The most hyped up game in match week 7, Chelsea vs Manchester City, was on everyone’s lips. Questions about City’s actual title ambitions (and confirmation of tagged favourites), with their quick passing play and free goal scoring form against Chelsea’s tactical brilliance, strength and ruthlessly quick counter attacks with a devastating front two of Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata full of confidence. A reaping relationship brewing amongst them, it was all about who would overcome who?
The build up to this game throughout the week had attracted and generated a whole lot of unexpected events and stories, from the encouraging to the controversial, stupid and also shocking. Chelsea’s fantastic and well deserved win against Atletico Madrid had one major talk, the chemistry between Hazard and Morata as they caused all forms of havoc to Godin and co. as the both carried the team on their backs especially after the stupid Luiz challenge that handed Atletico some form of advantage, one they took graciously. The look on Costa’s face after the game was priceless, he was quickly forgotten, perfect way to prepare for a big home match against the perceived ”to be” Premier League champions. Discomfort was raised by Antonio Conte about the scheduling of the match and the advantage his side’s opponents who played their fixture a day before at home as Chelsea travelled to the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday, left the Spanish capital immediately for London where they landed at 4:00am Thursday, with only the same day to recover and the next to train. True to Conte’s complain, as The Blues braved the chill on Thursday, Pep had actually given his players an off day, after having another free day(Wednesday) which you expected Pep to work on something. As an experienced professional coach, knowing how important the extra day was to his players, so as to get some rest it seems all his players did understand except one, Kun Aguero.
When reports came out that Aguero was involved in an accident far away from Manchester, in Amsterdam, a couple of questions emerged. First, was he alright and alive? Was he able to get permission from the gaffer to leave the country 48hrs before a match? Finally, was he fit for the blockbuster fixture? It was obviously a classic move of quick in quick out unfortunately for him it did not work out as planned, as he got involved in some nasty accident that left a couple of his ribs broken, confirmation that was met with huge cheers (obviously after it was confirmed he was alive) that he was not available hence out for the match, a relief for Chelsea because he always finds a way to score at the Bridge. (Guess what do you expect from a tiny Argentine man, that prefers the character name of some old Asian cartoon? Even a million curfews would stop the guy from attending some South American’s concert, it wasn’t his fault, he never seeks for trouble, it catches up with him.)
Saturday evening came abound to the massive legion of Chelsea supporters. Filled with expectations, belief and renewed hope after midweek heroics in the Champions League. Expectations that suddenly dimmed as some questionable changes occurred to the normal first team line up was put in place. The recalling of Gary Cahill to the squad on the left side of the three, same side where Marcos Alonso who honestly is a slouch plays, against the obvious threat of Sane\Sterling who need no invitation to show a pair of heels. The dropping of Victor Moses who provides some sort of potency on the right flank and having their best centre back amongst the three Azpi doubling up as a wingback. Antonio had it wrong from the word go. The system worked in City’s favour. Bakayoko, Kante and Cesc were not at 100 but there were early signs as Chelsea asked questions, calling City’s keeper to some smart stops.
How Antonio Conte doesn’t realise that Rudiger and Azpilicueta are the best centre backs we currently have,( both in bristling form) and Christensen (who deserves a chance and is better off ”in that cleaning up” position over David Luiz) is still shocking. He(Christensen) may lack the experience at just 21, his passing although decent is somewhat forced does something better than Luiz, defend. There is more pace, strength and power when Azpi,Christensen and Rudiger play together. Organisation is better, Thibaut is safer, and the game is quicker since unlike Cahill, Rudiger can pass the ball forwards with quality on both feet. You cant fail but see a mistake coming from Cahill or Luiz, a RED card maybe. Silly ones that cost the team. Surprising as it seems, Cahill makes us weaker and defensively vulnerable. His selection always exposes Marcos on the left because of his lack of cover, pressing and closing down.
Because of this fact, Sterling took advantage of that situation with mazy runs and quick one two passes on the turn down on Chelsea’s left flank. Leaving Alonso sticking back hence lack of service to Hazard. Manchester City had Chelsea at its mercy, fatigue kicked in and they weaved passes around a tired team and as a result a power bolt from De Bruyne’s left foot flew past Courtois into the back of the net. Lack of a potent marksman infront for Chelsea clearly raised certain concerns. Can Chelsea cope without Morata? Well beaten and out played. Outclassed in every part of the pitch a victory for the visitors wasn’t shocking. More attempts, a tonne in possession, more corner kicks. They were great, hats off for them. Challenge remains to Conte. The constant tinkering of the back three helps nobody especially after last season. Chelsea won because of a settled squad and if you ask me…Cahill and Luiz in that back three don’t bring that this season.
Is it all about Conte’s stubbornness or effort to please a certain lot in the team? Either way, performances are judged on the basis of results, not titles or names. It is easier to drop the smaller names whereas they bring more to the team in general. That’s injustice, its unfair. He needs to make a decision that serves the team best.