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.
Tiemoue Bakayoko’s loan move to AC Milan was completed at the beginning of the week and it is being reported that Maurizio Sarri is happy to get rid of another midfielder before the closure of the transfer window across Europe. Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley are all in the Italian’s first-team plans, which leaves Danny Drinkwater as the man on borrowed time.
The Premier League champion was the subject of interest from several English sides towards the end of the English transfer window but with an internal move no longer available, he may have to go abroad in search of regular football. This may leave 28-year-old frustrated, as a move within the country would’ve probably been his preference with Everton, West Ham and Leicester just a few of the linked clubs.
Drinkwater did play most of the pre-season matches and in the Community Shield which gave the impression that he might play some part in Sarri’s debut campaign and if he stays, there is that possibility but it does seem as though his time at Stamford Bridge is up following his £40 million transfer from the Foxes last summer.
Loan deals and permanent transfers can still be made in most European leagues so a move to Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga or Ligue 1 could be on the cards. It’s unclear as to whether anyone is pursuing the England international but with the news breaking over the last few hours, it may attract teams from the listed leagues.
The Manchester United academy product played just 12 times in the Premier League under Antonio Conte which begs the question as to the former Juventus boss signed him following the title-winning campaign. Going from a player who was on the cusp of starting for England to not even being in the reckoning, it’s important that Danny Drinkwater finds a first-team opportunity elsewhere.
The arrival of Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea inevitably starts a revolution at Chelsea. In his first interview as Blues manager, Sarri emphasized his desire to bring fun and enjoyment both to the players and the Stamford Bridge support with his preferred playing style.
Danny Drinkwater could be set to leave Chelsea at the end of the season as he grows increasingly impatient with his limited playing time at Stamford Bridge.
On the back of a comfortable 2-0 win over Brighton, Chelsea flexed their muscles again at Stamford Bridge with a 5-0 demolition of Stoke City, who are reportedly considering the position of their manager, Mark Hughes.
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 missed their chance to put pressure on the Manchester clubs above them in the Premier League as they succumbed to their fourth defeat of the season at a resurgent West Ham.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals draw was made last week at the Kremlin in Moscow, the main host city for the tournament next summer. The event saw all 32 teams placed into eight different groups. As one of Europe’s biggest sides, Chelsea will have a strong contingent of players on show in Russia. Blues players could feature in up to nine of the nations that will be competing next year and today, we take a look at them.
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 missed their chance to clinch top spot in Champions League group C as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge. Roma’s 1-0 win over FK Qarabag was enough for them to clinch first place in the group, meaning the Blues will potentially face a tricky last-16 tie in the New Year.
Chelsea stretched their unbeaten Premier League run to seven games with a solid home victory over Rafa Benitez’s beleaguered Newcastle United side. With the Manchester clubs both winning, the title landscape hasn’t changed for Antonio Conte’s men but Arsenal and Tottenham both dropped points which will assist the Blues in their Champions League qualification endeavours.
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.
Chelsea picked up a valuable point in their pursuit of Champions League football as they came from behind to stay in touch with all of their top four rivals. Chelsea are now unbeaten in their last seven visits to Anfield in all competitions – a run stretching back to 2013.
The start to Danny Drinkwater’s Chelsea career has been frustrating for the England midfielder and expecting fans as he continues to wait for a debut Premier League appearance.
Fresh from his maiden Ballon d’Or nomination, N’Golo Kante has suffered a hamstring injury on international duty with France, leaving Antonio Conte desperately searching for positives.
At first glance, the international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Chelsea, with the Blues still reeling from being completely outplayed in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City. Record signing Alvaro Morata limped off in the first half of the loss with what has been confirmed as a month-long hamstring injury, with Kante’s issue heightening the ill-feeling around the Bridge even further this week.
Early season beset with injuries
For much of last season, Chelsea were blessed by a lack of injuries within the squad, a situation that allowed Conte to retain a familiar side on a weekly basis in the Premier League. This term, however, has posed different problems, with Eden Hazard missing the first month of the new campaign through an ankle injury and new signing Danny Drinkwater yet to be fit enough to feature for his new employers.
The squad’s relatively clean bill of health was cited by most observers as a major factor in the Blues winning the title last term, along with the absence of any European football. Indeed, having a larger fixture list already looks to be taking its toll on the squad this term.
Kante didn’t feature in the 5-1 demolition of Nottingham Forest but has still played 12 games in 56 days – a greatly increased workload on last season – and his all-action approach looks to have got the better of him momentarily. Morata’s injury is similar in nature and the Blues medical staff will be sincerely hoping that the increased amount of injuries is nothing to do with the training methods used by the staff at Cobham.
Morata and Kante have been the two star performers for Chelsea already this season and replacing both of them would be a huge challenge for Conte. Injuries are inevitable and squads are built to fight on four fronts – which is something Chelsea are looking to do this campaign.
During his time in the Premier League, Antonio Conte has shown himself to be an innovative coach that can deal with the ever-changing environment of English football. Whilst he and the Chelsea faithful will be praying Kante and Morata’s injuries are not as serious as they first appear, finding a tactical answer to the problem could be the Italian’s biggest test to date at Stamford Bridge.
New Chelsea signing Danny Drinkwater is unlikely to feature in this week’s games against Qarabag and Arsenal, Antonio Conte has confirmed.