Date:Sunday November 18 2012
To Di Matteo's credit, he has still not made excuses this season calling Chelsea a team in transition or blaming the off field distractions of the past few days on the recent team results.
There is not much he could have done either in terms of the result against West Brom because a majority of the players were involved in the midweek International friendly matches and with an upcoming crucial fixture against Juventus, he had to field a weaker team.
However the reality that we have all come to now accept is, Chelsea's major issues with the centre forward position and a flakey defense which is letting in some truly avoidable goals; are the major reason for the recent slump in form and dropping of points in the Premiership.
There may be fixes to the problems in January, but the question remains in the minds of many: Would that be a little too late?
I do not suggest that for our upcoming games, we need to do anything radical in terms of team selection or shape but rather focus and utilize in the best possible ways on the positive aspects that we have seen, in different areas of the team.
Making these minor tweaks and altering the team a little, depending on our opponents, could still keep us in the running in the Champions League and the Premiership before we can add any reinforcements or recall our on loan players in January.
So listed below are some positive aspects that I believe can be best leveraged in the short term,
Solid performances by our bench players Azpilicueta and Moses.
These two players have taken their chances very well and also have the tactical ability to play in different areas of the pitch if needed. Moses can play on either wings and I do feel that Azpilicueta if given an opportunity can contribute the same as Bertrand did last year to play higher up the pitch depending on the situation.
Marin's return from injury
Though Marin has not featured in our games this season we have seen his performances in the pre-season to suggest that his return back from injury can give us another attacking option in our games.
Hazard has the versatility to play in different areas on the pitch and has displayed his goal scoring skills as well. If Torres and Sturridge continue their struggles of scoring goals, playing Hazard in the false number 9 role is worth a try.
Oscar's ability to play in a deeper role
Oscar has played a few games in the deeper central midfield role, alongside Mikel or Ramires and displayed his ability to build up plays from the back or efficiently distribute the ball. Playing Oscar in this role, frees up a spot on the team to use a wide option of Moses or Marin.
So here are some possible team shapes and formation worth a try:
Option 1: 4-2-3-1 Using Oscar in the Pivot and Moses / Marin in the wider positions, against teams that prefer to defend deep in their own half. CF - Torres / Sturridge Attacking Midfield - Moses / Marin, Hazard, Mata Pivot - Ramires/ Mikel , Oscar Defense - Cole/Bertrand, Luiz/Ivanovic, Cahill, Ivanovic/Azpi
Option 2: 4-3-3 Using Hazard as a False 9, and utilizing either Bertrand or Azpi in the midfield against teams that play 3-5-2 (Juventus) Attacking - Oscar, Hazard, Mata Midfield - Ramires/Bertrand, Mikel, Ramires/Azpi Defense - Cole, Luiz, Cahill, Ivanovic
So as much as we cannot just push the blame on Di Matteo for Chelsea's recent slump, his leadership and tactical ability will now be under constant review and if Chelsea can still be in running for the Champions Cup competition and a top 3 Premiership finish come January, we can all be very proud of him.
Date:Sunday November 18 2012
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Champions League Winners Move On! (Monday September 1 2014)
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Van Ginkel Off to Milan (Monday September 1 2014)
Remy - Pleased as Punch! (Monday September 1 2014)
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