Chelsea’s Potential Transfers For January?

The rumour mill as far as transfers are concerned, never appears to be far from the Stamford Bridge door and this week is no exception.

So far this week we’ve been informed that Valencia youngster Ximo Navarro, who has yet to make his first-team debut, has been linked with a move. However, despite the right back apparently suggesting he’d consider a move to Chelsea, it seems his priority right now is to get a game for the team he’s with. Of a potential move the 20 year old says “This subject lies with the club. I am happy in Valencia and my dream is to get into the first team, but if any offers arrive it is normal to study the.” Quite how the press have managed to conjure up a move from that statement is anyone’s guess but of course, they didn’t leave our ‘links’ there…..

On the press move to the next ‘signing’, who could ‘according to sources’ be Lazio hit-man Goran Pandev. Chelsea are said to be keen on the striker and therefore a January move for him is reported to be on the cards. The fact that his goals have helped Lazio’s push up the Serie A table this season have seen the suggestion that he’d form a ‘lethal partnership’ with Nicolas Anelka (which I’d have to say is stretching it a little too far) and with the Macedonian international also eligible for Champions lEague football, it just seems to have given the hacks even more to work with.

What the press appear to have missed with Pandev though, is the fact that Lazio president Claudio Lotito has always laughed off any mention of the striker leaving and Pandev’s agent Carlo Pallavicino has totally rubbished the reports. Pallavicino says “The news is without foundation. There is nothing to say on this matter as well as a contract renewal seeing that for the moment, there are no appointments in our agenda.”

Not to be put off though, the press simply moved on to Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos. Now here is a player who could be ready to move clubs. He’s frustrated in his role, his recent remarks in an interview have left the mighty Madrid a little narked and as a result the Spanish club have done away with any plans they had to offer him a lifelong contract. So maybe the press have got it right this time and Chelsea really are ‘on the verge’ of signing him? Except the one flaw they’ve overlooked in this one is that with Ashley Cole, Jose Bosingwa, Wayne Bridge, Juliano Belletti, Paulo Ferreira and Branislav Ivanovic already in the squad, Chelsea might be hard pushed to squeeze in yet another full-back.

The rumour mill somehow doesn’t seem quite so reliable this week.

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Carvalho Back On Chelsea’s Injury List: Who’ll Join Him?

A Chelsea game just wouldn’t be a Chelsea game these days without the odd addition to our sick-bay at the end of it, and Wednesday night’s game against Hull was no exception.

From what I could see, Joe Cole seemed to be struggling with his ankle for a while before he was replaced by Belletti early in the second half. John Terry didn’t exactly look fighting fit either, appearing to pull up around the hour mark, although true to form, there was no way he was going to leave the field prematurely. And then of course, there was Ricardo Carvalho, who was seen limping off clutching his thigh in the closing minutes of the game.

So just a normal week for the Chelsea physio’s then.

Early reports on Ricardo Carvalho, who only returned last week after a month out anyway, suggest he’s probably in line for yet another 3 week spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. So it’ll be fingers crossed that whatever it was that caused the pained expression on the Chelsea captain’s face against Hull isn’t anything that’ll see him go missing for the next three weeks at least.

On to Joe Cole, and the news coming out about him seems to be a little contradictory, with some reports suggesting he could’ve aggravated the ankle injury that’s seen us playing without him in recent games whilst others say he was only taken off as a precaution against further damage, with Chelsea ‘hopeful’ he could play a part against Sunderland – so as ever, until the weekend comes round and we see the eleven men on the pitch, it’s anyone’s guess who’s fit.

So Did Ballack’s Apology Save His Captaincy?

Much of the past week has seen reports in the press of Michael Ballack’s dispute with the management of his national side and his subsequent apology following a particularly public outburst.

The latest update on this is that despite Chelsea apparently refusing the injured player permission to travel to Germany for a showdown with Germany coach Joachim Low, a meeting has indeed taken place in Frankfurt. However, for some reason or other, even though the matter of Ballack’s indiscretion has now been discussed, the German Football Federation have decided to withhold any details of the outcome until today.  

So, could it be that this reluctance to disclose information has anything to do with another ‘story’ coming out of Germany yesterday? Because, according to one Munich newspaper, Michael Ballack is set to stand down as Germany captain. Abendzeitung reports that the 32 year old Chelsea midfielder has agreed to hand over his captaincy to Philipp Lahm in a compromise that allows him to continue playing for his national side.

As is often the case though, there seemed to be the usual lack of ‘reliable sources’, so I guess we’ll await the imminent announcement…..

Chelsea Defender Appeals Against Ban

Back at the start of last month I wrote an article about one of our young defender’s out on loan at FC Twente.

19 year old Chelsea defender Slobodan Rajkovic had just been given a one year ban which seemed a bit harsh in comparison to punishments dished out for the same offence. And yet, it was the offence itself that I found it hard to get my head round. You see the young Serbian is alleged to have spat in the direction of referee Al Hilali in response to a red card during Serbia’s game against Argentina at the Beijing Olympics.

Anyway, at the time, I was a bit undecided because although a 12 month ban was clearly over the top, I really think spitting is probably the most disrespectful thing a player can do – and obviously, doing it at the Olympics was just asking for a harsher punishment anyway. But then after talking to several supporters from both Chelsea and opposing clubs, and reading about punishments dished out to other players, I sort of came round to the conclusion that the youngster had a right to appeal and the latest update seems to be that he has.

Yesterday’s press informed us that Rajkovic, who joined Chelsea from OFK Belgrade in 2005 has apparently launched an appeal and is due to travel to Zurich to present his case to Fifa on November 10th.

The talented defender, who spent last season with PSV Eindhoven and is currently on a season-long loan at FC Twente, has the backing of Twente’s chairman Joop Munsterman, who says “We don’t like it at all that the thing has lingered on already for so long.  We could have had Rajkovic for three months already, and we paid a lot of money for him.”

And maybe he has a fair point?

Geovanni Heading For Chelsea?

Well it seems there’s nothing quite like a bit of flattery to set the rumour mill off and with Luiz Felipe Scolari always quick to praise his former players, it’s hardly surprising we’re linked with someone or other on a weekly basis. This week it seems it’s the turn of Hull City’s Geovanni.

You see, in the build up to last night’s game, Scolari dared to say Geo is a great player, good enough to play for Chelsea and good enough for any other team in the world.  I’ve always admired him, he is an athlete with great skills and can be very fast on the ball when he needs to be. He also has a ferocious shot which many in England have now learned about. When he has his confidence up, he can be unstoppable.”

So, of course that was taken as a ‘hint’ that Scolari wants him at Chelsea – and the press have ran with it.

Scolari coached the Hull midfielder at Cruzeiro and gave him his debut for his national side and naturally (as far as the press are concerned at least) he must want to go for his hattrick when it comes to managing the 28 year old.

And as if Scolari’s flattery wasn’t ‘proof’ enough, Geovanni himself says “I owe Scolari a lot, he was always a great man and a great coach to me.  He was a pleasure to work for, one of the best. Who knows if we will get the chance to be in the same team again in the future.”

So that’s that then, Phil Brown better start looking for a replacement surely?

Chelsea Focus On Unbeaten Away Record To Beat Hull

After all the fuss that was made over Chelsea’s defeat to Liverpool, with some insane questions raised regarding the effect that one defeat could have on our season, it would seem the answer is: Chelsea would pick themselves up and get back on with the job against Hull. Because in the surprising battle of second and third placed sides, it was Chelsea who came away with the points.

A stunning Lampard chip (am I flattering him there I wonder?) and some suicidal Hull defending which saw Nicolas Anelka pinch a second, just about finished Hull off, with Florent Malouda sealing a deserved win on the night.

Hull stated their intentions from the off, coming straight out at us, hassling Chelsea off the ball. However, it took Chelsea just three minutes to do what they couldn’t at the weekend and breach the opposition’s defence. It’s fair to say a little bit of luck saw the ball land on the corner of the penalty area in front of Lampard. However, it definitely wasn’t luck that saw it drift into the top of the net as Lampard chipped it sublimely over the watching Myhill.

It wasn’t Chelsea’s best ever first half display that followed though, with plenty to get frustrated about. Malouda again had me wanting to headbutt the nearest wall, with the seemingly fragile winger pushed off the ball a little too easily and squandering way too many chances for my liking. There was Lampard delivering a clever ball only for the Frenchman appearing to aim it somewhere in the direction of SW6 with his head, there was intricate footwork to carve out opportunities only to see him snatch at shots, there were chances flashed over when it might actually have been easier to hit the net, in fact, you name it and Malouda had done it.

But Malouda was by no means the only source of frustration in a first half where Anelka didn’t appear to touch the ball inside the first ten minutes and Joe Cole touched a little more than the ball within the same time frame and ended up with a booking for his first challenge. Add to that the sight of Geovanni being blown over right under the ref’s nose by what could only have been a hurricane-like breeze and the official giving him no more than a kiss on the ear.

Talking of the Brazilian, I guess this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the cracking free-kick from 40 yards out which forced Petr Cech to react pretty quickly. It was nothing if not a confident strike, and the Brazilian is definitely confident. But he wasn’t alone because fair play to Hull, they responded well despite the early set back and could well have caught us on the break.

Unfortunately for them though, with the help of a moment of some pretty slapstick defending, Chelsea started the second in exactly the same way as the first, with Nicolas Anelka seizing the gift of his first and Chelsea’s second. And whether it was the goal, which definitely put a smile on Le Sulk’s face, or possible words exchanged during the break, the second half saw a more energetic display from the Frenchman, who played with some of the enthusiasm he’d shown at the start of the campaign.

Not that it was all good at the start of the second, with a decidedly pained looking Joe Cole reaching for his foot before being swiftly exchanged for Juliano Belletti and John Terry not looking too healthy either around the hour mark. Mind you, with it being the tenth anniversary of his debut game, it definitely would’ve taken some extreme pain to force the Chelsea captain off in this one.

Anyway, the second half for Malouda looked to be going much the same as the first with him having trouble sorting his feet out and firing over and yet, just when it looked as if his woeful night in front of goal would again end in 90 minutes of nothingness, a period of Chelsea dominance and lovely ball off the outside of Ricardo Carvalho’s boot saw a relieved Malouda tap in Chelsea’s third. As for Carvalho, what looked like a hamstring injury saw him leave the field a few minutes from the end, leaving Chelsea to play out the game with ten men and no doubt our central defender will have yet another spell on the sidelines this season.

Credit has to go to a Hull side who unfortunately face a trip to Old Trafford at the weekend. They gave a good account of themselves and just happened to concede our first two goals at the worst possible times. It was by no means a walk in the park for a Chelsea side still not playing anywhere near their best but it was a professional and determined performance which even saw some pretty comfortable, exhibition stuff towards the end and maybe answered one or two of the questions over Chelsea’s character.

And strangely enough, after all the fuss made about that home record, it seems that so far this season we prefer life away from Stamford Bridge.

 

TEAMS

HULL: Myhill, Dawson, Zayatte, Turner, McShane, Geovanni, Marney (Garcia, 71), Boateng (Halmosi, 62), Ashbee, King (Windass, 84), Cousin

CHELSEA: Cech, Bosingwa (Ivanovic 86), Terry, Carvalho, A.Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Deco (Kalou, 78), J.Cole (Belletti, 54), Anelka, Malouda

Former Chelsea pair join the Anelka criticism bandwagon

Following Chelsea’s defeat to Liverpool at the weekend, there have been many critical views of the performance given by Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team. You lose your first home game for 86-matches and suddenly the knives are out. The likes of Jose Bosingwa and Florent Malouda didn’t have their best games and now the same people that were singing their praises a week or so ago are questioning their right to be in the Chelsea team.

The main target of the critics was, predictably, Nicolas Anelka.  Although I’m aware he wasn’t completely at the races on Sunday, it just seems so predictable that he would be the man to get criticised. The whole Chelsea team fails to perform and Anelka becomes the scapegoat.  I’d put a lot of football betting money on the fact that if Didier Drogba put in exactly the same performance, he wouldn’t receive half  the negative press.

However, as it is, Anelka is the man receiving the brunt of the criticism. Former Chelsea man David Lee says that the player is ‘too hit and miss’ to warrant a starting berth.  He went on to say that the Chelsea pitch is ‘too small’ for Anelka who needs a lot of space to work in. Another former Blues player echoed similar sentiments. Gareth Hall says that  although Anelka is an ‘outstanding striker’, he is by no way ‘convinced by him’.

In my opinion, it seems that people are still holding the penalty miss in the Champions League final against Anelka. This is because, overall, he has had a good start to the season – as have Chelsea. The Frenchman has grabbed himself five goals and was involved in a very impressive run at the start of this campaign. Yes, he was poor against Liverpool, but so were a lot of players. In the drubbing of Middlesbrough though, Anelka was superb and showed exactly what he can bring to this Chelsea team.

That’s why I call it an ‘Anelka criticism bandwagon’, because I don’t think those doing the criticising look at the big picture. One or two bad performances don’t make him a bad player.

The same can be said for the Chelsea team as a whole. Trawling through the reaction to the Liverpool defeat makes it seem like it was the fourth defeat in a row or something.  All of a sudden there is doom and gloom at Chelsea. One home defeat in over four years is hardly the sign of a team that needs to panic is it?

It’s not as if Liverpool thumped Chelsea either. They won 1-0 with a deflected goal and the reality was that it just wasn’t going to be the home side’s day. This happens in football. The football odds still have Chelsea as title favourites and rightly so. If anything, this defeat could make the team stronger. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if the defeat to Liverpool turned out to be the only one of the season at Stamford Bridge.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about football betting