'Modest but world class' Aaron Ramsey is the perfect signing for Rangers, says his ex-team-mate

A 16-year Aaron Ramsey fan and a Rangers supporter since childhood, Warren Feeney greeted Scotland's blockbuster Deadline Day with great excitement and anticipation. (Author: Gardener)

Aaron RamseyA 16-year Aaron Ramsey fan and a Rangers supporter since childhood, Warren Feeney greeted Scotland's blockbuster Deadline Day with great excitement and anticipation. For Feeney first encountered Ramsey as an exceptional young talent who, at the tender age of 15, was rethinking important career decisions. They were politely rebuffed by a young man who insisted he represent his hometown club first in order to receive an important education. At 17, Ramsey joined Arsenal for £5million while still cruising around in his beloved lime green Ford Fiesta. Feeney, who recently acted as manager in Bulgaria, recalled: “There was a lot of fuss about Aaron. “Man United, Arsenal and Liverpool were already snooping around at 15. But what kept him grounded was that as a Cardiff boy he wanted to play for Cardiff. “He knew if he played like 25 games he would get rewards and these big clubs would come back. Cardiff was a huge championship club and Aaron knew if he played there he would have the world at his feet. “You knew it would only be a matter of time and Arsenal are a great fit. The way Arsene played Wenger was what Rambo wanted. “Now I see him turning down Premier League clubs for Rangers because they are a great club and he wanted to experience that. "He's been in the Premier League for most of his life and it must have been a big move to go back. So it's a real coup for Rangers.” Going down old ways at Arsenal or getting caught in a relegation battle with Burnley only to return to the EPL has been trumped by joining Giovanni van Bronckhorst's group. The challenge of fighting for a Scottish title and tasty Europa League games against Borussia Dortmund lured the 31-year-old to Ibrox. There he finds a kindred spirit in Feeney's former international colleague Steven Davis. Feeney explained: "Aaron is such a humble person, a bit like Stevie. People say they like players with a bit of arrogance - and you do. He had confidence but just wanted to play and nothing could ruffle the lad, which is a big deal. "A lot of young players think the world owes them a living." I remember Aaron having his Fiesta parked next to the other guys with their porches and R8s. "He was just amazing when he came to us at 15, like the ball "stuck to his feet. He was a big boy, he was filled in and didn't look out of place. You could tell the boy was something special would." He had this talent that I think is great, knowing when to move and when to stop. That's something special at that age. It's no surprise what he's accomplished." Ramsey watched Rangers' horrors from the Celtic Park stands on Wednesday night. He believes a fully fit Jack can allow Ramsey to continue thriving on the pitch for Rangers, in what is now a quest for new leaders Celtic - starting against Hearts today. I understand they are playing each other out." The insurance you have with Jack could give Rambo a free role to do a lot of damage. There's also Steven Davis who's out to get something back. "Rambo can play anywhere, "His cool head is just what Rangers need because he's a world class player." "He doesn't mind results like this while others might be down, Gio sure is thinking about firing him straight now. It's Lift Rangers who have to go into the business part of the season. I hope Rambo proves to be an excellent signing."


Rangers win big in Ramsey debut

Aaron Ramsey makes his much-anticipated Rangers debut in a heartbeat preventing Celtic from extending their one-point lead in the Scottish Premiership. (Author: Gardener)

RamseyAaron Ramsey made his much-anticipated Rangers debut as they beat Hearts to prevent Celtic from extending their one-point lead in the Scottish Premiership. The influential Alfredo Morelos netted in each half and put Glen Kamara on goal after Hearts spurned great chances before Scott Arfield scored a well-taken fourth and Fashion Sakala completed the loss. Ramsey, who was loaned to Juventus and signed in January, was given the last 14 minutes by Giovanni van Bronckhorst and, 4-0 up, could not have dreamed of an easier debut against the side who are now 16 points adrift of third place. It was a game where Morelos underscored his importance, a day that showed the striker's influence, dynamism and class time and time again. Rangers worked in the three games they played when he was an unused member of the Colombia squad. Many of the 50,000 spectators at Ibrox on Sunday will have wondered why his country took him halfway across the world to not only drop him from their lineups but from matchday squads altogether. Van Bronckhorst will certainly be delighted with his return - not least after Wednesday's soft and hurtful defeat at Celtic Park. Morelos laced a busy performance with bright flashes of subtlety. His goals came recklessly, the first coming from a superb Calvin Bassey pass and a Ryan Kent delivery; the second, an insistent left-foot curl from the edge of the box. If it was coincidence that Morelos' attempted through ball bounced straight back to his feet, then the forward did enough to deserve his lucky shot and was deadly enough to grab it. His connecting play was top-notch throughout, repeatedly pressuring Hearts' central defense - lacking Craig Halkett and Rangers-bound John Souttar. The Hearts keeper practically did this again in the final act of the game. Morelos' second, however, had been the defining moment. Because if Rangers had come flying out of the traps in the first half, they started the second while still asleep in them. Trailing 1-0, Hearts could have equalized when Nathaniel Atkinson failed to convert a glorious ball from Stephen Kingsley, and really should have equalized when Bassey's terribly weak header missed Allan McGregor and Cammy Devlin went wide. But with a swing of his left shoe, Morelos calmed the fear simmering in the home ranks. With a right turn, he sent Kamara screaming into the penalty area, where the Finn fooled a thrashing defender and pushed home. Rangers put icing on their cake late, Arfield scored in the second try from a Super Kent pick-out and Sakala converted neatly with six minutes to go. Beating Hearts – even a 5-0 win over them – won't heal the wounds inflicted by Celtic, but Rangers' pulse is strong again after Wednesday's flat-lining. The Rangers mentality has been questioned by outsiders and their own this season. Back in November, when Hibernian knocked them out of the League Cup, Connor Goldson said he felt his team had "lost a little bit of hunger". They had to prove themselves on Sunday after what Celtic did to them. Hearts will be broken at how badly this ended for them. Although Rangers dominated the game, there were chances but the Edinburgh side couldn't take them. Their moments to grab the game by the neck came early in that second half. Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Sky Sports: "We're very happy, it's a big win for us." The key is to keep playing Game In and Game Out, it's key to the way we do want to play we have to maintain that energy and there's a good chance of winning [the league] slightly capitulated. When you come to a good team you have to take your chances and we had two or three.


Rangers' wild reaction to horror show Old Firm as Hearts are swept aside at Ibrox

IBROX expected. Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Rangers delivered. (Author: Gardener)

IbroxSo does Alfredo Morelos. The forward may not have shot a ball for Colombia during his absence but he would be cheering for the champions when they return. His two goals - one in each half, one inside the box and the other from the edge of the box - would break hearts. Shots from Glen Kamara, Scott Arfield and Fashion Sakala added to the satisfaction of a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. Had that result been against Rangers, had Van Bronckhorst's side added to their misery after losing to Celtic then real questions would have been asked. As it turns out, this could prove to be the kind of outing that will allow the Rangers to stop the chute and piece together the run needed for the title race. For Rangers, however, it had a meaning of its own and the result was just as crucial, albeit for different reasons. After the champions followed their Howler in the Highlands with a capitulation against Celtic, the champions simply could not afford to leave Ibrox outraged with another performance that saw him lose ground at the top of the table. Celtic's win over Motherwell earlier in the day was another ominous sign for Rangers. The gauntlet was down and it was up to Van Bronckhorst to rise to the challenge and begin to redeem the derby disaster. Indeed, it could be some time before they are regained as Rangers look to rebuild momentum and confidence. There was no room for Aaron Ramsey as the Welshman took a seat behind Van Bronckhorst in the dugout. Ryan Jack's return to a starting spot was a welcome sight, however, and he was joined by Leon Balogun, John Lundstram and Morelos. There has been much talk of what can or should be expected of Ramsey in the coming months following his deadline day arrival from Juventus. In his case, time at Ibrox is now of the essence. But the fact that Morelos was back in the park and back on the goalscoring list was even more significant for Rangers. The move was drastic from Rangers. Calvin Bassey and Ryan Kent combined speed and precision down the left flank as Hearts sliced ​​open and placed on the back foot. Kent selected Morelos at the back post and finished well when Craig Gordon was beaten from close range. It was exactly the kind of start Rangers needed. More goals were needed to secure the points, however, and Kent twice came close to scoring them. He would have been denied a clear penalty if his jersey had been torn off in the penalty area, but he would have had to concede a goal to do so. Both times he came painfully close. As efforts narrowly dodged Gordon's left post, Hearts breathed a sigh of relief. Those mistakes left the Jambos with hope at Ibrox. Rangers had purpose and control in the first half, but Hearts started the second tails up and the champions quickly had to reassert themselves. Once again, Morelos was the captain as he doubled his tally and doubled Rangers' lead. A pass to Arfield was blocked at the edge of the area. Morelos would then take matters into his own hands and shoot instead of trying to provide an assist. The finish was emphatic and Gordon was well beaten when Morelos curled a shot into the net and went out to celebrate. The game was won but Rangers were still in the mood for more and two exquisite moves would quickly see them extend their lead as Kamara came on for Jack and Arfield, later replaced by Ramsey, did the piling up misery for the jambos. Kamara collected a neat streak from Morelos and then showed a composure in the area he usually reserves for the middle of the park. A flickering and cool finish beat Gordon. The fourth goal was just as smooth. Kent's pass was perfect and Arfield finished the second time asking how Gordon's first save proved futile. The afternoon had gotten worse and worse for Hearts. The visitors, who were expected to provide a rigorous test of Ranger credentials, had been blown away by a gentle performance. When Sakala rounded off another flowing play and converted a Kent cross to make it 5-0, the Jambos really couldn't complain. It was a performance and a result that showed what Rangers are capable of. A bar has been reset and champions can't afford to let the levels slide as much as they've been doing lately. Van Bronckhorst's side answered the questions and fulfilled the demands.


Chelsea were actually quite good against Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup

Despite a lot of negative reactions and overtime in the FA Cup, Chelsea actually did quite well against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday. (Author: Gardener)

Plymouth ArgyleChelsea should return to business relaxed after a two-week break. The Blues went into the winter holidays after a smash against Tottenham Hotspur that boosted spirits at the club. Their games on the other side of the break should provide a welcome change. Thomas Tuchel's men had an FA Cup game against Plymouth Argyle on the schedule before traveling to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup. The former was seen as an opportunity to perfect each tactic before vying for an important trophy. Chelsea needed extra time and heroics from a Spanish trio to save against the League One side on Saturday. The Blues fell behind early before a Gianfranco Zola-esque goal from Cesar Azpilicueta equalized. However, it's hard to say that Chelsea played poorly. The Blues actually played quite well against Plymouth, despite a largely negative reaction from fans. Plymouth manager Steven Schumacher deserves all the credit for his tactical decisions on the day. He set his side up to pull off an old-fashioned FA Cup upset and it would have worked without some Spanish magic from Chelsea. They played a disciplined match for 120 minutes and their passion was visible to the whole world. The defensive unit made the Blues' attack awkward throughout and they put their bodies on the line on several occasions to keep their team in contention. Plymouth's near-perfect performance is a big reason why Chelsea have found it so difficult to drive away their visitors. Is it a game the reigning European champions should have run away with from the start? Yes, on paper, but there's a reason these cup games are played on one pitch. There's no reason West Ham should have required 123′ to beat Kidderminster outside the league, that's how it went this weekend. It's the magic of the [FA] Cup. The Blues weren't at their best, nor were they as poor as many social media pundits would have you believe. The fact is that Chelsea dominated on the pitch. The score and stat line told two different stories - of course, that's what Plymouth had planned for the game. There was much talk of the Blues' attack that day and while Romelu Lukaku didn't cover himself in glory, the front three did everything they could to find the back of the net. Between a touch of Lukaku on a chance, three shots from outside the goal frame and a plethora of fantastic saves (nine) from Cooper, the home side would have scored 10 goals against an unlucky lower-division side on any other day. Chelsea did enough to succeed, amassing a staggering 41 shots, 11 of which were on target. For context: That's a shot every 2.9 minutes (!) and a shot on goal every 10.9 minutes. These numbers suggest a relentless attacking pursuit by the Premier League side. Chelsea were good at the other end of the pitch too. It allowed the Pilgrims just 11 shots (five on target), who scored their only goal of the game from a set piece against the flow of play. The Blues were a better air defense from Lukaku to never go down in the game. It was a bad day for the number 9 and that resulted in the League One club's best scoring opportunity. Plymouth's second greatest chance came from the penalty spot after a careless passage in the final moments of extra time from Malang Sarr. Otherwise, Arrizabalaga and the back four in front of him played a solid game and fended off almost every counterattack. Fans will resent having to sweat a game against a team from a lower league. That's a valid criticism of the game. However, the assumption that Chelsea played poorly is relatively unfounded as the Blues played very well for much of the game. Last but not least, this game reminded Chelsea that they are not invincible in the upcoming games. The forthcoming games are much less intense than January's, but less than 100 per cent of each could cost the club a trophy or two. What did you think of the match?


Thomas Tuchel would not have enjoyed his first taste of chair management as Chelsea's work towards the FA Cup win

Thomas Tuchel will not have liked his first taste of chair management as Plymouth struck an almighty FA Cup scare from League One Chelsea. Kepa Arrizabalaga needed a penalty deep into extra time to deny the visitors a penalty shoot-out at Stamford Bridge and a chance for a famous upset. Chelsea needed to come back from a goal deficit and needed a Marcos Alonso strike to finally regain control of a tie that would have been far from easy for their manager, who was forced to watch from home after showing positively tested for Covid. 19 (Author: Gardener)

Thomas TuchelThomas Tuchel will not have liked his first taste of chair management as Plymouth struck an almighty FA Cup scare from League One Chelsea. It took a penalty deep into extra time to deny the visitors a penalty shoot-out at Stamford Bridge and a chance for a famous upset. Chelsea needed to come back from a goal deficit and needed a Marcos Alonso strike to finally regain control of a tie that would have been far from easy for their manager, who was forced to watch from home after showing positively tested for Covid. 19. Tuchel is now likely to miss the Club World Cup while maintaining at least a five-day isolation. Chelsea remain hopeful their manager can join the rest of the squad in Abu Dhabi in time for next Saturday's final - should they qualify. Had cameras been aimed at his living room they might have provided more entertainment than at Stamford Bridge as his European champions struggled to eliminate their lower division opponents. Tuchel's technical antics can be box-office hits, as he kicks every ball and barks instructions to those close enough to get a catchy tune. And what would he have made of £97.5m Romelu Lukaku who hadn't made an impact against a three-man defense from free signings? One of them, Macaulay Gillesphey, even got the better of the Belgium international when the tables turned - putting Plymouth ahead when Lukaku failed to clear Jordan Houghton's eighth-minute free-kick. Cesar Azpilicueta equalized just before half-time – but it wasn't until extra time, when substitute Alonso deflected a shot past Mike Cooper through a scrum, that the home fans finally calmed their nerves. That sentiment was short-lived as Malang Sarr panicked in the final moments and brought substitute Ryan Hardie down – only for the striker to see his penalty kick choked by Kepa. But Tuchel will also know from the television screen how close his side came to cup humiliation. He will have been just as stunned as the rest of the bridge when Gillesphey struck early. While it was a memorable moment for the goalscorer, it would have been particularly sweet for Houghton, who delivered the cross, given the midfielder spent 16 years at Chelsea as part of his academy. The deficit prompted the expected reaction from the home side, which forced Plymouth to draw back in numbers as half-time progressed. If the home crowd thought the scene was set for Chelsea to roll over their opponent in the second half, it didn't work out that way. Plymouth hadn't read the script - and while forced to defend ever deeper, they managed to keep their illustrious rivals at bay to force the game into overtime. Lukaku was millimeters away from connecting Hakim Ziyech's cross shot early in the second half, while Plymouth goalkeeper Cooper replaced Kai Havertz and Mount. In between, Kepa was challenged as substitute Hardie went through one-one. At the end of the first half of extra time, Chelsea finally took the lead in added time. It was created by three U-boats in Timo Werner, Havertz and Alonso joining forces on the left to open up Plymouth's defences. Where Chelsea's strikers failed, Alonso managed to get deep into the corner with a lateral foot. There was still time for some late drama as Hardie pushed the ball from Sarr and charged into the box. But just as the Plymouth fans were dreaming of a penalty shoot-out behind Kepa's goal, the goalkeeper to his left dropped to stifle Hardie's efforts, prompting roars from across the bridge - and no doubt the Tuchel residence.


City's unbeaten run ended in a narrow loss to Chelsea

An early goal from Guro Reit saw City beat Chelsea 1-0 in the FA Women's Super League to suffer their first defeat in ten games. (Author: Gardener)

ChelseaThe midfielder headed home an opening goal in the 14th minute as the hosts made the most of a quick start at Cherry Red Records Stadium. City pushed forward in search of an equaliser, with Park, Hemp and Weir all being particularly close on a frustrating afternoon. City almost fell out with the elements early on on a windy day at Cherry Red Records Stadium when Georgia Stanway had to clear Erin Cuthbert's looping corner off the line. That chance set the tone for a dominating early period for the hosts and the pressure finally eased after 14 minutes. Jess Carter's inviting cross from the right was answered by Guro Reit, her header with a cursory glance finding the far corner of Ellie Roebuck's net despite the City stopper's best efforts. The Jamaican charged for the loose ball after anticipating Fleming's ball, but Ann-Katrin Berger went off her line in time to prevent her from equalizing. Roebuck, making her 100th City appearance, made a good save with her feet from Pernille Harder's near-post attempt soon after, but after withstanding the Chelsea barrage, City began to gain traction in the game. Lauren Hemp demonstrated her outside threat as she sped away from Carter and sliced ​​the ball back into Chelsea's area, but her cross failed to find a City shirt just before the half-hour. Ten minutes later, Alex Greenwood's free-kick from the right wreaked havoc on Chelsea's defence, but Ruby Mace's volley went just over the bar. It was a similar story shortly after, with another inviting set piece at Greenwood giving City our best chance of the half when Jess Park's volley was expertly tipped around the post by Berger. Chelsea got out of the traps quicker after the break and came close three times to doubling their lead in the first five minutes of half-time. Sam Kerr shot wide after being sent through by Harder before WSL's top scorer was thwarted by a perfectly timed slide challenge from Mace shortly after. Bronze was next in line with the final heroics, blocking Reit's shot at close range as the midfielder looked destined to win her second of the game. Hemp continued to threaten at the other end, her ball into the far post just too strong for Park to acrobaticly steer home, while Chelsea's claims of Mace's handball in the box fell on deaf ears. Substitute Vicky Losada tried her luck next, curling a vicious free-kick towards the Chelsea net with 25 minutes remaining, but Berger always fell short of the effort. As the game neared the final furlongs, City began to push forward. Hemp saw a try narrowly deflected while substitute Julie Blakstad hooked Mace's cross over the bar from a promising position on the right. Taylor's side were then almost prevented from playing with an accidental equalizer with ten when Greenwood's ball hit the roof of Berger's net behind them. The attack continued when a dangerous ball from Hemp's right landed in front of Weir's feet, but the midfielder couldn't sort her feet in time to pull the trigger before Chelsea recovered. And the hosts were grateful to Millie Bright shortly after as she cleared Hemp's goal-bound volley off the line. There was still time for City to come agonizingly close again when Roebuck's timely challenge against Lauren James set off a final counterattack down the left, but Weir couldn't find a teammate after slamming in from the left. Ellie Roebuck started between the sticks, shielded by a back four of Lucy Bronze, Ruby Mace, Alex Greenwood and Demi Stokes. Keira Walsh started in front of defence, with Georgia Stanway and Caroline Weir completing midfield three. Jess Park and Lauren Hemp were on the flanks at the sharp end, with Khadija “Bunny” Shaw starting as a centre-forward. City meets Manchester United in our next WSL game at the Academy Stadium.


James travels to Abu Dhabi as Chelsea prepare for the Club World Cup

The England international is struggling with injuries... (Author: Gardener)

JamesReece James has traveled to Abu Dhabi with Chelsea ahead of the Blues Club World Cup campaign. But his presence in Chelsea's initial 23-man squad will give a boost to the Blues, who are itching to have the talented wide man back in action. Positive stats leaders - (almost) one per Premier League club James has not played since suffering a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw between Chelsea and Brighton at Stamford Bridge on December 29. And boss Thomas Tuchel admitted on Friday that James would miss Chelsea's inclination at the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Chelsea confirmed a squad of 23 players who have traveled to Abu Dhabi, with the Blues arriving on Sunday. Edouard Mendy will later join the squad, with the in-form goalkeeper ready for Sunday night's Africa Cup of Nations final in Senegal against Egypt. The Blues are still hoping that Tuchel will be able to link up with the squad in Abu Dhabi in due course, but until then assistant coaches Arno Michels and Zsolt Low will continue to hold the fort. A total of 23 players made their way to the #ClubWorldCup. The semi-finals of the Club World Cup will be played by Chelsea on Wednesday, with the Blues taking on the winner of Sunday's clash between Al Hilal and Al Jazira. "Having left the UK in the early hours of Sunday morning, the Chelsea travel leg for the FIFA Club World Cup has arrived in Abu Dhabi," Chelsea said in a statement. “A total of 23 players have started the journey, Edouard Mendy will join them later. Later in the day he will take part in the Africa Cup of Nations final where Senegal will play Egypt.”


Women's Super League – live!

To the minute report: Join Tom Davies for updates as the two WSL heavyweights meet in Kingsmeadow (Author: Gardener)

Women's Super LeagueThis website uses cookies for analytics, personalized content and ads. By continuing to browse this site, you agree to this use. You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience. 16 mins: Chelsea threaten another when Harder crosses from the left touchline for Kerr, whose header isn't quite strong enough. It was a nice cross from Carter's right that raised riding brilliantly to meet and angle Roebuck, who didn't know whether to come or stay. Chelsea have settled in better in these conditions and deserve the lead. A nice skillful header gives the Blues the lead. 13 mins: Kerr tries a long-range header after another good Chelsea move, instigated by Harder, but Roebuck is able to collect it easily. 12 mins: Cuthbert robs Greenwood as she tries to play it off and feeds Kerr, whose throw-in is erased. Chelsea come over the left again this time, but Bronze clears it. And City gets us going, attacking the home's covered terrace for 10 minutes: the wind blows brutally towards City's goal, with a bloody free-kick that barely travels 10 yards, and from the ensuing scramble, Chelsea win a free-kick right in the half of city. Strapped into the first defender, Cuthbert tries to forge a shot off the rebound, but her attempt is also blocked. 7 mins: City could use calmer possession and they get one, hitting it left to right and back before winning an attacking throw from which Stokes forges to the left and delivers a decent cross that's cleared by Nouren. 6 mins: Harder is aiming for a free-kick when turned over by Walsh just outside the box on the inside left but without a die. They win a corner from Cuthbert that twirls and curls and needs to be folded off the line. 4 mins: A slightly risky defense from City almost lets Kerr in before the visitors break, but the cross from the left is easily collected in goal by Berger. 2 mins: City have most of the early possession but Chelsea keep them at bay and threaten a move themselves if Andersson and Kerr combine down the left but City are clear. Chelsea come in a 4-3-3, Man City also with Park, Shaw and Hemp in front trident. Emma Hayes is delighted to welcome Sam Kerr back. I love watching her movement which is superb and brings us a lot, although the team has done well in her absence." Adding to the terms, "I wonder if I have hair bands because it's really banging around. Set pieces will be key.” According to Gareth Taylor, Manchester City still see themselves in the title race. "There's a lot of movement between games at the moment and we're just hanging in there to make sure we can capitalize on it if the opportunity arises." Alex Greenwood had a good old chinwag with our Louise Taylor over the unequal earlier in the week Season from City, England under Sarina Wiegman and more: Related: Manchester City's Alex Greenwood: 'At times this season it felt like the world was against us' The more competitive nature of the WSL this season has led to calls for a Expansion led, not least by the two current managers, Emma Hayes and Gareth Taylor. “I want it to go to 14 teams. I want more games, that's the next step for our league," says Hayes. Also Read: Emma Hayes and Gareth Taylor Call for Expansion of WSL The Chelsea XI to Take on Man City! 👊#CFCW - Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) February 6, 2022 Greetings everyone and welcome to another crucial game in a WSL title race full of intrigue, twists and turns. A game that once looked like a mere scramble for second place behind Arsenal now has real meaning as Chelsea, games in hand, catch up with the leaders and Manchester City bounce back from their dreadful start. City are now in poorer health as they head into a game that will also serve as a prequel to the League Cup final after both sides won the semi-finals mid-week. And with Arsenal next for Chelsea in the WSL, Emma Hayes might be tempted to rotate her squad a bit. City's side are impressive, of course, and their attack in particular is purring at the moment. They shone against Spurs on Thursday, while Georgia Stanway's FA Cup hat-trick at Nottingham Forest last weekend made her the club's record goalscorer - aged just 23.


Thomas Tuchel tests positive for Covid before Chelsea fly to Club World Cup

Chelsea have issued a statement after their manager's positive test that the European champions' participation in the Club World Cup should start on February 9 in Abu Dhabi (Author: Gardener)

ChelseaChelsea have issued a statement following their manager's positive test, with the European champions' participation in the Club World Cup set to begin on February 9 in Abu Dhabi. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has tested positive for Covid-19 just days before the Blues' club world Cup campaign begins, the club has confirmed. "The Chelsea head coach will now be following the necessary self-isolation protocols and hopes to work with the team in Abu Dhabi later next week," the European champions said in a statement. "The team flies to the Club World Cup after this afternoon's FA Cup clash against Plymouth Argyle." Chelsea are Europe's representatives at the Club World Cup after beating Manchester City in the 2020-21 Champions League final. Chelsea have confirmed that Arno Michels will be in the managerial dugout for the cup game. The first-team coach joined Chelsea at the same time as Tuchel, having also worked with his German compatriot at Mainz, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain. A number of Chelsea players tested positive for Covid earlier in the season, impacting the Blues' efforts to stay in touch at the top of the Premier League. Several first-team players returned positive tests in mid-December, with Tuchel's side requesting a postponement of their Premier League game against Wolverhampton Wanderers ahead of Christmas, but the request was denied. Chelsea's trip to the Club World Cup means the cup game against Plymouth is their last in England until February 19. The Londoners took part in the tournament back in 2012 after winning the Champions League during Roberto Di Matteo's tenure and will be hoping to do better after losing the final back then. Chelsea beat Monterrey in the 2012 semifinals but were beaten by South American champions Corinthians in the final in Japan thanks to a goal from Paolo Guerrero. Chelsea lost the 2012 Club World Cup final under Rafa Benitez. With Tuchel self-isolating, he will not be in the dugout for Chelsea's cup game against Plymouth. Chelsea made it to the final under Tuchel last season, eventually losing to Leicester City at the last hurdle.


Kepa's late save from penalties sees Chelsea survive the threat of giant kills to beat Plymouth in the FA Cup

Chelsea 2-1 Plymouth (AET): Azpilicueta and Alonso scored to see the Blues win from behind in extra time - but they were bound by goalkeeper Kepa to prevent the game until penalties (Author: Gardener)

ChelseaA day so dear to Plymouth Argyle was fingertips from being priceless. It's still thanks to them and the unfortunate but relentless Ryan Hardie that the European champions had to rely on their £71million goalkeeper's ability to save from penalties to prevent that classic fourth-round draw from turning into a penalty shootout came. Kepa Arrizabalaga stopped Hardie's penalty in the 117th minute of the game when he looked like he was the only Chelsea player to keep his head and just kept the 2-1. Chelsea had over 40 shots in that game and still needed Kai Havertz - another £60m signing best known for scoring the winner in club football's biggest game - who scored Marcos Alonso in the 105th minute gave the chance to win...almost. Plymouth were still besieging the Chelsea goal after that and the players' dejected reaction at the final whistle said it all. They were proud of their players because they put in an excellent performance and one of the great cup games. When the clues to money scratch on days like this, they only serve to show why such emotions exist; why victory would mean so much. All that was missing was excitement – ​​as Chelsea missed chance after chance. It was thanks to Plymouth, who was so close to one of the cup's stories, that it came to this. There were little stories in there. Jordan Houghton spent 11 years at Chelsea as an academy graduate but was never allowed to set foot on the pitch at Stamford Bridge to play as a senior. Now here he was, standing over a free-kick yards from the Chelsea goal as Plymouth felt that thrill of opportunity. Argyle had started the game well and were probably the better team. They soon had the better goal line. Houghton whipped in his free kick which had a good chance of going straight into goal. Macaulay Gillesphey made sure. That caused enthusiasm among 6,000 fans behind the opponent's goal. At that ending, the game very quickly began to take on the feel of one of those days. The back-and-forth of the opening period that had shadowed Plymouth soon devolved into one-way football. Or rather, Chelsea just settled outside of Cooper's box. The ball itself went everywhere but in. He hit the frame of the goal three times before the break. Mateo Kovacic hit the bar from a cross, Callum Hudson-Odoi did it moments later with a header. The entire Plymouth team realized they had to fill in the gaps, but that only resulted in Kovacic hitting the ball from long range - only to hit the post again. Malang Sarr had to be on the alert to carve out a Plymouth counterattack amid all this but the game was mainly Chelsea looking for that opening. They have something very different, maybe even unique - certainly in Cesar Azpilicueta's career. In the 41st minute, as Chelsea increasingly exploited the slightly larger space on Plymouth's right, the right-back stormed into the penalty area. He soon managed to do the same in the second half but this time was thwarted by the linesman's flag. That came in the middle of an even more intense Chelsea game, as if the equalizer had at least relieved them of the fear of the prospect of such a humiliating defeat. It stayed live anyway because the game stayed live. There were too many Plymouth bodies in the way, and when they finally got away with a Mount strike, Cooper did an excellent job of touching him over the bar. You could say all of this was another example of Romelu Lukaku still not fully fitting into this Chelsea team, but then this was a League One team. The European champions - lest we forget - finally brought on Havertz, albeit for Hudson-Odoi. It was no coincidence that he was involved in the game's chance or that Plymouth finally had attacking again. From their first attack forward of the second half, Kepa Arrizabalaga cleared Havertz, who charged on goal. It looked like the easiest one-on-one finish, only for Plymouth captain Joe Edwards to appear out of nowhere and make a brilliant block. That, if you want to get a little whimsical, that's what the mug should be about. It was also a chance that didn't add up to the 40+ shots Chelsea had. When Lukaku put the German through just before the end of the 90, the striker would have had another clean run on goal had he used his tremendous pace to clip the ball past just a League One defender. Instead, he seemed to pull away from the moment James Wilson thundered the ball out of play. In general, however, guile and devotion will only get you so far. As their £71m Champions League winner found space on the left, Havertz fought for Alonso to slide the ball inside. And yet the day wasn't over, as Plymouth wasn't finished. They refused to accept the situation or the gap and besieged the Chelsea goal. The pressure was so great that Sarr played a pass straight at Hardie from behind, only to cause him to fall in a panic. He was denied a priceless moment by a goalkeeper worth £71m. Click here to find the stories you want to read and more in your inbox.