It has been about two weeks now since the last Azonto Epistle 22 came your way. Maybe I got choked by FC Basel’s shock at the Bridge or perhaps our first half performance against Spurs. During those times, we were never alone in that vicious cycle of unimpressive performance. Of course, we were in with Manchester United who couldn’t still wake up from their 4-1 humiliation against their City rivals and were once again taught some bitter lesson against Wet Brom at Old Trafford. I guess West Brom has become their headache these days judging from their last two matches which involves United shipping 7 goals in total, 3 by Lukaku alone. City had their own story of inconsistency, going on by losing 3-2 to Aston Villa. So, you see, “we never walk alone” although the originators of this mantra have once walked alone against Southampton at Anfield. The story of this season has been that of imperfection, even Arsenal who claim to be on winning streak just got checked by our good friends from the Hawthorns once again. And as for Spurs, well, they are Spurs so you can ask their North London neighbors, Arsenal, who can tell a good story about their seasons. At least if spending £107M on buying players can’t guarantee you the 3 points, it should be enough to avoid a 0-3 humiliating defeat against West Ham. So, let us agree that we have a long way to go. For our beloved Chelsea, it is good Jose is gradually getting to know the core of the strong team. From the second half of the Spurs game till now, our team has been on a different level. Our game against Steaua Bucharest gave us an idea of how our team is shaping up and how we can be ruthless when we finally get into our rhythm.
In the absence of Hazard, who is a key part of our team, we managed to play at a high level aided by Andre Schurrle who is showing to be a strong force for the left wing role. Hardly will anyone say that we missed Hazard when Schurrle was playing. It shows how important it is to have a quality depth. I guess if it were last season it could have been Bertrand in a makeshift role or even Benayoun, who will be running around flicking his hair. I have already said Schurrle will be a bargain of the season and no wonder after winning the Man of The Match award against Steaua he was yet voted the best player by UEFA for the week. He made more successful dribbles more than the entire Bucharest side put together. If he manages to work on his conversion rate, he will be up there with the best since he already has the advantage of height and athleticism. Mata has proven once again how important he is to our team. When he is on the pitch, you could see the calmness he brings in the team, and his presence inspires the other attacking midfielders. It is great that Jose has finally found a place for him in the team.
The Jose Factor & the Winning Mentality
To have a manger like Jose is crucial because he has the right mentality to build a top team. The winning mentality, thus, his ability to forge that makes him a top manager. Against Norwich, any manager could have protected the 1-1 when Norwich started gaining momentum. It wasn’t Jose, he made a bold tactical gamble and it paid off. Hazard and Willian making that work and will always be the big difference between this team and others as well as last season’s. What I am sure of is that with Jose around, we won’t settle for mediocre results. The team is gradually bonding and even when the going gets tough, you are sure that we will steamroll through for the result. An important aspect of our team is that we seem to be shaping up and improving much after much. Our defensive organization is being sorted out and you could clearly see our strongest defensive setup. Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz and Cole appear to be the deal although Cahill and Azpilicueta can slot in at any moment with their own quality and strength. Another difference between now and last season’s team is that whiles we are shaping up as we move on in strength, we started brilliantly and started declining under Di Matteo last season and under Rafa we were ON, in one match and totally OFF in another. Ferguson was able to take advantage of this and won the league although his team wasn’t 15 points better than us.
Our Strongest Eleven as at Now
Apart from the defense which seem to be quite obvious, can someone come out with the full starting Eleven, monitoring the social media especially twitter, when the starting lineup comes, fans make a lot of comments about them including “this lineup is not good”, “this lineup is strong!” And “why has he left out this player?” So judging from this, can we be bold enough and come out with our strongest team? We all know the dilemma will come from the attacking trio behind the main striker. Last season, this was the easiest pick, with “Mazacar” in full swing and the issue was the double pivot. Today, it looks as if Jose’s preference of Lampard and Ramires have earned their place in the much talked about role which has been our Achilles heel for sometime and Mikel is making his own case to get in there which I know he already has a unique talent in the team and will have a good season ahead. Breaking his goal hoodoo alone is enough to take him to another level. Willian is yet to have a full match to prove himself but he seems to be having an impact already from the bench. His super goal against Norwich, looking at his technique he used to place the ball shows why we made the effort to sign him. He has the quality as a Brazilian and I hope he puts all of us in a difficult situation once more in choosing those super triplets. It’s such a good dilemma to be in although some agents and even national teams will be having a go at the manager when he leaves some out. It is so obvious that some will be left out and it’s up to Jose to sort them out By explaining issues to them. If Mata of all people could be left out, then no one is safe. Up front, Fernando Torres showed the class he possesses against Spurs before being sent off. Torres has got this red card history about him and any time he seems to be showing real attitude to play, he gets sent off. I can count 3 red cards like this, against Swansea, under AVB which was Mike Dean again as a referee, United and this season, Spurs. If he can avoid these situations and be consistent, then he will be our first option striker but hey, Eto’o will not make it so easy for Fernando and I guess Ba too.
The break is long and I don’t want to wait for the whole fifteen days without watching any meaningful football only to come back to see our team play “garbage” as Jose said against Basel or Everton. But we seem to be shaping up. It’s a long break but your favorite Azonto Epistle will not abandon you. You can sit down quietly and come up with your strong Eleven for Chelsea to fit our 4-2-3-1 formation. You will see how difficult it is to be Jose and mind you, we are free to criticize or support Just as we all do to Jose.
Seth Adusei (@sethaadusei)