Chelsea FC had great season result-wise. They finished third in the Premier League, which was the best position behind City and Liverpool. On top of that, Sarri led his troops to UEFA Europa League. But this was not enough to make fans or the owners happy.
Now they are facing a difficult season without Eden Hazard, who joined Real Madrid this summer. Manager Sarri left as well with his assistant coach Gianfranco Zola. And how is the team going to handle the upcoming transfer ban? Let’s review the previous twelve months of Chelsea first.
The Sarri season 2018/2019
Chelsea was in a difficult situation one year ago. Antonio Conte led the team to a fantastic Premier League title in 2016/2017, but the team failed miserably in his second season. Chelsea didn’t even make it to the Champions League after 2017/2018 season, so changes had to be made.
A new Italian manager was chosen to bring back success to the Stamford Bridge, Maurizio Sarri. An experienced tactician, who had done a great job in Napoli. Sarri joined Chelsea in the summer of 2018 and brought also midfielder Jorginho (in the picture) with him.
Another significant signing was goalkeeper Kepa from Athletic Bilbao. Hence, Sarri had to work with almost the same players as his predecessor. There weren’t many people, who expected him to bring back success right away.
Chelsea met title holders Manchester City in the traditional Community Shield match in early August. Blues lost the game 0-2 and looked far behind City in the gameplay. This lowered expectations further, since it looked like the team wasn’t ready for Sarri football just yet.
Unbeaten run and the title race
Chelsea started the season by defeating promoted team Huddersfield 0-3 FT. It was a totally opposite started compared to the previous season, where they lost to Burnley 2-3 FT at home.
The victory over Huddersfield was followed by a 3-2 home win over Arsenal. At third matchday, Chelsea defeated Newcastle 1-2 and continued with solid home wins over Bournemouth (2-0) and Cardiff (4-1). By this time Eden Hazard (in the picture) had already scored five goals.
Chelsea opened their Europa League run on 20th of September. Blues sealed a solid 0-1 away win over PAOK. After this, they dropped points first time in the Premier League, when West Ham managed to stop Chelsea in the London derby.
Next, Chelsea met Liverpool twice. They defeated the Reds at Anfield in League Cup but ended up drawing 1-1 at home in the Premier League. The unbeaten run continued, nevertheless.
The “title train” kept going in October 2018, which was a fantastic month for Chelsea. Blues played 6 matches with a 5-1-0 record, only dropping points against Manchester United at home soil. Chelsea continued to win games in November as well and Londoners weren’t much behind Liverpool and City.
The wind changes
Chelsea’s 19 matches unbeaten run came to an end 24th of November. This was one of the worst places for Chelsea to lose since they met arch-rivals Tottenham. Blues were defeated 3-1 and their title hopes had the first big hit.
Blues bounced back by defeating PAOK in UEL and Fulham in Premier League, but they crashed to another defeat against Wolves in early December. Fans were still hopeful because Chelsea defeated Manchester City right after losing to Wolves and looked like keeping the touch to title chasers.
But Christmas, New Year and January periods were tough. Chelsea played nine Premier League match with a 4-1-4 record. The 6-0 loss against Manchester City in early February was the final draw. After that, the focus started to shift towards Europa League and maintaining top four positions in the Premier League.
Chelsea’s run came to an end because their opponents started to respond to Sarri football better. Hazard was taken out of the equation and the team ended up just passing the ball around ineffectively. Sarri couldn’t adapt to the new situation and he wasn’t able to change the style.
Europa league success
Chelsea was very close to winning two trophies this year. They made it to the League Cup final as well but lost the match after penalties to Manchester City.
But Europa League brought the team some much-needed silverware. Chelsea had a 5-1-0 record in the group stage and 7-2-0 in playoffs. They won every single playoff match except the semi-finals against Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Europa League final was all English because Chelsea met London rivals Arsenal. The match result was 4-1 FT and Chelsea really run over their opponents in the second half. Picture: Chelsea celebrating the UEL title in Baku.
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As mentioned earlier, Chelsea finished third in the Premier League as well. This was the maximum result for any team behind Liverpool and Manchester City. But the way Chelsea got the third place wasn’t enough for the fans.
Transfer ban and Sarri’s exit
It’s been a turbulent post-season at the Stamford Bridge. First, Chelsea was hit by terrible news in early May. FIFA confirmed that Chelsea is facing a two-window transfer ban starting this summer. Chelsea was sanctioned due to their policies in signing underaged players.
Chelsea is able to sign new players despite the ban, but they can’t feature in the club’s shirt until the ban is over. In practice, it means there won’t be any new players in the starting XI until the season 2020/2021.
The team also lost its prize jewel Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. This saga had been on-going for six months and the move came as no surprise. Still, it wasn’t certainly good news after FIFA’s transfer ban.
Manager Sarri (in the picture) was next to go. The experienced tactician joined Juventus in June. His right-hand man, former Chelsea attacker Gianfranco Zola, was also shown the door. Now the question is, who will be the new manager?
Betting on the new manager is quite popular among football fans. You can place bets for managers to leave the club or managers to join the club. Remember to also check casino bonuses to get some additional excitement while you wait for the news!
So, who is the punters’ favourite for the new Chelsea manager? It looks like the club might buy out Frank Lampard’s contract from Derby. The former Chelsea midfielder is very popular in London and did a great job with Derby. The problem is, the last season was only the first for Lampard as a manager. Many pundits agree, that a club like Chelsea needs a more experienced man in charge.
Nevertheless, it’ll be a difficult year for the Blues. Transfer ban, no Hazard and possibly an inexperienced manager. It’s no surprise, that fans aren’t looking forward to 2019/2020 season.
Image credit: Mark Harkin / Flickr