It’s important in a football season, to capture the big picture. See matchups down the line, track certain player’s performances, and have knowledge about the opponents that one will face. Furthermore, matchups have different levels of importance based on league table positioning, and past results.
This weekend, Chelsea find themselves in the unfamiliar position of traveling to Boleyn Ground being quite the inferior team based on this season’s results. West Ham sit firmly in 4th place in the Premier League while Chelsea reside in 12th. The Hammers have been in great form this campaign, particularly on the road. They are also undefeated in their last six matches.
The Blues enter the match on a much different run, losing three out of their last six Premier League matches. They’ve been abysmal domestically so far.
However, there is hope for the Champions. It started against Aston Villa last week, when the Blues grinded out three points, playing strong defense and scoring two goals that basically fell into their lap. But, the resilience at the back was the important feature of the match.
It carried over into their 0-0 draw against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League. The Blues traveled to Ukraine, and fought hard for their shutout, and took an important point back to London. Again, the result wasn’t as important as the return to defensive graft for Mourinho’s Men.
Nemanja Matic begun to look his old self, and Zouma helped to sure up that frail right back position. John Terry’s leadership restored faith in the side, with Azpilicueta having another solid game at left back.
This all brings us to Saturday’s game. The three points are there for the taking, and Chelsea are more than capable of seizing them. Last season, they wouldn’t have thought twice about marching into Boleyn Ground and dominating the match.
This time will be different. The Blues must continue to graft, fight defensively, and work hard to stay compact. Another defensive display will add to their confidence.
With Manchester City playing Manchester United, it’s guaranteed that one of the giants will drop points and three points from Chelsea will move them closer to being able to compete again.
That being said, the most important thing is to slow down their goals allowed. Mourinho tends to revert back to a defensive style when things go bad. And judging on his career, it works for him. Chelsea would be best served to “drink the Kool-Aid” and defend like hell, hoping that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer. They should establish their counter attack game as well. For me that is when Chelsea is there strongest, defending well, and breaking free with numbers, players like Hazard and Willian driving forward Chelsea’s attack.
With the Belgian looking more like his old self in Kiev, and a healthy Costa looking more and more threatening, Chelsea can easily nick a goal or two on the road. Even a Willian free-kick could give Chelsea a chance to score. But the priority must be sound defending.
It’ll be interesting to see which Chelsea we see on Saturday. With a true Mourinho perfromance, the Blues have a better chance of success. Hopefully, they deploy it at Boleyn Park this weekend.