Champions League action returns to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening as Premier League champions Chelsea welcome FK Qarabag from Azerbaijan.
Italian manager Antonio Conte has confirmed that Eden Hazard will be on the bench for the Blues as he makes a slow recovery after just returning from a broken ankle.
Gary Cahill could make his return to action tonight as he returns from a three domestic ban after being sent off against Burnley during the opening day defeat to Burnley.
Chelsea play seven games in 21 days this month and Conte said “You have to do some rotation otherwise the last two games you have no energy”.
Qarabag boss Gurban Gurbanov said “We’re not scared of any of them”.
“Even though Chelsea is an icon in the Champions League and have a big chance to win the tournament this season , the team is ready and we’re going to play until the end ”
Danny Drinkwater Chelsea’s summer transfer deadline day signing who is yet to make his debut is also set to sit out of the clash becoming Chelsea’s only absentee with a calf injury.
Qarabag come into the game on fine form as they have won their opening three league games and to make the group stages came through three rounds of European qualifying to make history as the first side from Azerbaijan to make the group stages.
The Blues will be clear favourites for this clash as they have only lost once in their past thirteen Champions League group games.
It’s been a crazy summer for football this year with some crazy numbers coming from the amount that clubs have spent with Neymar and Mbappe etc. The money from the new Premier League television rights deal is well and truly coming to fruition with Premier League spending and revenues on the up. Even in the Championship spending has increased with Wolves paying 14 million pounds for Ruben Neves (just one player!)
With all of this money you would think that this would benefit English fans who follow their teams week in week out right? It couldn’t be more wrong as the price of season tickets are going up and kick off times for matches are set to change for an international audience.
So this begs the question do clubs really care about their local fans who pay their money to support them through the good and the bad times?
The answer to that question has to be a no. English clubs are charging a monumental amount of money to go to football matches and even when they are there the cost of food and drink is extortionate.
Premier League newcomers Huddersfield are the only exception from that statement as their cheapest season ticket comes in at just 175 pounds which is amazing considering the start they have had. In reality Arsenal’s cheapest season ticket comes in at just over 1000 pounds. That is a ridiculous amount of money to expect from a working class fan base.
Even in League One Bradford City fans were charged 28 pounds at Peterborough for a pay on the gate match. 28 Pounds for an away game in League One is scandalous and shows the director that English Football has taken.
On top of the prices clubs have all gone into the corporate fan bases which gives people the opportunities that most fans can’t afford. An example of this is Manchester City’s new Tunnel Club which offers people the chance to meet players and get up close and personal with the management team in exchange for a hefty price. City have alienated their fan base by taking opportunities away from their traditional working class fanbase and giving them to people who can afford to pay for the privilege. It’s not just Man City who are guilty of this as it can be seen up and down the country.
I’m not saying that the people who go to matches in corporate hospitality are wrong because they have paid for the service and fair play to them. Whats wrong is that most English clubs no longer see their traditional fan bases as the most important.
Another example can be taken from the recently named Carabao Cup. The third round draw for the competition took place live from China at 4:15 AM (GMT) meaning most British fans were sleeping when their teams draw took place. A spokesman for the FSF said: “In our 2017 national supporters’ survey fans expressed increasing frustration at instances of overseas audiences apparently being prioritised over domestic supporters. Holding the draw in Beijing at that time can only increase the sense of disconnection many domestic fans feel.”
Do you think that English Football is losing touch with its fans and becoming corporatised? Let us know in the comments section below…
Champions Chelsea take a trip to the home of their predecessors this weekend in a game full of interesting sub plots.
Chelsea sit 6th in the table following their 2-0 victory over Everton before the international break. Question marks surrounded the west London club at the start of the campaign following an off season full of dressing room discontent and unexpected transfers. This was compounded when Antonio Conte’s men suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Burnley on the opening weekend. A 2-1 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur in their first Premier League match at Wembley eased the worries of the Blue’s supporters before the win over Everton proved that Chelsea would once again be competing at the top end of the table.
Eden Hazard could play his first match of the season at the King Power having been absent from the opening three matches while recovering from a broken ankle suffered on International duty back in June. Hazard can expect a positive reception from both sets of fans should he make it as far the pitch thanks to his contribution to the Foxes’ lifting the Premier League title in 2016. The Belgian’s goal against Spurs sparked scenes of mass euphoria in the City of Leicester as the most unlikely of Champions were crowned.
The fixture list demanded that Leicester hit the ground running. A home tie against newly promoted Brighton was sandwiched between trips to the Emirates and Old Trafford. The Foxes put in a lacklustre performance against Manchester United but had displayed their attacking prowess in both the narrow loss to Arsenal and the comfortable victory over Brighton.
Saturday will see Danny Drinkwater return to Leicester following his deadline day move to Chelsea. The central midfielder spent five years in the East Midlands and was one of the key players in City’s rapid rise to the pinnacle of English football. N’Golo Kante will also return to the club that brought him to England as the Chelsea pair hope to rekindle the partnership that brought them so much success two seasons ago.
It is hard to look beyond Chelsea in this early season clash but Conte will be wary of the threats that Leicester pose. City possess plenty of pace up front and if they can stay compact in defence and midfield will pose a serious threat on the break.
Chelsea made the signing of Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid in the summer which was the replacement for Diego Costa, despite the Spanish international being named in the Chelsea Premier League squad.
Despite finding the back of the net on 20 occasions last season for the SW6 outfit, it seems that manager Antonio Conte deems the striker surplus to requirements, having spent heavily on bringing in Morata this summer.
Many touted Costa to join former club Atletico Madrid this summer, but with the Spanish giants under a transfer ban for breaching FIFA rules that move couldn’t happen, but Atletico could rekindle interest in the striker in the January window.
With Spain looking set to qualify for Russia 2018, it would be in the interest of Costa to try and sort things out with manager Antonio Conte to ensure he has every chance of getting on the plane for the World Cup next summer.
Having scored many goals for ‘The Blues’ over the past 3 seasons, its clear that he has been a major part of Chelsea success as he has lifted 2 Premier League titles and an English League Cup whilst at the club, and despite the club making a new signing in his position this summer he could still prove to be a useful to have playing for the club.
Chelsea fans would you play Costa in the Premier League? Do you want to see him stay at Stamford Bridge? Let us know in the comments section…
Go back to the 10th May 2016 and West Ham were just saying goodbye to Upton Park after beating Manchester United 3-2 which secured a sixth place finish for The Hammers. Slaven Bilić was regarded as a god who was to be immortalised in the history of the club while bringing great times to East London. It was also the season where Dimitri Payet played the football that got whispers of a Real Madrid move on the horizon.
Fast forward just over a year later and life is much different for those at West Ham. Dimitri Payet has left the club for Marseille after refusing to play for The Hammers after initially being refused a move, West Hams move to the Olympic Stadium has been filled with controversy after security fears and a lack of atmosphere, it also doesn’t help that they can’t win a game there. With all that and many more problems Slaven Bilić finds himself facing huge pressure and there has been rumours that he almost faced the sack after the 3-0 loss away at Newcastle. The pressure is justified considering West Ham have lost their opening three games conceding ten goals.
Rafel Benitez 5/2
Having just beaten West Ham 3-0 Benitez may have sealed Bilić’s fate. Benitez is the joint favourite to take over the job should Bilić face the sack. It could be seen as an exciting project for Benitez seeing as he is unhappy at Newcastle after receiving little funds for their first Premier League season since being relegated in 2016. The money on offer and the promise of funds may be too good for Benitez to turn down.
Roberto Mancini 5/2
Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is the joint favourite to come for the West Ham job if they choose to part ways with Slaven Bilić. The current Zenit St Petersburg manager would be a great addition and comes with the history of winning trophies including the Premier League with City. However, Mancini has only just joined Zenit this year and may be reluctant to give up the money he is rumoured to be on at the Russian club and also West Ham with all due respect may be too much of a step down for someone who has won the Premier League.
Frank Lampard 33/1
An outsider for the job is Frank Lampard who of course has strong links to The Hammers having been their as a child and also made his professional debut at Upton Park. The former England player has made no secret of his desire to go into management and would be eager to get a job like West Ham. However, with no managerial experience West Ham may be reluctant to take such a gamble on Lampard when their Premier League status is at risk.
Let us know who you feel should become the next manager at West Ham or if you feel that Bilić should be given more time in the comments section below.