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Great job Sarri – These 3 nail-biting matches were the turning point in Chelsea’s march to a 3rd-place finish

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Chelsea Opinion: 3 moments of the season that led the Blues to 3rd place

Chelsea are one of the many English clubs who are currently going through a period of transition and while sides like Tottenham have found it difficult to maintain that high level of football on a consistent basis, Chelsea’s attacking wealth means that they too must begin to look back on their season with pride.

Although the Blues started the season on fire under the managership of Maurizio Sarri, as time wore on, the intensity of the Blues football dropped too. While they were able to blow teams away from within the opening 10 minutes of fixtures in August and even September, after that period, they began to struggle.

As usual, Chelsea’s biggest grey-area was the striker’s role of course. Alvaro Morata was brought in to solve this issue and if anything, he made it a lot worse. More recently though, since the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain, the Blues have looked a shot sharper going forward and some of his goals have been vital as Chelsea hunt for Europa League glory this season.

Here are the 3 moments that secured 3rd place for Chelsea:

Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City

The high-profile fixture between Pep Guardiola’s tactically sound Manchester City side and the Blues resulted in a fairly surprising result that most people didn’t expect. Not only did Chelsea win, they achieved the almost unthinkable feat of keeping the forwards from the Etihad Stadium at bay.

Goals from David Luiz and World Cup winner N’Golo Kante were enough to see a 2-0 victory on the night. While they gladly took the 3 points, it was a match which proved a couple of things to the rest of the league – that Manchester City weren’t unbeatable and that Chelsea were a force to be reckoned with.

Manchester City 6-0 Chelsea

In the reverse fixture of what was probably their worst game of the season, they were dealt an absolute tactical masterclass by Pep Guardiola who set up his City side in such an attacking manner that the Chelsea defence didn’t know what hit them.

A brace for Raheem Sterling and a hat-trick for Sergio Aguero topped off an emphatic 6-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium. This result came as a real wake up call to everyone involved at the football club. The realisation that they still have a long way to go before they can compete with City has certainly had a positive effect on the players.

Chelsea 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt (4-3 penalties win)

Chelsea’s latest European fixture was a spectacular win against high-flying Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt who boast players like Sebastian Haller and Luka Jovic. Although they were trumped by the Germans for a majority of the tie, they showed great resilience in the second half to keep the tie at 1-1.

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The game went to penalties and it was the Belgian skipper Eden Hazard who stepped up to score what could well have been his final goal at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have now set up a Europa League final tie against Arsenal in Baku in the coming weeks and have the opportunity to give Maurizio Sarri what would be his first ever professional trophy.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa signing this teenager on loan from London giants would help them find a solid utility player

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Aston Villa Opinion: Lions should look at Ethan Ampadu as a versatile and utility squad player

According to The Guardian, Aston Villa are exploring the possibility of signing Chelsea starlet Ethan Ampadu in a season-long loan deal this summer, with reports claiming that several other clubs are also keen to secure the Welshman’s services.

With Maurizio Sarri’s departure to Juventus looking inevitable, Ampadu is yet to find out what plans Chelsea have in store for him next season. The 18-year-old has a contract at Stamford Bridge until the summer of 2023 but he might want to move out on loan this summer in order to gain more first-team experience elsewhere, having played more games for Wales than Chelsea over the course of the last 12 months.

The Guardian understands that Villa were keen to take Ampadu on loan in the Championship last summer but Sarri wanted to keep the promising youngster at Stamford Bridge as a part of Chelsea’s first-team scheme of things. However, despite adopting such a stance, the manager only handed him three starts- 2 in the FA Cup and one in the Europa League.

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However, with a managerial change at Stamford Bridge on the cards and Ampadu still very much in the developmental phase of his career, a loan move elsewhere might as well materialize for the highly-rated youngster this summer. He is by no means a finished article but a move to Villa could work wonders for his development, given the presence of Chelsea legend John Terry in the coaching ranks and more first-team opportunities on offer.

A versatile defensive asset, Ampadu is capable of playing both central midfield and centre-back roles for his team. The 18-year-old Welshman has shown a level of maturity that defies his tender years, both in terms of calmness and composure in possession and technical abilities on the ball. The Exeter-born starlet boasts of a wonderful range of passing, which allows him to control the game from a deep position in the midfield and switch the play to set up attacks from the back.

To put things into perspective, Aston Villa have already made the headlines with deals for Wesley Moraes, Kortney Hause and Jota but they need to add more players to their ranks before the Premier League season gets underway.  

It is true that they should prioritise signing players with top-level experience but bringing in a promising youngster like Ethan Ampadu won’t do them much harm, and given his versatility to operate in both central midfield and central defence, the Lions might as well look at him as someone who could possibly add a little bit more cover in multiple areas of the pitch.

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Villa are short of options in central defence following the return of Axel Tuanzebe to Man United and the release of Tommy Elphick. A permanent deal for Bournemouth loanee Tyrone Mings is yet to be finalized, and while James Chester remains an experienced option at the back, Ampadu’s presence would offer Dean Smith with more flexibility.

On the other hand, Villa can also expect Ampadu to compete with the likes of John McGinn and Conor Hourihane for a spot in central midfield, given that the Lions have already released Mile Jedinak and Glen Whelan.

Realistically speaking, Ampadu is unlikely to play regularly at Chelsea next season, despite the Blues currently facing a two-window transfer ban. Even if a loan move to Villa Park does materialize for the 18-year-old, he is unlikely to play a significant first-team role for the Lions in the Premier League, but the chances of him getting regular minutes at Aston Villa would certainly be a lot more than at Chelsea.

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Ampadu is at a stage in his career where he needs to play regularly in order to continue his development and work on his flaws. Keeping that in mind, a move to Villa Park might just be the breakthrough that he needs to carve out some kind of a reputation for himself.

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Chelsea

West Ham raiding London rivals to sign this 25-year-old striker would take their goalscoring prowess to a new level

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West Ham Opinion: Why the Hammers should go for Michy Batshuayi?

Back in January, the Daily Mail claimed that West Ham were one of the clubs interested in signing Michy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea. However, the Belgian forward ended up moving to Crystal Palace on loan until the end of the season in the eleventh hour of the January transfer window.

Michy Batshuayi, 25, enjoyed a solid loan spell at the Selhurst Park, scoring five goals in 11 games and helping the Eagles to a 12-placed finish. He had a very poor first half of the 2018/19 campaign at Valencia, where he managed just one goal in 15 La Liga outings.

Chelsea are facing a potential two-window transfer ban this summer so it’s understandable they’ll do everything to keep hold of Batshuayi. But the Belgium international has had a tough time settling at Stamford Bridge since his move from Marseille a few years ago and not given regular opportunities.

At the age of 25, the centre-forward will need to find a permanent home where he’ll get regular opportunities to play and develop. Keeping that in mind, West Ham must reignite their interest and attempt to sign Batshuayi from Chelsea this summer.

The Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini has made his third signing of the summer on Friday, with attacker Pablo Fornals arriving at the London stadium for £24m on a five-year contract from Villarreal. Now the Chilean tactician should shift his focus on improving his strike department, having sold Lucas Perez and released Andy Carroll.

That has left West Ham with just two out-and-out strikers in Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez, who is on the radar of Valencia. Goalscoring was a weakness for West Ham last campaign and Pellegrini should fix that issue this summer. And Batshuayi would be a quality signing for the East London outfit.

Strong, powerful and speedy, Batshuayi would add some much-needed spark and pace to West Ham’s attack.

The Belgian has good technical qualities and aerial ability to develop into a quality Premier League forward. He’ll offer Pellegrini’s side pace, power, physicality and a focal point in the attack, whilst potentially forming a dynamic attack with the likes of Arnautovic, Anderson and new recruit, Pablo Fornals.

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Pellegrini can provide him with the platform to develop at West Ham and the ex-Marseille ace could fix the club’s goalscoring woes. He is out of favour at Chelsea and thus a solid offer might be enough to convince them into selling the Belgian forward.

Verdict

Batshuayi already knows the Premier League in and out and if given regular opportunities, he could take West Ham’s attack to a different level next season.

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Chelsea

Forget Sarri – Chelsea’s managerial woes would end if they appoint this 60-year-old genius starring in the Bundesliga

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Chelsea Opinion: Ralf Rangnick could well prove to be the perfect long-term managerial solution for the Blues

According to Football London, Chelsea have added RB Leipzig manager Ralf Rangnick to their shortlist of candidates for the managerial role at Stamford Bridge this summer, with reports claiming that current manager Maurizio Sarri is closing in on a return to his homeland with Serie A champions Juventus.

Despite guiding the Blues to a third-place finish in the Premier League and a Europa League triumph, Sarri looks set to end his association with Chelsea, having only made his move to Stamford Bridge from Napoli last summer. (f/t Football London)

Former club-legend and current Derby County manager Frank Lampard is one of the frontrunners to replace Sarri following the Rams’ run to the finals of the EFL Championship Playoffs but Chelsea are also looking at other experienced options in the market, Football London understands.

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Chelsea’s hunt for a new manager have led to them identifying RB Leipzig boss and Bundesliga managerial tycoon Ralf Rangnick as a potential candidate for the job. According to claims from German news outlet Bild, the 60-year-old is set to quit Leipzig this summer and a move to England for the first time in his managerial career looks likely to materialize.

This is not the first time, though, that Rangnick has been linked with a move for English football. The 60-year-old was lined up as a replacement for Roy Hodgson at Liverpool back in 2011 and he was also courted by Everton as the successor to Roberto Martinez. (h/t Football London)

Maurizio Sarri is keen to put an end to his time at Chelsea for reasons unknown and it is a real pity that the Italian is ready to quit the job at Stamford Bridge after such a promising campaign. In all honesty, the news involving Sarri’s departure comes at the worst possible time for Chelsea, with the transfer ban looming large and the sale of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid necessitating a squad rebuild.

To put things into perspective, Chelsea hardly have any time to lament Sarri’s departure, and with so many grave issues to be sorted out within a relatively short span of time before the start of the upcoming season, an experienced manager with plenty exposure at the highest level is just what the club needs.

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Ralf Rangnick has influenced a generation of managers in Germany and his managerial experience of over three-and-a-half decades, ranging from amateur football to the Champions League should make it a no-brainer for the Blues to snap him up.

The 60-year-old never played professional football at the highest level but his acumen, intelligence and charisma as a manager have led to him being recognised as a highly-revered figure in Europe.

Following the end of an unsuccessful playing career, Rangnick entered into management during the mid-1980’s and spent time at a numbers of non-league clubs before finally earning a role at Stuttgart in 1999. However, he only managed to remain in the hotseat for a couple of seasons at Stuttgart and was sacked following the club’s defeat to Celta Vigo in the UEFA Cup.

Mediocre spells at Schalke and Hannover 96 followed before Rangnick joined Hoffenheim 1899 in the Regionalliga Sud, the fourth tier of German football back in 2006. It was at Hoffenheim that the 60-year-old rose to prominence as a manager, with his achievement of taking the club to the Bundesliga in a space of two seasons following back-to-back promotions considered as a feat of rare charisma and intelligence.

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After a brief stint at his former club Schalke, Rangnick took up the role of Sporting Director at both RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg, although he ended his association with the Austrian outfit to concentrate fully on the role at Leipzig. He once again proved his worth as an incredible and inspirational manager, stepping in at a crisis period in 2015 and immediately guiding the club to Bundesliga promotion.

Interestingly, Maurizio Sarri and Ralf Rangnick are poles apart when it comes to their individual philosophies. While Sarri believes in a more patient possession-based approach in controlling the game, Rangnick is famous for his high-intensity pressing game in the midfield.

As opposed to Sarri, who favours a more lateral passing game with short exchanges, the German likes his players to take the game by the scruff of the neck and destroy the opposition.

Rangnick’s high-intensity pressing approach has earned him comparisons with former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. He is a modern-day detail-oriented manager who knows how to inspire his players and get the best out of them by using holistic methods on the training ground.

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Sarri’s imminent departure marks the continuity of Chelsea’s managerial instability and the Blues need to ensure stability at the helm of affairs to build a strong platform for the future.

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Ralf Rangnick is known for his ability to nurture young talents and build a squad in due course of time, meaning that he could prove to be the much-needed long-term managerial solution that has eluded the club for more than a decade.  

Regarded as the catalyst for RB Leipzig’s success, the 60-year-old has been the main mastermind behind the club’s metaphoric rise into one of the superpowers in the Bundesliga, and his arrival at Stamford Bridge might as well mark the beginning of a new era of dominance for the Blues.

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