For the next in our series of club reviews, we will be heading to the Premier League and looking at champions Chelsea. Continue reading
And then it fell after 13 games Tottenham were the last of the teams in the Premier League hanging onto an unbeaten run. But Chelsea the new league leaders ended that with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
It was after all probably fitting that the record would end at the bridge given that Tottenham have failed to win here in the league since 1990. But the visitors had moments to dream especially when Christian Eriksen had given them the lead after just 11 minutes. That goal was the first one that Antonio Conte’s men had conceded at home since September 16th.
Pedro who has turned his once Chelsea nightmare 360 degrees equalised with a stunning strike and Victor Moses scrambled effort was enough to see out a win which shot Chelsea back to the summit of the league at the expense of Liverpool and Manchester City who also both claimed victories on Saturday.
For Tottenham they may have lost just once this season but they slipped to 5th place and seven points behind the leaders with this defeat. Perhaps though the writing was on the wall for Spurs because their recent results and form did suggest a stay of execution. They have achieved just 1 win in their last six matches, form wise they would be 12th in the league and with 6 draws that’s almost 50% of their games played so far they have the most draws in the league.
Chelsea are looking like a breath of fresh air after their stagnant last 18 months and if confirmation had not been seen on the pitch it was surely evident at the full time whistle against a rival that has no love lost between the two teams. Chelsea manager Conte ran onto the field at final whistle embracing his team, there is love here within the squad and a respect not seen when Jose Mourinho was here.
For Tottenham it was a case of a terrible week- their Premier League hopes have been dented, the club have not won the title since 1961, and of course it was a week when they crashed out of the Champions League at the group stages. They will now fight in their final match against CSKA to make it to the Europa League. However one has to question if this team have the fight- can they realistically give efforts in two hard competitions? Or should they concentrate on the league and finishing as high as they can?
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Antonio Conte has identified that Chelsea’s squad is too big and as a result the Italian manger intends to allow several high profile players to leave the club before the start of the new season, according to the Independent.
Potential for a swathe of departures
Among those who Conte perceives as being potentially surplus to his requirements are goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, along with the South American duo of Juan Cuadrado and Oscar, as well as the French striker Loic Remy.
Another player that may not feature in Conte’s plans for the forthcoming season is Pedro, since despite being fit the Spaniard did not play in Chelsea’s recent 3-1 friendly win over AC Milan.
In addition to the futures of a number of Chelsea’s senior players being uncertain, with the club having already sent 15 young players out on loan, they may allow more to leave temporarily.
New signings being targeted
Whilst Conte has expressed a desire to reduce the overall size of his squad, he also wishes to sign some new players, with his primary targets being Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Santos midfielder Thiago Maia, who is currently playing for Brazil at the Rio Olympics.
In terms of Chelsea’s interest in Lukaku, in order to resign the 23-year-old Belgian striker, who they sold to Everton for £28m two years ago, the club are believed to be ready to offer Loic Remy plus £60m, which would be a club record transfer fee.
There is also likely to be a requirement for Chelsea to spend lavishly to recruit Koulibaly, with Napoli set to demand £38m for the Senegalese internationalist.
South American duo attracting interest
Ultimately it is the need to create space in his squad for new signings and generate finances to fund them, that is motivating Conte to look to move on some of his existing players, such as Cuadrado and Oscar, both of whom are attracting interest Italy.
Specifically Cuadrado is understood as being tracked by AC Milan, whilst the Rossoneri’s city rivals Inter are thought to be preparing a £30m bid to sign Oscar, who Chelsea signed from Internacional for £25m in 2012.
Nevertheless, the 24-year-old Brazilian internationalist may still have a future at Stamford Bridge given that Conte praised Oscar’s past achievements and application during pre-season, as reported by the Independent.
“Oscar is an important player and the season when Chelsea won the title he was fantastic. He is a player with great talent and can improve a lot,” said Conte, who during Chelsea’s pre-season training camps in Austria and the USA has used 29 players.
Batshuayi & Kante may be joined by more new recruits
One of those is N’Golo Kante, as the 26-year-old French midfield enforcer made his Chelsea debut in their friendly win over Milan following his £30m move from Leicester.
So far this summer, Conte has made just one other signing with that being the Belgian internationalist striker Michy Batshuayi from Marseille for a fee in the region of £33.2m
However further new arrivals appears to be fast approaching, as Conte endeavours to revamp his squad before Chelsea’s first game of the new season, which is at home to West Ham on 15 August.
La venta de Pedro al Chelsea deja al Barça un vacío importante. La última temporada, la sombra de la MSN le privó de la titularidad y el jugador ha admitido que se marcha por falta de minutos. No obstante, el conjunto blaugrana pierde a una de sus estrellas más importantes. Pedro, aunque jugase poco, exprimía cada segundo sobre el terreno con goles.
Está claro que con Messi, Suárez y Neymar el Barça no tendrá problemas de gol esta temporada. Pero, ¿qué ocurriría si alguno se lesionase o estuviera sancionado? ¿O simplemente que se quisiera rotar para dar descanso a los titulares? Pedro era una garantía segura, ahora que se ha marchado hay que buscarle recambio y no será fácil. El Barcelona no puede apurar con un fichaje de último minuto para suplirle, recordemos la sanción de la UEFA, de modo que le toca tirar de recambios. Pero, ¿qué alternativas existen?
Rafinha ya fue titular en la final de la Supercopa de Europa, es un centrocampista ofensivo pero puede jugar en la delantera. Munir sorprendió a todos al inicio de la pasada campaña, el canterano llegó incluso a debutar con la Selección Absoluta, pero la falta de continuidad le frenó. Sandro es un jugador que gusta a Luis Enrique y ya ha tenido sus minutos en el primer partido de Liga.
Otra alternativa para Lucho es retrasar líneas. Es decir, quitar a un delantero para meter a un defensa o centrocampista. El canterano Sergi Roberto puede ser el recambio que se busca, o incluso el regreso de Alex Song ser la solución inesperada para el técnico asturiano.
Hasta enero no podrán jugar Turán ni Aleix Vidal, entonces desaparecerán los fantasmas. Pero mientras tanto, Lucho tendrá que hacer malabares para repartir minutos, sino la temporada se hará muy larga.
Chelsea recently completed a £21M deal to sign Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez this summer, with the well-decorated Spanish international having snubbed interest from the likes of Manchester United to make the switch to Stamford Bridge.
His arrival comes as a surprise given the competition for places in Jose Mourinho’s side, with the likes of fellow forwards Juan Cuadrado, Mohamed Salah and Andre Schurrle failing to get regular game time after such high-profile arrivals. So where will Pedro fit in?
Despite a poor start to the new season, Chelsea’s starting eleven has been picking itself for the last 12 months, with Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Willian making up an attacking-midfield trio behind the striker. However, Oscar’s poor form, coupled with Hazard’s versatility could well see the latter taking up a central role in place of the struggling Brazilian, with Pedro occupying the left-wing role as he did for so long at Barcelona.
It’s a fearsome attack, balancing industry, individual brilliance, pace, and creativity. Pedro works hard off the ball, and has operated under a high-pressing mentality for most of his career. He will find the robust Premier League somewhat of a culture shock, but has shown throughout his career that he can ride challenges with ease.
Pedro has long been subsidiary with the Catalans, and was convincing to make the switch by Spain and former Barcelona teammate Cesc Fabregas, as well as manager Jose Mourinho.
The 28-year-old is a big name to bring into the Premier League, given his impressive CV for club and country. His entire career has been spent playing under the Barcelona philosophy, so he’s a player who can play beautiful football, while producing the extraordinary.
It speaks volumes of the forward how his club teammates were begging him not to leave this summer despite Pedro being a substitute for the majority of the last season.
It’s highly unlikely he will start for Chelsea against West Bromwich Albion this weekend, but with how poorly the champions have started the new season, Mourinho will want to give him as many minutes as possible. He leaves Barcelona at the age of 28, scoring 99 goals in over 320 games for the Spanish giants, and is now likely to be ending his career in England.
Pedro will finally have the chance to prove his worth without being overshadowed by greater creative talents, but where he will fit into the side raises questions unless Mourinho does indeed opt to remove Oscar from the starting lineup.
Arsenal have been linked with long-serving Barcelona player Pedro Rodriguez this summer, with the Gunners monitoring his situation with the Catalans. The Spanish international has been on the periphery for the last two years, and last season had the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez keeping him on the bench. His chances of game time don’t look likely of improving in 2015/16, which sees a host of European sides on red alert to secure his signature.
Despite being reduced to an impact player, Barcelona have no immediate plans to let their long-serving academy starlet leave this summer, nor has Pedro made a public request to exit the Nou Camp. However, he might be convinced to play a starring role in the Arsenal attack alongside a former club teammate in Alexis Sanchez, an international teammate in Santi Cazorla, and a long-term La Liga foe in Mesut Ozil.
Arsenal have brought in stellar names in the last two summer transfer windows to the surprise of their supporters, and Pedro would more than add to what they have. It takes a talented individual to last so long at a club that has seen the likes of Ronaldinho, David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic brought in and subsequently moved on. Barcelona have the best strike force in the world, so it’s hardly surprising Pedro cannot force his way into the starting eleven on a regular basis.
Despite the lack of game time last season, the Spanish international still scored and created 12 goals in 15 league starts. He has excessive pace, a deft touch on the ball, and quick feet to ghost past defenders. Wenger would be licking his lips at the prospect of having such an experienced and successful player to operate on the opposite flank to Alexis Sanchez, and he wouldn’t break the bank either. The majority of Pedro’s appearances came from the bench, and he only featured so much from the starting eleven because Luis Suarez was banned from playing until October last year.
The Uruguayan formed a formidable partnership with Messi & Neymar that yielded over 120 goals last season, so manager Luis Enrique is unlikely to alter the attack ahead of the new season. Pedro has a lot to ponder this summer, and Arsenal play in a similar mould to Barcelona so he should settle at the Emirates quite quickly. Arsenal have been moving forward with some impressive acquisitions in the summer transfer markets (Mesut Ozil in 2013, Alexis Sanchez in 2014, Petr Cech in 2015), and Pedro’s influence could well see more stars follow him through the door in the future.