Sunday, 26 August 2012

3 out of 3 and a pleasant start

It has been an excellent start to the league season so far. Not simply because we have won our opening three league games but also the manner in which we have played. The losses against Brighton and Manchester City in the pre-season seem nothing more than red herrings.

Having seen the ups and downs of Chelsea in the 25 years I have followed the club I am not ashamed to admit that before the season started a top-4 finish would have suited me fine. A young squad combined with a generally poor performance in the league last year meant that I had no qualms understanding if it took time for the new-look team to gel. It is not a side that has muscle up front and I thought we may struggle against sides who are happy to come away with a draw against the Blues.

However, the play so far especially in tight situations has been excellent. Hazard has stood out and the sheer work rate of the team has been noticeable. The balance of the side against Newcastle was just right. Even more impressive was the comeback against Reading. When 2-1 down you could almost feel the players' and crowds' heads drop. Most were probably suddenly wondering if it was a good idea to have such a novice as manager (or I may just be talking about myself!) How wrong I was... the second half was excellent and the changes made by Roberto di Matteo showed intelligence and positivity. It was even nicer from a puerile point of view to beat Reading, a club I have little affection for.

Bertrand has been very solid and the formation of the midfield means that you feel we have a side that can score from many areas of the pitch. The only weakness seems to be defending from crosses and a lack of strength up front when we try to cross the ball in from open play. On the whole it is a side that tries to bring the ball into the box and score from there or kill teams on the break. The defence looks solid too and to have a choice of Luiz, Terry and Cahill as centrebacks looks luxurious. David Luiz is a player who I like to watch but it is vital that he takes fewer risks this season in defence. Ivanovic has been a great find and adds to breaks in attack and Ashley Cole partners him well.

Monaco at the end of the week looms - not an important trophy but one I would like to win nevertheless. On paper the only teams we really have to fear in the league are the Manchesters but it is pleasing to see the likes of Swansea and West Brom starting the season off well. Not to mention Tottenham and Arsenal falling apart! We appear to be heading in the right direction and building for the long-term. A strong bench helps and we finally seem to have a manager who is bringing us good fortune too. From the depths of despair something really great seems to be looming - I even saw Mata use his right foot yesterday! Come on the Chels!

PS Chelsea faithful - when Newcastle fans slag off our support (while not even filling out half of their away allocation for a Saturday match) don't be afraid to remind them of our trophy haul!