Chelsea’s English Premier League top four hopes took a blow last weekend, however, their hopes of a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League grew as a UEFA Europa League semi-final awaits.
The Blues will face Barcelona in their pre-season tour of Japan in the summer.
A familiar Stamford Bridge legend joins the illustrious Shed Wall.
And the voting for Chelsea’s Player of the Year award is now open.
Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea
Despite a decent performance throughout, Chelsea could not hold back the quality of title challengers Liverpool as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at Anfield.
The Reds controlled the majority of the game, although Maurizio Sarri’s Blues held their nerve and had their chances throughout.
However, a first half injury to Antonio Rudiger seemed to catch Sarri’s men off guard as the South West Londoners fell onto the back foot.
Pressure finally took its toll in the second half, when Jordan Henderson’s lofted ball inside the box found Sadio Mane at the far post, whose header gave Liverpool a deserved lead.
The jaws of Anfield suddenly dropped just two minutes later, when former Blue Mohamed Salah unleashed a thunderbolt from outside of the area which flew past Kepa Arrizabalaga – a stark reminder of what Chelsea used to have at their disposal.
The Blues best player on the day, Eden Hazard, had the chance to score two goals soon after when he found himself with the ball unmarked inside the box. Unfortunately his effort struck the post before his next effort was saved by Alisson.
The defeat meant that Chelsea dropped to fifth, level on points with fourth-placed Arsenal who have a game in hand, and two points in front of sixth-placed Manchester United who also have a game in hand.
Chelsea 4-3 Slavia Prague
The defeat at Anfield did not deter The Blues’ attention as they booked their place in the UEFA Europa League semi-final with a frantic 4-3 win over Slavia Prague at Stamford Bridge, a tie which they won 5-3 on aggregate.
Sarri’s side got off to a terrific start when a sumptuous period of play between Cesar Azpilicueta, Olivier Giroud and Pedro worked the ball in to the box. The ball finally fell to Pedro who lofted the ball over Slavia Prague keeper Ondrej Kolar to take the lead.
It was 2-0 soon after when Pedro’s effort, which hit the bar, rebounded helplessly onto Simon Deli’s head and the player could do nothing about the own goal as a result.
Giroud made it three before Slavia Prague captain Tomas Soucek pulled a goal back. Pedro doubled his goal tally just over a minute later as Chelsea temporarily ended the threat of a comeback from the Czech side.
Petr Sevcik then gave the visiting supporters hope with two brilliant goals, but Chelsea held on professionally to set up a semi-final tie with German outfit Eintracht Frankfurt.
Chelsea to face Barcelona
More details of Chelsea’s pre-season schedule have been released as they are set to face Catalan giants Barcelona as part of the Rakuten Cup in Japan.
The tournament will also feature J-League side Vissel Kobe, who have the likes of former Barcelona legends Andres Iniesta and David Villa in their armoury.
This comes after The Blues announced a friendly against current J-League champions Kawasaki Frontale in the Meiji Yasuda J-League World Challenge, which will also take place in July.
Shed Wall legend announced
Chelsea’s wall of honour adds another name to the list of legends. This time it finally sees Bobby Tambling on the Shed Wall.
Tambling’s vote rose against the likes of Roy Bentley, Charlie Cooke and Jimmy Greaves and was inducted ahead of Chelsea’s European night against Slavia Prague.
A famous figure around Stamford Bridge, Tambling once held the record for being the club’s highest ever goalscorer with 202 to his name. This was before it was eventually broken by Frank Lampard, who finished his Chelsea career with an incredible 211 goals from midfield.
Player of the year voting opens
Supporters can now vote for their 2018/2019 Player of the Year, which goes alongside the Chelsea awards evening that takes place on Friday 10 May.
The awards evening promises to see Chelsea players past and present as the season comes to a close in stylish fashion.
Fans can vote on www.chelseafc.com.
That’s all for this week. Join us again next week for more from the Stamford Roar!