Reece James’ return can’t come soon enough – Leicester draw shows yet again that Cesar Azpilicueta’s days are numbered

Chelsea’s disappointing stalemate with Leicester City this evening showcased once again the fact that Cesar Azpilicueta’s best days are long behind him.

Lampard’s difficult start

The Blues welcomed Brendan Rodgers’ men to Stamford Bridge a short time ago, for the respective clubs’ 2nd outing of the new season.

Both sides saw their campaigns get off to underwhelming starts last weekend, albeit to different degrees.

Today’s visitors, Leicester, were held to a 0-0 draw by Wolves at the King Power Stadium, despite having dominated the ball.

Chelsea, meanwhile, were thumped 4-0 by Manchester United at Old Trafford, in a true baptism of fire for new boss Frank Lampard.

The Londoners also went on to fall to defeat at the hands of Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday night.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY – AUGUST 14: Andrew Robertson of Liverpool and Ngolo Kante of Chelsea during the UEFA Super Cup Final fixture between Liverpool and Chelsea at Vodafone Park on August 14, 2019 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Significantly, however, Chelsea’s penalty shootout loss to the European champions came in a markedly-improved performance.

The Blues looked dangerous throughout proceedings, with many having felt as though Chelsea were hard done-by in coming away with nothing to show for their efforts.

Leicester secure share of the spoils

And the opening quarter of an hour at Stamford Bridge this evening painted the picture of a side who had found their identity.

A scintillating, intent-filled start to the clash saw Chelsea absolutely blitz Leicester, courtesy of a high press when out of possession, and incisive movement and passing when on the ball.

This saw all of Pedro, Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic go close within the first 5 minutes, before Mount finally put the Blues in front before the 10-minute mark.

After Wilfred Ndidi dallied on the ball on the edge of the Leicester box, Mount pounced, dispossessing the Leicester midfielder, before drilling home beyond the helpless Kasper Schmeichel.

Chelsea, however, failed to turn their early dominance into any form of further advantage as the half wore on.

And, in the end, as it did versus both Manchester United and Liverpool, the wastefulness of the capital giants eventually proved costly.

A whipped corner from the right just over 20 minutes from time saw Ndidi make up for his early mistake, as the Nigerian international bulleted a superb header into the back of the hosts’ net.

Both sides huffed and puffed as the clash wore on, with Leicester having actually missed a gilt-edged chance to secure all 3 points a short time later, when Jamed Maddison blazed a strike over the bar from point-blank range.

In the end, however, the full-time whistle saw the spoils shared, as Frank Lampard’s search for a first win as Chelsea boss continues.


In truth, despite their positive start, few of Chelsea’s stars consistently impressed throughout proceedings this evening.

The likes of Pedro, Olivier Giroud and Jorginho excelled early on, but eventually faded into the background as Leicester gained a foothold in the clash.

One of the Blues’ starters, though, proved particularly unimpressive.

The individual in question was Cesar Azpilicueta.

Spanish stopper Azpilicueta took to the pitch in his usual right-back berth this evening, captaining Frank Lampard’s men in London.

This came despite the soon-to-be 30-year-old having endured a torrid outing at Old Trafford last time out:

Azpilicueta’s fortunes, however, did not improve even remotely this evening.

Another hugely sub-standard display on the part of the once-reliable defender saw Azpilicueta toil both in and out of possession.

The veteran was, as was the case versus Manchester United, consistently caught out of position, particularly in the second-half, an issue which could easily have cost Chelsea their share of the spoils.

In addition, his timing in the challenge appears to have deserted the veteran (he was beaten in the air by Ndidi for Leicester’s goal), with a sharp decline in athleticism and pace having allowed the likes of James Maddison and Jamie Vardy space down the Chelsea right on far too many occasions at Stamford Bridge.

Perhaps most-concerning of all for Azpilicueta, though, is the fact that the veteran’s abilities on the ball also appear to have completely deserted him.

Rushed clearances and misplaced headers were strewn throughout his latest showing, with the cool head that for so long proved crucial in organising Chelsea’s backline now looking the most-likely of their defenders to cost the Blues.

The Spaniard’s declining athleticism also mean that he now looks a non-factor going forward, a major handicap for Chelsea in an age where attack-minded full-backs are flourishing more than ever before.

James incoming?

In summary, on the back of a campaign which made abundantly clear that he was already on the decline last time out, Cesar Azpilicueta’s start to the new season suggests that the stopper’s form is only set to drop further from the standards required of a top full-back as time wears on.

Youngster Reece James may not yet have made a Premier League appearance for Chelsea, but, if Azpilicueta continues on his current trajectory, the 19-year-old could well be be fast-tracked into a starting berth at Stamford Bridge, upon his return from injury.

Brendan Rodgers explains why Ben Chilwell missed Chelsea vs Leicester

Arsenal’s David Luiz admits ‘different ideas’ with Frank Lampard triggered Chelsea exit

Coutinho In Munich To Finalize Bayern Loan Move

Philippe Coutinho has landed in Germany to finalize his season-long loan move to Bayern Munich. The Brazil international is expected to undergo a medical on Sunday before agreeing a deal that includes an option for the Bundesliga champions to purchase him on a permanent basis.

Bayern have agreed to take Coutinho on loan for one season and the deal is expected to include an option for a permanent move.

After Bayern were held 2-2 by Hertha Berlin on Friday night, CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said:

‘I can confirm [Bayern sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic and I were in Barcelona last Wednesday. And we reached an agreement with both the club and the player over a transfer.

‘The player is expected here in Munich in the next days, Sunday or Monday at the latest. He’ll do his medical and then sign his contract.

‘I must thank Barcelona. I am on very friendly terms with the Barcelona president [Josep Maria Bartomeu] and that, at the end of the day, maybe helped us transfer this player to FC Bayern.

‘It’s a very important player for us, not only because of his name but also because of the way he plays. His quality will help our attacking game. We are happy.’

Asked about Coutinho following Barca’s disappointing LaLiga opener, head coach Valverde told Movistar: ”

It is a situation that last season when the league ended the player had it in his head.

“This has come up, he has accepted and hopefully he is lucky.”

Signed from Liverpool in January 2018 in a reported €160million transfer, a move that saw him become the world’s second most expensive player, Coutinho struggled to find his best form at Camp Nou and as a result only made 22 La Liga starts last season for the eventful Spanish champions.

Coutinho had been linked to Paris Saint-Germain as a potential makeweight in a swap deal that would have sent compatriot Neymar back to Barca, while Premier League clubs Arsenal and Tottenham are said to have investigated loan moves before their transfer window closed.

Brendan Rodgers explains why Ben Chilwell missed Chelsea vs Leicester

Chelsea vs Leicester

Sunday’s second Premier League clash saw Chelsea host Leicester City.

Frank Lampard has yet to win a competitive game as Chelsea boss, losing to both Manchester United and Liverpool.

Sunday’s game was also Lampard’s first home league tie as Blues boss.

Leicester were too going in search of their first win this season after drawing 0-0 win Wolves on the opening weekend.

DUBLIN, IRELAND – JULY 10: Frank Lampard, Manager of Chelsea arrives at the stadium prior to the Pre-Season Friendly match between Bohemians FC and Chelsea FC at Dalymount Park on July 10, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Chilwell misses out

Ahead of the game, Leicester released their starting line-up with one regular name omitted from the matchday squad.

That man was Ben Chilwell who was the Foxes main left-back last season and started their draw vs Wolves.

Prior to the game, Brendan Rodgers would explain that Chilwell is suffering with a hip injury and has had to have an injection:

“It’s unfortunate. He struggled with a hip injury and we thought we could get him through. He had his final session yesterday but it was too painful for him.

“He’s gone away, had an injection and hopefully will be fine for next week. But we’ve still got Christian, who has great experience and he will hopefully slot in perfectly.” As quoted by the Leicester Mercury.

Chilwell also sent a message of support ahead of the game.

Related: Arsenal’s David Luiz admits ‘different ideas’ with Frank Lampard triggered Chelsea exit

Pep Guardiola cites Chelsea & Tottenham handball inconsistencies/Ilkay Gundogan says VAR rules must change

Video: Zouma | Giroud | Kante | Mount | Batshuayi | Jorginho | Willian | Rudiger & Leicester Preview

In today’s Chelsea Daft Vlog there is plenty to discuss in a brand new format for these videos.

Zouma speaks, Giroud talks Lampard, N’Golo Kante best position under Frank, Mason Mount receives praise from the boss, Michy Batshuayi IS in the managers plans, Jorginho praise, Injury updates on CHO, Rudiger and Willian. My predicted starting eleven for Leicester this afternoon and a word on Tammy Abraham.

What do you think of the video? Post your comments below!


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Sheffield United’s John Fleck injured vs Crystal Palace

Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace

Sheffield United played their first home game since returning to the English top-flight on Sunday.

The Blade’s first game back in the Premier League was away to Bournemouth last weekend.

Chris Wilder’s side put in a solid shift and managed to come away with a 0-0 draw.

They then faced Crystal Palace on Sunday as they went in search of their first win this season.

Palace didn’t have the best start to the season, like Sheffield United, they drew 0-0 last weekend vs 10-man Everton.

Wilfried Zaha was, however, in from the start vs Sheffield United after only being used as a sub vs Everton.

Chris Wilder

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 02: Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield United during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers at Bramall Lane on February 2, 2019 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

John Fleck injured vs Palace

The first half-hour of Sunday’s clash was probably quite pleasing from a Sheffield United perspective.

They managed to keep Zaha fairly quiet and had a fair few goal attempts, although they didn’t really test Palace’s keeper.

Sheffield United would suffer a big blow around the 29th-minute mark though.

John Fleck would be forced off with an injury and had to be replaced by new signing, Luke Freeman.

27-year-old Fleck played 46 games in Sheffield United’s promotion-winning season, scoring two and assisting 11 in said games and losing him for any amount of time would be a big blow for Sheff United.

See also: Chelsea vs Leicester City live streaming: Watch the Premier League online, preview, prediction and odds

Chelsea vs Leicester betting tips: Premier League preview & predictions

Why Victor Camarasa didn’t make the Crystal Palace squad vs Sheffield United

Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace

The early match in the Premier League was Sheffield United versus Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace opened with a 0-0 home draw against Everton.

In their first match back in the top flight, the Blades drew 1-1 at Bournemouth.

Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace team sheets

Sheffield United (3-5-2): Henderson; Basham, Egan, O’Connell; Baldock, Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; McGoldrick, Robinson.

Subs: Moore, Jagielka, Osborn, Besic, Freeman, McBurnie, Freeman.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Guaita; Ward, Kelly, Dann, Van Aanholt; Townsend, McArthur, Milijoevic, Meyer; Benteke, Zaha.

Subs: Hennessey, Cahill, Schlupp, McCarthy, Kouyate, Wickham, Ayew.

Where was Victor Camarasa?

Victor Camarasa was one of the higher-profile Crystal Palace signings in the summer.

The Real Betis midfielder has returned to the Premier League after a year at Cardiff.

Camarasa agreed a season-long loan with the Eagles, however he’s yet to feature for the south London side.

Last week Camarasa took part in a Crystal Palace U23 game, where he sustained a knock.

While Camarasa did continue in that match, many feared the Spaniard picked up an injury.

However, according to the Evening Standard’s Jack Rosser, Camarasa isn’t injured.

Instead, it appears that Roy Hodgson left Camarasa out of the Eagles squad against Sheffield United for tactical reasons.

Gary Cahill left on the bench

Another eye-catching decision in the Palace XI was the omission of Gary Cahill from the line-up.

Cahill agreed a two-year deal with the Eagles in the summer.

After starting against Everton, Cahill’s position on the Palace bench was something of a surprise.

Also see: Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace live streaming: Watch the Premier League online, preview, prediction and odds.

Arsenal’s David Luiz admits ‘different ideas’ with Frank Lampard triggered Chelsea move.

Tottenham fans share reports of abuse & violence from Man City supporters

Two Tottenham fans report Man City supporters abuse

A few Tottenham fans have taken to social media this weekend to reveal sad stories from Saturday’s match at Man City.

One report came from Laura Oakley, who notes she’s a Spurs season ticket holder in her Twitter bio.

Laura Oakley revealed that a Man City fan punched her in the face after Saturday’s game. She also published a picture of the supporter she alleged hit her, writing:

So this is the teenage prick who punched me in the face at the game today.

Sorry your A-level results went badly but this week may get worse as you have been reported.

Unfortunately, Laura Oakley’s incident wasn’t isolated.

Another Tottenham fan, Chris Cowlin, took to social media to report his experience after the Man City game:

Disgusted with the Man City fans today outside the Etihad.

They drew a game at home 2-2 with a VAR decision and this led a LOT of fans to hit, punch and spit on the Tottenham fans.

Man City 2 – Tottenham 2

After two rounds of the season, Liverpool are two points clear of Man City in the title race.

A Lucas Moura header earned Spurs a share of the spoils at the Etihad Stadium.

Prior to that, Erik Lamela had cancelled out Raheem Sterling’s opener for City.

Sergio Aguero put the Sky Blues ahead at the break with a deft finish from a Kevin De Bruyne cross.

Yet, the biggest talking point came at the death.

Gabriel Jesus found the target for City in second-half injury time. However, the goal was chalked off by referee Michael Oliver after VAR spotted a handball from Aymeric Laporte in the build-up.

Also see: Pep Guardiola cites Chelsea & Tottenham handball inconsistencies, Ilkay Gundogan says VAR rules must change.

Pep Guardiola vs Sergio Aguero: Argument against Tottenham explained.

Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos celebrates ‘unforgettable’ match vs Burnley

Arsenal & Dani Ceballos

When Arsenal signed Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid on a season-long loan, some had doubts.

One of the key criticisms of the deal is that Arsenal failed to secure a purchase option for the Spanish midfielder.

Thus, some have suggested that if Ceballos doesn’t perform early on for the Gunners, Unai Emery could easily push him to one side.

As fans wait to see how the Ceballos deal develops over the fullness of time, the Spaniard had a cracking performance on Saturday against Burnley.

Dani Ceballos celebrates ‘unforgettable’ match

After the game, Dani Ceballos said the following to Arsenal’s website:

For me it is a great pride. 

I really want this year to truly demonstrate the football that I have inside.

I have a lot of enthusiasm for this season and to be able to give a lot of joy to these people.

The confidence they have in me, I want to return it to them with my performances.

The truth is that for me it has been one of the most special days of my life.

I think that starting at home by winning, and with this passion at the end of the match, I think it will be hard to forget this day for me.

Arsenal 2 – Burnley 1

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the winner for Arsenal in the second half.

Prior to the break, Ashley Barnes continued his superb scoring form for Burnley as he canceled out Alexandre Lacazette’s 13th-minute opener.

Joe Willock & Reiss Nelson

The Arsenal youngsters were continuing to work hard after the Burnley game ended.

Also see: Chelsea vs Leicester betting tips: Premier League preview & predictions.

Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace betting tips: Premier League match preview and predictions.

Everton linked to free agent Franck Ribery & Lucas Digne injury update after Watford

Where next for Franck Ribery?

Franck Ribery, now 36, is a free agent after his Bayern Munich contract expired at the end of last season.

Ribery spent 12 years with Bayern Munich. During that time, the winger won a staggering 22 titles.

Ribery is the only player in Bundesliga history to have won nine league titles.

The French star has previously been linked with a possible move to Australia and Qatar.

Earlier in the summer, Sheffield United were also rumoured to be interested in Ribery.

Could Everton sign Ribery?

On Sunday, the Star push the claim that Everton could end up signing Ribery.

An obvious alarm bell before even delving into the details is the fact that Alex Iwobi joined from Arsenal on deadline day.

With Richarlison, Bernard and Theo Walcott also at Goodison Park, how many attacking wide players does Marco Silva really need?

The Star, however, claim the following:

Everton have reportedly been offered the chance to sign Ribery.

The ex-France international is open to the idea of heading to Goodison Park and playing under Marco Silva.

Ribery would likely have to take a pay cut to join, having earned £160,000-a-week on his last deal with Bayern.

Lucas Digne injury update

Everton beat Watford 1-0 at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Lucas Digne set up the only goal of the game, as he freed Bernard down the left hand side.

Digne was subbed out the match in the 73rd minute with a knock.

After the game Marco Silva voiced his optimism that Digne’s injury isn’t too series.

Everton 1 – Watford 0

Moise Kean missed a great chance to score for Everton in the closing stages, however the Italian missed the target.

Watford have now lost their opening two matches of the season.

The Hornets are bottom of the standings.

Also see: Pep Guardiola cites Chelsea & Tottenham handball inconsistencies, Ilkay Gundogan says VAR rules must change.

Pep Guardiola vs Sergio Aguero: Argument against Tottenham explained.

How Jurgen Klopp rendered Adrian blameless for his terrible error vs Southampton

Southampton 1 – Liverpool 2

Liverpool have reacted superbly after they lost the Community Shield to Man City.

Since that defeat, the Reds have three wins from three games.

Last weekend Liverpool opened their Premier League season beating Norwich 4-1, before they beat Chelsea to lift the UEFA Super Cup.

On Saturday at St Mary’s, Liverpool won again as they beat Southampton 2-1.

Goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino put Liverpool 2-up on the south coast.

Danny Ings set up a nervous finish after he scored against his former employers.

Jurgen Klopp rendered Adrian blameless for his terrible error

Southampton’s goal came after a shocking error from Liverpool goalie Adrian.

Adrian played into danger as he dallied on the ball in the Liverpool penalty area.

Instead of quickly clearing his lines, Adrian took too long in possession.

That allowed Ings to steam in and close down the Reds keeper.

Adrian’s attempted clearance was blocked by Ings, and the ball trickled into the net.

Yet, while the goal was obviously the result of Adrian’s mistake, Jurgen Klopp refused to blame his stand-in stopper:

Minute 83, Adrian thought, ‘I’ve played really well so I have to make a mistake like Ali did’ and kept the game a little bit open.

I said to him, ‘Finally, it arrived, welcome’. Ali did the same, obviously it is a goalie thing at ​Liverpool. I have no problem with that as long as we win the game.

Adrian had a swollen ankle, we played too many balls back to him in that period. I was happy with everything he did today, all the saves he made, all the other stuff.

The other players need to feel the responsibility for the build-up for the balls back for him. He is good with his feet and if you would have seen his ankle on Thursday when we left the plane then you would say that pass for the goal was better than you would have expected. It is all fine.

Alisson’s error vs Leicester

A reminder of how Alisson made a similar mistake to Adrian’s against Leicester last season.

Also see: Chelsea vs Leicester betting tips: Premier League preview & predictions.

Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace betting tips: Premier League match preview and predictions.