Improvements Jose Mourinho Will Want from Chelsea After EPL Opener
It's the winning start that Jose Mourinho would have been hoping for, but after securing maximum points from his first two games as Chelsea manager, the Portuguese manager is unlikely to be dreaming of the title just yet.
The Blues strolled to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Hull City on the opening day of the season at Stamford Bridge, with early goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard sealing the game as a contest in the first half.
However, they were dealt with a stern test three days later when Aston Villa came to West London.
Another early goal, this time an own goal from Antonio Luna, put Chelsea in control before Christian Benteke's leveller in first-half stoppage time.
Paul Lambert's side dominated the second half and were left to rue their missed chances as Branislav Ivanovic headed home the winner late on, but it was far from an inspiring performance for Mourinho's men.
Even with the summer arrivals of Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer and the return of Belgian duo Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukalu from their respective loan spells, Chelsea haven't shown themselves to be as a fearsome as some might have hoped.
Of course, it's early in the season, but there's no time better than the start to pull away from their rivals, and Mourinho will be urging his side to improve for the crunch clash against Manchester United on Monday evening.
Here's what the Portuguese tactician might be expecting from his team that has been different from the first two fixtures.
Clinical finishing from strikers
It's not yet known which striker will start against Manchester United, but at the moment, it hardly seems important.
None of the four goals scored by Chelsea have come from their strikers so far this season, and although it's early in the campaign, the lack of goals from his forwards could become a worry for Mourinho.
According to Miguel Delaney of ESPN, the former Real Madrid coach is actively looking to add another striker to his ranks, with Wayne Rooney, Burak Yilmaz and Samuel Eto'o all targeted. And that could spell the end for one of his three strikers.
Fernando Torres was solid enough against Hull but still looks far too isolated as the lone striker, while Demba Ba was poor once again against Aston Villa, struggling to keep up with the pace of the game and was caught offside six times in the first half alone.
Romelu Lukaku is one of the most promising strikers in European football and as a result, needs time to adapt to Chelsea's style of play. That said, he is raring to get going, though he will need to be more prolific in front of goal if he wants a regular role in the team.
Obviously, the role of a striker is to score goals in order to keep their spot in the side. And with none of the trio currently doing that, the pressure will be on them to deliver against title rivals Manchester United.
Less tiki-taka, more expansion
With creative, flair players such as Oscar and Eden Hazard preferring to play a fluid and free-flowing style of attacking football, it's usually great viewing, and Mourinho would have been happy to see how his side were linking up in the first half versus Hull.
But when the intensity dropped, Chelsea's whole game plan started to come undone, as it did against Aston Villa. The neat short passes were fine in the middle, but while the Blues kept possession, they failed to unlock the Villans' defence and weren't much of a threat in the second period.
There was no width, with all play going through the middle, and so it was extremely difficult for players to create space. It was particularly arduous for Lukaku and his creative disciples behind him, who struggled to muster a chance for the powerful Belgian.
Tactically, the Blues are more dangerous with Hazard and Oscar cutting inside from the flanks with the full-backs overlapping, as opposed to floating around the middle. It has the desired effect of stretching the opposition and opening up channels for one of Torres, Lukaku or Ba to run into, and it's an effective strategy that the Blues often used under Rafa Benitez.
No doubt Mourinho and his influential boss Roman Abramovich will be seeking attractive football this season from the vastly talented side, but it shouldn't be the be all and end all for Chelsea.
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