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Armando Broja makes play to be Chelsea's striker with goal against Preston

Armando Broja - Armando Broja makes play to be Chelsea's striker with goal against Preston

There have been so many strikers who have tried and failed to become the great modern Chelsea goalscorer that some can slip from view even as the club lines up another – which might have been the case for Armando Broja until this weekend.

The man from Slough, an academy boy fine-tuned on the loan programme of a previous Chelsea regime, has battled through serious injury and a £1 billion spending spree to make a comeback that might be in the nick of time. Mauricio Pochettino has a meeting on Sunday with his boss Behdad Eghbali, a Chelsea co-owner who is never hesitant to invest when the transfer window swings open.

Broja, an Albania international, has worked his way back from a serious knee injury one year ago, into a Chelsea squad transformed in the interim. The header he glanced in on 58 minutes was just his second goal of the season. There is a long queue for the striker’s role at Chelsea and no-one is sure who is in pole position. Nicolas Jackson is on duty at the African Cup of Nations. Christopher Nkunku is injured again. Deivid Washington is too young. Which leaves Broja as the last man standing currently, and he took his chance this time.

Broja is only 22 but life moves quickly at Chelsea. This FA Cup third round tie also marked the first start for 20-year-old Alfie Gilchrist and a first team debut for the 17-year-old Michael Golding. Broja is an academy graduate, which makes him dangerously valuable as a saleable asset when it comes to Chelsea’s profit and sustainability compliancy. Chelsea’s young players face a choice: either make yourself indispensable or find yourself on the way out.

Broja’s goal came just as it felt Stamford Bridge was about to turn against Pochettino’s team. There has been a dismal first half against the club placed 14th in the Championship. By the final whistle it might have looked comfortable but, as Preston North End’s manager Ryan Lowe was at pains to point out, for 58 minutes his team were very much in this FA Cup tie.

Broja’s header from Malo Gusto’s right-footed, left wing cross finally changed the course of the game, and a Chelsea team struggling for identity. Afterwards Pochettino made it clear that, for Broja, it is now or never. His knee injury, sustained during the World Cup break at the end of 2022, was an unfortunate set-back and so much has changed since then that the striker finds himself in a January transfer window with all options on the table.

This goal, Broja’s first since the start of October, was significant, Pochettino said – suddenly switching to serious Pochettino to make his point earnestly. “I need to be honest – he [Broja] needs to use this type of game when he scores a goal and feels the net to improve,” Pochettino said. “Improve not only his fitness or his capacity of work ethic but also in his body language.

“He needs to step up and go forward, he needs to smile more and be a little bit more positive. This is the way he is going to improve his game. The potential is amazing. We are talking about one of the young strikers here in England or Europe with the most potential.”

The attitude, he said, was part of the package. “I said to him ‘When you go out there, smile because you score’. Don’t take it in a negative way, it is positive. He needs to smile, to laugh, to have more good energy and be a more happy boy.”

This does not always look like a happy Chelsea team and the first half suggested a side who did not know how best to approach Preston’s unexpected confidence. After Broja scored, Pochettino even brought on the 39-year-old Thiago Silva who headed the second from Cole Palmer’s corner. The Brazilian might have thought he was due a rest on FA Cup third round weekend.

Thiago Silva - Armando Broja makes play to be Chelsea's striker with goal against Preston
Thiago Silva came off the bench to score Chelsea's second goal - Getty Images/Andy Rowland

Pochettino also called upon Conor Gallagher from the bench, another who might have expected a day off with the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night. Preston had been composed in the first half with some admirable performances, including the former Manchester United academy boy Will Keane, twin brother of Everton’s Michael. Once Broja had scored, the away side struggled to match the intensity that Chelsea eventually generated.

Another academy graduate, Levi Colwill, captained the side. Raheem Sterling’s free-kick eluded Woodman after Ben Whiteman had been forced to bring down Palmer outside the area. By the time the video assistant referee Peter Bankes had finally overruled the on-field decision to disallow Enzo Fernandez’s fourth it was all over.

Pochettino quizzed on interest for Jordan Henderson

The question remains as to whether Chelsea will spend again this January. It is remarkable that they find themselves in search of something as basic as a goalscorer at this stage of their squad rebuilding.Pochettino was asked whether midfielder Jordan Henderson, potentially returning from Saudi Arabia, might be of interest.

“To be honest we didn’t talk about names,” he said. “At the moment we are not talking about bringing players. I saw Behdad here in the manager’s room with [sporting directors] Paul [Winstanley] and Laurence [Stewart]. I think tomorrow we are going to have a chat because we will be in the training ground.”

Pochettino said that the likes of Ben Chilwell, Benoit Badiashile and Carney Chukwuemeka are all close to fitness, but in the meantime he is struggling to give them the kind of game-time that might allow them to get back up to full speed. “We are in Chelsea and need to win,” he said by way of explanation, and that remains by no means a certainty.


Chelsea 4 Preston 0: as it happened


07:27 PM GMT

Full time: Chelsea 4 PNE 0

A tight game until Chelsea scored and then the £1bn men blew Preston away.


07:27 PM GMT

90+7 min: Chelsea 4 PNE 0

Sterling drives on a diagonal dribble from left to inside-right before rolling a pass to Madueke to the right of the spot. Madueke stuns the pass, knocks it to his left to work an opening, drops his shoulder but can’t find a gap so takes another slight touch and then shoots but the ball hits a defender and loops out to Washington whose attempt to hook it in is scrambled away.


07:24 PM GMT

90+6 min: Chelsea 4 PNE 0

Chelsea have laid siege to the Preston box for most of the last 35 minutes and continue to do so, almost in swagger mode. Pochettino is beaming on the bench.


07:22 PM GMT

90+4 min: Chelsea 4 PNE 0

And the 17-year-old Golding neraly scores with his first kick on debut after Madueke’s dazzling feet shuffled the ball in from the right before poking a shot that Woodman diverted to Golding who could not stab it past the keeper.


07:21 PM GMT

90+1 min: Chelsea 4 PNE 0

Chelsea sub: Michael Golding ⇢ Enzo Fernandez.

Two more for North End: Preston bring on Duane Holmes ⇢ Ben Whiteman and Ryan Ledson⇢Ali McCann.


07:19 PM GMT

90 min: Chelsea 4 PNE 0

It took more than three minutes to sort out that VAR call, which means we now have eight more minutes.


07:16 PM GMT

GOAL!

Chelsea 4 PNE 0 (Fernandez) He was onside when he trapped it with his left and rolled it in with his right after a one-two between Caicedo and Sterling put the No 7 down the inside right and he forced the ball through to the back post.


07:15 PM GMT

Why is this taking so long?

Ridiculous.


07:14 PM GMT

VAR check on a Chelsea fourth

Enzo Fernandez hooks the ball in at the far post after a tenacious run from Sterlingforcd the ball to him via a block tackle. Was Lindsay playing him on?


07:12 PM GMT

84 min: Chelsea 3 PNE 0

Danny Gabbidon anoints Raheem Sterling as his man of the match.


07:12 PM GMT

82 min: Chelsea 3 PNE 0

Chelsea corner after Colwill pushes right up on Potts. They take it short and work triangles down the left, until Gusto tries to force a pass and Preston recover.


07:09 PM GMT

In the nick of time

Three goals in the space of 10 minutes for Chelsea, although in that time they have brought on the 39-year-old Thiago Silva in place of 20-year-old Alfie Gilchrist. Chelsea have finally got on the ball, and the Preston mistakes have followed. The first goal from Armando Broja, on 58 mins, came just in time. The home crowd were beginning to murmur their unhappiness with the performance,


07:08 PM GMT

80 min: Chelsea 3 PNE 0

Gallagher and Gusto combine to roll the ball to Madueke 20 yards out but he cannot keep his left-foot shot down and it whistles over the bar.


07:07 PM GMT

78 min: Chelsea 3 PNE 0

Washington improvises a header from a wild Madueke 25-yard piledriver that was veering out towards the corner flag but he couldn’t understandably, get it back on target.


07:05 PM GMT

76 min: Chelsea 3 PNE 0

Two more changes for Chelsea:

Washington ⇢ Broja

Gallagher ⇢ Palmer.


07:04 PM GMT

74 min: Chelsea 3 PNE 0

Best ⇢ Hughes before a PNE corner that bobbles around the box after a curious delivery. Disasi clears with an overhead that only goes back out to the right. Potts fires over a dangerous cross that evades everyone. Riis hits the deck and looks beseechingly at the referee but there was no foul and hence no pen.


07:01 PM GMT

72 min: Chelsea 3 PNE 0

Chelsea are rampant now and Broja rounds the keeper when sent down the left of the box and, but for Hughes’ diligence to hare back to the line and scoop his shot away, he would have made it 4-0


06:57 PM GMT

GOAL!

Chelsea 3 PNE 0 (Sterling)  PNE are wobbling and running out of gas. The otherwise excellent Whiteman loses Palmer so legs him up 20 yards out. Sterling lines up the free-kick to the left of the D and diddles Woodman by seeming to aim for the top right but then closes his ankle to beat him at the other post. Brilliant execution.


06:54 PM GMT

GOAL!

Chelsea 2 PNE 0 (Thiago Silva)  Buries a header from a near-post dart but Preston gave him a free run at it to convert Palmer’s corner. Evans was supposed to be picking him up. That undoes all Whiteman’s good work to stop Sterling once more with the crispest of tackles.


06:54 PM GMT

65 min: Chelsea 1 PNE 0

Double Preston change:

Riis ⇢ Osmajic

Evans ⇢ Keane.

An entirely new front two.


06:53 PM GMT

64 min: Chelsea 1 PNE 0

Browne loses the ball and Chelsea shift it up to Sterling who goes on one of those gamboling runs in the box that only needs the merest touch to concede a penalty as he’s going at such pace. And yet PNE do not dive in and Wightman ultimately makes a fantastic tackle.


06:51 PM GMT

62 min: Chelsea 1 PNE 0

Double Chelsea change:

Thiago Silva ⇢ Gilchrist

Madueke ⇢ Mudryk.


06:50 PM GMT

60 min: Chelsea 1 PNE 0

And it should have been two in two minutes for Broja on the end of another fantastic cross, this time from Mudryk, swinging it in from the left with his right. Broja leaps ahead of Woodman but turns his header from maybe eight yards over the bar.


06:46 PM GMT

GOAL!

Chelsea 1 PNE 0 (Broja) Chelsea’s pressure pays off and their probing pays fruit. Caicedo drives into the box, goes down but the ball ricochets to Mudryk who turns away from goal and works it to Gusto on the left. The right-back, moonlighting on the left, cuts back on to his right foot and curls a fine cross towards goal and Broja, who has been quiet, glances the perfect header across Woodman and in at the right post.


06:44 PM GMT

56 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Osmajic uses his strength to hold off Colwill and win a free-kick moments after a hefty but fair tackle by Whiteman on Mudryk.


06:43 PM GMT

54 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Chelsea take the corner short from Palmer to Sterling who lays it off to Disasi but the centre-back spoons a poor shot high, wide and hideous.


06:42 PM GMT

52 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Chelsea probe patiently for a couple of minutes pulling the trigger only when Gilchrist crosses and they recover the ball and have another go until Mudryk’s shot is blocked. They win it back again and Sterling drives to the byline outmuscling Hughes but McCann is alert and slides in to send it behind for a corner.


06:38 PM GMT

50 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Terrible clearance from Caicedo, who slipped, sends the ball from the byline to Hughes 30 yards out. He takes a stride or two and then tees up Browne for a right-foot shot which he fades over the bar.


06:37 PM GMT

48 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Fernandez goes for a diagonal from the left on halfway towards the D and Palmer is there alone but, back to goal, he turns turtle and retracts his neck, missing the chance to glance it past the keeper.


06:35 PM GMT

46 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Broja starts the second half for Chelsea who attack up the right, stall and then horseshoe it around the back and up the left. You can tell Jonathan Pearce is enjoying the realtive obscurity of being on the red button. He’s unleashed. Now he’s on about Mark Lawrenson’s prowess in the bar.


06:24 PM GMT

Half-time verdict

Chelsea have really struggled to make the difference felt – they’re playing against a Preston team 14th in the Championship, who look more comfortable on the ball. Cole Palmer has had the best chance of the half but even so, Preston have settled nicely. By way of comparison, Preston, one of only five current Championship clubs never to have been in the Premier League, have an annual turnover of around £14 million. Chelsea’s is £500 million, and they have spent around twice that on transfer fees under the new ownership.


06:20 PM GMT

Half-time: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Two good chances for Chelsea for Palmer and Fernandez but it’s been a pretty even game otherwise. Preston are battling hard and have given the home side problems down the flanks. Sterling has had a couple of decent runs and efforts but hasn’t clicked so far. Long balls and flick ons to Keane unsettle Chelsea and Preston should try to spray more.


06:17 PM GMT

45 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Gusto, not hoicking his shorts up this week, is wrong-footed by Potts so shoves him over. Wightman can’t get the free-kick into the box but when Sterling’s clearance is worked back to him, he finds the distance but not the precision, arcing it down Petrovic’s throat.


06:15 PM GMT

43 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Jonathan Pearce is at pains to tells us Pochettino is under no pressure. The ownership  has certainly got his ear. But he does call their transfer policy ‘risky’, paying £200 million for Mudryk and Caicedo who hadn’t played 200 games between them before joining Chelsea.


06:13 PM GMT

41 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Chelsea have had 64 per cent of the possession but have not done much with it and Millar’s tenacity forces Sterling too deep to keep his cross in.


06:12 PM GMT

39 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Unusually poor pass from Palmer when he was trying to tuck Sterling in behind on the right of the box.


06:10 PM GMT

36 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Preston are playing well, Whiteman is winning plenty of ball and Millar and Keane have both been dangerous with their passing. They earn a corner on the left that after a couple of flick-ons and a cross back in from Potts on the right, Keane tries to convert with a flying volley but doesn’t connect sweetly.


06:05 PM GMT

33 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Keane rolls his man and plays a fine pass in behind Gilchrist to send Millar in but the Chelsea right-back jockeys the wing-back when he enters the area, biding his time, and sticks out a leg to block the cross intended for Osmajic.


06:03 PM GMT

31 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Caicedo boots Osmajic across the shin, frustrated because Osmajic was not penalised for what Chelsea thought was a shove on Colwill. Yellow card.


06:01 PM GMT

28 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Another big chance for Chelsea. Palmer with a terrific pass to send Sterling in behind Hughes and Miller down the right, rather like he did for Madueke’s goal against Luton. Sterling takes it on and stands up a cross towards the centre of goal where Fernandez, who has slipped his pursuer, heads it straight at Woodman. That should have been 1-0.


05:59 PM GMT

26 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

When Preston go direct they look threatening. Woodman chips it up the right, Potts flicks it on and Osmajic takes it into the box and fires a shot across goal that Petrovic deals with.

Armando Broja
Quiet start by Armando Broja so far - GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

05:55 PM GMT

23 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Palmer keeps his nerve when Woodman charges at him to close him down and dinks a shot over the keeper but it drifts wide. ‘Almost too casual,’ is the verdict. Weeeeeeellll … Lovely pass from Fernandez to set it up and a fine, velvety touch from Palmer to control it before his dink.


05:53 PM GMT

22 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Bone-shaking challenge from Fernandez at the edge of the North End box shifts the ball up to Sterling to the right of the penalty spot and he unleashes a rising shot that Woodman turns behind.


05:51 PM GMT

20 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Simple football almost opens up Chelsea – ball up to Osmajic who flicks it on and Keane volleys a low shot from 20 yards that Petrovic dives to his right to save.


05:50 PM GMT

19 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Good move between Sterling and Gilchrist who pounced on a Hughes error to combine down the right. Sterling’s pass released Gilchrist on the overlap and he cut the pass back just beyond the 18-yard line to Sterling who meets it first time with his left-foot shot that hits Lindsay and loops up for Woodman to catch.


05:48 PM GMT

17 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Whiteman plays a one-two with Potts and then sweeps in a right-foot cross towards the penalty spot but Disasi gets there ahead of Osmajic.


05:47 PM GMT

16 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Palmer drops deep to try to quarter-back it out of the pocket with a long pass over the inside-right channel looking for Sterling who is beaten to the header by Hughes.


05:46 PM GMT

14 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Fancy footwork from Sterling to drag the ball back and away from a red shirt who then fouls him.


05:45 PM GMT

12 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Millar takes on Gilchrist and sends over a deep cross that Gusto sees out for a throw-in under prerssure from Potts. Caicedo wins the tackle from the throw and is fouled. JP is giving us his Inside Chelsea takes. They back Pochettino and understand what he’s doing to build a cup from scratch. Wasn’t that what they said of Potter this time last yeaar?


05:42 PM GMT

10 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Potts need treatemnt on his left knee after trying to hack the ball back off Gusto with a straight leg. He seemed to twist it as the studs planted in the turf. He seems OK and will continue.

McCann kicks Sterling
McCann fouls Sterling but gets away with it - REUTERS/Isabel Infantes

05:40 PM GMT

8 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Jonathan Pearce is giving us all his yesterdays from Capital Gold encounters with Freddie Woodman when he was just a little boy …

Storey launches a 30-yard ball from the edge of his area that is headed back by Colwill and Chelsea start probing again.


05:38 PM GMT

6 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Foul by McCann when Sterling dribbles into the area, catching him just outside but the referee doesn’t even give a free-kick.


05:36 PM GMT

5 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Murdyk tries a clever backheel to bypass Lindsay and Potts but proves too clever by half as he misdirects it.


05:36 PM GMT

4 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Keane treads on Fernandez’s heel in the centre-circle and concedes a free-kick that Chelsea work up the left through Mudryk and Gusto.


05:35 PM GMT

3 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Preston are lining up with Hughes tucking in on the left of a three and Millar as a left wing-back. Potts snaps on to a misplaced pass from Fernandez and strides forward 40 yards before trying to slide a pass up the inside-right for Osmajic to chase … in vain.


05:32 PM GMT

1 min: Chelsea 0 PNE 0

Preston kick off and overload with five men on the right, knocking the ball back to Woodman who launches it and Colwill heads it clear.


05:31 PM GMT

The players are out

Chelsea in blue with their dinky white socks, Preston, unnecessarily, in red with navy flashes on their shirts.


05:26 PM GMT

Pre-Liquidator

The Stamford Bridge DJ treats the home fans to the Clash’s London Calling as usual. Flip it and play Armagideon Time, too.

Now it’s the light show.


04:55 PM GMT

Alfie Gilchrist makes his first start

Chelsea’s team sheet has Gilchrist, a centre-half, starting at right-back with Gusto, a right-back, at left-back, and Disasi, who has played at right-back, and Colwill, who has filled in at left-back, at centre-half. Confused? You will be after this episode of Soap …

Alfie Gilchrist of Chelsea arrives
Alfie Gilchrist starts for Chelsea in the FA Cup - Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Image

04:52 PM GMT

And now in black and white

Chelsea (4-2-3-1)  Petrovic; Gilchrist, Disasi, Colwill, Gusto; Fernandez, Caicedo; Sterling, Palmer, Mudryk; Broja. 
Substitutes  Bettinelli, Bergstrom, Thiago Silva, Williams, Maatsen, Gallagher, Madueke, Godling, Washington.

Preston North End (4-4-2)  Woodman; Potts, Lindsay, Storey, Hughes; Browne, Whiteman, McCann, Millar; Osmajic, Keane.
Substitutes  Cornell, Cunningham, Best, Ledson, Frokjaer, Woodburn, Holmes, Riis, Evans .

Referee Thomas Bramall (Manchester). 


04:37 PM GMT

Interesting fact/omen?

The last two times Chelsea have played PNE in the FA Cup, they have gone on to make it to the final, losinng at the Millennium Stadium in 2002 and winning at Wembley in 2010.


04:34 PM GMT

Will Keane replaces Ched Evans up front


04:33 PM GMT

Chelsea make six changes


04:23 PM GMT

Preview: Chelsea eyes on Europe

Good afternoon and welcome to live coverage of the FA Cup third-round tie between Chelsea, eight-times winners, and Preston North End, five-times winners as the 10th-placed Premier League side take on a team in 14th in the Championship at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea were knocked out at this stage for the first time in 25 years last season when beaten by eventual quadruple winners Manchester City but have made it to the final in five of the past seven seasons. Preston, by contrast, haven’t been back to Wembley in this tournament since their defeat by West Ham 60 years ago and have not beaten a top-flight side in the Cup since hammering a near derelict Derby 4-1 in 2008.

The two clubs are enjoying contrasting injury issues too. Chelsea are without Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Trevoh Chalobah, Romeo Lavia,Wesley Fofana, Robert Sanchez, Carney Chukwuemeka, Marc Cucurella nd Lesley Ugochukwu. There’s no Nicolas Jackson, either, as he has gone to the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal. Preston have doubts only about Robbie Brady and since he rarely starts they can select Ryan Lowe’s go-to players.

Mauricio Pochettino believes the FA Cup could be his side’s best route back into Europe.  “The Carabao Cup and the FA Cup are competitions we need to try to go far,” he said. “But we need to build our run step by step and the first step is [Saturday]. It’s a really important competition for us, because we are not in Europe.

“In the Premier League, we are in a position that we need to grow and improve a lot if we want to be in Europe next season. Through the FA Cup or Carabao Cup we can achieve that.”

He also hinted at a possible start for striker Armando Broja, with Christopher Nkunku fit only for the bench.

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