The international break is finally over for another couple of months and the Chelsea players will be returning to Cobham with Tottenham Hotspur taking their focus on Sunday, a side that have not been able to beat the Blues at Stamford Bridge in 28 years.
With the international break halfway through this weekend as the Premier League pauses, a number of Chelsea players are keeping fit by representing their countries ahead of, for many, this summer’s World Cup tournament which takes place in Russia.
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
This season has become largely frustrating for those involved with Chelsea and has led to talk of changes being made in the near future. The club has failed to replicate the success of last term’s title-winning campaign, producing a largely mixed bag of results, including heavy defeats to the likes of AFC Bournemouth and Watford, whilst also putting in a solid performance against Barcelona in the Champions League.
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 star Willian has moved to assure fans he is remaining at Stamford Bridge, despite reports linking him to both Manchester United and Palmeiras in the January transfer window.
Manchester United have made fresh enquiries into the availability of Blues winger Willian in the January transfer window next month, according to reports.
Chelsea secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over Southampton on Saturday as they kept pace in the race for Champions League football next season. Manchester City kept their incredible run going with a 4-1 thumping of Tottenham, which strengthened the Blues’ grip on third place – but Antonio Conte’s men remain 14 points behind the high-flying Citizens.
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 made light work of a trip to the John Smith’s Stadium against a Huddersfield side who could have proved tough opponents.
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 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 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.
Chelsea kept pace in the title race with an ill-tempered 1-0 home win over a resolute Swansea City side. Paul Clement’s side failed to register a shot on target in the whole game and they were camped in their half for lengthy periods of the game, but the Blues finally found a way through to extend their Premier League unbeaten run to six games.
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.
Chelsea secured their passage to the latter stages of the Champions League with a resounding 4-0 win in Azerbaijan. With Atletico Madrid beating Roma in the Group C’s other fixture, the Blues cashed in and can secure top spot in the group with a win over Atletico at Stamford Bridge on match day six.
Despite Chelsea’s slow start to the campaign, they had plenty first-team players on international duty as two more Blues confirmed their places at next year’s World Cup in Russia this week.
After Chelsea’s back-to-back defeats at the hands of Man City and, most recently, lowly Crystal Palace, Chelsea fans have begun to ask questions about who, or what, is to blame. Certain players are coming under the microscope as the Blues need to find a quick response to their problems before the crunch Champions League clash against Roma at Stamford Bridge.
In the aftermath of the defeat to Manchester City, Chelsea’s week goes from bad to worse as record signing Alvaro Morata is set to be sidelined for a month.