West Brom at Stamford Bridge this weekend. Who do you want to start? Who do you want on the bench? A team like Chelsea always looks to win. Coming from a slightly disappointing draw on the opening day, the urge to win will be even more. The key question, as always, is on the starting line-up and the bench. The line-up against Stoke was the stock Chelsea line-up from last season. Some were happy, some weren’t. You know where I stand. So now, let’s pick our team for the home game against West Brom.
My choice would be exactly what I had put out for the Stoke match. Alex, Terry, Cole & Ivanovic in defence. Ramires, Josh and Lampard in midfield. Benayoun, Drogba and Torres up front.
Yes, I’m not making any changes to the line-up I posted for the Stoke game. My logic remains the same. This bunch of players will have the right mix of old guard and the new faces. This will have the right mix of tough nuts and fluid passers. At Stamford Bridge, I expect West Brom to make it very difficult for us to score and might even be looking to go home with a 0-0 draw.
So it is Alex, Terry, Cole & Ivanovic in defence, Ramires, Josh and Lampard in midfield, and Benayoun, Drogba and Torres up front.
I don’t want to play Mikel for two reasons. One, he’s going through a traumatic period. Let him focus on his family matters and resolve them. Hope it all works in his favour. Two, he is one of the players who slows down our attack. We need someone more pacy and better on the ball and with distributing. I’m counting on Ramires to do that.
I don’t want Malouda to start. His effectiveness keeps coming down by the match. He needs to be rested and used for smaller periods. I would surely bring him in as a sub. Also, I don’t want Anelka to start. He is another player who slows us down. He’s got good skill and decent ball holding abilities but he’s slow to my liking.
Drogba must start. Torres had a good match and if he’s continue that performance this weekend, we should have players that would support him. Didier always supports the fellow-striker. Plus, Didier is the best crosser in our team. I want to see a towering header from Torres off a Drogba cross. Plus, Didier is the best free kick taker too.
Benayoun and Josh should start because these are players that can provide the creative spark. Kalou can come in as a sub for the last 15 minutes. So can Malouda. Torres to play all 90 minutes. Mikel can come in depending on the situation.
So that’s my line-up. What’s yours? By the way, I’ve not given the options for goalkeepers. There’s only one Petr Cech and he plays.
Before the Stoke game, John Terry had said how Andre Villas Boas is very similar to Jose Mourinho in his approach to man management.
Clearly, he has learned from Jose and there are certain things where you think, ‘That is very Mourinho-esque’. Jose didn’t like anyone getting close to the players. We had a good relationship with him but there were days you wouldn’t have gone near him. So you could have a laugh and a joke with Jose and that could change the following day. That was the same with Andre when he was here and he’s very much the same now as a manager.
And John Terry did say something that we all want to hear. No one’s place is guaranteed. Terry, Lampard, Drogba – can all lose their places.
He [Andre] said anyone can lose their place. We all come in fighting for our places so we’re all keen to see what the starting XI is going to be against Stoke. I know there’s this feeling out there that players like myself, Lamps and Didier, the players that have been there for a long time, take our place in the team for granted. But it’s the complete opposite.
This was before the Stoke match. That’s very interesting to hear, isn’t it? I don’t think so yet. But as the season progresses, we should start seeing the changes. For this game though, my only request to Boas would be a field a side that’s not rigid but very fluid and be able to break down West Brom. Yes, Brom played well against Man Utd last week and almost nicked a point but then at Stamford Bridge, a point would just be fine and they might come looking just for that.
Such is the Chelsea job that if we don’t win the Brom game, the pressure will start building on Boas. You can’t blame anyone. That’s the way things pan out. Hence, it’s even more important that we pick the right team to beat West Brom at Stamford Bridge.