I’ve been trying to do a weekly article lately, voicing my hopes and concerns for the upcoming match involving Newcastle. I have already done City and United, so let’s give Chelsea a whirl.
The London club are the last of the ‘first real tests’ that Newcastle face, after a hard few weeks in competition with the League’s finest. Against Manchester City we were somewhat unfortunate, whilst luck was definitely on our side as we battened down the hatches and came away with a point against United.
I would say that Chelsea are definitely the weakest of the 3 teams to face us recently. City have quality in abundance, whilst United, although not firing on all cylinders are still extremely threatening, especially at home. With Chelsea it seems a bit different. Their team is very much in a transitional period, with their big name players that Abramovich assembled into the title winning sides of 2005 and 2006, coming to the end of their careers. Look through their line up in their defeat to Liverpool last week and you quickly realise just how old their team is:
- Cech(29), Ivanovic(27), Ashley Cole(30), David Luiz(24), Terry(30), Ramires(24), Lampard(33), Mikel(24), Malouda(31), Mata(23), Drogba(33).
- Average Age- 28
Compare that with Newcastle’s team for their game against City:
- Krul(23), Simpson(24), Coloccini(29), Saylor(25), Raylor(27), Sammy(19), Cabaye(25), Guthrie(24), Gutierrez(28), Ba(26), Ben Arfa(24)
- Average Age-24.9
Obviously, the likes of David Luiz and Mata have been purchased recently, but the core of the team from previous title winning seasons (Terry, Lampard, Drogba) will not be together for much longer.
For me, this is why Chelsea are not up there with United and City. Whereas United are in a transitional period and have begun the process of buying replacements, Chelsea are left with a team, that at its core is the same team from around 2004. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Obviously, the great teams assemble a quality squad and keep the majority of it for years, but for Chelsea, the end is nearing for their core players, and as yet, they haven’t managed to replace them.
Looking through Chelsea’s team, you can see they have been weak in a number of key areas so far this season. Defensively, it is well documented that playing the high line as they have been doing doesn’t seem to be effective. This is illustrated by the fact that they have conceded 17 goals, and that they have already lost 4 games.
In goal is another place I feel Chelsea are weak. 4 or 5 years ago many would have considered Petr Cech to be one of the best ‘keepers around, but over the past few years there are a number of times where he has looked alarmingly average. Just take Leverkusen’s winner in the Champion’s league last week:
To me, a keeper of so called ‘world-class- quality should save that, whereas Cech kind of crouches and reaches, as if pretending to try to get it, but not really. A world class keeper can save you points, as Tim Krul did on Saturday, but a poor keeper can easily have the opposite effect, costing you heavily. I’m not saying I think Cech is a bad keeper, he isn’t, but he definitely isn’t what he once was, and I would like to think some way off our very own Dutch magician.
Offensively, the addition of Juan Mata appears to have improved them greatly. With Drogba not as heavily relied on as in previous years, Torres has begun to show glimpses of a return to form, although his best still seems a long way away. It is in Daniel Sturridge, however, that Chelsea really seem to have found their long term striker. At only 22 he is still not at his best, but last year began to hit form, whilst on loan at Bolton. While with the Trotters he bagged 8 goals in 12 appeaances, and since re-joining Chelsea has continued the form, with 7 goals in 14 appearances.
The public perception of the Chelsea one seems to be that out of our most recent matches, It is definitely the one in which we have the most chance of a win, by their own standards Chelsea have been poor this season, and with our home form consisting of 4 wins and 2 draws, points are definitely for the taking.
Last time out, Chelsea beat Wolves comfortably, running out 3-0 winners against Stamford bridge, but prior to that, defeats in Germany against Bayer Leverkusen, and at home to Liverpool had piled the pressure on Andre Villas Boas, who to me looks more and more like Roy Hodgson with every defeat.
If we avoid defeat it will signal a very impressive few weeks for the team, who despite losing their unbeaten record, have illustrated that our unbeaten run wasn’t a flash in the pan and can look to kick on with upcoming fixtures against Norwich, Swansea and West Brom.