Interchanging Is Key
The first day of the season was an emotional event for all connected with Chelsea Football Club. The start of the new season, a heart felt – and rare – message from Roman after a fantastic 10 years of his ownership, and of course, the return of the king. Jose returned and couldn’t have been more pleased with the team he appeared to have inherited, at least from the first half hour. The movement of Oscar, Hazard and the impressive debutant De Bruyne drew great praise and if Jose can keep us playing like we did in those first 30 minutes consistently, we are in for a good season.
The interchanging isn’t something new for Chelsea fans, we saw it last year under Di Matteo. But this, this was different. Going forward, our midfield drifted off of each other, dragging defenders and creating space for their colleagues. The high intensity, intricate passing and teamwork made watching Chelsea very exciting, something it hasn’t really been for a while. The midfield looked very fresh, and very threatening, even if “it was only Hull”.
There was a problem with this interchanging and fluid movement under Di Matteo was our defensive work. When we lost the ball, our midfield was often caught out of position, and then we looked fragile. Not so much yesterday though, we look far more of a unit in midfield. When we lost the ball, we had players covering and tracking back. Ramires was fantastic in the game, again going underrated with his defensive work and tackling. Another star of our midfield was Kevin de Bruyne. Bringing new energy and a direct style, a bit of pace was restored and our midfield looked extremely mobile. It was also not the attacking side of his game, and the interchanging that impressed me.
Don’t get me wrong, Juan Mata is a phenomenal player but his defensive work is pretty much non existent in most cases. Eden Hazard was similar to this, but during Rafa’s reign, his defensive work improved and he did a lot of pressing and chasing back at the weekend, in order to aid the team, and a struggling Ashley Cole. Kevin de Bruyne’s defensive work and all around team play was one of the things that really impressed me. His hard working first half led him to look a little fatigued in the second half but he puts in one hell of a shift both going forward and defensively. When Oscar or Lampard found themselves out of position as Hull attacked, it was usually Ramires and De Bruyne who helped cover and made us look that little bit more secure.
This season could be De Bruyne’s defining season, and many of us are now seeing why he was Bundesliga Young Player of the Year. But this isn’t all about him, it’s about the new found teamwork that our team showed at the weekend. We attacked as a team, fluidly, in a style very hard to defend against. When we lost the ball, our players worked hard to win back the ball and press the opposition when we didn’t have it. It’s early days, so that could be why the team struggled to keep up the intensity for the full 90, but the positives are there. The Hazard, Oscar and De Bruyne combination looked promising, Schürrle – when he got the ball – looked good, and then add to that Spanish sex god Juan Mata and it all looks rather tasty.
Our weakness in defence has been observed, but the best way to win is to outscore the opposition. With players like we have in our attacking midfield, rotating and playing like they’ve shown they can, goals shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t wish to sound like a Liverpool fan, but this year could be our year. Fingers crossed.
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