One of the key signings in this year’s summer transfer window for Chelsea was Juan Mata. The diminutive Spaniard was the main driving force behind Valencia’s successful campaign last season. Many clubs showed interest in signing Mata given Valencia’s tough financial situation. Chelsea managed to snap him up for around £24m. According to Mata, Chelsea Spanish striker Fernando Torres advised him to join Chelsea rejecting moves to Arsenal and a host of other clubs. He scored a goal in his debut. And his performances for Chelsea have been good so far. Whenever he gets the ball he seems so composed and hardly makes any bad passes. He’s got good range and also loves to dribble past defenders. But he hasn’t been very influential in the Chelsea team that in short of creativity.
At Chelsea in almost all matches Mata has been deployed on the left with the central striker role mostly filled by Torres or Drogba. From there he has not been able to make much impact for Chelsea. He has notched up only 2 goals so far and has had an assist for one goal. But apart from that he has played a part in many goals albeit not directly. His crossing is good and when he cuts inward he creates space for Cole on the left allowing him to bomb forward. But this has not been ideal for both Chelsea and Mata. Chelsea are lacking creativity at the moment. Goals are not coming in and midfield seems static. The best player for Chelsea this season so far has been Ramires who has worked very hard to break moves and also helped in the offensive department with his vast stamina and energy. Lampard has been okay but you need to be more than “okay” to drive a team like Chelsea forward in a league like the English Premier League where even the smaller teams can have well organized defenses. Unfortunately Lampard seems to have lost his old self. Back in the day we used to see him making his characteristic runs into the penalty area and finishing off moves which had made him one of the highest scoring midfielders in the Premier league. He also had a good passing range and brilliant technique and good knowledge of whats going on in the field which made him a very dangerous dynamic player. But all that seems to have been diminished now and his performances have been pretty down to earth. The only time that I thought Lampard was being influential was after he was dropped from the team. He fought and regained his place in the team in style against Valencia at the Mestalla earlier in the season. Things slowly started slowing down after that.
Unfortunately for Chelsea the strikers have not been in great for either this season. Torres although he showed some promising form early on in the season and in the champions league hasn’t come out of his slump. Drogba hasn’t recovered from his ‘malaria’ yet Lolzz 😀 Anelka has been on-off and he seems to be heading out this January. The only player who is showing some flair and quality is Daniel Sturridge. He scored some important goals this season. But he is young and inexperienced and that shows in many matches where he wastes many chances. Given time Im sure he will become a formidable striker for both club and country. As far as Im concerned if a striker gets a steady supply of quality balls he is bound to scored regardless of his form. That hasnt been happening in Chelsea.
And the defensive crisis we are facing now is another story. I really do not want to go into that. If I do so then this post wouldn’t be safe for minors to read ;D So to sum up Chelsea’s season is in a huge crisis and Andre Villas Boas’ position is in doubt. But all is not dull and bleak for the Portuguese manager. There is one small change that he can make to the team and I think that small change will pay huge dividends. One which he has already tried out in recent matches.
That change is playing Mata in a central role behind the striker. Mata must be played in the traditional no. 10 role. That is the only way forward for Chelsea now. The reason Im being so confident about this is because if you’ve seen recent matches especially against Liverpool, the game changed entirely when Mata was deployed centrally. Most of the time the holding player was taken off to bring in another striker and Mata would be moved central with Lampard playing behind him. This way Mata has been able to play in a more influential role. His skill and vision can be harnessed in a better way if he is played in this position. He can pass, he can bring wide players in, he can shoot from long range, he can dribble past defenders and can put his creativity and mind to work to move Chelsea forward. This also takes the load off Lampard who can now concentrate of spreading the ball given his superb vision and passing ability. And either Ramires or Raul Meireles can play in the holding role. Florent Malouda has shown signs of improvement in recent and he could be deployed on the left with Sturridge or Anelka playing on the right and Torres down the middle. This gives us a 4-2-1-3 formation which I think can change to the more familiar 4-3-3 that Chelsea are accustomed to.
Lets see his passing in the Liverpool match. In the first half he was played on the left and in the second, AVB moved him to a more central role.
He made 33 passes in total in second half compared to 18 in the first half. Now that says a lot. And the chalkboard shows you clearly how influential and free Mata was in the second half. This is the way forward for Chelsea.
If AVB wants to turn Chelsea’s fortunes this season around, IMO, he needs to do two things.
1. Sort the defensive crisis out
2. Play Mata centrally as a no.10
If he does this then Im sure with the quality of the players on board, Chelsea will put a stiff fight for the title. I just cant figure out why AVB is not starting Mata in that role. He needs to be given that playmaker role in the team. I also think he himself needs to step up and impose himself a bit. He looks as though he is playing like an auxiliary player who was brought in to replace a star player. He really needs to put his humbleness aside for some time and start shining for Chelsea. He has the flair to drive any team. And Im sure if employed properly he can take us back into title contention.
Well, lets hope the season turns around. Coz I really feel sorry for AVB. He is a great manager and we need someone like him to develop our team. So I really donot want to see him being sacked after or during this season. But I also cant understand some of his selection choices. He chose to play Bosingwa in the left back position in place of injured Cole and it was not a wise move at all. He should have given Ryan Bertrand the nod. And also not using Josh McEachran is also a worry considering he has got good maturity and ability while still being so young. He should look into the entire squad and try some new players. We really need something. I just hope we go into the holiday season in a high and come out of it in a high.
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