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What we love about Chelsea

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Chelsea is one of the most polarizing teams in the English top flight.

[ MORE: What we love about each Premier League club ]

The cash-rich club in West London is a lightning rod, especially with infamous billionaire Roman Abramovich at the helm. The Blues have won a lot, with five Premier League titles to their name.

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Chelsea, like it or not, is one of the most popular teams in Europe, and they can always be counted on to compete at the highest level. Well, unless Jose Mourinho is about finished with his time in charge. Here are some things we love about Chelsea.


Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount celebrate a goal against Arsenal (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).

Youth infusion: Chelsea has been a tough out for the last two decades, but this season has been different from a number of Chelsea’s top-four challenges of the recent past.  Forced by a transfer ban over the summer and a host of injuries through the middle of the season, Frank Lampard has had to dig deep into his squad for starters, and that has brought a number of young players to the forefront.

For the past decade, Chelsea’s youth system was lauded by Premier League fans as one of the best in Europe, but it never seemed to benefit the team at the top level. Instead, many of the exciting young players were seen shipped off elsewhere to provide an influx of cash while the senior squad purchased expensive players to play for the Blues in the biggest competitions. This season, however, the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, and Billy Gilmour have joined Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi as Chelsea youth products to contribute significantly on the field of late. This has resulted in a fabulously entertaining brand of football that has made the Blues a must-watch.

As a biproduct, being more fun has also made the Blues much harder to hate. More on that in a moment.

Midfield brilliance: It’s certainly possible to argue that Chelsea’s midfield is the best of the Premier League this season. Although Liverpool has dominated the league table this season, their front and back lines have done the bulk of the work. For the Blues, everything starts and finishes with their midfield.

Mateo Kovacic has proven to be an exceptional purchase from the Real Madrid Bargain Bin, and the partnership he has developed with Jorginho has been rock solid. N’Golo Kante has struggled with injuries for much of the season, but when he is available, he provides a top-tier rotational option with the aforementioned duo. Add in Ross Barkley and a healthy Loftus-Cheek as a fourth and fifth option off the bench, plus the recent emergence of Gilmour, and the collection of players is tough to top.

Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring against Valencia in the Champions League (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).

Christian Pulisic: You didn’t think you were getting out of here without seeing this man highlighted, did you?

Christian Pulisic’s presence at Chelsea has obviously been incredibly entertaining for USMNT fans, but it goes beyond that. The American brings an exciting mindset to the field every time he steps on the pitch, and that had been evident at Chelsea until a nagging adductor injury robbed him of months of playing time.

It had taken some time after arriving this past summer from Borussia Dortmund, but Pulisic eventually forced his way into the starting lineup with electric attacking contributions and a creative flair. From late October through mid-December, Pulisic had a stretch where he started eight straight games, starting with his hat-trick against Burnley. Here’s to hoping that injury recoveries prove to be a silver lining from this coronavirus shutdown, with Pulisic top of that list.

Hateability: If you don’t love Chelsea, chances are you hate them, and that’s a thing to love about the Blues too. From Roman Abramovich on down, there have been plenty of villainous characters at Stamford Bridge over the last decade or two. That’s great for the sport and great for the club, because hated teams are usually have two things in common: 1) they win a lot, and 2) they draw well.

For Chelsea, that is certainly the case. A poll by The Mirror back in 2019 listed Chelsea as the most hated Premier League club. Hating a particular club is actually a fun way for league fans of other teams to stay engaged…imagine there was no team to project your hatred upon? How boring would that be? It wouldn’t be sports without equal parts loyalty and loathing, and you can thank the Blues for providing both services.

Player ratings from Chelsea 0-2 Manchester United

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Manchester United defeated Chelsea 2-0 on Monday at Stamford Bridge, moving the Red Devils to within three points of their fourth-place hosts.

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Who were the stars and the duds? Read on…

Chelsea

Willy Caballero — 6 — Just one save on the day.

Reece James — 5 — A miserable in 50/50s for a promising player.

Antonio Rudiger — 6 — Lost Maguire on United’s second goal but was otherwise strong

Andreas Christensen — 6.5 — Strong and fought through a bloodied nose before succumbing to the injury at halftime, but couldn’t stop Martial from making it 1-0.

Cesar Azpilicueta — 6 — Okay day, but rightly or wrongly his shove cost Chelsea a goal (Probably wrongly).

Mateo Kovacic — 8 — He was everywhere. According to Sofascore, Kovacic had over 100 touches, 87 percent passing, two key passes, four of five dribbles and 8-of-14 in duels to go with an interception, three clearances, and three tackles.

Jorginho — 8 — Exceptional. Nailed eight of his nine long balls and passed at 94 percent. A maestro.

N’Golo Kante — N/A — Only a dozen minutes before his injury-riddled season met February head-on.

Willian — 7 — Couldn’t get Chelsea on the board, so we shouldn’t praise him too much, but the Brazilian doesn’t get enough love for his willingness and adeptness in tackling.

Pedro — 7 — Three key passes highlight an active day.

Michy Batshuayi — 5 — Couldn’t finish some prime chances, and caught an unpunished boot to the groin. Insult meet injury. Zero shots on target.

Subs

Mason Mount — 6 — Nearly had an assist if not for Olivier Giroud‘s offside toes.

Kurt Zouma — 7 — Came off the bench to score, though it was pulled off the board by VAR. Won six of seven duels, and was steady at the back.

Olivier Giroud — 6 — Nearly had a goal if not for his toes and the timing of a freeze frame.


Manchester United

David De Gea — 6 — Hardly-tested, but did have one fine save.

Luke Shaw — 6 — Not bad.

Harry Maguire — 8 — How do you rate a man who should’ve been sent off but was otherwise a beast and scored a terrific insurance goal? I guess we’re saying you rate him as if he wasn’t sent off, which he wasn’t.

Eric Bailly — 7 — One really poor moment early, but rebounded and showed terrific skill in recovery, tackling, and even moving the ball forward via dribble.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka — 8 — He may end up being the best signing of the summer (Sorry Harry). Terrific assist, four clearances, three blocked shots, two interceptions, and a tackle.

Brandon Williams — 7 — Steadier than his 19 years would have you imagine.

Nemanja Matic — 7 — Busy in the middle, albeit quieter than usual.

Fred — 7 — Got away with one thanks to VAR.

Bruno Fernandes — 7 — Continued to flash his supreme talent, though the end product eluded him.

Daniel James — 5 — Looked busy, but not productive.

Anthony Martial — 7 — Terrific header on the goal, and was industrious in trying to produce. more.

Subs

Andreas Pereira — N/A

Odion Ighalo — N/A

Diogo Dalot — N/A

Hudson-Odoi scores first Premier League goal in Chelsea cruise

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Three different Chelsea players scored in a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

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Jorginho, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Tammy Abraham scored for Chelsea, who was without injured Christian Pulisic.

The Blues stay fourth in moving onto 39 points, while Burnley’s 24 are just four clear of the Bottom Three.


Three things we learned

1. Abraham’s baker dozen just the tip of the iceberg: Tammy Abraham has a nose for goal, and the 22-year-old now has 13 league goals this season despite not regularly impressing in other areas of the field. He may still dip in and out of play, sometimes for entire halves, but watch out if Frank Lampard is able to harness his knack for goal into a complete product.

2. Burnley tempting fate: We’re not here to doubt Sean Dyche, but the statistics are quite ready to ask whether the Clarets can defy logic again to remain in the Premier League. Over-simplified: Burnley readily concedes possession and doesn’t pass the ball well, depending on hustle and pressure to produce chances (as well as long balls lumped to the forwards). Its 68 percent passing will finish last in the top flight, and we’re able to project that in January. Still Dyche will probably just beat up everyone and finish 15th. His teams get it done.

3. James staking his claim: Chelsea’s 20-year-old right back Reece James was very good again on Saturday, providing an assist and forcing Nick Pope into a big save in the first half. Already an excellent passer with a willingness to tackle, the future is very much his for the taking.

Man of the Match: Willian had his nose in everything his side of the pitch, and just gets the nod over James.


Burnley thought it was ahead when Jeff Hendrick headed Ben Mee‘s flick home, but the midfielder was offside.

Chelsea then found its way to the spot when Matthew Lowton‘s short slide caught Willian inside the box.

Jorginho calmly wrong-footed Nick Pope for 1-0 in the 28th.

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The Blues made it 2-0 when Reece James crossed for Abraham to nod past a baffled Pope.

The Burnley keeper would make a point-blank save on James in the 41st for a measure of redemption.

Hudson-Odoi broke his Premier League duck in the 49th minute, the first to Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross as Burnley’s defenders were nowhere.

Abraham leads Chelsea past Watford; Pulisic scores again

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Tammy Abraham had a goal and an assist as Chelsea won its fifth-straight Premier League outing, getting another goal from Christian Pulisic in a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

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Chelsea will finish the weekend with a six-point cushion on fifth place, now sitting third with 23 points.

Watford got a late penalty from Gerard Deulofeu, awarded by VAR, to score its goal. The Hornets remain dead last with five points through 11 matches.


Three things we learned

1. Abraham the genuine article: The Championship loan high-flyer might’ve entered this season with five Premier League goals from a Swansea City loan, but his bonafides are undoubtable now. Abraham calmly converted Jorginho‘s amazing early cross before setting up Pulisic for a goal in the second half. The 22-year-old now has nine goals and two assists in just over 800 league minutes this season.

2. Watford a one-man show: Maybe a long-awaited return for Troy Deeney can do the trick for winless Watford, but every single promising moment of Saturday’s match came from Gerard Deulofeu. There are other players with promise, including Will Hughes, but Roberto Pereyra, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and Andre Gray were absent. That had a lot to do with trying to meet Chelsea’s attacking energy, but it doesn’t make it any easier to be a Watford supporter.

3. Pulisic keeps league run going: The American winger was charged with being very active in the wide areas and took a satisfactory first half to another level when he doubled Chelsea’s lead. Pulisic adjusts his back post to cut in front of Christian Kabasele and add a fourth goal to his Premier League collection.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch ]

Man of the Match: This one is tough. Mateo Kovacic was a beast, and Abraham weighed in on both goals. But Pulisic’s stat line was also complete, and he honestly was as important as any Blue. Ben Foster really was the reason this match wasn’t a blowout. We’re going to give it to Abraham.


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Too easy.

That’s the only way to describe Chelsea’s opener, with Jorginho sweeping a cross around the back of Watford’s back four and Abraham timing his run to pop the ball over a charging Ben Foster for 1-0.

Chalobah fired a shot to Kepa Arrizabalaga after Kurt Zouma mishit a cross in the 16th minute.

Pulisic headed Willian‘s corner toward the back post in the 19th minute, but Ben Foster leapt backward to make a fantastic fingertip save.

Gerard Deulofeu drove a shot wide of the far post in the 39th.

Foster made another fine save when Mason Mount tore into an effort from distance just before halftime.

Deulofeu led another break after halftime, but it ended with a superb block from Kurt Zouma.

Willian cued up a Chelsea chance, but Foster made a good stop on a Mount rip.

If anyone was going to get Watford on the board, it was Deulofeu. VAR said he was caught by Jorginho, sending the Spaniard to the spot in the 80th. He rolled it in.

Kepa Arrizabalaga made a diving save on a flying Foster header — yes, you read that right — on the final play of the night.

Rashford, Man Utd advance past Chelsea in League Cup

Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
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Manchester United ended Chelsea’s seven-match losing streak behind a pair of Marcus Rashford goals at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in a 2-1 win that put the Red Devils in the draw for the League Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Michy Batshuayi scored Chelsea’s goal, as Frank Lampard‘s men tasted defeat for the first time since a home loss to Liverpool by the same score line on Sept. 22.

Christian Pulisic went 70 minutes in the loss, his first match since scoring a hat trick versus Burnley.


Three things we learned

1. Rashford delivers the goods: His penalty problems a memory after stroking the opener from the spot, Marcus Rashford turned to other avenues to break a 1-1 deadlock late. Shortly after American star Christian Pulisic subbed out of the match, Rashford flummoxed Willy Caballero with a free kick from way downtown to give the visitors a place in the final 18.

What. A. Hit!

2. What about the American star? Pulisic didn’t have any heroics in his bag this time around, having plenty of trouble finding room to operate against blossoming Man Utd hard man Scott McTominay. He had some quality bids to combine with teammates terminated by said teammates, but his 70 minutes saw a shot off target and another blocked, 1-of-5 dribble success, 1 key pass, 2 tackles, and several rough moments in possession. There will be better days, but Scott McTominay had a monster day stifling Chelsea’s attackers.

3. Batsman scores a beauty: The dribble with four men around him is pretty good on its own, but the low drive from Batshuayi to level the score in the 61st minute is pure. If Tammy Abraham falters, Chelsea fans have a very good second choice (and third).

Man of the Match: Credit to McTominay, Jorginho, and Mateo Kovacic for a fine midfield battle, but Rashford was the man at Stamford Bridge.


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