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Cole returns to Chelsea as youth team coach

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One of Chelsea’s best players in club history is back at his old stomping grounds in a new role.

Chelsea finally confirmed over their social media channels that former left back Ashley Cole is back at the club coaching in the academy, helping the next generation of stars grow and learn the games. Specifically, Cole is coaching the U-15 squad.

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“I’m also doing my badges at the moment and so being here at Chelsea means I have the chance to coach every day, whereas maybe if I wasn’t working at a club it would be hard for me to get the hours in,” Cole told Chelsea’s website. “I’m learning not just how to be a coach and how to speak to people in a different environment but the side of coaching that you don’t see like planning the sessions and setting up the equipment.

“As a player, you just turn up for a session and do it. If it’s a possession drill, you just arrive and try to keep the ball but now I’m getting to understand that there are always ideas behind a particular session or practice. Organization has to be key and those are the little details that it takes to be a great coach.”

While plenty from Cole’s era have moved into the media for lucrative punditry roles, it’s nice to see players like Cole and his former teammate Frank Lampard, now Chelsea coach, go into coaching to help pass on some of the great lessons they’ve learned during their careers. .

Cole said in the interview that he wasn’t sure what was next after playing three seasons for the LA Galaxy and then joining Lampard at Derby County for the second half of last season. He added that he got his first taste of coaching kids while with the Galaxy, helping some of the academy players and taking part in video sessions.

“The Academy are very good at giving ex-players a route back to the club and a chance to learn as coaches,” Cole said. “They’re eager to bring in people who understand what it means to be at Chelsea and what it means to wear the badge. You have to be a top player to play for Chelsea so they want those top ex-players influencing and trying to help the next generation develop and be better players.”

Hudson-Odoi set to make return with reserves

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One of the bright lights from Chelsea’s 2018-2019 Premier League season could just be a few weeks away from making a long-awaited return.

After returning to full training last month, Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, along with defender Reece James are expected to feature for Chelsea’s Under-23 squad in its PL2 match on Friday against Brighton and Hove Albion U-23s at Stamford Bridge.

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It’s been an incredibly fast recovery for the still 18-year-old Hudson-Odoi after he tore his Achilles tendon on April 22 in a draw with Burnley. In many cases, Achilles tendon injuries can keep a player out as long as 12 months or longer, but Hudson-Odoi appears primed to take the field again just five months on from the injury.

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Hudson-Odoi has been posting photos of his recovery, including the one above featuring his manager, Frank Lampard, taking part in a drill on the practice field.

The big question now is how Hudson-Odoi recovers mentally, and whether he can still display his blistering, game-changing pace. It’s always difficult for an athlete to trust their body the next time there’s a sprint to the ball, or taking a quick turn and a change of pace to get off a defender.

However, if he’s fully fit and still has that impressive speed, he’ll certainly get some minutes for Chelsea this season. With not a ton expected, there’s plenty of time to ease him back and get him ready for the 2020-2021 campaign.

Chelsea fine Arrizabalaga one week’s wages for actions on Sunday

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After all that, the insubordination, the scandal playing out worldwide on traditional media and social media, Kepa Arrizabalaga will only pay one week’s wages as punishment.

That’s what Chelsea announced on Monday evening, stating that both Kepa and manager Maurizio Sarri had spoken with one another and cleared the air. Chelsea stated that the money will be donated to the Chelsea Foundation. According to the Telegraph’s contract details, Kepa will give up around $250,000 in his one week’s wages.

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Both Kepa and Sarri released statements.

Kepa

“I was very happy to play in my first Cup Final for Chelsea yesterday and very proud of the team performance. I have thought a lot more about yesterday’s events. Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation. I wanted to take the time today to apologise fully and in person to the coach, to Willy, my team-mates and to the club. I have done this and now I want to offer the same apology to the fans. I will learn from this episode and will accept any punishment or discipline the club decides is appropriate.”

Sarri

“Kepa and I have spoken about the incident. It was a good conversation. There was a misunderstanding yesterday but he realizes he made a big mistake in the way he reacted. He has apologized to me, his team-mates and the club. It is up to the club if they want to discipline him according to the club rules, but for me this matter is now closed. The team performance as a whole was extremely positive and it is a shame to see how this incident has overshadowed our efforts in what was a very competitive Cup Final. Everyone’s focus is now on the next game and we must all now put this behind us.”

Sarri has a huge decision to make in two days time. With Chelsea playing a massive London derby against Tottenham, does the Italian manager risk starting Kepa again, or will he punish Kepa further and start Willy Caballero.

Robben nearly joined Man United

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Imagine a scenario with a young Cristiano Ronaldo and a young Arjen Robben bombing down the wings, floating in crosses or cutting inside to unleash powerful strikes on goal.

That scenario nearly came true.

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According to an interview in FourFourTwo magazine, Robben nearly joined Manchester United in 2004 after a positive conversation over dinner with then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson and a tour of the club’s training grounds.

But for whatever reason, nothing came of it. Soon, Chelsea snapped up the Flying Dutchman and the rest is history.

“I had a very good conversation with [Ferguson] over dinner in Manchester and we spoke about football and life,” Robben said. “I also went and had a good look around the training ground and everything was good.

“I had a very good conversation with Ferguson over dinner and we spoke about football and life. Had Manchester United offered me a deal straight after I met them, I would have signed. But after I went back to PSV nothing happened. There was no real contact and the deal didn’t happen. PSV were also negotiating with Chelsea at that time, so maybe they offered PSV more money? I don’t really know.”

Robben helped lead Chelsea to back to back Premier League titles, a pair of League Cup titles and an FA Cup crown before leaving for Real Madrid in 2007.

Man United won the Premier League title in Robben’s final year at Chelsea but only won a League Cup title in that span, as Chelsea were the dominant team in English football.

It’s fun to think though about what could have been, had Robben wound up at Man United, with two of the most exciting wingers in the world playing for the same club.

LIVE, UCL – Chelsea vs. Barcelona; Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas

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Two can’t-miss matchups are on display as the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first legs continue on Tuesday afternoon.

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Chelsea and Barcelona continue its terrific recently rivalry over the past two decades with Ernesto Valverde’s side traveling to Stamford Bridge to face Antonio Conte and co. At the same time, Bayern Munich hosts Turkish giant Besiktas at the Allianz Arena.

Lionel Messi, who has yet to score against Chelsea in eight games, will be looking to break his own five-game goal drought while also keep Barcelona’s Champions League hopes alive against one of his club’s toughest opponents. Messi will be playing up top alongside Luis Suarez, with both Paulinho and Sergio Busquets sitting deep behind them to keep Chelsea from posing too much of a threat on the counter attack.

For Chelsea, the Champions League remains the last trophy the club can theoretically win, and Conte has named a strong side, though without a recognizable No. 9, with Eden Hazard playing as a false nine.

Bayern Munich is looking to reach the Champions League semifinals for the seventh time in the last nine years, and they’re facing a side who’s in the knockout stage for the first time. Vagner Love leads the line for Besiktas with Ricardo Quaresma and Anderson Talisca looking to create behind. Former Real Madrid centerback Pepe starts on the backline, and will look to stop Robert Lewandowski.

Click on the link above to follow live commentary of the two UCL last 16 games, while we will have you covered for analysis and reaction from both games right here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 schedule

Chelsea vs. Barcelona – 2:45 p.m. ET
Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas – 2:45 p.m. ET