Chelsea’s nice blend of youth and experience

Photo via Getty Images

Before the stoppage of play due to COVID-19, Chelsea F.C. was brewing up a hot stretch. 

This rebound was coming after going an un-Chelsea-like 2-3-3 dating back to early February. Among the rough patch included a 1-0 lost to Newcastle United, a 3-0 trouncing at Stamford Bridge on the 1st Leg of the Champions League against FC Bayern Munich and a 2-2 draw to Bournemouth, one of the bottom-three team under threat of relegation should the season resume. 

Since that roadblock, though, Chelsea was revving up the engines for a hot streak. In their final two matches before the stoppage, they outscored their opponents 6-0, (2-0 in the FA Cup against Liverpool and 4-0 in Premier League play against Everton). As the Premier League table currently stands, they sit in fourth place and in position for Champions League qualification.

While football play for Chelsea remains up in the air in regard to when they can get back onto the pitch, one thing is for certain: they will be back and will be a force in the present and the future whenever they return.

“Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is a fairytale as old as time, but even through its literary changes over the years (and even its missed usage when making other analogies), the theme of the story legitimately fits Chelsea extremely well in that they are just right

Not just right in the fact that they have a fluffy bed or porridge at the perfect eating temperature, of course. 

Just right in the fact that they have a unique blend of youth and experience that has paid dividends.

Chelsea 2 Aston Villa 1: John Terry's homecoming ruined as Tammy ...
Photo via Getty Images. Mason Mount , Cesar Azpilicueta and Tammy Abraham celebrate Mount’s game winner vs Aston Villa on December 4, 2019.

Starting with the youth, Chelsea’s 2019-20 roster features 10 players that are 25 or younger with at least 10 matches played. Midfielder Mason Mount and forward Tammy Abraham lead the youth movement on the club. Among all competitions this season, both players are top-four in goals, with Mount’s six and Abraham’s 13.  Abraham’s 13 goals in all competitions this season leads the team and, when combined with Mount’s strong presence at the midfield, allows for numerous striking and passing opportunities in open space and in set pieces. 

Pulisic forever grateful to Klopp as USMNT star recalls 'unreal ...
Photo of Christian Pulisic via Getty Images.

The youth does not end there, though. American product Christian Pulisic, bought from German club Borussia Dortmund, came over to Stamford Bridge on January 2nd and has not missed a beat. He quickly scored five goals in competition despite only playing in 16 matches. The age? 21.

For Chelsea, though, current production could develop into better production in future seasons; all three players remain under contract together through the 2021-22 season, per spotrac.com, where afterward Abraham is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Even through his potential departure, though, the remaining duo remains under contract through the 2023-24 season. 

Even aside from three-headed monster at Chelsea’s disposal, supplementary players on the youthful side in backs Kurt Zouma (25), Emerson Palmieri (25) and Fikayo Tomori (22), along with forward Callum Hudson-Odoi (19) gives Chelsea a developmental, yet explosive defensive front to stabilize ball control and to assist in feeding scoring chances to players on offense. 

Youth? Check. 

What about experience? Not to worry.

Steady Chelsea vets in defender Cesar Azpilicueta, midfielders Jorginho and N’Golo Kante and forward Willian have combined for 14 goals and 10 assists this season. The intangibles might be more valuable than the counting stats, however, as they have provided stability and experience to the younger players on the roster. Through production in their prime (their average age between the four is just over 29 years of age) and their veteran leadership, Chelsea brings an abundance of experience to the pitch competition in and competition out. 

Vets? Check.

Kepa Arrizabalaga refuses to be substituted: Chelsea goalkeeper ...
Photo of Kepa Arrizabalaga via Getty Images.

Combined, though, the youth and experience doesn’t end for the forwards or midfielders. Between the pipes, 25-year-old Spaniard Kepa Arrizabalaga, while raw at times, has begun to find a groove, allowing one goal or less in six of his last seven matches. In the clean sheet department, Arrizabalaga has collected two straight clean sheets in his last two matches. To supplement Arrizabalaga, 38-year-old Argentinian Willy Caballero has started only four matches but has provided depth and experience to a still-learning Arrizabalaga. 

Frank Lampard worried that lack of signings may cost Chelsea top ...
Photo of Frank Lampard via Getty Images.

Then, of course, you have Frank Lampard. 

The all-time Chelsea goal scorer, the 41-year-old head coach has combined a blend of his former game in heavy scoring to methodical station-to-station passing across the pitch. In his first year, the philosophy has shown itself; within the Premier League, Chelsea is fourth in goals (51), third in the table in passes (17,458) and second in shots (481). 

A young yet qualified coach? Check.

Top-to-bottom, goal-to-goal and player-to-player, the philosophy fits in nicely with the youth and experience the team has all-around. 

While tasty porridge or a cozy bed was what “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” was geared toward, the theme also fits in nicely with what Chelsea’s roster has to offer in the present and in the future. 

A just right amount. 

Why ‘Gothic’ is my favorite game of all time

Before I discuss why Gothic is my favorite game of all-time, I must establish what I enjoy and prefer in video games. Story is the most important aspect for me, especially in action-adventure and role playing games (RPGs). While gameplay and graphics are important, the story and the atmosphere the game establishes is crucial for my investment in the game. The main exceptions to this are sports games as I can create any story and competition I want. With that established, I will now discuss why Gothic is my favorite game of all-time.

Gothic 1 Gameplay (720p) - YouTube
Screen cap of the hero meeting Diego.

First, Gothic is a game you may not have heard of. That is normal as it is a game that is not well-known in the United States. It is an RPG developed by the German company, Piranha Bytes and it came out in 2001. The game takes place in a medieval setting and the kingdom is at war with orcs. You control a nameless hero who is thrown in a prison colony surrounded by a magic barrier that allows entry, but it won’t let you escape. The prison colony was developed to provide the king with magic ore in his war against the orcs. However, the convicts killed the guards and took control of the colony. They exchange the ore with food and other essential items with the king. Your character, with an unknown backstory, is thrown in the colony and tries to figure out a way to escape and make some friends along the way.

It’s my favorite game of all-time due to the strong story, unique setting and character progression.

Gothic Part #23 - A visit to the Not-So-Free Mine
Screen cap of the hero talking to Gorn.

The game is seperated into six chapters and the structure and progression make the story a strong aspect of Gothic. The story isn’t clear at first as you are thrown into this prison colony with no equipment and no allies and that is amazing. You have to explore on your own and figure out how to survive and get by in this strange world. You determine what kind of character you want to have and make decisions that you think would be best. Once all that is established, the game becomes a linear story game and that works very well. The first chapter makes you establish yourself in this world so the later events will have more of an impact. Also, the story progresses in a way that will surprise first-time players. It is quite a journey and even after playing it again for about the tenth time recently, it still made an impact. To top all that off, since the main character doesn’t have a name or backstory, you can use your imagination to create a name and backstory for him.

Gothic/The Old Camp — StrategyWiki, the video game walkthrough and ...
Screen cap of the Old Camp.

The unique setting is amazing and my favorite in gaming history. You are thrown into a prison colony run by criminals and that is not a typical setting in video games. They are not good people and there are quite a few characters that are jerks to you and there is nothing you can do about it at first. On top of that, it’s not a prison where you are confined to a certain space. You are free to explore wherever you want but as your character progresses, more areas will open up. This allows great immersion into this world and that makes the gameplay very satisfying. When I play, I feel like I, myself, am in this world trying to survive. It’s that immersive. The music, composed by Kai Rosenkranz, is one of my all-time favorite soundtracks as it perfectly represents the atmosphere the character is in at a particular moment.

Gothic Part #10 - The Minecrawler's Nest
Screen cap of the hero learning to take out minecrawler mandibles.

Lastly, the character progression is one of the most satisfying of all-time. At the start of the game, your character has nothing and is weaker than everyone else. There are many characters that are way stronger than you at the beginning and when they bully you, there is nothing you can do but take it and try to get stronger. The moment where you can finally stand up to them is extremely satisfying after everything you went through to start the game. Also, one amazing aspect is that the fighting animation changes as you learn skills. For example, at the beginning, you hold a one-handed sword with two hands as your character has no idea how to fight. However, as you learn how to fight, the animation changes and it allows you to hit faster and have longer combos. I have rarely seen a game that does this and that is a perfect way to progress a character. The game literally teaches your character how to fight and it makes a huge difference. It is not like most games where you just learn new abilities and deal more damage. The way you fight literally changes and that makes the character progression even more satisfying.

I cannot recommend this game enough. The story is excellent, the setting is amazing and the character progression is satisfying. The music is wonderful as well and the voice acting, while not the greatest, is serviceable and hilarious at times.

If you want to check out this game, you can download it on gog.com as it is compatible with the newest versions of windows unlike the Steam version. It is a PC only game. Even though I experienced a few crashes over the many times I have played it and the frame rates were not the best, it is still a tremendous experience and I highly recommend playing this game.

Rating: 10/10

A retrospective on ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is an animated television series created by George Lucas and supervised by writer Dave Filoni. It takes place in the Star Wars universe in the three years between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The first six seasons aired on Cartoon Network and later Netflix from 2008-2014. Then after it was canceled, Lucasfilm brought it back for one final season that aired on Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+ throughout this spring.

Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Star Wars movies and Empire Strikes Back has been my favorite movie of all-time for most of my life. The movies were a big part of my life and Star Wars has always been my favorite movie franchise. I reviewed all of the Star Wars movies for The Rich Report before The Rise Skywalker came out in theaters last December. Then, I had a friend, who also loved Star Wars and knew I did as well, recommended that I watch The Clone Wars as it, “had moments of Star Wars at its best.” I binged it with my friend around the time The Mandalorian, another Star Wars show I enjoyed, and I absolutely loved it. It is one of my favorite TV shows of all-time and a must-watch for any Star Wars fan.

The Clone Wars takes place after the events of Attack of the Clones, where the Republic and the Separatists have waged war on one another. The Republic has constructed an army of clone troopers with the Jedi as their generals to fight the armies of battle droids. However, anyone who has seen the saga knows how all this will end. The clone troopers, via Order 66, will turn on the Jedi and destroy the Jedi Order along with the rest of the Seperatists. Jedi general Anakin Skywalker will turn to the dark side to become Darth Vader and help hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. The war ends with the Supereme Chancellor, Sheev Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious, founding the Galactic Empire with him as emperor. Even though we know how the events will unfold, the journey to get there and the characters we meet along the way make it a Star Wars masterpiece.

The whole point of the show is to bridge the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and the way it is done is satisfying from a storytelling standpoint. The show tells its events through arcs, stories that continue through multiple episodes, that have their own self-contained stories. Instead of a typical show where you go on an adventure with main characters, it is more of an anthology of events and that makes the galaxy and war more organic and grand. While the timeline of events isn’t always clear as many of the episodes were released out of chronological order, all the episodes contribute to the overall story of the war.

Satine Kryze | Wookieepedia | Fandom
Screen-cap from Season 2 Episode 12, “The Mandalore Plot.”

The show does an excellent job of lore building. We see the war affect many different planets and peoples. For example, Mandalore is a neutral system during the war and we see how it affects them. We see the story of the Duchess of Mandalore, Satine. She is a pacifist who wants to keep Mandalore out of the war. We also find out that her and Jedi general Obi-Wan Kenobi once had a romantic relationship. However, there is a terrorist group called Death Watch that wants Mandalore to become a nation of warriors like they were in the past and they wreak havoc on the planet to win back control. All of the episodes on Mandalore tell great new stories while still contributing to the overall story and the show consistently does that, especially in the later seasons.

Mortis, other Clone Wars mysteries return for Star Wars Rebels ...
Screen-cap from Season 3 Episode 15, “Overlords.”

On top of that, there are episodes that contribute to the overall Skywalker saga without contributing to the war itself. There is one arc in season 3 called, “The Mortis Gods,” and it gives us more insight into Anakin’s role as the chosen one and his future as Darth Vader. There is a scene where Anakin sees his future and combined with his reaction to it, the scene is very powerful. The final arc in season 6, “Yoda’s Adventure,” has Yoda go on an adventure to discover immortality through the force. This gives more context to the appearance of force ghosts in the original trilogy. The show builds on not just the prequel trilogy but the overall saga.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars' season 7, episode 8: Siege of Mandalore ...
Screen-cap from Season 7 Episode 9, “Old Friends Not Forgotten.”

Another strength of the show is its characters. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are absolutely fantastic as two of the leads and the show develops their characters perfectly. In A New Hope, Obi-Wan tells Luke Skywalker that his father was a good friend, the best star pilot in the galaxy and a cunning warrior. In the prequel trilogy we saw very little of those aspects, but in the show we see all three of those attributes frequently. Obi-Wan and Anakin are great friends and their banter throughout the show provides amazing comedic content. Those moments were supplemented with many emotional moments that made their friendship real. The show builds up Anakin well, especially seeing him train an apprentice, and it makes his fall to the dark side much more tragic than the prequels did by themselves.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Who Is Ahsoka Tano? | StarWars.com
Screen-cap from Season 7 Episode 9, “Old Friends Not Forgotten.”

The show introduced many great characters and for the sake of this retrospective, I will highlight the three best. First, Ahsoka Tano was introduced as Anakin’s apprentice. She is a character that really grows throughout the show as she develops in power, maturity and knowledge. It is entertaining to see Anakin training her and their dynamic is amazing as she feeds off of his unique teaching style. By the end of the show, she is very powerful and her morality shines through in a dark time.

6 Great Clone Trooper Quotes | StarWars.com
Screen-cap from Season 4 Episode 10, “Carnage of Krell.”

Next is Captain Rex. One problem with the prequels is that the clone troopers appeared to be disposable soldiers just like the battle droids and it was difficult to invest in the battles they had against the droids. However, this show gives character and humanity to the clones, especially the captain of Anakin’s personal clone squad, Rex. He is a leader who cares heavily about his men and you see his journey as the war progesses. He goes through a lot throughout the war and it makes Order 66 that much worse.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - “Darth Maul Knows Anakin Skywalker Is ...
Screen-cap from Season 7 Episode 10, “The Phantom Apprentice.”

Last is the best villain in the show, Darth Maul. Maul was resurrected for the show after Obi-Wan Kenobi “killed him” in The Phantom Menace and it is works very well. Sam Witwer voices him perfectly and Maul gets many moments to shine. After he was found by his brother, Savage Opress, he vows revenge on Kenobi and that storyline provides some powerful and chilling moments.

All three characters are very prevalant in the final arc of the show and the payoffs of their characters help make it the best arc in the show.

I also have to touch on the animation and voice cast. The animation is serviceable for the first couple season, but as the show progresses, the animation becomes much better, especially in season 7. The later seasons have some of the best moments in the show and part of that is due to the upgrades in animation that brings those moments to life. The final arc had the best animation in the entire show and that is another reason why it is the best arc.

The voice cast is also amazing. Matt Lanter voices Anakin and he is terrific as he makes Anakin such a likable character and displays Anakin’s emotional turmoil throughout the show perfectly. James Arnold-Taylor makes Obi-Wan, a usually serious character, an entertaining Jedi full of cockiness and arrogance and it is a blast to watch. Dee Bradley Baker helps provide emotion and humanity to all the clones and Ashley Eckstein does a great job portraying the growth of Ahsoka through her voice. However my favorite voice is Witwer as Maul. Every line Maul delivers is chilling and through his voice alone, Witwer makes Maul a very menacing character.

Overall, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a masterpiece in the Star Wars saga. It adds so much character and lore to the saga while being very entertaining at the same time. I really enjoyed binging the first six seasons and watching the season 7 episodes that came out weekly. It really added a lot of great content to the saga after I was let down by The Rise of Skywalker. If you are a fan of the movies but haven’t checked out the show, I highly encourage you to do so.

Rating: 9.75/10

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