Having seen an influx of stars to the Premier League, the Czech Republic might be about to see another arrival. There is an expectation that Chelsea will look to bring in a second goalkeeper this summer to compete with Edouard Mendy. The arrival of one name has grown in recent weeks, though, with talk that former Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik will arrive. The Czech is out of contract with Sevilla and will be on the market this summer. With Sevilla unwilling to meet his needs and signing Marko Dimitrovic instead, Chelsea might make good on the loss of the Andalusians.

Seen as one of the most consistent keepers in La Liga over the last few years, Valcik is a highly respected keeper who has become a reliable option. However, his performance so far at the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament will have Blues fans licking their lips. If they tuned in for the Czech’s 2-0 win against Scotland, they would have seen the tale of two goalkeepers.

In one net, you had David Marshall. The Derby County stopper was poor for the first goal, a nice header from Patrick Schick, and absolutely awful for the second. The Scot was caught at least 20 yards outside his box just 10 minutes into the second-half. After an ill-advised shot from Scottish central defender Jack Hendry, the ball bounced into the path of Schick. The Bayer Leverkusen man duly lofted the ball perfectly into the empty net, leaving a despairing Marshall rolling around his net.

By contrast, Valcik made a series of highly impressive saves – most notably from Andrew Robertson at 0-0, and from Lyndon Dykes at 2-0. The veteran done everything he could to keep Scotland out, earning a well overdue clean sheet at full-time.

Would Tomas Valcik sign for Chelsea?

While Blues fans will hope that they can pick up the experienced and reliable Czech, playing time does become a major talking point. The form of Mendy towards the end of last season means that he is unlikely to be displaced anytime soon. However, the 32-year-old would offer a fine option to compete with Mendy, and would offer a strong enough option that Mendy could realistically be dropped due to poor form.

At the moment, Chelsea are more or less unable to change keepers due to the unreliable nature of the other backups. Valcik, though, has fought for years to finally become the first pick keeper for club and for country; is he really likely to choose to go back to the bench?

The presence for Czech legend Petr Cech, though, could play some role in helping the Blues to make the deal possible. A hugely talented and reliable presence in the nets, Valcik is arguably the best free agent goalkeeper on the market this year – if Chelsea can convince him to fight for a spot with Mendy, he would offer a massive upgrade on a host of the keepers currently warming the Stamford Bridge bench.

 

When Romelu Lukaku signed for Chelsea as a prodigious talent from Anderlecht, fans were rightly excited. They had landed the ideal replacement for club legend Didier Drogba; a mobile, aggressive forward with a natural finish both with his left foot and with his head.  However, Lukaku endured a frustrating time at Stamford Bridge the first time around, to the point where he soon left in frustration for loans to West Bromwich Albion and then Everton.

Despite blossoming into arguably the best young striker in the world, the Blues missed out on a reunion when Antonio Conte was coach. The Italian was desperate to land the striker, who instead made a move to Manchester United. This was a major reason why Conte left Chelsea in the long-term, with a breakdown in the clubs vision and his own being a major reason for the split. Lukaku not signing was a major part of that.

As a boyhood Chelsea supporter, fans were always hopeful that one day ‘Rom’ would return to Stamford Bridge. And having watched him become the Player of the Year in Italy, winning the Italian top-flight with Internazionale under ex-coach Conte, fans couldn’t be blamed for feeling a little wistful. Could they have saved themselves a lot of time and stress if they just persevered with the Belgian when he was already there?

This summer, fans were hopeful for a third time lucky scenario. With Conte leaving Inter under a cloud and the club in financial disarray, the hope was that they could charm Inter into a sale and bring Lukaku ‘back home’ to Chelsea. However, the player himself was taken to an interview to make it clear that he does not see his future outside of the Nerazzurri.

What did Romelu Lukaku say?

Having scored 64 goals in 95 games for Inter, the Belgian is a modern legend – and one of the few players to really be taken into the hearts of fans since he arrived. His game has visibly improved in every facet; he works harder, scores more, gets involved in the play more often, and sets up teammates. He even fights hard on the pressing and defensive end. Basically, everything you could want in a modern striker, Lukaku has.

However, a recent interview with Belgian platform HLN suggested he has no intention of leaving Italy anytime soon. When asked about his commitment to Inter, he said: Yes, I am staying. I’ve already had contact with the man who normally becomes our new manager.

“Maybe I shouldn’t say that yet… but it was a very positive conversation. There’s also the challenge of doing it again [winning the Scudetto with Inter]. I feel good at Inter.”

For fans who were hoping that the UEFA Champions League win might be enough to stir Lukaku into a return, it does not look likely. Despite the supposed issues plaguing Inter, Lukaku looks certain to stick around and continue to build his growing legend in the Italian game.

 

With the Premier League season all but wrapped up, the final round of fixtures has precious little left to decide. Really, the only things up for grabs are the final UEFA Champions League spots. After their 2-1 win at home to Leicester City, the Blues know they are just one win away from UCL participation in 2021-22.

To achieve that, though, they need to go to Aston Villa and win. A win guarantees a UCL spot and likely a third place finish. Anything other than a win, though, opens up some very confusing questions about what is going to happen next for the Blues – and could have massive repercussions on their seasons to come.

Home News

The Villa will be arriving into this one knowing they are playing a team they rarely do anything against. Indeed, five losses and a draw make up their last six games against the Blues. However, that draw arrived in December 2020, when they draw 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Expect Villa to have a pretty strong team to put out, though there is the likelihood that some key performers will be rested. Blues fans might have hoped to see Ross Barkley, but he will be ineligible to play and, really, has completely fallen out of the starting picture at Villa after a fast start to the 2020-21 season.

For now, then, Villa will have a pretty full team to take on Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.

Away News

Chelsea have their eyes on the UCL Final, but have to make sure they do the damage here to guarantee participation for next season. Therefore, expect Chelsea to go full-strength to avoid the risk of anything going wrong. The only question really stems from the forward line. Could Tammy Abraham make a rare start to keep Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud fit? Could the veteran Frenchman start here instead?

Either way, the Blues should have a team that is more than capable of turning up at Villa and playing with the required quality. They should have a mostly fit squad to choose from, though coach Thomas Tuchel might decide to make some changes to the personnel just in a bid to avoid injury or fatigue.

If Chelsea should be able to build a sizeable lead early, it could make good sense to make a lot of substitutions to save the energy of the starters. This means that some of the younger stars like Billy Gilmour who was recently included in Scotland’s Euro2020 squad.

Verdict

With a 22-point gap between the teams, Chelsea arrive knowing they have something to play for. Villa have nothing but pride to play for. With their inability to hold a lead and Chelsea having plenty of history this year of coming back from losing positions and in hunting the opposition into making mistakes and losing the ball, we can only see one winner here.

The main thing for Villa is they tend to be a team who relies on individual moments to make their progress and success. Expect Chelsea to see most of the time, and if they can shut down the gaps that could allow the key Villa attackers like Oli Watkins to thrive then they should be well in position to dominate in Birmingham here. Expect a Chelsea win, but probably less comfortable than one would hope for given the big game waiting on the 29th.

 

Having arrived into a proverbial burning building, Thomas Tuchel has done his best impression of a football firefighter. Taking on a young squad laden with talent and ability, Chelsea were seen as one of the great underperformers in Europe upon his arrival. However, the German supremo has worked his magic, turning Chelsea from an expensive joke into one of the most well-structured teams in Europe. Previous coach Frank Lampard had found it hard to blend his unique squad together and faced the sack long before it arrived.

Since Tuchel arrived, though, numerous comments were made that he was simply the next in-line to be sacked in the near future. Having most likely guaranteed Chelsea UEFA Champions League football whilst reaching the UCL and FA Cup Finals, the German has turned a season of loss into one of genuine triumph and opportunity. So, with that in mind, the reports that Tuchel will be given a juicy new deal should surprise nobody.

The German is on the lookout for a new deal to arrive in the near future, with his work so far impressing everyone at the club. The speed in which he turned around a team of young underperformers from a team that looked lethargic and weak into a tactical powerhouse that has taken results from the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City (twice), and Real Madrid, shows a coach in his element with a squad who would go to war for him.

The news of a new deal, too, shows just how fast things can change. When he first arrived at Chelsea, the coach made clear that the length of his contract wasn’t an issue as the sack is always just around the corner in football. Now, though, he can likely feel some security.

Does Thomas Tuchel deserve a new contract?

Given the fact he’s only been at the club for a period of months, some worry this new extension might be too hasty. However, with the German in his best form as a coach this year, he looks like a ready-made fit for Chelsea. He is a cerebral thinker with the ability to connect with younger players, giving them a confidence boost whilst also keeping them well in-line in terms of tactics and formations.

He’s a man manager who also does not mind having control from above taken from him. Although he has famously had fallouts with the higher-ups at both Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain, it is clear that Tuchel can work as part of a wider setup. Given coaches are rarely given power away from the dugout and training ground, then, he should be the perfect fit for the modern system that Chelsea have developed.

Though some might worry that it could be a good period of success that soon fades, it would be hard to deny that Tuchel has been a genuine gamechanger in London. With no shortage of his ability as a coach, this could be the long-term appointment that Chelsea have hunted after for so long.

 

In what is one of the biggest domestic derbies in the capital, Arsenal versus Chelsea always gets fans excited. North London versus West London. Red versus Blue. Mourinho against Wenger. For years, Arsenal and Chelsea were total polar opposites in terms of their style and their way of working. Today, though? They are polar opposites in terms of ambition and potential.

The Gunners arrive in the western quadrant of the capital knowing their season is, for all intents and purposes, over. Chelsea arrive knowing a win against their old foe practically ties up UEFA Champions League qualification, setting them up for next season as well as leaving them able to focus on trying to win a cup double.

Chelsea news

The Blues have an FA Cup Final to look forward to at the weekend, which might see them change their starting line-up somewhat. However, with UCL football still not guaranteed, Thomas Tuchel might take precious few risks. They might look to give the likes of Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount, whilst giving their rotation options a chance to play in the domestic cup final to arrive at the weekend.

Thiago Silva might also sit this one out, though the loss of Andreas Christensen for this game might mean he has to play at least some part. Tuchel and co. are believed to want to keep as many players as they can fresh for the cup match without having to put their chances of winning the game at needless risk.

Arsenal news

The Gunners will be arriving at this game missing three players in Granit Xhaka, David Luiz, and Pablo Mari. All three have played in defence for the most part, leaving Arsenal short on defensive numbers. However, we should see a return to the starting eleven for the likes of Kieran Tierney, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Martin Ødegaard, Hector Bellerin and Thomas Partey.

As five of the most important players for Arsenal, this should bode well for a team that has been lacking in numbers recently. However, expect Alex Lacazette to spend the games beginning on the bench. His recent return from injury means he is unlikely to be fit enough to be able to get back on the pitch without some more training time.

Verdict

With seven clean sheets in eight home games, Chelsea can feel pretty confident in walking out of here with a win. They will also know they are playing an Arsenal team with nothing to play for but pride. Only one defeat in their last sixteen points to a team in incredibly confident form. The Gunners, though, are undefeated in their five away games. Pair that up with a 10-match unbeaten run at home to Arsenal, though, and this game has all of the hallmarks of an intriguing tie.

Chelsea, though, have more to play for and we can see that desire to secure European football paired with a cup final place to earn giving them the edge in a game that Arsenal, if they were honest, would probably rather avoid.

 

Though Chelsea are currently in as good a place as they have been for several years, the Blues never stop looking for ways to improve. And one of the most interesting discussions at the moment revolves around the signing of summer attacking talent. Though there is much talk of the signing of a signature striker, the return to form of Timo Werner could see those plans shelved – at least in the intention to buy an out and out striker. Instead, Chelsea might look to bolster their attacking talent elsewhere.

A common complaint from some fans is a lack of true quality in the wide areas, at least consistently. The arrival of Jadon Sancho, then, would change that. The aggressive young winger, a Chelsea supporter, has been linked mostly with the Manchester clubs and Liverpool. However, with news that Borussia Dortmund might be lowering their price to a more palatable £80m, Chelsea might look to get in ahead of the pack.

A London boy, Sancho is rated as among the most exciting players of his generation. Though his stats have slowed down somewhat this year, his incredible production since breaking through at BVB was arguably unsustainable. Many see his drop in form as a sign of a player who has downed tools; it is more likely, though, that the player has simply been the subject of more strenuous marking than ever before.

His second half of the season has been hugely impressive when fit. With his contract running down and BVB keen to try and offset too many key player losses, though, they might instead look to make a fair deal for Sancho.

Why would Dortmund sell Sancho to Chelsea?

For one, the two clubs have done business in the past without any real disharmony. There is believed to be a good relationship there – unlike the relationship shared with other English clubs. The season long soap opera of Sancho going to Manchester United is believed to have seriously irked those at the top of Dortmund. Therefore, they might prefer to do their business with Chelsea.

Given it is the team that Sancho supports, and they could be reigning European champions, it might also be easier to see an agreement between all parties. Despite late rumours, it appeared last year that Sancho was not really committed to a move back to Manchester. Chelsea are on the upward curve and could use Sancho most weeks; add in a lifelong affection for the Blues, and his arrival would make a lot of sense for all involved.

With BVB potentially missing out on the Champions League for next year, they might need to make a sacrifice of sorts to help balance the books. With Sancho well proven in his time at Dortmund, all parties might agree that this is as good a time as any to say farewell to one another.

And for Chelsea, it could held them to land the most exciting English talent of his age group for a fee far below what might have been expected.

 

If you had told a Chelsea fan that this match-up with Manchester City would be a dress rehearsal for the UEFA Champions League Final, they would have laughed. An incredible run to the Final under new coach Thomas Tuchel, though, will see the two ‘other’ giants of the English game take on one another. Before that, though, a vital league game for the future of Chelsea awaits. Can they come to Manchester and claim a flagship win to put their marker down ahead of meeting up against one another in Istanbul?

With both teams arriving into this one in high confidence and great form, expect a bombastic game with both sides eager to prove their point.

Home news

City will be without John Stones, who was sent off in their last league match. However, outside of that they should be able to field close to a full first-team. This is a farcry from the skeleton side that Chelsea dismantled in the FA Cup Semi-Finals.

Rodri should come back into the squad, offering authority in place of the likely rested Fernandinho. Another key player who will come into the side is Aymeric Laporte, who has become an increasingly crucial figure again under Guardiola. We might see one of Phil Foden or Riyad Mahrez rested to help give the team some extra legs as they come to the most crucial part of the season.

Away news

The Blues will rock up to Manchester knowing they need to really make a big impression. A win is essential to both stop City winning the title and to also keep themselves in the UCL hunt. Thomas Tuchel will likely be without Cesar Azpilicueta, while Mateo Kovacic will also likely sit this one out after missing a lot of football.

Like City, Chelsea made short work of their UCL second leg, dismissing Real Madrid; only a gluttony of missed chances stopped this from being an utter rout. Tuchel might look to rest some players, though, especially after Jorginho and N’Golo Kante gave so much in midweek. Expect some changes to come into as Chelsea look to give some of their most regularly used players under Tuchel a bit of extra time to rest and recover. Expect Marcos Alonso and Reece James to get a start in the full/wing-back roles.

Verdict

This should be an exceptional game with two teams who are nearing full fitness and are utterly brimming with confidence. This will be a dress rehearsal for the Final, but a title can be won and UCL spots can be secured with wins for either team. Expect a game that is full of energy, rather than a chance for two big clubs to play out for a low energy draw.

Chelsea arrive to play a City team who have conceded a surprising number of goals recently, though, so should be confident in putting a bit of pressure on the City team. However, we cannot call a winner; this has score draw written all over it.

 

 

Having just come back from Madrid with a very credible 1-1 draw, Chelsea look set to qualify for their first UEFA Champions Final since victory in 2012. The Blues look in fine form, having moved on from a few shock results against West Bromwich Albion and Bright & Hove Albion to restore positivity around their season. At the moment, a successive run of impressive away results – including a clutch win at West Ham United – has left the Blues feeling pretty confident of success this season.

With an FA Cup Final to contest, too, the Blues need to overcome a ‘trap game’ against near-relegated Fulham. With the UEFA Champions League qualification race still too tight to call, Chelsea need three points at Stamford Bridge against an opponent they have not lost to in their last six meetings.

Chelsea News

Arriving a this game with a pretty impressive result in Spain, Chelsea will have one eye on the second leg. Expect some resting to take place, though core players will likely keep their position to build continuity as the season moves towards its crescendo.

Expect Chelsea to play an attacking line-up, though, as they will look to attack a fragile Fulham side who have a nasty habit of conceding ridiculous goals at clutch moments. If Chelsea can start with their usual aggressive streak, and with most of their fitness problems overcome, they should be able to make short work of a Fulham side shattered in terms of self-belief.

Fulham News

Losing one crucial game in the last minute can be demoralising – when it becomes your ‘thing’, though, it can become terminal. Fulham look bereft of belief when it matters most, often losing games in the most ridiculous fashion and with as little time as possible to react to the issue.

Although the squad looks fit enough to compete, awful individual errors and poor team defending – often leaving the opposition with clear-cut opportunities – makes it hard to see any kind of wining formula for the Cottagers. They concede crucial goals, they miss vital chances, and they have a habit of conceding in injury time.

Although fitness issues are beginning to slowly but surely solve themselves, there has been too much damage done in the previous months. Fulham look down, with booth consistency in both boxes making it hard to see any kind of positive result in the derby.

Verdict

As mentioned above, despite having a fit(ish) squad Fulham simply lack that clutch gene at the top level. They tend to give the ball away in bad areas, miss easy chances after working so hard to create them, and then give up the most ridiculously easy goals. For Fulham fans, arriving at West London to take on a resurgent Chelsea is probably the last thing they needed.

Key results have gone against Fulham both in their own games and in the resurgence of the likes of Newcastle United and Burnley. The chance to survive has likely gone, and we could see that rugged resistance finally meet a harsh end here against Chelsea.

 

This summer, Chelsea are eyeing a daring move for a young forward who can lead the line for years to come. Sound familiar? You might be thinking of 2020, when Chelsea agreed a deal to bring in German striker Timo Werner. Even alongside compatriot Kai Havertz, though, it is fair to say that Chelsea have yet to find the star striker they can build around. Typically, flagship Premier League forwards are more crunch than craft – and this could see Chelsea return to the summer market to buy a top striker.

Reports suggest they will move on from Olivier Giroud, with the 34-year-old unlikely to sign an extension and thus leave on a free. Academy forward Tammy Abraham has seen precious little time on the pitch since Thomas Tuchel arrived at Cobham. Therefore, he could move on to find first-team football, with various Premier League clubs linked with moves in the region of £30m-plus.

This would give Chelsea the salary and finance to go ahead and make a major striker signing. The two names being most linked will surely excite Chelsea fans. Who, then, are the two primary targets to lead the line next season?

Erling Braut Haaland

A name long linked with Chelsea, the Blues are set to do battle with most of Europe to land the precocious star. If current club Borussia Dortmund miss out on the UEFA Champions League, a fee in excess of £120m could see Haaland move on this summer as opposed to next summer when intended.

Despite his strong affection for Leeds United, it is likely that Haaland would see Chelsea as an ideal landing point. The Blues have an incredible team behind him who fit in with his age. Also, he offers the longevity they need to build around, and has the power, speed, and finishing to be a Premier League superstar.

While the fee might be huge, Haaland could be enticed given how Chelsea have performed in the UCL this year. Given his love and near-obsession with the top competition in Europe, Chelsea might find a Finals appearance, or a victory, might put them head of the table for the Norwegian.

Romelu Lukaku

Ex-player Lukaku, a lifelong Chelsea fan and seen by many as the natural heir to the Didier Drogba-shaped hole that has existed since his exit, is the other option. Though he has become a near-legend at Internazionale since arriving under coach Antonio Conte, himself a former Chelsea employee, an exit from Italy would be seen as a shock.

However, unlike Haaland, it comes down to off the pitch considerations as opposed to European qualification. Despite almost certainly winning the Italian Serie A title, ownership issues could see Suning have to sell players in the summer as they are unable to directly get involved as they could prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As such, Inter might be forced into selling their star asset. At a prime age and with two years of incredible personal and team success in Italy, could Lukaku decide to return to the league where he made his name? If he did, unfinished business at Chelsea would definitely be seen as an opportunity worth taking.

His first stint at Chelsea was a failure, and his failure to arrive under Conte was seen as a club blunder. Could it be third time lucky for player and club?

 

With the league season beginning to come to an end, there will be some major ties to be played. None, though, are arguably as big as this tie – West Ham United know that a win against Chelsea puts them in the driving seat for UEFA Champions League qualification. A loss, though, likely leaves the dream in tatters. Will pragmatist coach David Moyes look to push the button and attack?

Or will he be too worried about leaving an effervescent Blues attack with too much space to roam into? With this huge match-up, it’s hard to say what happens next.

West Ham news

The Hammers are beginning to rack up injuries at precisely the wrong moment of the season. Some major injuries have taken place, with the likes of Declan Rice and Michail Antonio out of the running – likely for most of the season.

The left-hand side of the team is a state, too, with both Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell both likely to be injured and thus likely to miss out on the match. Craig Dawson is suspended, too, which will leave West Ham scrambling around for solutions.

Fabian Balbuena might be brought back in for what would be his first start for Moyes since December. That’s quite the game to be dropped into, but needs must as West Ham look to try and make their staple back three formation work with limited numbers.

Chelsea news

Meanwhile, the Blues will arrive at the London Stadium without anything like the same injury woes. Thiago Silva is fit again, as are Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante, and Ben Chilwell. As such, we should see a full-strength Blues side come into this match. Reece James might sit this one out, at least on the bench, as Callum Hudson-Odoi might offer a more penetrative solution from the right-hand side of attack.

Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic could also get involved in the game, with both potentially starting behind Kai Havertz at the tip of the attack. However, the improved run of form that Hachim Ziyech is on might see Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel look to try and fit the Moroccan back into the team as a reward for his sound form.

Edouard Mendy will likely return in-between the sticks, too, despite the impressive performance of Kepa for the Blues in their win against Manchester City and his decent showing in the home match against Brighton and Hove Albion.

Verdict

This should be an interesting match, with both teams knowing this could be define their season and next. In fact, it could even determine the success – or failure – of both managers. With the Blues losing only one of their last 13, though, they should arrive at London Stadium feeling good. That contrasts to West Ham losing just one of their last ten at home, though.

Expect a good game, but it might be one that does little for either club in terms of securing UCL football – giving others, such as Liverpool, a chance to steal in.