Has Chelsea Stumbled On Its Best XI?

After a convincing 2-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen in Chelsea’s 2011-12 Champions League debut, lots of fun and interesting questions have popped up. In a league and sport that is covered to death, where every game says something, what did we take away from this event?

Is Fernando Torres right on the edge of being back?

If he is back to form, was it because of fallout from his comments about the “slow” team in the media? Or was it because the team looked very different and let’s admit — much more effective?

The lineup for the game was as follows: Cech/Ivanovic/Luiz/Cole/Mikel/Sturridge/Malouda/Miereles/Mata/Torres. Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka came on as subs. Captain John Terry sat the game out and Didier Drogba was either not ready yet from the mild concussion to play or was being held off for Manchester United. That being said, the XI for the Leverkusen match looked fast, cohesive and attacking. Luiz had a stellar match doing a lot of the things like Terry does in the defense, and scoring on a great play that was set up by, guess who, Fernando Torres — lots of money paid out for him, one goal in 23 games, possible bust, people like myself have written posts about the usual bio. In the Leverkusen game, Torres had a bunch of opportunities, some of which came from passes by teammates that showed he was comfortable and in sync with. If Torres limps to form and scores semi-regularly but continues to be perfectly fine with making the open pass when available, then he salvages a lot of negativity he would get. If he does score in bunches, it becomes a cherry on top of the lineup.

But is this the XI the club should bring into Manchester United? Do you trust Daniel Sturridge to have the games that other young guys like Danny Welbeck are having for United? The current lineup, with Drogba coming in from the bench, would provide a tough matchup for United who have a super young, quick and effective defense and two (for the moment) dangerous strikers.

The prevailing thought concerning Chelsea’s age was whether to ship off Lampard and Drogba off to new pastures or have them continue on with eventual back up positions in the lineup. I am more of the second thought; there are far too many guys at the 30-32 age that are more than able to play at a high level and something should be said for reputation when it comes to guys like Lampard and Drogba and what they have accomplished. Villas Boas however, is not giving off the impression of being swayed by status or tenure, so wouldn’t the idea of brushing off people like myself and going with the “alternate universe” lineup against United be the more strategic bet against a team that wins now by multiple goals?

Chelsea now comes off as an interesting threat to the league by having such diversity. In what at the moment is a two-team league, there’s available room for anyone to crash the party. Liverpool’s doing it already despite the loss to Stoke. Anyone who does though needs to show up with ammunition, and by having the ability to go in different directions, Chelsea can go as far as they want with any team in the league.


  1. GH September 17, 2011
  2. David September 17, 2011

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