This week’s column will discuss Chelsea’s Premier League defeat against Everton and then look ahead to the 2013/2014 UEFA Champion’s League which kicks off this week.
Chelsea suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season, only four matches in, against Everton this weekend. While a trip to Goodison Park is never easy, the loss leaves Chelsea in sixth place having earned only seven points from a possible 12.
Chelsea have a team abundant with talented players and an experienced coach, so what went wrong against Everton? It was not a poor display by Mourinho’s men, but rather one that lacked conviction. Despite racking up 22 shots in the game (with Schurrle & Eto’o missing a few chances) and in what seemed to be a Chelsea dominated second-half, the London side were unable to score. Chelsea have some of the best attacking players in the league, but are they using their skill to the best of their ability? The players, whoever is selected on that particular day, seem to be sticking to the strategy of short quick, but not direct, passing.
There is no disputing that it takes a talented group of players to be able to hold possession of the ball throughout most of the game, and the intricate passing of Hazard, Oscar and Mata is delightful on the eye. However, with the emphasis heavily weighted on possession of the ball, it seems the players are often involved in a long build up play, which slows down the game and allows our opponents to get behind the ball. Chelsea have proved that parking the bus can win matches, and it seems now that our own tactic is being deployed against us.
Chelsea have a team filled with skilful and fast paced attackers, there is no need to make 20 passes before picking out the perfect through ball, when we could score off the second pass… or am I horribly mistaken? We need only to look back to Hazard’s goal in the Super Cup for evidence to the fact. I do not expect Mourinho to deploy tactics that open our defensive stability, by asking them to push for more goals; it’s okay if we concede four, so long as we score five. However, we do need to score more goals and take our chances early on. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that this was our first defeat and it did come at Goodison, also, considering our Manchester and London rivals have all lost one match as well, we are not too far off the pace.
Now we look ahead to the 2013/2014 UEFA Champions League. After winning the elusive trophy in 2011/2012, we made history as Champions, by being uncharacteristically knocked out in the group stages in the following season. It was, however, not all bitter, as we did go on to win the Europa League trophy. Now a new season awaits, with new opponents, new players and a new manager and Chelsea will be eager to fight for the 2013/2014 UEFA Champions League title.
Chelsea have been drawn into Group E, along with: FC Basel, FC Schalke, Steaua Bucuresti. Chelsea’s first test in the group stages will be against Basel at home on Wednesday evening. The two sides have faced one another as recently as last season’s Europa League semi-final, in which Chelsea emerged victorious in both legs. However, Basel will be no walkover, having caused many significant upsets in the Champions League’s recent past. Chelsea will be eager to kick off their Champions League campaign with a convincing win. In a competition where winning your home matches is vital in securing a position in the knockout stages, and with goal difference also an influential factor, hopefully the Blues will push for goals early on and not sit content with a small vulnerable lead.
Mourinho doesn’t seem to have found his preferred “starting eleven” yet, the ideal position for Juan Mata, or who to trust to lead the line for the Blues, but with a fully fit, large talented squad, Mourinho will have plenty to choose from.
It’s early in the season and with all competitions open to play for, the players and manager will be looking to bounce back from their defeat at Goodison and regain their winning streak. With a spell of roughly two matches a week for the next few weeks, Chelsea fans will be spoilt with viewing pleasure, let’s hope for goals aplenty. COME ON YOU BLUES!