Hello there, fellow Chelsea fans !!
The stage is set, the gauntlet has been thrown, and the “Champions of Autumn” are showing no signs of stopping, with Monsieur Wenger already conceding the league is Chelsea’s to lose. With the January window coming up, let’s have a look at our squad (excluding peripheral players), and assess how should Chelsea go about it.
Courtois has shown flashes of brilliance with his reflex saves and his tendency to make himself formidable in front of goal in one on one situations. To see someone like Petr Cech come off the bench in an important game such as the one with Arsenal gives you amazing sense of relief. Though his future is unsure, Chelsea should not let him go until the end of this season. Then we have Micheal Schwarzer; the Australian was given a one-year contract in the summer and though will have almost no game time; he will be a dependable option, whenever needed.
Chelsea has 6 quality defenders in John Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic, Azpillicueta, Zouma and Filipe Luis. Our beloved captain led the team out for the 500th time against Palace, and he has shown no signs of his age getting the better of him. His partnership with Gary Cahill is rock solid. Both are physically assertive, read the game well, immense in the aerial battles at both ends of the pitch and have good positional sense. Kurt Zouma has played a few games but hasn’t the as yet. This year, expect him to start in the relatively easier games or when either JT or Cahill are not available.
Our regular full backs, Ivanovic and “Dave” Azpillicueta have turned a lot of heads this season. With their defending capabilities, Chelsea’s back 4 looks impossible to breach. It is worth noting that both these players are playing out of their preferred positions. Branislav is center back naturally, whereas Dave is naturally a right back. It is because of the versatility of these two players that every position in our defense is adequately covered. Filipe Luis is a vastly experienced player, who is yet to peak and has the mental grit to get us over the line. He hasn’t cemented his position in the team yet, but with the games coming thick and fast, we would probably see more of him.
The area of the pitch where Chelsea are miles clear off their counterparts in quality and depth. Nemanja Matic is a massive figure and is easily in our top 3 performers of the season so far. His defensive abilities have taken the Premier League by storm. He has cemented his position in our midfield along with Cesc Fabregas. Fabregas controls the game, pulls the strings and sprays passes in all forward directions which is always fun to watch, be it the lovely tap to set up Schurrle against Burnley, or the long ball to set up Costa against Arsenal. In addition to these, we have John Obi Mikel, the player who has the most divided opinions amongst the Chelsea fans. Jose knows his importance and knows how to use him well, calling him on when we need to protect our slender leads and shut out the opposition attack.
Nathan AKE, the 19-year-old has made a few appearances this season and he hadn’t been disappointing. He is defensively sound, physical, and off late, he has shown capabilities of supplying perfect long balls. To add to the above bunch, we also have Ramires as an option when required. The Brazilian has not featured much in the season so far, mainly because of injuries. He adds a lot of pace and speed to the game, making runs from deep positions and attracting challenges.
The addition of Cesc has eased the pressure off both Oscar and Hazard, who have played the roles of silent assassins this season. Oscar this season has dazzled in the #10 role. In the game against Arsenal, he reminded everyone the difference between him and the likes of Silva, Mata and Ozil. Not only does he backtrack, he senses where the danger is and gets into vital positions, he works his socks off to win the ball back and makes challenges and blocks like a center back.
Then we have Eden Hazard, tipped to be a future Ballon d’Or winner, the 2013-14 League’s Young Player of the Year has been phenomenal so far. He is a world class talent and at 23 he has a lot left to offer. Jose has preferred Willian on the right flank and Willian has vindicated the Gaffer’s faith. He is all over the pitch; he backtracks well and is very instrumental on the breaks. His finishing and decision making is a tad below par at times, just like Andre Schurrle’s. Schurrle is more of an impact substitute, with his pace being his most imperative virtue of his game. Along with Schurrle, Mohamed Salah was also pointed by Jose for below par performances. Having signed for the Blues in January, big things were expected of him. But with the quality and amount of competition at Chelsea, he has sort of faded out.
Now, coming to the head of the attack!! The reason we didn’t win the title last season. Eto, Ba, Torres and Lukaku were all shipped out and in came Diego Costa, Loic Remy and Didier Drogba. Diego Costa has come in and simply ripped apart defenses in the land. He is a complete poacher, with the maximum of his goals having come from inside the box. His pace and power along with his hunger to get the ball, put together with his clinical finishing, is what Chelsea had been missing for so long. Chelsea has also signed a more than dependable back up in Loic Remy. He was in scintillating form last year for Newcastle United and he has continued with his goals at Chelsea, with 2 beautiful strikes against Swansea and Maribor.
The return of Didier Drogba, raised a few eyebrows. Jose had good reasons to get him back. He is well versed with Jose’s style, the Chelsea set up, he is an amazing leader, the dressing room respects him, his experience, and his ability to put the ball in the back of the net. Having scored in 3 consecutive games, including that venomous header at Old Trafford, he has shown he still has a lot to offer.
The rumor mill has gained pace and so far; we have seen a number of high-profile players being linked with Chelsea. Winning the league this season is of paramount importance to Jose, and the January window will give him a chance to add to the squad, where required. With a squad so rich in talent, do we need anyone this January?
The goalkeeping position and the midfield are areas where Chelsea is spoiled for choices. Reports have emerged that Chelsea have tabled an offer of 48 million pounds for Liverpool talisman Raheem Sterling. Though the player is one of the hottest talents around in Europe, spending such a huge amount for a position that is already covered would not make sense. Sami Khedira has been linked with various English clubs, including Chelsea. However, with a vast array of holding midfielders in the inventory, and a few out on loan including Oriol Romeu and Van Ginkel, Chelsea don’t need Khedira. Marcos Reus has turned down a contract extension with Borussia Dortmund. Come summer, the winger’s buy-out clause will come into existence. Dortmund would be keen to offload him now rather than at the end of the season, where the possibility of arch rivals Bayern Munich coming in is huge.
Also, as pointed out earlier, we have 6 players to fill in 8 spots in defense, which may leave us thin in case either of Ivanovic or Dave is unavailable. To avoid such pitfalls, Chelsea should go for a defender. Gerrard Pique has been strongly linked with the Blues and he would bolster our defense and add the required depth. However, signing him would not be the best alternative, as he has a lot of years left ahead of him and regarded his stature and quality, would be needing a lot of game time. With Zouma lined up to take over the defense in the years to come, along with Cahill, and having young talents like Tomáš Kalas in the pipeline, Chelsea should look up someone not so high profile, someone just to provide comfort in the short run, till May.
What’s your view, Chelsea fans ?? What changes do you wish to see or expect to see during the January window??
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Edited By: Harshal Ahire