What a day! Chelsea win and Arsenal lose. Chelsea claw back to the fourth place. Can the Manchester teams lose again on the same matchday? If Gerrard-inspired Liverpool can beat Man City and Newcastle beat Man Utd at St. James’ Park, we could be just 8 points behind. We would be playing Man Utd in January and Man City would play Spurs this month. You know where I’m getting at right?
I liked the starting line-up today. We played a 4-2-3-1 with Torres as the lone striker with Ramires (right), Lampard (left) and Mata (centre) behind him. Meireles and Romeu were protecting the defence. I thought this is probably our best formation to get the best from Torres. With Mata moving to centre you could see him getting involved in more attacks than usual. Mata has been our best player this season and he needs get more of the ball and be the hub of all of our attacks. That’s best achieved when he plays in the centre.
The first half was probably more lively than the first halves from recent memory. We were opening up Wolves’ defence pretty regularly. Torres was very busy in the first and last 30 minutes of the match. It was in the middle 30 minutes he went a bit invisible. I must say that Torres’ contribution to the team was superb. His movement was always a problem for Wolves and he also occupies spaces with ease and makes himself available to receive passes. He created atleast 3-4 clear cut opportunities and also aided the goal.
I wonder how long we need to wait for a comfortable Chelsea win. These days every match is a heart stopper. We have made it a habit of making hard work of everything. There’s never a dull moment for the neutrals in the matches involving Chelsea. Today was no different. As soon as we scored, I kinda knew that we were not going to keep a cleansheet. When David Luiz misplaced that pass in the midfield, I thought it was destiny.
When they did equalise, I was mentally consoling myself that an away draw is okay and at least that we aren’t losing. That’s because this Chelsea team has not been resilient. Resilience is something that was in our DNA. If we are beaten or being led, we used to play like a wounded animal. Those days are behind us. I seriously did not expect this Chelsea team to pull out a winner in the last 8 minutes or so. If anything, I was hoping that we don’t concede another one.
Under the circumstances, it was a superb pass from Torres to pierce the defence and let Ashley Cole cross for a Lampard finish. It’s typical for newspapers to scream ‘Lampard rescues Chelsea’ or ‘Lampard saves the blushes’. I’ll tell you what – Torres deserves a lot of credit for his performance today and particularly that pass. The way he was operating in the midfield and creating opportunities for others was like him wanting to show the others how’s it done.
There. Torres does what Lampard is supposed to do and Lampard does what Torres is supposed to do.
Josh McE got 10 minutes. Most importantly, he came on for Juan Mata. I think we can call it a like-for-like substitution. You know I’m a big fan of the boy. So you’re not going to be surprised when I say even if he played only for 10 minutes he was quite useful. He is calm on the ball, makes the right pass and knows which spaces to occupy – the boy’s got a good football brain. Hoping to see more of him. To see Josh play alongside Mata would be such a treat. We will know shortly if Josh would go on a loan or if AVB sees some use for a skillful playmaker like him for the rest of this season.
Meanwhile, I was watching the Fulham vs Arsenal game. Can’t believe we lost to this bunch 5-3 at home. The lowest point of this season for me. Anyway, this game at Craven Cottage was very open and was fun to watch – especially because Fulham scored two in the last five minutes to beat Arsenal. We are at fourth now. We have three winnable games – Sunderland, Norwich and Swansea. That’s 9 points and not one point less. Between now and the end of January, when we have collected those 9 points, these are the matches that would have been played – Man City vs Liverpool, Newcastle vs Man Utd, Spurs vs Everton, Man City vs Spurs, Arsenal vs Man Utd, So all that we need to do is to quietly gather our 9 points and get ready for Man Utd on Feb 5. By that time the table could look very differently based on the results of these key matches that played during this January.
While we set out to beat Sunderland, Norwich and Swansea, we might also get some much needed reinforcements this month. We are playing Man Utd on 5th Feb. If we get the new players in the first fortnight of Jan, we could use them in the Man Utd match. Lots of names being linked with Chelsea – Gary Cahill, Hulk, Moutinho, Pereira etc. Can’t wait for the new arrivals.
I saved the cliche for the last – the new year has started off with a win. Hope this is a new beginning and in particular that of a winning streak. AVB can breathe easy for a few days. I can say that about the Chelsea fans too. Let’s win our three matches this months and see how things unfold around us. That’s it for now. Cheers!