Thoughts on Chelsea vs Stoke ~ Will
|Thoughts on Chelsea vs Stoke|
Well, we got the 3 points in the end. An Ashley Cole finish in the 86th minute was enough to give the blues 3 points after a really tight game. The finish was one that any striker would have been proud of, and was Ash’s first goal since scoring the 8th in the 8-0 thrashing of Wigan in May 2010.
After Wednesday’s 2-2 draw and the 0-0 draw against QPR last weekend, it was important for the blues to get back to winning ways, and sustain our position at the top of the league. Mikel, who received some harsh criticism from some ‘fans’ after Wednesday’s mistake which led to the 2nd Juventus goal, was outstanding in the deep position, breaking down Stoke’s attack, before distributing forwards to one of the front four. He even found the time to make a run into the box before having a very tame shot, but it was very unlike Mikel to be that far forward. I get the impression that he wanted to make amends for that mistake on Wednesday, and he most certainly did.
Mikel has been one of our most maligned players over the years, with people saying he’s not good enough to play for Chelsea, and hasn’t developed into the player we thought we were buying 6 years ago. But now, in the last 6 months, we have finally seen how good this guy is. In the final in Munich he was undoubtedly our best player, performing in the biggest match of his career, and that calibre of performance have carried on into the new season. Ok, he made one mistake on Wednesday, which led to a goal, but those sort of players giving the ball away is always going to be dangerous. If a striker gives a ball away, it’s unlikely that the team will suffer. Mikel currently leads the way when it comes to interceptions in the Premier League, which is a really key stat to look at. It just shows that without Mikel, we may have conceded a lot more goals. Like today, Mikel was superb at breaking down Stoke’s attacks, and I was really impressed with him. Mikel is now a key player for Chelsea, having made that position his own, but that’s something that many Chelsea fans wouldn’t have believed this time last season.
Moving onto other areas of the team, Oscar was another one who really impressed me. After scoring 2 great goals on Wednesday, the 2nd one a contender for goal of the season, every Chelsea fan would have been interested to see how the boy would do against a physical side such as Stoke. Many predicted that Di Matteo would leave him out of the side, due to the physicality of the opposition, but he was thrown in along with out 2 other playmakers, Hazard and Mata, and didn’t look out of place at all. He almost scored another great goal, turning a defender on the edge of the box with a flick, before just firing wide, just to show it was no fluke on Wednesday. Also, he was through on goal before being taken down for what looked like a penalty, which he eventually got booked for, for simulation! Overall though, he showed that he can deal with the physical side of the Premier League well, just as Hazard and Mata have shown.
Now on to an area which is slightly contentious – the form of Fernando Torres. The £50 million man started the season so well, scoring 3 goals in 4 games, before the Super Cup, where ever since that game his confidence seems to have gone once again. Today for example, he was almost trying too hard to weave chances out. Taking on 3 players by himself before being tackled, wasn’t the best way to use the ball. We ultimately want to see our number 9 scoring, but I’m afraid the players around him can only do so much. It does come down to the man himself, as to how many goals he scores this season. There have been a number of times this season when Torres has had the chance to shoot and has shied away from it, by doing the easy thing and passing. How’s he ever going to score if he doesn’t try? The best strikers, are the greedy ones, that’s just fact. Whenever they see half a chance, they have a shot on goal. As the saying goes, if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win the raffle. But Torres doesn’t want to do that, and that worries me. After storming down the tunnel at QPR, it’s clear to see he’s getting frustrated at the lack of service he’s getting, but that can only come from him making the right movements too.
The fans’ patience with the number 9 I sense is growing thinner by the game too. Like today, when before chants of ‘Torres’ would be echoed around the Bridge after a good piece of play, today there was nothing. The fans have stuck by Torres since day one, and through all his tough patches at Chelsea. He owes the club and it’s fans big time. So maybe it’s time for him to reassess his role in the team, and ask himself how he can be more useful in a team where at times over the last few games he’s been a mere passenger.
Defensively today I was generally pleased, with the partnership of Cahill and Luiz proving to be as strong as it was in Munich. You can see that Luiz is slowly cutting out the stupid attempts at interceptions, and just playing it safe, whilst also not going forward as much from the back. Last season we were caught at the back after one of his mazy runs, and so it’s clear to see that Di Matteo has told him to calm it down. Ok, he was maybe a bit fortunate not to be sent off, but one or two of Stoke’s players today could have easily been sent off for the aggressive nature of their play.
Cahill played just like JT would. Solid, giving out directions to the players, and I feel so comfortable when he’s in the back four, whoever his partner is. A potential Chelsea captain, that’s for sure. Of course, Cole will get the headlines after his goal today, and he deserves them. He bombed down the left whenever he could, and didn’t put a foot wrong at the back. The finish for his goal was top draw, and you can see he still has that striking instinct that he had from his youth days as a striker.
Overall though for today’s games, there were many positives to take, with just a few negatives. Stoke was always going to be a tough game with their anti-football way, and Pulis is the biggest hypocrite for saying some of our fouls were bad after some that his players were putting in. All I can say though is I glad I don’t have to watch Stoke every week as I’d be one bored fan! Moses looked sharp when he came on, and gave us a bit of width which we desperately needed, and his pace was a useful weapon late on, almost leading to a second goal in injury time. But like I said, overall it’s just great to get the 3 points, tick that one off the list and on to the next one. Top of the league, come on you blues!
Will Talbut @WSTalbs