Originally, I wasn’t planning on reviewing yesterday’s match against Aston Villa, but then said match turned out to be the most one-sided, highlight filled game of football I think I’ve ever seen Chelsea play. Full of special moments and goals to be replayed for years – it was a game to be recognised and recounted for lots of different awesome reasons.
Firstly though, Aston Villa need to be acknowledged for the part they played in this result. They were horrible! They were barely even the 2nd best team on the pitch! I know they are a very young team (with an average outfield age in the low 20s) and so were always susceptible to being overwhelmed, but at this level that’s no excuse. They offered no energy, no creativity, looked hopelessly disorganised. Brad Guzan was unquestionably their man of the match which summed up their display perfectly.
After the 55th minute, the game as a contest was completely over. It didn’t even look like a training game, more like one of those benefit charity games where all-time legends play against celebrities. We stroked it around effortlessly and cut through them every time we went forward; it was embarrassingly easy.
Breakdown of goals:
1) Fernando Torres – I put in my preview of this game that even though Villa were unbeaten in five, they’ve made poor starts to most of their games recently. Whilst under Benitez, we’ve invariably started halves quickly and so had a good chance of scoring an early goal. Just two minutes in Torres signalled to Azpilicueta to send in a cross, then scored arguably his best ever goal for Chelsea, looping a perfectly placed and dipping header over the keeper. The goal was his 7th in 6 games. One thing I notice about Torres’ performances lately is that he’s been doing a lot less but his touches and movement and become almost immeasurably more efficient. If you put his resurgence down to Benitez, which I think would be fair, then our interim deserves a lot of credit indeed.
2) David Luiz – Most of us weren’t sure why Luiz was taking all the free kicks at the start of the season but we aren’t objecting so much anymore. Using the now widely practiced side-footed technique, introduced by Cristiano Ronaldo, the Brazilian’s shot was like a heat-seeking missile. Can anyone think of a free-kick that ever went in from such close range, having been hit so hard? Just a genius technique. Playing in midfield, Luiz’ entire game was excellent – he did everything right. Whether you rate him or not, accept now Luiz is a future leader of this team and will become a vital player, in whichever position he plays.
3) Branislav Ivanovic – I also put in my preview of this match that we have the greatest set of goal scoring centre halves in the world, and yesterday certainly didn’t hurt my claim. Cahill’s controlling touch and spin shot was brilliant and drew an equally good save. Ivanovic was there however to butt in his 5th of the season, his second in two games and his third in two against Aston Villa.
4) Frank Lampard – This was a special moment. Making his 500th Premier League appearance for Chelsea, Frank scored a phenomenal trademark, dipping, swerving right footed shot into the bottom corner from about 25 yards out, and consequently became Chelsea’s all-time highest goal scorer in top division football. Whether there has ever been a more popular goal-scorer at Stamford Bridge is debatable, fans sang his name relentlessly for the hour he was on the pitch. Whether he leaves in the summer with Tambling’s record or not, he’d get my vote for our greatest ever goal scorer every single time.
5) Ramires (1st) – This was vintage Ramires. The through ball from Lucas Piazon (making his PL debut) was perfectly weighted, as Rami sprinted through the Villa CH and LB, taking a perfect first touch to dig the ball out his feet and then striking it perfectly through the keeper’s legs into the middle of the net.
6) Oscar – The Brazilian was left on the bench again for this game, and whether you agree with that or not (not – in my case) you can’t argue what a fantastic sub he is to bring on. The penalty he won was soft, though it probably was a foul. He then put his spot kick right in the top corner to score his first ever Premier League goal.
7) Hazard – In the 83rd minute Hazard joined the club of players who had scored their best ever Chelsea goal in this game, after he’d played a perfect one-two with Oscar in a densely packed penalty box, the Belgian dropped his shoulder, twisted away from Herd and smashed it into the top corner. Against a clueless young Villa back line, Hazard was fantastic to watch throughout.
8) Ramires (2nd) – It took eight goals but finally a Chelsea player managed to bag a brace as Ramires side footed into the top corner right at the end. The real highlight of the goal however was Oscar’s dribble and cut back on the edge of the area. With the Brazilian substitutes all playing excellent cameos and with David Luiz the MOTM, yesterday demonstrated the influence of our Brazilian contingent perfectly. Whilst we have the best of Belgian youth, the new spine of Chelsea is from Brazil and with the World Cup approaching, just about the only thing Luiz Felipe Scolari knows, selection wise, is that the spine of his team will be Chelsea.
This was such a mis-match it would be dangerous to draw any conclusions beyond how, for the first time in a long time, we seem to playing with some confidence and some purpose. Benitez has sured up our defence as we all knew he would, the way he’s improved our attack however has been a pleasant surprise. To win the title from this position is an unreasonable objective to set. However to maintain this distance from the Manchester clubs, and to be ready and waiting to capitalise should they go through a bad spell, that’s a game plan we can work with. We aren’t in the title picture at the moment, but with the start Rafa’s made and with the further improvements I think he will make, I wouldn’t say we’re out of the picture completely either.
Merry Xmas and KTBFFH
This was my 50th article for BlueChampions. Thank you everyone who’s ever read/commented on my pieces – they’re a pleasure to write. Here’s promising the next 50 will be even better.