Chelsea began their 2018 with a tricky London derby away against one of their fiercest rivals.
Before then, they ended 2017 with a convincing win in the English Premier League.
One of The Blues’ star players received an award from supporters of his national side while two of Chelsea’s young talents were recalled from loan deals in Yorkshire. Chelsea also completed their first signing of the January transfer window on Tuesday.
Blues supporter and Football Journalism student Jonty Colman looks at five major talking points from around the club this week.
Chelsea 5-0 Stoke City
Chelsea started their week with a five-star performance against English Premier League strugglers Stoke City.
The hosts raced into a three-goal lead inside 23 minutes through Antonio Rudiger’s header, Danny Drinkwater’s first goal for the club and Pedro’s curling effort.
Willian extended Chelsea’s lead to four after the restart from the penalty spot and substitute Davide Zappacosta’s shot from outside of the penalty area completed the rout. That was Zappacosta’s first league goal for The Blues.
The result moved Chelsea up to second place for the first time this season, after Manchester United were held to a goalless draw by Southampton.
Meanwhile, Stoke City manager and former Blues player Mark Hughes remains under serious pressure after the result moved them down 15th in the league table and just two points clear of the relegation zone.
Arsenal 2–2 Chelsea
The two London rivals played out a fascinating and enthralling 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Arsenal took the lead in the second half from Jack Wilshere’s strike; however, Eden Hazard levelled from the penalty spot four minutes later after he was fouled by Hector Bellerin in the area.
Chelsea went ahead with six minutes remaining when Marcos Alonso turned in substitute Davide Zappacosta’s low cross for his sixth goal of the season, the most of any defender in this English Premier League campaign.
However, Bellerín made amends for his earlier mistake in stoppage time with a fine curling effort from outside of the penalty area to earn the hosts a point.
Blues forward Alvaro Morata had several clear-cut chances to score in the match, but he was unable to beat Chelsea legend Petr Cech.
Thibaut Courtois also put in a strong performance, with both of Arsenal’s goals being finishes of the highest quality.
The point for The Blues dropped them down to third, after Manchester United were 2-0 winners away against Everton on New Year’s Day.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are in sixth place, five points behind the top four.
It was the first of three meetings in January between the two sides, as the London rivals face each other home and away in the semi-finals in the Carabao Cup.
If either of the upcoming cup ties are remotely similar to the 2-2 draw on Wednesday, then all attending fans will be in for a treat.
National award from Hazard
Eden Hazard has been named as Belgium’s Player of the Year for 2017.
The Devil of the Year award is voted for by Belgium supporters, and Hazard, who captained his national side this year in the absence of Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany, guided Belgium to qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Hazard finished ahead of former Chelsea teammates Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku to win the award.
Duo return from loan
Blues players Kasey Palmer and Ike Ugbo have both returned from loan deals away from Stamford Bridge.
Attacking midfielder Palmer has spent the last season-and-a-half on loan with Huddersfield Town and guided them to promotion up to the English Premier League for the first time last season. However, after suffering a hamstring injury, Palmer has struggled for game time and has only featured five times for The Terriers this season.
Meanwhile, striker Ugbo has been on loan at Barnsley since July, but has only scored once in 18 appearances this season.
I personally feel that it is unlikely that either man will be part of Antonio Conte’s plans this season and we could see both returning players being sent back out on loan to new temporary homes this month.
Chelsea sign teenager
Chelsea are believed to have completed the signing of 16-year-old forward Thierno Ballo from Viktoria Koln according to The Sun.
The Austria Under-17 international has featured in a few friendlies for The Blues’ youth team, including in a 6-1 victory over West Ham United, where Ballo scored five of them.
Ballo had been playing for Bayer Leverkusen until moving to Koln in 2016.
It is believed that the Guinean-born player will now be part of Jody Morris’ Under-18 side.
Join us again next week for more from the Stamford Roar!