What a game. All credit to Newcastle- they deserved the win far more than Chelsea and looked incredibly potent on the counter attack. From a Chelsea perspective, a lot of things stuck out- so here is what I learnt…
Azpilicueta must start at RB for the remainder of the season
We’ll start with something that is painstakingly obvious to the neutral viewer. Ivanovic was fantastic for us last year, but took time to grow into the RB role having predominantly played as a CB. After relinquishing the RB role to the younger, more energetic Azpilicueta he moved back into his favoured position in the heart of defence. There his lack of pace is not as noticeable nor his inability to change directions. He is strong, forceful and a good tackler but his lack of speed means that we have a fairly stagnant attack, as well as a big weakness in our defence. Davide Santon made him look silly at times, weaving his way in and out of the Serbian’s clumsy challenges. Azpilicueta is quick, he offers width to our attack and, most importantly, is quick to get back. So Rafa, I know you’re not a rational guy, but please keep Azpilicueta in the team from now on.
Lampard and Ramires don’t work as a CM partnership
I never thought I’d see the day where I couldn’t wait for Mikel to get back into the team. Lampard, by trade, is a CAM. Ramires is a utility attacking player. Both players are not defensively sound, so when we turn the ball over and are counter attacked, as we saw on the weekend we have absolutely no one blocking in front of the back four. They both bomb forward with little regard for defending- something Mikel would NOT have done. A double pivot only works when one player attacks whilst the other holds. They can alternate all they like, but the basis is that one player must sit back and defend. These two do not work well together and hopefully when Mikel returns this problem won’t be as obvious.
Juan Mata is potentially the PL Player of the Year
People arguing Suarez and RVP would have merit to their argument, yes. But if you’ve seen Chelsea play without Mata on the field, (Brentford/Swansea) you know just how important he is. He is willing to link up to the back four. He is willing to run at defences. He is willing to pass the ball when it needs to be passed. He is a great crosser. He is a set piece threat. That not enough for you? 10 goals and 9 assists in his 20 Premier League outings so far highlight and not to talk of his importance to a Chelsea side that flounder without him. Hopefully the rest of the public thinks so too.
Bertrand is not a winger
Bertrand is not by any stretch of the imagination, a winger. Yes, Hazard has been out for three weeks, but it is not feasible to continue playing a LB on the LW and expecting any form of attacking thrust down the left side. He has played there on numerous occasions this year, and has returns of 0 goals and 0 assists. Not surprising really is it? With people in the team like Marko Marin, it’s a wonder he is still being played on the wing. Remember Florent Malouda too? The 32 year old seemingly forgotten by the team he was top goalscorer of in the 2010/2011 season. He also happens to be a Left Winger, but has since been frozen out by Chelsea and Rafa Benitez. Given the available options, I can’t believe Bertrand started every one of the last 3 games on the left hand side. He is a player for the future, but his future belongs at LB.
Well that’s what I learnt this week, any comments let me know below! Thanks guys,
Written by Tom Seagrim (172)