If you were to ask him, he’d probably deny it very vehemently, but star man Eden Hazard appears to have issued a clear ultimatum to Chelsea Football Club.
Chelsea’s season may not have gone so well, but there was still cause for celebration as the club held their annual awards night on Thursday.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has sought to rationalise the defending champions’ poor season as he prepares his team for a final attempt at claiming a top-four finish. The Blues travel to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle United on Sunday before bringing down the curtain on 2017 /18 with the FA Cup final vs Man United next weekend.
If Antonio Conte’s latest comments are to be taken to heart, then Chelsea were never really meant to have a great season in 2017/18.
It would not be an exaggeration to call Willian Chelsea’s saviour at the moment.
The Brazilian winger, 29, has this uncanny ability to assume the mantle of Chelsea’s hero at the most opportune of times. It happened in 2015 as Chelsea attempted that lamentable defence of their Premier League title under Jose Mourinho. It was one of the most forgettable seasons in Chelsea’s history but Willian’s efforts helped to lend it some dignity.
The Blues’ title defence this time around is not nearly as bad but it has still been seriously wanting. Willian once again seems the player most ready to step up to the plate by delivering one inspiring performance after another. His goal against crystal palace was his fifth in as many games, bringing in season tally for Chelsea to 13. Only Eden Hazard has scored more this season, and Willian has never been more prolific since arriving at Stamford Bridge.
His stunning form has meant that a player who so often in the past had to settle for a place on the bench is now virtually undroppable.
Antonio Conte: Willian playing ‘fantastic’
The Chelsea boss may have preferred Pedro to Willian for most of the season so far but he was singing the number 22’s praises after the win over crystal palace.
“You can see that if a player stays in great form I’m the first to pick him in the starting XI,” Conte told his press conference. “Willian is playing in a fantastic way, but I want to underline, not only with the ball, also without the ball.
“He’s working very hard and he’s helping the team without the ball. He’s showing great maturity at this point of his career. In my heart I hope to see him at this level, to continue this performance. He’s playing very well with the ball, without the ball.
“It’s important to have balance within the game, because when we lose our balance it’s very difficult.”
This means that Willian is almost assured of his starting berth against Barcelona on Wednesday. If the speedster continues where you left off in the first leg of the tie, the likes of Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti will certainly have something to think about at Camp Nou.
Chelsea’s number 22 could easily have had a hat trick in that game had the posts not been so kind to Barcelona (and suspiciously thicker).
Ahead of the game, the player himself has spoken of his joy in having secured his spot in Conte’s Starting XI. He told Chelsea FC’s magazine on Tuesday:
“I think you have to enjoy yourself on the pitch. To play football, you have to be happy. I have to enjoy this moment now. When you start to play more games, or when you play every match, you have confidence and things are good for you, then you can keep smiling.”
If William graces the Camp Nou pitch on Wednesday, as indeed he appears likely to, every Chelsea fan will have a reason to be optimistic.
Featured image: Twitter
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has always been a darling character at each of the clubs he has played for, but two of them face off against each other on Wednesday.
Having played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the match, Chelsea travel to Spain with the hope of overcoming one of the best teams in Europe in order to advance the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Fabregas started the Stamford Bridge leg and is likely to be involved again with Chelsea desperate for goals at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
The midfield maestro was signed as a prodigious teenager by Arsenal before returning to Barcelona, from whose youth academy he had initially been spawned. There, he spent a memorable three years with the likes of Leo Messi and Gerard Pique, forging strong friendships with both of them. The Chelsea man is especially close to Messi and their spouses enjoy the same kind of affection.
Fabregas: ‘Can’t say if I will celebrate’
While he has no qualms against taking to the notoriously wide Camp Nou pitch against his pals, what Fabregas is unsure of is how he will react if he’s lucky enough the score one past his former side.
“Honestly, I haven’t thought about it at all. I’ve only scored two goals this season and it’s been a while since my last goal,” he told Marca on Monday.
“There are feelings at such a moment that you can’t predict, I can’t definitively say I won’t celebrate, but it’s unlikely I would.”
The only thing that 30-year-old World Cup winner is sure of is that he will not be stepping his foot off the gas despite his special relationship with Wednesday’s opponents.
Asked about the prospect of facing his former team he said: “I did it with Arsenal and now with Chelsea, I’ve felt pretty good on both occasions. It doesn’t bother me to play against my previous club or old friends, it motivates me.”
Out to make Messi ‘uncomfortable’
The extent of his friendship with Messi includes vacationing together in the exotic Spanish island of Formentera as recently as last summer.
Nonetheless, Fabregas is hellbent on denying the five-time Ballon d’Or winner any space when they square off on Wednesday.
“If I am lucky enough to play, it’s true that we are positioned in nearby areas of the pitch, stopping him will be difficult but I will try to do everything possible so that he feels uncomfortable and can’t put together a perfect performance,” he added.
“I see him as a rival who wants to win, and I want the same thing. We are in different teams and each player wants what is best for their own club. Obviously, you always have respect for each other.”
Fabregas played 151 times for Barcelona between 2011 and 2014, scoring 42 times.
Featured image: Twitter
Antonio Conte is having to endure a lot of criticism and pressure following Chelsea’s recent poor performances but he is not prepared to take it lying down.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is a wanted man, just not in the criminal sense.
Eden Hazard has opened up about his preferred playing position following the 1-1 stalemate against Barcelona.
Chelsea coach Antonio Conte says he has “doubts” as to who should be in his starting XI for Tuesday’s mega-clash against Barcelona.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has warned his charges against making the curtailing of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi a one-man job.
A bizarre prank started by Italian satirical programme Le Iene with Man United boss Jose Mourinho ended yesterday with Chelsea’s Antonio Conte.
Chelsea coach Antonio Conte has reacted defiantly to his side’s humiliating 4-1 defeat to Watford yesterday, saying he is “not worried” about losing his job. This is despite the Italian appearing to now be living on borrowed time at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea suffered a major embarrassment at the hands of Bournemouth on Wednesday night. Antonio Conte’s men succumbed 3-0 to a brave and inspired Cherries side, marking the Italian’s worst defeat as Chelsea boss.
It’s something of a transfer triangle – three players making moves, with each of those moves dependent on the other two.
Italian soccer agent Massimo Briaschi has expressed confidence that Chelsea will sign Roma striker Edin Dzeko this January. This is despite there being just four days of the winter window left and the club having only managed to land Ross Barkley out of their many rumoured targets.
Goals win football matches and, however cliché that old adage is, we can’t run away from it. Whether Andy Carroll can be a reliable source of goals for Chelsea, however, is another thing altogether.
Chelsea have secured the immediate future of the highly rated Andreas Christensen by committing him to a fresh four-and-a-half-year contract. The club announced through its director Marina Granovskaia on Wednesday evening that the Dane would be staying with Chelsea till at least 2022.
The Blues have sealed their first major winter signing and coach Antonio Conte is delighted.
Barely 24 hours after the Gunners boss was charged for his furious reaction to a late penalty against his side at West Brom, another spot-kick proved the turning point as Chelsea held Arsenal at the Emirates.
Alvaro Morata has come under fire over the past 24 hours following his failure to score in his side’s thrilling London derby with Arsenal last night.