What We Learned From The Nordsjaelland Match: 5/12/12
The victory in the Champions League against Nordsjaelland was a bittersweet one. Rafael Benitez got his first win as Chelsea manager while Fernando Torres scored a brace. But the reigning Champions of Europe were knocked out of the tournament due to other results not going our way. As always, there were plenty of points to take away from the match :-
1) The Belgian has been under fire for not contributing to Chelsea’s play as much as he did earlier in the season, some even suggesting that Chelsea’s slump is mostly down to him. While it’s true that Hazard did suffer a dip in form, no one else had been performing well either. However, his performance against Nordsjaelland was an excellent one (the horrible penalty aside). He ran rings around defenders and no one knew how to deal with him. Hopefully Hazard continues to be as influential in the coming matches.
2) Ah, my not-so-subtle dig at Fernando Torres (in case you didn’t figure it out). The Spaniard has been guilty of going AWOL in Chelsea’s last few matches, but he put in a decent shift last night. His link-up play and passing was good and he also managed to get on the score-sheet twice. Not only that, he worked hard when not in possession of the ball and looked to run in behind defenders. He even seemed more eager to shoot as stats show that he shot 9 times during the match. More of the same please, Fernando.
3) Many people (including me) questioned Benitez’s decision to include Victor Moses in the starting XI at the expense of Oscar, given the Brazilian’s form in the Champions League. By the end of the match, Moses made us eat our words. He looked a constant threat down the wings and some of his link-up play with Mata and Hazard was the stuff of dreams. He even set up Torres’ first goal. Despite being used mostly as an impact player in the beginning of the season, it’s clear that he can be a regular fixture in Chelsea’s starting XI.
4) Oriol Romeu hasn’t been in the best of form this season. Most of his performances have been average and people were surprised that he started the match at the expense of Jon Obi Mikel, but Romeu put in a solid display. Admittedly there weren’t too many attacks put together by Nordsjaelland (especially in the 2nd half) but Romeu didn’t seem nervous and it seemed clear that his poor form can be put down, to a certain extent, to a lack of game time. He needs to start a few matches now, preferably against weaker teams.
Other notable talking points:
5) Luiz can certainly take a penalty
6) Cahill loves scoring goals
7) We went out of the Champions League with our heads held high.