Chelsea ended their 17/18 campaign under Antonio Conte with the FA Cup and a 5th place finish in the Premier League. The board were not impressed with Conte and his passion during his second season at Chelsea and it was certain the they would be looking for a new manager after the World Cup. Many managers were on the shortlist but one manager that impressed the Chelsea board the most was Maurizio Sarri.
Chelsea hired Maurizio Sarri as his style of football was the way to move forward for the club. Sarri’s first signing was Jorginho, a player he worked with at his time at Napoli, who was signed for £57million. Jorginho is crucial to Sarri’s system. There was a lot of excitement building amongst the Chelsea fans even with there being a lot of uncertainty about the two Belgians at the club. Thibaut Courtois left Chelsea for Real Madrid for £35million and Kovacic was included in the deal as Chelsea signed the Croatian on a one year deal. Chelsea were linked to a couple of goalkeepers. Kepa Arrizabalaga and Allison Becker were the top two keepers in sight for the club. Allison went to Liverpool and Chelsea managed to sign the Spanish goal keeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga on a 7 year deal. Chelsea broke the record by paying £70 million for a goalkeeper, which made Kepa the most expensive goalkeeper in the world. These were the signings that were made by Chelsea in the transfer market.
Maurizio Sarri’s first competitive game for Chelsea was against the Champions Manchester City in the community shield. Manchester City came out 2-0 winners as Sergio Aguero scored a brace. It was clear that a lot of work had to be done with this Chelsea squad. Chelsea welcomed World Cup winner N’Golo Kante and Belgium’s player of the tournament Eden Hazard back to the squad after returning from their break. Chelsea’s first Premier League game of the season was against Huddersfield. Chelsea won the game convincingly 3-0. Goals from N’Golo Kante, Jorginho from the penalty sport and Pedro. The Chelsea team looked very sharp and very raring to go under the new manager, who picked up his first win as Chelsea boss.
Chelsea hosted Arsenal in their first home game of the season. With both clubs having brought in new managers it was going to be a fascinating contest between the two London clubs. Chelsea won the game 3-2. All the Spaniards in Chelsea managed to get on the score sheet. Pedro opened up the scoring for the Blues while Alvaro Morata doubled Chelsea’s lead. Marcos Alonso Scored the winner to give Chelsea 2 wins out of 2 games in the league. It was a great start for the new boss, but Chelsea had to improve defensively.
They were on a good run of form and also managed to pick up a win in the Europa league against PAOK. Willian got the only goal of that game. Chelsea managed to win 6 games out of 6 and things were looking good for Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea drew their first game of the season against the hammers away from home. It showed that playing Thursday night football had an effect on the players. Chelsea were heading down to Merseyside to take on Liverpool in the league cup. It was obvious that both teams would play a weakened side as they both clubs faced again in the league days after the league cup. Chelsea came out 2-1 winners at Anfield. Former Chelsea player Daniel Sturridge gave Liverpool the lead. In the 79th minute Emerson scored the equaliser and Chelsea were right back in the game. Then stepped up Eden Hazard. He scored an absolute terrific solo goal to give Chelsea the lead. The goal against Liverpool was a one to remember and Eden Hazard also won goal of the season for Chelsea against Liverpool.
A few days later Chelsea hosted Liverpool in the Premier League and the game ended 1-1. Eden Hazard was on the score sheet yet again while Daniel Sturridge scored a brilliant goal to bring his side back into the game. The points were shared at Stamford Bridge and both teams remained unbeaten for the first 7 games of the season. It seemed like Chelsea would be competing for the title against Manchester City and Liverpool.
Chelsea were on a good run of form and their first loss of the season came in late November against their rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Chelsea lost the game 3-1 and were thrown back into reality. Although Chelsea were on a very good run, their unbeaten run came to an end things had to improve after their loss to Tottenham. Chelsea returned to winning ways after winning 4-0 in the Europa league against PAOK and 2-0 against Fulham in the Premier League.
Chelsea then suffered another defeat on the road against newly promoted team Wolves. The Blues took the lead through Ruben Loftus-Cheek but due to poor defending and a loss of concentration, Chelsea threw the game away in the second half. Up next for Chelsea were the champions Manchester City. It was a must win game for Chelsea as they had to show a response after losing to wolves. The score line shocked everyone as Chelsea came out 2-0 winners. Goals from N’Golo Kante and David Luiz gave Chelsea 3 crucial points. Credit has to be given to Maurizio Sarri for changing up his tactics. This result gave Chelsea a massive boost.
After beating Brighton away from home, Chelsea also managed to progress through to the semi finals of the league cup by beating Bournemouth 1-0, a goal scored by Eden Hazard. Chelsea were set to face Spurs in the semi finals. The Blues then suffered another defeat but this time at home against Leicester City, a result that was very disappointing. After 2 big wins away from home against Watford and Crystal Palace, Chelsea managed to drop points against Southampton at home as the game ended 0-0.
New Years is where can you say Chelsea’s collapse had started. A 2-0 loss to Arsenal at Emirates, was a huge blow for the Blues. Sarri came out in the media and he questioned his players’ mentality as it was another spineless performance from the Blues.
Chelsea managed to make another loan signing as hey signed Gonzalo Higuain on a 6 month loan deal. Sarri was keen to make this signing as he had worked with the Argentinian before. Morata has also left the club and went on loan to Atletico Madrid. A win the in semi final of the the league cup against Spurs was a huge result for the Blues as they managed to go through on penalties. David Luiz scored the winning penalty and Chelsea were on their way to Wembley for the League Cup final where they would be playing Manchester City.
A win in the FA Cup against Sheffield Wednesday was a good way for Chelsea to go to Bournemouth away from home in the league. But unfortunately Chelsea suffered a 4-0 defeat at the Vitality. A lot of fans were upset, confused and frustrated. They didn’t know what happened to the team. But there was no time to rest for Chelsea as there were a lot of big games coming up in February.
Chelsea beat Huddersfield 5-0 and returned to winning ways. Gonzalo Higuain scored a brace and showed the Chelsea fans what he can do. Chelsea’s next game was their biggest test yet. They faced Manchester City at the Etihad. And would you believe it, Chelsea got absolutely humiliated by City and lost the game 6-0. It was Chelsea’s biggest defeat in the Premier League. The fans were in disbelief and were shocked of what they had just seen. After the humiliation, questions about Sarri’s future at the club were asked. A 6-0 defeat was not acceptable.
Chelsea had to move on as they faced Malmo in the knockout stages of the Europa league. Their performance was poor but managed to get 2-1 win away from home. Up next was Manchester United in the FA Cup. Another disappointing result for the Blues as they suffered another defeat. The atmosphere started to become toxic and the fans started to chant Sarri Out. The full time whistle blew and Chelsea players were booed of the pitch as they lost 2-0 and were eliminated from the FA Cup. Where do we go from here? A lot of questions were being asked and Chelsea fans were no longer patient with Sarri. Something was clearly going wrong at the club. But onwards and upwards.
Chelsea hosted Malmo in the second leg of the Europa League and came out 3-0 winners and they progressed through to the next round. It was a win that Chelsea needed before they faced Manchester City in the final of the league. A first piece of silverware was up for grasp and it would have been Sarri’s first trophy as a manager. Sarri completely changed his tactics and went with a false 9. The game ended 0-0 after ET. There was also a bizarre situation where Kepa refused to come off and was willing to stay on for the penalty shootout. Sarri was furious and he let the player win in this rare situation. Chelsea unfortunately lost in the penalty shootout. Penalties is all about luck and Chelsea were very unlucky on the day.
Chelsea fans saw a positive response from their team and were willing to give Sarri another chance. They returned back to winning ways after beating Tottenham 2-0 in the league to keep their hopes alive for a top 4 finish. After wins against Fulham away from home in the league and Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa league, there was a good vibe around the club. As it was the story of Chelsea’s season, they drew 1-1 at home against a very well organised Wolves side. Chelsea progressed to the quarter finals as well of the Europa League. Before going into the international break Chelsea faced Everton. Another trip down to Merseyside. It was another loss for the blues on the road. The game ended 2-0. It was rumoured that the Chelsea boss could be sacked during the international break. The fans could no longer support him and there was a lot of negativity.
Coming back from the international break Chelsea faced a team in the relegation zone in Cardiff. It was set to be a tough game for the Blues. Chelsea went a goal down in the second half and the fans started chanting Sarri Out. Luckily the captain Azpilicueta gave Chelsea hope and Loftus-Cheek scored the winner for the Blues and saved Sarri’s job. Chelsea still had a chance to finish in the top 4. Wins against Brighton and West Ham at home gave Chelsea fans a bit of hope that they can finish in the top 4.
Chelsea youngster Hudson-Odoi earned his first start against Brighton and he did not fail to disappoint. After West Ham, Chelsea had a big game against Liverpool. Another trip down to Merseyside. A win would put Chelsea in a good position to finish inside the top 4 and would ruin Liverpool’s chance of winning the league. Sadly that did not happen, as expected Liverpool were too strong for Chelsea and they won the game 2-0. In the first half Chelsea played well but in the second half they collapsed. It happened throughout the season Chelsea would collapse in the second half. Mane and Salah got the goals to give Liverpool the three points.
Chelsea faced Slavia Praha at home in the second leg of the Europa league. Chelsea came out 1-0 winners in the away leg courtesy of a Marcos Alonso goal. Chelsea won 4-3 in the home leg. The first half was a brilliant performance from Chelsea, but in the second half it was the same old. But Chelsea managed to go through to the semi finals and would play Frankfurt.
Back in action in the Premier League, Chelsea hosted Burnley. Unfortunately Callum Hudson-Odoi got injured and would miss the remainder of the season. The game ended 2-2 and Chelsea wasted another opportunity to finish in the top 4. With results going Chelsea’s way they were in a firm position to finish in the top 4. Chelsea faced United away from home. The points were shared and Marcos Alonso scored an important goal and equalised for Chelsea. With results going their way Chelsea were sitting 4th in the table with 2 points ahead of Arsenal.
Moving on to the Europa League Chelsea earned a draw against the German side and scored a crucial away through Pedro. Chelsea had one foot in the final. Focusing on the Premier League, Chelsea played their last game at home against Watford. Chelsea won the game 3-0 goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, David Luiz and Higuain sealing the 3 points for the blues. Chelsea moved into 3rd after Spurs lost to Bournemouth. After Arsenal drew to Brighton it was confirmed that Chelsea will be playing in the Champions League next season, with 3rd place still up for grasp.
Chelsea played Frankfurt in the second leg of Europa league. It was intense game and Chelsea scored the opener through Loftus-Cheek but in the second half Jovic equalised and the we were right back where we started. The game was decided on penalties. Kepa made two stunning saves and Eden Hazard scored the final penalty to send Chelsea to Baku. Chelsea had managed to reach two finals.
The last game of the season was against Leicester and the game ended 0-0. With Spurs drawing to Everton, Chelsea finished the Premier league season in 3rd position. It is fair to say that although Chelsea finished the season in 3rd position, it papers over the cracks. Credit has to be given to Sarri he has dealt well with the pressure and has taken Chelsea to two finals. If Chelsea win the Europa league it will be a good season. Chelsea will face Arsenal in the final of the Europa league on the 29th of May in Baku.