Chelsea: Lack Of Killer Instinct Isn't Just The Strikers' Fault
Chelsea travelled to Istanbul on Wednesday and took away a 1-1 draw. This may not be the most glamorous result on paper but considering the historic difficulty of picking up wins in Istanbul (a.k.a Hell, as in Welcome To...), the now public striker crisis and the comparative results of other English sides, this was a perfectly good result. Chelsea have that all important away goal to take back to the Bridge, with most teams preferring a home tie second, despite the belief that this is an advantageous way of doing things being anything but scientific.
Chelsea played very well in the first half. Galatasary couldn't carve much out in an attacking sense, bar the disallowed Burak Yılmaz goal, after John Terry single handedly dismantled the use of multi-balls. Galatasary’s 4-4-2 conceded huge amounts of space, especially in behind their high line, with the livewire Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera doing his best, yet inadequate, Manuel Neuer 'sweeper keeper' impression. He almost conceded the first by kicking the ball straight to Willian, before heroically heading the Brazilian's chipped effort wide of the target.
Don’t expect Mancini to line his side up the same way going into the second leg. For all his faults as a manager he did have the sense to change things quickly after seeing how much space his side were affording Chelsea, and things closed up quite quickly after that. Mourinho won’t change much going into the second leg, and shouldn’t, but Chelsea will need to find a cutting edge, or some of that old Champions League luck, if they are to progress.
Chelsea did take advantage though, with Cesar "Dave" Azpilicueta breaking into the space in behind and finding Torres for a simple tap in, which he took well. It was a delicious irony that a striker popped up with a goal immediately after Jose's 'secret' comments were taped by Canal+, but his wastefulness later in the game only helped to prove the Special One’s point.
Mourinho did finally verbalise what a lot have fans have known for a while now, Chelsea lack a killer instinct and this isn't necessarily, although it's not popular to say, solely the strikers’ fault. In his words: "We create but we arrive in the last third of the pitch and the last decision, the last choice, the correct pass, the right movement is something that is not right at the moment. We are not a team who kills opponents."
While on the subject of strikers, Samuel Eto'o’s response to Mourinho's comments to Sky Sports News features one of my favourite pieces of copy editing of 2014: "I am Samuel Eto'o, what can I say? If at 36 and 37 I can score three goals at Manchester City (Eto'o scored a hat-trick in the 3-1 win over Manchester United) it means that I still have some juice and I can even score until I am 50."
More importantly though, despite claiming, "I don't have an issue with anyone," Eto'o's comments do point towards a rift between the pair, with former Cameroon coach Claude Le Roy claiming "he's very annoyed," as per ESPN.
This isn't a massive issue, as Eto'o's Chelsea career was probably limited to one season from the start. It will become a massive issue in the run in as Chelsea's big fixtures start mounting up and squad depth comes in to play. Let's just hope they can put their differences aside until the end of the season when they can part ways once again.
Return of the Drog
The return of Chelsea's greatest modern era striker was muted though. Didier Drogba is held in such high regard by fans I feel even a goal from the Ivorian wouldn't dampen the good feeling, unless it were to knock Chelsea out of course... It was all mutual respect and hugs on the night though, as could be expected, and the game ended in a draw, which just seemed to fit the narrative oh so snugly. I for one look forward to his return to the Bridge and the reception he will receive. If Chelsea are going to progress they shouldn’t forget what a threat Drogba can be. Lets hope the second leg isn’t quite so genteel once the whistle blows.