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Posted in Football

You could never have predicted that reaction six months ago. Chelsea named their starting line-up – shorn of the suspended Jorginho – and there was a flurry of ‘where’s Jorginho?’ that even the inclusion of N’Golo Kante could not muffle. Worried Chelsea fans around the world were quickly reassured that the Italian was not injured and Frank Lampard had not lost their mind; but now, the question of whether Chelsea could break down a deep defence without their driver and unelected leader.

For 52 minutes the answer was that this was an extremely onerous task as Palace defended deep and narrow. Possession and endeavour were not in short supply for Chelsea but teams need more than possession and endeavour to break down a deep defence. They need a change of pace, a switch of play, a moment of genius. The next 27 minutes brought all of those things and more as Chelsea carved out an impressive 2-0 victory without the man that makes them tick.

On Tuesday there had been chaos but on Saturday there was calm and patience. There was even a rare clean sheet as Chelsea fired nothing but blanks at their own feet, their defence undoubtedly improved by the decision to drop actual captain Cesar Azpilicueta and his fellow title winner Marcos Alonso. All that was required was a breakthrough and that came via the continually surprising Tammy Abraham, though the rejuvenated Mateo Kovacic and Willian should each take a third share of the credit.

“I think he can do even more – in the other half of the pitch, in the attacking areas. He has the ability to go past people,” said Lampard in August and we all wondered if he was talking about the same Kovacic who had ghosted his way through an underwhelming loan spell before his permanent move came by default. But the Croatian does really have the ability to go past people; his dribbling stats should be the envy of most wingers. And it was a burst of pace that proved the catalyst for Chelsea’s opener, though most will only talk of Willian’s sublime free-kick or Abraham’s cool finish.

And then when Chelsea needed another goal, it was Kovacic who picked up the ball in what we will regretfully call the quarter-back position, and pinged the ball to the left for Christian Pulisic to complete a slightly fortunate one-two with Michy Batshuayi for the game’s second goal. Do not be fooled by the most basic of statistics; a record of no goals and just one assist in 12 games is hiding an incredibly influential season from Kovacic. Kante might have taken up Jorginho’s literal position on the pitch, but Kovacic took on his responsibility to open up a defence armed with only intelligence and vision.

He was certainly not alone in producing a performance full of quality, with Pulisic and Willian also making strong cases to be Chelsea’s man of the match in a victory that showcased that indefatigable hunger for the ball that has become the hallmark of this exciting Blues side. But this was a day to celebrate Kovacic, who took the absence of Jorginho as a challenge to set the tempo and drive this team forward. Challenge accepted. Test passed.

Sarah Winterburn

The post F365’s early winners: Chelsea without ‘captain’ Jorginho appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League

Why wouldn’t you want to watch this one? It is without doubt the biggest fixture of the opening weekend and Sky Sports have saved it until last.

Chelsea have been less active in the summer than usual due to a transfer ban, and have lost both their manager, Maurizio Sarri, and star player, Eden Hazard. Christian Pulisic arrived before the ban to replace the latter, and club legend Frank Lampard has stepped into the managerial breach.

They may also be more reliant on younger talent than previous years, which makes for an exciting prospect.

Man Utd have had a mixed summer. They have failed to land top attacking targets and haven’t been able to off-load expensive wantaway duo Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.

They have, though, acquired Harry Maguire – from Leicester City – making him the most expensive defender in history in the process. Daniel James, an £18million signing from Swansea, looks an exciting talent too, and they have managed to prise Aaron Wan-Bisska away from Crystal Palace to hopefully solve their right-back struggles.

The 4pm kick-off is a blockbuster way to end the first weekend of the season, and it’s one you’re unlikely going to want to miss.

Why wouldn’t you want to watch this one? It is without doubt the biggest fixture of the opening weekend and Sky Sports have saved it until last.

Chelsea have been less active in the summer than usual due to a transfer ban, and have lost both their manager, Maurizio Sarri, and star player, Eden Hazard. Christian Pulisic arrived before the ban to replace the latter, and club legend Frank Lampard has stepped into the managerial breach.

They may also be more reliant on younger talent than previous years, which makes for an exciting prospect.

Man Utd have had a mixed summer. They have failed to land top attacking targets and haven’t been able to off-load expensive wantaway duo Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.

They have, though, acquired Harry Maguire – from Leicester City – making him the most expensive defender in history in the process. Daniel James, an £18million signing from Swansea, looks an exciting talent too, and they have managed to prise Aaron Wan-Bisska away from Crystal Palace to hopefully solve their right-back struggles.

The 4pm kick-off is a blockbuster way to end the first weekend of the season, and it’s one you’re unlikely going to want to miss.

 

The post How and why to watch Man Utd v Chelsea (Sunday, August 11 2019) appeared first on Football365.

Posted in EPL, FA Premier League