Sunday is a day of derby football in the Premier League, as Chelsea playing Fulham is accompanied by the North London Derby and the Merseyside Derby. Whilst the other two derbies contain much more animosity towards each other, this is an important game for Chelsea. In the wake of the loss to Spurs last time out, the team received a lot of criticism. This is their chance to answer the criticism and get back on track.
The biggest game of the weekend is, of course, the London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham. Saturday sees these two bitter rivals go head to head once again as third plays fourth at Wembley Stadium.
With all the hype in the football world around the Champions League at the moment, the Europa League group stage returns on Thursday night and it involves an old friend this year: Chelsea. The Blues start their campaign with a trip to Greece to face PAOK in their opening Group L match but there’s no place for Danny Drinkwater in the squad which means he won’t feature in Europe for at least the first half of the season.
Chelsea go head to head with Manchester United in the 2018 FA Cup final on Saturday hoping to put a disappointing season firmly behind them.
Chelsea and Southampton face each other in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Sunday just eight days after producing a five-goal thriller in the Premier League.
It has taken just three days in 2018 for the famous rivalry between Arsenal and Chelsea to return and there isn’t expected to be any love lost for both sides.
As all Premier League fans know, the Christmas period is a hectic one for top-flight teams, bringing plenty of top quality football to supporters around the world. Chelsea’s festive season is no different and they travel to Everton before hosting Brighton in the space of just three days.
Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from defeat to rivals West Ham as they welcome an inconsistent Southampton side to Stamford Bridge. The Blues are 14 points behind Manchester City at the top of the league in what looks to be a mountain to climb to retain their Premier League title but their midweek win over Huddersfield will give Antonio Conte cause for optimism.
Chelsea travel to Huddersfield for the inaugural Premier League meeting between the sides in what promises to be a stern test for Antonio Conte’s men. The Italian has bemoaned his team’s hectic schedule in recent weeks but with European progress now assured and the small matter of two matches against Barcelona to look forward to in the New Year, Chelsea need to focus on their domestic form if they are to maintain any sort of late charge towards regaining their Premier League title.
Chelsea travel across London to the Olympic Stadium to face bitter rivals West Ham in what promises to be a mouth-watering London derby. The Blues will be looking to continue their excellent form of late – 19 points picked up from a possible 21 in the Premier League – and Antonio Conte’s men will be hoping to cash in on any slip-ups from the Manchester sides above them, who meet on Sunday.
Chelsea welcome Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening as they look to secure top spot in Champions’ League Group C. A win for the Blues would guarantee top spot in the group, whilst a draw would encourage Roma in second place to go for it against FK Qarabag. A defeat for Chelsea would then bring Atletico into contention, especially if Roma slip up against the plucky Azerbaijanis.
Chelsea will be looking to keep their superb run of domestic form going as they welcome former boss Rafa Benitez and his Newcastle United side to Stamford Bridge. The Blues have won five and drawn one of their last six Premier League fixtures and need to keep the run going to have any chance of catching Manchester City, who remain 11 points clear at the top of the tree.
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea will be looking to keep their excellent domestic form going as they welcome a struggling Swansea side to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening. The Blues have picked up 13 points from a possible 15 in their last five league matches and are currently looking up the table towards the Manchester clubs – rather than down to the Champions League chasing bunch below them.
Two Premier League heavyweights meet on Saturday evening as the Blues travel to Liverpool to renew one of the oldest rivalries in the Premier League. Both sides have endured shaky starts to their respective seasons, both domestically and in Europe – but with both finding form recently, it promises to be an entertaining encounter between two attack-minded teams at Anfield.
European football is back on the agenda for Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, who make their longest-ever Champions League away trip as they head to Azerbaijan to face FK Qarabag. The home side have adapted to life in Europe’s premier club competition well after a difficult start. The Blues sit second in Group C, one point behind group leaders Roma and can secure their qualification for the knockout stages if with a win – provided other results go their way.
With the Premier League back on the agenda following the international break, Antonio Conte will be hoping Chelsea’s hard-fought win over Manchester United last time out, can be the catalyst to his charges’ pursuit of Manchester City. The Blues sit nine points behind Pep Guardiola’s high flyers and need to close the gap as quickly as possible.
Chelsea travel to Rome on Tuesday looking for the three points that will guarantee progress to the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
Antonio Conte will be looking for his Chelsea side to perform well against a Bournemouth side that sits 19th in the Premier League table.
Attention turns to the Carabao Cup for Chelsea as they welcome managerless Everton to Stamford Bridge in what promises to be an entertaining all-Premier League tie.
Antonio Conte will be desperate to see his side get back to winning ways against a Watford side that sit two points above Chelsea in the Premier League table.
Chelsea will welcome a return to European competition after their domestic debacle at Crystal Palace as AS Roma visit Stamford Bridge on Champions League Match Day 3.
Chelsea travel across London later looking to inflict yet more misery on lowly Crystal Palace and get their season back on track. The Blues struggled to cope with Manchester City’s all-action approach last time out, and with injuries to N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata, Antonio Conte will have to introduce some of his squad players against Roy Hodgson’s men.
Chelsea host top-of-the-league Manchester City on Saturday in the first Premier League heavyweight encounter of the season. The Blues sit three points behind both Manchester clubs in third place but come into the game following an impressive display against Atletico Madrid in midweek.
Sergio Aguero has been ruled out of the evening kickoff after suffering a broken rib as a result of a car crash in Amsterdam. Eden Hazard is expected to make his first league start of the season after his man-of-the-match performance on Wednesday.
Antonio Conte is likely to stick with a similar formation to that which served him so well against Atletico. Pep Guardiola’s free-flowing football may leave Chelsea packing their midfield, with Hazard and Alvaro Morata together up front. Chelsea deviated from their usual formation, opting for a 3-5-2 during their trip to Spain, with wide men Pedro and Willian dropped to the bench.
David Luiz is still suspended following a red card against Arsenal so capable deputy Andreas Christensen should line up alongside Ceasar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill as a back three. Marcos Alonso should start once again but there could be question marks over the right wing-back position; we could see an impressive Davide Zappacosta come in to give Victor Moses a rest.
Tiemoue Bakayoko showed real steel in the Champions League by protecting his defence and allowing N’Golo Kante to roam – the most crucial combination for Chelsea to nullify City over 90 minutes. Further forward could see some changes to inject fresh energy; Cesc Fabregas added an extra body to the midfield, but we could well see a change here with the addition of Willian.
The Diego Costa hangover was well and truly shaken off thanks to Morata and Hazard combining fluidly last time out, so they have to start.
Predicted Starting XI
Where the Game Will Be Won or Lost
Man City will want to dominate possession as they visit the champions and Conte might well allow them to have the ball and soak up the pressure. Manchester City have struggled in past years as soon as Aguero is not on the pitch, so he will be a huge loss. Kante and Bakayoko will be looking to set their steely base in midfield. If Chelsea can stifle City – and that’s a big if – Hazard and Morata could be deadly on the counter. Chelsea might look to pack the midfield once again and it will be interesting to see if Pep has a plan B to outwit the wily Chelsea manager.
With all the talk of the Manchester clubs for the title, Chelsea will want to show that they are still champions – expect a robust display. Both teams have goals from all over the pitch so defensive nouse could be the order of the day, which the Blues have in spades. Could we see one of those brave 1-0 wins for the home team?
Chelsea travel to Madrid to take on Champions League specialists Atletico Madrid in what promises to be a fascinating encounter later this evening. The Blues sit two points clear at the top of Group C but will be fully aware of the defensive capabilities of Diego Simeone’s men and will have to be at their best to break them down.
The atmosphere at the Wanda Metropolitano promises to be electric, in Atletico’s first Champions League game in their new home.
Antonio Conte will not budge from his 3-4-3 formation that has served him so well domestically, and implementing it against FK Qarabag on match day one saw the Blues pick up a comprehensive 6-0 victory. With Atletico Madrid being notoriously difficult to break down, Conte will be hoping his creative influences within the team can pose sufficient problems for the Atletico defence.
Thibaut Courtois returns to the club that accommodated him on loan with his place as the Blues number 1 firmly cemented.
Andreas Christensen has been one of the star performers for the Blues this term and could flank the returning David Luiz and in-form Cesar Azpilicueta in the heart of Chelsea’s defence, with Gary Cahill set to miss out.
Marcos Alonso struggled at Stoke on Saturday but doesn’t seem to have much competition at left wing-back whilst the right-wing back debate continues with Victor Moses seemingly in pole position to start in the Spanish capital – despite Davide Zappacosta’s instant impact.
Integral to Chelsea’s success will be the stability in midfield, which N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko will need to provide to nullify the threats of Antoine Griezmann and company.
Creative opportunities against the notoriously resolute Atletico could be few and far between so Conte will be looking to Eden Hazard, Pedro and Saturday’s hat-trick hero, Alvaro Morata, to provide the firepower in what promises to be a game of few chances.
Predicted Starting XI
Where the Game Will Be Won or Lost
In front of their adoring home support, Atletico are one of the most difficult teams to encounter in European football. Their clinical forward players, coupled with stern defence, make it a daunting task for Europe’s elite and they have reached the final of the competition twice in the last four years. As always, N’Golo Kante will have to protect Chelsea’s back four in his usual combative style and it promises to be a big test for Tiemoue Bakayoko – although he demonstrated his capabilities in Monaco’s run to the Champions League semi-finals last season.
Chelsea will be desperate to leave Madrid in their toughest-looking match of the group whilst Atletico will be eager to make up for the two points they dropped at Roma on match day one. With defence being the order of the day, these two European heavyweights could well cancel each other out.
Premier League action returns to Stamford Bridge tomorrow, with Chelsea taking on arch-rivals Arsenal in what promises to be one of the games of the season so far. The Blues look to have shaken off their early season worries – winning three tough-looking Premier League games on the bounce whilst Arsenal have struggled for consistency and would dearly love to put a marker down here.
Nothing seems to sway Antonio Conte away from his 3-4-3 formation – which is now being replicated by most of the teams in the Premier League. Having three at the back centrally seems to give the Blues plenty of security, both in and out of possession and as a result, the creative influences on the team (Hazard, Fabregas etc.) seem to benefit from being awarded more space in the middle of the field.
Conte gave a Champions League start to Thibaut Courtois, which is perhaps an indication of the importance he’s placing on European competition this season – and the Belgian will start again here.
Gary Cahill impressed in the Champions League in midweek and should return following a domestic suspension, whilst David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta should also feature in the heart of the defence.
Marcos Alonso has been in fine form and will retain his place at left wing-back but Conte has a decision to make at right wing-back. Victor Moses was the unsung hero of last year’s title-winning campaign but Davide Zappacosta has arrived from Torino and looks to be a serious contender for this position and impressed greatly against FK Qarabag on Tuesday evening.
N’Golo Kante will be keeping things ticking in midfield, whether that’s alongside Cesc Fabregas or Tiemoue Bakayoko is another call Conte will have to make with Danny Drinkwater still out.
Alvaro Morata has scored in each of his Premier League games at Stamford Bridge and will lead the line. Eden Hazard is now fit after recovering from his ankle injury and in contention with Willian and Pedro also vying for the two places flanking Morata up front.
Predicted Starting XI
Where the Game Will Be Won or Lost
Both teams come into this game on the back of European wins and will be eager to make a winning return to domestic football.
Chelsea have a well-oiled formation and tactical setup that will allow them to control the game from the back and look to play balls in between the lines into the likes of Hazard and Morata. The width provided by the wing-backs could also be a determining factor in the game as they are integral to the way the Blues operate.
Arsenal are blessed with quality all over the pitch but have seemed to lack conviction this term – particularly away from home. Arsene Wenger’s men have lost both of their Premier League games on their travels this term and have looked vulnerable defensively – something Chelsea will be looking to exploit. Alexis Sanchez’s return could give the Gunners a huge boost going into this one, though.
N’Golo Kante is integral to Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation.
Both teams have lofty ambitions this term and whilst Chelsea seem to look stronger every week, Arsenal’s problems seem to be mounting up and the Blues should have too much for the Gunners here.
Chelsea to win 2-0.