Chelsea’s final match of 2018 saw them pick up a victory away from home in a cagey all-London affair.
Three days after bowing out the year successfully, their winning run came to an end after drawing in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.
The new year has signalled the opening of the January transfer window, and the Blues have wasted little time in getting involved by making their first signing of the month, and a pricey one at that.
One of the club’s former midfielders, who won three Premier League titles in the space of seven years, has joined the academy’s coaching staff.
And, one of the Blues’ midfielders, who spent the first of half of the campaign on loan in Sky Bet League One, has returned to South West London.
Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea
N’Golo Kante’s third goal of the season sealed victory early into the second half, as he controlled David Luiz’s superb pass before slotting his effort past Vicente Guaita.
The victory could have been more comfortable for the Blues, with Olivier Giroud having a goal disallowed for offside in both halves, which were both very questionable. Giroud left the match on crutches, ruling him out of Chelsea’s opening match of the new year.
That win saw them move to five points clear of fifth-placed side Arsenal.
Chelsea 0–0 Southampton
The Blues started the match without having Pedro, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mateo Kovacic and Giroud available to them, who were all forced out through injury. To make matters worse, Willian was replaced before half time for the same reason, adding to Sarri’s current issues.
Alvaro Morata, who was making his first start in six matches, had put the ball in the net midway through the second half, but as Giroud had three days ago, saw his attempt disallowed for offside, again, in questionable circumstances.
It meant that Arsenal closed the gap on the Blues to just three points.
The first signing of the month
Pulisic has returned to the German side for the duration of this season and has signed a five-and-a-half-year contract with the Blues.
He has played 115 times for Dortmund since signing for their academy in 2015 and in November 2018, the 20-year-old became the youngest player to captain the United States of America’s national side, during a friendly defeat to Italy.
It leaves Chelsea with a winger whose long-term future is committed with the club, with all of their current wide options, Eden Hazard, Pedro, Willian and Hudson-Odoi’s contracts all expiring in 18 months.
His astonishing transfer fee makes him the most expensive American in football history, a record that was held by Wolfsburg defender John-Anthony Brooks.
Joe Cole returns
Ex-Blues player and former England international Joe Cole will become the latest former Chelsea player to join the club’s coaching staff.
His role as a technical academy coach will see him work closely with both Andy Myers’ under-18s side and Joe Edwards’ under-23s team.
Cole retired from playing two months ago, ending his career in America with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who he scored 20 goals for in 86 appearances.
Midfielder Charlie Colkett, who was meant to spend the duration of the season on loan with Shrewsbury Town, has returned to Chelsea.
The 22-year-old, who has been on loan with Bristol Rovers, Swindon Town and Vitesse Arnhem in the past, has made just six appearances for the Shrews this season, five of which have been outside of League One.
Colkett has won the FA Youth Cup twice and the UEFA Youth League twice with the Blues’ academy and won 20 caps across England’s youth sides.
That’s all for this week, tune in next Thursday where I will be discussing Chelsea’s matches in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and more in the Stamford Roar.