A bit of a frustrating night, wasn’t it, for Chelsea fans? It was just the sort of a game where Man Utd fans would scream out that they deserved a point and Chelsea fans would look away from a mid table team thinking that with a little bit of justice, this could have been yet another win. And that says it all, doesn’t it?
But take it easy fellow blues. They say it all evens out in the end. I am sure we will have the lady luck smile at us soon enough. So before I dig deep into individual games and teams, a look at another week of upsets and tumbles and some continued form too. Koeman is definitely in line for the Manager of the Month award with Southampton now at the second spot, 4 behind Chelsea. West Ham, of all the teams, is at 4.
I have been saying that it seems no one wants the 4th spot this season, not even Arsenal. With the roller coaster ride of the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Man U, I quite like the look of the EPL table. May this continue as long as it can. #EPLtrumps
Now to the Talking Points:
1. Mourinho is Playing the Long Game with Costa: We’ve seen enough of the bickering between Mourinho and Del Bosque regarding Costa. Mourinho thinks that in some qualifiers, Spain could have done without Costa, but Del Bosque clearly has a different view. Up until the previous international break, Mourinho had played Costa in every league game.
In fact, in the build up to the break, one got the feeling that Mourinho could have replaced Costa but chose to continue him on. With Costa returning injured, it seems Mourinho has given in. He wouldn’t have normally rested Costa against Man Utd but looking at the coming fixtures and how they may pile up in November and December, Mourinho is looking to have a fully fit Costa as opposed to playing him with niggles that may worsen during a game. It’s a smart move and could have a similar effect as when Roberto Di Matteo rested Mata a couple of seasons back. Nevermind the two ‘dropped’ points at Old Trafford.
2. Is There a Lesson for Mourinho?: Jose can be pretty stubborn with his tactics, and that’s what makes him such a good manager. But just looking at the two games in Manchester, I get the feeling that Mourinho is expecting this Chelsea side to maintain one-goal leads like his previous side did. I am not sure that can happen. We now play a more expansive style of football and maybe it might suit the team to continue to look for goals than close out games.
Of course, the risk is to concede more goals or concede one and then concede the second trying to play for a draw. Its a fine line and Mourinho being the pragmatist may continue the current approach. The big question is, how many games before it becomes a trend? And how many games before Mourinho bucks the trend? Last season, there was a very sudden and a very apparent change in approach in December after the Stoke defeat. Could the change be a little subtler this season?
3. Man Utd Lacks Leadership: It just goes on to show the gap between this Chelsea side and the Man Utd team that a draw against Chelsea at home was celebrated as a massive victory. You could be forgiven for thinking this was a QPR side playing Chelsea in April fighting against relegation. In any case, the chinks in the armour of LvG were easily forgotten, and Man Utd team applauded for being able to put up a fight against Chelsea.
But look closely and you would see the utter lack of leadership on the field. Man Utd getting late goals of late has drawn comparisons with SAF’s time at the helm. It couldn’t be further from the truth. The Scotsman always had identified leaders in his squad who would lead the fightback. They would, usually, also form the spine. This Man Utd team is playing out of desperation rather than a will to win. LvG identified Rooney as a leader, but he has only flattered to deceive. A weak defence and an out of place midfield will do no favors to LvG with the big games approaching.
4. Man City Lacks Experience: May seems like an out of place statement considering how mature City’s squad is, but this squad does not know how to manage CL games. They went to Moscow, had a tough game and lost to the Hammers at the weekend. Pellegrini was lucky to win the title last season, but he has no past record of winning trophies or leading teams in the Champions League.
And it is precisely that sort of management that City seemed to lack in the game against the Hammers. I expect them to come back strong and pound Man Utd, but looking at how jaded the defence looked against West Ham, Joe Hart could have a few problems throughout the season, especially after tough CL games.
5. Rodgers Needs to Rip Balotelli: I speak as a Chelsea fan who has seen it all. Marquee striker comes to replace a legend, can’t put in a string of performances and seems to struggle almost in every game. Happened with Crespo, Shevchenko, Torres… I applaud Rodgers for having the balls to sign Balotelli, but I think Liverpool has had enough.
Balotelli missed gilt-edged chances in the last game and Liverpool dropped two points. Rodgers must stop protecting the out of form striker and rip him bad. At least he will get a reaction. Balotelli currently seems subdued despite all his arrogance and a bit of a rebuke in the media could do the trick.
What did you make of the weekend? Who do you think will start against Shrewsbury? When do you think Costa would return? Any wishes for the coming week? My wishlist for the coming week would have some game time for Costa and two easy wins. Tell me yours in the comments below. Blue blood, as ever!