Season Preview: How will Chelsea fare under new manager Sarri?

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Chelsea at a glance:

Premier League titles: 6 (Most recent: 2016/17)

FA Cups: 8 (Most recent: Last season)

League Cups: 5 (Most recent: 2014/15)

FA Community Shield: 4 (Most recent: 2009)

UEFA Champions League: 1 (2011/12)

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With Manchester City and Liverpool dominating headlines throughout preseason, Chelsea has managed to fly under the radar in a lot of ways heading into the 2018/19 Premier League season.

With new manager Maurizio Sarri guiding the club, it seems as though the Blues have a coach in place that will be able to get the best out of their talent, which has already shown by his ability to keep Eden Hazard, Willian and N'Golo Kante at the club.

This team is just two seasons removed from hoisting the PL trophy, and with many players still in the prime of their career, it’s not unfathomable that Sarri can guide this club to glory once again.


Chelsea will contend because… the Blues have managed to stave off serious attempts at other clubs hijacking their top talents. To this point, Hazard, Willian, Kante, Courtois and others are all staying put at Stamford Bridge, and on paper, this squad is still one of the two or three best in England.

Chelsea will end up out of the top four mix because…. Manchester City and Liverpool will be too much to handle at the top, and Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United will have their say in the title race as well.

Best possible XI:

Courtois

Azpilicueta — Christensen — Rudiger — Alonso

Jorginho — Kante — Fabregas

Willian — Morata — Hazard

Transfers In: Jorginho (Napoli), Rob Green (Huddersfield Town)

Transfers Out: Jeremie Boga (Sassuolo), Jonathan Panzo (Monaco), Isaac Christie-Davies (Liverpool), Jordan Houghton (MK Dons), Wallace (Unattached), Harvey St Clair (Venezia)

Ranking their offseason: B-

Jorginho’s addition to the club automatically solidifies Chelsea as boasting one of the top midfields in the PL with his partnership next to N’Golo Kante, but while that move will likely prove to be brilliant, the Blues were relatively quiet in the transfer market. Sarri will surely bank on many of the club’s regulars from previous seasons to come back stronger in 2018/19 and lift Chelsea back into the title race, as they were two seasons ago.

Star player: Fresh off of a brilliant showing at the World Cup, Eden Hazard must now carry that over to the PL and show the rest of the world why he should be among the consideration and discussions of best players in the game. Hazard has all the capabilities imaginable as an attacking threat, but for Chelsea to get back into the thick of things in England he’ll need to be special this season.

Coach’s Corner: Maurizio Sarri stepped in relatively late in the game after a back-and-forth battle between Antonio Conte and management, however, the former Napoli boss seems to have brought a calming presence to the club. The veteran Italian has done his job thus far in keeping many of the side’s top talents in London, but now it’s up to Sarri to carry that over and provide the results for a club that always has tremendous expectations.

PST Predicts: Following a World Cup, it’s hard to predict how players will return to form given the strains of overexertion. Man City and Liverpool have earned the rights to be considered heavy favorites, but Chelsea won’t slouch with its current group of players. If Morata and/or Batshuayi finds their form up front, the Blues will boast a very strong front three to go along with a rock solid defensive unit that is now led by Kante and Jorginho sitting in front of the back four.

UCL, Live: Chelsea v. Bayern; Napoli v. Barcelona

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is back and the Round of 16 games continue this week as Chelsea host Bayern Munich and Barcelona head to Napoli in what should be two epic battles.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

This is arguably the biggest test yet for Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea youngsters as they face the German giants Bayern who are in imperious form in Europe and have Robert Lewandowski leading their charge. What Chelsea lack in experience they make up for in talent and despite some attacking injuries, Lampard will be keen to take the game to Bayern at Stamford Bridge. Given Chelsea’s defensive flaws so far this season, their best form of defense is attack.

Lampard knows Chelsea must lock down Lewandowski and his battle with Antonio Rudiger is one, among many, we are really looking forward to.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

Elsewhere, Barcelona warmed up for their big trip to Napoli in fine style as Lionel Messi scored four times in a thumping win against Eibar in La Liga on Saturday. Messi, 32, will be Barca’s main men in the cauldron that is the Estadio San Paolo and despite their patchy form in Serie A, Gennaro Gatusso’s Napoli are a dangerous proposition in the Champions League. Especially at home in Naples.

Below is the full schedule for the two UCL last 16 first leg games on Tuesday, with bothgames kicking off at 3 p.m. ET. You can follow the action live by clicking on the link above.


Tuesday Champions League action

Chelsea v. Bayern Munich
Napoli v. Barcelona

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings are here and there are new faces pushing their way into the upper echelons.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Stars from Premier League giants Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal, Man City and Wolves dominate our power rankings after some impressive performances and there are plenty of new entries and plenty of players from the same teams.

[ MORE: Club Power Rankings

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1. Anthony Martial (Man United) – New entry
2. Diogo Jota (Wolves) – New entry
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – Up 16
4. Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) – New entry
5. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Up 6
6. Richarlison (Everton) – Up 1
7. Dwight McNeil (Burnley) – New entry
8. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 2
9. Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) – New entry
10. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) – Down 5
11. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – New entry
12. Bruno Fernandes (Man United) – Up 4
13. Dani Ceballos (Arsenal) – Down 9
14. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Even
15. Martin Dubravka (Newcastle) – New entry
16. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Down 4
17. Harry Maguire (Man United) – Down 9
18. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man United) – Down 12
19. Stuart Armstrong (Southampton) – New entry
20. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) – Down 7

Key battles: Chelsea v. Bayern; Real Madrid v. Man City

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Two Premier League teams play in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 this week as Chelsea host Bayern Munich and Man City head to Real Madrid in the first legs.

Which battles will determine the outcome of these games?

[ MORE: Predicting the UCL last 16 encounters ]

Below we take a look at three crucial head-to-head clashes which will be pivotal in deciding which teams will reach the quarterfinals.


Chelsea v. Bayern Munich

Antonio Rudiger v. Robert Lewandowski: The former has become a real threat from set pieces for Chelsea but his main role will be to stop the most lethal striker in Europe this season in Lewandowski’s. Bayern’s target man is ageing like a fine French win and has 40 goals to his name in all competitions for club and country. Chelsea’s defense has struggled at times this season and Lewa must be licking his chops in anticipation as he tries to win his first-ever Champions League title.

Jorginho v. Thiago Alcantara: Two pass-masters in central midfield will be a joy to watch. Jorginho has a more defensive role to play with N’Golo Kante out and the Italian will look to deliver perfectly weighted passes to get Chelsea’s attack going. As for Thiago, his vision works really well alongside some of Bayern’s more defensive midfielders and he is so assured in possession. The Spanish international has class on the ball and he and Jorginho are very similar. What a battle this should be.

Reece James v. Alphonso Davies: This is a battle we should all look forward to. Canadian star Davies has been a revelation at left back for Bayern and is encouraged to steam ahead and join in attacks whenever he can. James does exactly the same for Chelsea and has made the position his own in his debut season in the Premier League. These two players will be around at the top level and playing in the Champions League for a very long time and you can expect incisive runs up and down as they go head-to-head.

Real Madrid v. Man City

Casemiro v. Kevin De Bruyne: This will be one heck of a job for Real’s Brazilian destroyer. Of course, Casemiro can play too but his main role will be to shut down Kevin de Bruyne who has been in imperious form for Man City in recent weeks. When KDB is fit and firing on all cylinders he is almost unstoppable and he is a player who continues to be linked with a move to Real this summer amid the uncertainty over Man City’s two-season European ban.

Sergio Ramos v. Sergio Aguero: The master of the dark arts against the master of finishing will be fascinating viewing. The Sergio’s will put on a show and Aguero will fancy his chances of wriggling past Ramos and being the hero. That said, how many times have we written off Ramos in the past? The Real Madrid and Spain skipper seems to always find a way of coming out on top but he will be stretched to his limits as his Real defense try to put out fires all over the place with Aguero, KDB and Raheem Sterling or Gabriel Jesus popping up.

Karim Benzema v. Aymeric Laporte: The latter has been influential since his return from injury and his absence is the main reason Man City are so far behind Liverpool in the Premier League title race. Benzema’s physicality could cause Laporte some issues and like Ramos, he is underrated for a player who has been pivotal in winning four Champions League titles with Real Madrid. Laporte is good on the ball and Benzema’s clever turns and flicks means this battle will be more about brains than brawn.

Lyon-Juventus gets green light despite virus concerns

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LYON, France (AP) French club Lyon says its sold-out Champions League home game against Juventus will go ahead as planned on Wednesday despite the coronavirus outbreak in nearby Italy.

Lyon said in a statement on Tuesday it received the go-ahead from French authorities for the match to take place “in its initial configuration.”

Up to 3,000 Juventus fans coming from different regions of Italy are expected to attend Groupama Stadium for the last-16, first-leg match.

The fast-spreading virus from China has led to the postponement of Serie A games in northern Italy, where a cluster of the COVID-19 disease has caused seven deaths and towns to be locked down.

Health Minister Olivier Veran told RTL radio on Tuesday that France is not considering closing its border with Italy, nor banning big gatherings of people because it would not make sense.

Asked specifically about the Lyon-Juventus match, Veran said: “Should we ban gatherings? Should we stop the (Paris) Fashion Week? Should we stop matches? Should we close universities? The answer is no.”

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