Michy Batshuayi

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Lampard calls for Chelsea to finish chances: ‘We know where we need to strengthen’

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Chelsea’s dramatic last-gasp loss to Newcastle United was, in a way, a blessing in disguise for Frank Lampard and company.

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The Blues conceded their first first loss since Boxing Day, dropping crucial points in the league’s top-four race. With plenty of chances to score at hand, the visit to St. James’ Park is one of sheer frustration.

But at the same time, the London side learned an invaluable lesson: Chelsea are in dire need of a new striker before the January transfer window comes to a close. Chelsea registered 19 shots (4 on target) on Saturday but squandered most, while Newcastle’s netminder Martin Dúbravka did his job and saved a few.

“We know we have problems at the top of the pitch in terms of we don’t get enough goals,” Lampard said following his team’s 1-0 loss, via the BBC.
“If you don’t score you are always liable for a sucker punch and they got it.”

“If we are looking for people to bring in to the areas to win games when you are controlling it, it is scoring goals.”

From RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner to Lyon’s Moussa Dembele, Chelsea has been linked to a striker all winter long. With Olivier Giroud a signature away from sealing a move to Inter Milan, a replacement is necessary.

Sure, Tammy Abraham‘s return to Stamford Bridge is an outright success – 13 goals and two assists in 22 league appearances – but rotation is visibly needed. Michy Batshuayi replaced Abraham, but failed to show any promising signs. The 26-year-old has scored just once in 13 matches this season.

“We can’t work anymore in training on finishing,” the 41-year-old manager added. “You need to have that killer instinct in front of goal. We need to score more goals from front-line areas if we are going to get to where we want to be.”

Lampard gave no indicator that his side are on the brink of landing a new goalscorer up top. With the transfer window open for just 13 days, however, Chelsea are going to have to get intentional on their search.

“It’s quite clear from what I am saying now that we know where we need to strengthen but we shall see.”

Newcastle stuns misfiring Chelsea

Newcastle United stuns Chelsea
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Chelsea couldn’t find a clinical edge and Isaac Hayden scored in stoppage time as Newcastle United beat Chelsea 1-0 at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

The visitors had 70 percent of the ball and a massive edge in shots, but couldn’t capitalize on the few chances they found behind the back line.

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Isaac Hayden powered a header home off a stoppage-time set piece to give the Magpies a shocking win and 29 points, seven clear of the Bottom Three.

Chelsea stays on 39 points, five ahead of fifth-place Manchester United. The Red Devils play Liverpool on Sunday.


Three things we learned

1. Fortunate Magpies get big payoff late: Hayden had not scored in a year and turned Saint-Maximin’s desperate cross of a poorly-cleared corner kick past Kepa Arrizabalaga. A solid if unspectacular midfielder, Hayden has dealt with a lot and might’ve left the Northeast due to family reasons. He’s stayed, Steve Bruce has him confident, and the Magpies have a win against all odds.

2. Newcastle’s low block heroics highlight Chelsea need: Frank Lampard‘s attackers were limited to shots from distance, as Steve Bruce’s men might be even better than they were under Rafa Benitez when asked to defend deep. A lot of this is due to spending on attackers who keep defenders honest, but that doesn’t excuse Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi‘s inability to produce much. The former had Dubravka beaten but failed to find finish on the day.

The defense-first style can be boring to, well, everyone including the home fans and managers loathe when it’s employed against them. But Newcastle has now beaten Chelsea, Spurs, and Manchester United this year, also drawing Man City. The expected goals table says Newcastle is having one of the luckiest seasons on record, but don’t bother the Geordies with that right now.

3. Lampard waits for Abraham: Related to point No. 1, Lampard showed faith that his struggling striker would show up late. After all, the 22-year-old has 13 goals and three assists this year. Abraham got behind the Magpies back line twice and also flicked a ball off the bar, but it was the right move to get Michy Batshuayi out there. Alas, it probably should’ve come before the 80th minute.

Man of the Match: Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez were the key parts of the aforementioned low block, and we’d give the honors to Clark. But Hayden, man.


Newcastle loan star Jetro Willems are stretchered off the pitch with his head in his hands are an innocent play out wide, a new worry for the injury-ravaged Magpies.

Then Isaac Hayden pulled up lame after being stretched in a 50-50 with Mason Mount.

The best scoring chance of the early stages came in the 22nd minute, as Kepa Arrizabalaga may have got a finger to Joelinton‘s header off the bar.

Chelsea took hold of the match at the half-hour mark, an offside Tammy Abraham flicking off the bar before Martin Dubravka saved N’Golo Kante’s effort in the 34th.

Newcastle held firm against the attack through five minutes of stoppage time.

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The Magpies opened up a little bit in the second half, and Willian missed a chance to open the scoring in the 53rd.

Cesar Azpilicueta was lively in both halves, and hammered a shot to Dubravka in the 55th.

Newcastle’s physical and aggressive back line held firm, big challenges and clearances from Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez on show.

Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin teamed up to tee up Joelinton, but the Brazilian drove his 88th minute shot wide of the goal.

Soon after, Saint-Maximin sent a half-desperation, half-pinpoint cross to the back post for Hayden to turn past Arrizabalaga. Insane.

Top 10 players to watch in January window

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January is here and the transfer window is open again with plenty of big moves rumored as Premier League clubs aim to kick on in the second half of the season.

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With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 players you should keep an eye on during this month as they could be moving to or leaving the PL.

We will keep you updated with all the latest goings on throughout this month with analysis and reaction right here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
The 33-year-old isn’t getting much game time at Chelsea and reports suggest he is being offered to plenty of clubs, including Lyon, as Chelsea want to bring in Moussa Dembele. Giroud’s ability to hold the ball up and score goals mean plenty of PL clubs will be looking at a January move, maybe on loan, as the French international is out of contract this summer. He will be desperate for minutes in the second half of the season as he pushes to start for France at EURO 2020 this summer.


Nathan Ake (Bournemouth)
Currently out injured, Ake has been a rock for Bournemouth since he arrived on loan then permanently from Chelsea. It is said the Blues have a $50 million buyback clause and given their defensive problems this season, that would be a smart buy for Frank Lampard‘s side. The Dutch international has also been interesting Man City and Arsenal and if he doesn’t leave Bournemouth this January, he will be a man in demand this summer.


Jarrod Bowen (Hull City)
Teams in the bottom half of the table usually take a punt on a player doing really well in the Championship. Bowen, 23, fits the bill as he’s scored 17 goals for Hull City so far this season and bagged 22 last season. A real poacher in and around the box, Bowen has been linked with a move to Leicester, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Newcastle among others. He has come up through the ranks in non-league and seems capable of making the next step up.


Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)
A veteran striker with undoubted quality, both Arsenal and Man United have been linked with El Matador. So too have Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami, but Cavani, 32, playing in the Premier League would be very interesting. He is more physical than Gonzalo Higuain but injuries have hit him hard in recent months. Would he would be worth a gamble for a team pushing to get into the top four?


Moussa Dembele (Lyon)
The former Fulham and Celtic forward is a man in demand after another fine season in Ligue 1 for Lyon. Chelsea and Man United are said to be interested in signing him this month even though Lyon have said they don’t want to sell until summer, if they’re going to at all. Dembele, 23, is a clinical finisher who hovers around the box and he also has the ability to make clever runs behind opposition defenders. Would cost way over $70 million.


Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Available on a free this summer, Eriksen could well stay at Spurs and see out his contract but chairman Daniel Levy loves a good deal and if they can get a transfer fee for Eriksen now perhaps he will leave. Eriksen has been indifferent throughout this season as he’s been linked to Man United, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and other giant clubs across Europe. He has all of the ability to excel wherever he ends up and maybe it would be best for everyone if he moved on this month.


Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
Perhaps the man most coveted in this window, Zaha wanted to leave in the summer but Arsenal and Everton didn’t match Palace’s valuation. After a fine few months leading up to January he will probably go for close to $110 million and Chelsea are the frontrunners to sign him. Zaha’s pace and trickery are his main strengths and he is desperate to return to a team challenging for trophies and playing in the Champions League. At 27 years old, now seems like the perfect time for Zaha to make the step up.


Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid)
The French winger has reportedly been offered to Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and other Premier League clubs as Atletico try and move on the man they paid Monaco $66.5 million in the summer of 2018. Lemar, 24, has got regular minutes for Atletico but has only scored three times in 49 La Liga appearances. Surely, Spurs and maybe even Chelsea will see this as a cheaper, and very decent, alternative to buying someone like Sancho or Zaha.


Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham)
Crystal Palace, Southampton and others have been linked with a loan move for Spurs’ young right back who hasn’t been able to jump ahead of Serge Aurier. Walker-Peters needs game time to keep his development going and it is unlikely he will leave permanently. A no-brainer for PL clubs further down the table who want some extra help in defense.


Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)
Another January, another loan move on the cards for Batshuayi. The Belgian international has joined Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Palace in recent windows and the likes of Palace and Aston Villa have been linked with a loan move for him this time around. Batshuayi is second-choice behind Tammy Abraham and Chelsea will not be willing to let him go if they fail to bring in Dembele, or someone else, in attack.

Transfer rumor roundup: Sancho deal off; Dembele to Chelsea, Man Utd

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It appears that Jadon Sancho will not be heading to the Premier League in January.

Our partners at Sky Sports in Germany claim that the Bundesliga giants will not sell Sancho, 19, in January and will instead focus on getting the best deal possible for the winger this summer as they won’t be able to replace him this month.

Sancho has been linked with moves to Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, as the former Watford and Man City youth product has shone for Dortmund over the last 18 months as he’s become a regular for England.

Dortmund have already admitted that Sancho won’t be around much longer as they continue their incredible record of attracting the top young talent in Europe, getting a few years out of them and then selling the stars on for big profits.

Chelsea have been linked strongly with a move for Sancho as the likes of Willian and Pedro are the wrong side of 30 and the former has yet to sign a new contract at Stamford Bridge.

Keeping Sancho until this summer is a smart move by Dortmund. Financially they will get more if they start a bidding war for him in the summer transfer window, when most clubs are willing to do business as they know better what their revenue streams will be in the upcoming year.

With Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid all linked with a move for Sancho too, the Premier League’s big boys know they will have to splash out over $130 million to sign the teenager who took Christian Pulisic‘s place in the Dortmund team.

Man United and Chelsea seem the most likely to bite the bullet and pay big bucks for Sancho, with Man City and Liverpool well stocked in the attacking areas of the pitch.


Talking of Man United and Chelsea, the duo are locked into a battle to sign Lyon’s Moussa Dembele.

The former Fulham and Celtic striker, 23, has been the subject of bids in January and various reports state that Chelsea have made an offer of over $50 million to sign Dembele.

A report from the Daily Mail also suggests that Chelsea will offer French national team forward Olivier Giroud as a makeweight in the deal for Dembele, as Lyon play hardball over their top goalscorer from last season.

He’s scored 10 goals in 18 Ligue 1 appearances this season and has been linked with a move back to the UK consistently.

Dembele would provide great competition for Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Man United’s Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, and it would appear Chelsea are pushing hard to sign the French striker. Aside from Abraham they only have Michy Batshuayi and Giroud as center forward options and Frank Lampard is keen to spend in January as his young side are keen to kick on in the second half of the season to seal a top four finish.

With the Blues able to sign players again as their transfer ban is over, they have the financial edge in this deal. They also have the greater need to add a center forward. Chelsea seems like a very good for Dembele and the next logical step on his career path.

Villa’s Wesley, Heaton ruled out for season

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Aston Villa have been dealt a huge blow in their battle against relegation.

Wesley and Tom Heaton have both been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering knee ligament damage in their 2-1 win at Burnley on New Year’s Day.

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Both players were stretchered off in the second half as Villa’s big win at Turf Moor came at a huge cost as both will now be out for between six and nine months.

“They are two key players who I feel very sorry for,” Smith said. “We’ve had five games in 16 days and another seven to come in January. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves; we have to deal with it, help the players in their recovery and go and recruit wisely.”

Wesley scored his first Premier League goal in almost three months in the win at Burnley and he is the focal point of Villa’s attack, while Heaton is their starting goalkeeper. These injuries mean Villa will have to dip into the market in January to find replacements, probably on loan.

Both players arrived at Villa in the summer and have been influential so far with Heaton making several fine stops after starting 20 of Villa’s 21 PL games so far. Back up goalkeeper Jed Steer is currently out injured too with inexperienced duo Orjan Nyland and Lovre Kalinic waiting in the wings.

Wesley has started every PL game up top for Villa but has struggled to get going in the PL after the Brazilian striker arrived from Club Brugge as he’s scored five goals so far. It has been reported that Villa want to sign Michy Batshuayi on loan for the rest of the season to replace Wesley.

With star midfielder John McGinn out for three months due to a fractured ankle it has been a horrible festive period for Villa in terms of injuries as their relegation battle just got that much tougher.

Dean Smith will now be a very busy many in the January transfer window.