-0 maybe. After that we had more problems but that was all about their quality, before that we played well and made it tough for them. It is really tough to beat Chelsea.”

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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 through to final after beating Tottenham 4-2 in thrilling FA Cup semi-final

Match Summary

Chelsea progressed to the final of the FA Cup with a hard-fought 4-2 win at Tottenham in a pulsating match at Wembley.

The Blues started off well with two goals by Willian but were pegged back by even better goals from Tottenham, firstly a Kane header and secondly an Alli strike, but Hazard and a Matic thunderbolt sealed the win late on.

It means Antonio Conte’s aspirations for a league and cup double are still on in his debut season, with Arsenal and Manchester City facing off tomorrow, but he did it the unorthodox way with Hazard and Costa left out of the starting line-up and instead using Willian and Batshuayi.

Spurs have won eight games in a row in all competitions, their best run since 1960, they have won just two of their last 16 meetings with Chelsea, and agonisingly now have lost seven FA Cup semi-finals in a row.

The last time these sides met in the FA Cup was at this stage in 2012, where Chelsea won convincingly 5-1 before winning the final against Liverpool.

A similar intent for victory was present from the off, with the Blues evidently keen to bounce back after last week’s tactical miscalculation against Manchester United, with Chelsea gaining the upper hand for the first quarter of an hour.

Pedro was instantly racing goalward inside three minutes, only to be hauled down by Toby Alderweireld, who Martin Atkinson gave an early yellow card to.

But Willian made sure the personal cost also went alongside a collective cost, curling the ball past the wall and beating Lloris’ near side. The goalkeeper should have done better, but take nothing away from Willian’s strike, which brought back memories of his set-pieces from yesteryear.

That could have soon become two but Michy Batshuayi was slow to react to Kante’s pass after a Vertonghen error, and the Belgian had another chance to assert his attacking abilities but fluffed his lines when presented with a free header, albeit he was in an offside position.

Chelsea had let-offs of their own in an open and frenetic first half: a stray Azpilicueta back-pass nearly was intercepted by Alli with the stand-in captain unaware of his surroundings, but the Chelsea defence had so far stood firm, making good tackles with Nathan Ake particularly impressing deputising for the injured Gary Cahill.

Kante was thankfully alive to a quick Spurs free-kick from Eriksen to Kane, but the next time these two partnered up Spurs would have their equaliser, with Kane adjusting his body to head in quite superbly past Courtois.

The goal galvanised Tottenham, who had a penalty appeal when Azpilicueta stuck out his leg with Kane in the box, but Atkinson was to preside over a fairly lenient game.

Vertonghen then delivered a beautiful ball which Dier glanced wide, but it was another let-off, as was two chances straight after that when Kane and Alli were both through.

Chelsea did regain the lead just before half-time though. Moses cantered forward and a late lunge by Son looked destined to be a spot-kick. Even though contact was light, Ian Hussin decided to award the penalty where Martin Atkinson was unsighted, but the ensuing kerfuffle was unsightly, with Batshuayi and Willian fighting over the ball, to be separated by Azpilicueta under Conte’s orders to give it to the Brazilian. Thankfully Willian made no mistake for his brace.

Lloris then made a real hash of a block and handled the ball outside of the box, but Hussin shied out of making this call.

It did not, however, take Tottenham long to get back into it after the restart, and again with a fantastic goal.

An assist-of-the-season contender by Eriksen found Alli, racing in between Luiz and Azpilicueta to control the first-time volley and hammering it past Courtois. It was a spectacular goal but disappointing Chelsea defending.

Spurs then appealed for two penalties and a free-kick, all waved away by Atkinson, whilst Pedro tried to get Chelsea back in front for the third time in the game, but was too slow in his counter.

On came Eden Hazard and Diego Costa at exactly the hour-mark point, and then later Fabregas for Pedro, but Spurs were still, at least initially, on front foot. A corner whipped in thankfully evaded everyone, whilst Dembele outmuscled his countryman Hazard when the latter tried to counter.

But Chelsea’s first corner, after 75 minutes, was to yield their third goal. The ball fell kindly to Eden Hazard, who was completely unmarked on the edge of the box and buried it in Lloris’ far post.

If that was a good strike Chelsea fans needed to wait only five minutes more for one of the best of their season. It took Matic until late-April to record his first goal of the season, but what a corker it was, receiving the square ball off Hazard and hammering it 30 yards out crisply, striking the under-side of the crossbar and nestling in the back of the net.

The Tottenham fightback petered out in the final ten and it was a question of whether Chelsea could inflict more misery and make it a five-star performance.

Hazard rounded Lloris, but the angle was too tight and his pull back to Alonso did not lead to anything, whilst Costa had a free header from two yards out.

Back-spin stopped a potent Kane free-kick from crossing the line and making Chelsea fans sweat for the final 60 seconds, but Chelsea did manage to cross the line, where they return to Wembley in five weeks’ time to fight for the trophy.

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: Much was made of Conte’s decision to not start Hazard and Costa, and if it backfired the Italian would not have heard the last of it, but, in the same ilk as Mourinho trumping Conte by resting Ibrahimovic last week, did Conte mess up Pochettino’s entire week’s training by dropping Hazard and Costa for the first hour? Mind games or not, the effect worked, with substitute Willian scoring two goals and Hazard scoring the winner when he did come on. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was proud: “I am proud for this achievement. It is great for the players for me. This is my first season in England and it is great to fight for the title and reach the final of the FA Cup, a great competition. Eden and Diego knew very well my plan because in this situation it is important to be clear to all of the players.”

Pochettino was reflective: “Congratulations to Chelsea. We dominated the game but they were more clinical than us. I feel proud, we were fantastic in the way we played and in our philosophy.”

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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 leave it late with 87th minute Cahill winner to see off Stoke City 2-1

Match Summary

Chelsea extend their lead at the top of the table to 13 points, but they left it late against a stubborn Stoke City side.

Two set-pieces in the first half, one free-kick from Willian and one penalty by Walters, looked to be the only goals of the game as both teams would have to settle for a share of the spoils, but Cahill, who earlier gave away the penalty against Walters, atoned with three minutes left on the clock.

The Blues have won 18 of their 20 Premier League matches this season against the teams currently outside the top five, but only won two of their last seven games away to Stoke in all competitions, so it was no surprise to see a cagey match settled only in the 87th minute by a Cahill winner.

In the end though the Blues do march back to London with three points and, with title rivals playing later, a healthy 13-point gap with 10 games left to play.

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Costa, clearly incensed with the lack of protection, could not keep his mouth shut for much beyond a quarter of an hour, and Taylor showed him the early yellow card.

But whilst on a personal level Costa was unhappy, his side should have been in celebratory mood as Willian’s free-kick gave the visitors an early lead. Sensing opportunity and seeing a gap in Lee Grant’s goal, Willian took his set-piece quickly and Grant fumbled the ball into his own net in a comical goal, but they all count as Willian, who scored twice against Stoke on New Year’s Eve, wheeled away to celebrate.

The Potters have kept three clean sheets in their last four league games, but the record was not to be preserved here. It could have got worse had Victor Moses’ shot not been blocked. Alonso then was on the receiving end of a well-worked set-piece by Willian, but shot straight at Lee Grant when anywhere else and it would have been a second.

Costa nearly laid on a perfect through-ball to Pedro, who was on the move and would have been one-on-one, but Stoke had their opportunities, especially when Arnautovic squared a ball into the box before Kante intercepted.

Stoke then thought they had equalised, but a superb call by assistant Adam Nunn denied the goal. On initial viewing it looked like Nunn’s flag was raised for offside, but goalscorer Martins Indi was not, but the foul appeared to have been instead about Berahino’s push on Azpilicueta, with the Englishman offside and interfering with play by stopping Apilicueta potentially getting to the ball before Martins Indi did.

It was a superb call, but Stoke would be on the receiving end of a favourable refereeing call minutes later.

A free-kick floated in looked long and was to be Courtois’ all day, except Gary Cahill wanted to make sure Walters could not reach it by pushing him over. Chelsea have only given away one spot-kick this season but, despite no protestation, Taylor awarded Walters the spot-kick, and Walters himself blasted home.

The Blues have kept just two clean sheets in their last nine league games, having recorded 10 shut-outs in the previous 12 matches, but despite the defensive frailties the attacking prowess was still on show.

Pedro had two great chances, one with each foot, from 10 yards out but was inaccurate, whilst later on in the match the Spaniard was slow when one-on-one and allowed Cameron to get back.

Luiz was clever to read a cut-back by the Stoke attack and broke up play effectively, but the second half was as evenly-pegged as the first.

Pedro was then nearly fed through by Willian but for Pieters to haul him down, bringing him a yellow card, whilst Alonso was agonisingly close to doubling his side’s lead from a free-kick, with the crossbar still rattling for several seconds afterwards.

Matic tried his hand at a long-range speculative shot just as Cesc Fabregas was about to enter the fray as Conte looked to press on.

Pedro and Willian were again continuing to be at the thick of things, but evidently missing Eden Hazard, who had to miss today’s game with an unspecified injury.

Loftus-Cheek then came on in a rare appearance, but Stoke were well-organised and well-drilled.

But for all their huffing and puffing, there was last-minute heart-break as Gary Cahill atoned for his earlier penalty giveaway with a right-footed shot from inside the box. Loftus-Cheek did well to pressure Pieters to give away a corner, and from Willian’s delivery Cahill slammed home the loose ball.

Costa, aiming for his 50th Premier League goal, then hit the post, before Bardsley was sent off late on for picking up a needless second yellow card, but victory will be sweet for Antonio Conte, with his side digging out the points as, some would say, the mark of champions.

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

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Man of the Match

WILLIAN: Huffed and puffed and, alongside Pedro, at the centre of every Chelsea action. Not given much game time under Antonio Conte, with Pedro and Hazard when fit preferred as the two support men for Costa, but the Brazilian today showed perfectly why he can put in a shift too, being smart to take his goal from the free-kick and an all-round excellent display, getting into shooting positions and weaving his way in and out of defenders with ease due to a quick change of pace. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was not getting ahead of himself, but enjoyed the win: “I am pleased because to play Stoke at this point of the season, you have to be prepared mentally and physically. It was a tough game We need to take 21 points for the title win. There are 10 games to go, today was a great win, a good signal but it is important to continue with the same commitment and work rate as a team.”

Hughes rued the loss: “We are desperately disappointed we did not get anything out of the game.It was an evenly matched game and they had late opportunities when we went for a goal. It is Chelsea’s title now and you could see from their celebrations we ran them close.”

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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 beat Stoke 4-2 in New Year’s Eve spectacular

Match Summary

Chelsea build up a nine-point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a hard-fought 4-2 victory against Stoke as the fans witness a six-goal New Year’s Eve thriller.

Cahill broke the deadlock for the hosts in the first half, but Martins Indi, and later Crouch when Willian gave Chelsea the advantage again, both pegged the hosts back. In the end, another Willian goal and a Costa strike settled the points in Chelsea’s favour.

It means the Blues have now won 13 Premier League matches on the bounce, one shy of Arsenal’s Premier League record set in 2001-02, and Conte will hope the winning form continues into the new year, despite tougher tests against Tottenham, Leicester and Liverpool to come in the first month of 2017 alone.

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Chelsea did not beat Stoke in either of the two league games last season, and so to prolong the club-record winning streak — the Blues’ tally of 46 points after 18 games is the second highest in Premier League history, bettered only by the same club’s 49-point haul in 2005-06 — was not going to be a procession.

The dogged and determined side of Stoke was apparent from the off. Bar the odd half-chance, the opening became a tactical battle in the middle of the park. Kante dragged a shot wide before it was pinball in the Stoke penalty area, with Fabregas’ cross-field ball controlled beautifully by Costa, who got his shot away only for it to be acrobatically saved by Lee Grant, who also managed to hold onto the rebound.

Cahill then had a header saved from a Fabregas corner, and whilst this time it proved fruitless, the next combining of these two players proved much more fruitful.

A 90-yard Luiz ball to Costa was quite superb, with the Spaniard’s shot smothered by Grant, who then made a double-save to deny Hazard’s follow-up. The ensuing corner though brought about the goal, with Fabregas’ again finding Cahill and this time Cahill finding the back of the net.

The game could have been quite different had Charlie Adam done much better from a Stoke corner moments before the goal, heading wide from a Shaqiri corner with the goal gaping.

However it remained the one-goal advantage going into the break, but whatever Mark Hughes said at half-time clearly paid off as it was all square within a minute of the restart.

Adam fed a delightful upfield ball to Crouch, to towered above Cahill to square to Martins Indi to tap in with his left foot. The Blues have kept 10 clean sheets during their current club record 12-match winning streak, conceding just two goals and scoring 28, but there was to be no clean sheet here.

Morever, there appeared to be a very real chance the record was to be stopped unless Chelsea could get their noses in front again.

Fabregas again had another opportunity to swing the ball in from a corner, and after Moses slalomed his way through a multitude of Stoke players, the ball fell for Willian to side-foot, but the Brazilian hit the ball wide. It was a great opportunity.

Fret not as on the 57th minute Willian did score, and what a great team goal it was. Moses had not been having much luck on the right against Pieters, but after dummying his opponent and flooring the giant Dutchman, Moses squared to Hazard, who cushioned the ball to Willian to blast home.

It should have been three had Hazard done better at capitalising on a sloppy Johnson pass, or indeed later from a sloppy Crouch pass, but with Mark Hughes sending on Bojan and Imbula just after the hour mark, you sensed things were heating up a notch.

Costa failed to dig the ball out of his feet after great link-up play between him and Hazard, but one man who did manage to dig up a goal, his first in 22 appearances, was Peter Crouch, sidefooting home after Stoke broke down Chelsea’s left. It was a sloppy goal for Chelsea to concede against their former ball-boy, and once again Chelsea were pegged back.

But within 75 seconds, the hosts were again in front, and it was that man Willian again. The Blues raced forward and Fabregas, with his 100th Premier League assist, laid on a beautiful ball to Willian, who aimed high so Lee Grant could not reach it. It was raining goals at Stamford Bridge.

Costa should have made things comfortable after running the full length of the pitch to get onto the end of a Hazard tee-up, whilst Conte opted to shore up proceedings by sending on Ivanovic and Chalobah, and rightly so as two tough crosses kept Chelsea alert at the back, with Azpilicueta doing superbly to get a toe-poke on a Johnson cross before it looked set to reach Crouch and hit the back of the net.

In the end Costa had the final say, creating a goal from quite nothing. A throw-in found the Spaniard with his back to goal, but he bullied Martins Indi out of it and, from a tight angle, unleashed a quite superb shot that flew into the back of the net, and sent Conte flying into the crowd.

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

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Man of the Match

willian-thumbnailWILLIAN: The man may have fallen down the pecking order under Antonio Conte with the rightful resurgence of Pedro, but the Brazilian does not half give himself a good shift when he does play. Time will tell if Conte wants to shift his line-up but with more performances like this, high energy, quick turns of pace and lethal finishes, not to mention excellent set-pieces, the Brazilian will be giving his manager headaches. Took his two goals superbly today and relieved the pressure on his side at exactly the right moments. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was thrilled his side could adapt to a different type of winning: “My players showed they can adapt to the different kinds of game we face. They showed great commitment, work-rate and will to win. To win 13 games in a row in this league is very difficult. Stoke played very well. They hit long balls to Crouch and fought for the second ball.”

Hughes rued his side’s mistakes: “We got back level, but then conceded poor goals. We’ve made mistakes and good teams punish you. I thought we did really well, showing courage to get back in the game.”

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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.