The Hard Tackle brings you the roundup of the some of the stories regarding Premier League side Chelsea FC.
With 14 goals and 5 assists in a mere 19 games so far this season, Diego Costa has been leading the goalscoring charts and Chelsea’s title charge this season. The Spaniard has shaken off last season’s mediocrity and is back to his sensational best under Antonio Conte this season.
Blues hero Joe Cole, who was back training at Cobham last month in a bid to keep fit for the upcoming United Soccer League season, insisted that Chelsea could run away with the title by April, if they managed to keep Diego Costa fit and firing at his current rate.
Speaking to The Sun, the 35-year-old insisted that his former side had an advantage due to not having European commitments this season and praised the ‘unbelievable’ work that Antonio Conte had done since arriving at Cobham in the summer.
“The Premier League is designed, Chelsea have a big advantage because they are not playing in Europe. Conte has had a lot of time to work with the team and they look pretty solid. I think the most important thing is that Diego Costa is not injured. If so, they will be champions in April.”
Along with his tactical brilliance and vast footballing experience, Conte has brought his passion to Cobham and one simply cannot argue that his methods have borne fruit. Cole got a first hand impression of Conte’s methods, and insists that they are ‘frightening’.
An intense training atmosphere and top quality players with big personalities, Chelsea have these in plenty and the former England international insists that these can help the Blues win the League.
“Conte has done an unbelievable job – the atmosphere in training there is frightening,” he said. “The boys look right on it and right ready to go. I can see them winning the league. It is all about players having the right personality on top of the quality and Chelsea have that.”
Diego Costa’s only competition for his position at the club comes from summer acquisition Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian international in yet to start a single game in the Premier League and even Diego Costa’s suspension against Bournemouth didn’t get him a place in Conte’s first XI.
Chelsea beat off competition from Juventus and West Ham to sign the 23-year-old Belgian international, who was setting the Ligue 1 alight with his goal scoring exploits with Marseille. In 49 appearances last term, he racked up 23 goals and 10 assists.
However, the £33 million signing has failed to make a significant impact in the Premier League. Chances have come few and far in between for the Belgian and all his appearances so far have come from the bench and in light of this, he has been linked with a move away this month.
The lack of opportunities given to Batshuayi this season raised questions about the striker’s ability to provide able backup to Costa and Chelsea hero Ray Wilkins has insisted that Batshuayi does not have what it takes to make it in the Premier League.
“No, in my humble opinion,” he told SkySports. “Yesterday when I watched him he was like a guy starved of playing for the first team, and he was out to impress so badly. He really wanted to do well, he ran everywhere, his ball control was pretty poor when it was played up to him.”
This criticism comes despite Batshuayi getting a goal and assist against Peterborough in the FA Cup. Wilkins brought up Chelsea’s 3-0 victory against Bournemouth in the Premier League, where Costa was suspended and Batshuayi wasn’t started, despite being the only natural striker.
He went on to say, “When they played Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard up front I was questioning why Conte didn’t play Batshuayi as a natural striker, and now i can see why he didn’t – because he doesn’t have the control of the ball that the other players have.”
Last month, Oscar’s big money move to Chinese side Shanghai SIPG was the talk of the town as it was Chelsea’s most expensive sale in their history and for a brief period of time, the 25-year-old was rumoured to the world’s highest earning player, in terms of weekly wages.
His teammate Hulk, who himself was subject to a massive €55.8 million move in the summer, has revealed his role in Oscar’s move and how he convinced his compatriot to make the switch from Stamford Bridge to the Shanghai Stadium.
“I talked to Oscar about Shanghai SIPG before he made the move. I said to him that Shanghai is a beautiful city, the club is fantastic and we will get even better in the coming years,” he said as per Sky Sports. “I also said our team-mates are very friendly and welcoming, which makes me feel pretty good. After hearing what I told him, he came.”
When asked about the exorbitant money being spent on players to bring them to Chinese shores and the pressure it puts on them to perform, Hulk insisted that it was something they had all gotten accustomed to doing over the course of their careers.
“We have grown accustomed to playing under huge pressure, no matter how much the club has spent on players Oscar, Elkeson and I are used to it. This is not a problem,” he insisted. “Each new player is coming to help the team and I believe Oscar will help us a lot.”
On a parting note, we revisit the Peterborough game where captain John Terry had an ill-fated return to the center of Chelsea’s defence. The 35-year-old was sent off in the 67th minute for fouling striker Lee Angol and denying him a clear goal scoring opportunity.
Chelsea decided to appeal against this red card on the basis of wrongful dismissal, but in a statement released by the FA today, the Blues’ appeal has been rejected after an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, and the former England international will serve a one match ban with immediate effect.