Willy Caballero

Olivier Giroud
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Chelsea activates option year on Olivier Giroud’s contract

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Chelsea announced Wednesday that it activated an additional year on Olivier Giroud’s contract last month, keeping the striker in London for a ninth season.

Giroud, 33, had been linked with an exit for some time but found his way into the good graces of Frank Lampard, scoring twice in four-straight matches before the coronavirus pause.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia pointed to Giroud’s fine example amongst the club’s youth, and Lampard is especially pleased to have him around a further season.

“Since I have been back at Chelsea, Olivier has been brilliant as a professional and as a man in general,” Lampard said, via ChelseaFC.com. “He has great qualities to help the squad both on and off the pitch, not only with his talent but with the example he sets every day and the experience he brings to our young squad. I am very pleased that will continue next season.”

The towering striker with the “meaty French forehead” — thanks Arlo White — has won four FA Cups, the Europa League, the World Cup, and Ligue 1.

He left Montpellier to join Arsene Wenger at Arsenal in 2012, scoring 105 times for the Gunners before swapping capital homes for Chelsea. He’s scored 21 times in 76 appearances for Chelsea.

Giroud is also three caps from the century mark for France, where he scored six times in 10 EURO qualifiers after playing in every match of Les Bleus’ World Cup run.

Chelsea also confirmed that it’s activated an option year in the contract of goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who is now set through 2020-21. Caballero has started nine matches this season including six-straight when Kepa Arrizabalaga fell out of favor with Lampard.

The deals mean both players will not have to worry about playing beyond the end of their contract year on June 30. It will be interesting to see which clubs make similar decisions on their soon-to-be out-of-contract players.

Chelsea extends Willy Caballero contract

Willy Caballero
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Chelsea activated a clause in Willy Caballero’s contract to keep the veteran backstop at Stamford Bridge through the 2020-21 season.

First reported by The Telegraph on Tuesday, Chelsea confirmed the decision one day later.

The move eases the mind of Caballero, 38, should he have held concerns about staying with the club to complete the Premier League season, which would’ve run beyond his June 30 contract expiration.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Caballero has started nine matches this season including six-straight when Kepa Arrizabalaga fell out of favor with Lampard.

The five-times capped Argentine has been with the Blues since the Summer of 2017, when he arrived from Manchester City.

Caballero spent his youth with Boca Junios before moving to Spain, where he spent long stints as the No. 1 at Elche and Malaga.

He was reunited with Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini and became a teammate of current Chelsea boss Frank Lampard at Man City. Caballero won the League Cup with City and has won the FA Cup and Europa League at Chelsea.

Smart signing of a steady guy, especially as the future of Kepa Arrizabalaga at Chelsea remains hazy.

Lampard hopeful ‘big’ out-of-contract Chelsea players stay past June 30

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard hopes he’ll have the same (or even better) arsenal of players he had all season when the Premier League returns, but accepts that the fate of loan and out-of-contract players is out of his hands.

Contracts and loans were drawn up to expire on June 30, but the coronavirus pandemic has obviously extended the season in a fashion that begs whether new contracts will address team calendars and not the world’s 12-month schedule. The Premier League has a plan. Lampard says the agreement must have individual player alignment.

There’s a June 23 deadline for players to agree to stay with the club beyond the 30th; FIFA gave the green light to the idea earlier in the coronavirus pause.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Chelsea mainstays Pedro, Willian, and Willy Caballero are out-of-contract this summer, all having played significant roles occasionally if not during the entire season.

From ChelseaFC.com:

“We have big players in that position so that’s obviously something I’m looking at very carefully,” the boss said. “The ones out of contract here have been great servants for the club and actually have a lot of feeling for the club, but of course they will be concerned about themselves in terms of how they are now, and if pre-season is rushed they’ll want to make sure they’re alright. So it’s going to have to be something we look at. Hopefully we can have that arrangement so they can stay with us because if we play again I would love the squad to look as it’s looked all season, but we’ll have to see how that works.”

Willian had seven goals and six assists in over 2500 minutes, sometimes acting as the driver of the offense. He expressed a desire to outlast his contract in March, but this pause has affected many mindsets around the world.

Pedro has battled numerous injuries but has two goals and three assists in 18 matches, while Caballero started nine matches including six-straight when Kepa Arrizabalaga fell out of favor with Lampard.

If those players left, that would open the door of speculation even wider when it comes to Hakim Ziyech. Can he join the club from July 1, as his Eredivisie season has been completed with a third-straight Ajax Player of the Year Award?

Lampard also discussed the challenges of returning to training, saying he hopes to have the boys back on the pitch in “the middle of the week” should the Premier League signal the go-ahead on Monday.

Bournemouth holds Chelsea for critical point

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Marcos Alonso scored twice but Chelsea could only get a point from relegation-threatened Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

It will feel a vital point for Bournemouth but also a chance lost; The Cherries sit 17th with 27 points.

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Bournemouth’s goals came via Joshua King and Jefferson Lerma, while Aaron Ramsdale made five saves.

Chelsea only gains one point on third-place Leicester City and opens the door for the chasing pack. The Blues have 45 points to the Foxes’ 50.

Three things we learned

1. Little-used Alonso saves the day: Look at Alonso’s stat line this season and you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s not a left wing. Little used by Frank Lampard, the Spaniard has four goals and three assists in 10 league appearances.

2. Caballero disappoints: Just as one of Chelsea’s veterans bailed out Lampard with a late equalizer, another did not justify his continued place ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga. Caballero got his hands on King’s header but couldn’t handle the power, but the second goal saw the goalkeeper nowhere near a pass through the six (though it was certainly more the fault of his lackluster back line).

3. Chelsea’s finishing betrays formm: Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic were absent, and no one picked up the slack in terms of the final move. Chelsea took 23 shots to Bournemouth’s nine, but only six were on target on a day the Blues maneuvered well in the final third.

Man of the Match: Alonso.

Philip Billing had two early chances, the first parried by Willy Caballero.

Billing then stole the ball of Fikayo Tomori in the Chelsea box, but the Bournemouth man slashed the clear-cut chance into the side of the goal.

Chelsea then got an eighth-minute chance when Mason Mount‘s speculative drive from distance was unable to beat Aaron Ramsdale.

The Blues broke through in the 33rd minute, Alonso lashing inside the back post after Reece James’ cross took a few turns.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Bournemouth’s Lerma rose high to beat Caballero with a 54th-minute header, the keeper failing to do anything but slow the ball’s path.

King was back post to pass a Stacey cross into the goal after Caballero failed to claim a pass through the six.

Then came the downpour.

Chelsea had to compete with the elements in order to find an equalizer, and Pedro came close in the 78th.

Ramsdale then stymied Mason Mount with a fine 82nd-minute save, and Azpilicueta zipped one wide moments later.

Caballero backs Kepa, Sarri moves on after Chelsea win

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Chelsea’s Willy Caballero must’ve been feeling some pressure after sliding into Kepa Arrizabalaga‘s shoes following the fallout from the latter’s refusal to leave Sunday’s League Cup Final loss to Manchester City.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 2-0 Spurs ]

While the Blues’ backstop didn’t actually have to stop a Spurs shot on target, he kept the clean sheet and managed to big up his young goalkeeping partner in the post-match press conference.

“Always a clean sheet for me is satisfaction,” Caballero said. “We spoke about what happened and the very good news … is we are ready. Kepa was fantastic today supporting me. I think he learned and we learned and we are improving as a team.”

Pedro scored and was a general force for the Blues, and has seen his share of drama between his time at Barcelona and Chelsea.

He was not worried after the game, as Chelsea rebounded from a bad run to beat a big rival. And more importantly, he says the team is unified in its pursuit of its goals.

“It’s good to stay all together,” Pedro said. “It’s a big team. From here until the rest of the season, we aim for Top Four and also to win the Europa League.”

As for the man closest to the center of the Kepa incident, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri said Wednesday’s match and the punishment to move Arrizabalaga to the bench were both victories for the club.

“It was really very easy because Kepa made a big mistake and then paid with the club. In this match he has to pay for the team. It was only a message for all the team, the dressing room, we are a team, not 25 individuals. Now we stop the question, it is behind us and in the future Kepa will be with us.”