Chelsea somehow managed to come out unharmed from a suicidal pit that they dug for themselves. If there were doubts being raised over Chelsea’s qualification in the Champions League, they answered their critics in some fashion. Andre Villas Boas finally seems to have found a stable and working solution for his striking problems, as Didier Drogba put in a vintage performance to make sure that the fans miss him when he finally leaves at the end of the season.
As relieving as the victory might have been, and Villas Boas’ post match interview clearly indicated relief, there are still some issues that need to be addressed to make sure that a stylish victory to ensure qualification is not a false bliss. Chelsea managed an extremely lucky victory this weekend against Newcastle, and although the scoreline read 3-0, it could have been very different had David Luiz been sent off in the 4th minute and Newcastle’s three shots that hit the post would have gone in. But, since no sport derives points from a case of Ifs and Buts, Chelsea’s victory can not be taken away from them. There are some definite positives and some glaring negatives that can be derived from these two victories.
Among the positives, Villas Boas has finally learnt from his mistakes and realised that the high backline that worked so well at Porto isn’t going to cut in at Chelsea, at least with the players that he has at his disposal. In both the matches Chelsea played with a deeper backline, so even though there were defensive lapses, the players did not have to make up ground to cover the attacking player. Secondly, Villas Boas finally seems to have found out the striking combination that works. Didier Drogba might leave next summer, but there is no lack of commitment from his part. Daniel Sturridge was absolutely frightening against Newcastle at the weekend, wrecking havoc every time he cut inside from the right hand side. He is definitely the future of the English national team, with the only thing that needs to be adjusted – his attitude.
For the negatives, David Luiz still plays like he is being controlled using a playstation controller by a 10-year-old kid (Gary Neville said so). Frank Lampard and Mr. Chelsea – John Terry, still control the Chelsea locker room, with the latter deemed almost untouchable, however poor the performance may be. For example, against Newcastle, John Terry made a goal line clearance. As heroic as it may sound, a point can be made that his lack of positioning in the first place forced him to make the goal line clearance. A misfiring Fernando Torres is a concern as well, as Abramovich certainly did not spend 50 million pounds to keep him on the bench. Villas Boas needs to feed him some confidence and get him up, running and scoring to keep the Boss happy.
As delighted as Chelsea fans may be, because of these twin victories, they need to look no further than the weekend. Manchester City. A victory against the Citizens can certainly spur the Blues to push for the title but a defeat can be equally demoralising, especially after such a monumental week. Villas Boas and Chelsea are safe for now, but one wrong turn at this juncture can steer the club towards a downhill spiral and as everyone including Villas Boas knows, Roman doesn’t tolerate that.