Inter Milan 2-2 Rubin

Home cooking does it’s job on us again. Or is it The Curse of the Plastic Pitch? Whatever it is, there are enough slack performances at home to make people talk as though there was a block or something. Me? I just don’t think that this is a a consistently good team yet. It’s not a knock on the coach or the players or the front office. It’s just where we are in the rebuilding process as far as I can see it. I personally am not panicking because everything that I see is still better than last season. I will say this until I make someone physically vomit – I will be happy with progress. As far as I can see, we are still a better team – not just in record and table standing – than we ever were with Gasperini and perhaps Ranieri, even considering that nice run we had in December.

As a matter of fact, I think that we were the better team in the first half and unlucky to have conceded a penalty. Don’t misunderstand, it was a penalty, no complaints. And Handanovic did an excellent job blocking the kick. But the follow through by the group lining the area who allowed the rebound goal… stink – o. I think that the team stunk up the joint as the second half wore on. Up to the final whistle, I thought we were lucky to draw watching the stink -a- roo the last 45 minutes of that game ended up being.

Looking back, that was a lot of stink. (Inter Milan Offside Blog)

Well done, Livaja and Nagatomo for finding the net to salvage a point.

Forza Inter!

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!

Real Madrid 3-2 Manchester City

Fox Soccer > Action Hero:

Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the 90th minute Tuesday asReal Madrid came back earn a 3-2 victory against Manchester City in a Champions League opener that turned into a wild shootout over the last 25 minutes.

Well done, Los Blancos!

I can’t believe it just happened: first we were down, then we came back immediately to equalize; then we were down again, and we came back immediately with another equalizer; and just before the end, CR7 comes up with a powerfully dipping strike, providing Real Madrid with the win to open their Champions League campaign. Drama, drama, drama!

¡Hala Madrid!

Real Madrid 0-1 Sevilla

Tenth place. We are in 10th place. When Chelsea found themselves last season in the middle of the table, they didn’t finish top 4 narrowly making Champions League by winning the cup. When Inter found themselves mid table they too did not finish top 3 and had to go into Europa Cup Playoffs. Madridistas, this is not good.

Yes, the season is long and hard, but, frankly, we have created a deep hole from which we must now climb out. Any realist would have to say the season is lost at this point. So, now just give me Champions League.

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.