Matic to Man Utd: Should Chelsea be selling him?

Matic to Man Utd: The Serbian midfielder is close to a reunion with Jose Mourinho, but are Chelsea making the right decision to sell him to Premier League title rivals?

Matic to Man Utd: Pro’s for Chelsea

The reported fee for Matic to Man Utd is £40m. A similar amount to what Chelsea have paid for Tiemoue Bakayoko, meaning the Blues would break even in terms of transfer spend.

Antonio Conte is stamping his mark on his squad for the new season. He is signing the players he wants and allowing those he doesn’t want to leave the club. So if he is able to do so while balancing the books, he’ll be even happier.

Matic to Man Utd: Con’s for Chelsea

Chelsea are losing an established midfielder. At 28 Matic is in his prime with plenty still to offer. He’s also won two Premier League titles with Chelsea over the past three seasons.

Matic’s replacement is unproven in the Premier League. Bakayoko may need time to adapt to his new surroundings and has far less experience.

Chelsea’s squad depth will be tested unless they sign more midfielders. Conte has already allowed Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah to depart the club. With the demand of more games this season compared to last, Chelsea are going to need to ensure their squad can handle the busy schedule.

Matic to Man Utd: Pro’s & Con’s for United

Signing Matic will work for United. He is a grafter and will free up the likes of Paul Pogba to have more of an impact on the game in the final third.

Matic registered seven assists for Chelsea in the Premier League last season, more than any other Manchester United player. This shows his creative edge even though his main job is to provide extra cover for the defence. Plus, Mourinho knows Matic well. The Serbian has played a total of 90 games under the Portuguese head coach in the past.

However, another midfielder gives Mourinho a selection dilemma. He has at least four players who can play in a similar role. So adding Matic to the squad could lead to some discontent among those vying for a place in the starting lineup.

Photos of Matic in Man Utd training wear have appeared online over the weekend, suggesting a deal is all but done. Although the legitimacy of these is yet to be stated, it certainly looks like Matic has played his final game for Chelsea.

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Why Chelsea should be doing everything possible to sign Kante

It goes without saying Leicester’s N’golo Kante was one of the standout performers in the Premier League last season and it is unsurprising to see him being linked with a number of Europe’s elite clubs. Chelsea are rumoured to have begun negotiations to secure the Frenchman and Lewis Addley explores why they should be doing everything possible to get a deal done…

In the summer transfer window 13 years ago, Chelsea secured the signing of one Claude Makelele from Real Madrid for a fee of around £17 million. His success in the Premier League led to his position being referred to as the ‘Makelele role’ and many have drawn comparisons to his playing style since.

In the 2015/16 season, Leicester City’s N’golo Kante emerged as arguably the best holding midfielder in Europe and it seemed only a matter of time before some of Europe’s elite came calling for his services.

The Frenchman has received heaps of praise from pundits and fans alike. Makelele himself has tipped him for a move to a ‘big club’ and with all due respect to Leicester, it looks like that is going to happen.

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Kante has already turned down a £100,000-a-week improved contract from Leicester, arguably making his intentions to leave the club clear. Antonio Conte is hoping to bring in another holding midfielder to bolster his options at Chelsea. A hard-working player will be essential if his preferred 3-5-2 formation is to be successful in the Premier League.

Having already failed in attempts to sign AS Roma’s Radja Naaingolan, Kante appears to be at the top of Conte’s wish list.

So why should Chelsea be doing everything to get a deal done?

Competition:

Leicester City have already been offered £35m for Kante by Chinese club, Shanghai SIPG – £15 million higher than his buy-out clause. While money may not be the motivation for the player himself, nobody would blame Claudio Ranieri for cashing in at the highest amount possible. Although he will be hard pushed to find a replacement of equal quality to Kante.

The Frenchman is well in the shop window and clubs from across Europe have been monitoring his current situation at Leicester, the longer any potential deal takes to complete, the more competition Chelsea are likely to face to secure his services. Real Madrid are also watching the situation closely.

Consistency: 

The 25-year-old midfielder featured in 37 of 38 league games last season on his way to winning the title, barely putting a foot wrong and he even managed to pick up four assists and find the back of the net once.

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Better by comparison: 

While it has to be clear this is not suggesting Nemanja Matic is a worse player, Kante bettered the Chelsea man in a number of key areas last term.

Matic was just one of Chelsea’s key performances from their title winning side of 2014/15 who really appeared to struggle to reach the same heights last season. As the current first-choice holding midfielder at the club, his position could well come under threat with the potential arrival of Kante.

Kante vs Matic

Statistics provided by Squawka

 

 

 

 

As we can see Kante bettered Matic’s output in all of the areas highlighted above. However, Matic did manage more successful passes than the Frenchman, more forward passes and netted one more goal.

Age:

Kante is only 25, giving him the potential for at least seven years at the top level, barring any injuries. He would be an infectious player for up and coming talent to learn from and is far from his peak.

Given how well he embedded himself in the French squad for the European Championships, it appears he will thrive off of playing alongside some of the highest regarded players in Europe.

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If reports are to be believed Kante could become a Chelsea player in the very near future. He frustrated practically every opposition side in the Premier League last season and could play an integral role in Conte’s Chelsea revolution if he completes a move to West London.

Is Kante the holding midfielder Chelsea need? Should they be doing everything they can to sign him?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: West Bromwich Albion vs Chelsea

Competition: Premier League – West Bromwich Albion vs. Chelsea 

Venue: The Hawthorns – Sunday, August 23 – 13:30 BST (08:30 ET)

Match Odds: West Bromwich Albion 9/2 – Draw 11/4 – Chelsea 8/13

Match Preview

West Bromwich Albion have another tricky fixture as they host Chelsea this weekend. Both sides are still looking for their first win of the season.

West Brom picked up their first point of the season last weekend in their 0-0 draw against promoted Watford. Tony Pulis’ side are yet to score in either of their games this season, but new signing Salomon Rondon has been bought in to lead the line.

The Baggies last win came over the Premier League champions at the back end of last season. Pulis’ side had a good preseason but have struggled to relay that form so far this campaign.

It is difficult to tell whether or not this is a good time for West Brom to play the defending champions, as although they are out of form they will see this a good chance to pick up their first win of the season.

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Chelsea have had a very poor start to the season and even this early on, trailing Manchester City by five points is a concern for Mourinho.

Last weekends demolition at the hands of City seems to have sparked the Blues back into life in the transfer market. Having signed Pedro they are now being linked with Juventus’ Paul Pogba. The future of John Stones remains unclear but it is obvious he is a player Chelsea are hoping to sign.

This is Chelsea’s worst start to a Premier League season since 1998/99 and they cannot afford to drop more points in this one. The pressure is certainly on Jose Mourinho and his players will be all too aware of the wrath they could potentially face from the boss and fans alike if they do not win here.

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Team News

West Brom are still missing Ben Foster. Salomon Rondon will be hoping to start and show what he can do against a struggling Chelsea defence. Joleon Lescott will be hopeful of regaining his first team place after being left out of the 0-0 draw with Watford.

Jose Mourinho could bring Thibaut Courtois back into the starting line-up after he served his one game suspension. Asmir Begovic will certainly feel hard done by if this is the case as he without question was Chelsea’s best player on the pitch last weekend and stopped the scoreline from being anymore humiliating. Victor Moses and Oscar look set to be sidelined, while new signing Baba Rahman is tipped to start at left-back, pushing Cesar Azpilicueta into his more natural position of right-back. Branislav Ivanovic could find himself on the bench after he has struggled to find form this season. The decision to look out for is whether or not Mourinho starts John Terry after his substitution last weekend. Pedro may well feature but it remains to be seen whether or not he will start. Lots of talking points for the potential Chelsea line-up and there will no doubt be some controversy.

Key Points

West Brom’s form: L/D

Chelsea’s form: D/L

Key Stat: Leaky – Only Sunderland (seven) have conceded more goals than Chelsea so far this season, not a stat you could have imagined hearing just two weeks ago.

Key Player: Nemanja Matic – The big Serbian’s performance will be vital to how this game goes for the defending champions. If he can control the midfield, marshall the back-four and steady the ship Chelsea stand a great chance of picking up three points.

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Score Prediction

West Brom 1-1 Chelsea – West Brom to pick up a solid point against a disorganised, struggling Chelsea side. Pulis will know his side can frustrate Jose Mourinho’s men which will lead to their weaknesses showing yet again on the pitch.  

Stats: Is Francis Coquelin as good as Nemanja Matic?

Arsenal successfully survived a second-half onslaught by Newcastle yesterday afternoon to come away with all three points in a 2-1 win that saw the Gunners display yet more steel and determination – something they have been criticised for lacking so many times in the past.

Arsene Wenger‘s side have managed to grind out results in the past few months and some of the credit has been directed towards French midfielder Francis Coquelin who has been praised for his performances since becoming a first-team regular in December.

The 23-year-old has given Arsenal a sense of stability that has enabled them to win ten of the 12 games in which he has started in the Premier League, giving them a win percentage of 83% when he plays, compared to just 44% when he doesn’t.

Arsenal's stats when Coquelin starts compared to when he doesn't

Arsenal’s 2014/15 Premier League stats when Coquelin starts compared to when he doesn’t

Every time a new transfer window approaches, fans and the media are crying out for Arsenal to bring in a strong defensive midfielder to add physical presence in the centre of the field and give the back line some protection.

Many will point to Nemanja Matic at Chelsea as the ideal type of player that Arsenal could use and it has already been well documented as to how important Matic is to the Blues, both physically and statistically as their results have suffered when he doesn’t play.

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But do Arsenal really need to sign another defensive midfielder? Matic is regarded as one of the best in the business at that holding role – the same position Coquelin plays. So how do the two compare?

Average performance per-game in the 2014/2015 Premier League Season so far (Stats via Squawka)

Average performance per-game in the 2014/2015 Premier League Season so far (Stats via Squawka)

The stats show that Coquelin is in-fact slightly more effective than Nemanja Matic defensively with more tackles, blocks, interceptions, clearances and aerial duels won per-game.

However, Matic has a stronger attacking intent with more key passes, chances created and assists, as well as a better pass completion ratio.

And this is where most will say that despite his superior defensive performance, Coquelin hasn’t quite mastered his all round game in the way Matic has, which is why he may possibly not be considered the missing piece of the jigsaw for Arsenal.

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Whether or not the Gunners will bring in another defensive midfielder in the summer remains to be seen, but what we do know is that Arsenal have certainly been more successful with Coquelin in the team.

Polish youngster Krystian Bielik was brought in from Legia Warsaw during the January transfer window, but at just 17-years-old, it may be too early for him to be considered ready to play, although Wenger tends to gives the youth players a chance at some stage – usually in the League Cup.

With eight games remaining of this Premier League season, Arsenal are just one point behind second placed Manchester City, as well as having booked a place in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, so it could still be a successful campaign and one in which Francis Coquelin will certainly play a large part.

League Cup Final Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Tottenham

Competition: Capital One Cup – Chelsea vs Tottenham

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Sunday, March 1st – 16:00 (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Chelsea 4/6 – Draw 11/4 – 9/2

Match Preview

It’s Chelsea vs Tottenham in the League Cup final and this has all the makings of a classic cup final clash at Wembley in what is a repeat of the 2008 final. Spurs lifted the trophy with a 2-1 win after extra-time on that day but have not won a trophy since and will have all eyes on Sunday’s clash with their London rivals.

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Chelsea go into the game as favourites and the Premier League leaders will be seeking revenge for that 5-3 defeat at White Hart Lane on New Years Day in this one. Jose Mourinho will have his side fully focused on the game as the Blues look to win their first trophy under Mourinho since his return 18 months ago.

The Blues come into the game off the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw with Burnley last weekend but have had a full week to prepare for Sunday’s huge clash.

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Spurs were eliminated from the Europa League by Fiorentina on Thursday night and remained in Italy after the game to prepare for the League Cup final so it will be intriguing to see just how much that affects their performance.

Chelsea won the league meeting between the two sides with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in December but that 5-3 loss at White Hart Lane sets this one up perfectly.

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That defeat to Spurs was Chelsea’s first in eleven and so they will fancy their chances of lifting English football’s first major domestic honour of the season.

Team News

Chelsea will be without Nemanja Matic after he was sent off in last week’s draw against Burnley in what is a huge blow for Mourinho. Ramires will likely step in to partner Cesc Fabregas in midfield, especially as John Obi Mikel is likely to be unavailable as he is still suffering from a knee injury. The Blues will be at full strength apart from that and it will be interesting to see who starts in goal as well as who partners John Terry at the back as Gary Cahill was outclassed at Tottenham in the 5-3 loss.

Chelsea vs Tottenham League Cup Final Predicted Lineups

Chelsea vs Tottenham League Cup Final Predicted Lineups (via Lineupbuilder.com)

Spurs have no injury concerns ahead of the game and Mauricio Pochettino will be able to field what he feels is his strongest team on Sunday. Ryan Mason, Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Moussa Dembele, Eric Dier and Harry Kane did not start against Fiorentina and can be expected to play from the off in this one. Erik Lamela is likely to start on the right but Andros Townsend and Nacer Chadli will both be pushing for starts too.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five in all competitions: D/W/W/D/D

Tottenham’s last five in all competitions: W/L/D/D/L

Key Stat: Goals galore – There have been 33 goals in the last seven meetings between these two sides in all competitions.

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Key Player: Branislav Ivanovic – The versatile right-back has been in fine form of late for Chelsea and has scored four in his last six from defence. He will need to stop Christian Eriksen but could be a real threat at the other end too.

Score Prediction

Chelsea 1-1 Tottenham – There is too little to separate these sides in normal time and we could see the game go to extra-time once again. If it does Spurs could repeat their antics from the 2008 final and the key for Chelsea will be dealing without Matic for the entire game.

Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs. West Ham

Premier League leaders Chelsea host high-flying West Ham United in the early kickoff on Boxing Day with the Blues looking to continue their home winning streak to stay ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table.

West Ham have been excellent this season and sit in fourth place going into Friday’s fixture and the Hammers have lost just one of their last 11 in the league.

But a trip to Chelsea is never an easy task. Jose Mourinho’s side have not lost at home all season and have won all eight Premier League games at Stamford Bridge so far, conceding just three times at home.

Chelsea’s home record: Played 8 – Won 8 – Drawn 0 – Lost 0

These two met in the same fixture last season back in January and Mourinho accused Sam Allardyce’s side of playing “football from the 19th century” after a 0-0 draw, but the West Ham manager has skipped forward in time and his side are playing a very modern style of football.

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He’s talked up his team’s chances ahead of this one by saying: “We’ll see what century we’re in.” It’s a London derby so expect it to be feisty.

West Ham’s away record: Played 8 – Won 3 – Drawn 3 – Lost 2

Eden Hazard picked up a knock in Monday’s 2-0 win at Stoke and is a doubt for the game against West Ham, while Mark Noble and James Tomkins are both doubts for the Hammers.

Chelsea have only conceded two goals in their last six in the league, and they both came in the away defeat to Newcastle. The Hammers have not failed to score away from home though and something has to give.

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This should be one of the most intriguing games in years between these London rivals as they both sit at the top end of the Premier League table.

Expect the unexpected in the early game on a bumper Boxing Day of action!

Chelsea’s last five: D/W/L/W/W

West Ham’s last five: W/W/W/D/W

Key Player: Nemanja Matic – The Chelsea midfielder has been incredible all season and the side have not lost when he plays. He’ll need to dominated the midfield once again in what should be a physical encounter.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 West Ham United – The hosts to keep their place at the top of the Premier League with a ninth home win of the season.

Stats: How important is Nemanja Matic to Chelsea?

Chelsea got back to winning ways in the Premier League with a 2-0 win against Hull City yesterday, after Newcastle ended their unbeaten streak last weekend. And it is no coincidence that the loss came when midfield enforcer Nemanja Matic was missing.

The powerful Serbian missed the trip to Newcastle as he was suspended and he was greatly missed in the middle of the park as Jose Mourinho watched his side lose for the first time this campaign.

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But his return against Hull ensured Chelsea got back to winning ways and remained at the top of the Premier League. The Blues have only conceded one goal in their last six games that Matic has played in.

John Obi Mikel stepped in to replace Matic at Newcastle but the Nigerian is far from the standard of the Serbian, and that is shown by the gulf in class statistically so far this season.

Nemanja Matic John Obi Mikel Stats Chelsea

Matic and Mikel’s 2014 Premier League stats (via Squawka.com)

Matic has only missed the one game at Newcastle, and it is no coincidence that the Blues lost for the first time without him.

He is an integral part of the side and arguably the most important player. Not from a goalscoring perspective, but his consistently solid displays in the middle of the pitch give Chelsea the platform to go on and win every game that he plays in.

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Any side that goes on to win titles in the modern game needs a solid defensive midfield player to steady the ship all season long.

Former Chelsea star Claude Makelele was probably the man who reinvented the role of a central midfielder under Jose Mourinho ten years ago, and Matic has taken it one step further. He is world-class in his position and Chelsea are unlikely to taste defeat when he’s on the field.

How important is Nemanja Matic for Chelsea – is he their most important player?