Chelsea in Christmas crisis?
The weekends sobering defeat away to West Bromwich Albion was not the perfect preparation going into a tough week for the European Champions. Tuesday night will see the Blues’ travel to the current Serie A pacesetters, in a stadium where they have lost just once since it’s opening. After 4 games, Chelsea sit above Juventus in Group E, with a home tie against Nordsjaelland to come. Juventus know their European aspirations hinge heavily on this tie, with a tricky trip to the Donbass Arena in Donetsk their final group game.
It was all a bit heavy hearted wasn’t it? If Chelsea fans weren’t grounded from the heights Victor Moses’ last minute winner took us too 10 days ago by the frustrating draw to Liverpool, Saturday’s visit to the Midlands will have certainly put chins on chests and frowns on faces. The mysterious Roberto di Matteo confused us al by sticking Romeu in, Ramires out, Azpilicueta in, Ivanovic out, Sturridge in, Mata out, shaking it all about. With the importance of aiming to win our first Premier League game in four, away from home at a stadium that we lost at last campaign, it seemed naïve to send out a team that had little experience of playing together and expect a happy ending.
Sturridge did his chances of playing through the middle no good when he prodded a shot straight at Myhill when clean through, David Luiz reminded us all that he is an incompetent centre back and Torres, well, Torres. I understand players had long international commitments, but why Romeu in next to Mikel? Two men with as little attacking instinct as a Swiss army, why not Marin instead of Sturridge? Why Torres. He made Shane Long look like Pele. All our early work undone, we have taken 2 points from 12.
The press are already dipping their quills and scrawling the ‘Chelsea in Christmas crisis’ as is a favourite festive activity for many. A result against Juventus will go a long way in delaying that bad press that is so unhelpful and mundane at this stage of the season. The Old Lady came back from 2-0 down at the Bridge in the reverse fixture, a disappointing result that was probably overshadowed by Oscar’s two superb goals.
Juventus have stuttered of, drawing 0-0 with Lazio at the weekend and before their 4-0 drubbing of Group E whipping boys Nordsjaelland, lost at home to Inter Milan.
Buffon and Pirlo are certain to start, whilst West London goal scorers Fabio Quagliarella and Arturo Vidal must be shackled in the absence of John Terry. Mikel and (I assume) Ramires will have a tough job getting to Pirlo, who tends to sit pretty in his castle behind the midfield, whilst the man who cut free from Alex Fergusons’ oppression to join the Italian Champions must also be worth a mention.
Paul Pogba: Serie A’s new Mario Balotelli. The Frenchman rejected a contract from United to join Juve, and has since his arrival in Turin he has won adoration and infuriation from his new public. He was scored winners against Bologna and Napoli and will be looking to write headline against an English club.
We will need a strong defensive performance in Turin on Tuesday night. A draw would be a decent result away from home and would leave Juventus needing a result in Donetsk, whilst we would have to tackle the Danish scrabble winning side at home. I, like you, am praying for a happy Christmas. An exorcism of recent years where we have had to make resolutions and turn our fortunes around. A result in Turin would qualify us for the next round; an early present ahead of a trip to European bottle jobs Manchester City. KTBFFH.
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