There was one of those mass sharp intakes of breath around the stadium as Torres took off with both feet for that typical striker’s tackle on Saturday. I’m not complaining about the red card – barely touched him but more through luck than judgement and those are exactly the kind of tackles that we need to see eradicated from the game.
It was incredibly frustrating though as I could see Torres adding to the goal he’d already put away – perhaps even a hatrick, and how would that be for the old confidence? Instead we see him miss three games where one could have confidently predicted his revival continuing. Good job Drogba’s fit again as we need to keep pace with the Manchesters even at this early stage of the season.
We saw the first signs of a spikey Villas Boas this week. The criticism from a certain pundit following our loss to United hit a nerve and he seemingly couldn’t let it pass without comment. Unlike Mourinho, who would use press conferences and comments for carefully planned psychological mischief making – Villas Boas seemed genuinely irked. That added to the complaint raised to the referees chief Mike Riley regarding the performance of the officials at United demonstrates clearly that he is not a good and gracious loser – good – who wants a good loser at the helm of their football club.
I’m also pleased that we once again seem to have a man in charge that will not allow unfair criticism of our club to go unchallenged – it’s long overdue. It’s all well and good having a manager that everyone likes and thinks is a good guy but in such cases the media, opposition managers, pundits etc take liberties in writing/spouting unsubstantiated garbage. With Villas Boas at least there is a chance that such musings will be challenged.
Although the football is getting better week by week it still has an air of transition about it. I have never been on for analysing formations and tactics – my classifications consist of “exciting” and “not so exciting” and although AVB’s reign started with the latter, things are improving. He must be still getting to know the players and what they can do, and I imagine that we won’t see a settled first team as such much before Christmas.
One player who has been constantly beneficial for the team no matter who the manager has been is Nicholas Anelka. A player of such subtlety and such selflessness that many fans won’t miss him until he’s gone. AVB has indicated that the player wants to go which surprises me as he has seemed the most settled and most contented at Chelsea than any of the many other clubs he has played at. I for one will be sorry to see him go as there are not many strikers who could/would play such an understated almost support striker role.
His tenacity with the ball draws opposition players, leaving time and space for team mates to grab the glory and the headlines. There are not many other players in Europe who are able and would be prepared to play this role. Hopefully by the time he leaves, this new style of ours with a more creative midfield will negate the need for that type of player as the service will be flying in from the wings – only time will tell.
Almost drawing as many column inches as Torres red card was Lampard’s exclusion from the first team line up at the weekend. Although I imagine we will see him play a part this evening, I do hope that now his first team start is not a given he still sees his future at Stamford Bridge.
I imagine that despite his age, Lampard could walk into almost any team in the Premiership and demand a guaranteed start (although that is not his style). But I would hate for him to go to some lesser club and play himself into the ground. I would rather see his experience used sparingly at Chelsea in very much the same way that Giggs is used at United.
He (unusually for a footballer) is an intelligent man – and one for whom ego does not dictate his decisions – with any luck he will complete his coaching badges and while still with Chelsea and when his feels his playing career should come to an end, switch seamlessly into a coaching role and who knows, perhaps one day the manager’s office. A fitting path for arguably one of our best players ever.
In the next few weeks we need to bed in that midfield which is already showing such promise, as Arsenal are looming large on the horizon. It’s far too early to dismiss Wenger’s team despite their indifferent start to the season. I’m sure that AVB does not suffer from complacency but Chelsea have been known to occasionally in the past. There is still a lot of hard work to be done to mould us into that well drilled machine that we became during our successive league titles. It’s a huge chasm from the relatively small Portuguese league to the mighty Premier League but AVB seems to be doing a good job at making it look easy. There is a long way to go but I am happy if not exactly excited Chelsea fan at the moment – come on you blues!