Chelsea FC vs. Leicester City: 5 Things Learned from the FA Cup Win
With Roberto Di Matteo looking forward to the midweek showdown with Manchester City, the lineup featured a mix of starters and backups, but the play on the field would have never suggested it. All 11 players were in form and there was no way you could make an argument that anyone should have been replaced.
Here are five things we learned from the victory.
It’s Looking More and More Like Villas-Boas’ Fault
Yesterday’s lineup featured Raul Meireles, Fernando Torres, Jose Bosingwa and Gary Cahill. Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and John Terry were all on the bench.
If you had looked at the official lineup before the game, you could have thought that Villas-Boas had been reinstated as the manager for at least this game. It was full of underperforming players that the Portuguese continually played, much to the chagrin of the fans.
However, if you watched the game, you would quickly realize that was not true. All of the players I named had superb outings and there is no argument for them being replaced.
Torres broke his goal drought and added two assists. Meireles had a goal and assist on his own. Bosingwa was not to blame for either goal, and Cahill has continued the form he has shown under Di Matteo.
It may have been against a lower side, but Villas-Boas had his chances against Championship sides as well. Yesterday the players who had once been blamed for the failures of the team's on-field performances looked like the quality we all know they can be.
This Team Has Depth
As I stated earlier, Sunday’s squad was far from Di Matteo putting his best side forward. It was comprised of the names that will almost certainly not feature in Wednesday’s match against City. But the performance they showed was important.
It should be comforting to Di Matteo that he now has a squad that can go six deep on the bench if need be. Just look at the score line: all five Chelsea goals were scored by players who will probably not be in the starting lineup on Wednesday.
How this feeling must bring ease to the manager of a team that has struggled to find the net all season.
Yes, City is a much stiffer opponent that Leicester, but Chelsea could have been a 7-0 victory if not for some missed opportunities.
Only a few weeks ago you would look at the bench and wonder where the extra goal would come from. Now you now see three or four just sitting there ready to go out and get one.
The Defense Is Back
It is foolish to think just because they are a Championship side that Leicester City is that much of a subpar opponent. Though they will likely not be in the Premier League next season, they are still of quality to make EPL sides worry, especially with the attack.
Their 51 goals in their league is in the upper half of the table, and their strikers Jermaine Beckford and David Nugent are two players who are not to be underestimated.
However, Chelsea still rose to the challenge and played perfectly along the back line.
The two goals scored were earned and deserved by the visitors, but you could hardly attribute them to the defense. The first a good shot that Beckford finished excellently off the post, and the second a once-in-a-lifetime curler into the upper 90 by Ben Marshall.
Chelsea have conceded three goals in their last four, with all three being more attributed to the quality of the shot than a breakdown in the back. For a team that once leaked goals from being out of position and poor marking, they have shored it up and now look much more like their old selves.
Salomon Kalou Is Still Quality
There are far too many Chelsea fans that fail to realize that Didier Drogba is not the only Ivorian stud the team has. Salomon Kalou is and has always been a player that has a very important role on this squad and proved it again yesterday.
While Cahill’s header got the game rolling, Kalou’s goal took away any hope Leicester had of pulling off an upset. It was a really spectacular finish when you look at it again. The run, the touch, the fake and the finish were all of the quality you would expect from some of the world’s top strikers.
Kalou has always been a bench player and never fussed about it. He has come in when he is needed and made the most of his opportunities, scoring over 50 career goals for the Blues in roughly 230 appearances. It may not be shocking numbers, but when you figure many of those appearances were in bit roles, it has a little more meaning.
His name has been mentioned as one of the ones to go this summer, but at only 26 years old and showing the kind of talent and commitment to this team that he has, I think it would be an utterly foolish idea.
He will not start ahead of Drogba or Torres when it comes to the big moment, but he will always be waiting patiently on the bench ready to go in there and steal a game.
Fernando Torres Is Still Fernando Torres
Did you really think I could go a whole article without mentioning the man of the match?
Torres was excellent on Sunday, having his best game in blue by far. With two goals and two assists, he was on form like we had never seen before.
But I am going to be cautiously optimistic about this. I am not going to bash him and say “Oh, look at who it was against.” I do not believe in that. All you can do is play the team in front of you and he did it exceptionally.
But I am also not going to make the knee-jerk proclamation, “HE’S BACK!!!!,” as we have all been fooled before.
Instead I am just going to take this match for what it is—a great performance by a player whom we expect to have against a team like this.
Should he start Wednesday? No. Should he suddenly become the top striker on the team? Absolutely not. But he should be seen as improving and given more chances to get back into the swing of things when there is the opportunity.
What has been the problem with Torres is he has not been taken advantage of the opportunities he has been given, up until now. He still has a long way to go before he earns back any semblance of being a No. 1, but he is moving toward it with each passing game.
What Did You Learn from the Win?
At the beginning of the season, this would have seemed a small victory, but now every win is critical for this team. Chelsea move into the FA Cup semifinals where they face off against either Tottenham or Bolton. But that is down the road.
What did you learn from Sunday's victory?
As always, please leave your comments below and thanks for reading!
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