Fernando Torres would be more useful on the wing
'Nando' is starting to pick up his form, with the Spaniard now showing he has a bit of confidence to go forward with. Last night he did his best to pressurise opposition defenders, battle for aerial duels and provide the focal point for Chelsea's attacks. However, you can't help but feel he still has some way to go to rekindle the old goalscoring magic shown at Liverpool. Two first half efforts thrashed over the bar were not signs of a killer marksmen. As Torres slowly tries to rediscover the attacking prowess that made him a £50m striker, Chelsea could do worse than play him on the flanks. He is starting to work hard for the team, he can instigate attacks with dynamic runs and he continues to surprise with his often near perfect deliveries. With the more direct and prolific Drogba forced to the bench when Torres plays, starting them both could only work if one drifted out wide.
Torres' two most telling contributions last night came from the wings. His most important piece of work was to beat a defender on the right side, charge towards goal and delicately chip the ball (even taking a divot of turf like a pro golfer) for the onrushing Kalou to tap-in. Before that, he whipped in a sublime cross from the left that Kalou somehow managed to head over the bar. Whilst Torres is not a natural winger by any means, a wide berth would utilise his fantastic crossing ability, (also remember his inch perfect ball against United for Mata to volley home) and determination to beat his man. This would give Drogba the chance to lead the line as the battering ram, and provide a solution to Chelsea's lack of wide options. Whack Torres out wide and let him get back to his best without the pressure that comes with being a lone front man, not to mention Drogba breathing down his neck and seizing on his every mistake.
Juan Mata is Chelsea's most valuable player
The term MVP (Most Valuable Player) has creeped into the English game this year, perhaps down to our love for abbreviations, or more probably because commentators think its clever to say 'RVP...Arsenal's MVP'. Anyway its usage on our shores is thanks to the U.S.' statistic-laden sport of American Football. Over there the MVP is a side's brightest star, a player the team couldn't live without. For Chelsea this player is undoubtedly Juan Mata. Some have said signing him was AVB's (another abbreviation...) one strike of genius, and Arsene Wenger must be ruing his stubborn refusal to purchase Mata before Fabregas and Nasri left. A diminutive play-maker in the mould of compatriot David Silva, Mata looks set to be the player this Chelsea side is built around for years to come. Last night he became the only Blue to start all three of their games in the last seven days, as he proves himself as the creative hub of the team. Rushing through on goal in the second half, Mata beat the keeper and hit the post from the tightest of angles. In a difficult season for Chelsea, the former Valencia man has been a consistent positive, their MVP. Long live the abbreviation.
Continuing the abbreviation theme, last night proved that RDM was simply AVB without the dishy looks and trimmed facial hair.
RDM is just AVB in disguise
Continuing the abbreviation theme, last night proved that RDM was simply AVB without the dishy looks and trimmed facial hair. AVB was chastised by his players, fans and media for ignoring Chelsea's senior players and keeping faith with more dynamic and younger models. Against Napoli in the away leg last round the Portugese left older heads Cole, Lampard and Essien on the bench to the dismay of many, including Abramovich. Last night RDM benched Lampard, Essien and this time Drogba, as he adopted the AVB approach of youth and dynamism. However it worked for the Italian, who will now be revered by the broadsheets for tactical and selection genius. Poor old AVB, he found out the hard way how difficult it is to swim against the tide of player power at Stamford Bridge.
Benfica really don't like Raul Merieles
Chelsea lined up with four Portugeezers last night, whilst Benfica had none. Anyway enough of the random facts, it became very clear in the Estadio da Luz (hearing it called by its English name 'Stadium of Light' just seemed weird) that the home fans disliked one of the visitor's countrymen more than the rest. A lot more. Every time Raul Meireles touched the ball he was booed, and you thought the occasion might get the better of him after he received a yellow card twenty minutes in. Sky Sports' Geoff Shreaves even tried to stir up some controversy by suggesting Meireles reacted to the jeers by making a gesture to the baying crowd. “I asked Uefa about it at half-time but they didn’t know anything about it, so he may have got away with it.” Oh Geoff, you dirty little grass. Anyway it might have been the midfielder's links to rivals Boavista and Porto that riled Benfica supporters, but I like to think they were just vocally articulating their disgust at Meireles' appearance. A Bobby Charlton style comb-over hides a badly receding hairline on top, which combines with a furry ginger beard below. Go back to being bald Raul, then Benfica fans might like you.
Gary Neville is scared of David Luiz
Ever since he said "his movement is like he's being controlled by a 10-year-old with a Playstation controller", Gary Neville has shied away from sticking the knife into David Luiz further. Last night the centre back was imperious for Chelsea, and Neville responded by lauding praise on him from the comfort of his commentary box. Back in November, Luiz responded with a good sense of humour to G. Nev's comments, tweeting “Gary Neville i love u! :p”. A case of keeping your enemies close or friendly banter? If it came to fisticuffs my money is on the 6ft 2in Brazilian. Now that would be box office.
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