After six games its Chelsea that lead the way in the EPL and its QPR that sit rooted at the bottom but what so far are the main differences?
Well as it stands Chelsea have won 5 games out of six compared to the bottom side QPR still win-less from the same number of games. Chelsea have only failed to win in one of their opening games and ironically this was against … yes you guessed it, QPR!
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo is fresh from winning the clubs first Champions League but is still regarded as a young manager. At the age of only 42 he takes charge of Chelsea, the team he made over 100 appearances for as a player, for his first full season. In typical Chelsea fashion of late, he has been well supported by the club, making 6 notable summer signings for a reported combined fee of over £80 million. His record to date as manager of Chelsea stands at a very impressive 65.63% win rate.
Compare the Chelsea manager to QPRs Mark Hughes. 49 years old this November, the Manchester United legend only took charge of QPR this January and he also starts his first full season in charge of the blue hoops. Hughes has signed more than a team of players in the summer, the total fees are unconfirmed but it is reported that QPR broke their record by paying £9m for Granero from Real Madrid. Hughes record as manager of QPR stands at a win percentage of just below 29%.
So already similarities are notable, two managers who were talented footballers, both played for Chelsea, still in their first season at their current clubs, both have done what was required and more last season (Hughes keeping QPR in the league) and both having money to spend in the summer to shape their teams and put their stamp on the football they want to bring to London!
Clean Sheets and Defending
This season so far in the EPL Chelsea have defended brilliantly. Statistics show the blues have had 4 clean sheets from their first 6 games, only Reading and Arsenal have scored against them. They have played every game with a solid back 4, Cech has started every game in goal and both full backs Ivanovic and Cole have started 6 out of 6. Di Matteo has used three centre backs. Luiz, and Terry started the season for Chelsea in their 2-0 victory away to Wigan and since then Cahill has played with both Luiz and Terry in a solid defence.
Now compare that consistency to QPR who have used a total of ten players in their back 5. Firstly they have recorded one clean sheet, remarkably against Chelsea! They have used two goalkeepers in Green and Cesar, Green conceding 9 while Cesar has conceded 4 from three games each. QPR have used 3 different right backs, 4 different partnerships at centre back and 4 different full backs and this all in 6 GAMES!!
The Midfield & Attack
Chelsea have filled their midfield with a mixture of hard workers and some top class talent. Every game so far they have lined up 2-3-1 but have tinkered a bit with who starts and plays where. Lampard and Mikel started the first game with Mata, Hazard & Bertrand ahead of them. The pair in front of the back 4 has changed with Meireles and Ramires playing here but the one constant has been Mikel. See below how important he has been to Chelsea. He has been the one to sit and allow the full backs to push on and allow the talents of Hazard, Lampard Oscar to go and create, assist and score.
In front of the 2 central midfielders, Chelsea have played 3 attacking midfielders behind a main striker. The League Leaders started with Mata and Bertrand either side of their big money signing Eden Hazard. They have also used Ramires, Lampard and Oscar in this area of the pitch and between them have managed to score 4 goals but have also clocked up 6 assists. Add to this the lone striker and when you add someone like Torres to make runs for players with this creativity, you are bound to score goals and win games. Di Matteo has shown massive faith in Torres, starting him every game so far, and Torres has repaid him with 3 goals from his 6 League starts.
QPR started the season with the same formation as Chelsea, using 4231, however quickly changed to a 442 formation, was this something to do with the Swansea result being a 5-0 deficit? The London Rangers have used a total of 11 players from Midfield to front (Diakite, Park, Mackie, Taarabt, Hoilett, Wright-Philips, Granero, Faurlin all in midfield and Cisse, Zamora, Johnson & Hoilett as strikers). The strikers have also changed and within the five games Hughes has played with a pair up top, he has used three permutations already. With only four goals coming in this period, Zamora has scored 3 of them with the only other effort being from the talented Taarabt.
One main word can sum up the difference between the team teams… yes it could be quality, it could be confidence but how about CONSISTENCY?
Chelsea, 17 players used in six games, players knowing their roles, partnerships already formed and new partnerships forming and being allowed to form through repetition in a style of play and a system of play.
QPR, 23 players used in six games, changes of goalkeepers, changes in defence, changes in systems, changes in partnerships in midfield, down the flanks and with strike partnerships.
QPR trail Chelsea by a massive 14 points, one sits in the spot of Champions the other as the Leagues bottom team. However if QPR find consistency in team selection, formation and a style of play can they move up the table? I think they can! Cesar, Ferdinand, Bosingwa, Fabio, Granero, Park, Zamora and Cisse – surely too good to be at the bottom?