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An Excellent Start
Huddersfield Town proved to be mediocre opposition, but nevertheless Chelsea safely negotiated this potential banana skin with a resounding three-nil success. This represents a big improvement on our first fixture last year, and Maurizio Sarri recorded a better result than the likes of Conte or Mourinho achieved with their first league match. Kante scuffed the ball into the net after an uncharacteristic foray into the opposition penalty area to open the scoring. If he could strike his shots with the same ease that he spreads the ball around, then more goals would surely follow from our pocket dynamo. Then Jorginho on his league debut comfortably passed the ball into the net from the penalty spot after spotting the goalkeeper head the wrong way. Our new addition is clearly a cool customer, and we can only hope that he's a better buy than the hapless Bakayoko. Finally, Pedro wrapped up the three points with a deft finish, after being expertly teed up by the excellent Hazard. Our new goalkeeper even earned himself a clean sheet. Here's hoping that Arsenic will prove equally compliant next Saturday.....
Community Shield Woe
A goal in each half by Sergio Aguero ensured that the English champions enjoyed a comfortable triumph against a much-changed and lack lustre Chelsea. This was a painful reminder that without Hazard and Kante, Chelsea look much like a mediocre mid-table team. I was rather hoping that the Londoners would get demolished about five-nil, so that the numpties that run the club would be shocked into belatedly strengthening the squad. Quite frankly, if Chelsea lose more than two of the following and don't adequately replace them, then mid table will beckon: Courtois, Hazard, Kante, and Willian. Chelsea have been a car crash of a club all summer, procrastinating over the selection of a new manager and dilly-dallying over alterations to the squad. It was therefore quite fitting that the off-field shambles was mirrored by today's awful performance.
Cup Final Redemption?
This may well be sulky Conte's last match in charge, and he has managed to bow out with more silverware. In doing so, Antonio (a self-proclaimed "serial winner") has emulated fellow-countryman Carlo Ancelotti by winning both the Premier League and the FA Cup, albeit not in the same season. This eighth FA Cup triumph (third only behind Arsenic and ManUre) goes some way towards salvaging the wreckage from a car crash season. It's always sweet to get the better of ManUre and especially Mourinho, leaving them empty-handed, but truthfully this was an awful final, even though most Chelsea followers won't be complaining.
An Appropriate Finale
I was rather hoping that Bakayoko, the teacher's pet, would get sent off, thereby ensuring that he would not be available for next week's FA Cup final. Alas no such red card was presented to him, and Chelsea fans will be steeling themselves for the logic-defying omission of Willian next Saturday in favour of the inadequate Bakayoko. Such a selection decision will reveal Conte's overwhelming desire to 'stop United' as opposed to a wish to take the game to them.
Another Impotent Nightmare
The Blues' late-season charge towards an unlikely Champions League spot finally fizzled out at home to lowly Huddersfield Town who deservedly secured Premier League survival, courtesy of a gritty defensive display against one-goal Chelsea. The proceedings perfectly encapsulated Chelsea's inability to create chances and convert the rare ones that they do produce. The team has completely lost the knack of scoring late winners or equalisers when the chips are down. This has been the most frustrating of seasons, as the purgatory of the Europa League beckons for last season's champions. How the mighty have fallen and indeed been washed away.
Blues Defy Hyped Reds
Chelsea have kept alive their slim hopes of qualification for next season's Champions League when they deservedly defeated an impotent Liverfools team. The Blues have now strung together five wins, whilst Liverpoo and Tottenham Trophy Dodgers appear to be doing their level best to drop out of the top four, having shipped several points in recent weeks. The whole drama of the race for a top four finish is further proof that the league is a marathon and not a sprint. Consequently, teams that are sitting pretty at Easter and looking poised for success would do well to nail down their objectives rather than dwell upon probabilities. In the event, Chelsea still need snookers in order to penetrate the top four, but they clearly have the momentum while the two clubs above them are evidently staggering towards next Sunday's chequered flag.
Another Barely Doing Enough, Narrow Win
Within the first five minutes, Cesc Fabregas slotted home a peach of a goal, all too rare in recent months from the Spanish midfield maestro. However this would prove to be the last of the scoring in this contest. Therefore for the second time this season, one-goal Chelsea scraped home against relegation strugglers Swansea City. Peculiarly, if Chelsea finish the season with three more league wins and Liverfools drop points in their final fixture with Brighton and Hove Albion, then the Blues will pip the Reds to a top four position. It's probably what one might call 'needing snookers'. At least Chelsea will definitely finish above Arsenil, which is one crumb of comfort.
A Satisfying Semi Triumph
Securing their third win in eight days (albeit two of them against struggling Southampton), Chelsea just might finish the season with a flourish and even lift more silverware. Antonio Conte and man of the match Eden Hazard certainly seem desperately keen to atone for the final flop last year and potentially end their Chelsea careers on a high. They will have the small matter of a date with sourpuss's Manchester Yawnited in four weeks' time, in what will be the third Wembley final between the two clubs. The recent death of Ray 'Butch' Wilkins will render the occasion all the more poignant, as the midfield maestro played with distinction for both clubs.
Chelsea did just enough to see off the surprisingly feeble challenge from Burnley in this Thursday night non-event, thereby consolidating our likely fifth position finish whilst also finally defeating a team that we have had considerable problems with in the recent past. One could almost have described Burnley as our bogey team, but the way we have been playing since January, everyone has become our bogey team.
Giroud Inspires Late Revival
It looked like another ritual defeat for struggling Chelsea, another bad day at the office for an impotent outfit. Then lo and behold, Monsieur Giroud reminded us why we bothered to buy him in the first place, cementing his reputation as a marvellous impact substitute. The Frenchman has now earned the right to get a starting place in the cup semi final next Sunday against the same opposition. Of course the challenge for Olivier is to play well (score more goals) as a starter. He may have a Tore Andre Flo/David Fairclough knack of scoring goals as a substitute, but can he do likewise as a regular starter?