Fikayo Tomori

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Barkley sails late penalty, Chelsea falls

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Ross Barkley missed a late penalty as Chelsea lost its UEFA Champions League opener 1-0 to Valencia on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge.

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Rodrigo scored the lone goal, and Valencia will be thrilled to collect all three points in London.

Christian Pulisic was an unused sub for Chelsea, who out-attempted Valencia 22-8 on the day.


Three things we learned

1. Pulisic down the pecking order: The American star didn’t start, and wasn’t the first name called when Mason Mount was injured. Granted Pedro played a little deeper, but not a good week for the Hershey-born Pulisic

2. Wide men the danger men: Willian was the likely Man of the Match for Chelsea despite the lack of goals, and full backs Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta were also key to the resutl.

3. Penalty drama: VAR gave Chelsea a chance to level from the spot, but Ross Barkley stepped ahead of Willian and missed the chance. The Brazilian looked aggrieved before and after the miss, and Barkley looked mighty confident right until the moment he missed his shot. Sort yourself out!

Man of the Match: Willian — No wonder he was angry to see Barkley demand the penalty, as a Willian goal would’ve been a fitting result for his clever and industrious day at the office.


Valencia keeper Jasper Cillesen made two stops early, denying Tammy Abraham to concede a corner before collecting a Marcos Alonso header on the ensuing set piece.

Would it be Christian Pulisic time when Mason Mount left the match with injury following a challenge from former Arsenal man Francis Coquelin? Nope. Pedro was called upon to fill the void.

It was a sleepy second half, with Pedro conceding a free kick to Valencia that didn’t amount to anything exciting.

Those who stuck around were rewarded with late drama, as Valencia took the lead through a Rodrigo flick off a free kick.

However, Valencia then had to watch through its fingers as Chelsea was gifted a chance at the spot through VAR when Fikayo Tomori headed a ball off the arm of Daniel Wass.

Willian was upset to see Ross Barkley take the penalty, and the English midfielder probably wishes he let someone else take it after missing over the bar.

Rudiger injured, as Chelsea prepare for UCL return

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After a season away, Chelsea return to UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday as they host Valencia at Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard spoke of his pride ahead of his first UCL game as a manager, and the Blues will be in a confident mood after thrashing Wolverhampton Wanderers 5-2 at Molineux on Saturday.

Speaking in a press conference ahead of their group stage opener, Lampard confirmed that Antonio Rudiger is out injured again after aggravating a reoccurring groin injury on his return to action at the weekend.

“Toni is injured. He’s bothered a small groin problem that he’s been carrying for a few weeks and will have a scan later today,” Lampard said.

Whether or not Rudiger’s injury forces Lampard to ditch the 3-4-3 formation which served his side so well at the weekend remains to be seen. Kurt Zouma, who has struggled so far this season, could slot right in for Rudiger.
Whoever he picks, it is clear he will continue to put his faith in the young trio of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount who all scored at Wolves.

Abraham has seven goals in his last three games, including a hat trick at Wolves, and having three players under the age of 21 who came through Chelsea’s academy playing pivotal roles has given everyone at the west London club a warm feeling.

“I just believed in him and trusted him,” Lampard said about Abraham. “I know a lot was made of the ban giving opportunities for young players but I felt now was his time. He is in a good place and can improve even more.”

It will be intriguing to see how this young Chelsea side cope with the demands of European and Premier League action.

Tomori, Abraham and Mount were emotional at the final whistle on Saturday as their journey through the academy and eventually into the first team is complete.

But this is only the start. Lampard is correct to acknowledge Chelsea’s transfer ban from FIFA forcing their hand in playing youngsters this season, but he was also correct in saying that Abraham was ready for his chance.

Chelsea’s youngsters now have to deliver week in, week out to justify the rising optimism at Stamford Bridge.

In years to come we may be talking about “The Class of 2016” reshaping Chelsea’s future. That is still some way off, but there have been enough promising signs so far for Chelsea to be excited about these young prospects, especially when Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi return from injury.

Lampard praises Chelsea youngsters. What now for Pulisic?

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Chelsea’s young English core stood tall in the 5-2 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, as Tammy Abraham scored a hat trick and both Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount scored goals.

All 10 of Chelsea’s Premier League goals have been scored by Englishman, and USMNT star Christian Pulisic was dropped from the starting lineup and was an unused sub as Frank Lampard watched Chelsea’s best performance of the season after switching to a 3-4-3 formation.

Speaking to the BBC’s Match of the Day after the game, Lampard had high praise for Chelsea’s young stars.

“Delighted for them all but particularly for Fikayo Tomori. He has worked so hard from where he started to now it’s superb. Also Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount – we are trying to give chances to the youngsters and they are scoring, taking their chances and showing us why we should keep putting them in the team,” Lampard said. “They deserve it, they have the quality but they also have a love for the club because they have come through the ranks. It’s not just the youngsters though – players like Willian are having fantastic performances that are just as key.”

The fact that Lampard is not only praising Chelsea’s other young stars but also the man who came in to take Pulisic’s place, Willian, is hardly good news for the Pennsylvanian winger.

Yes, he will get plenty of minutes due to Chelsea being in the League Cup, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup this season, but the fact Chelsea performed so well in a 3-4-3 formation doesn’t bode too well for Pulisic going forward.

He can play in one of the wide forward positions tucking in, but Lampard is likely to want a player who is a little more powerful and adept at the defensive side of the game in those wide positions.

After being handed valuable minutes early in the season, Pulisic has already struggled to provide Emerson and/or Cesar Apzilicueta with defensive cover so far this season. His safe passes and failure to take games by the scruff of the neck have really restricted his impact for Chelsea in the Premier League.

He is still just 20 years old, but Pulisic has to start delivering when he gets minutes for Chelsea. The Premier League is a ruthless environment and right now Willian, Mount, Pedro, Callum Hudson-Odoi and probably even Ross Barkley are ahead of Pulisic in the pecking order.

That might be harsh, but that’s the reality of being in the PL and at Chelsea.

VIDEO: Chelsea product Tomori scores amazing goal

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When you watch the video below, remember one thing: Fikayo Tomori is a center back.

The Chelsea academy product, just 21 years old, scored his first Premier League goal in style at Wolves on Saturday.

With the score locked at 0-0 heading towards half time, the ball worked its way to Tomori 35 yards out and he curled home a beauty to break the deadlock.

Below is the strike from Tomori, which is one he will never forget.

League Cup Weds. preview: Lampard meets Chelsea, London Derby at West Ham

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London is very much in focus for a quartet of League Cup matches on Wednesday in England.

Five of the eight participants call London their home, which of course means there’s a derby in the bunch.

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That’s Tottenham Hotspur‘s visit to West Ham United, the first Cup meeting between the clubs since the third round of the 2003-04 League Cup.

Spurs played Monday in a rough 1-0 loss to Man City at Wembley Stadium, while West Ham has been off since Saturday.

It’s one of three 3:45 p.m. ET kickoffs in London in addition to South London club Crystal Palace‘s trek north to Middlesbrough at 4 p.m.

That one’s a Tony Pulis Derby, with the Smoggies’ coach hosting the club he managed from 2013-14.

Unai Emery‘s Arsenal will look to start a new winning streak following a 2-2 draw with Palace this weekend. Expect a second-string side against Blackpool, with the Gunners gearing up for a Saturday visit from Liverpool.

Finally, a neat little match-up at Stamford Bridge, where several Chelsea connections will be with Derby County. Loanees Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori will be allowed to play for ex-Blues midfielder Frank Lampard in the match.

“We believe that by playing against us is an opportunity for them to grow up quicker,” said Chelsea assistant Gianfranco Zola. “The more they play against Premier League teams the more experience they get, and we can make better evaluations on them.”