Previously we analysed the minor fall from grace for Chelsea in their shock loss to Sunderland. But what can we be done to get the Blues back on track?
Chelsea’s best attacking performances of the season so far were game days 1 and 2 where we demolished Stoke and West Brom 6-0 each. The critics were acclaiming the style and praising the tempo and energy that led us to the wins.
In those games the side would start the game full of purpose, impetus and flow. They were intent on taking the lead, with a simple passing game supplemented by imaginative choice that produced some stunning team goals. The strong, high pressure start to the game more than often resulted in a goal. Malouda 4th minute vs. West Brom. Malouda again half an hour in against Wigan. Essien in the 2nd minute against West Ham. Kalou in the first sixty seconds against Blackpool.
A strong start is key to winning games. In every one of the above matches we went on to win by two or more goals. By opening up the defence early, you test the opposition’s morale, drive and determination. And by dropping your tempo to control the game, and keeping strong at the back, you will always win. In the games mentioned above, Chelsea conceded just the one goal. It’s great to have a free flowing final third, but the defence is just as important. A balance is key.
So: A strong start and a strong defence are the (obvious) keys to victory.
Against Sunderland and Liverpool, the team were sluggish in the opening quarter, asserting their presence rather than pressurising the opposition straight away. This allowed the opponents to introduce their game, as Liverpool did as Torres sparkled, and as Sunderland did by not being afraid to attack the champions. Not scoring early meant going behind was more likely as the opponent came into their own, as emphasized by Torres and Onouha. Having been so dominant so early on, we were not accustomed to chasing games. Not once this season have we come back from a losing position.
Motivation has been lacking this year. The team has not won from a losing position all season. Manchester United (Community Shield), Manchester City, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sunderland. Who says Birmingham won’t add their name to the list?
Ancelotti needs to rally his troops and instil back into them the drive and grit that has won us four Premier League titles. Under Mourinho, we wanted to win. Under Hiddink, we wanted to win. (Disclaimer; not a Mourinho/Hiddink fan boy in any way, just appreciative of their talents).
Injuries to key personnel make this task much more demanding. Losing your capitan and his defensive partner, your vice captain and his midfield partner and having your star striker hanging out too closely with mosquitos does not help your cause.
But now is the time for other players to step up and become leaders. Malouda recently took the captain’s armband for France. Why not for Chelsea? Mikel is fast becoming our best player. His rashness is far less common nowdays.
As I wrote this time caught up with me and I was unable to go any further until Saturday night’s game; but these are some of the lessons that Ancelotti could learn to get our season back on track.
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