Thursday, 19 September 2013

Chelsea 1 Basiiil 2

The honeymoon period lasted for less time than even the most pessimistic Chelsea fan predicted. The booing has already started with the season barely a month old. The media has already begun its mocking of our beloved Jose as his wonderful analogy of comparing our players to young eggs comes back to haunt him. Something has changed and you hope that last night’s match does not symbolise the wilting away of our club from being one of the world’s top sides.

It was worrying to see Jose already taking risks at such an early stage. FCB (as their fans like to call themselves) equalised but there was no need to panic – a home draw is not the end of the world with five more games in the group. But to put on another striker in Ba while adding Mikel in defensive midfield was like ordering a full fat flapjack but adding a skinny decaff latte to balance things up. The team looked out of sorts even before the substitutions in pursuit of a victory were made.

Mourinho was correct in his assessment when he spoke of the immaturity of the side. Players such as Luiz and Hazard flattered to deceive - trying the odd trick here and there but adding nothing concrete to the team. We looked vulnerable in defence and we seem to have a new rotation policy where it feels we almost have to give players a chance to play for the sake of it. That is what happens when you have 23 midfielders too many.

Initial thoughts are that you do wonder how exactly this side has improved in comparison to last season. Fulham at home now looks a test and it will be interesting if our manager plays a full strength side. There were positives to the game – Oscar impressed and Willian showed the sharp touches and moves that first attracted him to our club.

The biggest worry again was up front. Eto’o did get into some promising positions on the field but seemed to only own one strong foot. Again, this team has promise for the future but you wonder if the lack of patience from our owner has fed down to poor decision making on the pitch. When looking at the fixture list today every game we have coming up looks like hard work following this tepid start.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Everton 1 Chelsea 0

Strange day, strange game. Chelsea dominated and had many chances on goal. Flashbacks to Jose’s final game during his first stint at Chelsea rose to the fore. Oh, to have someone who could finish. This could be the story of our season. Quite why we let Lukaku go out on loan (of course, to Everton) is bizarre. He may still be 20 but Chelsea fans tend to back youngsters and give them the benefit of the doubt.

When it comes to Eto’o it is hard to remember any player who decides to play in an inferior league for money and then return to a better level and succeed. We might as well have brought Drogba back. I shall gladly eat my words if I am wrong but this feels more like a transfer to increase shirt sales rather than one to help build our side. We need to take some risks up front and even if someone like Lukaku does not score 20+ this season we know we have the strength in midfield to hit the back of the net. He could be the big, skilful guy who draws defenders away and allows the rest of the team to thrive.

We played in an attacking fashion during the first half and it was exactly the formation I like that we began with. We looked dangerous on the break and Schurrle appeared menacing. Mata and Hazard in midfield excited me. Having Mikel as the defensive midfield added balance to the side. Oscar should have won a penalty or at the very least a free kick outside of the box when he came on.

Then comes the dilemma for me when it comes to Chelsea’s defence. It is when Luiz is involved. Although a player who excites he is also one who frightens when he goes into attack and forgets his defensive duties. If there is feng shui in a football team then he spoils it for me. Despite my feelings it was not his fault we lost the match – more blame should be placed on our attack.

Mourinho was correct in his assessment that if you do not take your chances you cannot win games. It was under his initial stewardship that we became known as the side that managed to grind out victories against those who chose to defend rather than attack. His substitutions late on in the game were punchy to say the least – replacing Ashley Cole (who again was lacklustre) with Torres (who again was lacklustre) opened up the game to counterattacking football. If there is an area of the side where regular play is the most important when it comes to confidence then striker is probably it.

Chelsea should have gone into the second half at least two goals to the good. Unfortunately as the game opened up we were left to resorting to fouls and were lucky to finish with ten men.

Everton is a team that I find hard to begrudge. It is a stadium where I spent my first away game outside of London in the late 80s and saw Chelsea go top of the league with a 1-0 win before we collapsed in the league. It is a club that has no billionaire backing but has always given top flight sides a run for their money with little reward. If it had been another side that had beaten us in this fashion then my feelings may have been rather less philosophical. It is early on in the season and still some bedding in is required for new players so there is no need to panic - but up front we do not appear to possess that target man who will frighten opposition sides for now.