From ‘potential Invincible’ to vulnerable in the matter of a month; Chelsea’s bumpy December ride in the means that the Premier League title race is back again with Manchester City now level on points with the Blues from Stamford Bridge. Chelsea picked up 14 points out of a possible 24 since the end of November till New Year’s Day.
A couple of defeats to Newcastle and Tottenham have raised doubts but given their terrific start to the season, they still sit atop the standings. The real cause for concern at Chelsea wouldn’t be the fact that they dropped 10 points, but the manner in which they lost would keep Jose Mourinho fuming. In hindsight the Portuguese manager blaming the referees doesn’t help when his side has clearly been second best at times. Both against Newcastle and Tottenham Chelsea’s lack of defensive discipline was exposed. Once the opposition could break shackles of Nemanja Matic’s rugged displays, Chelsea looked rattled.
The team has looked fatigued over the course of the season and it’s perhaps the right time for Mourinho to rotate his player prioritizing games. The Blues are in four competitions and it’s well known that Mourinho wants to each one of them. Thus unlikely distractions could not only be fatal but simply be damaging for the overall morale of the squad. Let’s take a look at three seasons why the rotation policy is the need of the hour.
What’s wrong with Gary Cahill: There is no doubt that the Englishman has been Chelsea’s mainstay in last couple of seasons. He has forged a dominant partnership with John Terry which almost looks impregnable. However in recent games not only has Cahill looked vulnerable, the 29 year old has made some schoolboy errors. Often he is caught out of position, lacks the aerial discipline and is caught wanting when marking at set-pieces. Mourinho could opt to play Ivanovic at centre back shifting Felipe Luis at left back while the ever reliable and versatile Azpilicueta in the right back role.
Nemanja Matic has off games, but what is the answer: Tottenham’s 5-3 win clearly exposed Chelsea’s weaknesses when Matic has a poor game. Spurs repeatedly took advantage running in between the channels and making the most out of the spaces left by the central midfield in the final third. Ramires could be played as an attack minded player but its maybe time to consider his defensive rigidity. Willian could be benched in the upcoming tricky games as Ramires should cover up beside Fabregas and Matic providing the much-needed solidity to cover spaces.
Managing games: The Capital One Cup and FA Cup games would be a huge distraction in January with Chelsea playing more games in a short span of time. A crucial title deciding encounter against Manchester City also looms large. Thus it’s imperative for Mourinho to rotate his side and keep the players fresh before squaring off in the Champions League; a competition where Chelsea are tipped to go a long way.
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt