Tag Archives: Eden Hazard

Five Strikers Chelsea Simply Must Consider After Transfer Embarrassment

Romelu Lukaku’s career will remain in the northwest of England. Though a transfer to Chelsea was seemingly nailed on for the Belgian, a twist towards Old Trafford has led Everton’s dominating striker to join up with his good friend Paul Pogba and former boss, Jose Mourinho. Whatever went on in the background to secure the deal is as good as irrelevant now; Manchester United have got their man and Chelsea are floundering in the market once again.

Antonio Conte might be furious, the Italian may even consider walking out of the club, but Chelsea cannot afford an internal crisis or post-mortem right now.

With Diego Costa edging towards an Atletico Madrid return, Michy Bathsuayi out of favour, Tammy Abraham on loan at Swansea and Bertrand Traore sold to Lyon, Chelsea’s line-leading options are perilously short. Lukaku’s signature was a matter of when, not if, until Mourinho swept in to snatch his man and the once Special One has potentially delivered a knockout uppercut to the club he once called home.

All is not lost for the Blues, mind, and here are FIVE players who can give them hope…

Three vital contests as Chelsea look to complete double

Chelsea and Arsenal have not met in an FA Cup final since 2002. The Gunners were victorious that day, with each club having enjoyed numerous Wembley successes since. Didier Drogba has dominated this fixture in the 2000s, but the Ivorian is now no more than a nightmare for Arsenal.

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are Premier League champions and are shooting for a double on Saturday. Arsenal, meanwhile, remain a club on the cusp of turmoil. Stan Kroenke is a man criticised frequently, Arsene Wenger’s future is unknown and key players are yet to sign on the dotted line.

With defenders missing and off the back of an underwhelming campaign, Arsenal are underdogs. Strong underdogs at that, too, with Wenger a man splitting opinion. Everything can change under the arch, and Arsenal have a good recent record at Wembley, but Chelsea are a fearsome unit led by a manager a driven as anyone in the game.

The man-to-man duels could decide this encounter. We don’t want controversy, we don’t want it to be decided on a foolish red card, we want a classic final showdown. These three matchups will be crucial if that is to happen…

Chelsea’s Italian Love Affair Destined To Continue At Wembley

Gianluca Vialli, Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto di Matteo and Antonio Conte. Chelsea adore Italians.

Roman Abramovich flitted with Barcelona imitation, but when that fell short, the Italian norm returned. Vialli was widely admired, Ranieri loved as the nicest man in the sport, Ancelotti brought dazzling football and a double, Di Matteo finally delivered that elusive Champions League and now Conte could produce a double of his own.

Chelsea have only won one double in their 112 year history. Ancelotti’s team in 2010 scored more goals than anyone has done in the Premier League era and entertained throughout as they teamed power with exceptional talent. Irrepressible at times, that team is one of the best in recent memory. It was a joy to watch as stalwarts Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard were accompanied by a magnificent Florent Malouda, graceful Nicolas Anelka and destructive Michael Ballack. They wrapped up their title with an 8-0 final day destruction of Wigan. Fitting.

Saturday evening brings Conte’s chance to emulate his journeyman compatriot in completing a debut season double. Conte’s would be all the more remarkable.

Chelsea finished 10th last season, they were abysmal despite being reigning champions and were a club in turmoil once again. Players were almost universally unrecognisable, controversy rumbled and they were once again being led by a caretaker manager. When Jose Mourinho joined Manchester United, Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City and Conte signed at Stamford Bridge, even a top four finish would have been deemed a stellar campaign.

Fans split over Mourinho’s departure, fans bickered over the role of the players in the sacking of their greatest ever manager. Everything looked bleak.

Then followed a summer transfer window dominated by the pursuit of Kalidou Koulibaly. Left-back was still an issue, and no one knew whether Eden Hazard and Diego Costa in particular would return to their dominant form of 2014/15. The window ended with Michy Batshuayi, Marcos Alonso, N’golo Kante and David Luiz arriving at Stamford Bridge.

Alonso suffered from the Premier League centric thinking that costs English football, Luiz’s harsh reputation went before him, Batshuayi’s price tag sat heavily on his shoulders and Kante’s brilliance at Leicester was yet to be truly accepted. Alonso, Luiz and Kante set about becoming crucial players in a Chelsea team that equalled the league’s consecutive wins record and notched 93 points. Batshuayi was a threat when called upon, but remained on the bench for the most part as Costa’s lack of injuries surprised us all.

Conte glued together a fractured squad, he showed tactical adaptability and reinvigorated careers. It should not be a surprise after a quick glance at his glorious CV, but the Italian picked up a club from the doldrums and charged to an emphatic title.

We may never know quite what happened at Chelsea in 2015/16. Conte, though, found a way to make sure it was a freak blip rather than a startling regression towards upper mid-table suffering. Chelsea could have gone the way of Liverpool and post-Ferguson Manchester United, it was down to Conte that they did not.

Their league dominance makes them clear favourites on Saturday. Fairly so, but it also takes the pressure off. Whatever happens under the arch, Chelsea have had a season far beyond the most optimistic of predictions.

Abramovich craved Chelsea recreating Guardiola’s Barcelona, but the Italian way has so often been the way for the Blues.

4 New Signings: The Potential Chelsea XI To Conquer Europe Next Year

Chelsea have enjoyed a fantastic season this term but Antonio Conte’s side face a challenge in the summer to bolster their ranks and prepare for a return to the Champions League next season.

In truth, Chelsea’s squad depth is fairly lacklustre across the board and injury problems this term could have created havoc, had they occurred. Therefore, it would be unwise to run the same risks next season by failing to strengthen.

Whilst Chelsea have been defensively solid and impressive in attack, it turns out that those areas are where the Blues are keen to strengthen most this summer- with star striker Diego Costa looking inevitable to leave, whilst veteran skipper John Terry is also on his way out.

Conte has identified targets already though and these four signings could leave the Blues boasting an exceptional side, as shown by this incredible line-up.

GK: Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea’s goalkeeper is widely regarded to be one of the best in the world and the Blues will face a battle to retain his services in the summer, with Spanish giants Real Madrid reportedly eyeing the Belgian as an alternative to long-term target David De Gea.

Courtois seems loyal to Chelsea though and the Blues would command an audacious fee for any move to materialise, so it seems highly likely that the goalkeeper will remain at Stamford Bridge for the forthcoming Premier League campaign.

European giant hand Chelsea boost by ending interest in star-man

Chelsea’s fantastic season is at risk of being handed a blow this summer, should star players decide to leave Stamford Bridge this summer in search of new challenges abroad.

One of the big names regularly linked with an exit this season has been that of Eden Hazard, who has been linked with a big-money move to Real Madrid. With Zinedine Zidane a keen admirer, and Hazard seeing the Frenchman as an icon, it’s easy to see why it would appeal to the Belgian ace.

However, The Sun now claims that Real Madrid have ended their interest in Eden Hazard as they will instead focus their attention of developing the talents of young Marco Asensio- who has exploded onto the scene this season.

Instead of spending what could end-up being a three-figure sum on Hazard, Real Madrid’s development of Asensio, who cost them just £3.5m, would see Los Blancos boast a new homegrown hero amongst their ranks.

Could it still happen?

As with any transfer report, you have to take it with a pinch of salt. Whilst Real Madrid may want to develop Asensio, turning down any opportunity to sign Eden Hazard wouldn’t be wise- especially in the coming years as Cristiano Ronaldo approaches the end of his career.

Real Madrid have established themselves as a club who boast some of the best players in the world and missing out on the likes of Paul Pogba and then potentially Hazard and Antoine Griezmann could really cause issues in their fanbase.

On a personal level for Hazard, moving to a club that have won two Champions League finals in three years would be understandable as Chelsea are unlikely to challenge for Europe’s elite crown anytime soon.

Is Asensio the real deal?

Simply put, yes. The 21-year-old has impressed at the Santiago Bernabeu following spells with Mallorca and Espanyol, scoring four goals in 18 La Liga appearances. Here’s also impressed in the Champions League, scoring two goals in five appearances- including a strike against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.

He’s now made his international debut for the Spanish national team and is one of the youngsters to watch at the World Cup next summer, where he could make his full emergence onto the world stage.

Fabregas In, Matic Out: The Chelsea XI To Dent Man United’s Champions League Hopes

Chelsea are on-course for Premier League glory but can hand a huge blow to rivals Manchester United this weekend with a victory. Here, we’ve selected the team Antonio Conte should select to win the match.

GK: Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea’s Belgian stopper has been a mainstay in Antonio Conte’s side throughout the season, starting all 31 Premier League fixtures for the Blues. During that time, Chelsea have kept 13 clean sheets- the highest amount in the division.

The Blues have also conceded just 25 goals in the Premier League, a number only Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United can better, and Courtois has been vastly important to Chelsea’s solid defensive structure.

The game is being shown live on Sky Sports on Sunday afternoon (4pm kick-off UK time) and you can get a NowTV day pass and watch the game for just £6.29 with our fantastic 10% off a day pass offer.

FF Premier League Team Of The Season: 4 Chelsea, 2 Spurs, 2 Liverpool & 2 Burnley Players Feature

We’re at that stage of the season now when we recognise the achievements of those we see week in, week out, with the PFA’s nominations for PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year kicking off the debates.

Along with it comes the often much-maligned Team of the Season that, in response, has streams of fans drafting up their own all-star XI. Many are flying about as we speak, which prompts us to give our two cents. Here’s Fresh Football’s Premier League Team of the Season:

Goalkeeper: Tom Heaton, Burnley

It’s on the basis of defensive solidity that Sean Dyche’s side has planned and, more or less, managed to crack their first season back in the Premier League. Tom Heaton’s heroics in between the sticks have certainly played a part in that.

The two-time England international, more fondly remembered for his displays against Liverpool at home and versus Manchester United at Old Trafford, comes 6th in the ongoing race for the Golden Glove, claiming nine clean sheets altogether.

That has seen him top the list of keepers in the bottom half of the table, which, unlike other lauded colleagues such as Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford, has contributed towards Burnley’s mid-table attainment and facilitated our choice for number one.

Right Back: Kyle Walker, Tottenham Hotspur

Among the tightest of choices throughout the XI, the right back slot sees the likes of Kyle Walker go head-to-head with Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia, who’s gone from strength-to-strength under José Mourinho this season.

But for all the improvement from the Ecuadorian, Walker has continued to be a pivotal figure in a side targeting a top two finish, as opposed to scrambling for top four.

The Spurs man pips Valencia on end product, claiming two more assists than Valencia’s modest three, and also averaging 1.15 key passes and 1.33 chances created per game, which is marginally better than his full back counterpart.

Centre Back: David Luiz, Chelsea

Many a critic scoffed at the £30 million spent by Chelsea on the club’s former cult hero, with displays up until early October suggesting they were right to do so. In came Antonio Conte’s characteristic shift to a formation with three central defenders, signalling a straight run for top spot and David Luiz’s rebirth, as a result.

Free to explore his refined technical ability with the comfort of two other centre backs either side of him, Luiz’s maturity has also shun through in a side that’s collected 13 clean sheets thus far and strung together 13 consecutive wins from October to January.

Centre Back: Michael Keane, Burnley

We’ve spoken briefly of the work put in by Burnley in this season’s Premier League and just as focal to the Clarets’ success has been Michael Keane, a mainstay alongside Ben Mee in Dyche’s XI.

The centre back pairing have been virtually inseparable statistically, but the man under the radar has appeared as Burnley’s go-to-guy for defensive interactions, conquering 120 of his aerial duels and winning 60% of all duels in total, which is a 5% increase on what Mee registered.

Such has been his form that the Man United academy graduate has seen his trade recognised by England with his debut cap, meanwhile the likes of Everton reportedly plot a move for the 24-year-old in the summer.

Left Back: Marcos Alonso, Chelsea

Costing the champions-elect a total of £20 million from Fiorentina this summer, Marcos Alonso has done a decent job in allaying fears of his perceived sub-par status in world football.

The Spaniard prides himself on the time he’s spent in Serie A, which bodes well with Conte’s familiarities, whereas the player’s core attributes have seen him become a straight fit into Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation at wing back.

Five goals and two assists later for the Blues, few left backs in the league have come close to his level of consistency.

Centre Midfield: N’Golo Kanté, Chelsea

To make complete simplicity so hard to ignore takes some doing, yet N’Golo Kanté is already on his second consecutive season of leaving his critics in awe.

No sign of second season syndrome here, with the Frenchman providing a pivotal presence in Chelsea’s two-man midfield and eating up more ground than one could ever deem possible. An easy choice.

Centre Midfield: Adam Lallana, Liverpool

Under the core definition of a central midfielder, there’s a small number of options they may be more popular throughout the masses, but we’re striving to also conjure up a team that also makes some sort of footballing sense.

Adam Lallana is no scrub, however. The Englishman took his time to get going at Anfield, but he’s been among the players to have embraced Jürgen Klopp’s ethos the best in a mixed season for the Reds.

The England international has maintained a high level of performances throughout this season, contributing at both ends of the field, which sees us favour the ex-Southampton midfielder over the likes of Vincent Wanyama, David Silva and a more attacking iteration of Dele Alli, who’ve all hooked in their fair share of plaudits through central areas.

Left Midfielder: Eden Hazard, Chelsea

After a faint 2015/16 campaign, Eden Hazard has remerged as a top bracket Premier League star under Conte, making full use of the free role given to him in a 3-4-3 set-up. The Belgian is a hot favourite for the PFA Player of the Year award, which speaks volumes of our choice.

With seven games of the season to go, Hazard has already equalled his highest scoring seasons of 2013/14 and 2014/15 with 14 goals, three shy of the club’s regular goal-getter Diego Costa, after finding the back of the net against the likes of Man United, Manchester City and Arsenal this season.

Whispers of a switch to Real Madrid have followed suit, which is yet another testament to the qualities displayed by the re-energised Belgian.

Right Midfielder: Sadio Mané, Liverpool

Alongside Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté, Sadio Mané leads the line for signing of the season since arriving for £34 million from Southampton.

Fully engaged with Klopp’s ‘Gegenpressing’, the Senegalese winger has hit the back of the net 13 times and turned in a further six assists, numbers that aren’t too dissimilar to that of Eden Hazard’s. It’s no wonder many were left arguing for the Liverpool man’s presence in the six-man shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award.

Thus far, Liverpool’s dependency on Mané has been clear, winning just twice in eight games without their summer signing, which includes defeating League Two outfit Plymouth Argyle. Such is the importance he holds that the wide man is far too difficult to overlook, even with Alexis Sanchez and Nathan Redmond presenting stellar seasons of their own in the meantime.

Striker: Romelu Lukaku, Everton

He’s a striker that often divides opinion, but time and time again Romelu Lukaku finds himself among a hatful of goals.

The Belgian’s technical ability, although appearing more refined this season, is some way off your traditional top class striker, but his laudable ability to strike gold with frequency may well see the Everton forward claim this season’s Golden Boot.

It’s a feat that can’t be ignored, giving him the edge over Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and many more favoured strikers.

Striker: Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur

If there’s one player who knows just how to time an appeal for all relevant gongs, that man is Harry Kane. The England international, rather characteristically, started the season slowly with just five non-penalty goals in the first half of the season.

Fast-forward four months and that figure has doubled in his favour, culminating in a late charge to defend his Golden Boot award with 19 goals at this stage of the season.

No period displayed Kane’s string of exemplary performances quite as well as February, scoring six in four games before crowning his work with the Player of the Month award. It’s because of this and many more performances since the turn of the year that Kane has battled his way into our Team of the Year.


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3 Big Name Players Who Could Be Set To Leave Chelsea This Summer

Chelsea are having a brilliant season on the pitch, but off the pitch it looks like they may have some issues to deal with come the summer. Here are three players that could reportedly be leaving the club in the summer…

1 – Diego Costa

Costa started the season in brilliant form but since the rumours of a move away started in January, he has struggled to score consistently. There have been rumours he is not happy in London and these appear to have been confirmed in his latest quotes.

Costa revealed after his team beat Bournemouth at the weekend: “I am happy at Chelsea, I am not necessarily saying that I am happy with my life in London. But that is something totally different.”

Costa is a player who plays with emotion and when his head is not in a good place, his performance certainly suffers. At his best and his most focussed, in my opinion, he is one of the best number 9’s in the world. It will be very hard to replace him, but the likes of Lukaku have been linked.

Batshuayi in, Costa out: The Chelsea XI To Beat Man City On Wednesday

Chelsea surge towards Premier League glory was halted by Crystal Palace at the weekend and there’s a real danger that they could concede their advantage in the league standings over the coming weeks.

The Blues hold a seven point advantage over Tottenham Hotspur heading into the midweek Premier League fixtures and that could be cut to just four points by the end of play tomorrow, should Chelsea lose to Manchester City and Spurs beat Swansea.

Antonio Conte’s side need to treat the defeat to Crystal Palace as a wake-up call and make sufficient alterations to their side as a result, to ensure the squad is kept fresh and, crucially, doesn’t get complacent as we approach the latter end of the season.

With a few tweaks to the side that lost to Palace at the weekend, Chelsea can return to winning ways against Pep Guardiola’s side. Here, we’ve selected the ideal XI to tackle the Citizens.

GK: Thibaut Courtois

The Belgian goalkeeper has been an ever-present figure for the Blues this season, playing all 29 games of the Blues charge to the top of the Premier League. During that time, he’s conceded just 23 goals- a number only Tottenham Hotspur (21) can better.

With 13 clean-sheets, the highest in the league, Courtois has been an important member of a Chelsea defence that has been extremely difficult to break down. They’ll need him to be at his best against Manchester City, who have scored 56 goals this season.

Chelsea look to keep star-man with record-breaking new contract

Chelsea have excelled in the Premier League this season but face a fight to keep their star-men this summer, as Europe’s elite look to make a move in the transfer target.

Real Madrid continue to eye the services of Belgian ace Eden Hazard but The Sun states Chelsea are ready to fend-off the interest of the Spanish giants by handing their star-man a contract worth £300k-a-week; which would make Hazard the highest paid player in the Premier League.

Talks of a renewal were set to start at the end of the season but, given Real Madrid’s growing interest, the Blues have brought forward discussions as they aim to prevent Los Blancos from sealing a major transfer this summer.

Zinedine Zidane has been very public with his admiration for Hazard and many feel he’s the perfect long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has limited years left at the top of European football. Naturally though, Chelsea are desperate to keep him.

How important is Hazard?

Eden Hazard’s performances over the past three seasons for Chelsea have been mixed, as he was a key-part of their title-winning success under Jose Mourinho but performed poorly last term. This season though, Hazard is back to his best and is again proving to be a huge catalyst for the Blues’ success.

Keeping Hazard is crucial for the side’s set up but the most important factor is the message that it would send to their rivals, as it would show the Blues are capable of going toe-to-toe with both Manchester clubs to boast the best names.

By handing Hazard a Premier League record-deal, Chelsea would show their willingness to fight and match the spending from Manchester United and Manchester City. If he was to leave, Chelsea would find it hard to replace him and it would also issue a negative message.

Is Hazard worth it?

Hazard’s performances for Chelsea have made him a fan-favourite at Stamford Bridge but many do expect more from him and the Belgian can expect to receive further scrutiny if he was to command this record-breaking deal; as we’ve seen with Paul Pogba this season.

To be classed in the same calibre as the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Hazard will need to find consistency and perform domestically as well as on the continent. Having only just turned 26 though, there’s plenty of time for him to adjust.

Securing this deal would allow Antonio Conte to continue building a side around the Belgian, which is likely to include the arrival of a new striker this summer as question-marks on the future of Diego Costa consider to be raised.

Should Chelsea Consider This Swap Deal For Eden Hazard?

Spanish giants Real Madrid are keen to sign Eden Hazard from Chelsea this summer and could be prepared to offer a stunning swap deal.

The Daily Mail, citing claims from Spanish outlet Marca, claim that the Belgian star has held ‘positive’ discussions with Zinedine Zidane’s side ahead of a potential move at the end of the season- with Los Blancos being long-term admirers of Chelsea’s attacking wizard.

However, Chelsea are keen to ensure they do not come out of a deal empty-handed and are looking to exploit the situation to land Colombian ace James Rodriguez in return- who’s set for an exit this summer after struggling to make a regular stake for first-team football over the last three-years.

A deal could end working out well for all parties but fans may be concerned about a potential swap deal, as they’ll question whether James would fill the void left by Hazard.

How to they compare?

Hazard has played significantly more football to James this season, with Squawka showing the Belgian has played 2155 minutes compared to James’ 683, but there has been enough in the Colombian’s performance to suggest he’d be a decent asset to Chelsea’s ranks.

James boasts 87% passing accuracy this season, compared to Hazard’s 84%, and has contributed with five assists in 14 games- whilst Hazard boasts four assists in 24 matches. In front of goal though, Hazard has a significant advantage of 11 goals compared to James’ two.

All in all, James has been a direct part of seven goals in 14 appearances whilst Hazard has been involved in 15 in 24 matches- meaning both have been impressive this season and it shows that James could be able to fill Hazard’s void.

Would James fit in?

Perhaps the most pressing concern would be whether James Rodriguez fits into Antonio Conte’s set-up at Stamford Bridge as, whilst capable of playing out wide, the South American asset is most effective playing just behind the striker.

In conte’s 3-4-3 set-up in West London, there isn’t really a central role where James could slot into the side and the Colombian would have to play out wide- where he’d slot into Hazard’s vacant position, should he seal a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Therefore, Chelsea may find it better to pursue an alternative target to James as they’d be able to get a quality wide-man with the figure they would receive for Hazard’s services and James himself would probably be better off moving elsewhere.

Real Madrid aiming to raid Chelsea for signatures of star duo

Spanish giants Real Madrid are looking to take advantage of Chelsea’s success this season by launching a raid for two of the Blues’ most crucial players.

The Guardian reports that Zinedine Zidane’s Champions League holders are looking to launch an assault for the signatures of both Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard this summer, in a move that would leave Chelsea’s ranks severely depleted.

Real Madrid are looking to reshuffle this summer with the future’s of the likes of Alvaro Morata, Isco and James Rodriguez hanging in the balance, whilst they’re also preparing for life without Cristiano Ronaldo- and Hazard could be the ideal fit.

Between the sticks, Courtois is seen as a significant upgrade on Costa Rican Keylor Navas and the move sees Los Blancos cool their interest in long-term target David De Gea from Manchester United, as Zidane’s side seek alternative options.

How likely is a deal?

Chelsea would command a hefty figure for both players but could find it difficult to fend off the interest of Real Madrid, specifically when it comes to Thibaut Courtois. Whilst he has insisted he’s happy at Stamford Bridge, his family still lives in the Spanish capital from his time on-loan with Atletico Madrid.

With Hazard, the Belgian may feel the opportunity to succeed Cristiano Ronaldo is too great an opportunity to turn down and his arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu would see Los Blancos shift away from their ‘BBC’ attacking trio- with Ronald likely moving central and Hazard filling the gap on the left, whilst Gareth Bale operates on the opposite side and Karim Benzema misses out.

However, Hazard still has three-years remaining on his current deal at Stamford Bridge and discussions have been held to extend his deal. Despite that, the Belgian reportedly remains open to a switch to Spain.

How much would they cost?

Both Courtois and Hazard would command a hefty price on the transfer market but Real Madrid could subsidise a deal by offering Alvaro Morata in exchange; as the Spanish striker is unhappy with the opportunities that have come his way since he returned to Madrid last summer.

Formerly of Juventus, where Antonio Conte used to manage, the Italian boss is a keen admirer of Morata’s talents and unsuccessful enquiries were made last summer. This year though, the situation could be different and Chelsea will be prepared for the possibility of losing Diego Costa.

Money is no object for Real Madrid though and they’d be looking to make a real statement of intent to respond to the growing prices of the Premier League, especially as Manchester United broke the transfer world-record last summer with their capture of Paul Pogba.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hazard’s signature fetch the same sort of price Pogba’s did last summer and Courtois himself could surpass the long-standing record for a goalkeeper, which currently stands at the fee of over £50m Juventus paid for Gianluigi Buffon.

All The Player Ratings: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for the FA Cup Quarter-Final tie between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.


Thibaut Courtois – 7

The Belgian came up with a crucial stop in the second period, denying what would have been Manchester United’s equaliser through Marcus Rashford’s left-footed strike at goal.

César Azpilicueta – 6

Impressive at the back, less so going forward.

David Luiz – 7

Luiz was able to boss the circulation of possession, even throughout United’s sharpest spells.

Gary Cahill – 6

Noted as the weak link in Chelsea’s backline, exemplified by the rare surrender of possession in sight of United’s pressing traps, but such pressure was eventually eased on the ex-Bolton Wanderers man.

Victor Moses – 6.5

The former Crystal Palace and Wigan Athletic winger got up and down the flank well, despite it being crowded by a defensive-looking United line-up.

N’Golo Kanté – 8

The man of the match, N’Golo Kanté proved to be the decisive difference between the two FA Cup hopefuls with his goal from range.

Nemanja Matic – 6.5

Positive and tidy in possession, which boded well for Chelsea’s game plan in the second half.

Marcos Alonso – 6.5

Another to put in a decent performance, as his influence on proceedings grew in the second half.

Willian – 7

Sharp, direct and unlucky not to have earned himself a goal and assist along the way.

Eden Hazard – 8

Along with Kanté, Eden Hazard was as expressive as ever in the final third, escaping the aggressive press-traps from Man United and inflicting lasting damage.

Diego Costa – 5.5

This wasn’t the Diego Costa we’ve become accustomed to seeing in recent times, taking the bait when embroiling himself in physical battles with Marcos Rojo and missing a couple of dead-cert goals on another day.


Cesc Fabregas – 6

Accentuated Chelsea’s dominance after coming on in the second half.

Kurt Zouma – N/A

Michy Batshuayi – N/A


Manchester United

David De Gea – 7.5

The Spaniard was the main reason why Manchester United kept Chelsea away from the lead in the first half, as the Blues dominated proceedings following Ander Herrera’s red card.

Antonio Valencia – 5

Plenty of fouls coming from a man who was visibly frustrated with his team’s performance. Antonio Valencia was a poorer player, as a result.

Phil Jones – 6

The Englishman was fairly sound at pressing higher up the pitch in the early stages, but Eden Hazard and co. soon had his number, as he succumbed to mistimed tackles.

Chris Smalling – 6

Few complaints hang over the centre back’s head as far as the result is concerned, but as a captain, and United boss José Mourinho also joins him in this equation, Chris Smalling perhaps could have done more to prevent his teammates from losing their cool in battle.

Marcos Rojo – 5

Rash and aggressive, Marcos Rojo was another to tread on a fine line with regards to his discipline.

Matteo Darmian – 5.5

Mirroring Phil Jones’ duties in pressing a little higher up the pitch, almost like a fourth centre back, Darmian also collected his fair share of failed attempts.

Ander Herrera – 5

Man United fans may bemoan Michael Oliver’s decision to red card the midfielder in the first half, especially after such a positive impact in the early exchanges, but the visitors should also be disappointed in Herrera’s foolish actions just seconds after the referee’s general warning.

Paul Pogba – 5

Little inspiration came from the French playmaker, in particular after being paired up with Marouane Fellaini.

Ashley Young – 4.5

Totally retracted, whereas Chelsea’s preference to attack down their own left-hand side saw Young come into the picture at a sporadic rate.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 5

Appeared fairly lively in and around the box, but the Armenian star was the one to be hooked early in response to Herrera’s red card.

Marcus Rashford – 5.5

Kept Chelsea on their toes, but the striker will be disappointed to have not finished a very good chance he managed to fashion for himself in the second period.


Marouane Fellaini – 4.5

The Belgian never got into the game, much to United’s detriment.

Jesse Lingard – N/A

3 Players To Put In Your Premier League Fantasy Football Teams This Week

As the scenario gets tighter both at the top and bottom of the Premier League, the margin for error for all 20 clubs hits an all-time low with each coming week, adding greater intrigue to every upcoming matchday.

This week sees Manchester City hope to bounce back from their disarmament at Goodison Park last week when hosting Tottenham Hotspur, whereas José Mourinho’s men roam to the Bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City.

London duo Arsenal and Chelsea land more ‘favourable’ fixtures at home to Burnley and Hull City, respectively, in addition to Liverpool welcoming Swansea City to Anfield, which has the potential to alter the picture at both ends of the table. Here’s who we’re tipping for success in Fantasy Premier League this week.

  1. Héctor Bellerín
    Position: Defender
    Price: £6.5m

A home game versus Sean Dyche’s Burnley could prove to be a potential banana skin for the Gunners, as they try the utmost to leave the Emirates with at least a point.

Commonly, that could see the Clarets take to the field in a naturally rigid and organised manner, much like they did at Old Trafford and at home to Merseyside pair, Everton and Liverpool, subsequently earning themselves five points from a potential nine.

Burnley’s record away from home, however, isn’t so impressive, earning just one point altogether this season on their travels and scoring a mere three goals in the meantime.

A more conservative approach is sure to invite the likes of Héctor Bellerín further up the field, increasing the potential for defensive goal contributions, meanwhile also heightening the chance for clean sheet bonuses, given the visitors’ poor record on the road.

Combined XI: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea

With yet more points dropped between the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal at the top end of the table, Tottenham Hotspur’s clash at home to Chelsea tonight sets itself up to be of the greatest importance for both sides.

For the Blues, a record 15th consecutive win opens up a nine-point-gap between them and 2nd place Liverpool, whereas a triumph for Spurs over their London rivals not only keeps Manchester United off their backs, but also sees them leapfrog 3rd and 4th placed Manchester City and Arsenal, as well as reducing the distance between themselves and top spot to seven points.

As both sides go toe-to-toe in tonight’s heavyweight encounter, Fresh Football has consulted its bubble of imagination to compile what we think an All-star Chelsea and Spurs combined XI would look like, relative to form. Here’s what we’ve conjured up:

Goalkeeper: Hugo LlorisTottenham Hotspur

There is, without a doubt, very little between Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois, who stand as two of the greatest shot-stoppers in the league, if not, the world.

Both come into the game with envious defensive records; Courtois has 11 clean sheets in the league to Lloris’ seven, but the latter has conceded just one more goal than the Belgian.

Last year was a totally different experience for Courtois, however, under-performing alongside his teammates in a season to forget for Chelsea. At the same time, no Premier League side conceded less than Spurs (and Man United), which is why Lloris takes our number one jersey.

Right Back: Kyle WalkerTottenham Hotspur

As impressive as Victor Moses has been in his new-found right wing back role, there’s the argument that the Nigerian formerly considered “deadwood” would struggle defensively without the added back-up of a third centre back in Antonio Conte’s lauded 3-4-3 system.

Further north in London, there’s few who operate better at right back than Kyle Walker. Blistering pace, coupled with well-built physicality and technical ability sees the Englishman boss the entire right flank more often than not, making him vital to the way Spurs play.

Moreover, Walker already has four assists to his name this season from defence, one more than he managed last season, and so concludes one of the easier decisions we’ve had to make in this line-up.

Centre Back: Toby AlderweireldTottenham Hotspur

The Belgian’s transition to English football has been no less than impressive, joining the north London club from Atlético Madrid to steal some of the thunder surrounding his compatriot, Jan Vertonghen, in becoming the main man at the back.

Reliable, refined in possession and a notable aerial threat, Alderweireld combines traits that sees him stand as one of the league best centre halves, therefore taking this spot in our combined XI ahead of the likes of Gary Cahill and John Terry without question.

Centre Back: David LuizChelsea

Many a human welcomed Chelsea’s £30 million signing of David Luiz, a man often synonymous with erratic defending, with smiles and laughter.

In its kindest form, his signing was branded as a complete panic buy in response to Chelsea’s failure to land the likes of Leonardo Bonucci and Kalidou Koulibaly in the summer, but the Brazilian defender and Chelsea fans alike will be sure to be giving some stick back to the numerous critics.

Since the Blues’ tactical reinvention, Luiz has seen the defensive set-up form around himself at the at the heart of the defence, subsequently seeing the 29-year-old go from strength-to-strength in his return to Stamford Bridge.

So much so has been his success with Conte’s tactical shift that he’s now touted as one of the favourites to finish the campaign in the Premier League’s Team of the Season, so it’s only fair that he sits Vertonghen out of this one.

Left Back: César AzpilicuetaChelsea

Much like Kyle Walker, Rose plays a pivotal in Mauricio Pochettino’s high-pressing side, doing so well, but meanwhile the Spurs product excels going forwards, César Azpilicueta comes up trumps going in the opposite direction, hence why he’s played across Chelsea’s backline across the years. The Spaniard gets our vote.

Right Midfield: PedroChelsea

Pedro looked to be on somewhat of a downward spiral in the past couple of seasons, falling out of favour at Barcelona before failing to crack life at Chelsea last season.

Things just abruptly clicked, however, after the Blues’ heavy 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal back in September, with Pedro scoring four goals, including one versus Spurs, and assisting six since the debacle at the Emirates.

With Erik Lamela still out injured and Willian only just now beginning to find his feet in the west Londoners’ new look outfit, Pedro claims his spot.

Centre Midfield: N’Golo KantéChelsea

The first name on the team sheet. By now you will have already heard that N’Golo Kanté picked up more points alone than any other team in the Premier League since joining Leicester City in the summer of 2015. The man is just ridiculous.

Centre Midfield: Mousa DembéléTottenham Hotspur

In the same vein as Kanté, Dembélé is equally crucial to a side hoping to get their hands on the coveted Premier League trophy.

Following recovery from injury in October 2015, Spurs didn’t lose once in his presence. Contrarily, once the Belgian was suspended for his ill-tempered altercation with Diego Costa back in May 2016, Spurs picked up just 12 points from their next 11 league games.

He was, undoubtedly, the cerebral driving force among the high praise solely directed at Dele Alli, Harry Kane, among others, and the aforementioned stars proved to be a lot poorer without Dembélé in the side. An underrated entity.

Left Midfield: Eden HazardChelsea

A shining light in Chelsea’s side, Eden Hazard finally looks to be back to his best in a free role given to him by Conte.

Nine goals and two assists in the league sees the Belgian playmaker spearhead his way as one of the favourites to take the Player of the Year gong, so he’s got his place reserved in our squad.

Striker: Diego CostaChelsea

Rivalling his teammate, Hazard, to Player of the Year award has been Diego Costa, so, again, there was little chance of us leaving him out of this combined XI.

The Brazil-born Spain international has been taken to the next level by Conte, at least from a disciplinary perspective, as the 28-year-old leads the goal-scoring charts with 14 league goals so far.

Striker: Harry KaneTottenham Hotspur

For the second season running, after Euro disappointment, Harry Kane started the season rather tentatively, but alas the constant stream of goals appear to be following the Spurs number 10.

The striker’s brace versus Watford in Tottenham’s 4-1 win saw the Englishman hit double figures in the league for the season, his 59th overall after 100 Premier League games, making him hard to overlook.

‘Best Player In The Premier League’ Twitter Praises Chelsea Midfielder After Everton Performance

Chelsea have found a new lease of life in a 3-4-3 formation under Antonio Conte – with the key being that their star players are finding their form. 

One who is particularly thriving is Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard. A player we know can do so much, Hazard struggled last season and looked a defeated player. One of Conte’s biggest tasks when he joined the club was to get the most out of the world class Hazard, and the new formation he has implemented does just that. Hazard still has to play with discipline, but he has more of an attacking license in this formation allowing him to make the devastating difference, just as he did against Everton on Saturday evening.

The Belgian made all the difference with his two goals in the 5-0 rout against Everton, though his goals were not his only impressive contributions. His passing accuracy was a phenomenal 95%, making 56 passes in total. He attempted 5 crosses, 3 of them were accurate. He also attempted 2 long balls and both were accurate. He had 3 shots, all of which were on target and 2 resulted in goals. He also completed 2 dribbles. It was perhaps the Belgian’s best performance of the season and it really highlighted that he is back and certainly amongst the best in the Premier League when on form.

Here’s some of the reaction on Twitter.

If Hazard can continue this kind of form then Chelsea have a serious chance of winning the league. They will face stiff competition from the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal, but with players like Hazard in the team they must set their targets very high.

Hazard is a top player – but the only way he can truly be considered the best in the league is if he can consistently prove himself. The fact that last season he really struggled means that no matter how he performs this season, there will always be doubts over whether or not he is actually the very best. He’s only 25 though, and the next 5 years or so will be the prime years of his career. He has said he wants to become one of the top 5 players in the world, and I do not think that is unrealistic. So long as he keeps his ambitions high, but also plays for the team, I think he can be a great asset to the side.

‘Better Than Neymar’ Fans Heap Praise Onto Chelsea Attacker Following United Win

On Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge, he left empty-handed as Chelsea run away with the points in a 4-0 demolition job of Manchester United in South London. 

Things went from bad to worse for Mourinho on Sunday afternoon as he saw his team 1-0 in the first thirty seconds of the game, before seeing goals added to Pedro’s opener by Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante.

There was one Chelsea player that stood out throughout the game, and that was Eden Hazard, scorer of the third Chelsea goal. The way he exchanged passes with Diego Costa before slotting the ball past David De Gea was exquisite, and he earned himself the Man of the Match award.

Since the defeat at Arsenal, Chelsea have won their last three playing under a new system that has allowed Hazard to put in his best performances of the season. Conte has pressed on with plans to setup his Chelsea side with a back three, and over the last few weeks has been able to make this a success.

The new system adopted by Chelsea with wing-backs has allowed Eden Hazard to concentrate more on his attacking work rather than his defensive work, and this change in mindset has enabled the Belgian to really excel over the last week games and weeks.

The 25-year-old seems to be back to his best after an extended string of poor performances, but showed us all today what he is capable of once again, playing a big part in the taking apart of Mourinho’s Manchester United.

Hazard, in addition to his goal, completed 84% of his passes and delivered four crosses on his way to picking up the Man of the Match award as well as creating one further chance for his teammates.

Fans took to Twitter to heap praise onto the Belgian, who played extremely well in the 4-0 win.

Eden Hazard is once again becoming an influential and integral part of the Chelsea side, causing defences up and down the country huge problems. He will be key if Chelsea are to make a push for the Premier League title this season in Conte’s debut campaign. Are Hazard and Chelsea up to the task?

Fresh Football Team of the Week: Ft. 3 Arsenal, 2 Chelsea, 1 Man Utd & 1 Liverpool Player

This is the Fresh Football team of the week for Gameweek 3. 

Michel Vorm – Tottenham

Despite Danny Rose’ second half equaliser, Mauricio Pochettino can have Hugo Lloris’ deputy, Michel Vorm, to thank for his side sharing the spoils with Liverpool at White Hart Lane. The Dutch goalkeeper made a crucial save early on to deny Philipp Coutinho from close range, whereas he was also on hand to snuff out the dangers posed by Sadio Mané rushing towards his goal on two separate occasions.

Héctor Bellerín – Arsenal

It was almost like a return home for Héctor Bellerín, who spent time out on loan to Watford in the season prior to his big Arsenal breakthrough. In that vein, Bellerín made himself feel at ease down the right flank, additionally leading a couple of dangerous counter-attacks in the second half that could have seen the hosts lose sight of the Gunners in a hotly-contested affair between the two London neighbours.

Joel Matip – Liverpool

As far as debuts go, there can’t be many complaints about keeping a 25-goal Harry Kane quiet, in particular with Vincent Janssen alongside the Englishman to deflect attention. Three interceptions and 11 clearances rounded off a promising start from Joël Matip in a Liverpool shirt.

Papy Djilobodji – Sunderland

Saturday’s performance versus Southampton shows there may have been some science behind Chelsea picking Papy Djilobodji up from Nantes last summer, who, alongside the coveted Lamine Koné, would have led Sunderland to their first victory of the season had it not been for an unfortunate blunder by Jordan Pickford between the sticks.

Daley Blind – Manchester United

Few would have expected José Mourinho to conform to Louis van Gaal’s habits, in particular that of placing the aesthetically inadequate figure of Daley Blind at centre back. The performances have been very sound, however, much like last season, and last Saturday’s display versus Hull City makes it increasingly tricky for the new Man United boss to justify replacing him with someone like Chris Smalling in the first XI.

Danny Drinkwater – Leicester City

The Danny Drinkwater of old? After the heartbreak of being left out of England’s Euro 2016 squad in France, the ex-Manchester United man was back to doing what he knows best – assisting Jamie Vardy with a pass over the top. A pretty decent one at that, too!

N’Golo Kante – Chelsea

The France international is proving to be an instant hit at Stamford Bridge, just as he was in his time with the current Premier League champions. On top of the two tackles and interceptions made, N’Golo Kanté’s 93.6% pass accuracy culminated in another dominant, yet fascinatingly simplistic performance by the ex-Leicester City man.

Granit Xhaka – Arsenal

In a hope of things to come by Arsenal fans, Granit Xhaka’s range of passing was on full show versus Watford at Vicarage Road, as he racked up the most passes (71) made throughout the encounter with a 85.9% success rate.

Raheem Sterling – Manchester City

The former Liverpool man’s rich form continues with a brace against West Ham United, with his second solo effort in the dying moments of the game being the particular highlight.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

On the topic of wingers being back to their best, Eden Hazard leads the way with another idyllic performance reminiscent of his pre-2015/16 season. His goal, coming as early as the 9th minute in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Burnley, proved to be the pick of the bunch.

Alexis Sánchez – Arsenal

Quite a bit has been made of the prospect of Alexis Sánchez leading the line for Arsenal, with his latest exhibition opening up the debate once more. The Chilean excelled with Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla and Granit Xhaka all feeding into his movements, as he earned the Gunners a penalty in the 8th minute, scored their second five minutes shy of the interval and went on to assist the third in a 3-1 victory.

Watford vs. Chelsea: The 3 Key Battles That Will Decide Who Wins

Antonio Conte kicked off his Premier League adventure with a vital 3 points against a tough West Ham United side. Now they travel to Watford, a team also under new management and one that is playing in the hipster formation of this generation: 3-5-2. Conte will have to be at his tactical best to unlock this Watford side at home. Here are three key battles his players will need to win to come out on top.

1 – Nordin Amrabat vs. Eden Hazard

The Premier League has missed the magic of Eden Hazard. Last season he epitomised Chelsea, a player with so much talent that delivered so infrequently. The club are now heading in a new direction under the stewardship of Antonio Conte and under the Italian, Hazard has already made an instant impact. He scored against West Ham but that was just a penalty, what was really impressive was his overall performance. The Belgian was perfect in his attacking performance, completing 7 dribbles. Although Watford play with a back three naturally, against teams like Chelsea they are likely to play with 5 defenders, with the likes of Amrabat required to drop deeper to combat the threat of players like Hazard. Eden is so good that Amrabat will need to double up on him with the right centre back on the day to ensure Hazard’s effectiveness is restricted as much as possible. If they fail to contain Hazard this result is only going one way. Amrabat is more naturally an attacking player so he will need to go against his attacking instincts in this game to benefit the team.

Twitter Reacts To Eden Hazard’s Performance vs. West Ham

Chelsea began their title challenge on Monday night with an impressive win over London rivals West Ham United. 

Spearheading the team was Eden Hazard, a player that was often the scapegoat last season as he struggled to find Premier League form. But the signs towards the end of the last campaign showed that Hazard could reach the hi

Stat of the Match: Hazard completed 9 of his 12 dribbles against West Ham – higher than all of his full seasons at Stamford Bridge. (via Opta)

Hazard made 81 touches and was influential throughout. His WhoScored match rating of 7.98 made him the statistical Man of the Match and few managed to be more impressive this weekend. Another stand out statistics for Hazard was the 9 dribbles he managed to complete. Despite completing 9 dribbles he was only dispossessed 3 times highlighting his ability to be consistently reliable in transition.

Hazard had been linked with a move away from the club following his poor form last season but under new manager Antonio Conte it looks like Chelsea may well have the old Eden back. Not just did he show individual ability, but he teamed up well with his teammates, this is highlighted by his 81.8% pass accuracy. A statistic that may surprise you is that Hazard managed to complete 4 accurate long balls last night, that is quite a lot for an attacking midfielder, and it shows he has the ability to accurately switch possession, adding diversity to the Chelsea attack.

It’s clear that Hazard will be key to Chelsea’s title aspirations this season and the Belgian kicked off proceedings in fine for on Monday night. Chelsea fans will hope this isn’t a one off performance and they will know that Hazard is capable of continuing at this level. If he manages to, Chelsea have every chance of winning the title this season.

Here’s what Twitter and fans thought of Eden’s performance on Monday night:

Despite it being a penalty, it is great to see Hazard off the mark far quicker than he managed last season (at least for Chelsea fans). You saw after the goal that Hazard grew in confidence and he attempted and pulled off patches of football that he never managed during his poor spell last season.

With the club struggling to get signings over the line, Conte will be desperate to build his team around Hazard and harness the Belgian’s match-winning potential. If Hazard can be the player he was two seasons ago, you’d be mad to bet against Chelsea winning the league this season.

Player Ratings: Chelsea 2-1 West Ham United

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for Chelsea’s home game versus West Ham United in the Premier League:


Thibaut Courtois – 6

A generally quiet night for Courtois, who was left stunned by James Collins’ half-volley in the 77th minute.

Branislav Ivanovic – 5.5

The Serbian defender was always willing to bomb forward, typically, but his execution was lacking.

Gary Cahill – 6.5

Cahill lost his fair share of aerial duels to Carroll, but remained solid for the best part.

John Terry – 6.5

The Chelsea captain saw little traffic in his neck of the woods, often found circulating possession from the back.

César Azpilicueta – 6.5

Despite being a little detached from attacking phases, Azpilicueta popped up at the right time to win his side a penalty in the second half.

N’Golo Kanté – 8

The former Leicester man looked in total control of midfield from open play, despite being limited by a yellow card that was picked up as early as the second minute.

Nemanja Matić – 6

Matić was regularly involved in Chelsea’s build-up play, but much like his compatriot Ivanović, that final pass was a little bit of an issue.

Willian – 7

The Brazilian caused havoc on the right wing in combination with the roaming Oscar before being subbed off for Pedro.

Oscar – 8

Among the Blues’ most creative components, Oscar also demonstrated through his combativeness just why Antonio Conte could opt for him over Cesc Fàbregas.

Eden Hazard – 8.5

The star of the show, Hazard looked his usual self again on the left flank, torturing the likes of Michail Antonio and Sam Byram before tucking away his first league goal from the spot.

Diego Costa – 6

Nothing seemed to come off for Costa, totally man-marked by Collins, but when Chelsea needed it most, he came up with a goal to clinch all three points in the 88th minute.


Pedro – N/A

Michy Batshuayi – N/A

West Ham United

Adrián – 6.5

Made a couple of good saves to deny Chelsea the first goal of the game, but could ultimately do little to stop Hazard’s penalty or Costa’s late strike.

Michail Antonio – 4

Tormented for much of the night by Eden Hazard, Antonio also made the mistake of trying to dribble out of his own box, subsequently losing the ball to César Azpilicueta and giving away a penalty. The England hopeful was hooked off soon after for Sam Byram.

Winston Reid – 6

Kept things fairly tight at the back before Batshuayi’s entrance saw him and his centre back partner become a little stretched.

James Collins – 7

West Ham’s goalscorer kept Costa under wraps for the best part of the game, but saw the Spain international escape his grasp late on to steal a victory.

Arthur Masuaku – 5

Not the easiest of official debuts for the ex-Olympiacos full back, who was pegged back all game in Willian’s presence.

Håvard Nordtveit – 4.5

The former Arsenal and Borussia Mönchengladbach player was left chasing shadows before making way for Dimitri Payet.

Cheikhou Kouyate – 6

Kouyate looked up for the battle in the middle of the park, which he eventually lost.

Mark Noble – 6

The West Ham skipper attempted to bring the Hammers out of their own half on numerous occasions, often via the long ball to Andy Carroll, but saw his influence silenced by Chelsea’s dominance.

André Ayew – N/A

Injured and replaced in the first half by Gökhan Töre.

Enner Valencia – 4

Plenty of running and nothing else from the Ecuadorian.

Andy Carroll – 5.5

The target man won his fair share of headers, but was starved of action for most of the game.


Gökhan Töre – 4.5

A difficult game to come into for Töre, who also went totally unnoticed.

Sam Byram – 4.5

The right back came on to thwart Hazard, didn’t quite do so before the Belgian’s substitution, but his case to start at right back may have grown stronger after Antonio’s display.

Dimitri Payet – N/A

Chelsea vs. West Ham United: 3 Battles That Will Decide Who Wins

Chelsea’s new boss Antonio Conte enters the Premier League scene under somewhat of a baptism of fire, hosting West Ham United in a London derby on Monday night.

The former Juventus manager can take confidence away from the fact that the Hammers haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since September 2002, whereas West Ham are unbeaten under Slaven Bilić versus the Blues after last season’s results. Here are three key battles to look out for as two London heavyweights come head-to-head:

1 – Gary Cahill vs. Andy Carroll

There’s a lot riding on big Andy Carroll come Monday night, with the English striker scoring twice in the two games against Chelsea in the 2015/16 season.

Carroll also comes into the clash on good form, hitting a brace versus Juventus in their opening ceremony of the Olympic Stadium, which spells danger for the likes of Gary Cahill and John Terry.

Of the two English centre backs, the ex-Bolton Wanderers man has often appeared as the weakest link in the past couple of seasons and remains the most likely defender to drop out of the Chelsea XI should they land someone like Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

It’s plausible that Carroll, often targeting spaces between centre backs and full backs from crosses, will opt to fall on Cahill’s side rather than the aerially accomplished Terry.

A lot has been made of Ola Aina potentially dethroning Branislav Ivanović at right back, but with the threat posed by Carroll, the Serbian’s presence should aid Cahill.

Real Madrid Reach Agreement With Chelsea, Swap Deal On The Cards?

According to Spanish publication AS, Real Madrid have an agreement already in place to sign Chelsea star Eden Hazard. The Belgian International has consistently been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, and it seems Real Madrid have won the race for his signature ahead of Paris Saint-Germain.

If the claims from sources close to the Spanish club that Chelsea have agreed a deal in principle for the transfer of Eden Hazard are true, this could offer an explanation for the 2014/15 player of the season’s poor form throughout the current Premier League campaign. The 25-year-old midfielder has registered just 2 goals and 4 assists in 37 appearances this season, with both goals coming in the FA Cup. When compared with last season (19 goals in 52 appearances), the Belgian has clearly, to his standards, been under-performing.

Nevertheless, Hazard’s undeniable ability means Chelsea are still demanding a substantial amount of money – reportedly a sum in the region of £78million. This transfer fee is not unrealistic, as Chelsea have in the past been able to sell players such as David Luiz and Ramires for arguably extortionate prices. Other reports have suggested Madrid players Isco and James Rodriguez could potentially be included in a deal for the Belgian.

Cashing-in on Eden Hazard at the end of the season could be a wise move for Chelsea as they look to build a fresh start under their incoming new manager, who will almost certainly be Antonio Conte. Hazard has recently referred to Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane as his “idol”, saying he wants “to work with the best managers in the world”, hinting at a move to the Bernabeu.

Hazard’s shocking drop in statistical performance has highlighted the mental aspect of football and how big a part it plays in a players performance. With that in mind, Hazard’s performances are showing us that there really is a lack of desire from the Belgian and for one reason or another, his mind is somewhere else. It is best to sell him and move on, especially if Madrid are willing to offer such a large amount (£78million).

A swap deal could be a great option for Chelsea to explore, with the likes of Isco and James Rodriguez reportedly up for sale this summer.

Tweet us at @FreshFootball and Click here to LIKE us on Facebook to stay up to date and get involved with the conversation!

Twitter Reacts To Top 100 Player Value Rankings List

Football fans must have thought they’d woken up in a parallel universe this morning, as reports emerged claiming Eden Hazard is more valuable than Cristiano Ronaldo, amongst numerous other things.

According to valuations, made by the CIES when taking various factors into consideration, Chelsea’s Hazard is the second-most valuable player in the world behind Lionel Messi- whilst they rated Raheem Sterling as more expensive than Paul Pogba.

Other surprises include Merseyside duo Jordan Henderson and Ross Barkley above Arturo Vidal and Marco Reus, whilst Tottenham’s squad is the ninth most valuable in the world- ahead of Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and almost all of next season’s Champions League sides.

Fans laughed off the findings on social media, whilst others have ignored things completely. We’re yet to find one person that agrees with these rankings at all, which says a lot.

Somebody please stop the CIES Football Observatory

— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) June 9, 2015

Fresh Football Team Of The Season: Better Than PFA’s?

I saw the PFA team of the year and as usual, didn’t agree. So I thought I’d create the team I think deserves to be there and see what others think. I don’t expect anyone to agree completely with my selection, but opinions are what makes football interesting.

David De Gea – Manchester United

Under close competition from Courtois, de Gea wins this one just about. He has been incredible for Manchester United this season, I very much doubt they would be in the top four without him.

Nathaniel Clyne – Southampton

He will be subject to some big bids in the summer I’m sure. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have been linked. A great season from Clyne and he deserves to be here.

John Terry – Chelsea

Terry might be getting on, but he has been brilliant this season for Chelsea. The English defender looks like he hasn’t aged a bit since Mourinho last managed the club.

Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal

Arsenal’s main man in defence, Koscielny’s quality has once again gone under the radar this season. He’s one of the best central defenders in the league, and this season, deserves a place in the team.

Aaron Cresswell – West Ham

The 25 year old deserves recognition for an amazing season. His form hasn’t gone unnoticed by the biggest teams in the league who are reportedly interested. His performances played a big part in the Hammers incredible first half of the season.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

No need to justify this guys inclusion. The Belgian has been in terrific form all season and has been named the PFA Player of the Season.

Morgan Schneiderlin – Southampton

The Southampton midfielder is wanted by most of the Premier Leagues top four – you can see why. He has been a central figure to Southampton’s success this season and has even added goals to his game.

Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea

The most assists in the league. 16 assists in one season warrants a place in this team. Although his form has faded somewhat since Christmas (as have much of the Chelsea team) he still deserves to be in this team.

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal

The Chilean has had an explosive start to his Premier League career. With 14 Premier League goals he has exceeded expectations. No doubt about his inclusion in this team, despite again not being as impressive in the second half of the season.

Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

Aguero was somehow left out of the PFA team despite, in my opinion being the best striker in the league this season. Whilst many City players have under performed this season, Aguero has bagged 21 Premier League goals – more than any other player.

Harry Kane – Tottenham

It’s been an explosive year for the Tottenham striker. He’s established himself as a top player this season, and whether he ca continue that form into next season is questionable, but his position in this eleven is not.

Subs: Thibaut Courtois, Emre Can, Jose Fonte, Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Christian Eriksen, Diego Costa

Unlike many team of the seasons, this side actually has balance. By that I mean it has a chance of winning real games against challenging opponents. I’ve seen too many teams flooded with all attacking midfielders and strikers, purely to include all the attacking talent on show in the league. The reality is there is a lot more to football than attack, and this team, and bench appreciates that.

What do you think of this team and what do you think of the PFA’s team? Tweet us at @FreshFootball.

‘Curse Of The Golden Generation’: Twitter Reacts To Euro Clash

Belgium hosted Wales in tonight’s round of European Championship Qualifiers, which saw the two teams battle out a 0-0 draw. Wales will undoubtedly be the happier set of players as they retain their spot at the top of group B, although Israel could go ahead of them if they win their game against Kazakhstan. Belgium, who were the favourite for this one, fall to fourth in the group following Cyprus’ 5-0 thrashing of Andorra.

The main talking point before this game, other than Wales’ achievement in the tournament so far, was the tie pitting Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard against one and other. There have been reports over the last week that claim Carlo Ancelotti is looking to sell Bale for a fee of around £90million, in an attempt to bring Eden Hazard to the Bernabeu. It is of course most likely nonsense, but that didn’t take away the added spice it gave the clash.

Here’s how Twitter reacted to the game:

‘Never Thought I’d See The Day’: Chelsea Fans React To Shock Champions League Draw

Chelsea suffered a shock result in the Champions League last night after they drew with Maribor 1-1, after previously thrashing them 6-0 at Stamford Bridge in the last round of fixtures.

The result means that Chelsea will have to wait until at least the next European encounter to secure their passage to the Round of 16 in the competition, which left the Blues with egg on their face as it was a game they should’ve won comfortably and could’ve easily lost.

Slovenian champions Maribor took a shock lead in the 50th minute through Agim Ibraimi’s fantastic curling effort, which required Nemanja Matic to pull the Blues back into the match with a strike 17 minutes from time. The stand out moment of the match came through Belgian sensation Eden Hazard, who’s horrendous penalty miss ensured the Blues would have to share the results.

Given Hazard’s tremendous penalty record, Twitter was taken aback by the failure of Chelsea’s start-player as many fans couldn’t believe what they just witnessed.

— Daniel Frost (@Danielfrosty_) November 5, 2014