It is still too early to judge how well we will perform this season but last night’s win was far from convincing. The negatives were the poor performances from Ba and Mata as well as some blips from Cahill. The positives were the fact we secured three points and Mourinho knew how to change the team when things were not going our way.
We started the match brightly and yet again some of the intricate play from our attacking midfield impressed. It did not last for long though and Aston Villa’s counter attacking exposed the frailties we have in defence when the team is too top heavy. It is all very well trying to play attacking football but not at the expense of your back four. Last night was a match where Mikel was missed.
Lampard was generally anonymous during the game (as happens now and again) and it is thanks to brilliant saves from Cech that we did not even end up on the losing side. We would have probably been reduced to ten men if the same challenge by Ivanovic had been committed on the continent. At least some refereeing decisions go our way now and then!
Aston Villa did impress and Agbonlahor stood out. Despite statistics showing that we had the bulk of chances on goal, realistically we were limited to errant shots from outside the box. Too often there is something that just does not feel right when we have Mata, Oscar and Hazard playing together - as if our midfield were too lightweight. Ba was caught offside too many times whereas Lukaku looked menacing when he came on during the second half with Schurrle who also attacked with gusto.
You could argue that the opening two league games have been familiar in terms of style and tactics under Jose – if Benitez was in charge we would probably be more critical. Hopefully, against Manchester United we do not play so naively during a game that has such crucial psychological impact. With the general short-termism the club has had over the past decade for its managers the patience on the terraces may not last long should results not go our way (upcoming fixtures are not pleasant on the eye) – something of course that I pray does not happen.
Overall, you could argue the quality showed. If another club that was looking to challenge for the title had scraped a win while playing unconvincingly then they would have earned praise in the usual clichéd fashion. My gut feel is that Lukaku is still the best choice up front and hope he is given the chance to start against Manchester United. If Jose was trying to play mind games with his front line in order to give them a kick up the posterior in his attempts to sign Rooney then so far it has not worked. The team needs to be more balanced especially in the games against the better sides.