Four Things We Learned from Chelsea and Valencia
1. Drogba is still the man for Chelsea
Andre Villas-Boas’ (AVB) arrival meant Chelsea were going for a new look this season – in players and style. Youth would be the key; the oldies would be slowly ousted out and AVB’s attacking style will be implemented. Torres was supposed to be the man to signify the change at Stamford Bridge. Yet, it’s old war-horse Drogba that’s leading the line. Regardless of the changes around him, Drogba is still Chelsea’s man for the biggest occasions, pulling them out of the frying pan when required. Like last weekend’s performance at Newcastle and Tuesday night’s starring role, Drogba is still valuable to the Blues.
2. The bench is where Lampard might be this season
AVB’s message that this team will be his is best epitomised by the exclusion of Super Frank Lampard in his important clash. Raul Meireles was chosen ahead of him, showing that despite his ability to read the game, his eye for goals and experience, Lampard is no longer guaranteed his spot in the starting eleven. No doubting his qualities, it seems that Lampard is hardly being missed. Once key creator in the side, that mantle has moved to Juan Mata, with his vibrancy and support from midfield being replaced by a vastly improved Ramires means Lampard could be struggling with game time this season. This might hinder his chances for England’s squad for Euro 2012.
3. Romeu starting to show his qualities
Oriel Romeu’s place in the team looks to be assured with another fine performance. The manager’s trust in the former Barcelona boy is clearly evident, when the substitution of Obi Mikel came around to provide more solidity in midfield and Ramires was replaced instead of him. Romeu was excellent in breaking down Valencia’s attacks and his distribution provided a base for Chelsea to settle on. A few “Mikel moments” in which he almost lost possession in key areas can’t deter an otherwise solid performance for the youngster. AVB seems to have found the man to fulfil the “Makelele” role that Chelsea relies on.
4. Old Chelsea still around.
After the enthralling first half Chelsea settled for conservatism and discipline in the second half. AVB went back to the days of Mourinho and Ancelotti, scrapping his high pressing the midfield tactic, and instead settling on defending deep and playing on the counter with long balls played to Drogba – something he’s used to. Mata and Sturridge’s were fantastic on the flanks providing the link from defence. They got the victory they needed and despite a “new Chelsea”, the “Old Chelsea” is still around – and clearly a Plan B for AVB.