Hello Chels! Not a conventional style match-reaction post this time. I saw some key topics emerge out of yesterday’s community shield game and these are pretty much the talking points after the 2-3 defeat to Man City. So a quick post with those key topics of discussion. Here we go!
The Spirit of Chelsea: Never doubt the spirit of Chelsea. Not many teams would come out with such credit after losing a man at the 40th minute. This is a fantastic Man City team full of established superstars that we came out with a 2-3 result despite playing with 10 men for 50 mins. Many other teams would have folded to defeats of 5-goal and 6-goal margins in such circumstances. Not Chelsea. The spirit of Chelsea is still well and truly alive.
Match sharpness: Clearly, we lacked match sharpness all over the pitch. Due to the nature of the roles, it’s easier visible on the defensive than on the attacking side. Our attackers also we a bit lacklustre – lost possession and missed passes and wasted opportunities. But in defence, your being lacklustre makes a headline difference and that’s what happened.
Ivanovic’s red card: It’s no way a red card. Ivanovic got the ball and Kolarov got Ivanovic. There was no reason for Ivanovic to make a malicious tackle when he had full control of the situation. He had the ball to be taken. He made a lazy attempt to secure the ball but never a red card. That said, the ref was generally very poor and this decision just was a good sample of how bad his afternoon was. Thankfully, there won’t be a ban as FA considers this game as a pre-season friendly and hence this will not have an impact on the premier league games. No one picked up this change in rule including the media who were reporting that Ivanovic will miss the first three games of the premier league season until FA clarified.
Eden Hazard: I thought Hazard was very impressive. He was a bit rusty but I could see how a fit and ready Hazard would operate in a fit and ready Chelsea team. He would be awesome. He also reminded me of Ronaldo in his early Man Utd seasons. Lots of pace, lots of flair, thundering shot, resilience, burning hunger & the eye for the occasional showboating. Make no mistake. He will be a star.
Fernando Torres: You know I’m a big fan and supporter of Torres and I’ve been backing Torres to unleash himself this season. In my view, Torres has been in great form since March. He’s done very well everytime he got the opportunity and even when he didn’t get enough opportunity (like in the Euro). He’s got the second best odds to be the premier league golden boot winner ahead of Rooney and RvP and second only to Aguero. Torres was one player who was very sharp yesterday and he was skinning defenders for fun. The goal that he scored was a very well taken goal from a very swift attack. Torres was instinctive. That’s when he’s at his best. In his stint at Chelsea, there were many occasions where he’d take too much time to decide and execute. He wasn’t instinctive. Yesterday he was. I think his time is now. He’s got great support and service behind him and he’s made a fantastic start to the season with that goal. The only way is up!
The midfield dilemma: We have a brilliant defence. Yes there weren’t at their sharpest yesterday but still I rate them as the best defensive unit in Europe. We have a great supply line for the attacks – Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Marin, Ramires. And we have a great sriker who seems to have found his form. The only weak link in Chelsea is the midfield zone/players between the defence and the attacking midfield – Lampard and Mikel. They were harried and hussled off the ball far too easily and far too frequently. That’s where we lost the battle. When you have 4 attacking players and 2 attacking full backs, your 2 midfielders should have to be spot on. There’s no margin of there at all. Individually, Mikel and Lampard are fantastic players and for me, have proved it beyond doubt. But to be left as a pair of midfielders against the onslaught of pressure from opposition players, they needed lot more awareness, ball skills and team play. Off the ball, if they were to get too close or too far to/from each other, they would leave huge holes in midfield to exploit. I haven’t seem them play with enough understanding and partneship. And that would it hurt in our current set up. Will have to wait and see.
RDM’s tactics: We started with 4-2-3-1. We know that’s going our staple formation for this season. As soon as we lost Ivanovic to a bad refereeing decision, I thought we would change our system a little bit. Surprisingly, RDM didn’t change it. He went on as if we had eleven men. With Ramires having to drop back, it put a lot of stress on our midfield and Man City took advantage of it very well. But the point is, Chelsea continued to attack – all the game, even with 10 men. RDM has got some stick from the media for how he played against Barca and even Bayern. Here’s a game against the champions of England who played better than Barca and Bayern but still we were attacking with 10 men. I didn’t see anyone making even a mention about how we approached this game even during adversity. But, good show Robbie!
Bench strength: For once, we had some depth on the bench. There were occasions in the previous seasons where I hoped we don’t make any subs because the quality on the bench wasn’t great. Yesterday, we had Sturridge, Piazon, Essien, Bertrand etc. That was a very good bench. With two players coming in (and two more probably), you can imagine how strong the bench would be! Oscar and Marin would also join the squad. We could really have a bench that has Lampard, Mikel, Marin, Essien, Piazon and Sturridge. How about that!
Perspective: We weren’t sharp or ready. We played with 10 men for 50 minutes against one of the best teams in Europe. We will see some existing players take new roles and new positions and will need to get adjusted to that. We were missing a couple of key players. We will sign one or two more players. We will still need to gel together as a team, understand each other and develop camaraderie and teamwork. I see positives far outweigh the not-so-positives. Chin up and cheer up!