FA Cup Third Round Draw: Chelsea at Home

The draw has been made for the third round of this year’s FA Cup  and it see’s Chelsea entertain Southend at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool travel to Preston, United are away at Southampton, whilst Arsenal have got Plymouth at the Emirates.

 

Full draw:

Portsmouth v Bristol City
Sheffield Wednesday v Fulham
Preston v Liverpool
Birmingham v Wolves
West Ham v Barnsley
Middlesbrough v Barrow
Hull v Newcastle
Hartlepool v Stoke
CHELSEA v Southend
Manchester City v Nottingham Forest
Cardiff v Reading
Ipswich v Chesterfield or Droylsden
Charlton v Norwich
West Brom v Peterborough or Tranmere
Torquay v Blackpool
Leyton Orient v Sheffield United
Southampton v Manchester United
Millwall v Carlisle or Crewe
Histon v Swansea
Forest Green v Derby
QPR v Burnley
Leicester v Crystal Palace
Tottenham v Wigan
Morecambe or Cheltenham v Doncaster
Arsenal v Plymouth
Notts County or Kettering v Eastwood
Bournemouth or Blyth Spartans v Blackburn
Macclesfield v Everton
Watford v Scunthorpe
Sunderland v Bolton
Coventry v Kidderminster
Gillingham or Stockport v Aston Villa

 Ties to be played on the weekend of January 3 and 4.

CHELSEA vs Arsenal: Talking To The Opposition

TheChelseaBlog did a quick interview with Arsenal Insider in the run up to today’s game. You can check it out here.

Move Sorted For Chelsea Defender?

Rumour has it Chelsea could be about to lose a defender it took them long enough to see to start with.

With some of us wondering whether this ‘supposed’ defender really existed when he failed to materialise anywhere near Stamford Bridge, Branislav Ivanovic recovered from the injury that kept him out of sight, just in time to step in to our depleted squad. However, even with him getting a few games lately in the absence of both Ricardo Carvalho and Alex, the suggestion is he isn’t happy with his lack of playing time at Chelsea and is seeking a move in the January transfer window.

The 24 year old was linked with both Juventus and Milan over the summer, although this time, the rumours involve Serie A side Lazio. Reports in Italy seem to be saying a deal with Lazio has already been sorted, with the club’s president talking up a ‘big signing’, although the player himself is only believed to want a loan deal.

CHELSEA vs Arsenal: Preview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, after much verbal to-ing and fro-ing in the press this week, today sees Chelsea ‘welcome’ Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, although with William Gallas in the side, ‘welcome’ probably isn’t the best word to use.

Chelsea’s home form leaves a lot to be desired and they’ll be looking for only their fourth win at Stamford Bridge this season, whilst Arsenal could make this their fourth win away. Mind you, if Chelsea manage to take the points, they’ll be consigning Arsenal to their third defeat in succession. Either way, with them being two of the top three highest scorers in the league, we’ll hopefully get a decent game.

Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger seems pretty optimistic of a result though, saying “This season we have played better against the top four. We cannot deny that because we lost against the teams who are not maybe favourites to play in the top four. Why? Maybe because they play a different type of football. We want to go into this game on Sunday by believing we can beat them because we know we can. That is all you want your players to do.”

On injury news, Juliano Belletti (ankle), Michael Essien (knee), Ricardo Carvalho (knee), and Franco Di Santo (hamstring) continue to miss out. Joe Cole (ankle) faces a late fitness test, although Alex (groin) is fit.

For Arsenal, Abou Diaby (stomach), Kolo Toure (calf), Theo Walcott (shoulder) and Emmanuel Eboue (knee) are absentees, with Emmanuel Adebayor (ankle), Bacary Sagna (ankle) and Samir Nasri are all thought to be available.

 

KEY PLAYERS

CHELSEA

Nicolas Anelka has bagged eight goals in his last five games in the Premier League, making him the Premier League’s top scoring player so far with 14 in all competitions. He needs a couple more to record 100 goals in the Premier League and Chelsea will hope he gets them today.

ARSENAL

Cesc Fabregas makes his 150th appearance in the Premier League and in his new role as captain, he’ll be looking to see that Chelsea’s poorer home form continues as Arsenal try and claw back some points.

 

CLUB FORM

CHELSEA

Chelsea go into this game unbeaten in five games and ten points above Arsenal.  They’ve won the joint most games and boast the strongest attack and tightest defence in the Premier League, earning themselves 13 points from 15 with no goals conceded in the process. Chelsea haven’t conceded in five games in the Premier League and remain the only professional side in the country not to concede a goal in the second half of a game this season. Chelsea have lost just the one game from 14 with Scolari in charge and just one at home in the last 89. Chelsea have the best Premier League record so far this calendar year, with 23 games won, eight drawn and one defeat. Unfortunately though, although Chelsea have lost just once in 18 Premier League games against London clubs, that defeat came against Arsenal at the Emirates last December. Chelsea go into this game looking to create a three point gap at the top of the table with Liverpool playing Monday.

ARSENAL

Arsenal go into this game off the back of two Premier League defeats. The North London outfit have lost five games so far this season and the fact that they’ve failed to win four of their last five games sees them fighting to hold onto their top four status. Arsenal have won eight of their last 11 London derbies, although only one of those was in the last four games. Of note for the Chelsea defence is the fact that they’ve scored five times in stoppage time this season. Arsenal go into this game in 5th place in the League.

 

HEAD TO HEAD

Chelsea have won two of their last three games against Arsenal in the Premier League, with the Gunners winning just one of their last 12 games against Chelsea in all competitions. Having said that though, Chelsea have lost more games, dropped more points and conceded more goals against Arsenal than to any other team in the Premier League. In fact, in 29 games in all competitions stretching back over the last decade, there’s only ever been one goalless draw. And with 39 bookings in the last seven meetings between Chelsea and Arsenal, a busy day for the ref is a foregone conclusion.

Home And Away

League (inc PL): Chelsea 40 wins, Arsenal 58 wins, Draws 44

Prem: Chelsea 6 wins, Arsenal 15 wins, Draws 11

At Chelsea Only

League (inc PL): Chelsea 23 wins, Arsenal 23 wins, Draws 25

Prem: Chelsea 5 wins, Arsenal 5 wins, Draws 6

 

LAST SEASON

Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

Chelsea scorers: Drogba 73, 82

Arsenal scorer: Sagna 59

23 March 2008 – Ref: Mark Clattenburg

 

PREDICTION

I know I’m always pretty negative with my predictions and I’m not going to break with tradition today especially with us being at home. We’ve also yet to look convincing against the ‘big four’ although technically, Arsenal don’t go into this game as one of them, so maybe that doesn’t count? Still, they’re going to come to the Bridge looking for at least a draw – don’t they all?! – and if we don’t impress ourselves on them a little better than we have some sides at home, they could go away with more than that.

 

TEAMS

CHELSEA (from): Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Bosingwa, Ferreira, Alex, Terry, Ivanovic, Bridge, A Cole, Lampard, Deco, Ballack, Mikel, Kalou, Malouda, J Cole? Anelka, Sinclair, Stoch

ARSENAL (from): Almunia, Sagna, Silvestre, Gallas, Clichy, Nasri, Denilson, Fabregas, Vela, van Persie, Adebayor, Fabianski, Song, Djourou, Ramsey, Bendtner, Gibbs, Hoyte, Wilshere

 

REFEREE

Mike Dean (Wirral)

The Tales of Didier Drogba: Bedtime Reading For Chelsea Children

So here we go again lads and lasses, the Ivorian has been chatting to the boys from the press for a change. And what might today’s episode in the life of Didier Drogba teach us? Well, in the words of Jackanory…….today boys and girls, I’m going to tell you a story about a poor, lonely striker who doesn’t have many friends.

Once upon a time, there was a player called Didier Drogba who just couldn’t decide who he wanted to be friends with. So he played with someone called Chelsea, but he was only pretending to like them and he wasn’t very happy at all. You see, everyone else who was friends with Chelsea made horrible noises at him and it wasn’t fair because he did try to play the games, he just got tired easily and needed to lay down from time to time for a rest. So he sulked a bit and said he didn’t want to play with them anyway……but nobody really listened, so he kept Chelsea as his friend rather than being on his own in the playground. Besides, Chelsea had a rich dad, so that was ok.

Then one day, he decided he wouldn’t rest any more and he got better at playing the game, much better than anyone else in fact and then he had loads of friends. But then he started to think they were all boring. He was so much better than all of them now that he needed a new game, and so he decided to play ‘who will my new best friends be?’ Oh yes, ‘this is a much more exciting game’, thought the footballer, and so he told everybody about it and the new game was for them to write it all down so everybody could take turns at guessing.

But poor old Didier couldn’t find any friends with daddy’s richer than Chelsea’s who wanted to play with him, so he had to keep pretending he liked her sometimes. Until a really, really horrible day when Chelsea’s dad got really mean and sent away their ‘special’ friend, and Didier cried. He didn’t even care who saw him cry anymore because he was so sad. He wanted to run away then, he wanted to run away and find his friend, and do you know what he says about that boys and girls? He says “I have only once said that I wanted a change, a year ago, after the departure of Mourinho.  I didn’t like the atmosphere at the heart of the club and I had the courage of my convictions. Two years ago, I scored 32 goals in a season. Did you hear me asking to leave then? No. I am like any other goalscorer – happy when I am hitting the back of the net.”

Anyway children, he didn’t get to go and be with his friend and do you know what happened next? Chelsea got a new friend called Nicolas Anelka and just like Didier, he wasn’t very good at playing all the games to start with and people didn’t like him either. So Didier was a little bit happy because he was still the best at the games. But then, Didier wasn’t very well and while he had to stay at home and rest, Nicolas got to play more games with Chelsea and guess what boys and girls? Yes, that’s right, he got better too. And while Didier was still poorly, Nicolas got so good, he was soon Chelsea’s new friend.

One day though, Didier got to join in the game and he thought he was playing it very well and making people very happy that he was being their friend that day. But a big bully threw something at him and it hurt, so he threw it back. But I don’t think he threw it back very well and although the teacher didn’t see him, I think somebody told on him because he got into a lot of trouble. And what do you think he said boys and girls? Did he say he was sorry? Yes that’s right, he did, and he also said “It was simply a human reaction. Perhaps I was excessive and I have taken into account the seriousness of what I did but I did the first thing that came into my head. The only thing that has disappointed me is that the media have concentrated on my error rather than looking to see how the incident came about.  I accept my part of the responsibility but I find it serious that supporters can throw coins and mobiles at players.” You know it’s naughty to throw things though don’t you boys and girls?

Anyway, Didier was grounded for being so naughty and wasn’t allowed to play whilst Nicolas was, so what do you think Didier did then boys and girls? That’s right, he did sulk a little bit, but what else do you think he did? Shall I tell you? Ok, well what he did was, one night before Chelsea was going to play a very special game, Didier went to a party to try to make some new friends that Chelsea didn’t know about. And when Chelsea and her dad got to hear about it, they were very cross. So were all of Chelsea’s friends, so Didier pretended it was all made up and he didn’t know what party they were talking about, so that was ok.

But Didier still needs to have a friend to play with and Nicolas is playing with Chelsea all the time now and it isn’t fair. Didier wants to have a best friend too. So do you want to know what he is going to do? He is going to ask if him and Nicolas can both be Chelsea’s best friends. So do you think he asked Chelsea nicely boys and girls? Well, I think he tried very hard because he said “Nico is in top form, but that doesn’t surprise me. When he was at Bolton, he scored lots of goals and his team were low down the table, so I knew he was going to succeed at Chelsea. He is benefiting from the fact he is playing regularly and I am happy for him. The dream for both of us is to play together in attack. I am sure we could score lots of goals but, for that to happen, we must be playing together.

So that’s very nice of him isn’t it boys and girls, to say those things about Nicolas and to try to make friends with him so they can play together nicely? And maybe when he’s not grounded anymore for being naughty he might get to play with Chelsea lots more again? Do you think that will make Didier happy again boys and girls? Well, you know I think it might make him happy for just a little while, especially since Chelsea has a new ‘special’ friend. Not the same ‘special’ friend as before, because this one says he doesn’t tuck Didier in his bed at night. But this friend says “I think Didier is very happy. My relationship with him is very good. Very good. Drogba has had four months of injury, but he’s training now. Now it’s step by step at Chelsea. I’ll try to play him when he’s back from suspension.  For me, he has my support every day. Injured or not injured. I’m sure he’s 100 percent committed to the club.”

I think Didier’s ‘special’ friend doesn’t know him very well yet. What do you think boys and girls?

Wenger More Concerned For Ashley Cole Than Gallas?

It’s probably fair to say Ashley Cole isn’t your average gooner’s favourite player. The nature of his transfer to Chelsea was never going to go down well and just to cement their hatred, his autobiography confirmed what they already thought of him. So, it’s a foregone conclusion the left-back will get his fair share of stick from the travelling support tomorrow and I’m sure none of us are really all that bothered.

Arsene Wenger, on the other hand, doesn’t seem quite as keen to hear this friendly exchange of opinion about Cole’s petulance, his bank balance, his marriage or even where he may or may not choose to store his mobile phone. So, the Arsenal manager has asked very nicely that the away supporters show some love for the away side instead. In his plea on Arsenal’s official website, Wenger says “I do not want anybody to be targetted in the other team.  You want your fans to support your team in a fair way, but a very passionate way and I am sure that will happen on Sunday.”

Mind you, it’s funny how when it comes to William Gallas, the Arsenal boss doesn’t seem to have the same expectations. And whether that’s because it’s a little hard to expect anything else after the recent outbursts that even Wenger was forced to act on, or whether it’s more to do with us all reading the ex-Arsenal captain’s admissions that he too was up to no good behind Chelsea’s back before his move to Arsenal, it’s anyone’s guess. But on the reception Gallas might expect and his ability to deal with it, Wenger says “What gets you through everything is your focus on what you love the most – to win the game.   When you are on the football pitch, no matter what people say, you do not even hear it.  I believe that a player sometimes will not know that it rained after the game because he is so focused on the game and you forget everything around you.”

I guess the home crowd will just have to make sure they’re a little louder then!

Chelsea Players Making Headlines Ahead Of Arsenal?

Y’know I’ve often wished players would just keep quiet before games instead of giving the press tit-bits to feed off and blow up into headlines alluding to over-confident predictions.

Unfortunately though, this week Michael Ballack has fed the vultures ahead of Sunday’s derby against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge by stating “We are on top of the League and they are 10 points behind us and need to win. At the moment they are not the strongest team because they have other problems now. It is our intention to beat them. A 13-point gap is a lot and we hope we can do this. It will be hard for them.”

And yet, whilst the press were busy sensationalising headlines of Ballack’s threats to end the Gunners’ title hopes, they seemed to have overlooked the bit where he said At the moment, Arsenal look like a strange team. They have many problems, some from within their dressing-room, but this kind of opponent is very dangerous.  They’re like a boxer who has been knocked to the canvas. They want to get up and keep fighting, and that is what makes them so dangerous for other teams.”

Still, at least they got it about right in Jose Bosingwa’s case, because although he’s hoping the home crowd get behind the players and give them the boost they need, with Spurs, United, Liverpool and Newcastle all leaving Stamford Bridge with points already this season, the Chelsea defender seems pretty realistic about our chances. Add to that the chances of a backlash after Arsenal’s recent troubles, and our right-back was correctly reported to be a bit wary, stating “This is going to be a huge game and no doubt Stamford Bridge’s fans will help us a lot to take all three points.  I do not know if this is the best moment to play Arsenal because of what [William] Gallas said. You cannot expect them to decrease, they are Arsenal. Who am I to judge them?”

I wonder what headlines they’ll come up with by Monday morning?