Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Arteta warned "honeymoon period" doesn't last long

Lampard enjoyed a warm welcome at Chelsea due to his status as a club great, yet he is learning results must swiftly follow.

"I certainly found that it helps with knowing some faces behind the scenes, knowing the values, what the standards are and what the wants are," Lampard said.

"I think that can help probably in the early stages. I think after that, it probably levels out and your work is your work.

"No, [the honeymoon period] doesn't [last forever] and it shouldn't. But I'm sure fans will have a feeling for Arteta and want him to do well being one of their own."

Arteta is in his first head coaching position, but Lampard does not see his inexperience being a big factor given his work with Guardiola.

"He has worked under one of the greatest if not the greatest [managers] for a couple of years," said the Blues boss. "I think you don't know until you take the chance with somebody.

"Who's to say a manager is better or worse if they are in their first or 50th year of management?

"He was a very good player - intelligent, technical. He seemed to be a leader, not a fist-pumping kind but a leader in whatever teams he was playing in.

"I think the years he's had working with Guardiola put him in great stead. I don't think the question mark will be that.

"I think it will be purely on Arteta, the quality of him, and can he get Arsenal to the position they want to be in? Now it's his turn to make those decisions himself."

"Lampard & Terry could star in the next decade"

Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp may have starred in the last decade, but former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin says Blues legends Frank Lampard and John Terry can overtake the established elite in the 2020s.

Two men with strong ties to Stamford Bridge have started to make waves in coaching circles since hanging up their boots.

Lampard is the current boss in west London, while former team-mate Terry is also working in the Premier League alongside Dean Smith at Aston Villa.

Big things are expected of both, while their ex-England colleague Steven Gerrard is another tipped to build on a productive spell at Rangers and eventually match the efforts of proven winners at Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool.

“Although this has been a decade of Pep, Jose and Jurgen, it may well be that the next decade could well be that of Frank, Stevie and in time some bloke called Terry as well,” Nevin told Chelsea’s official website.

“These guys have grown up in a progressive era when the ultra-positive Jurgen and Pep with their attacking philosophies were the leading lights. I very much like the look of the future for the game in that light.

“Much will happen in the next year, never mind decade. I reckon Chelsea with the youth organisation, and the innovation at many levels, could have as big an influence as they did on the last one.”

The last decade will live long in the memory of Chelsea followers everywhere, with the club having tasted domestic and European glory aplenty.

Chelsea Champions League 2012

Monday, December 30, 2019

Jorginho calls on Chelsea to toughen mentality

Jorginho has called on his Chelsea team-mates to rediscover their aggression after overcoming a poor first half to win 2-1 away at Arsenal and tailing off an inconsistent December run.
Frank Lampard's side struggled as they went 1-0 down to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's header at the Emirates Stadium, but ultimately turned the game around to defeat their London rivals.

Blues vice-captain Jorginho was brought on in a desperate 34th-minute substitution, with the west Londoners having been under intense pressure early on in the match. 
Chelsea looked set to fall to a sixth defeat in eight matches but produced their first comeback points in the Premier League this season with two late goals.

Tammy Abraham was the match-winner but Jorginho's tap-in after a Bernd Leno mistake got a vital equaliser in the 82nd-minute. 

The Italy international is growing tired of excuses at Chelsea and is looking for an improved mindset from his team in a bid to start matches with more intensity.

"I think when you play for Chelsea, we talk a lot about 'young, young, young, young' but we are in the middle of the season and every player has to take responsibility," Jorginho said post-match.

"Not just the older players. Of course, the younger players need more help but youth is not an excuse, you just have to be ready, prepared for the game, prepared to fight, because you are playing for Chelsea in the Premier League and that's it.

"[Beating Arsenal] was very important for us. It's quite hard to win away, especially when it's a derby, and the feeling is crazy. But now we need to change our mindset and win at home as well because we are losing too many points.

"I tried to push my mates [when I came on]. We were a bit soft at the beginning and I tried to change [that] because we needed to change our mindset. We were not fighting enough. I don't know why. Sometimes it can happen.
"Sometimes you go on the pitch and you are not right and, when you want to change because you realise you are not fighting enough, it's hard. Today we could change that but sometimes we can't so maybe we need to prepare ourselves better.

"I think what's important is that all the players talk and help. Today I came on from the bench and could help my mates. The most important thing is the result because we worked a lot and I think honestly we deserved it."

Aston Villa want Danny Drinkwater on loan

Aston Villa are trying to sign Danny Drinkwater on loan from Chelsea, Sky Sports says.

The 29-year-old midfielder is on loan at Burnley until January but has made just one Premier League appearance and the deal is unlikely to be renewed.

Villa are in the market for a new midfielder to replace the injured John McGinn and see Drinkwater as a viable option as assistant manager John Terry still has a good relationship with the Stamford Bridge side.

Chelsea in contract talks with Tariq Lamptey

Frank Lampard has revealed Chelsea are in talks with right-back Tariq Lamptey over a contract extension.

The 19-year-old made his Blues debut when he was brought on in the second-half of the 2-1 win over Arsenal on Sunday.
Lamptey has been with Chelsea since he joined the under-7 side and progressed through the youth academy, taking on a key role for the U23s this season.

The youngster's contract at Stamford Bridge expires at the end of the season, but Lampard is confident he will remain at the club for a few more years.

"We'll see. He's talking with the club and hopefully he feels a bit of love from today as we've parachuted him in," he told reporters when asked about the defender's contract situation.

"He was actually on his Christmas break when we called him in yesterday. He trained and then played.

"I'd seen him when I was doing my coaching badges and you do a lot of hours with the academy and youth team. I saw him train a lot and I know he has a different dimension as a right-sided wing back.

"He has pace, low centre of gravity and can go by people. Of course he wants to work on his end product and all the last bits."

Willock: "We all believe in Arteta"

Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock says the whole Gunners squad believe in new manager Mikel Arteta, despite taking only one point from his first two games.

After a promising start, Arsenal conceded twice in the last 10 minutes at home to Chelsea on Sunday to leave themselves as low as 12th in the Premier League table.

Following Freddie Ljungberg’s struggles as interim boss after the sacking of Unai Emery, the ‘new manager bounce’ appears to be eluding Arsenal – but Willock knows his side are in it for the long haul.

“He’s installed energy, he’s installed being there for each other and different tactics,” Willock said after the Chelsea game.

“I thought we did it in the first half and the first 15 minutes of the second half but we pushed back and they got on top of us so it’s really disappointing.

“We all believe in him; we all listen and we all try to put the tactics he does in training on to the pitch.

“It’s evident we tried to do it in the first half, but it’s a long journey, we’ve only had a week with him and we’re all looking forward to working with him.”

Tony Adams: Same Old Arsenal under Arteta

Arsenal are yet to kick an “old habit” despite appointing Mikel Arteta as their new boss, says Tony Adams, with defensive frailties continuing to hold the club back.
The Gunners sprung plenty of leaks towards the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign and throughout the tenure of Unai Emery.

It is becoming apparent to the man currently calling the shots that there is no quick fix to be found at Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal have, with Arteta taking on his first managerial role, collected just one point from two games at the start of another new era.

Individual mistakes have cost them dear, with Chelsea taking full advantage in a 2-1 derby win over the Gunners.
Bernd Leno found himself caught under a free-kick fired into the box as Jorginho restored parity in north London on Sunday.

Former Arsenal captain Adams told Premier League Productions of that mix-up: “There was a mismatch at the far post. And when you’re playing the zonal it’s so important.
“So many goals come in that area, and not to have one of your best headers in that zone is a massive error.”

Jorginho Alexandre Lacazette Chelsea Arsenal 2019-20
Arsenal conceded again late on when Tammy Abraham snatched all three points for Chelsea, but Adams feels his effort was also avoidable.

As has been the case far too often for the Gunners, uncertainty at the back contributed to them being left empty-handed.

Legendary centre-half Adams added: “Chelsea have got back into the game, it’s 1-1, all game they’ve [Arsenal] been going in and pushing in and defending well, he [Shkodran Mustafi] chose to drop off again.
“This is an old habit Arsenal have been doing week in, week out, they drop off and drop off because they’re scared, it’s fear.

“If he’d gone in on Abraham [near the halfway line] in here, stick him in there, make the foul.

“You saw Jorginho, you make the foul there, stop him turning, get in front of him ideally and win the ball.
“But you’re on your back straight from that position.”

Tammy Abraham representatives stalling over new contract

Chelsea's discussions with Tammy Abraham over a new contract are stalling due to the striker's representatives' wage demands, Goal understands.

Abraham's entourage are looking for Chelsea to match the £180,000/week ($236k) basic wage earned by team-mate Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Lampard: "We were so awful for 30mins"

Frank Lampard slammed his Chelsea side’s ‘lethargic’ performance in the first half of their 2-1 win over Arsenal on Sunday – but was delighted with their eventual comeback.
Arsenal led at half-time at the Emirates through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s deft header, butJorginho and Tammy Abraham scored late on to turn the game on its head. Jorginho had been brought on for left-back Emerson Palmieri with less than 35 minutes on the clock.
The result kept Chelsea in fourth with Arsenal dropping to 12th, but Lampard was clear his side would not be allowed to replicate their first-half performance.
"We were so awful for 30 mins,” Lampard told BBC Sport.
“Slow, lethargic, nervous. The opposite of against Tottenham [who Chelsea beat 2-0].
“We gave Arsenal everything they wanted. We made the change early, felt it had to be done. Second half we dominated.
“From my point of view, you can accept a missed pass but you can't accept lethargy in a London derby. The players were told that and they delivered.
“The second half was nothing to do with tactics; it was all to do with spirit and desire.”
Nevertheless, Lampard came in for plenty of praise for his tactical switch during the game.
Jorginho Alexandre Lacazette Chelsea Arsenal 2019-20
While Emerson would have been disappointed to find himself hauled off after little more than half an hour, his replacement Jorginho orchestrated Chelsea’s midfield for the rest of the game – though some suggested he should have been sent off.
"After 10 minutes or so it was clear that Arsenal had seen us play against Tottenham and made it into a back five instead of a back three,” Lampard added.
“They were on top and there was a lack of balance to our team. The sub gave us another man in midfield and gave us more urgency.”
Despite the win, Lampard is aware his side have a long way still to go if they are to realise his own lofty ambitions – starting at home.
"I still haven't bounced back from Boxing Day mentally,” Lampard said.
“In our next home games, we'll do everything we can to turn the corner.
“We're still in fourth and want more and the home games have been different, so we have to focus on them when they come around."

Arteta: "We have to lift Leno's spirits"

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal have to lift goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s spirits after the German’s mistake cost the Gunners dearly in their 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.
Arsenal were leading through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s first-half header with seven minutes to play when Leno rushed out to claim Mason Mount’s free kick, missed, and left Jorginho with a simple finish.
Minutes later, Tammy Abraham turned smartly and finished through Leno’s legs to turn the game around and leave Arsenal on a terrible run of record-breaking proportions.
“He will be down,” Arteta said of Leno.
“When an error costs the team points, it's harder. We have to lift him.
“He's done a really good job since he joined this football club and we have to respect that. We just need to bring the confidence back in and that's it.”
There was refereeing controversy at the Emirates, with decisive substitute Jorginho perhaps lucky to escape a second yellow card.
Arteta refused to blame referee Craig Pawson, saying his players had to take responsibility for their own mistakes.
“I blame my team,” he said. “We are responsible for everything we did wrong on that football pitch.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal 2019-20
“The decisions we didn't get right, obviously. The other things we cannot control or change them now.”

Arteta wants Xhaka to stay at Arsenal

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta insists he does not want Granit Xhaka to leave the club, clarifying that illness kept the midfielder out of Sunday's match against Chelsea.
Xhaka was absent as the Gunners went 2-1 down at home to the Blues, raising questions over his future at the club.
The 27-year-old's place has been in doubt since he was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after a clash with fans when he was substituted in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in October.
The incident saw Xhaka left out of the squad for seven matches in all competitions by former coach Unai Emery, but returned to the fold in late-November.
Arteta revealed shortly after he replaced Emery at the helm of the north London club that the Switzerland international had been part of Manchester City's transfer list before he moved to the Premier League, hailing him as a "terrific player".
The Spaniard selected the midfielder for his first game in charge - a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth - but he was not part of the squad for the headline clash against their London rivals.
And Arteta confirmed after the game that he was not available to line up against Frank Lampard's men in their last game of 2019.
"He played at Bournemouth, he played really well, he was very committed, he played a really good game," Arteta told reporters when asked about Xhaka's absence.
"After the game he started to feel ill. He had a temperature and he wasn't feeling good. The last two days he's been in bed. That's why he's not been selected."
When asked if the ex-Borussia Monchengladbach star wants to leave the club in January, Arteta replied: "I hope not."

Arteta unhappy with Jorginho Decision

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta expressed his frustration at referee Craig Pawson’s decision not to show a second yellow card to Chelsea midfielder Jorginho during his side’s 2-1 defeat at Emirates Stadium.
Jorginho had already been booked when he tugged back Matteo Guendouzi as the Gunners midfielder looked to launch a counterattack. However, the referee opted not to show the Italy international a second yellow card.
To add insult to injury, Jorginho was the man to take advantage of an error by goalkeeper Bernd Leno to score Chelsea’s equaliser with seven minutes remaining, before Tammy Abraham’s late strikesecured a dramatic comeback victory and ruin Arteta’s first home game in charge.
Arteta’s unhappiness with the decision was clear when he was asked about the incident by reporters after the game, though he refused to openly criticise the official.
When asked whether Jorginho should still have been on the pitch when he scored, the Spaniard said: “I think that's up to the referee. For me it was very clear. That's it.”
Though clearly disappointed with the result and the manner of the goals they conceded, Arteta was also keen to look at the positives.
The former Gunners midfielder has only been in charge just over a week, with the packed festive schedule meaning he has had little time on the training ground with the players.
However, he feels the squad have already begun to take on board some of his ideas and performed well for much of the game.
"I'm really disappointed with the result and the way we conceded the goals, and the timing of them as well,” added Arteta.
“(But) I'm pleased with a lot of things that I've seen. I'm pleased with a lot of things we worked on in training that actually happened in the game, and how they bought into this. But I'm disappointed to lose the game obviously. We had to sustain that level for longer periods against a very, very physical team like Chelsea.
"We have to move on.
“I don't think [it's a lack of concentration]. We're 1-0 up, pretty comfortable even if we were defending much deeper than I like. I cannot think about any clear chances for Chelsea before that.
"The decision-making happens and it will happen again for sure, but when it happens against this type of opposition you get punished.”

Jorginho: "We were too soft"

Chelsea substitute Jorginho says the Blues players were “too soft” in the opening stages of their clash with Arsenal, while also dismissing claims he should have been sent off in their 2-1 comeback win at Emirates Stadium .
Frank Lampard’s side fell behind to a 13th-minute header by Gunners top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Lampard responded to that slow start by making a tactical switch and bringing on Jorginho for Emerson after just 34 minutes.
Despite an improved performance, the Blues remained behind going into the final 10 minutes, before Jorginho capitalised on an error by Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno to tap home the equaliser from Mason Mount's free kick. Four minutes later, Tammy Abraham finished off a swift Chelsea counterattack to secure the most dramatic of victories.
Speaking after the game, Jorginho says he was instructed to try and drive the team on after their poor opening.
"In this first 10 minutes we were too soft so I was told to push my mates,” he told Sky Sports. “I think we changed the game."
Arsenal were left frustrated when Jorginho was not shown a second yellow card when the Gunners were still in front for a pull on Matteo Guendouzi as he looked to launch a counterattack.
Alexandre Lacazette was booked instead for protesting at the referee, with the Italy international rubbing salt into the wounds by scoring the equaliser less than 10 minutes later.
Jorginho, though, felt the referee made the correct decision, saying: "It was not my fault. Contact in football is normal. It was a foul but no more I think."
Chelsea matchwinner Abraham also chose to highlight the impact of substitute Jorginho, saying the former Napoli man changed the course of the match.
"I give credit to the boys, I give credit to Jorginho,” the England striker told Sky Sports. “The first 30 minutes they dominated the ball, they were popping us in midfield, then this man (Jorginho) comes on and it was a whole different ball game.
"Him coming on lifted the whole team and the second half was a better performance."

Emery reveals what sealed his Arsenal fate

Unai Emery has opened up on how his tenure at Arsenal all went wrong so quickly following his exit from the Emirates Stadium earlier this month.

The Spaniard was appointed last season to succeed Arsene Wenger and arrived in north London with high expectations following silverware-laden spells with Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain.

But other than a runners-up finish in the Europa League, his first term in charge of the Gunners underwhelmed in some quarters, with Emery failing to take them back into the top four of the Premier League.

A mixed start to the current campaign sealed his fate and he was given the boot in November after taking only three points from a run of five top-flight games during the autumn, despite the firepower up front of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette.

Speaking out on why his side failed to kick on from a European final in May, Emery admitted that his side's loss to newly-promoted Sheffield United, on the heels of October's international break, felt like the catalyst for their unravelling.

"This season, theoretically, we began well and I had the feeling – and so did the club – that the achievements of the previous season were valued," he told BBC Sport

"We were now looking to how we could develop together even to the point where they were looking to offer a renewed contract.

"Then I remember we had one month that the frustrations from bad results were beginning to make us worse for the following matches.

"We were losing confidence and a bit of stability. The game against Sheffield United was a bit of a turning point. In one month, everything got broken.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal 2019-20

"We were incapable of winning a game in seven and the tension based on the question we were asking 'what's happening to us?' was like a rolling ball that was just getting bigger and bigger.

"The truth is that the coach is the first person to come into the spotlight. I've had it at other clubs and managed to conquer it by getting the team back on track, but at Arsenal that month was terrible. We had to win to regain our emotional equilibrium, to get rid of that frustration, and we couldn't.

"I spoke to the players three or four weeks before the process began to tell them that things were not going well and that I couldn't see the team I pictured on the field of play

"We looked for solutions. At times defensively we had to be stronger, so we went with three central defenders. We were trying to find a way to tactically synergise Auba, Ozil and Lacazette so that everyone could play the best possible in their position and the results still didn't come."

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Mikel Arteta suffered his first defeat in charge of Arsenal after late goals from Jorginho and Tammy Abraham earned Chelsea a dramatic 2-1 victory at Emirates Stadium.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's second goal in as many games put the Gunners ahead and it looked as though Arteta's arrival had rejuvenated the Arsenal midfield as they dominated large spells of Sunday's game.

But a mistake by Bernd Leno allowed Jorginho – arguably fortunate not to have been sent off – to equalise with seven minutes of normal time left on the clock and Frank Lampard's eventful first season in charge of the Blues took another twist when Abraham scored a breakaway winner four minutes later.

The victory is only Chelsea's third in their past eight Premier League matches but relieves the pressure on Lampard, while Arteta has taken just one point from his first two games as Arsenal boss.

David Luiz fired wide for Arsenal with an overhead kick after five minutes, but it was his former club who controlled the early tempo and Mason Mount tested Leno with a rising shot from 10 yards.

Chelsea's solid start crumbled after 13 minutes when Calum Chambers flicked Mesut Ozil's corner to Aubameyang, who was allowed to fire a header past Kepa Arrizabalaga from inside the six-yard box unchallenged by his marker, Emerson Palmieri.

Chambers left the field 10 minutes later with an apparent knee injury while Frank Lampard sent on Jorginho for Emerson, and those changes gave the visitors some momentum even though they trailed at the interval.

Chelsea continued to improve in the second half and Abraham might have equalised from 12 yards had David Luiz not made a timely block to divert his low drive.

Abraham then sent a free header tamely into Leno's hands, but the Gunners goalkeeper made a howler moments later, punching thin air as Mount's cross drifted to the far post where Jorginho bundled it into the net.

Arsenal went in search of a winner but were caught out when Willian launched Abraham into a counter-attack, the Blues striker exchanging passes with his Brazil international team-mate before sliding the ball through Leno's legs and into the net from six yards out to clinch a much-needed win for his side and condemn Arteta to defeat in his first home match in charge.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Arteta predicted Arsenal return in 2016

New Arsenal manager Mikel Aretata has revealed he predicted his return to the club as a manager upon playing his final game for the club in 2016. 

After ending his career with five seasons at the Gunners, Arteta hung up his boots and immediately set out on becoming a coach.

While his managerial pursuits initially took him to Manchester City as Pep Guardiola's assistant, the Spaniard always envisaged himself returning to the Emirates as their boss. 

"I remember the last time I was going down the tunnel, with my kids in my arms, I said to my wife, 'One day I will come back here as the manager'," Arteta told Arsenal's club website.

"It has come a little quicker than I expected but that was a dream.
"I've got more family now - I've got more kids! I've had more experiences but I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do so, two years before my retirement, I started to do my coaching badges.

"I already had that feeling that I wanted to try this game over that line, and I am really happy where I am."

Pedro Attracting interest from MLS Clubs

Pedro is attracting interest from MLS clubs New York City FC and Inter Miami after falling out of favour at Chelsea, Goal understands.

The 32-year-old has just six months left on his contract, and is expected to be available on a cut-price deal if Chelsea sanction a move. 

With the Blues in the market for another forward, selling Pedro may help them free up space in the squad for more attacking players.

David Beckham's new MLS franchise Inter Miami are trying to attract Pedro by offering a good lifestyle in a city with a large Hispanic population.

Similarly, Manchester City's sister club NYCFC will offer similar benefits having previously attracted Chelsea boss Frank Lampard himself, as well as both David Villa and Andrea Pirlo.

Lampard has only started Pedro six times in all competitions and the Spaniard has made just one start in the last three months.

Pedro has admitted his interest in returning to his previous club Barcelona, although they are not expected to make a move for him in January.

Chelsea couldn't believe Arsenal wanted Luiz

Chelsea couldn't believe that Arsenal were so eager to sign David Luiz in the last transfer window, according to Tony Cascarino.

Luiz's second spell at Stamford Bridge came to end on August 8 when he completed an £8 million ($11m) switch to Emirates Stadium.

The Brazilian has always been error-prone, but his final year at Chelsea was arguably his worst yet, and Frank Lampard made it clear that he would not be in his plans for the 2019-20 campaign.

Arsenal might have hoped that a Champions League winner with bags of experience would help solve their defensive issues, but he has so far failed to endear himself to the Emirates Stadium faithful.

The Gunners have slipped to 11th in the Premier League table after 19 fixtures, eight points behind fourth-place Chelsea with 28 to their name in the goals-against column already.

Cascarino says that the Blues were surprised Arsenal wanted to bring in "their poorest defender", and jumped at the chance to sell Luiz to a direct rival for a cut-price fee.

When asked to name the worst signing of the summer in his latest column for The Times, the ex-Chelsea striker wrote: "David Luiz. 

"When Arsenal bought the Brazil defender in the summer for £8m I know that Chelsea’s reaction was: ‘Wow, they’ve taken our poorest defender’.

"You have that familiar image of him chasing after a forward who has got behind him: opponents always know that the 32-year-old will give them space by wandering out of position.

"He is a fine footballer who sprays the ball around well but for a player with so much experience his defending is not good enough."

Luiz will likely retain his spot in Arsenal's starting line-up when they come up against his former employers at the Emirates on Sunday.

Arteta: "Victory over Chelsea will rebuild relationship"

Mikel Arteta believes a London derby victory over Chelsea would give Arsenal the momentum to turn their fortunes around and help to rebuild their relationship with their fans.

Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth in Arteta's first match at the helm on Boxing Day, meaning they have won just one of their past 14 matches in all competitions.

Chelsea will provide the opposition for the Spaniard's Emirates Stadium bow and the Blues head into Sunday's game following a disappointing 2-0 loss to Southampton on Thursday.

Arteta is hopeful the Gunners can compound Chelsea's misery and kick-start a lacklustre campaign, which sees them sitting 11th in the Premier League.

"I think energy is everything, in life, in football and sports, and if we are able to generate this [against Chelsea] it will give us a lift," said Arteta.

"I was really pleased how the fans treated the players [at Bournemouth] and I was happy that the players went to see the fans after the game as well because we need that connection.

"Slowly we need to build that back to what it was because it's going to be very powerful for us to use that.

"[Chelsea] are a terrific team, so it will be a really good test for us."

Azpi: Chelsea losing fear factor at the bridge

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta is worried teams no longer worry about travelling to Stamford Bridge to face his team.

Reality has begun to bite for Frank Lampard’s Bluesin recent weeks, with home defeats to West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton.

Chelsea have struggled to create chances at home against teams employing a low block and compressing space in midfield – and the Spanish international can see the fear factor ebbing away.

“It’s true that when teams see we have not won games, they come here with more confidence because they see they can do it,” he said.

“So forget tactics. Everything is about recovering the respect at home, being solid at home, because it is not normal to lose so many games in your stadium.

“I don’t think the pressure of playing at home should be negative. It should be the opposite.

“We have the players, we have the quality and we have to turn it around straight away. The lesson has been very harsh – losing three [recent] games and scoring zero goals.”

Chelsea still sit fourth in the Premier League but with the likes of Wolves, Tottenham and Manchester United eating up ground behind them, they need an upturn in form.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Gerrard knows nothing about rumours linking Giroud to Rangers

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard declared he knows nothing about rumours the club are looking to sign Chelsea attacker Olivier Giroud. 

Reports out of France earlier this week suggested the Scottish side had made contact with the Frenchman,who is out of contract at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season. 

Gerrard, however, stressed he's in the dark about any potential deal, but did concede Giroud is a player of real quality. 

"We are getting linked with some good players. I don't know anything about it, to be honest," Gerrard said on Thursday. 

"If someone knows something about it, give them my number. That's the first I've heard of it.

"He's a good player, though." 

Olivier Giroud Chelsea vs West Ham 2019-20

Azpi: "Chelsea need to rediscover respect from teams"

Cesar Azpilicueta has said that Chelsea need to rediscover "respect" from opponents at home after their 2-0 defeat to Southampton on Boxing Day.

Despite coming off a morale-boosting away win against Tottenham last weekend, Frank Lampard's side succumbed to their fifth defeat in seven games in the Premier League. Goals from Michael Obafemi and Nathan Redmond went unanswered, with the Blues well beaten by opponents who started the day just outside the relegation zone.

Chelsea have now lost three of their last five home matches in the Premier League, a worrying trend and a far cry from Lampard's playing days when Stamford Bridge represented one of the toughest away days in the top flight.

Speaking after the match, Chelsea captain Azpilicueta said: "We haven't managed to score or win in the last couple of home games, and it's a big issue if we want to keep the consistency and stay where we want to be.

"The fans want us to perform and get results and we are not giving them that. It's true at home we face teams who sometimes sit back more than when they play at home and we can find more space. But it's up to us to find a way.

"In the first half we shot once on target. In the second half we got the ball in the box, we went past a defender, but we didn't find the man in the box, or we didn't create the chance to get a goal. We are putting ourselves in difficulty.

"It's up to us to find always the consistency, the level to play home or away, against any team. We know every game in the Premier League is very tough.

Pedro: "If Barca call me, I'll drop everything"

Pedro would "drop everything" to return to Barcelona as he prepares to enter the last six months of his Chelsea contract.

Former Spain winger Pedro has been heavily linked with an exit from Chelsea, who will be able to sign players in January after seeing their transfer ban halved on appeal.

The 32-year-old has made just 10 appearances for the Blues this season and made no attempt to hide his interest in moving back to Camp Nou.

Pedro was handed his senior debut by Pep Guardiola, who coached him in the B team, and went on to win La Liga five times and the Champions League on three occasions with Barca.

And, if those in charge at Camp Nou were to reach out, the winger says he would do whatever it took to make the move work.

"If Barca call me, I'll drop everything," Pedro told L'Esportiu.

"There was a moment in pre-season when we played against Barca that, after talking with the coach, I saw a chance, but the door closed quickly.

"At this point, I don't know what will happen to me, just that I'm contracted to Chelsea until the end of the season."

He added: "I left Barcelona because I was brave. Neymar arrived and I played less. These things happen in football.

"Luis Enrique was always honest with me

Lampard: "We need a form of consistency"

Frank Lampard says Chelsea need to be more consistent if they hope to achieve their top-four ambitions this season following their home defeat to Southampton.

The Blues lost their third Premier League game in four at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day, with Michael Obafemi and Nathan Redmond netting either side of half-time for the Saints.

Lampard’s side were unable to replicate the victory they scored against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham just before Christmas and have now failed to win the subsequent game after their last three triumphs in all competitions.

Chelsea stay fourth in the Premier League standings, but Lampard had now admitted that their place remains in jeopardy if they failed to stabilise their otherwise shaky form in order to cement themselves as contenders near the summit.

"It's a clear statement that you need a form of consistency to come in the top four because it's the Premier League - everyone is striving for it," Lampard said at a news conference.

"We are in it at Christmas; people would probably have doubted that, so I think from that perspective we can be relatively happy.

"But if we want to stay there we have to move onwards and upwards, rather than look backwards, we clearly need to win more than we have won recently at home."

Lampard and his players earned plaudits for the manner of their victory over Spurs and his former manager Mourinho.

However, the Chelsea boss conceded it is after defeats when he will learn even more about his players.

"After Tottenham we were the greatest thing in the world, they were the greatest players and I was a great manager, and today it’s questioned," Lampard added.

"That’s when you see the strength of character of someone."

Southampton started the day just outside of the bottom three, but boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was encouraged by West Ham and Bournemouth's recent wins at Stamford Bridge.

"When you see that two teams win here then why shouldn’t you also," Hasenhuttl said.

"This is more of losing the fear, don’t be afraid. Come here, be brave. I spoke before about how we want to win here."

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Dortmund: Jadon Sancho will cost £100M

Chelsea have been told that Jadon Sancho will cost £100 million to sign from Borussia Dortmund should they look to buy the attacker in January.

The Blues had a lean summer due to a FIFA-imposed transfer ban, but that has lifted for the winter and the Premier League club are expected to be one of the most active sides in the winter window.

Express Sport claim Chelsea are considering bids for Sancho, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner, and will snub Sancho if Dortmund don't lower than valuation in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Willian: "Racism has to stop; its a shame"

Willian has called for more action to be taken to eradicate racism in football after Chelsea team-mate Antonio Rudiger was allegedly abused during Sunday's 2-0 win at Tottenham.

Defender Rudiger was targeted shortly after Son Heung-min had been sent off for kicking out at his opponent during the second half of the Premier League fixture.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta reported the incident to referee Anthony Taylor and an anti-racism message was relayed to supporters inside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium via the public address system.

Spurs' investigation into what happened "remains ongoing", the club confirmed on Tuesday, with Willian - who scored both goals in the London derby - hoping governing bodies will look to take a stronger stance on the issue.

"It's a shame. It's very disappointing, I don't know how people can think like that. In their team, they [Tottenham] have black players as well," the Brazil international told Sky Sports.

"I really don't understand what they think or why they do these kinds of things. I think we have to find, together, a way to stop this. It's a shame for everyone.

"Inside the pitch you cannot think much about this otherwise you are not concentrating [on your job]. We did all that we could do, our captain reports it to the referee that we had a manifestation of racism and the referee decides what to do.

"I hope we see more action from the federations, that's what we want."

Rob Green questioned Sarri for having "no Plan B"

Former Chelsea goalkeeper Rob Green says he earned praise from his team-mates after calling out Maurizio Sarri for having "no plan B" during his reign at Stamford Bridge.

Sarri was drafted in to succeed Antonio Conte as the Blues' head coach in the summer of 2018, after turning Napoli into Serie A title contenders during a three-year spell at Stadio San Paolo.

Chelsea enjoyed a bright start to their first full season under the Italian's stewardship, but they were unable to maintain their high levels of performance heading into 2019.

The Blues ultimately slipped out of contention for the Premier League title, with Sarri's position coming under intense scrutiny after a 6-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

A number of fans and experts voiced concerns over Sarri's rigid tactics and stubborn selection policy, but he was granted a reprieve after a strong finish to the season.

Chelsea secured fourth place in the Premier League and won the Europa League, which marked Sarri's first major piece of silverware as a manager.

The Italian ended up leaving the Bridge to take the top job at Juventus in June, but he was not the only man to leave the club after a turbulent campaign.

Third-choice goalkeeper Green hung up his gloves after Chelsea celebrated winning continental silverware in May, and he has now opened up on what it was like to work under Sarri in west London.

During an interview with The Athletic, Green revealed that he confronted Sarri in front of the rest of the Chelsea squad to address a number of issues on and off the pitch.

“The lads put their hands up and said, ‘We care a lot’ but they spoke without saying very much,” Green began. "I was thinking to myself: ‘I can’t have this’. 

"I turned to Sarri and said: ‘Look, you are in a really difficult position and I understand that because there is stuff going on at this club that I can see, you can see and no one on the outside can see, so I get you,’ but all the while I was thinking, 'I’m going to give him both barrels in a minute’.

Maurizio Sarri Chelsea Eintracht Frankfurt

"I just spelled it out. I told him: ‘You have no plan B. You’re a transactional kind of manager. The players in the group are not the kind to speak to you like this — they care very much but are scared to say something to you, like I am. I don’t care because what are you going to do — drop me!?’

“I spoke for 15 minutes. A lot of players said afterwards that they enjoyed me saying that: ‘You said what I wanted to say but I couldn’t say it’. Obviously, if they had, it could have affected their place in the team or their future at the club.

“Two of the assistant coaches, Gianfranco Zola and Carlo Cudicini, said something along the lines of: ‘That was brilliant. We’ve been trying but we are in a compromised position as well in that it is a very hierarchical style and there isn’t a lot of feedback coming in return.'"

Tottenham ban fan for throwing cup at kepa

Tottenham have issued an immediate ban to a supporter who threw a cup at Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga during Sunday's Premier League game.

Willian scored twice as Chelsea triumphed 2-0 in the London derby, though the win was overshadowed by alleged racial abuse aimed at their defender, Antonio Rudiger.

The Germany international was targeted shortly after Son Heung-min had been sent off for kicking out at his opponent.

Metropolitan Police also confirmed that a Chelsea fan had been ejected from the stadium on Sunday after committing a racially aggravated public order offence toward Son, with the Korean joining Rudiger as players to have been on the receiving end of some ugly behaviour from fans at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

While Spurs have said their investigation into the Rudiger incident "remains ongoing", they have taken swift action after identifying the individual who threw a cup towards Kepa.

"We can confirm that we have identified and issued an immediate ban to the individual responsible for throwing a cup at Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga during Sunday's Premier League home fixture," the club said in a statement.

"We shall continue to take the strongest action possible against anyone found to be behaving in this way."

Lampard: I'm going to stick to my young guns

Frank Lampard has aimed a sly dig at former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and his handling of Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku, with the current Blues boss vowing to keep faith with promising youngsters.

That has not always been the philosophy at Stamford Bridge, with top talent slipping the net as a result.

Chelsea have, at one stage or another, had De Bruyne, Salah and Lukaku on their books, but seen that trio go on to become global superstars outside of west London.

Lampard is eager to ensure that there is no repeat of that situation during his tenure, with patience set to be shown in an exciting group of academy graduates that form part of the club’s class of 2019-20.

Referencing those who have gone before him, the Blues legend said of his development plans: “If we’re not patient and we don’t stick with the players then you might be in a situation where we have been before, where top world-class players have been at Chelsea when they were 20 or 21, but the managers maybe didn’t stick with them so much then.

“I’m in a position where I’m going to stick with them.”

Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James are among the youngsters to have seen regular game time this season, with that quartet flourishing on a Premier League stage after spending time on loan in the second tier last season.

Mount Mason, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori

Lampard added on the back of a 2-0 derby victory over Spurs which saw Chelsea blend youth and experience once again: “I hope the win helps the whole squad, and the younger players in particular.

“Some were in the Championship last year, some are getting new tests they’ve never had before this season, but some have been here before, beaten top-six teams and won championships over the years.

“There is a little bit of a mixture, but as a group we are quite fresh and a little bit transitional this year, and hopefully it sends a little statement to ourselves.

“I don’t mind how everyone outside reacts about it, but for ourselves it should give us confidence. I wasn’t of the belief they couldn’t give a reaction. I believe in these players, and the young players.”

“It will be difficult to stay at Chelsea,”

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud is eyeing a January move away from Stamford Bridge as he looks to secure a place in the France squad for Euro 2020.

The 33-year-old has played a little over three matches worth of football this season, with his only goal this campaign coming against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup.

Tammy Abraham is leading the line under Frank Lampard, with Michy Batshuayi preferred as first reserve – and the former Arsenal forward does not see himself in Chelsea blue for much longer.

“It will be difficult to stay at Chelsea,” he told Le Dauphine Libere.

“I’m going to have a chat with the coach. Chances are, there will be a change because I don’t have enough time to express myself on the pitch.

“For the moment, I am a Chelsea player. I still have some games to play here before the transfer window opens [on January 1].

“Then we will sit around a table and find the best decision for me. France is one of the possible solutions.”

"We showed enough balls"

Chelsea answered Frank Lampard’s call for “balls” against Tottenham, says Mason Mount, with the challenge now being to maintain the levels achieved in a 2-0 derby win over Jose Mourinho’s side.

The Blues had suffered a bit of a wobble heading into a crunch clash with London rivals.

Lampard tweaked his approach in a master versus apprentice meeting with former Blues boss Mourinho, and saw those changes deliver immediate rewards.

A brace from Willian secured all three points, butChelsea’s showing as a collective was markedly improved from what they had offered during a run of two wins in seven games across all competitions.

Mount is pleased to have seen a response offered to the demands of Lampard, with Spurs the perfect opponents in which to re-establish momentum.

“I’ve known what it’s all about from a young age,” Stamford Bridge academy graduate Mount told the club’s official website.

“‘Going away to Spurs’ training ground at seven or eight years old, it was always a massive game so all of us young boys and the experienced guys as well knew that it was the same today. We knew we had to get the three points to stay in the top four and we came here with confidence to show what we can do.

“Derbies are about fight so straight from the beginning we knew we had to fight, win our battles and then the goals would come. It was a brilliant all-round performance but we knew we had it in us.

Willian Chelsea 2019

“We came here to a tough stadium after a couple of bad performances from our part and we dominated throughout the game so it’s a massive achievement for the manager and the whole group.

“Our reaction from the last game was key. Frank spoke after saying we didn’t show enough balls in trying to get on the ball and play so to come here and do that was a big opportunity for us to show everyone that we’re not a team that’s going to get pushed over easily and we do have that fight within us.”

"to question him is disappointing,"

Frank Lampard was disappointed to see Antonio Rudiger's integrity questioned by Jose Mourinho following Chelsea's win over Tottenham, which saw Son Heung-min sent off after a clash with the German defender.

The Blues recorded a 2-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium thanks to Willian's first-half brace, with Lampard getting one over on his former mentor in the process.

Unfortunately, the match was overshadowed by two unsavoury incidents, which both involved Rudiger.

Son was left floored after a challenge from the 26-year-old just after the hour mark, and the South Korean appeared to kick out at the Chelsea defender in frustration after being dispossessed.

Tottenham were reduced to 10 men moments later, with VAR ruling that Son was guilty of violent conduct, but it could also be argued that Rudiger attempted to exacerbate the situation with his theatrical reaction.

Mourinho addressed the ugly scenes in a press conference on Monday, insisting "there is no space for what Rudiger did" in Premier League football.

Rudiger was subjected to racist abuse moments after clashing with Son, and expressed his "hope that the offenders will be found and punished soon" on social media after the match.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea's meeting with Southampton on Boxing Day, Lampard suggested that Mourinho's criticism of Rudiger was in poor taste considering the abuse he has had to deal with.

"With Toni and this incident and he is having to post about a huge deal, to question him is disappointing," Lampard told a press conference. 

"From what I heard and post-match the Son challenge was a red card. Not a brutal one, but a red card.

"I wouldn’t question Toni’s integrity on that. There were a couple of incidents that Tottenham players went over in the box to try to win a penalty."

Frank Lampard Jose Mourinho 2019-20

Lampard went on to praise Rudiger for speaking from the heart after being targeted by racist supporters: "I spoke to him briefly after the game. The lads were off yesterday. I saw his social media post.

"I thought it was well put and from the heart. I will speak to him this morning. I would like to think the players know I am behind them on this."

Chelsea's latest win saw them move six points clear of Tottenham in the race for the final Champions League spot, while opening up a four-point gap on fifth place Sheffield United.

Lampard hopes the performance will serve as confidence boost for his side as they negotiate their way through the rest of the festive period.

He added: "I think it was [a boost]. Going to Tottenham, in good form with the character, fight and strength we showed makes it the best performance.

"I hope it helps them. For the young ones, there is a bit of a mixture. Hopefully, within the group the result gives us confidence."

Inter Milan keen on Marcos Alonso

Inter are keen on signing Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso next year - according to Calcio Mercato.

Antonio Conte wants to reunite with the Spaniard at San Siro, but the Blues are likely to demand a €40 million ($44m, £34m) fee for the defender.

Alonso has only featured in eight Premier League matches for Chelsea this season, scoring once.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Chelsea offered €44M out of favour Isco

Isco, 27, has been in and out of favour with Zinedine Zidane this season. According to the Daily Express, Real Madrid are looking to offload players to free up funds to sign Eriksen in January.

They are willing to let Isco leave after six and a half years at the Bernabeu, during which he has made 290 appearances and scored 48 goals. Manchester City are also reportedly interested in his services.

During his time in the Spanish capital, Isco has won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and four Champions League titles. Eriksen, meanwhile, is out of contract at the end of the season and Tottenham will be sorely tempted to move him on next month for a fee.

Chelsea fan arrested after alleged racism

Tottenham have issued a statement promising that anyone found guilty of racial abuse at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be banned for life, and saying they’re ‘exhaustively investigating’ potential abuse of Antonio Rudiger in Sunday’s game against Chelsea.

The Germany international complained that he was subjected to racist abuse and gestures after an incident in which Heung-min Son was sent off. Referee Anthony Taylor directed the stadium announcer to make a statement over the tannoy at the ground, and the game was allowed to continue.

The incident was condemned by players from both teams, as well as pundits on television and radio.

Metropolitan Police also confirmed that a Chelsea fan had been ejected from the stadium on Sunday after committing a racially aggravated public order offence. 

Spurs' South Korea winger Heung-Min Son, who did not hear the alleged abuse, is understood to have been the target, with Chelsea supporters reporting the individual to stadium authorities.

Totttenham’s statement today details the steps they have taken to compile evidence to share with the police, but stresses that the investigation is ongoing.

“During yesterday’s match against Chelsea, Antonio Rudiger reported hearing alleged racist abuse from an individual(s) in the South Stand,” it reads.

“We are able to track every fan via the cameras and have spent many hours reviewing CCTV footage.

“We have engaged lip readers to study the footage and contacted Chelsea for further information from their players. We have also taken statements from other parties present at the time.

“The police will be reviewing our evidence alongside us. Please be assured we shall be exhaustively investigating this matter.

“This Club has a proud track record of anti-racism work across all our communities and we are determined to ensure that we conduct a thorough investigation.

“Any fan found to be guilty will receive a lifetime ban.

“At this time however we should point out that our findings are inconclusive and would ask that comment is reserved until the facts are established.

The Premier League condemns racism

The Premier League has offered its support to Chelsea, Tottenham and the authorities as they investigate the alleged racial abuse directed at Antonio Rudiger and Heung-min Son in yesterday’s match between the sides.

Rudiger complained of suffering abusive language and gestures after an incident that saw Son dismissed. A Chelsea fan has also been arrested for abusing the South Korean, while Spurs have said they continue to investigate the incident.

The league says it will apply pressure to the clubs and authorities to ensure strong penalties for anyone found to be involved in racial abuse.

“The Premier League and our clubs will not tolerate discrimination in any form,” the statement says .

“If people are found to have racially abused Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger or Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min, they deserve to be punished.

“We will support Tottenham Hotspur FC and Chelsea FC in their pursuit of any perpetrators and call for appropriate action to be taken by the authorities and the clubs.

“We appreciate the millions of supporters who help create a positive Premier League matchday atmosphere and have made it clear that racist conduct or language is unacceptable.”

Cole: Chelsea need to buy in January

Frank Lampard will “not want to rock the boat” at Chelsea in the January transfer window, says Ashley Cole, but the Blues do need to add if they are to deliver on expectations.

A welcome return to winning ways in the Premier League was enjoyed by the Stamford Bridge giants on Sunday as they edged out Tottenham and former manager Jose Mourinho.

Willian bagged a brace in a derby date in north London, with Chelsea cementing their standing inside the top four.

Lampard’s side have not had things all their own way of late, with a young squad experiencing the first dip of what has been a productive 2019-20 campaign on the whole.

The opportunity to strengthen is set to present itself in January, with the Blues free to spend again after seeing a recruitment embargo lifted.

Cole believes Lampard will look to bolster his ranks, but does not expect too many additions to be made after seeing Chelsea work hard to leave a first-team door open for promising academy graduates.

The former Blues defender told Sky Sports on transfer plans at the Bridge: “I think every top club should improve if they can.

“Yes, I’ll probably assume that he won’t want to take out some young players but I think as a squad it definitely needs players added to it.

“But you don’t want to rock the boat maybe a little bit too much.

“So he wants to keep that consistency in certain players he has but he definitely for me has to add.”

Frank Lampard Chelsea 2019-20

Prior to overcoming Spurs, Chelsea had claimed just two wins from seven games across all competitions.

Cole admits Lampard will have been concerned by that wobble, but there is an acceptance in west London that patience will be required with a squad that includes a number of Premier League rookies.

“I think he will definitely have a little bit of concern,” said ex-England international Cole.

“But he knew that the players weren’t going to play well [every week], the consistency is not going to be there, playing a lot of young players.

“It’s not an excuse that we always keep saying about the young players but it’s a fact.

“They’re not ready to play 38 games through a season and not have a bad game. It’s normal that they’re going to have bad games.

“They went through a bad period, we knew that was going to happen. But now, how can Frank motivate them and get them mentally and physically ready?

"Mason Mount has the biggest potential "

Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount is the player with the most potential at the club, according to N'Golo Kante.

Mount returned to Stamford Bridge this summer after a successful loan spell at Derby, reuniting with Frank Lampard in the process, who oversaw his rise to prominence at Pride Park before succeeding Maurizio Sarri as Chelsea's new head coach in July.

Lampard wasted no time in thrusting Mount into the senior fold, as he set about bringing through a number of the club's academy stars while the Blues served a FIFA-imposed transfer ban.

Mount has featured in all 18 of Chelsea's Premier League fixtures this season, scoring five goals, while also emerging as a regular in Gareth Southgate's England squad.

The 20-year-old played the full 90 minutes of Sunday's 2-0 win away at Tottenham, producing another eye-catching display in the middle of the park as a Willian double earned the Blues a valuable three points.

Kante has been impressed with Mount's contribution this term, and thinks the young playmaker has all the attributes to become a "very good player" as his career progresses.

“Out of all the Chelsea players, one player who has the biggest potential is Mason Mount,” Kante toldCanal Plus.

“His combination play, his shooting technique, passing technique. How he sees the game. He could become a very good player.”

Willian Chelsea 2019

Azpi: "I am pleased with the whole team"

A sense of perspective is required when passing judgement on Chelsea’s progress in 2019-20, says Cesar Azpilicueta, with it important to remember where a number of their young stars were 12 months ago.

Tammy Abraham is leading the line for the Blues this season, having spent last term taking in a loan spell in the Championship as Aston Villa secured promotion back to the Premier League.

Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori also spent 2018-19 in the second tier, with both working under current Chelsea boss Frank Lampard at Derby.

Reece James caught the eye at Wigan, while 21-year-old United States international Christian Pulisic was a summer arrival from Borussia Dortmund.

Lampard has seen the faith shown in players of promise richly rewarded, with academy graduates flourishing alongside senior stars.

Azpilicueta is among the more experienced heads at Stamford Bridge and is taking plenty of encouragement from how the Blues have fared with a squad they could not bolster during the last transfer window and one working under a relatively inexperienced coach.

The Spaniard, who is club captain in west London, told Chelsea’s official website: “We cannot forget the young players and where they were last year when they were playing a different competition and they were playing in different circumstances.

“We know that Chelsea requires the highest level in every game and that means playing every three days in the Champions League and in the Premier League, every game fighting to win and be at the top, so we have to respect that and the young players have shown great spirit and great mentality to grow day by day, together with the staff and with the coach.

“We the senior players try to help them as much as possible but they have shown great strength and it is one more step towards their development. I am very pleased with the whole team.”

Willian Chelsea 2019

Chelsea found inspiration from one of their seasoned stars in their latest outing, as Willian bagged a brace in a 2-0 derby win over Tottenham, with Azpilicueta pleased to see the Blues get back on track after a recent wobble.

He added: “We have been conceding a lot of goals, we did not win points, it is a fact that we lost many games for Chelsea and now we have come to Tottenham to play a team that were in good form and we showed great spirit, we fought and we know what it means for the fans and for all of us. That spirit made a huge difference in the game.

“It feels very good for us, for the fans, to come here and win after a run that was not the best, and to keep a clean sheet.

“It is a very good win. We prepared very well during the week, we knew that we were coming to play against a tough team but we did our job, we knew that we had to recover that fighting spirit and that it was a London derby with what that means to everybody in Chelsea.

“We did very well, with the quality we have in the team like with Willian with these two goals and every piece of football he did in the game was amazing. We fought and we played some very good football.

“It is due to the whole team doing an amazing job and I am very happy with it.”