Last week we saw Chelsea’s unbeaten streak reaching an abrupt end. Along with it goes the ever continuing media hype and attention with the haunting ‘Invincibles’ label.
Though it can be disheartening for the players, but there are no hard feelings as maintaining such an unbeaten run in the current circumstances, especially in a league like Premier League, requires not only talent, but also a sheer amount of luck.
It seemed that, the luck element was missing in the game when Hazard’s shot hit the post and rebounded; and when that same rebound resulted in a Newcastle’s counter, resulting further into the second goal. It was the same luck factor which made the ball elude Gary Cahill’s feet paving way to the first goal.
But, Jose Mourinho will be taking all these circumstances in a different way, as the gaffer always preferred to relieve his players from unnecessary pressures and he knew how much the added expectation of ‘Being Invincibles-Version 2’ clubbed along with winning the Premier League title, can impact his team as the season progresses. In a way, this little slip can be a blessing in disguise for Jose’s men.
What happened against Newcastle & Sunderland?
Both, Sunderland and Newcastle played with almost the same game plan i.e., whenever they lost the ball in their half, instead of attacking and trying to win the ball, they opted to sit back and defend. This forced the Chelsea attackers to try moving through them and get blocked. While Sunderland defenders tried to sit deep within the box, Newcastle defenders were absorbing the pressure outside the box itself.
What Sunderland failed to do, Newcastle tried their best and took their chances in the counters, making tackles that seemed impossible, with the commitment, saving the extra burst in pace for the counter. Their second goal was a perfect execution of that strategy.
What are the exposed weaknesses?
There has been no ideal backup for Matic. Chelsea’s attack recently has always been thriving on the stability provided by the holding midfield role. Maybe the lack of playing time or may be Colback and team were far better than him in the mid, Mikel flopped in that role. The midfield looked more porous at times which would not have been the case if Matic had been there. So, the question is who else, if Matic gets suspended.
What happens when Fabregas and Costa are cornered up?
Cesc has always been a supplier and cutting that supply off will always be the first and foremost tactic to make Chelsea’s attack blunt. If they succeed in that, go for Plan B – prefer the aerial route.
Filipe Luis has a lot to offer in the future. This Brazilian has always been known for his extraordinary crosses while in Athletico Madrid. The second half substitution was a great tactical move by Jose and it really fared well to an extent. His presence was always there with this strong crosses to the box and that means Luis and Drogba combined can challenge the resolute teams more aerially. Drogba’s presence was felt throughout as he was always there, beating defenders in the air and creating chances for the fellow Blues.
As for Costa, his moves were always cut out mostly within the box itself. His single great chance came when Drogba assisted him. Going on from now, the teams will be very much prepared to handle him. So, it will be good to see how he is going to take up that challenge and adapt himself to the circumstances.
Rotation could have been the best way to maintain freshness at times of a fixture pile up. Schürrle’s pace should have deserved a starting place at times when Oscar/Willian go overload with the lot of game time. No offence to Jose, as he knows his players well more than anyone else.
It’s of no doubt that this season’s title race will go down to the wire. With Manchester City just 3 points away at this stage of the league, Jose would take this opportunity as an ideal one for retrospection. Even winter transfer window is about to start. But one thing is there for sure, there is no room for complacency. Prior to the match, Oscar was speaking about how the manager is making the teams emotions to stay at earth. That’s when small slip ups like this comes handy as the team will try to regroup and move on from the mistakes. Undoubtedly, it’s the title that matters the most.
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Edited By: Harshal Ahire