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Sam Kerr Nets WSL First as Blues Go a Year Unbeaten With Staggering 4-1 Win at Title Rivals Arsenal

​’Wow, wow, wow’ were the words of Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, as her side put Arsenal to the sword in a decisive Women’s Super League clash, winning the biggest match of the season so far by four goals to one. 

The two London giants went head to head in a massive second vs third showdown at Meadow Park, but while it was expected to be a crucial 90 minutes in the title race, it was over within 20. 

It was a sell-out crowd at ​Arsenal, but the massive home crowd were reeling when Beth England curled in a spectacular left-footed opener, before Australia’s Sam Kerr – still fresh on the scene after her arrival from Chicago Red Stars – headed in her first WSL goal to put the Blues in dreamland. 


That was only the start however, as ​Chelsea were not letting up. 

Both early goals had been of terrific quality, but it was a goal of the season contender that put the game well and truly to bed. The moment of magic from Wales captain Sophie Ingles, who watched the ball bounce into her path following a corner, before arrowing a pristine left footed effort across goal, and left Manuela Zinsberger unable to even sniff it as it nestled in the top corner. 

From here on, it was really damage limitation from Arsenal, but they were unable to prevent things getting worse shortly after the hour mark when Jonna Andersson crossed for Guro Reiten to head the game well and truly out of reach. 


Arsenal got one back through a familiar source in Beth Mead, but it mattered little, as Chelsea stormed to a momentous victory that will really boost their hopes of reining in Manchester City at the top of the division. 


​A point would have left Arsenal in top spot, but they remain behind City on goal difference, and now sit just a point ahead of Chelsea. The Blues hold a game in hand, but can go top before they play it, as they take on West Ham in their next match while Arsenal will look to pick up the pieces with a trip to the current leaders. 


For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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Ranking London’s Football League Clubs Based on Their Current State & Expectations

​The capital.

Home to Big Ben, a long-standing bagel rivalry, being kicked and elbowed on the Central Line but, most importantly, football.

Plenty of it, as well.

Yes, the second biggest city in Europe is home to countless clubs, 12 of which feature in the top four tiers of English football. There are rivalries galore, clubs steeped in history, stories of financial pain and financial gain, dodgy owners, successful owners but nevertheless a healthy dose of entertainment to get your teeth sunk into every glorious week. This, is a football city like no other.

Brentford v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship

Where do they all rank among this, I hear you ask? Well, simply ranking them in terms of how good they are right now would be a straightforward list of their league positions. That’s not the end game here.

No, instead let’s try to rank them accordingly based on the current state of the team and club relative to their status and their likely expectations, not whether they’re in a top four battle or have history on their side. Let us try something different.


12. Leyton Orient

Leyton Orient v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League Two

Division: League Two

Manager: Ross Embleton

Home Ground: Brisbane Road

Capacity: 9,271

A League One side for no less than nine seasons, the collapse of Leyton Orient has been both worrying and substantial for the east London side.

At the end of the 2013/14 season, the club ended the season finishing third, getting all the way to Wembley Stadium for the League One playoff final only to be beaten on penalties by Rotherham after a 2-2 draw.

Those missed spot-kicks proved to be more costly than initially expected, and the following season they finished 23rd in the league, dropping to the fourth tier. They dropped out of the Football League two seasons after before clawing their way back up, but the second oldest club in London are not in a good way and feasibly won’t be returning to the upper echelons any time soon.


11. Queens Park Rangers

Queens Park Rangers v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship

Division: Championship

Manager: Mark Warburton

Home Ground: Loftus Road

Capacity: 18,439

​QPR have found themselves in the top two tiers since 2004, where they’ve managed to avoid relegation back into League One and made it up into the Premier League for three seasons after winning promotion twice.

That said, financial issues have troubled the club over the past few seasons. And while their dispute with the EFL was eventually solved, it left the club cash-strapped and heavily reliant on academy players to see them through.

Since then they’ve been languishing around the lower parts of the Championship, and their fortunes don’t appear to be turning any time soon – despite a plethora of managers bidding to be the one to return them to glory.


10. West Ham

David Moyes

Division: Premier League

Manager: David Moyes

Home Ground: London Stadium

Capacity: 66,000

​West Ham are a huge football club. A massive, claret and blue juggernaut who’ve won one European Cup Winners Cup and three FA Cups in their history. 

Yet, where they are now after the masses of money they’ve thrown about means they’re falling by the wayside based on the current state of London clubs.

Sure, they took up the tenancy at a big and fancy stadium, but they’ve only finished above the top ten once in the last seven seasons and seem incapable of appointing either the right manager or signing the right players.

One appearance in a Carabao Cup semi-final is all they have to show since they came back up from the Championship, with trophies discarded in place of trying to climb up the league table. Sure, they’re rarely in threat of really being relegated, but mid-table mediocrity every season isn’t the right reflection for a club of this stature. It’s all a bit ‘meh’ in east London.


9. AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon v Milton Keynes Dons - Carabao Cup First Round

Division: League One

Manager: Glyn Hodges

Home Ground: Kingsmeadow

Capacity: 4,850

There are so many things to appreciate about AFC Wimbledon. Formed by fans of Wimbledon FC in protest after the club announced plans to relocate to Milton Keynes, what they’ve managed to achieve since then is hugely commendable.

Starting at the ninth level of the football pyramid, they won promotion to the Football League in just nine seasons. They’re now up in League One and currently building a new home ground.

Sure, they’re a struggling third tier side, but to be where they are having only been formed in 2002, that deserves credit. If they can get a few things right transfer wise and appoint a manager with the necessary credentials to see them climb the table, then there are things to get excited about in south London. 


8. Millwall

Millwall FC v Newport County AFC - FA Cup Third Round

Division: Championship

Manager: Gary Rowett

Home Ground: The Den

Capacity: 20,146

This is arguably one of ​Millwall’s better seasons in recent memory.

They’ve appointed a pragmatic coach who knows what it takes to win football matches – albeit not in the most beautiful manner – but Millwall are not a beautiful club. Which, by the way, is in no way a disrespect. They’re one of the most hated sides in England alongside Leeds United, but that’s something they themselves couldn’t care tuppence about.

At present, they’re on course to secure a Championship playoff berth, but historically they’ve never been able to sustain any meaningful run of form beyond one season. Being there or thereabouts, normally a good finish in the league is followed by a miserable one. But heck, give them the benefit of the doubt, they’re a decent second tier side at the moment.


7. Arsenal

Arsenal FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League

Division: Premier League

Manager: Mikel Arteta

Home Ground: Emirates Stadium

Capacity: 60,260

It’s bleak at the moment. Very, very bleak.

​Arsenal look more like becoming an established mid-table side than they do returning to the Champions League conversation. Fans of the club haven’t seen their side be this atrocious for over 40 years. They are, indeed, in crisis. 

However, is there light at the end of the tunnel? You have to say, yes. The process will be long, but there are some talented players in the squad. Get in some decent defenders to fix a shambolic backline and they won’t be far off the European spots. 

Maybe, that is. Just maybe. Because this part of north London is riddled with issues from the top down. Owned by someone with little to no interest in the club and taking a huge risk by appointing a rookie manager to oversee the rebuild is a combination that could go either way. Oh, and they can’t win a football match to save their lives at the moment.


6. Tottenham Hotspur

FBL-ENG-PR-WATFORD-TOTTENHAM

Division: Premier League

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Home Ground: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Capacity: 62,062

It might be hard to fathom why ​Spurs are as high as sixth in this standing but, despite the ongoing issues at the club, you have to say they’re in a healthier situation than…well, Arsenal.

The reasons for that are clear. Firstly, they have a magnificent new stadium that is going to rake money in and help them in the transfer market, and they have a manager in the dugout who will attract players all on his own, by sheer force of personality.

All that said though, they’re in dire straits at the moment. Jose Mourinho’s appointment has not had the desired effect (yet), with a leaky defence now coupled with a striker-less attack. One win in six Premier League matches is a torrid run, and an ageing squad needs plenty of work before it’s able to fight on four fronts once again. But they’re in a transition at the moment, and patience is needed.


5. Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace v Leicester City - Premier League

Division: Premier League

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Home Ground: Selhurst Park

Capacity: 25,456

A plucky south London side who’ve flirted with relegation once or twice since getting promoted to the Premier League, there is a lot to of praise to be sent the Eagles’ way for them now properly establishing themselves as a top-flight side. Throw in some superb supporters for good measure and you’ve got yourself a club that’s going places.

It’s not all rosy, though. Their best player is itching to leave the club at the next given opportunity and Roy Hodgson is not getting any younger. He’s made them stable, united the fans, and has the experience necessary to mastermind the odd shock result against a big side. But when he goes, will there be anyone capable of replacing him?

​Palace had a stab at new ideas, but Frank de Boer’s reign is best left unmentioned. At present they’re doing brilliantly, but where they will go after Zaha and Hodgson depart is a genuine concern. 


4. Charlton Athletic

Charlton Athletic v West Bromwich Albion - FA Cup Third Round

Division: Championship

Manager: Lee Bowyer

Home Ground: The Valley

Capacity: 27,111

The wait is finally over. Years of pain and anguish were finally ended in on 2nd January when ​Charlton confirmed Roland Duchatelet’s ill-fated tenure as owner was over.

This is a man – in no soft terms – who was despised by supporters. He took over in January 2014, making five managerial changes in his first two years of ownership and seeing Charlton relegated from the Championship at the end of the 2015/16 season.

Fast forward and the club are now back up in the second tier under Lee Bowyer, with the new ownership vowing to spend money at the club and return them to their former glories. The Addicks were a Premier League side not 13 years ago, and the renewed optimism around the club has fans dreaming of a return once more. It’s all positive and joyous in south east London, for a set of supporters who’ve been through suffering.


3. Fulham

Fulham v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship

Division: Championship

Manager: Scott Parker

Home Ground: Craven Cottage

Capacity: 25,700

Little ol’ ​Fulham. That quaint west London, Thames-overlooking and pleasant club that in most ways are just a nice club. They’ve got plenty going for them: a solid academy, an owner he genuinely cares about them, a club favourite at the helm and a more than decent squad that is flying high in the Championship.

There is every possibility they could become the new West Brom, though. Yo-yoing up and down the first and second division, never quite having enough to sustain their top-flight status but equally too good for the Championship. But the expectations and early signs suggest that won’t be the case. They’re building for the future, and doing it the right way.

This is a club willing to invest time into youth, play attractive, attacking football, boast a neat ground and are situated in a posh part of London. You go, Fulham.


2. Chelsea

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-BURNLEY

Division: Premier League

Manager: Frank Lampard

Home Ground: Stamford Bridge

Capacity: 41,631

Chelsea are a top four club. Simple as that, it’s what they are. While there are plenty of holes to poke into Frank Lampard’s first season in charge of the club, immense credit must be given to the rookie coach for what he’s managed to achieve given the circumstances.

Unable to make any signings over the summer, he was forced to field youth on his Stamford Bridge voyage. While the ship has veered off course once or twice, they’ve kept their focus and have surprised plenty of onlookers with how they’ve fared this season.

There are young prospects in that side who are on the cusp of starting for England when the European Championships come around. In Europe, the Champions League looks like being Chelsea’s home for the long run, and with money in the bank, the names being linked to the Blues will have Chelsea fans purring. By London standards, they’re doing alright.


1. Brentford

Brentford team huddle

Division: Championship

Manager: Thomas Frank

Home Ground: Griffin Park

Capacity: 12,763

My oh my, how astonishingly well are ​Brentford doing? 

They’ve lived a nomadic existence after playing at five different grounds, while their current home is the humble Griffin Park with its 12,763-seater capacity. The Bees are, by all accounts, a small club.

Which is why it’s incredible to see them flying high in the Championship and with Premier League football in their sights. Financially they are no heavyweight either, with all seven of their record signings coming over the most recent summer – £5.85m their record ever.

This is a club punching so far above their weight right now. Under Thomas Frank they play an expansive style of football that is both entertaining and effective, with a loyal fanbase whose expectations have been surpassed ten-fold. 

A new stadium is on the horizon as well as the club bid to continue building on their success. I mean, really, is there anything not to like about Brentford right now? They recruit brilliantly, have a great academy and play enticing football. This is a club on the up, an ‘up’ they shouldn’t even be on, but one they fully deserve.


For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!  

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8 Never-Ending Transfer Sagas That Just Dragged On & On & On

​There’s nothing more frustrating than a transfer saga that refuses to end. 

All we want is confirmation, one way or the other. And this January we’re caught right in the middle of a couple of the longest-running transfer sagas we’ve seen in years. They’re at no signs of an end, either.

With that in mind, what better time is there to review some of history’s most tedious transfer sagas? Here’s eight of the best (or, possibly, worst) for you lucky readers.


Bruno Fernandes to Man Utd

Bruno Fernandes

Where else to start but with this humdinger.

Silky playmaker Bruno Fernandes has hit a combined 78 goals and assists in his last 79 matches for Sporting CP. In other words, he’s a very attractive prospect for most of Europe’s big clubs.

This story has seen both Manchester giants, ​Tottenham Hotspur, ​Chelsea, ​Inter and many others fall at the Portuguese midfielder’s feet. It’s the ​Red Devils who look to be closing in on him, but at the moment talks between United and Sporting remain in deadlock over a transfer fee.

We could’ve said the same six months ago.


Paul Pogba to Real Madrid? Juventus?

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba never seems to be fully content with his situation at Old Trafford, which has led to persistent rumours that the Frenchman is looking to engineer an escape route.

A U-turn is on the cards as ​Juventus make their interest known, while ​Real Madrid are likewise lurking. Zinedine Zidane’s side have been tracking him for some time, and could swoop in the summer.

This saga just needs to close, and everyone just needs to move on.


Neymar’s Return to Barcelona

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PARIS-CAEN

In the summer of 2018, we began hearing rumours that ​Barcelona were working day and night on a deal to bring Paris Saint-German’s Neymar back to Camp Nou. 

Guess what came of it? 

Nothing.

Fast forward 12 months and La Blaugrana are once more on the hunt for the Brazilian superstar after Ousmane Dembele’s struggles. 

But wait! Now it sounds like the Catalans have no interest in re-signing Neymar, who they view as a troublesome player with the potential to damage squad harmony.

Still, the saga refuses to die, with the Spanish champions ​allegedly set to return for the PSG forward once the current campaign reaches its conclusion. 

At this rate, we’ll be talking about this transfer until the day Neymar retires, and maybe after that, too.


Sol Campbell’s Betrayal

fans tottenham

​Tottenham supporters were a little on edge back in 2000, with various media outlets linking club captain Sol Campbell with a free transfer to north London rivals ​Arsenal.

Nevertheless, the Spurs faithful weren’t too concerned when the rumours started to emerge. A move to the Gunners sounded outlandish, and the skipper had repeatedly reaffirmed his commitment to the Lilywhites.

Speculation grew, however, and it continued to do so. For over a year, Campbell’s future was very much up in the air, and a hot topic of conversation. The longer he refused to put pen to paper on a new deal, the more worried Tottenham supporters got.

The media frenzy finally ended in July 2001 as Arsenal announced the capture of the centre-back. Fair to say, those he left behind were livid, labelling him ‘Judas’ for his controversial transfer, and the manner in which he went about it.


Chelsea’s Fondness for Steven Gerrard

Chelsea v Liverpool UEFA Champions League at Stamford Bridge 2005

You can see why ​Chelsea were determined to lure Steven Gerrard away from ​Liverpool, with the Blues hoping to pair him up with Frank Lampard, thereby forming a midfield super group.

It seems the boyhood Reds fan was likewise keen on joining Jose Mourinho’s revolution in west London, before opting to stay at Anfield in light of death threats from Reds supporters.

Gerrard had handed in a transfer request mere months after he’d led the Merseysiders to victory in the 2005 ​Champions League final, having been linked with a switch to Chelsea for well over 12 months.

Were it not for the threats he received – as well as the stunning protests that took place outside Anfield and Melwood – we may well have seen Stevie G slipping up for the Blues, rather than the Reds.


Paulo Dybala’s Juventus Exit

FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-LOKOMOTIV

It’s January 2020, and we’re still discussing Paulo Dybala’s impending departure from ​Juventus.

The Argentine has looked to be on his way out of La Vecchia Signora ever since the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin, but as things stand, he’ll be at the Allianz Stadium until next summer, at least.

​Issues over image rights were all that stopped Dybala joining Tottenham in August, demonstrating how close he’s come to cutting ties with Juve. 

So, he’s still pushing for a move away, right? Nope, the forward has instead started ​negotiating a new contract with the club. It won’t be long before his name is littering the rumour mill once again.


Real Madrid’s Pursuit of Eden Hazard

FBL-ESP-BEL-REAL MADRID

This one began midway through the last decade as people started to appreciate what a wonderfully gifted footballer Eden Hazard is. Fans realised he was – to recycle an over-used pun – the ​Real deal.

Then Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane went and said ​he’d pick the Belgian over Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, which was always going to cause some commotion.

And so, the hunt began, with Real Madrid spending the next five years tracking Hazard, the Spaniards eventually getting their way last June as they wrapped up a €100m deal for the Chelsea winger.

Of course, there were twists and turns along the way. One minute, Real were abandoning their pursuit, and the next, they were prepared to break the bank to land him. 

By the time Easter 2019 rolled around, Blues fans had accepted Hazard’s departure was unavoidable, and so it proved. At least they had some time to prepare for his exit.


Cesc Fabregas’ Catalan Homecoming

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas was probably linked with a return to Barcelona before he’d even been born, such was the drawn-out nature of this saga.

From the moment he made his Arsenal debut in 2003, the midfielder’s future in north London was up for debate, with the media incessantly reporting that La Blaugrana wanted their man back.

Many campaigns came and went, but nothing came of the speculation, though a day never went by without a newspaper claiming Fabregas was poised for a Catalan homecoming.

There was only one way the story would end, the playmaker re-signing for his hometown club in 2011 after Barça agreed a £35m fee with the Gunners. 

Sadly, things didn’t work out for Cesc at Camp Nou, with Chelsea bringing him back to the ​Premier League just three years later.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter

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Newcastle 1-0 Chelsea: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Resolute Magpies Steal Dramatic Late Victory

Newcastle earned their first league win in five in dramatic circumstances on Saturday afternoon, as they beat Chelsea 1-0 at St. James’ Park.

​Newcastle had the first real chance of the game, when Joelinton’s header thundered off the crossbar. Chelsea responded soon after with two big chances of their own, with Tammy Abraham’s creative backheel coming off the bar and N’Golo Kante denied by Martin Dubravka.

The second half began with far less energy, though the Blues came close to breaking the deadlock. The ball came across to Willian in acres of space, but the Brazilian could only drag his effort wide in a squandered chance for Frank Lampard’s men.


Chelsea kept banging on the door, desperate for a goal. Abraham took the ball around Dubravka but couldn’t convert from a tight angle, before the Englishman’s deft close-range flick was calmly hooked off the line by Matt Ritchie.

Finally, right at the end, Newcastle snatched the three points in incredible fashion. Four minutes into stoppage time, Allan Saint-Maximin put the ball back into the box, as Isaac Hayden headed it home to send Tyneside into pandemonium and secure a dramatic win for the Magpies.


NEWCASTLE

Key Talking Point

Isaac Hayden

With four league games without a win and sitting just four points clear of the relegation zone, ​Newcastle were vying for a result on Saturday. They started the game positively and had a glaring chance to take the lead when Joelinton’s header smacked off the crossbar.

That proved to be the closest they came all afternoon, with the Magpies failing to really threaten their visitors’ goal. However, they were organised and resolute in defence, staying firm and organised to keep out the opposing threats in a very sound defensive performance.

Finally, Newcastle did the unexpected and snatched the three points in the most incredible way possible. The Magpies showed incredible character and determination to keep fighting for the winner, in what is a famous victory for Steve Bruce’s side in a hugely dramatic finish.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Dubravka (7*); Krafth (6), Clark (6), Lascelles (6), Fernandez (6), Willems (N/A);

Almiron (7), Shelvey (6), Hayden (7), Saint-Maximin (6); Joelinton (6).

Substitutes: Ritchie (6), S.Longstaff (6), M.Longstaff (N/A).


STAR MAN – The Magpies wouldn’t have been able to snatch the winner in the last minute without Martin Dubravka’s performance in goal. He smothered and shut out every chance Chelsea had on his goal, earning a thoroughly deserved and satisfying clean sheet.

Tammy Abraham,Martin Dubravka


CHELSEA

Key Talking Point

Chelsea had the momentum of back to back wins and clean sheets, and looked comfortable amid the Newcastle pressure. Once they settled into the game they were in full flow, attacking the hosts from all angles and breaking down their defence bit by bit with some strong crosses.

Willian

It soon became clear that the Blues were in cruise control, yet had nothing to show for their possession and close efforts on goal. They pushed for the breakthrough but couldn’t find it, and as the game progressed they seemed to lose the momentum built and started to lose energy.

What happened in the final seconds was unacceptable, losing the game in the most painful way possible. Chelsea were underwhelming all game but the way they threw the game away in the dying seconds is utterly astounding- there are a lot of questions that must be asked of Frank Lampard’s side.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Arrizabalaga (6); James (7*), Rudiger (6), Christensen (6), Azpilicueta (6); Kante (7), Jorginho (6), Mount (6); Willian (5), Abraham (6), Hudson-Odoi (6).

Substitutes: Barkley (6), Emerson (6), Batshuayi (N/A).


STAR MAN – Chelsea’s best moments came from Reece James, who put in another outstanding display. His fantastic crossing and tireless work down the right flank is no new sight but a brilliant one to see, in an excellent individual performance amid a poor team one.



Looking Ahead

Newcastle are in midweek action on Tuesday, facing ​Everton at Goodison Park. The Magpies will then look to progress past the FA Cup fourth round for the first time in 14 years, with Oxford United the visitors to St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Chelsea have a tasty London derby up next, when they welcome rivals ​Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. The Blues then travel up north in the FA Cup, meeting Championship side ​Hull City next Saturday.


For more from Nischal Schwager-Patel, follow him on Twitter here!

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Twitter Reacts as Newcastle Secure Incredible Stoppage Time Win Over Frustrated Chelsea

Newcastle earned a huge three points in their battle for survival at St. James’ Park, as they beat Chelsea 1-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Newcastle were looking to end a torrid run of four league games without a win, with their last victory coming before Christmas. Chelsea on the other hand were hoping to build on last week’s 3-0 win over Burnley, affirming their grip on fourth place in the race for the top four.

​Joelinton came closest to opening the scoring early on, but his bullet header cannoned off the crossbar. The Magpies were enjoying a lively start to affairs, and were desperately unlucky not to go in front at St. James’ Park.

Chelsea were next to come close, having a double chance to take the lead. First, Tammy Abraham’s audacious flick came off the bar before being flagged for offside, then N’Golo Kante was denied by a smart save from Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.




The visitors needed a stroke of luck to break through, and it looked as if they had received exactly that when a loose Newcastle ball fell inside the box. Abraham picked it up and went around Dubravka, but the angle was too tight as he could only fire wide of the post.


With seconds left on the clock in the final minute of stoppage time, Newcastle defied all odds and snatched the win. Isaac Hayden’s header from Allen Saint-Maximin’s ball in was all it took, as the Magpies broke Chelsea hearts and stole a priceless victory in front of their adoring fans.



Both sides are back in Premier League action midweek, with just three days before they both play next. Newcastle welcome Everton at Goodison Park, while Chelsea host rivals Arsenal in

a tasty London derby at Stamford Bridge.


For more from Nischal Schwager-Patel, follow him on Twitter here!

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