Category Archive: Chelsea FC

Chelsea FC News

Jul 25

Chelsea v Bayern Munich: pre-season friendly – as it happened

A superb first-half display saw Bayern race into a three-goal lead, but they slowed in the second as Carlo Ancelotti made a number of changes and a better-organised Chelsea competed harder

2.35pm BST

So, there we go. Bayern are really very good indeed, far too good for any English team. They absolutely rousted Chelsea in the first half with Tolisso and Sanches especially good in midfield and Ribery and James also lively. Chelsea fought hard after the break, though ought really to have conceded more than they did, and will certainly be the better for the game. Bye!

2.32pm BST

That was a very good game.

2.30pm BST

90+3 min Chelsea have been better since half-time, though it’s also fair to note that Bayern have still created the better chances despite making all manner of change.

2.29pm BST

90+2 min “As much as anything, the Alonso/Fabregas/Kante/Moses line will be exposed,” reckons Matt Loten. “Bakayoko could be key. New wing-backs required.”

Conte is definitely forcing teams to attack in wide areas; I wonder if any will chance two strikers, as Jose Mourinho did to good effect last season.

2.27pm BST

90 min There shall be four added minutes.

2.27pm BST

89 min “Not arguing whether Chelsea would lose or not,” emails George Trevers, “but wouldn’t serial winner and Champions League final scorer Pedro not count as proven elite player?”

Yeah, fair enough; I left him out because he proved it in a very different team and I’d be surprised if he ever looks it again. But yes, I suppose he is.

2.25pm BST

87 min Batshuayi and Fabregas depart; Baker and Pasalic arrive.

2.23pm BST

Chelsea win a corner down the left which Fabregas snaps to the near post. There, Morata does his best to impart the flick-on but Wintzheimer gets there first, the ball flies across the face of goal, and Batshuayi taps home.

2.22pm BST

85 min Alvaro Morata definitely has a reddish tint in his hair.

2.20pm BST

82 min So, how will Chelsea do in Europe this season? My guess, not based on what we’ve seen today, is that they’ll lose to the first serious team they play. Hazard is their only proven elite player, and even if Luiz and Kante prove to be to, that probably won’t be enough to beat the best.

2.19pm BST

80 min Changes for Bayern: off go Muller and Ribery, who’ve been excellent, and on come Dorsc and Wintzheimer.

2.15pm BST

78 min Tomori replaces Alonso, who’s had a taxing evening. Moses goes over to the left so that he might ensconce on the right.

2.14pm BST

77 min Coman appears on the left and sends a cut-back into the path of Sanches, just outside the box, who lashes a shot just wide of the near post.

2.13pm BST

77 min Batshuayi turns on the ball and using Martinez as a screen, tries a low curler, aimed towards the far corner … it finishes just wide.

2.11pm BST

75 min A water break.

2.10pm BST

74 min Coman escapes down the right so Alonso pulls him back. It looks as though he’ll be getting booked, but it’s unclear whether or not he actually does.

2.09pm BST

73 min Luiz, given time outside the box, tires one of those instep golf shots; it takes a deflection and curls into the foot of the far post.

2.09pm BST

72 min Ball into Batshuayi, who lays of for Willian; he whacks a shot high, then blames the pass for being too heavy.

2.08pm BST

72 min Chelsea got absolutely battered by Munich in a European Cup final, then beat them on penalties, in their own ground. That will never stop being hilarious.

2.06pm BST

69 min Lovely from Ribery, picking up possession outside the box, dead centre, backheeling to himself to lose Fabregas, accelerating away from Azpilicueta and waiting for Moses to arrive before sliding into the path of James, now in front of goal. He shoots quickly, but Courtois saves with his foot.

2.05pm BST

67 min Chelsea look to have an opportunity when the ball breaks for Alonso in the box, but Martinez is in quickly and suddenly, as Coman streaks away, it’s 4 v 3. But the pass to spread the play is stood up to reach the other flank, giving the defenders time to regroup, and then Ribery doesn’t read James’ ball down the line. So he checks back, his cross is cleared, and James shoots wide.

2.02pm BST

66 min Ah, there we go. Pantovic is on for Tolisso and Gotze is on for Rafinha.

2.02pm BST

65 min Bayern have made two changes, but no one has quite said who for whom.

2.00pm BST

64 min No further questions yer honour.

@FranckRibery runs the length of the pitch before feeding it through to @jamesdrodriguez, but the Colombian’s shot is blocked. #CFCFCB 1-3 pic.twitter.com/2avmx8HLWU

2.00pm BST

64 min Ch-ch changes for Chelsea: Christensen and Boga depart, Luiz and Morata arrive.

1.59pm BST

62 min If Chelsea get out of this with a two or three-goal defeat they can consider that a touch. Again, Coman stretches them down the right and lays back, for Sanches to welt over the top.

1.57pm BST

60 min Ribery charges through midfield and with four defenders drawn into the middle, slips right for either James or Coman. James arrives first but in the time it takes him to open up a left-footed finish, Cahill slides in to block.

1.55pm BST

59 min Alonso swings his boot at the ball wide on the left, but Martinez clears easily enough. So Fabregas tries a dink into the box only to discover that Rafinha is having no such thing, arriving before Batshuayi to get rid.

1.54pm BST

57 min Ribery finds Freidl out on the left, who crosses well – “cultured”, reckons Keith Andrews – and James, whose movement has been excellent today, arrives to meet it, thumping a header just wide. He should’ve scored and he knows it.

1.52pm BST

56 min Coman injects some pace to skirt around Alonso with dismissive ease before clipping a cross back to the edge of the box. Ribery watches is come down, adjusts his body, and shmices over the bar.

1.51pm BST

55 min Ribery and Freidl combine to turn Chelsea’s right flank, but Azpilicueta hares back to rob the latter.

1.50pm BST

53 min Bayern are so clever at knowing when to press, and at making sure they all do it together. In one such move, Ribery forces Courtois to shank a kick into touch.

1.48pm BST

51 min Willian eases past Freidl so out of nowhere comes James Rodriguez! I know! He slides alongside and toe-ends the ball away like you can’t believe!

1.46pm BST

50 min Tolisso tries a shot from distance; I’ve no idea where the ball ended up. He’s been great though, composed, quick and clever.

1.45pm BST

48 min Carlo Ancelotti is looking trim. Chelsea are defending much deeper now, and Moses and Alonso aren’t ahead of the ball all the time, also squeezing in when things are going down on the opposite flank.

1.42pm BST

46 min It looks like James is now behind Muller, with Coman out wide.

1.42pm BST

46 min Bayern kick-off and have made two changes: Fruchtl and his four straight consonants for Starke, and Coman for Lewandowski.

1.39pm BST

There are loads of Chelsea players warming up on the pitch. Brace, brace.

1.26pm BST

That was pretty fun, actually.

1.26pm BST

Chelsea have been much improved since the water break, and Willian does well to find Moses, banging outside him. His low cross is a good one, but Batshuayi goes just too early and it slides behind him. No matter; Alonso is backing up to smash a livener across Starke.

1.24pm BST

45+2 min Lovely from James, pausing before slipping a ball between Alonso and Cahill for Rafinha to run onto. He catches up with it, just, and his cross is blocked behind; the corner comes to nothing.

1.22pm BST

45 min There shall be three additional minutes.

1.22pm BST

45 min Nice from Sanches, bursting into space at inside-right before losing the ball, chasing Alonso hard, and upending him.

1.21pm BST

44 min Chelsea are coming now, and after Fabregas has a cross blocked behind, Willian picks out Cahill with the corner. From a standing start, he can only guide a header wide of the far post.

1.20pm BST

43 min Batshuyai finds space just outside the box and drives low towards the near post, but Starke is able to shovel wide without serious difficulty.

1.19pm BST

42 min Better from Chelsea, Boga finding Batshuayi, who moves wide towards Willian. He then lifts ball into the box on the other side, from where Alonso fires wide.

1.17pm BST

41 min Chelsea are getting a bit more of the ball now, but so far haven’t crafted a serious opening.

1.16pm BST

39 min Chelsea are looking to miss out midfield now, and get the ball forward quickly. Basically, they have a man less in midfield and Fabregas, brilliant though his vision is, also can’t compete physically.

1.13pm BST

37 min Boga runs by Martinez so Sanches charges after him, adjudged to have bundled him to the ground. Willian duly drills the free-kick into the wall.

1.13pm BST

36 min The possession stats stand at 32-68 in favour of Bayern, now that you ask. Anyway, Rafinha advances and flicks a pass into space for Muller, running behind the defence; Cahill spots the ruse and averts the danger.

1.11pm BST

35 min Gary Cahill has got this sorted, rattling Tolisso with a captain’s challenge. Stand-by for the comeback.

1.09pm BST

33 min Fabregas lifts one forward for Boga, in behind Martinez who’s caught under the ball. But in the time that it takes to drop, Starke charges him and blocks his poke to safety.

1.09pm BST

32 min Do German clubs have the most bantorious Twitter accounts?

3-0. Guess who? #Müllered #CFCFCB 0-2 pic.twitter.com/RBLQKk59P8

1.06pm BST

30 min A water break.

1.06pm BST

29 min Moses is several hours late on Freidl, who knocks the ball sideways and wears all of yerman’s weight on his ankle. Moses is booked.

1.05pm BST

This could get silly. Bayern break, and Muller carries the ball over halfway; Chelsea have far too many men ahead of the play, and with Lewandowski distracting the defence with a run across it, Muller whacks a sidefooted curler from 25 yards which fizzes past Courtois. Very nice indeed, was that.

1.03pm BST

25 min Ribery steps on the gas and streaks clear towards the Chelsea box. Christensen gets over to him and holds him up, then Kane arrives to snap in with a challenge.

1.02pm BST

25 min I wonder if, given Pedro’s injury, Willian will play more, or Conte will look for someone who runs away from the ball rather than with it to replace him.

1.01pm BST

25 min Willian plays a one-two off Boga and has Moses outside him, but from 20 yards opts to shoot, pulling an effort wide of the far post.

1.00pm BST

24 min Chelsea string some passes together, so Tolisso intervenes. He’s playing very well, as is Sanches.

12.59pm BST

22 min Tolisso bursts through midfield and finds Rafinha outside him; his cross is headed clear, but Ribery picks up possession only to be unloaded by Fabregas.

12.57pm BST

21 min If only Chelsea had kept Josh McEachran.

12.57pm BST

20 min Chelsea look clueless, not a sentence I supposed to type. On the other hand, it’s a while since they played a team as good as Bayern.

12.56pm BST

18 min Lovely from Bayern, Sanches snapping into a challenge with Fabregas and somehow emerging unscathed before finding Lewandowki square to his left. Quickly the ball moves to Ribery, who lifts a cross to the back post where James is waiting. He shapes to attack it with his left foot, but can only pass a volley over the top.

12.54pm BST

17 min “Just to clarify, when I say he wasn’t shown patience, I too meant in the sense that he was never given a run of games, rather than how long United kept him around,” clarifies Matt Loten. “A couple of indifferent performances and he was back on the bench. Of course, when you have Scholes and Carrick jostling for your position, it’s hardly surprising.”

It wasn’t even a form thing – Fergie rotated like a hyperactive infant given a fingerspinner, which didn’t suit everyone.

12.53pm BST

16 min Ribery bursts away from Fabregas in centre-field, so the enforcer brings him down.

12.51pm BST

14 min Chelsea are in for a hiding here if they don’t get themselves sorted. The tournament has been a “sensational success”, reckons my commentator.

12.50pm BST

Ribery eases down the left and skips outside Azpilicueta with joyous ease before flipping one to the back post. Fabregas has chugged back and does his best to intervene, but Muller brooks no disturbance, punching home a volley with his instep.

12.48pm BST

11 min Like Roxette, Bayern look sharp, and Tolisso sends a straight pass forward, finding Lewandowski. Muller’s run off the ball opens space for him, but Azpilicueta nips back to challenge.

12.46pm BST

9 min “I think Sanches is the classic case of ‘too much, too soon’,” emails Matt Loten. “He made the move to one of the world’s biggest clubs too early in his career. He’s a brilliant talent, but raw and erratic; he will simply not get the chance at Bayern to make mistakes and learn his trade. He reminds me of Anderson, who had all the ingredients to be one of the best players in the world (and had quite a similar playing style to Sanches), but he went to United before he was even close to the finished article and was never going to be given the patience necessary to develop. Of course, Sanches will have to go some to squander his talent in the same fashion as Anderson, but he needs to go and play football consistently for a couple of seasons.”

Not sure I agree about Anderson – he was shown patience, but was never given the run of games he needed, or got injured when he was in the process of earning one. He also didn’t look after himself properly.

12.44pm BST

Munich switch the play well, Tolisso hitting a long pass to Rafinha, moving forward at inside-right. No one bothers to challenge, so he looks up and lashes a low shot from 20 yards that Courtois should stop but doesn’t; it winds up in the far corner. Imaginatively, the DJ fires up Seven Nation Army, and Bayern celebrate with indecent gusto.

12.41pm BST

5 min Hummels tries an outside of the footer into the box, looking for Lewandowski. But Azpilicueta is there to head away.

12.40pm BST

4 min Muller is playing just off Lewandowski with James on the right.

12.40pm BST

3 min Cesc “Gently-strokes-yer-legs” Fabregas leaves one on Sanches, who rubs his ankle for a while.

12.38pm BST

2 min Willian spreads wide to Alonso and eventually a low cross comes in, which Starke humps clear.

12.38pm BST

1 min Kante snaps into his first challenge and sets Batshuayi off over halfway, Willian up alongside him. But the pitch is playing slowly and he’s quickly crowded out.

12.36pm BST

1 min Chelsea set us away.

12.34pm BST

The players are shaking hands. The Chelsea ones have no names on their shirts.

12.33pm BST

“This booming part of the footballing universe … commercial aspects to the fore” says my commentator.

12.32pm BST

Out come the teams…

12.31pm BST

So what is it with Sanches? Why can he not get a game? I’ve heard it said that his style doesn’t suit Bayern’s short-passing game, but surely any squad is enhanced by a player able to run past men in the middle of the pitch?

12.29pm BST

Willy Sagnol talks about a “half-team” due to lots of injuries. Poor old Renato.

12.25pm BST

It’ll be interesting to see how James does this season. Presumably he’ll be brilliant in the league, but whether he can get it did in Europe is another question.

12.17pm BST

As for Bayern, Renato Sanches appears to have earned himself a berth, presumably because he’s been brilliant in training and not because they’re desperate to shift him. Otherwise, Tolisso plays and so does James.

12.15pm BST

Other notable aspects: I’m looking forward to seeing how Andreas Christensen does; he was excellent for Gladbach and has earned himself a go at Chelsea. Jeremie Boga, meanwhile, did very well against Arsenal , so it’ll be interesting to see what goes on here.

12.12pm BST

Now that you ask: Manchester United’s Alvaro Morata is on the bench for Chelsea.

12.10pm BST

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Boga; Batshuayi. Subs: Everyone else.

Bayern Munich: Starke; Rafinha, Martinez, Hummels, Freidl; Sanches, Tolisso; Ribery, James, Muller; Lewandowski. Subs: The rest.

11.55am BST

Let’s be real: we’re all poorly, so we’re all lonely, so we’re all here. We want the finest football available to humanity. We want it here and we want it now.

But failing that we’ll take any old football, so: here is any old football. Football football football football. Roll it around your tongue, feel its glorious metre, measure, cadence, rhythm, beat, lilt and any other word omitted from this august list. Oh football! Us 4 Football 4 Eva!

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/jul/25/chelsea-v-bayern-munich-pre-season-friendly-live

Jul 25

Chelsea’s Kenedy sent home from China tour after offensive social media posts

• Brazilian also fined for ‘uneducated’ comments
• Álvaro Morata says he was destined to play for Antonio Conte

Chelsea winger Kenedy has been sent home from the club’s tour of China after posting offensive messages on social media.

The Premier League champions were forced to issue an apology on Sunday after posts on the Brazilian’s Instagram account had caused “great offence and hurt the feelings of the people of China”. He published two videos, one with a caption which translated as “Damn, China” and another of a security guard asleep which was tagged: “Wake up China. You idiot.”

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jul/25/chelsea-kenedy-china-tour-sent-home

Jul 23

Chelsea apologise to Chinese fans over Kenedy’s ‘offensive’ Instagram posts

• Chelsea say Brazilian has been ‘strongly reprimanded and disciplined’
• ‘Messages caused great offence and hurt the feelings of the people of China’

Chelsea have issued an apology to their Chinese supporters after admitting social media posts by Kenedy had caused “great offence and hurt the feelings of the people of China”.

The defender wrote the messages on his Instagram account before Chelsea’s comfortable 3-0 win over Arsenal at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing. The 21-year-old was jeered during the pre-season friendly and has since apologised for his comments, and said any offence caused by now-deleted posts was “not intentional”.

Related: Antonio Conte praises Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi after double in Arsenal win

Related: Manchester United confident of signing Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jul/23/chelsea-apologise-kenedy-chinese-fans-arsenal-win

Jul 22

Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea: pre-season friendly – as it happened

Michy Batshuayi scored two fine goals to help Chelsea to a comfortable win over an under-strength Arsenal

2.39pm BST

Peep peep! That’s a good win for Chelsea, with Willian and Cesc Fabregas looking really sharp and Michy Batshuayi scoring two cracking goals. Arsenal were rusty, and Arsene Wenger is a lucky man if he survives this defeat. Thanks for your company, bye!

2.39pm BST

90+4 min Baker’s free-kick is ostentatiously saved by the flying Martinez, and that’s it.

2.38pm BST

90+3 min Koscielny compounds his own error by hoofing Baker up in the air on the edge of the box. A free-kick for Chelsea, 20 yards from goal, and it’ll probably be the final kick of the game…

2.36pm BST

90 min “As an Arsenal fan, I’m quite happy to see how well Chelsea’s young ones are doing,” says Anmol Soin. “This is the only football they get to play outside of Vitesse. Very proud.”

2.36pm BST

88 min This is Arsenal’s best spell of the match. Yes, I am conscious of how ridiculous that statement sounds when they are 3-0 down in a pre-season friendly.

2.33pm BST

86 min Malen smashes a shot off the outside of the post after a very good run from Nelson.

2.31pm BST

84 min Giroud has looked pretty sharp for Arsenal, more so than Lacazette, though he received nothing resembling decent service.

2.26pm BST

81 min “Hey Rob,” says JR in Illinois. “You should just stick around and MBM the Liverpool-Leicester game which has just gone to halftime. Alberto Moreno came on a few minutes ago. I hadn’t realised how much I missed his absurd, massive thigh tattoo of a monkey wearing a suit and headphones and holding a gun until just now.”

I had no idea Alberto Moreno was still a thing.

2.26pm BST

80 min The game is petering out. Chelsea have a lot of youngsters on now.

2.25pm BST

77 min “Geese,” says Matt Emerson. “They’re all geese.”

2.21pm BST

75 min Baker hares away from Kolasinac, who throws him to the ground and is booked. He’ll pick up a few cards this season. There’s an endearingly oafish element to his defending.

2.20pm BST

73 min Fabregas has had a fine game. He drills another lovely crossfield pass, left to right, that is taken beautifully in his stride by Tomori. He surges away from Iwobi drives a low shot that is kicked away by Ospina.

2.15pm BST

68 min Substitutions galore. No, I’m not going to list them all, because I can’t keep track of them all. I do know that the Man of the Match Willian has gone off. He has looked so sharp today; it’s nice to see after a difficult 2016-17 season.

2.13pm BST

66 min Alonso’s cross reaches the other wing-back Moses, who chests it down and hits a shot that is blocked by Kolasinac. Crikey, he’s a unit.

2.08pm BST

63 min David Luiz drives another brilliant ball from back to front, down the inside-right channel. Willian beats Elneny to it and rattles a fierce half-volley that is excellently saved by the diving Ospina.

2.06pm BST

62 min Ozil plays another beautiful, insouciant pass to put Giroud clear of the defence. He faffs and is crowded out.

2.06pm BST

61 min Giroud stabs a cross too close to the substitute keeper Willy Caballero.

2.05pm BST

60 min Here’s Charles Antaki. “The good thing about the officials letting on Olivier Giroud, even though he’s not on the team sheet, is that it sets a precedent for Wenger to also send on Vic Akers, Steve Bould, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and three Chinese ballboys. That will explain away the upcoming 8-0 debâcle.”

2.04pm BST

58 min After all kinds of faffing over whether the wall is 10 yards, Giroud smashes a low free-kick into that wall. Arsenal keep the ball alive and Ramsey fresh-airs a decent chance from Ozil’s precise square pass; Giroud stabs the ball back to Coquelin, who slashes a first-time shot just over the bar from 20 yards.

2.01pm BST

55 min Welbeck is fouled by David Luiz a couple of millimetres outside the box. Arsenal have a free-kick in the D…

2.00pm BST

54 min Batshuayi fouls the substitute Elneny, who waves an imaginary card at the referee. That’s the pre-season spirit!

1.56pm BST

50 min “I’m sure you’re right about Chelsea having more desire (most Arsenal players only really want more followers on “Insta” these days) but are they not fielding more like a 1st team?” says Brendan O’Sullivan.

Yes, that’s true, although six or seven of Arsenal’s best XI – if such a thing exists any more – started the game.

1.55pm BST

This is another cracking goal from Batshuayi. Fabregas drove a superb crossfield pass to Alonso, who beat Oxlade-Chamberlain with ease and clipped the ball back to the edge of the area. It was perfectly weighted for Bathshuayi to hit first time, and he crashed it into the roof of the net with his left foot.

1.54pm BST

48 min Ramsey curls a fine pass over the defence for Giroud, who just fails to connect with an attempted volley on the stretch. As Matthew Upson says on ITV, he should probably have gone for a Keith Houchen rather than an acrobatic volley.

1.52pm BST

47 min “I take it that spoons are the only cutlery available in the ironic pie shop,” says David Wall, “when all you need is a knife.”

No cutlery. All you’re allowed to use is your face.

1.51pm BST

46 min Eventually Olivier Giroud is allowed to come on and Arsenal begin the second half. There have been a load of substitutions, and I’ve lost track of them already. Sorry.

1.50pm BST

Friendly farce Arsenal want to bring on Olivier Giroud. He’s not on the official teamsheet, however, so the officials won’t allow him onto the pitch. This is hilarious. Arsene Wenger is about to pay tribute to Jack Charlton and John Aldridge at USA 94.

1.31pm BST

That’s half time. Chelsea have wanted it a lot more than Arsenal, which is a slightly confusing thing to say about a pre-season game, and the result reflects that. See both of you in 10 minutes for the second half.

1.30pm BST

45+3 min Courtois makes an excellent save from Ramsey, who chested down an imaginative curling pass from Oxlade-Chamberlain and blasted a half-volley at goal from a tight angle. Courtois reacted smartly to push it behind.

1.26pm BST

44 min Some of Arsenal’s defending today has been on the inadequate side of crap. Sad to say, a lot of the poor play has been from the young kids Bramall and Maitland-Niles.

1.26pm BST

43 min “Hi Rob,” says Ravi Raman. “What’s an ironic pie shop? Is it an ironic shop selling pies or are the pies themselves ironic? Would be great if you can clear that up.”

The lovely thing about the ironic pie revolution is that it really is whatever you want it to be.

1.25pm BST

Two goals in 90 seconds for Chelsea. Kante plays a short pass to Batshuayi just outside the area; he loses the wrongfooted Mertesacker and curls an emphatic left-footed shot into the far corner. That was a great finish.

1.24pm BST

Chelsea deserve to be ahead, and now they are. Batshuayi does well to find Willian, who makes a good angled run from right to left. He gets into the box, comes back inside Monreal onto his right foot and curls a low shot into the net off the far post.

1.22pm BST

39 min Batshuayi drags an optimistic long-range shot well wide. You can feel his desperation to score.

1.21pm BST

36 min “Re: 23 minutes, can a side that switches between three- and four-man defences ever be as reliable, and successful, as one that picks an approach and sticks with it, backing their own ability and challenging the opposition to deal with the problems they are setting, rather than the other way round?” says David Wall. “As with haircuts, long or short, you’ve got to make a decision.”

I think you need more flexibility when you are working with such a big squad. My rule with this stuff is: what did Fergie do? He rotated more than anyone in the game, though he stuck to a back four almost all of the time. He also neutralised the opposition where necessary – for eg Park marking Pirlo so effectively in 2009-10. I agree that regularly switching from three to four isn’t ideal but it’s not as big a deal as it would have been in the days before rotation.

1.18pm BST

35 min Batshuayi has a goal wrongly disallowed for offside. Chelsea took a short corner, with Fabregas’s cross volleyed in from close range by Batshuayi. I think it was Fabregas who was given offside when the corner was returned to him. Either way, it was the wrong decision. They’ll be talking about that one for minutes.

1.17pm BST

34 min Ospina makes a good double save from Willian and Moses. Willian ran straight through the defence, nutmegging Monreal in the process, and rattled a shot that was beaten away. Moses – who last stopped running in June 2016 – follows up with a fierce rising drive that is superbly tipped over the bar.

1.15pm BST

31 min “Good to see a showroom car being displayed at the side of the pitch,” says Charles Antaki. “Always a clear sign that nothing important is happening. Also, there is that anticipation that a wayward shot will hit it and send a windscreen wiper flying. As Alex Iwobi is playing, the chances aren’t bad.”

You jest, but I give it five years – tops – before one of the big clubs move to a new stadium that includes a car showroom, a pop-up Gucci shop and an ironic pie shop.

1.10pm BST

28 min Pedro is taken off, presumably because of concussion, with Jeremie Boga replacing him.

1.09pm BST

25 min David Luiz drills a flat long pass over the defence for Pedro. Ospina comes to the edge of his area to clear with a flying punch, and clatters Pedro in the process. The referee gives a free-kick against Pedro, presumably for standing in the way of Ospina’s fist. That looked really nasty, especially as Pedro then landed on his face. Pedro seems okay, if extremely groggy.

1.06pm BST

23 min Most of this season’s title contenders will play three at the back at some stage, if not regularly. It’s interesting how cyclical tactics are. Three at the back is the mullet of football formations; just when you think you’ve finally seen the last of the bugger, some smartarse brings it back into fashion.

1.04pm BST

22 min Ozil plays a brilliant disguised pass to meet the late run of Ramsey, who stabs the ball wide on the stretch. That was beautiful from Ozil, such a gentle thrust of the dagger that Chelsea didn’t feel a thing.

1.01pm BST

20 min Batshuayi saunters forward from the halfway line and drills a decent low shot from 25 yards that is comfortably saved by

Cech
Ospina.

1.00pm BST

18 min Chelsea continue to play with greater intensity, though whether that’s a good thing is open to debate. It’s a long season ahead and all that. I suppose Antonio Conte teams don’t really have a first gear.

12.58pm BST

15 min “This pitch is laughably awful,” laughs David Wall, “with big chunks flying out of it after only five minutes, but is there any sensible reason why it is like that (and why it’s often similar when matches are played in what are normally athletics stadiums)? Isn’t the Birds’ Nest still used for athletics, so it would have a grass infield most of the time for the throwing events? I can’t imagine they need to relay the turf just to repair a few divots from the shot put, so why can’t they just put the football markings on the settled field?”

I have very little idea, though it was an issue a year ago as well when the cancelled the Manchester derby.

12.54pm BST

12 min Lacazette watch: he hasn’t seen much of the ball.

12.52pm BST

10 min Moses curls a superb cross in between the keeper and defenders; alas, Batshuayi was having a daydream and didn’t react.

12.50pm BST

8 min Chelsea look much hungrier at the moment, whatever that means. These two, as you probably know, meet again in the Community Shield in two weeks’ time.

12.49pm BST

7 min Willian pounces on a sloppy touch from Maitland-Niles, scoots towards goal and drives just wide of the far post. He should have scored.

12.48pm BST

6 min The pitch is living down to expectations. It’s bobbly and awkward, as shown when Bramall runs the ball out of play.

12.47pm BST

5 min “Wycliffe,” is the subject of Martin McKeefry’s email. “I can’t help feeling that a meaningless pre-season friendly in China counts as a murder somehow. The cold dead body of football is discovered…”

And the police have already whittled the list of suspects down to 921,541 people who were found with blood on their hands.

12.45pm BST

3 min An early chance for Chelsea, with Moses running through on goal from Fabregas’s excellent pass. There is nobody close enough for him to dive, so he shoots instead. It’s a fairly tame effort and Ospina saves.

12.43pm BST

3 min “Afternoon Rob,” says Matt Emerson. “We’re in Ko Samui and I’ll soon be heading out to the nearest sports bar with The Lad to watch the match. That’s somewhat irrelevant detail, but I just wanted to make people jealous. I used to have a share in a flat racehorse and we went to the stables in early Spring to see how it was developing prior to its maiden race. As the string of two-year-olds went up the gallops the trainer turned and said ‘I love this time of year, all our geese are swans right now.’ And that is pre-season as a football supporter in a sentence.”

That’s nice, and particularly of our relationship with new signings. I’ll never forget how good Bebe was in my head.

12.43pm BST

2 min A fast start from Chelsea, with a couple of corners. Willian makes a mess of the second, curling it out of play.

12.41pm BST

1 min Peep peep! Chelsea kick off from left to right. They are in blue; Arsenal are in red.

12.34pm BST

“Wot?” sniffs Mike. “No Leicester v Liverpool MBM? At least that’s for an actually tin pot cup.”

Erm, dunno. I’m not passing the buck, it was somebody else’s decision!

12.21pm BST

When we write the Joy of Six: pre-season friendly moments, this will be entry No1. I mean really, look at the nonchalant state of this.

12.16pm BST

Pre-match nostalgia

Related: The Joy of Six: Arsenal and Chelsea showdowns | Scott Murray

Related: Aaron Ramsey fires Arsenal to FA Cup final win over 10-man Chelsea

12.06pm BST

Arsenal (3-4-2-1) Ospina; Maitland-Niles, Mertesacker, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka, Bramall; Ozil, Iwobi; Lacazette.

Chelsea (3-4-2-1) Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Pedro; Batshuayi.

11.10am BST

Hello madam, hello sir. July is the happiest month to be a football supporter. There’s no real football, but that’s kind of the point. Your team’s record signing is yet to banjax a penalty into Row FFS; nobody has stomped down the tunnel after a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to West Brom; no one on TV is using the phrase “on social media” as if they are about to discuss the grave findings of a year-long judicial review into historic corruption.

It’s the time when hope and optimism replace mope and cynicism. Today, Arsenal and Chelsea both continuing preparations for their title-winning 2017-18 campaigns, and whatever happens in the next few hours won’t change that. The best and worst thing about this match is that it means absolutely nothing. Enjoy it, because soon things will get very, very, very, very important – and not just when we look at what people are saying on social media.

A dark family secret comes to light when a girl deliberately runs over a woman on a pedestrian crossing, and the result of an internal inquiry board is revealed.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/jul/22/arsenal-v-chelsea-pre-season-friendly-live

Jul 22

Manchester United confident of signing Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic

• José Mourinho frustrated in pursuit of Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier
• United confident of closing a deal for Matic, with a fee of £50m mooted

Manchester United are confident of closing a deal for Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic after hitting a wall in their efforts to take Eric Dier from Tottenham Hotspur. José Mourinho, the United manager, identified Dier as his No1 defensive midfield target at the start of the close-season and he has seen three bids for him turned down by Tottenham. The third bid was understood to be close to £40m.

Tottenham’s position on Dier has been resolute all summer. When Ed Woodward, the United executive vice-chairman, made his first approach to Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman – and put forward a preliminary offer of £25m – he was told, in no uncertain terms, that Dier was not for sale.

Related: Benjamin Mendy set to join Manchester City from Monaco in record £52m deal

Related: PSG increasingly confident of signing Neymar and Alexis Sánchez

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jul/22/manchester-united-transfer-nemanja-matic-chelsea-tottenham-eric-dier

Jul 21

Chelsea announce signing of Álvaro Morata on a five-year contract

• Spain striker is champions’ third signing of summer at cost of £58m
• ‘It’s an incredible emotion to be part of this big club,’ says Morata

Chelsea have announced the signing of Álvaro Morata from Real Madrid on a five-year contract. The Spain striker is the Premier League champions’ third major signing of the summer, following the arrival of Antonio Rüdiger from Roma and Tiemoué Bakayoko from Monaco and reportedly costs in the region of £58m.

Related: Álvaro Morata may need to channel his inner Costa to be Chelsea success | Jonathan Wilson

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jul/21/chelsea-announce-signing-of-alvaro-morata-five-year-contract-real-madrid

Jul 20

Álvaro Morata may need to channel his inner Costa to be Chelsea success | Jonathan Wilson

The £58m forward is clearly hugely gifted but can he inspire Chelsea as effectively as the raging and ruthless Diego Costa did when motivated?

Of the players who scored 10 goals or more in La Liga last season, none did so with a better conversion rate than Álvaro Morata. His 55 shots yielded 15 goals, which is one of the reasons he began the summer ranked alongside Kylian Mbappé, Romelu Lukaku and Andrea Belotti as one of the four most eligible young strikers in Europe. Chelsea, having failed to land Lukaku (or refused to pay over the odds for him, depending whose account you prefer), pretty much had to sign one of the other three to replace Diego Costa, who will almost certainly join Atlético Madrid at some point in the next six weeks.

Related: Chelsea confirm deal agreed to sign Álvaro Morata from Real Madrid

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jul/20/alvaro-morata-diego-costa-chelsea

Jul 19

Chelsea set to seal signing of Álvaro Morata from Real Madrid

  • Chelsea agree to pay club record fee of around £70m
  • Forward is with Real Madrid in the United States

Chelsea are on the verge of bolstering their attack for their Premier League title defence after agreeing a deal in principle with Real Madrid to sign the Spain forward Álvaro Morata for a club record fee.

Discussions have been ongoing with Madrid since Chelsea lost out on their first-choice forward addition, Romelu Lukaku, to Manchester United, with a breakthrough achieved on Wednesday. The fee for Morata is expected to be around £70m, eclipsing the £50m paid to Liverpool for Fernando Torres in 2011, with only small details still to be ironed out between the clubs.

Related: Álvaro Morata: ‘Footballers are more like singers or rock stars than sportsmen’ | Sid Lowe

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jul/19/chelsea-signing-alvaro-morata-real-madrid

Jul 18

Antonio Conte finally signs new Chelsea contract to curb concerns over future

• Italian manager agrees new two-year deal at Stamford Bridge
• Conte: ‘Now we must work even harder to stay at the top’

Antonio Conte has finally put pen to paper on a new contract at Chelsea, whom he steered to the Premier League title in his first year in English football, to ease any immediate concerns over his future, though the Italian has not extended his commitment to the club beyond the next two years.

Chelsea confirmed the deal just as the manager and his squad departed for Beijing, and a three-match preseason tour of China and Singapore, on Tuesday evening with Conte describing the team’s achievements last year as “something amazing” in the club’s statement. The director, Marina Granovskaia, hailed the 47-year-old’s “incredible success” with the new contract reflecting the board’s “belief that he can continue to deliver results both domestically and as we return to European competition in the Champions League”.

Related: Premier League: 20 players ready to make a breakthrough next season

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jul/18/antonio-conte-chelsea-new-contract

Jul 18

David Squires on … Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich era in the Premier League

Our cartoonist continues his off-season series on the Premier League at 25, with a look at the impact in England of a new oligarch owner

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/ng-interactive/2017/jul/18/david-squires-on-chelseas-roman-abramovich-era-in-the-premier-league

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