We still have a 100% win record in 2012. How cool is that? Three wins in three matches – Wolves, Portsmouth and now Sunderland – two of them in premier league. In just this short period, we saw teams like Spurs, Liverpool, Man City drop points. Only when we keep winning, we see how beatable other teams are and how often they could drop points. This month is a good one for us. Luckily, we have been blessed with some winnable match-ups. But that doesn’t mean we are winning any of this as easily as we should.
It’s only fair to say that we’ve been . . . lucky! Yup, luck had deserted us for a few months. In exactly those months, we chose to defend in methods unfamiliar and the result was a nervous hovering in the fourth spot. Looks like we have made some tweaks in our defending methods as we are dropping slightly deeper with the fullbacks not operating as full time wingers. And now, luck seems to be back. All these three wins this month could have ended in draws and we wouldn’t have been able to complain (yes, including the ‘massive’ 4-0 win).
See I’m quite convinced that 4-2-3-1 is the way to go. Let’s admit this – we don’t have one orthodox winger in our whole squad, not even one. And we should get Mata to get involved more and for that he should be playing in the middle behind Torres. This is one reason why I’m not quite missing Sturridge. With Sturridge in the team, we are forced to play a two striker formation or three-man forward, considering that Torres should start every match. So actually I’m quite pleased that Sturridge didn’t start
It’s no surprise that the goal was created by Mata and Torres – two of our four best players in recent times (Ramires & Sturridge being the other two). No one in Chelsea delivers dangerous crosses like Mata and crossing is not supposed to be Mata’s strong point. You’ll be surprised to know the proportion of Chelsea opportunities are created by Torres. We’d love to see him at the end of these opportunities and taking advantage of them but at least he’s been the creator for many of them.
At this rate, Torres would probably have more assists than goals. On the other hand, Lampard and Ramires will have more goals than assists. And this is the story of Fernando Torres at Chelsea. His midfielders are scoring or getting into scoring positions than creating goals for Torres. Out of frustration, Torres has started to drop deeper and he, being a very skilled footballer, has been creating chances for others.
El Nino too needs some luck. There now have been a number of matches where he’s produced MOTM performances but still don’t manage to hit the net. His volley yesterday was brilliant. Though he couldn’t get the goal, what was heartening was that he had the confidence to go for the phenomenal volley. While Chelsea has started seeing some luck, Torres needs a bit of that too. He had a very good game over with some cracking shots and a couple of valid penalty shouts turned down.
What’s worrying is our refusal to commit into tackles. Too often we were defending as if the attackers had an invisible and unpenetrable one-metre radius around them. We were chasing them, we ran alongside them, we attempted to steal the ball cleverly but we didn’t commit into tackles when it mattered.
It’s strange that we’ve managed a cleansheet in a game like this. That’s the irony isn’t it? There were games where we conceded a nothing goal despite dominating for great periods of time. And then games like this where we allow a number of opportunities, even until the last second, and still claim a cleansheet.
Couple of great stories yesterday. Michael Essien was on the pitch. It was a pleasant surprise! I was expecting him to be on the pitch only for the champions league knockout rounds. Either there was a wrong assessment somewhere or Essien is desperate to get back on the pitch before a midfielder is bought this January. This was the first match Essien got to play under AVB. Since Essien got injured, we have got three new players who can operate in the midfield – Mata, Meireles and Romeu. You can even add Ramires to the list. Essien’s midfield colleague Mikel and Lampard are no longer starters. Hence Essien’s re-introduction to Chelsea is going to be interesting. Isn’t it odd that we have multiple options for defensive midfielders and hardly any for the creative attacking midfielders.
The other big story was Josh McE’s half-season loan deal with Swansea. I’d love to see Josh play regularly in the first team as I think he has all the qualities that we are missing in our midfield. And I also think he can be a fantastic partner for Mata. But then if we are not going to use him, it’s such a waste to keep him on the bench. Last season, we had a problem upfront and right at the time we needed strikers, we sent Sturridge on loan. We’ve then said a million times that if Sturridge had not gone on loan and if we had used him, he could have had an impact on our season. I see that happening with Josh now. It’s good that Josh got Swansea. They play good quality football and a player like him should fit perfectly well there. Hope Josh gets a lot of time with Swansea. I simply want to see the boy in action.
Gary Cahill was in the VIP box to watch Chelsea win at home. By the looks of it, might only be a matter of time before the official announcement arrives. AVB had said that we could sign two players this month. Cahill being one, we should expect the other one soon. I have a feeling that it would be an attacking midfielder. I don’t see us going for another defender. With Essien coming in, we have a lot of options for defensive midfielders or central midfielder options. In attack, we have one striker too many for our single striker formation. So I see us going for either an attacking midfielder (read Moutinho) or a winger (read Hazard).
We are doing okay now. Deserved or not – wins and cleansheets are with us. What’s undeniable is that we’ve got some kind of momentum building up for us. If we beat Norwich and Swansea this month, we could be a very good position as there are some key matches among and involving the top six which could see us improve in the table. Stay tuned. Take care now. Bye bye then!Watch the long highlights of Chelsea vs Sunderland here!