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Who else will step up?

Who else will step up?

As I watched the Arsenal-Spurs game earlier today I was struck by something rather odd. How the gunners of today remind me of how we used to be. Their 1-0 win over spurs wasn`t anything of beauty but rather an efficient functional display. One cannot blame them either. No other side in the BPL this season has been more cruelly hit by injuries to key players and yet somehow the gunners remain 3rd (same points total as Liverpool who are second presently) 4 points of us with a game in hand and have led the BPL for the longest time of any side this season. How has this happened and what bearing does it have on us?

The truth is that a close look at the Gunners play this season other than the anomaly games like their huge losses to City and Liverpool have been very much like we used to win games in the first Jose era. Scoring one to two goals and then showing steel in defence to hold on and not concede.

Jose has got us back to the defensive solidity we used to have. (The one caveat to this in my mind are the increasingly shaky performances we are seeing from Petr Cech but that is the subject of discussion for another day). In spite of the debacle yesterday at Villa park we are still the league`s best defensive team. So where is the problem?

Contrary to what some may feel, the issue is obviously that our strikers have been underperforming woefully. However there is a bigger issue than that. Since the exit of Drogba and the last remnants of Jose`s last golden generation (including the much underestimated contributions of Anelka, Kalou and Lampard at his goal scoring peak) we have clearly been lacking in the finishing dept. The last few years under AVB, RDM and Rafa this major flaw has been papered over because others have stepped up from defense and mid field to carry the scoring load that our profligate strikers have left. This is where our last 3 or so seasons is significantly different from where we find ourselves today.

This is also the reason why the gunners who by all stretch of common sense should have fallen of the pace by now stubbornly remain hot on our tails. This is a gunners side with really only one striker; Olivier Giroud. He has more goals this season than all three of ours combined and most would agree that he is a decent but not great striker; -that is how bad we have it. The best alternate goal sources for the gunners have been injured for large chunks of the season or are still injured; Walcott, Podolski (in the first half of the season), Ramsey. To make matters worse their big January window signing Ozil has recently dipped dangerously in form and is also now out injured and then add Wiltshire to that list. How have they managed to remain with the top pack?

Well, because other guys have stepped up with goals at critical junctures; players like Cazorla, Rosicky, Oxlade chamberlain have jumped in to assist lonesome Giroud and then a solid defence particularly with the Koscieny and Metersacker CB pairing have enabled them actually grind out results in a fashion we made famous.
What has happened to us though is that this season those extra contributors we used to have; goals from defenders; Cahill, JT, Luiz and Brana have slowed to a trickle. Goals that used to come with fair regularity from our midfield in Hazard, Mata and Oscar (the old Mazacar) as well let us not forget the much maligned and unappreciated Victor Moses (who scored in double digits for us last year along with a couple of assists) have essentially shriveled up and now the only real significant goal threat from our midfield is Hazard with Schurrle chipping in a few when he gets to start.

This is the problem we face now. For all our good defense, scoring is a major labor for us and invariably we leave it till the second half (a very dangerous way to play especially against underdog teams) before we manage a goal either from Hazard's brilliance, the predatory instincts of Eto o (despite his age and clear dimunition in sharpness) or the occasional Schurrle goal if he starts. In essence our goal scoring modality and sources are now so very predictable it is painfully easy to stifle us. Unless we play a team like Spurs that self destructs and essentially hands us goals on a platter we struggle mightily to score.

Let us not speak of next season for now because I am full of hope that we will finally resolve our chronic striker problem since the departure of King Drogs this summer. The question I have for the VC faithful is a simple one; For us to secure this unlikely BPL title I doubt we can afford to lose any of the remaining 8 games we have left. In fact considering the number of games all our other fellow competitors at the top have in hand over us we may well have to win all the remaining 8 games to have a chance to steal the BPL title and so it is clear now how wise Jose`s words were when he said that the League table lead we have is in fact "fake".

If we are to ensure no more defeats and possibly win all these eight games we will need to score more goals than we have been scoring recently (other than that standout game against spurs) and we had better start scoring them earlier and certainly in the first half of games. As we all know that first goal when scored early often opens up the game making it easier to score more goals and takes a major load of pressure of our defense.

Every side we play in the final 8 games run in will double team Hazard and give special attention to Eto O as well. It appears beyond those two we are essentially toothless. The question is, now in crunch time with all the chips on the line who else from our squad will step up the play the role that Rosicky, Chamberlain and Cazorla have been playing so admirably for the gunners. Where else will the goals come from? The floor is yours blue nation!!!

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Sunday March 16 2014
Time: 10:33PM


Agreed..the basic problem is that CFC lacks goal scoring production from too many players..Ramires has scored 1 goal this year. 1 ******** goal…Willian has fallen off the face of the earth and so has Oscar. Oscar I have some sympathy..he's played too many games and has faced burn out…Too many positions produce nothing…I can't support Willian as a starter anymore…Lets see Salah or Schurrle. No more WIllian or Torres.
17/03/2014 02:50:00
Salah or Schurrle will get a chance against Arsenal. Mikel or Lampard will also be drafted in to face them and hopefully they deliver. Time for some goals from Lamps, big man to score the winner against Arsenal.
17/03/2014 05:02:00
Nice article,I think the attacking band of 3 are chipping in just enough goals,all they need now is try to improve so they can be more efficient,the defence has contributed as well too...the only positions in the first 11 that hasn't lived up to expectation in scoring goals is the pivot and the centre forward,I know we ll get a CF but I just hope it is one that will hit the ground running and not one that would need so much time to adapt,then we need a goal scoring pivot midfielder,not a DLP who is all about playmaking but no goal scoring touch,as much as we need a striker we need a goalscoring DLP also a player like kroos if he is available
17/03/2014 06:53:00
Nice article,I think the attacking band of 3 are chipping in just enough goals,all they need now is try to improve so they can be more efficient,the defence has contributed as well too...the only positions in the first 11 that hasn't lived up to expectation in scoring goals is the pivot and the centre forward,I know we ll get a CF but I just hope it is one that will hit the ground running and not one that would need so much time to adapt,then we need a goal scoring pivot midfielder,not a DLP who is all about playmaking but no goal scoring touch,as much as we need a striker we need a goalscoring DLP also a player like kroos if he is available
17/03/2014 06:54:00
We expected that we wouldn't win all 9games maybe a loss wasn't on the horizon but we knew there might be a blip of some sort. Whatever happened this weekend is just a normal turn of event we have come to experience in the BPL this season which is; It looks a team or two are loosing their holds this week and the following week they seem back on their feet while another set of two loose. Am not seeing doom nor gloom due to this defeat perhaps i feel its the needed impetus of motivation to see out the phase we will be entering i.e. playing galatasaray and arsenal together with going on another winning streak. I agree the stars is not looking very bright on our side as of today but you would be kidding if you think there aren't more twists and turns to happen with the remaining fixtures in this season BPL. One thing though, let L'arse look steelier than ever, their loss against us come this weekend is inevitable! and i mean that just as sure as i was they were going to win the spuddies. As regards who steps up, might someone tell me why on earth we have a guy like lampard sitting on the bench if not to see out this crucial moment?? I thought this was around the time fergie do use the depth of giggs and scholes huh! My two cent is that Lampard should be used in all our remaining matches in the BPL and that young man oscar needs to start finding his feet.
17/03/2014 08:23:00
the problem is jose defensive duties have taken a toll on cant have both of it...player like oscar who i tought would score more goal and should have score more goals is looking so dull and lost..he has lost all the flair in him all because of jose defensive system....oscar is a natural gifted attacking midfilder but jose system has an adverse affect on it...there is lot of change in this season and last season need to let this player play to their style same goes with mata case we had a player who could score as well as.assist in double figure but instead of working on their attacking quality what we did we sold him....and when you play player like rami in starting 11 who is just an athlete...then its like shooting on your own foot...haz should score more goals but the playeds around him is not helping it...william is turning into another rami....we need to change the system or there is no point in complaining about lack of goals....and jose should stop favoretising rami and william i think.its going overbroad both sukks when it comes to create or scoring schrulle in starting line up reguraly...i think he can be the solution for the rest of the season...
17/03/2014 08:30:00
We should have played schurrle and lampard and ba from the start it would have been eto but he was injured,Torres is a passenger so we were playing with 10 men from the start,Oscar is burnt out and the bad news is its the world cup in the summer so he still won't get a break.we had loads of the ball looked neat but we didn't threaten yes the ref was appalling but you could see the longer we didnt score the more likely hood of them getting one we have seen it all before,schurrle is quick can score and runs at defences and is in form so why is he on the bench
17/03/2014 09:36:00
hereford...that's all hindsight mate; see foresight here: | Aston Villa is gone, we move on now. Ain't we telepathic GabeU? Excellent article mate.
HGH Magic
17/03/2014 10:26:00
Yeah... Arsenal looked good, but Spurs were horrible :D All they did was kick ong ball to Ade and hope that something happens...
Strapping Blue
17/03/2014 11:02:00
I did mention in previous articles that Willian wasn't anything special compared to Moses, am sure now many people are beginning to get me point. Oscar definitely is not enjoying life at chelsea again from his play and i wont attribute it to any injury. Watch him, every time he does something with the ball he will look to the bench for Jose's reaction. He plays more like a No.4 than a No.10, poor ball distribution, poor dribbles, poor inroad to the opponents 18 yard. As per our strikers, we all knew it will come to this awful displays. What nobody is talking about for me is Cech. He is loosing it!
jim shimfe
17/03/2014 11:33:00
personally I think we need to be playing with 2 strikers!i would really like to see Demba Ba with Eto'o floating/buzzing around him. Look at all the top teams vying for the title this year and all are playing with 2 strikers most of the time. city play with 2 out of aguero/dzeko/negredo/jevetic Liverpool play with sturridge and suarez. Arsenal were playing with giroud and Walcott and I personally se Walcott more a striker than a winger. But we always seem to play with this band of 3! yes its the cool new system this 4-2-3-1 but I think at home and even away we need to make more and take more chances when they come and the best way to do that is to have two guys up front who are taking the game to the centre backs. Demba Ba willwork his socls off and battle the best CB's home and away and Eto'o has shown he has amazing tight lose control and is great at linking play up. but while Eto'o is linking play he isn't where we want hm and that's right in the box to get on the end of things. I no Ba hasn't got the greatest goal scoring record but think its time to just try something else as at present goals are hard to come by and we seem to never have a striker in the box. At least Demba Ba could stay around the CB's ar while Eto'o Hazard and whoever else Jose plays can link and make things tick.
17/03/2014 12:18:00
gabe, food for thought. nice. but a few flaws still persist in your argument. it's about getting goals, doesn't matter where they come from. our mid:strikers goals is probably top of the league. does that not tell you about the way we play? of course, jose's insistence on doubling up for defense (not saying good or bad) cannot expect our runners to score as freely as they did last season. that could well be one area of debate. still at the end of it, we're third in the GS stakes - and a good 10 or so ahead of united with their quadro strike force of persie, rooney, wellbeck and chica. would be delightful to have a drogba style assassin in the box. but the situation isn't as bleak as you make it. goals coming out of midfield. it's the way we play - more people need to appreciate that truism! we're still doing ok in the goal scoring dept.
johnny come lately
17/03/2014 12:20:00
the time has also come to once and for all reverse the roles of schurrle and willian. schurrle to always start and willian off the bench. why is our potentially most clinical finisher kept warming his heels on the bench?
johnny come lately
17/03/2014 12:22:00
gabe, also agree 'we cannot afford to lose any of our remaining games'. fact is we cannot afford to drop ANY pts. the arsenal and pool games are extra huge now - could even decide if we secure direct CL qualification. the villa debacle has in all probability conceded the title. before the game, we still needed citeh to at least lose one and draw one. now, to expect them to lose two is wishful thinking. not with their 10-man character against hull. d&g and overboard drama maybe, but i think the afterthought of keeping willian on vs villa has probably cost us the title.
johnny come lately
17/03/2014 12:27:00
So Cech is loosing it, we have no strikers, our pivot is not good enough, willian is not good enough, ramires is not good enough, Oscar is not good enough, Lampard is too old, Luiz makes too many mistakes... Did I forget something ?? ... And yet we are top of the fecking table and still in the CL ! Can't you just relax and enjoy the ride, because this Chelsea- team is not a complete team. YET !
Strapping Blue
17/03/2014 13:28:00
Main Problem is that we are tooo predictable. There is no change in system, tactics, or even personal. BR has really suprised me thie year with his tactical nous. He changes the from 433, 4231, 442 diamond, 352, 451 to get the desired results. We need to like that. We have personal for playing flowing football, but we still play more backward passes than trying to play forward. Yes, we are better defensively, but we cant simply rely on counter attack to score goals...Hope Jose corrects this.
17/03/2014 13:46:00
Sounds simplistic and almost mundane, but Cech's continual ball hoofing is the one systemic problem this team has! How the hell do we get him to throw the friggin ball to initiate attack like any other elite goalie?
HGH Magic
17/03/2014 13:57:00
Cech plays just the way he is told to play. Too predictable ?? Come on... Jose knows how to change tactics if needed. Usually everything is in good control, so we simply don't need to change tactics.
Strapping Blue
17/03/2014 14:23:00
agrees on cech's hoofing. frustrating to see every hoofed thrust come right back at us within seconds. have always preferred building it slowly from the back.
johnny come lately
17/03/2014 15:29:00
Actually i feel Cech has been hoofing less this season, realising that we have the magic of HAzard et al who can build up an attack.
18/03/2014 05:05:00
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