Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace :: Time to regroup #KTBFFH

Well, 2015-2016 is off to an horrid start for Chelsea.

Here was our starting lineup:

Here were our available subs:

We opted to sub Willian off for Falcao, Azpilicueta off for Kenedy, and Matic off for Loftus-Cheek.

The recipe for last year’s success is not working this season, and we need to change things up right quick if we want to get a top 4 position as we have only earned 4 points from 4 games, and only 1 other team has let in more goals than we have.

Ivanovic is clearly the target, the way in behind our back line, the weak point through him our opponents know they will cause trouble and disarray. We should move Azpilicueta to Right Back and let Kenedy own Left Back, reserving Ivanovic for Center Back duties as a substitute or as a starting replacement for Cahill.

Fabregas is clearly misfiring. He is not the same player that he was last season. His passing is poor, and it is affecting the team. Replace him with Ramires ASAP.

Matic is off his game. He is not bossing the midfield like last season. If he doesn’t take the game by the scruff of the neck, our midfield will continue to fold to the opposition. Replace him with Mikel for the time being to shore up the midfield.

Hazard is haphazard. I’ve seen no real purpose or organization to his movement and passing. He just doesn’t look sharp, and he doesn’t look dangerous. I’m not sure if he can influence the game, but let Loftus-Cheek take over Hazard’s duties for now. [EDIT 8/29/15 9:36am Pacific] How did I forget about Oscar? Once he is available, he should take charge.[/EDIT]

Willian has been poor. He takes a lot of shots—none of which are on target. I would suggest pulling him off and switching formation to remove a 5th midfielder.

In lieu of the 5th midfielder, we can add on a 3rd forward. We could go with Pedro, Diego Costa, and Falcao up top:

Courtois

Azpilicueta – Cahill – Terry – Kenedy

Ramires – Mikel – Loftus-Cheek

Falcao – Diego Costa – Pedro

That’s just my two-cents. Whether right or wrong, something has got to change, because our current strategy just isn’t working as we are falling flat on our face.

I couldn’t be more happy that a long international break is here. We need to regroup.

#KTBFFH

City 3 – 0 CFC

Well, it has been a long time since I last published a blog post.

It has been an even longer time since I last wrote about football.

But here I am today with a ton of time on my hands and a myriad of thoughts about the state of affairs for my beloved Chelsea—2 games into the 2015-2016 season with only 1 point of a possible 6 to show for it.

We lost today 3-nil away at Manchester City. To be frank, it was horrid.

Why did we line up as follows (I don’t know if this was the official setup, but these were all of the starters)?

Begovic

Ivanovic – Cahill – Terry – Azpilicueta

Matic – Ramires

Willian – Fabregas – Hazard

Diego Costa

Sergio Aguero’s goal came due to a fatal error by Cahill. I thought he should have been subbed off at half; Mourinho instead opted to sub off Terry.

Ramires and Fabregas looked knackered. Fabregas was rather imprecise throughout. I thought that the two should be subbed by Cuadrado and Falcao, respectively, although I had forgotten about Remy, whom I feel is much more deserving than Falcao.

We lacked offensive. We lacked defensive. We were poor. That’s not exactly the compelling statement we want to kick off the season.

I should say that our worst game last year saw us lose 3-nil to West Brom, so it is entirely possible that we have gotten the worst of it over for the rest of the season. I realize that is highly optimistic, but I’d rather not be cynical.

Here were my comments on the game as I watched it. Note that around the time I felt like City were holding back, they ended up netting 2 more goals. Credit to them.

Here are some post-match musings through Twitter and the like.

I think something is wrong in the dressing room. It’s almost as if we are resting on our laurels or we have a sense of entitlement. Titles are earned; they are not given. Wake up, lads!

I’m confused by this excerpt. When I read the full article, I became more confused. Mourinho stated that Chelsea were the best side in the 2nd half, but it was City who scored twice in the latter half and not Chelsea. However, his final quote should be noted: “We couldn’t capitalize on the second half.” We couldn’t convert. We lacked offensive options, drive, determination, and will.

Per the full article, I agree: “Chelsea looked sluggish in midfield as Silva, Sterling and Toure ran rings around the, and they failed to find their rhythm in a rambunctious encounter.” Additionally, “. . . the reigning Premier League champions were most disappointing in midfield as Ramires, Hazard and Willian floated around without purpose and Nemanja Matic raced around like the Tasmanian Devil trying to put out fires in the engine room. His usual partner in crime, Cesc Fabregas, was nowhere to be seen and this display reeked of a man low in confidence and unable to live with the cut and thrust of his powerful opponents.” This game was lost in the midfield, allowing City to put the pressure on the back line, who capitulated 3 times.

This just hurts to see.

Meanwhile, we now signed a proper left back. I suspect that Ivanovich is going to be fighting for a center-back position between Cahill and Zooma, although Terry may be phased out as he is the slowest one of the lot. In Ivanovich’s old spot, Azpilicueta will move to the right back.

Well, Week 2 is over. Mourinho needs to sort things out in the locker room. We need to make a resounding comeback next week against West Brom next week—the very team we lost 3-nil to last year. I expect a strong, compelling, inspiring comeback next week against all odds just as Abramovich will, which I believe will motiviate Mourinho and his men.

Chelsea 4-1 Norwich

It looked dyer from the outset, but the Blues quickly turned it around and dominated the end result, beating Norwich 4-1 courtesy of Torres, Lampard, Hazard, and Ivanovich, respectively. Mata proved crucial in distribution.

Go Blues!

Chelsea 4-0 Nordsjaelland

Fox Soccer Match Trax

I didn’t get to watch the game, but I followed it live on Twitter for the last 20 minutes. The Blues didn’t start racking up the goals until Hazard came on around that time. Mata got a double, David Luiz scored a howler of a free kick, and Ramires put away a goal in the last minutes. And Cech got a clean sheet.

Well done, Blues!

Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

Chelsea had their first game of the season against one of the traditional top sides, and they came away with three very nice points. The Blues scored on a pair of set pieces on Saturday, with Torres getting on the end of the first and a Juan Mata delivery settling into the back of the net for the second. . . . (WAGNH: “Arsenal 1 – Chelsea 2: Initial reaction and community ratings”)

Chelsea came away with the away win in this London derby against Arsenal thanks to goals from Torres and Mata.

To summarize the magnitude of this win, I give you an excerpt from WAGNH:

Chelsea had managed to more or less cruise through the opening stages of their 2012/13 Premier League campaign, but they’d yet to achieve a signature result. Wins against Wigan, Reading, Newcastle and Stoke are all well and good, but it’d be difficult to proclaim that the Blues had reached their old level without beating more serious competition. Undefeated Arsenal at the Emirates was always going to be the first major milestone of the new season.

And the Blues came through with flying colours. Roberto di Matteo kept his front line more or less unchanged despite a relatively poor performance against Stoke City, and they answered with goals from both Fernando Torres and Juan Mata — goals against an Arsenal side which had only conceded twice in their opening five fixtures. At the other end of the pitch, sloppy defending gave the Gunners far too many chances, but Petr Cech came up huge to preserve what was eventually a 2-1 victory. (WAGNH: Chelsea come away from Emirates with impressive win”)

Chelsea 1-0 Stoke

Chelsea FC Match Report

Chelsea beat Stoke at home 1-nil, but it was a battle, and it was very narrow. Cole scored his first goal in two years, I believe. Great for him, and great for the Blues, as Cech kept a clean sheet, awarding us the win with their combined contributions.

Hardly did we take to the wings. For the most part, we tried to Barcelona our way in through the middle. Unfortunately, Torres was one dimensional, making runs forwards or backwards, but hardly ever sideways or diagonal. If we play only one forward, we need a striker who is multi-dimensional and also goal hungry. He works hard, I know, but without proper blend, he’s just being unproductive, which keeps our offense largely ineffective.

I would say that we could try a 4-4-2, but I can understand reticence against leaving the midfield partially exposed. But we used to play a 4-3-3. Why couldn’t we play a 4-4-2? For that matter, couldn’t we do a 4-3-3? Let’s look.

4-4-2

Cech
Ivanovich – Cahill – John Terry – Cole
Mikel
Oscar – Mata – Hazard
Sturridge – Torres

4-3-3

Cech
Ivanovich – Cahill – John Terry – Cole
Oscar – Mata – Hazard
Sturridge – Torres – Moses

If we have 6 attacking players from the midfield on up, we won’t need Ivanovich to push up, leaving us exposed in the back, along with Cole. Hence, we won’t need a holding midfielder such as Mikel. We have so much offensive talent now, a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 may be the only way to take full advantage of it.

In fact, if you consider today’s lineup, we found ourselves approaching our path to the goal too narrowly. Here was the lineup:

Cech
Ivanovich – Cahill – David Luiz – Cole
Ramires – Mikel
Mata – Oscar – Hazard
Torres

But, functionally, here’s how it really looked:

Cech
David Luiz – Cahill – Cole
Mikel
Ivanovich – Ramires – Mata – Oscar – Hazard
Torres

Or, alternatively,

Cech
Ivanovich – David Luiz – Cahill
Mikel
Ramires – Mata – Oscar – Hazard – Cole
Torres

Or, also,

Cech
Mikel – David Luiz – Cahill
Ivanovich – Ramires – Mata – Oscar – Hazard – Cole
Torres

Unfortunately, we played congested, trying to link up all of our midfielders centrally, resulting in one too many passes all too often. Someone needs to display a little selfishness, or the wing runs need to be there to add the width. I’m not saying to get into a crossing game of 50/50 balls, but we need to add width and add dimension. We were too congested in the midfield as the fullbacks pushed up and as Ramires pushed up. It’s the same thing as too many cooks in the kitchen–it doesn’t work. We need to accommodate the midfielders that we have and try and spark some life into the forward line, and I think that a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 will help do just that, at least on paper. But I digress.

We won, isn’t that enough?

Chelsea 2-2 Juventus

Well, sad we didn’t start our Champions League debut defending our title with a win and three points, but glad to see Oscar making an impact.

More Mikel flamer fuel with his losing the ball and failure to drop and defending resulting in the Old Lady’s equalizer.

Torres the pedestrian? Well, I didn’t really watch the game, so I can’t substantiate, but if he doesn’t leave a consistent impact soon, I bet we offload him in January.

Carefree. KTBFFH!

Chelsea Formation and Starting Lineup

Chelsea couldn’t win away to QPR today. Here’s the starting lineup employed:

Cech
Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Cole
Mikel, Lampard
Ramires, Hazard, Bertrand
Torres

We no longer have Essien, so I’m just not keen on a double pivot here. I would rather see this lineup:

Cech
Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole
Mikel
Ramires, Mata, Hazard, Moses
Torres

I would sub on Oscar for Ramires, Lampard for Mata, and Sturridge for Moses. Keep Torres on. He has the golden boot–let him play and maintain confidence. Keep Hazard on, since he is, well, hazardous.

Having a single holding midfielder with complete trust in our back four, I feel that with our midfield ingenuity we can create more offensive chances and still keep the opposition at bay.

Depending on what happens in January, I might change my opinion, but for now, I would opt for a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Chelsea 0-0 QPR

Chelsea FC > Match Report | We Ain’t Got No History > Initial Reaction

Queens Park Rangers managed to keep us at bay while we were on the road. Unfortunately, with all the skill of Hazard, he couldn’t find the net on two prime occasions. His first was early in the first half, and when he should have gone far post, he opted an in-step near post curl, proving an easy save for Cesar. His second was late in the second half, after Moses was able to cross the ball low, he failed to stand up and put his knee over the ball, resulting in a sky high effort, but it was an absolute sitter. Unfortunate. Torres had a good run into the box, beating the entire back line, but instead of taking it with his right foot to the far post, he tried to cut back and use an in-step far post curl. However, it went straight to Cesar. Unfortunate. And though everybody said Hazard will win the most PKs this season, he had one moment that appeared to me like a PK decision, but alas the referee did not award one. Such were the offensive efforts of the Blues on this day.

Most notably, we did not allow a goal, but not for lack of chances. Mikel gave away a prime opportunity for Cisse–which will prove to be more fodder for Mikel haters–setting up the ball on a silver platter for QPR’s number 9 to feast upon, but Cech was up to the task and held him up masterfully whilst the back four dropped back into the goal line and nothing came of it. Earlier in the game, the pirate that is Granero–the recent Real Madrid signing for QPR–placed in a cross to J. S. Park, and Ivanovich and David Luiz were both caught ball watching, leaving Park for a free header, but, fortunately, it went straight to Cech for an easy save.

Offensively, we were unfortunate. Defensively, we were fortunate. As a result, we walked away sharing the spoils.

This game was an improvement by comparison to last season’s fixture when we lost 1-nil and had two sending offs for Bosingwa, who is now a QPR left back, and Drogba (Do you remember him?).

The commentators of the game made some points that I will respectfully disagree with, most notably that Chelsea will miss Drogba. Who won’t miss the legendary number 11, the African Messiah, the colossal powerhouse that is Drogba? Remember that Torres thrashed QPR in our home game last season. Remember that we lost to QPR last season. In perspective, all things considered, Torres is a different player, but one that we can be quite pleased with. We are already fairing better than we did last season, and though we don’t have maximum points anymore, we are still undefeated and have shown comparable improvements from last season.

Now, at 80:00, Torres was subbed off. He didn’t take a seat on the bench, but instead he decided to go straight to the locker room. Is he still unhappy with Chelsea?

Carefree.