Connect with us

Chelsea

Can Tammy Abraham succeed at Chelsea after an impressive start to life at Swansea?

Published

on

Tammy Abraham

All too often in English football, prolific young forwards are idolised and seen as the solution to all of the Three Lions’ problems. With Tammy Abraham, that is yet to be the case, despite the fact that he is already outscoring the likes of Marcus Rashford in the Premier League this season.

Last season, Tammy Abraham was one of the Championship’s surprise packages. Loaned to Bristol City, manager Lee Johnson prepared an extensive presentation which he gave to Chelsea staff to convince them that Ashton Gate would be the ideal destination for the teenager.

At the time, Johnson revealed his delight at sealing the deal, telling Sky Sports, “we put an awful lot of work into signing Tammy Abraham, meeting his parents and convincing Chelsea of our philosophy. But we felt he was worth waiting for.”

It paid off with his 23 league goals accounting for 38% of the Robins strikes and proving enough to keep them in the second division. Pundit Leroy Rosenior summarised his contribution neatly in April, also recognising just how far he had come throughout his year in Bristol.

“He seems to have enjoyed his football this season, and he has developed into much more than just a goalscorer. He may have caught the eye with 21 league goals but when you watch him now, he’s closing down defenders and playing with real intensity,” he wrote in the Bristol Post.

He also earned his first international call-up in October 2016 and went on to impress at the European under 21 Championships, becoming a regular for Aidy Boothroyd. This season, he has come into his own, with two goals and two assists for the young Three Lions side in his past two games.

That breakthrough form caught the eye, and it was no surprise to see a host of Premier League clubs linked with a move to take him on loan this year. Brighton and Hove Albion were said to be interested, according to the Telegraph, and Rafa Benitez was desperate to take him to St. James’ Park too. Instead, he opted for Swansea, where Chelsea put their trust in former coach Paul Clement to take the youngster to the next level.

It was perhaps surprising that Chelsea did not consider holding onto Abraham. With Diego Costa in exile and now sold, Alvaro Morata a new arrival and Antonio Conte clearly lacking confidence in Michy Batshuayi, he could well have offered an interesting option for the Italian to have in his squad.

In fairness to the Blues, his departure is probably the best possible scenario for his development. He has shown at the Liberty Stadium that he excels when given regular football and the confidence to lead the line, something that Paul Clement has been happy to do.

There may also be doubts about Abraham’s long-term suitably in Chelsea’s current system. Conte prefers a centre-forward who can get involved physically and be dominant in the air, a role which Morata has excelled in since replacing Costa, but that is not Abraham’s style of play.

The 20-year-old is good in the air, there is no doubting that, but he excels most as a poacher looking to snap up chances inside the box, rather than battering defenders in the same way that the two Spaniards do. With four goals and an assist from ten games though, he has been involved in an impressive 71.4% of the Swans goals to date and is truly leading the line from the front.

To label Abraham a poacher is too simplistic though, and it is something that Chelsea must be cautious not to do. Having developed in his time at Bristol City, particularly with regards to his work rate, Paul Clement has also been pleased by his work at the Liberty Stadium, as he told Sky Sports:

“We know he [Abraham] has got that ability, but what I was more pleased with today was his work rate, his running in behind, he did better with his back to goal and that’s more like what we expect.”

Where he has previously struggled, Clement believes that he is coming on leaps and bounds. Up against the strength and speed of Premier League defenders, Abraham has often become the focal point in attack.

At first, it looked as though it would take some time for him to adapt, and Clement recognised that, explaining to the Daily Mail, “He’s a big boy but sometimes you are up there alone against two central defenders. One will come tight and aggressive and the other one is cover, so how can you be better at holding the ball up?”

He is developing though, and his coach has been impressed by how quickly he is improving. Clement added “there were signs of that improving again today [against Huddersfield]. The times when he went and shut the centre-back down, or the goalkeeper down, or when he was running back.

All very important things and things he has to do every week. He is learning quick. This is a big step up to this level from what he has done before.”

It is a big ask for any youngster to become the leader in attack of a struggling Premier League side, but Abraham has stepped into the role and made himself look comfortable. It may still be early days in his Premier League career, but he is clearly making an impression in South Wales.

In fact, his experienced team-mate Leon Britton has even drawn comparisons to one of the great center-forwards of the modern era when asked who Abraham reminds him of, responding by telling BBC Sport that he reminds him of “someone I played with years ago, Jermain Defoe, in terms of the hunger to score goals… He just wants to get on the end of everything. He is very single-minded.

“Tammy can go on and have a great career in the Premier League. Hopefully, he will continue to do it here and then go back to Chelsea and score many goals there,” Britton added. That will undoubtedly be Abraham’s end goal, but success at Stamford Bridge is notoriously hard to come by or any striker, let alone a homegrown talent.

What is clear is that a positive performance at Swansea this season will do his chances a world of good, and Antonio Conte will certainly be keeping an eye on the progress of the striker after his current form.

Sam is a Southend United fan and student based in the South-West. He has previously worked for various publications, including FourFourTwo magazine and ITV. Sam also has an extensive knowledge of Spanish football and has previously lived and worked in Spain. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

Chelsea

Chelsea 4-0 Hull City – Willian plays himself into Champions League contention

Jake Jackman

Published

on

Chelsea

Chelsea continued their upturn in form with a convincing 4-0 win over Hull City in the FA Cup. The Blues were overwhelming favourites for the tie, but they had to get the job done and they did so effectively, scoring four times in the first-half.

They would have had one eye on the Champions League tie against Barcelona that is upcoming and that led to Antonio Conte making several changes.

The Italian decided to rest key players such as Eden Hazard, Ngolo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta. It was the right decision as they progressed with comfort. Here are three talking points from the match:

Olivier Giroud is off the mark

One huge positive to come out of the game for the hosts was Olivier Giroud’s first goal for the club. He signed in January to provide competition for Alvaro Morata and his performances have been encouraging since signing, but to hit the back of the net takes the pressure off the Frenchman.

The signing carried relatively little risk for Chelsea as the striker has lots of experience in England and his consistency is already shining through in a Blues’ shirt.

Early into the game, he had a great opportunity to open his account, but he blazed a volley over the bar. It was a difficult chance as the ball was lifted over the defence to play him in, but a striker of his calibre should have done better.

Three goals were scored and he didn’t score one of them. If he had finished the match without scoring, it would have been talked about and that is why his goal just before half-time will relieve the pressure from him.

The rest of his game was excellent as he got two assists and linked up the play well from the front-line. Although he was brought in to be the back-up striker, Conte may give him the start against Barcelona as he is the player in form.

Hull City showed fight in the second half

The contest was over by the time the players stepped back out for the second-half, but Hull City showed fight and commitment to keep the score down to 4-0.

Nigel Adkins knows the importance of every mental victory when battling against relegation and to draw the second half can provide the players with confidence ahead of a return to league action.

Their performance was markedly improved as they created good opportunities and came close to scoring from the penalty spot. David Meyler stepped up and saw his penalty saved, but that didn’t see the players lose focus as they continued to create opportunities. During the match, they had 10 shots to Chelsea’s 14, which shows that they were far from embarrassed. They just didn’t have the quality in the final third that their Premier League opposition did possess.

It would be a huge blow for Hull City to suffer back-to-back relegations and their manager will be aware of that. This match against Chelsea was a good occasion, but it was far from a priority and their defeat won’t live too long in the memory.

They are currently 21st in the Championship and only above the bottom three by one point. Their far superior goal difference provides encouragement, but they must show this level of commitment until the end of the season if they are to avoid the drop.

Willian proved his quality before the return of the Champions League

Rotation can cause problems in the FA Cup, but in this case, it provided an opportunity to those that are on the fringes of the first-team to play themselves into contention for the Champions League.

Willian is an interesting case as he does feature prominently, but he isn’t a guaranteed first-team starter, as Pedro often gets the nod to start ahead of him.

Willian was excellent against Hull City and certainly gave his manager some food for thought ahead of the match with Barcelona. He completed six dribbles, attempted four shots and made three key passes as he terrorised the opposition defence. On the day, he scored twice, but he easily could have got a hat-trick.

Antonio Conte will be aware that his team’s big weakness is an over-reliance on Eden Hazard. The return of Cesc Fabregas goes some way to providing some support to the Belgian, but if Chelsea can get Willian playing to this level consistently, that would be a positive. He is more dynamic than Pedro and offers more flair to the attack. This performance could see him start against Barcelona.

Continue Reading

Chelsea

Chelsea 3-0 West Bromwich Albion: Three talking points from Stamford Bridge

Rob Meech brings us three talking points from Stamford Bridge as an Eden Hazard inspired Chelsea dismantled a struggling West Bromwich Albion side.

Rob Meech

Published

on

Photo: Reuters

Chelsea eased the pressure on Antonio Conte after a brace from Eden Hazard saw off basement boys West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge.

It had been a troubling week for the Blues, following back-to-back heavy defeats against Bournemouth and Watford that had cast serious doubts over Conte’s position as manager.

But Hazard netted twice, either side of a goal from Victor Moses to complete a routine victory over the Baggies, who lost loan star Daniel Sturridge to injury after just three minutes.

Chelsea leapfrog Tottenham Hotspur into fourth spot as the battle for the top four heats up, while West Brom remain seven points adrift of safety.

Here are three talking points…

Talismanic Hazard comes to the rescue again

Just days after he was voted as Belgium’s player of the year by his peers, Hazard underlined his ability as a footballer of rare class with another brace to take his tally to 11 for the season.

Chelsea’s number 10 has an excellent scoring record against West Brom, one which he improved upon with a display that was too good for the Baggies to handle.

Hazard is a talismanic performer and when he hits his straps, the rest of the team feed off him.

Hazard combined with new boy Olivier Giroud to slam home his first of the evening, which eased the tension at Stamford Bridge.

The 27-year-old added his second and rounded off the scoring late in the second half, slamming the ball past visiting keeper Ben Foster.

Back in the top four as a result of this victory, Hazard will be the key to Chelsea’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

With him in their ranks, anything is possible.

Conte relieved as the pressure lifts

One man who will be extremely grateful for Hazard’s dazzling display is Conte.

The Italian seemed to be on the brink after last week’s 4-1 loss to Watford, which came hot on the heels of a similarly catastrophic result at home to Bournemouth.

Conte’s prickly demeanour and comments in press conferences had led some to speculate that he was goading the Chelsea board into sacking him, less than a year after he steered the club to the Premier League title.

Either way, it’s clear he retains the full support of the Stamford Bridge faithful, which was vocal in its support for Conte throughout the game, chanting his name with regularity.

Conte himself was typically demonstrative on the touchline, bellowing instructions and celebrating each of the goals as his players repaid him with an improved performance.

Whether he will be in the dugout next season remains to be seen, but for now at least his job is more secure than it was a week ago.

Sturridge’s World Cup audition falls flat

In front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate, Sturridge would have been hopeful of making a positive impression following his shock move to West Brom in the January window.

The Liverpool striker made the switch in order to enhance his prospects of making the World Cup squad, which will be named in little over three months’ time.

Few doubt Sturridge’s quality, but his fragile body continually struggles to hold up under the intensity of Premier League football.

His withdrawal due to a hamstring strain less than three minutes on the clock was a monumental blow, both to him personally and West Brom’s ambitions of springing a surprise against Chelsea.

Although he is expected to be sidelined for only a couple of weeks, this latest setback again raises questions over his durability.

Sturridge’s opportunities to prove he deserves to be on the plane to Russia are fast running out.

Continue Reading

Arsenal

Which four of the ‘big-six’ clubs will qualify for next season’s Champions League?

Martyn Cooke

Published

on

There are just 12 games remaining of the current Premier League season and, with Manchester City seemingly destined to secure the title, attention will now turn towards the battle to secure a place in the top-four.

There are only three places available to share between Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Liverpool and two of those clubs will be have to be content with competing in the Europa League next season.

Here, The Boot Room predicts who will finish in the top four at the end of the season…

Arsenal

There was once a time when the possibility of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal failing to qualify for the Champions League was unthinkable, yet the Gunners are facing the realistic possibility of missing out on playing in Europe’s elite club competition for the second consecutive season.

This campaign they have been held back by their inconsistent and unpredictable form away from home and are playing catch-up with their rivals with a five-point gap emerging between themselves and fourth place.

There is a new sense of optimism around the Emirates Stadium after Wenger added Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to his squad yet a defeat against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday would all but end their hopes – qualifying through winning the Europa League could be a more realistic option.

Prediction: 6th

Manchester United

There is currently a slight sense of disappointment around Old Trafford this season that, despite obvious progress since the arrival of Jose Mourinho, the club have had to be content with seeing cross-city rivals Manchester City stroll their way towards the Premier League title.

It is difficult to imagine Manchester United missing out on a Champions League place as they already have a considerable buffer of seven points and undoubtedly have a squad that is full of quality and experience.

The arrival of Alexis Sanchez will provide additional impetus in the closing stages of the campaign and the only real danger is that their attention might be redirected towards challenging for the Champions League or FA Cup with the title already all but lost.

However, Mouirnho has his team ticking over nicely and it is likely that they will maintain their current league position.

Prediction: 2nd  

Chelsea

It has been a frustrating and increasing turbulent season at Stamford Bridge following the failure of Chelsea to build on last season’s title triumph.

Back-to-back defeats against Bournemouth and Watford have left the Blues clinging on to their place in the top four and there is now a realistic possibility that they may miss out on Champions League qualification.

Antonio Conte’s frustration with the club’s transfer policy has been clear to see since the summer and the off-pitch squabbling can only be a destabilising influence for the players.

Chelsea are certainly a team that are out of form and appear to be short of confidence and direction and it will be a true test of Conte’s managerial prowess to see if he can facilitate some sort of revival in the closing months of the season.

However, momentum is currently against them and they may well be one of the two clubs to miss out.

Prediction: 6th

Liverpool

You get the sense that it is always two steps forward followed by one step back at Anfield under Jurgen Klopp and you never know quite what to expect.

Liverpool continue to be consistently inconsistent as demonstrated by their recent, contrasting performances against Manchester City and Swansea City.

The arrival of Virgil van Dijk in the January transfer window is a boost, although recent games have suggested that he alone will not solve the club’s defensive frailties, whilst the sale of Phillip Coutinho is offset by the impressive array of attacking players that Klopp has collected.

If Liverpool can put together a good run of results then they will be able to capitalise on Antonio Conte’s woes as Chelsea and finish in the top four.

Prediction: 4th

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur supporters will now have a taste for Champions League football after the success of their team in this year’s competition and they are hitting form at just the right moment in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are unbeaten since mid-December and have plenty of momentum with the inspirational figure of Harry Kane continuing to his remarkable, prolific run of form in front of goal.

Much will depend on whether the England striker can stay fit until the end of the season whilst they also need Dele Alli to rediscover the sparkle that he has lost in recent months.

Tottenham face a season-defining fixture on Saturday when they face Arsenal in the North London derby but they should have enough quality to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Prediction: 3rd

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 The Boot Room.