The Blues are back in action on Sunday when we host Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. That is our last Premier League fixture for four weeks as an international break is followed by the FA Cup fourth round, and then the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
Chelsea (4-2-2-2): Kepa; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho (Kovacic 80); Ziyech, Mount; Lukaku (Havertz 80), Hudson-Odoi (Werner 80).
Unused subs Bettinelli, Hall, Sarr, Loftus-Cheek, Saul, Pulisic.
Scorer Ziyech 28
Booked Alonso 59, Rudiger 81
Brighton (4-1-4-1): Sanchez; Veltman, Webster (c), Burn, Cucurella; Alzate; Lamptey (March 76), Gross (Maupay 62), Mac Allister, Welbeck (Trossard 62); Moder.
Unused subs Scherpen, McGill, Caicedo, Roberts, Leonard, Ferguson, Caicedo.
Scorer Webster 60
Booked Burn 80
Referee Kevin Friend
In 2021 Hayes continued to add to her outstanding record as Chelsea Women manager by taking the team to new heights by winning every domestic trophy going in the year – the Women’s Super League, the FA Cup and the Continental Cup – and for the first time in the club’s history a Chelsea side reached the Women’s Champions League final. In the WSL they achieved a record-breaking 32-game unbeaten streak.
On a personal level, she was awarded an OBE for her services to football in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.
Hayes was named WSL Manager of the Season for 2020/21 and was inducted into the FA WSL Hall of Fame. During the summer she also earned acclaim for her expert analysis as a television pundit during the Euro 2020 tournament.
On her latest accolade, her Best FIFA Award, she said: ‘I’m completely shocked. I put it down to the players, the fantastic people that represent my work. Ultimately the coach is only as good as the people they have around them and I’ve got brilliant, brilliant people at Chelsea that have helped to support the team to the place we are at.’
She beat Lluis Cortes (Spain and FC Barcelona) and Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands, Dutch national team and English national team) to the FIFA award.
Previous Chelsea players to have made the Men’s World 11 are John Terry (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), Claude Makelele (2005), Frank Lampard (2005), Didier Drogba (2007), David Luiz (2014), Eden Hazard (2018, 2019) and Kante.
Chelsea Women captain Eriksson and vice-captain Bright have made the Women’s 11 defence after a formidable 2021.
Eriksson lifted three trophies for the Blues as Emma Hayes’ side scooped the domestic treble last year winning the League Cup, FA Cup and Women’s Super League. Eriksson also achieved international success, reaching the final of the 2020 Olympics with Sweden.
Bright’s consistency at the back for the Blues also earned her a place at the Olympics as she was selected for the Team GB side, who were narrowly knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the competition.
It was a remarkable year for Mendy in which he kept 27 clean sheets and conceded just 34 goals in 51 games overall. He only let in two goals in the Champions League knockout stages – one of which scored by Porto’s Mehdi Taremi was up for the Puskas Award tonight – as we won the competition for the second time.
The prize cements the 29-year-old’s place as one of the top goalkeepers in world football and crowns a remarkably rapid rise to the top of the game, having been playing in France’s lower leagues and contemplating an end to his professional career as recently as six years ago.
The other two nominees were Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy/AC Milan/Paris Saint-Germain) and Manuel Neuer (Germany/Bayern Munich).
Ann-Katrin Berger was one the three nominations for the Women’s Goalkeeper Award, won by Christiane Endler (Chile/Paris Saint-Germain/Olympique Lyonnais).
It is a similar story with the league table, after that loss left us trailing City by 13 points at the top of the table, as Azpilicueta insists our focus needs to be purely on our own performances and getting back to our best, trusting that the results and points will follow if we can achieve that.
‘After this game it is more difficult than before the game. We were 10 points behind, it could have come down to seven, and even then there still would have been a gap in between, but we lost so of course when you are 13 points behind it is very difficult.
‘You cannot focus on that. You need to get the consistency back of winning games, of being solid, of scoring goals, if we want to get our rhythm.
‘That’s the first thing, get back to winning ways on Tuesday when we have a tough game against Brighton, away again. We have a busy schedule, we don’t stop, so we have to recover well and go for it.’
It nearly paid off, especially in the second half, with three of our four shots coming inside to first five minutes after half-time, including the closest we came to scoring. If Ederson hadn’t managed to palm away Romelu Lukaku’s effort with a great save right at the start of the second half, it would have been 1-0 to Chelsea and a very different 45 minutes that followed. In contrast, our opponents didn’t manage an attempt at goal in the opening 10 minutes of either half.
Manchester City’s plan was clear, using a trio of quick, skilful attackers to try and break our defensive line and open up spaces in the penalty area. Phil Foden operated in a free role, trying to tempt our centre-backs to follow him into deep positions to expose gaps for Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling to attack from the channels.
Thankfully Thiago Silva was far too experienced and disciplined to fall for that trap, holding his ground and organising those around him to keep our defensive wall intact, while passing Foden off to our midfield when he strayed too far, resulting in N’Golo Kante playing much closer to our defensive line than usual to prevent any space forming in that area for Foden to exploit.
On the return from the Christmas break, Bright, who helped the Blues keep 25 clean sheets in all competitions last season, tells us how training has been so far in the New Year.
‘It’s been exciting, everyone’s looking fit and really sharp out there. We’ve had some excellent training sessions and everyone’s super excited to get back out there doing what we do best.’
The defender also told us how she has started putting plans in place for life after football.
‘We forget that at some point our careers are going to end, as much as we don’t want it to,” the 28-year-old explained.
‘For me I think this year is just to be more creative off the pitch, putting things in place ready for life after football. I’m not going to say too much too soon but there’s a lot of work going on in the background to kickstart something away from football.’
The Blues are now 13 points behind City having repeated the result against them back in September at Stamford Bridge. Against tough opponents, it was the attacking rather than defending that disappointed our head coach.
‘We lost due to one individual performance in one situation today,’ said Tuchel as he began his analysis, alluding to the quality of the De Bruyne strike.
‘In terms of attitude, commitment, defensive-wise I’m happy we did not allow too many big chances. We kept Man City to a minimum of big chances, we kept them to a minimum of really dangerous deliveries.
‘We were aware, active and always aggressive and compact in defending. In the first half we had big counter-attacking chances, big offensive transition chances that we really wasted. In the second half we won ball possession so the reaction after the goal was also very good. We had chances, half-chances, deliveries to equalise.
Arguably Baker’s most successful loan was in the Eredivisie with Vitesse Arnhem, where he spent two seasons and caught the eye with midfield control and a penchant for a spectacular set-piece, which he could deliver with either foot. In his final game for the club in April 2017, he helped them secure the KNVB Cup for the first time in their history.
Further Championship spells with Middlesbrough, Leeds United and Reading followed, though he was unable to secure promotion to the Premier League and joined Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf in the summer of 2019, where he made seven league appearances.
Baker’s most recent loan spell was in Turkey with Trabzonspor as he linked up with former Blues player and coach Eddie Newton, who he had worked closely with in the loans programme at Chelsea. Although Newton departed during the campaign, Baker was a regular in the side with 36 appearances and two goals in 2020/21 before his premature return to Cobham amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Baker will now move to Staffordshire on a permanent deal, with the side currently pushing for a place in the Championship play-offs. We wish Lewis well for the future and thank him for his contributions at Chelsea.
The games continue to come around quickly for the Blues, with a Tuesday night trip to the south coast to face Brighton in the Premier League next on the agenda.
The game at the Amex Stadium gets underway at 8pm UK time.
Chelsea: Kepa; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Sarr, Alonso (Mount 81); Kante, Kovacic; Ziyech (Hudson-Odoi 69), Pulisic (Werner 69); Lukaku
Unused subs: Bettinelli, Barkley, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Saul, Havertz
Booked: Alonso, Kovacic
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo; Rodrigo, De Bruyne (c) (Gundogan 84); Bernardo, Sterling, Grealish; Foden (Jesus 88)
Unused subs: Steffen, Dias, Fernandinho, Mbete, McAtee, Lavia, Wilson-Esbrand
Scorer: De Bruyne (70)
Referee: Craig Pawson