Congratulations to Andre Villas Boas on his first premier league win! I’m sure this will be memorable only for the result and certainly not for the performance. We laboured to win against a weak opposition in the first game at Stamford Bridge this season. Not quite good enough but at least the monkey’s off the back. A draw or a defeat might have put tremendous pressure on Andre. Good for him that he’s got a win under his belt now.
Meanwhile, Liverpool beat Arsenal at the Emigrants 2-0. I must say that Liverpool played much better against Arsenal at Emigrants than Chelsea against West Brom at Stamford Bridge. Of course, Arsenal at home would play a very open game and that creates numerous opportunities for you. But then I didn’t think West Brom parked the bus. That would be very disrespectful. They attacked us when they were on the ball and they defended when they were off the ball. Basically, Liverpool were more in control of the game than Chelsea was. To stay in control, you don’t need to score goals neither do you have to create chances. It’s just being confident and assured on and off the ball. We weren’t.
I think Andre Villas Boas looks to learn the hard way. Luckily for him, we won the match. If this match had ended in a 1-1 draw, we wouldn’t have had much to complain. Let me get into the details now.
Result: The best thing about today’s match is the result. Three points. First game at Stamford Bridge – win! It’s quite important that we didn’t end up not winning two matches in what’s an easy start to our premier league season. Man utd and Man City are playing Tottenham. Liverpool are playin Arsenal. And we are playing Stoke, West Brom and Norwich. We should win. Luckily we did.
Torres: Still very lively. Was very purposeful. Got no service. But he was very involved in the game and bouncing around everywhere. Looks like he’s very keen to make amends for the last season or he’s finally fully fit or both but we are not helping him enough.
First half substitution: I loved how Andre got all impatient and removed Kalou after just 30 minutes. I just loved it. Kalou shouldn’t have started, but that’s another thing. At least, Andre wanted to see a change and he brought it immediately. I liked the urgency shown by Andre though his team didn’t show even half of what he showed.
Hilario: Did a fine job. Couldn’t have done much for the goal but he was good throughout the match. He has his style of goalkeeping which is a litte un-pro and unorthodox. He makes you think he’s fluffed it and held to it uncomfortably but don’t worry, that’s how he does. That’s probably his style. Good show all day.
Malouda: Love him or hate him, he produced the goods, consistently. He’s hated mostly because he’s selfish (one reason why he scores at least 10 every season) and he doesn’t help Torres. That’s an area of improvement. If that’s corrected, he’s a very useful player. Very well taken goal today.
Formation: Happy to see that we are sticking to the 4-3-3 formation which even Carlo noted that the Chelsea squad understand very well. This was a poor line up for this formation but anyway, at least we are sticking to a certain formation and that’s the reason why we’re after Mata (winger) and Modric (attacking midfielder for the 4-3-3).
Starting line-up: Our biggest problem was the line-up and I strongly believe that this made us play slowly, incoherently and ineffectively. This is the first home game of this premier league and you have the privilege of playing a team that averted relegation on the last day of the season. We should have fielded a much more attacking line-up and killed the game in the first half. We didn’t. I’m very eager to see Andre picking a more vibrant team for next weekend’s home match against Norwich City.
Ivanovic should have started in place of Bosingwa. Granted Bosingwa made a fine assist today but you know what, in a way he’s like Shaun Wright Phillips. Makes 100 mistakes to get one right. When he does get it right, it spectacular to watch. Isn’t it? Wasn’t SWP something like that? Bosingwa also wants to do a lot of things and fails more often than not. Way too inconsistent for my liking. Ivanovic over Bosingwa any day.
Anelka and Kalou shouldn’t have started. Drogba should have started. We shouldn’t have retained the same midfield – we should have started Yossi or Josh or both. Actually, Andre played the same team as last weekend except for one change – Anelka for Malouda.
Performance: First half performance was terrible. We hardly created anything. We didn’t even trouble West Brom. They were a goal ahead at Stamford Bridge and they were having it easy. In a way, to concede a goal so early in a home game is fine because that could spur you on to annihilate them and make them even forget that they scored a goal. We didn’t show much of a reaction. We were slow, lumbering and lacking any sort of rhythm. We hardly created anything in the first half. Second half, we got better because there’s no other option.
What kind of chemistry do you think the front line oif Kalou, Torres and Anelka has? Answer: Zilch. How much service did the midfield provide this dis-jointed front line? Same answer. Our midfield performance was simply sad. Ramires was error prone. Lampard was invisible again. Mikel had a specific defensive role. Upfront wasn’t any better. Anelka was the roaming roadie. Kalou plays like he’s just handed in a transfer request. Torres alone was jumping around.
We should consider ourselves lucky that we scored two goals.
Anelka & Kalou: This combination just doesn’t help. If we don’t have creativity to break teams down, we should at least have pace to attack and counterattack them when possible. We have neither. Both Kalou and Anelka have a tendency to slow down things. They hold up ball and wait for their team mates to arrive and then they pass. We don’t exchange passes on the run, as we move. We become too static. Honestly, I’d bring in Anelka or Kalou in the second half when we are winning and we need to slow the game down or hold the ball up and use up time or win free kicks. These two players should not start together. Kalou as a sub is very effective though.
Ramires & Mikel: Why are we playing both these players in midfield? It should be either Ramires or Mikel, especially when we have the golden trinity of Kalou-Anelka-Torres upfront. Lampard is not an organiser like a Xavi or a Modric or Gerrard. Lampard’s style is different and almost always keen to arrive at the box. This leaves a huge midfield space to be occupied and controlled. Neither Ramires nor Mikel does that. We lose the midfield battle. In our squad, right now the best options are Romeu or Josh – players who control the midfield zone, who pass and receive relentlessly to gain spatial advantage. No more Mikel + Ramires please.
Second-half substitutions: Good that Drogba came in but shouldn’t have come in at Torres’ expense. Anelka should have been taken off. Torres should have stayed on for 90 mins. Torres has every right to feel totally gutted when the midfield stayed on for all 90 mins. Ivanovic should have started in place of Bosingwa, so I was happy to see him on the pitch. Unless it was due to an injury, we wasted an important substitution on defence while we were at 1-1 at home. Yossi should have come in. Against the tired Brom legs in the second half, Yossi would have run riot.
Always a tough one in a match where we played like we did today. It might be between Hilario and Malouda. Always dependable, within the limitations of his abilities – Hilario is a very good character. Comes in and does the job. Did very well today indeed. I don’t think we missed Cech today, which is a big compliment to him. That said, the man who scored the winning goal late in the second half has to score more brownie points. For that reason, I might have to go with Malouda. You can trust Malouda for one thing – he shoots at goal, always. No half measures. And that’s why he’s rewarded with goals.
The overwhelming feeling is that of relief. We didn’t play well but we managed to win and get three points. Relieved. Lots of lessons to be learnt. Lots of mistakes to be corrected. Sadly, we didn’t learn much from the Stoke game. This game was in fact very similar to the Stoke game in terms of the proceedings. Probably, if Begovic was in goal today, we might have drawn this match too. Despite a disappointing start against Stoke, I couldn’t see a change in line-up and approach. We were still playing like we have 180 minutes.
As I said, luckily for us, we have been blessed with an easy schedule to start the season and rake up a lead. We still get to play Norwich and Sunderland before we play Man Utd. We need to take full points from the next two matches before we go to Old Trafford. And by the time we face the defending champions, we must have integrated some of our new signings and we should field a team with a diffrent dynamic.
In the last blog I had said that Boas should be willing to take risks if he wants to see the rewards. I would have to say that again. He should be more bold and brave in his approach because what matters is the result and he must do all those things that will lead us to those results. If we are to be champions, he should take some risks. I hope he’s only waiting for the new signings to arrive and then his approach could change and will have to change. Mata is not going to enjoy sitting in the bench while watching Kalou start and hoof it up to row Z.
That leads me to the topic of Mata. Reports range from ‘we are few hours away’ to ‘we have done the deal’. I feel Mata would join us this week. Also we’re reported to sign Perreira and Moutinho too. Modric deal could still happen. If Spurs want Sturridge in the deal, I’d call off the deal and let Spurs have the unhappy player for another season. But if they want Kalou and/or Anelka, I might give them a discount.
This week and the next one would be very interesting for the Chelsea fans. With Sneijder staying put at Inter, two or three quality players coming in to Stamford Bridge would put us as a strong favourites for the title. If we sign Mata, Moutinho and Modric, I’ll be ecstatic. I think we’d go to Moutinho if the Modric deal doesn’t work.
Anyway, it will be an interesting couple of weeks for the Chelsea fans. Stay tuned people. Hopefully my next post is to welcome Mata to Chelsea FC! Cheers!