Tammy Abraham

Getty Images

Rudiger injured, as Chelsea prepare for UCL return

Leave a comment

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?

3 Comments

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.

Racist abuse left Abaraham’s mother in tears, Chelsea striker says

Photo by Visionhaus
Leave a comment

Tammy Abraham has revealed that his mother was left in tears after learning of the racist abuse aimed at her son following Chelsea’s UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool last month.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up against Uruguay? ]

Abraham missed the decisive penalty kick in the penalty shootout and was subjected to racist comments on social media. Abraham says the abuse didn’t greatly affect him due to being “a strong character” — quotes from the Guardian:

“I remember speaking to my mum. She was emotional, she was in tears.

“She was just thinking, ‘Why him?’ It’s obviously not nice, seeing your son getting abused. For me I am a strong character. It doesn’t affect me as much, but it could affect people who don’t have my personality.

“I was sat in the changing room straight after the game and went on my phone. I wasn’t going to shy away from the situation, although saying that I did have some supportive messages. The other side is not nice to hear. The first time I heard, I was sat in the dressing room. I went through a lot of emotion I would say after the penalty miss.

“I had experience of taking penalties last season, big ones as well. Everyone misses penalties. To miss the penalty, I was devastated and I had a lot of abuse after.”

Abraham says he wasn’t left to sulk for long, nor was he forced to pick himself back up on his own. He says he received endless support from manager Frank Lampard and teammates, all of whom immediately rallied around Abraham.

“Frank Lampard always had his arm around my shoulder lifting me up, the boys as well,” Abraham said. “It was like I never missed with the way they supported me and lifted me up and that is exactly what I needed.”

Lampard baffled by Chelsea draw: “It was under control”

Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Frank Lampard is having trouble wrapping his mind around Chelsea’s problems getting anything comfortable out of its leads.

The Blues have led in each of their last three matches but taken just five points from Leicester City, Norwich City, and Sheffield United.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 2-2 Sheff Utd ]

On Saturday, Chelsea led 2-0 before drawing the newly-promoted Blades 2-2 at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard mentions the youth of the players, but perhaps should consider the relative inexperience of the manager as his team lost points at home to Sheffield United that  most teams — let alone most contenders — will not. From the BBC:

“It was under control, it is our fault for gifting them a goal in the first minute of the second half. It’s a similar story already. The game should have been comfortable and we have dropped two points. We want to win games, the emergence of youth is one thing but winning games is another. When you are 2-0 up at half-time you should win the game.”

Lampard said there should be “no chance” a game could swing in the way it did, but here Chelsea sits in real danger of being bottom half at the international break.

Lampard’s subs in this match were all focused on scoring goals, not preventing them, with the exception being 18-year-old midfielder Billy Gilmour coming on for 2-goal man Tammy Abraham in the 84th minute. Gilmour was making his PL debut, however.

Chasing the restoration of your 2-goal lead at home is a fair aim, but he finished the game with Andreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso on the bench. Heck, even Olivier Giroud would’ve been an experienced choice over Gilmour (whose debut is terrific and wasn’t at fault for the draw).

Our take: Lampard thought the game was in hand. It obviously wasn’t.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Sheffield United

Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea’s attack will have to beat one of the top young goalkeepers in the game when the Blues visit Dean Henderson and Sheffield United at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Henderson, 21, is on loan from Manchester United and has been a force for the Blades dating back to last season, sealing a second loan stint due to David De Gea‘s star status at Old Trafford.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder thinks Henderson has the goods to be the future No. 1 for England, and says there’s a comparison to be made between Henderson and two fellow stars of last season’s Championship who will be on the field for Chelsea on Saturday. From the Yorkshire Post:

“Two of their outstanding young players had experience of the Championship last year. In that play-off final game, one went up in Tammy Abraham – who was really good for Villa and had a fantastic season – and Mason Mount. From a team point of view the result was disappointing for Frank (Lampard) and Mason, but he had an outstanding season and was definitely the standout player in the Championship for me.”

It’s interesting to note that all three players were loanees from big clubs, the cyclical effect of Premier League power blooding their prospects for promotional hopefuls.

Chelsea will need Christian Pulisic, Willian, and Mount to deliver the goods from the wing position, with Pedro out. They’ll have to be better helpers in defense, too, with N’Golo Kante injured and set to be absent for upcoming French duty as well.

The Blues have yet to really deliver this season. Aside from a decent performance in the UEFA Super Cup, Chelsea lost 4-0 to Manchester United before drawing Leicester and just outlasting newly-promoted Norwich City.

It’s a step up in class for Sheffield United, though, as Wilder’s men have drawn Bournemouth, beaten Crystal Palace, and lost to Leicester City.


Injuries/suspensions

Chelsea — OUT: N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger, Pedro

Sheffield United — OUT: None.


What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Lampard on England call-ups: “We are delighted for Mason [Mount] and Ross [Barkley], and hopefully it is a matter of time for Tammy [Abraham]. It is only the start for Mason but I’m fully confident that he will keep his feet on the ground and keep working hard.”

Sheffield United defender John Egan on Henderson“If you look at the England goalkeepers, Deano is right up there. It’s not a case of ‘if’, for me it’s a case of ‘when’ for Deano. He’s got a really bright future ahead of him and, so long as he keeps his head down and keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll get there.”


Projected lineups

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Emerson, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Jorginho, Barkley, Kovacic; Mount, Abraham, Pulisic.

Sheffield United: Henderson; Eagen, Basham, O’Connell; Sheffield, Norwood, Freeman, Lundstram, Baldock; McBurnie, McGoldrick.


Prediction: This is a big, big ask for the Blades, who come down to earth a bit when the Blues post a 3-0 behind Christian Pulisic’s first PL goal.