How Chelsea Can Improve After Newcastle Win
Chelsea won their third match in succession with an impressive display against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with goals from Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres, both of whom were inspirational.
It seems that Roberto Di Matteo has put together a fluid, attack-minded side over the summer, which is a complete contradiction to the team that he managed to victory in the Champions League last season.
Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Oscar, Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta have arrived at Stamford Bridge, costing a total of £77 million, which could explain this radical change, but Di Matteo will be the first to admit that the hard work begins now, in order to sustain this excellent start.
Roberto Di Matteo has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation since succeeding Andre Villas-Boas, and while the "three" is very strong, as proven by Saturday's performance against the Toon, the "two" looks like it could be improved.
Currently Di Matteo prefers Frank Lampard and Jon Obi Mikel with Raul Meireles, Oriol Romeu and Michael Essien providing the cover in the squad.
Mikel possesses all the tools to become a huge success in this role. The Nigerian is tall, strong and powerful but sometimes lacks the mental strength to take his game to the next level. Should Chelsea be able to sign somebody capable of displacing him in the side, I feel that Mikel would react positively by raising his game to the level that Chelsea expect of him and would potentially be selected in addition to this new signing.
Lampard is a short-term solution in this role and will happily operate in this position for the good of the team, if not himself, as he is getting regular minutes under Di Matteo, which he was not under Villas-Boas.
The long-term partner for Mikel remains a mystery, though.
Essien is not getting any younger, and at 29 years old, with his injury record, it seems that the Ghanaian is in decline at this point, despite a promising preseason. Di Matteo looks to be thinking the same, as Essien has not played a single minute of the season so far.
Romeu is another midfielder who does not appear to be getting much of an opportunity, sometimes not even appearing on the bench, while Meireles does not appear to be in Di Matteo's thinking as a starter.
The Portuguese doesn't appear to perform either of the two functions that Di Matteo requires in tandem from the two players that will start in the "two." Meireles is neither an outstanding ball-winner nor an outstanding ball-player, but he does have a role in the squad when the first-choice players need rest.
Therefore, it appears that Chelsea could do with one more midfielder who could either become that outstanding ball-winner or operate equally as well as a ball-player.
Many players spring to mind with the skills to perform these duties.
Inter Milan signed one of them recently, with the loan of Napoli's Walter Gargano, an outstanding ball-winner, while Liverpool appear close to signing Nuri Sahin on loan, this time an outstanding ball-player.
There is something else that Chelsea appear to lack since Didier Drogba has departed. Their attacking quartet, the "three" and the "one," are not particularly tall or physically dominant. Chelsea might look to address this issue in other areas of the pitch and therefore lean toward a central midfielder who is tall.
The 24-year-old is also capable of chipping in with goals, a commodity that Mikel lacks at this moment.
Chelsea have been wonderful to watch in their three matches so far in the Premier League, but it feels as though they could be even stronger and more versatile with a Fellaini-type player.
Perhaps Chelsea are one player away from assembling a completely new, formidable side in a single transfer window—something Blues fans would not have envisaged three months ago.
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