Chelsea have struggled of late at Stamford Bridge, having only recorded one win in the last 6 matches with an overall record of 1-4-1. The Blues were unable to defeat Southampton as they gave up a 2-0 halftime lead to draw 2-2 midweek. And prior to that, Chelsea fell 1-0 to QPR in one of the shock results of the season.
Away from home, the Blues are undefeated in their last 6 matches with an immaculate overall record of 4-0-2. This indicates that their recent lack-luster performances at home have nothing to do with the ability of the team and all to do with a deeper issue in the squad. Recently, Chelsea have been labeled as “the worst Champions League winners ever”. This is mainly because of their failure to win the Club World Cup and to qualify for the knockout round of this year’s Champions League competition. It is understandable why they have been given this label and Rafa Benitez has been brought in to change that.
Benitez blamed the string of poor home results on the traveling teams’ tactics going into the matches. Blues fans still haven’t warmed up to the interim manager after two months in charge and won’t anytime soon unless Chelsea’s home record improves drastically. It is rare when a team feels uncomfortable playing in front of their own supporters and Benitez believes this could be having a negative effect on the players. The chair of a Chelsea supporters group blamed the poor results on a lack of confidence due to a ‘toxic’ environment but the Chelsea manager disagrees and believes it is something else. In an interview, he stated that when the Blues are away from home they have more space to play but when they are at the Bridge it is a much closer atmosphere meaning Chelsea has to be more precise.
In an interview after the match against Southampton, Rafa Benitez said: “We had chances, we had a lot of chances again. Taking our chances has to be the key”
“We can’t be happy drawing at home; The next game has to be totally different, we have to win. I am disappointed.”
Chelsea are hosting Arsenal on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, if the Blues want to turn around their poor home record under Rafa Benitez, they must not let the supporters have a negative effect on their play. Benitez and the players know what they are capable of and this weekend will be a good test to show it. The Chelsea supporters were not happy about Benitez coming in as interim manager back in November and their opinions will not likely change until the Blues can start giving good performances at home. Fans cutting Benitez some slack is not the solution for Chelsea. The solution is being able to play like they do when they are away from home while coping with the uncomfortable environment at the Bridge.
In my opinion, the four changes that Rafa Benitez needs to make pronto to get the team winning at home again are:
1. Start Fernando Torres and Demba Ba up front together to see what it produces,
2. If Torres doesn’t do well in that partnership, drop him and play him in League Cup and FA Cup games until he regains his form,
3. Sign Frank Lampard to a new one year contract (i.e. win over the fans and players), an
4. As a result of the above changes, Chelsea will start winning games and eventually the vocal minority will be silenced.
Does Benitez have what it takes to stand up and make changes? Or is he (or Abramovich) too stubborn to be adaptable? It’s a classic case of football supporters thinking that they know more than the manager. In this case, who is correct? Share your opinions in the comments section below.
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