Premier League Title Challenge Not Realistic, Tuchel Admits

Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel gestures before the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in London on January 27, 2021. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

Chelsea’s new boss, Thomas Tuchel has admitted it is not realistic for the London side to challenge for the Premier League title this season, a few days after he took the reins at Stamford Bridge

“If you are signing for Chelsea you are signing for the hunger of titles,” he noted during his unveiling to the press on Thursday. “You are signing for being competitive in every competition you play. I’m totally aware of that.

“I am here to challenge for every trophy we play for. Realistically this year it is the Champions League and the FA Cup, to speak now about the Premier League title is not realistic.”

Winning DNA

The former Paris Saint-German (PSG) coach who became the 13th Chelsea manager of owner Roman Abramovich’s 17-year reign, however, said it is in the club’s DNA to win trophies. 

READ ALSO: Man Utd Title Hopes Hit By Sheffield United Defeat

“The club makes this very clear in the end — at Chelsea, it is about results,” the 47-year-old who took PSG to their first-ever Champions League final last season, added.

“It is about results for us as managers. We always try to bring in performance, to improve players, increase their value but I’m very realistic, I’m in a club whose DNA it is to win and go for trophies.”

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ English defender Max Kilman, Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Belgian midfielder Leander Dendoncker (C) and Chelsea’s Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic (R) react at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in London on January 27, 2021. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

Although a host of coaches were touted to be keen on the Chelsea job following the sack of club legend, Frank Lampard earlier in the week, Tuchel who himself got the hammer at the Parc des Princes last term, admitted it was an easy decision to take up the Chelsea offer. 

“It felt like we should absolutely not miss the chance to be part of the Chelsea family and to compete for titles with the best managers and the best teams,” added the German whose men were held to a barren draw in his first game in charge of the Premier League outfit. “It was a pretty easy choice.”

Top Four, Not Title Race, The Priority For Lampard At Chelsea

Chelsea's English head coach Frank Lampard gestures during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 19, 2020. Andy Rain / POOL / AFP
File photo: Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard gestures during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 19, 2020. Andy Rain / POOL / AFP

 

Frank Lampard believes Chelsea’s priority is to get back into the Premier League top four after a barren run rather than targeting the title.

However, the former England midfielder is hopeful the Blues fortunes can change for the better as quickly as they have deteriorated over the past month.

Chelsea eased back up to seventh thanks to just their second win in seven league games at 10-man Fulham on Saturday.

However, they briefly topped the table in early December on the back of a 17-game unbeaten run.

In a season when every side has had their struggles adapting to empty stadiums and a congested fixture list, just five points separate the top six.

And victory at third-placed Leicester on Tuesday could haul Lampard’s men back to within five points of the top.

READ ALSO: Messi Sees Red As Bilbao Stun Barca To Win Spanish Super Cup

“There is no reason to say whether we will get back into it (the title race) or not at the moment,” said Lampard at his eve of match press conference.

“We just need to consider the games in front of us and try to win them, to push ourselves steadily up the table.

“We are not in a bad position, we have had a bad short period of form and if we can put wins together this month then the picture will change very quickly — as it has done already this year in so many ways.”

Lampard — whose position has been the source of speculation due to the poor run — says a good barometer of their ability to restore momentum will be how they fare against the Foxes, who can go top with victory.

 

File photo: Chelsea’s German defender Antonio Rudiger (C) and Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard (L) leave the field after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in London on July 26, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP)

 

“Leicester are in the race for sure, the way they are playing and the results they’re getting and their position in the league,” said Lampard.

“We managed to get above Leicester at the back-end of last season, but it was a big ask for us.

“They are a very good team, with very good individuals, we know that, and a really good manager in Brendan Rodgers.”

Part of the reason for Chelsea’s recent disappointing run has been the poor form of Timo Werner.

The German international has scored just once in the last 14 games in all competitions — against fourth-tier Morecambe in the FA Cup — which is a poor return for the £52 million ($70 million) Chelsea paid for him.

“It’s something that all players experience in their careers,” said Lampard, who dropped Werner to the bench against Fulham.

“When you are a top player, as Timo has shown he is, is when all eyes are on and it becomes magnified.

“But the basics are the same and my job is to tell him that and work with him on it.”

AFP

More Pressure On Lampard As Aston Villa Draw Chelsea Before City Clash

Chelsea’s English defender Ben Chilwell (L) vies with Aston Villa’s English striker Ollie Watkins (R) during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in London on December 28, 2020. Richard Heathcote / POOL / AFP

 

Chelsea failed to ease the mounting pressure on manager Frank Lampard as Aston Villa came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Monday, as a coronavirus outbreak at Manchester City caused their clash at Everton to be postponed.

Lampard publicly criticised his players’ attitude in a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday that left the Blues down in eighth at the start of the day despite a £220 million ($298 million) splurge in the summer transfer market.

Chelsea’s strength in depth showed as Lampard was able to make six changes from the side beaten at the Emirates.

READ ALSO: Iheanacho Misses Penalty As Leicester City Draw Crystal Palace

Olivier Giroud was one of those drafted into the side and the French international proved his worth with a precise near post header from Ben Chilwell’s cross to open the scoring with his ninth of the season.

By contrast, Dean Smith made just one enforced change from the team that played for 45 minutes with 10 men in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace.

But Villa showed no signs of fatigue in the second-half and levelled when Anwar El Ghazi turned home his fifth goal in as many games from Matty Cash’s cross five minutes into the second-half.

 

Aston Villa’s English assistant coach John Terry (L) shakes hands with Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard (R) after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in London on December 28, 2020. The game finished 1-1.
John Walton / POOL / AFP

 

Villa even came close to a winner when John McGinn’s long-range effort rattled the crossbar.

Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have so far failed to live up to their billing as Chelsea’s two most expensive summer signings.

Both German internationals were introduced by Lampard for the final quarter and Werner had Chelsea’s best chance to win the game late on, but his lack of confidence showed by blazing over a loose ball inside the area.

Chilwell was also inches away from a stunning winner deep into stoppage time with a volley that flew just wide.

But Chelsea have now won just one of their last five league games to fall six points behind leaders Liverpool in sixth, having played a game more than the champions.

Villa remain just above the Blues in fifth thanks to a better goal difference and have played two games fewer than Chelsea.

AFP

Big-Spending Chelsea Whip Brighton To Begin New Season

Chelsea’s English defender Reece James celebrates scoring during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on September 14, 2020. / AFP / POOL / PETER CZIBORRA /

 

Chelsea kicked off their Premier League campaign with a 3-1 win at Brighton on Monday as Timo Werner made a confident debut following Frank Lampard’s spending spree.

Blues boss Lampard has spent around £200 million ($257 million) on a host of new signings and the early returns on his lavish investment were promising.

Germany striker Werner, a £53 million recruit from Leipzig, won the penalty that Jorginho converted to put Chelsea ahead.

Kai Havertz, who made a £70 million switch from Bayer Leverkusen, wasn’t quite so impactful, but Lampard will be confident there are better days to come from the young Germany forward.

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was guilty of another mistake when Leandro Trossard equalised for Brighton.

But Reece James’ superb strike put Chelsea back in front before Kurt Zouma’s deflected effort sealed the points.

It was an encouraging opening to the campaign for Lampard, who has accepted he is under pressure to deliver a title challenge after spending more than any other club so far in the summer transfer window.

Chelsea finished 33 points behind champions Liverpool in fourth last season before a disappointing FA Cup final defeat against Arsenal, but they are primed to improve if Lampard can gel his new signings.

Lampard’s other expensive recruits, former Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech and ex-Leicester left-back Ben Chilwell, were both sidelined by injuries, while Thiago Silva wasn’t available as he returns to training following his free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain.

The historians among Chelsea’s fanbase will have noted this was the third time they have started a Premier League campaign with a Monday night victory, with the Blues going on to win the title on the previous occasions in 2014-15 and 2016-17.

The only frustration for Lampard was Kepa’s howler.

The world’s most expensive keeper was already under pressure to improve after an error-strewn season and with Chelsea having spoken to Rennes about Senegal keeper Edouard Mendy, his days as the first choice might be numbered.

– Classy Werner –

Werner was Chelsea’s central striker while Havertz lined up on the right flank in the three-man attack.

It was Werner who showed all his class as Chelsea took the lead in the 23rd minute.

Brighton midfielder Steven Alzate surrendered possession with a wayward pass and Jorginho fed Werner, who raced through on goal and was brought down by Mat Ryan as he rounded the Albion keeper.

Jorginho stepped up to take the penalty and Chelsea’s captain sent Ryan the wrong way with his trademark hop before shooting.

Kepa’s panicked flap at a corner would have done nothing to win over Lampard, but he did keep out Alzate’s long-range drive with a good save before half-time.

Adam Lallana was making his Brighton debut, but the often-injured former Liverpool midfielder lasted just 45 minutes before limping off.

Although Chelsea weren’t as fluid as Lampard would have liked, Werner was a real threat with his astute movement and he accelerated away from Lewis Dunk for a shot that Ryan saved at his near post.

Brighton were on top at the start of the second half and Aaron Connolly volleyed into the side-netting from Solly March’s cross.

Graham Potter’s side equalised in the 54th minute when Trossard’s 20-yard shot slipped under Kepa’s weak attempted save.

Kepa’s blunder is likely to push him closer to another spell on the sidelines after he was dropped last season.

But it wasn’t fatal for Chelsea as James restored their lead just 100 seconds later with a stunning 30-yard blast.

The right-back’s first Premier League goal was almost cancelled out when Dunk headed wide from close range.

But Chelsea’s luck was in and they sealed the points in the 66th minute.

Zouma met James’ corner with a volley that took a heavy deflection of Adam Webster to wrong-foot Ryan as it trickled into the net.

AFP

Coach Lampard Calls For ‘Fair’ Treatment For Tired Chelsea

File photo: Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard attends a training session ahead of the UEFA Super Cup 2019 football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Besiktas Park stadium in Istanbul on August 13, 2019. Ozan KOSE / AFP

 

 

Frank Lampard has called on the Premier League to give Chelsea a fair start to next season, saying the September 12 launch date is “too early” for his players.

The Blues lost Saturday’s FA Cup final 2-1 to London rivals Arsenal but are still not finished with the current campaign.

 

File photo: Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang holds the winner’s trophy as the team celebrates victory after the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020.  Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP

 

Lampard’s side take on Bayern Munich on Saturday in the rescheduled second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie, trailing 3-0 from the first leg.

Even if they exit the competition, Chelsea will have just 35 days before the new season is due to begin.

Manchester City are also still in the Champions League, the final of which is scheduled for August 23, while Manchester United and Wolves are involved in the Europa League, which ends on August 21.

It is understood that when Premier League clubs agreed a September 12 start date, it was also clear there would need to be at least a 30-day break for Chelsea and any of the other teams playing in the end-of-season European competitions.

Lampard lost Willian and Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the eve of the FA Cup final to injury and Cesar Azpilicueta and goalscorer Christian Pulisic during the game to hamstring problems.

“Even in a worst-case scenario, we don’t go through against Bayern, the 12th feels too early for me for the players to start playing again,” said the Chelsea boss.

“The players need a break. That is why we have pulled two hamstrings and had players pull out of the game before this.”

 

File photo: Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard reacts during the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. (Photo by Adam Davy / POOL / AFP) 

 

Lampard implored the Premier League to make sure clubs start the next season with a level playing field.

“I would like to think the Premier League would look seriously at that,” he said.

“Hopefully they give us a fair start next season. We deserve to be (given a fair start) as a Premier League club competing in the Champions League.”

AFP

Giroud Strike Hands Chelsea Narrow Win Over Villa

chelsea-news-giroud.
Chelsea’s French striker Olivier Giroud ( R) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on June 21, 2020. Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP

 

 

Chelsea staged an impressive second half fightback to beat Aston Villa 2-1 as Olivier Giroud’s winner consolidated their place in the Premier League’s top four on Sunday.

Frank Lampard’s side were rocked when Kortney Hause put Villa ahead against the run of play in the first half.

But Christian Pulisic came off the bench to equalise after the break before Giroud bagged his fourth club goal of the season two minutes later.

Chelsea’s quick-fire blitz moved the fourth placed west Londoners five points clear of Manchester United in fifth in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

A first away league win of 2020 was the ideal way for Chelsea to return to action in their first match since the Premier League was suspended in March due to the coronavirus.

Villa’s failure to hold onto their lead leaves Dean Smith’s second bottom team one point from safety with eight games left to avoid relegation.

As has been customary in every match since the restart on Wednesday, a minute’s silence was held for victims of COVID-19, while both teams took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter cause.

Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek was making his first Premier League start since May 2019 after recovering from a serious Achilles tendon injury sustained during a friendly in the United States.

Loftus-Cheek, who had been close to full fitness before the lockdown, nearly marked his return with a goal when he headed just wide after powering past Tyrone Mings.

Lampard says his recent signings of Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech and Leipzig striker Timo Werner will put pressure on Chelsea’s youngsters to be more consistent next season.

With that message in mind, he picked Giroud up front instead of Tammy Abraham, keeping faith with the French veteran after his impressive form before the hiatus.

Mason Mount, another of Chelsea’s breakthrough stars, did start and the midfielder tested Villa keeper Orjan Nyland with a stinging long-range drive.

– Inspired move –

Nyland got away with a terrible blunder during Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against Sheffield United when he stumbled over the goalline while holding onto the ball, only for Hawk-Eye to fail to award the clear goal.

And he was fortunate to escape after another miscue when Mateo Kovacic’s shot slipped towards his own net before the Norwegian got back to scoop it off the line.

Both teams were given an unwanted soaking when the grass sprinklers briefly spurted into life.

But the sight of Villa, who had lost their last nine Premier League games against top four sides, taking the lead in the 43rd minute was even more unexpected.

Douglas Luiz chipped a delicate cross over the Chelsea defence to Anwar El Ghazi, whose shot was pushed out by Kepa.

With Chelsea’s defence slow to react, Hause alertly flicked home from close-range for his first Premier League goal.

Having held 77 percent of possession, it was yet another case of Chelsea being punished for failing to turn territorial dominance into goals.

Cesar Azpilicueta headed wide from Willian’s cross early in the second half and moments later Lampard sent on Pulisic and Ross Barkley in a bid to ignite Chelsea’s spluttering attack.

It proved an inspired move as US winger Pulisic equalised in the 60th minute.

Azpilicueta whipped over a cross from the right and Pulisic arrived at the far post to guide a half-volley into the roof of the net for his first goal since November.

Two minutes later, Chelsea’s comeback was complete.

Mount and Giroud exchanged passes to open up the Villa defence before Azpilicueta picked out Giroud, whose shot on the turn deflected off Conor Hourihane on its way past Nyland.

A slip by Andreas Christensen gave Jota the chance for a late equaliser, but the Villa substitute dragged his shot wide.

COVID-19: Ex-Chelsea Star Drogba Offers Hospital In Virus Fight

drogba-hospital
(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 16, 2016 shows the first hospital of the Dider Drogba foundation in Attecoube, a district of Abidjan. Former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba has offered his hospital in his native Ivory Coast to the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP

 

Former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba has offered his hospital in his native Ivory Coast to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, a local politician said.

Drogba, who scored 65 goals in 105 appearances for his country and won the Champions League with the English club during his playing career, has proposed the use of the Laurent Pokou hospital in Abidjan.

“We thank Drogba for this gift considered as an act of patriotism,” the head of the city’s regional council Vincent Toh Bi said.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: ‘I Miss Fighting’, Says Wrestling Champion Adekuoroye

The centre located in the Attecoube district is not yet in a working state but can be used in a period of crisis.

“It’s up to the state to validate it and make it functional,” the director of Drogba’ foundation, who run the unit, Mariam Breka said.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak four people have died and 533 cases have been registered in Ivory Coast.

AFP