Written by @chelsea.edition
As a Chelsea fan every time I get into a debate about anything to do with Chelsea one of the comments that I always get is that "your club are just a bunch of racists" and that angers me so much and I'll tell you why.
First of all I would like to say that I do not condone any racist behaviour from fans and as a black person myself find them absolutely disgusting and don't deserve to be called "fans".
I'm going to go back to 2015 when videos emerged of Chelsea fans not allowing an innocent black man onto a Paris metro while singing "We're racist, We're racist, and that's the way we like it".
Since that, rival supporters or just anyone that doesn't support Chelsea has started to stereotype us fans as being racist because of these five idiots. Five people have made millions around the globe that watched that video think Chelsea are just a horrible club and are disgusting and that enrages me so much.
I repeat, five people gave this club this stereotype, what about the other millions that just love the club like I do and are not stupid like those five. Us fans welcome in everyone and these disgusting people just thought they were hard. If you fans that like to call us racist have forgotten, the five people involved were banned for life and Chelsea even offered the man VIP tickets which he kindly accepted.
I was mostly speaking about this to a Celtic fan who's only real comeback to any of my statements was "You're all racist" and I just returned with, well Celtic aren't exactly all saints are they. It is not unknown for Celtic fans to be causing trouble on away days, ripping up seats and starting fights but I know that that's not the real Celtic, it's just a tiny, tiny percentage of the fan base that give them a bad name.
I don't even want to call them fans, these people give the club they apparently love a bad name because of their beliefs and that makes our beautiful game look ugly.
Written by @samjsneddon & @simplydave_
Welcome to the first article in our brand new series: The Dave and Sam Show. We'll be covering some of the latest and greatest football news, rumours and gossip, all here on Socabol. Today, we are discussing Chelsea FC head coach, Antonio Conte.
Conte's future at Chelsea has been in doubt recently, as the Italian gaffer has received criticism over some of the results his team have produced and the drop in league standing since last year's incredible league title win. Rumours were also circulating about the opening of an Italian National Team manager position, with the board allegedly eyeing him up as their number one target.
On this part of the article, we'll be giving OUR opinions.
Antonio Conte’s reign at Chelsea has been interesting, to say the least. After winning the league relatively easily last season, he has struggled to replicate the same results this season.
There have been a few factors that have contributed to the decline in results and performance. The first being the sale of Diego Costa. Costa has integral to everything Chelsea did well, especially in the first half of the season. After the switch to 343. His tireless running and harassing of defenders allowed Chelsea to operate higher up the pitch, as well as allowing Hazard to be more involved higher up the pitch.
Secondly, recruitment over the summer was poor. Chelsea loaned out young players like Baker, Aina and Loftus-Cheek - as well as selling Chalobah, who was a big part of the title-winning season. Because of this, players like Bakayoko and Drinkwater were bought for a total of £80 million. None of them being significant upgrades on Chalobah or Loftus-Cheek.
Moreover, replacing an experienced striker with Morata, in hindsight, may have been a mistake. The signing of Morata in isolation isn’t bad. His insistence on playing him, even when in terrible form was. Morata has had problems with his mentality all his career.
When things aren’t going well for him, he tends to hide. Conte’s reluctance to play Batshuayi looks all the more strange considering he is the best finisher at the club and this is evident through the numbers he is putting up at Dortmund.
My last gripe with Conte is his apparent inability to manage games effectively. This again in hindsight was evident last season. He rarely makes substitutions before the 70th minute. When he does, it is either defensive or pure stupidity. Take the second leg vs Barcelona. The first mistake was playing Giroud instead of Morata when pace was needed in transition. His second mistake was not making a single tactical change until Chelsea were already 3-0 down. This was the poorest Barcelona team Chelsea had faced in over 15 years and he made them look like Pep’s Barca of 10/11.
With all this being said, I don’t believe Conte is a bad manager. In fact, I still think he’s an elite manager and a very good coach. However, he needs to move on for two reasons. Number one, his pragmatic nature stifles players like Hazard and Morata. In a free-flowing attacking system, both would easily hit 20+ goals in all comps.
With Conte, I’m not sure either can. Number two, Conte is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Chelsea has the best academy in England and among the best in Europe. Conte will not bring these players through. He prefers experienced players with tactical discipline. That isn’t conducive to Chelsea becoming the super club that Abramovic wants them to become.
So, what’s the solution? Chelsea needs a young vibrant coach that promotes youth and plays attacking football. To use a phrase that Jose Mourinho recently coined, Chelsea’s ‘football heritage’ is that of sacking managers to continue the winning cycle. That needs to change. A project similar to what Pep is doing at City needs to begin.
The infrastructure is there. The money is there. Someone just needs to execute. Pochettino would be the ideal manager to take the job, but Levy would never let that happen. Thomas Tuchel is another avenue that should be explored. He promotes young players, plays good football and has a pressing system similar to Klopp’s that we see works in the Premier League. He would be my ideal candidate to take over from Conte.
It's difficult for me to express my opinion on Conte, as I do not support Chelsea. Yet, I am an avid football fan and watch the occasional Premier League game when the opportunity arises. This season, I've not been entirely impressed with Chelsea.
Chelsea has been victims of some embarrassing losses, most of which, away games. These include a 0-1 loss to West Ham, a 0-3 Bournemouth defeat and a shocking 1-4 thumping from Watford.
I think Conte deserves to stay until the end of the season at least before the Chelsea board make any decisions. Now it's all down to how he performs until then.
The Fan Zone:
In this section of our article, we'll be looking at the opinions of the fans. Today, we've chosen two Chelsea fans.
“Personally I don’t think Conte should be sacked; I don’t think he got exactly what he asked for in the summer and it has therefore affected Chelsea this season. I also believe he should become the manager instead of head coach, so he makes the transfer decisions.” (via @chelsea_fans_p4ge on Instagram)
'The Chelsea Edition' had a different say.
“I just feel that he is starting to lose his love for the club each week as his relationship with the board is deteriorating. I think he has lost his charisma on the touchline which defined him but I think it will all be back if we get the win tomorrow [referring to Chelsea's second leg match against Barcelona, which ended 4-0 to the latter]” (via @chelsea.edition on Instagram)
Opinions are very spread on a matter like this, and it's understandable why many Chelsea fans wouldn't be happy with the Conte regime. Only time will tell if he'll actually keep the job.
The conversation isn't over - Tweet us using the #DaveAndSamChat. You can also find us on other Social Media - Use the following:
Sam - Twitter: @samjsneddon
Dave - Twitter: @simply_dave // Instagram @footballreview4
Written by @JamesWootton95
Surely now, time must be almost up for Arsene Wenger. The bells have chimed and the curtains have fallen after Arsenal slumbered to their fourth straight defeat at Brighton this afternoon.
First half goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray marked the Gunners eighth loss of 2018, and a fourth successive defeat for the first time under Wenger’s reign.
Despite Aubameyang’s strike at the end of the first half, it wasn’t enough as the north London side struggled to force an equaliser against a resilient Brighton side.
Brighton centre-back Dunk notched his first goal of the campaign after smashing in from Duffy’s knock-down, which should really have been Petr Cech’s ball to claim. The veteran goalkeeper will also be disappointed that he wasn’t able to keep out Murray’s header 20 minutes later. The Brighton talisman climbed highest to take his total for the Premier League campaign to 11.
Owning up to his mistakes, Cech tweeted after the game: “If you want to win a game away from home in the best league in the world, your GK can’t concede 2 goals like I did today. It’s simply not possible. The team fought back but the damage was done.”
Arsenal were able to put pressure on the Seagulls and managed to pull a goal back through their record-signing as Aubameyang flicked home from Xhaka’s cross. They were unlucky not to go into the break level as Koscielny hit the post just before the whistle.
The roar of delight as the final whistle blew at the Amex emphasised how much the victory meant to Brighton and the home fans. Albion’s victory lifts them into the top half of the table, with a seven-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone. As for Arsenal, the misery piles on, with the Champions League positions surely out of reach. They must now prepare to go again on Thursday in the Europa League against AC Milan. The Italian giants find themselves in a similar position to Arsenal, flailing in seventh place in Serie A as the once successful team struggle to keep up with the leaders.
Wenger’s reputation seems to be in tatters, and his post-match press conference didn’t help when he addressed the media with a bizarre expression: “When you have just the trousers on it’s easy to take the trousers off as well. When you’re naked completely you have to find a shirt, and try to put it on again and then you’re dressed normally again.”
With many fans shifting into the Wenger Out camp, the writing could be on the wall for the man who once led ‘The Invincibles’.
Written by @northcurverising
With Arsenal seeming to be the laughing stock of England at the moment and Arsène Wenger looking out of his depth, could this be an opportunity for current Celtic and ex-Liverpool Brendan Rodgers to get back in the mix of the Premier League?
The Northern Irishman has done an excellent job at the Scottish Champions as he had qualified for the Champions League two seasons in a row, has only lost two domestic games and is still on for another domestic treble.
I think it’s safe to say that majority of Arsenal fans want rid of the Frenchman after he has been at the north London outfit for almost 22 years.
Brendan Rodgers is still a young manager with a lot of potential and he has shown that in England already - he came just a few points off of winning the title with Liverpool.
However, Rodgers does have his faults, for example in Europe he still tries to play the same passing football that he plays in the Ladbrokes Premiership. What is effective against teams like Ross County or Hamilton Academical is hardly going to be effective against the likes of PSG or Bayern Munich (no disrespect to any of the clubs). My point is he just doesn’t have a plan B which I vital for any manager.
The Northern Irishman has publicly dispelled rumours that he may leave Celtic and claims he is still buzzing to be at the hoops.
What do you think, would Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers be good at the Gunners?
Written by @simplydave_
Spurs and Pochettino’s success has been a point of contention among rival fans for the last few seasons. The fact that they have made monumental strides without winning trophies is seen as a detracting factor. For me, that’s ludicrous, especially considering the state Spurs were in when Pochettino took over.
Poch was appointed for the 14/15 season. To give you some context, this was the after season that the Bale money was wasted and they saw players like Paulinho and Chadli bought it. A team with Roberto Saldado and Adebayor as the main attacking options going into the season. Imagine. An overhaul was desperately needed at the club and Mauricio wasted no time in doing so. Opting for young players like Mason, Benteleb, Dier and of course Harry Kane instead of ‘experienced’ pros. Their first season was reasonably successful, they finished 5th, 6 points behind United. Harry Kane finished with 21 league goals and 31 in all comps - at 21 years old. Progress.
In the next season performance levels increased. Spurs were an entirely different animal. Alderweireld, Alli and Son became regular features of the team - with Alderweireld forming a formidable partnership with Vertonghen at the back. The relentless pressing that we’ve come to expect from Pochettino sides became more evident. They were the best defensive side in the division - conceding 35 goals as well as the second best going forward scoring 69. Harry Kane went a long way to dispel the one season wonder claims by scoring 25 league goals and winning his first golden boot. This was also Alli’s breakout season. 10 goals for the teenager and eye catching performances. The team managed to finish 3rd in a two horse race behind eventual winners Leicester and North London rivals Arsenal. A draw against 10th place Chelsea and getting slapped 5-1 by Newcastle didn’t exactly help their cause. A positive to take from that season was they were the best side, regardless of league position.
16/17 saw further improvement. Tottenham finished 2nd behind a record breaking Chelsea side and also reached the semi-final of the FA Cup. This season turned Spurs into the efficient machine that we see today. Relentless pressing, solid defensively and with one of the most complete strikers we’ve seen in the Premier League era. Additions of Wanyama and Sissoko provided them with some pace and power to compliment the silky ability of players like Eriksen and the ghost of Lamela. Spurs started slowly, drawing a lot of games early on. However, once they hit their stride they were virtually unstoppable. Alli and Son hit 20 goals in all competitions as supplementary forwards, while Eriksen added around 20 assists. Kane enjoyed his most productive season in the league scoring 29 goals in 30 games.
The identity that Pochettino implemented into this side was obvious to see. Elite organisation, pressing high up the pitch and tactical flexibility - being able to switch between 343 and 4231 effortlessly. Pochettino is top 3 coaches in the league, in my opinion top 2. He’s turned Tottenham into a team able to play expansive football or absorb pressure and hit sides on the counter. Such flexibility is needed, especially while they look to advance in Europe. The progress made by both has been staggering and I expect the trophies to follow. Their biggest objective at the moment should be keeping Harry Kane. While him and Pochettino are at Spurs, the sky is the limit.
Written by @samjsneddon
It's evident to say that it would be almost arduous to refuse the chance to sign a player like Kevin De Bruyne if you were a prestigious club like Real Madrid, and it looks like Real's president, Florentino Perez thinks likewise. Spanish newspaper, Don Balon writes that Perez has a plan to improve the club if they fail to retain their position as Champions League holders, suggesting that even Zinedine Zidane could be out of the door in the summer. His plan also includes obtaining some new players in the transfer window and sitting at the top of the shortlist is De Bruyne.
Kevin De Bruyne currently sits at the top of the Premier Leauge assists table with 14, very distant from his competition. His pacy, skilful play is so difficult to describe - instead, watch it for yourself.
In 88 league appearances for Manchester City, De Bruyne has grabbed 21 goals and 41 assists, and improvement can easily be recognised as years progress.
One thing many fans might think is how he may fit into the squad at Los Blancos after his rumoured £177m move in the summer. Well, he'd obviously be a substantial player in the starting XI but it's not clear who he could replace. That being said, if City is up for it, Madrid is in for a treat, as the lad still has bags of potential.
Madrid does have a massive obstacle in the way, though, as the 26-year-old signed a new 5-year deal last month, showing his commitment to the club. If City were silly enough to approve the move, Kevin might not.
Another problem could be that Real aren't the only ones trying to land the Belgian. De Bruyne's agent, Patrick de Koster, claims that Barcelona is also interested, yet he insists his commitment still lies with The Sky Blues. He also says that his client 'fell in love' with the lifestyle in America, and wouldn't mind finishing his career at the MLS.
For now, De Bruyne looks like he's staying at City, probably for the long run, but if Real Madrid fails to obtain their target, it will be very challenging to lower their expectations for his alternative.
Written by @JamesWootton95
Refereeing has often been one of the big talking points this season due to the amount of controversial decisions and the introduction of VAR. Post-match analysis tends to be plagued with what referees could or should have done, a recent example being Liverpool’s clash with Tottenham last weekend.
With the integration of VAR in English football, the time might be upon us where referees may no longer be subject to examination after games. However, VAR has come with its fair share of controversies. Some of the key arguments that fans have with the system is about how long it takes for a decision to be made when consulting the VAR, and how to keep fans in attendance in the loop with what’s going on, like in cricket for example when decisions go to the third umpire.
Technology is not something that’s new in modern football, with the Premier League introducing the Hawkeye system in the 2013/14 season. Goal line technology was called for ever since Frank Lampard’s World Cup goal against Germany was ruled to not have gone in despite being a foot over the line. But since its introduction, not a single goal line controversy has occurred.
VAR has caused widespread debate with its efficiency and how it works. Match of the Day pundit and ex-Newcastle striker, Alan Shearer, has publically questioned the integrity of the video assistant referee by questioning how some decisions are opinion based instead of fact. Decisions such as offside and mistaken identity can be based on fact, but penalties and yellow or red card decisions can still be disagreed upon.
A widespread talking point regarding VAR and offside is if a player has been ruled onside and scores, that decision can be overruled if the VAR shows that he was in fact offside. However, imagine the scenario was turned on its head. The linesman could flag a player offside and the game would stop, but replays could show the striker was actually onside but by then it is too late to carry on with that phase of play, therefore potentially robbing the player of a goal.
So far, matches played to test the VAR have been in both the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup. These games haven’t gone as smoothly as hoped with a potential handball by Glenn Murray not even consulted by the VAR in Brighton’s FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace, and Willian being booked for diving against Norwich even though the Canaries player admitted to making contact with the Brazilian after the game. It looks as though VAR may still need a bit of time and deliberation before a decision is made on whether to use it full time in the Premier League.
Written by @samjsneddon
Prices of transfers are becoming enormously expensive - we live in a world where you can buy a man for £200m. The Premier League are big culprits for overspending and the richest of clubs can spend and spend all day long. The issue though is paying millions or even hundreds of millions of pounds on a football player can come with massive risks, its just one big gamble. Most times, this money is spent well and the players can go onto be fantastic for the club, but sometimes, it doesn't go so smoothly. I want to talk about Romelu Lukaku - "the Belgian goal-scoring machine", or so we thought.
In the summer of 2017, as we began the new season, Manchester United was desperate to sign some world-class talent, in hope of winning the league. The highlight of this was a £90m striker (£75m + add-ons), Romelu Lukaku from Everton. Man United fans around the world and even just fans of the EPL were raring to see him play. Even I thought he'd be a huge success.
Lukaku's start was a phenomenal one - scoring on his debut against Real Madrid and then twice on his league debut, (only done by 4 other Manchester Utd players). His first 9 appearances saw him score 10 goals, breaking the record held by the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton.
Today, though, we face a different matter. Although he sits 5th in the top-scorers list so far in the Premier League, his performances where it matters are defective. In fact, he has only scored ONE goal against the top six in his Manchester United career (3 goals in 29 apps total) - against Manchester City.
Now, not all is bad. In fact, to call Lukaku a bad striker is completely wrong. In 25 EPL starts, he has scored 12 goals and made 5 assists.
I thought I'd bring this up with my mates, before writing this article. Out of four of them - the one supporting Manchester United, as you would expect, was the first to answer. But not in the way I would have guessed. He said, "He's the biggest waste of money". All the others followed by claiming "he's so inconsistent" and "isn't as good as he was at Everton".
Comparing him to the top forwards in the league:
Harry Kane - 25 apps - 22 goals - 1 assist
Mo Salah - 25 apps- 21 goals - 6 assists
Sergio Aguero - 21 apps - 17 goals - 5 assists
Raheem Sterling - 24 apps - 14 goals - 6 assists
Romelu Lukaku - 25 apps - 12 goals - 5 assists
To conclude; Is Lukaku a bad striker? Of course not.
Is he ‘ThE bEsT sTrIkEr In ThE lEaGuE?’ Nope.
Is he worth £90m? Nobody is worth that much, but if someone is, it certainly isn't Lukaku.
Tell me your opinions - I'd love to hear them! Tweet me @samjsneddon.
Written by @caedaknight
The recent period of turmoil that Arsenal have descended into is evidently a cause for concern, with the increasingly difficult task of remaining relevant on the world's stage exerting an immense pressure on the club's reputation. However, is this period of poor form going to transpire into a significant period of mediocrity where the once certain bounty of champions league qualification is quickly becoming an elusive luxury?
At the time of writing Arsenal have already suffered seven defeats in the Premier League, whilst crashing out in the third round of the FA cup and sitting 8 points away from fourth place. Many attribute this recent decline to the highly controversial manager, Arsene Wenger, who despite winning three FA cups in four years is becoming a catalyst for unrest at the club. Others maintain that it is the board filled with heartless corporate giants such as Stan Kronke and Gazides that limit the ambition and success of the club. The fact of the matter is this is no longer a bad period of form and it is truly depressing as an Arsenal fan to accept a new period of instability and underachievement to envelope the club.
It is looking increasingly likely that the club are going to miss out on a Champions League spot for the second consecutive season and with the imminent retirement of Arsene Wenger, drastic measures must be taken to avoid replicating the implosion of Man United after Alex Ferguson left in 2013. The club have already made steps in the right direction by employing a new head of transfers Sven Mislintat, who has already seemed to eradicate Arsenal's timid and stingy business approach. This was reflected in the January transfer window as Arsenal were able to bag Aubameyang and Mhikitariyan whilst tying Ozil down to the club until 2021. Although we were successful with our purchases, we also lost our talisman Alexis Sanchez to Man united in a calamitous contract situation.
As Arsenal head into Saturday's clash with Everton, it is hoped the team will soon re-find their flowing form and re-occupuy our designated position of fourth. However until there is change at Arsenal FC, this persistent sense of disappointment and embarrassment will become all too frequent over the coming years.
Written by @ollie.g02
Is it really probable, or even possible, for Manchester City to do what no other English team has ever achieved - winning the quadruple: all four trophies in one season; arguably the peak of success.
I call winning the quadruple the unspeakable because it's such a hard tasm no one would have even suggested it before - the idea is authoritative but almost silent like a fart in a lift. So much so that every time it's brought up at a Manchester City press conference, Pep Guardiola quickly dismisses his side's chances of winning all four trophies. He was correct about the sky blues not being able to go unbeaten this Premier League season after a blip against Liverpool. However, with the Merseyside team slipping up since and other Premier League rivals so far behind, this is a competition that really is City's to lose.
A comeback now from City's closest rivals, both in distance and in the table, would certainly match City's own comeback to take the 2011-12 league title to say the least. Even despite the addition of City target Alexis Sachez to Mourinho's men.
As much as a defeat to Arsenal in the league cup final is, on the other hand, quite probable, the rematch of last season's FA Cup semi-final is City's to win in Guardiola's first Cup final for City, who have some unfinished business to take care of against the team that stopped them from reaching a cup final last year.
And the FA Cup itself is a beautiful competition - it only takes one average game and a team a division or two below will pounce on the opportunity to take advantage of a team who are supposedly currently the best in the country. However, on paper, Pep Guardiola does not enjoy defeat at the best of times so he's not that coach who claims not to focus on a competition - one reason this City team are the most likely out of any to claim all four trophies that are up for grabs.
So domestically, City are solid. They proved that in the first half of this campaign. Where I would be slightly nervous is on the European front. City's ambition is to be Europe's best and it's about time an English club stepped up to retake that title, in my opinion. Yet it remains to be seen whether Manchester City can actually sweep aside Europe's elite or if one of the most prestigious trophies in sport will be the downfall of an excellent footballing side.
If you could describe the first half of the season as comfortable for Man City, the rest of this half could be somewhat complicated.
Collecting trophies simultaneously is always a hard task for professional sportsmen and women, probably even harder in the top flight English football than athletics (Usain Bolt achieved the Olympic triple treble; and Mo Farah achieved the Olympic double double) or rugby union (in which Saracens recently did the double), for example.
However, you can say for sure the foundations for Manchester City to become the historic side to achieve the feat are well and truly in place. If not this season, perhaps next season will see Man City collect the league, two cups and champions league. Although, I think the quadruple is definitely on for City this season, time will soon tell if 2017-18 will see Manchester City do what no other English team has ever done...