Chelsea Thumps Newcastle 3-0: 5 Things Realised
The odds were against them. The match was forecasted by many as the epitaph of their new manager's reign. The rivals waited with bated breath to see if their most dangerous competitor would flounder yet again.
A loss today would have marked Chelsea's worst crisis in recent memory. But Chelsea proved yet again their mettle, registering a thumping 3-0 win over Newcastle to cross them and secure third spot provisionally.
In the following slides we'll take a look into the five things we realised from this morale-boosting win for the Blues ahead of a tough winter fixture.
Lukaku Maybe for the Future, but Sturridge Is Drogba's Immediate Replacement
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The win might have come as a welcome relief for the Chelsea squad as well as their fans after a month of poor performances, but the biggest relief was the sight of a Chelsea youngster running webs around opposition defenders.
Daniel Sturridge has no doubt been the man of the season so far for Chelsea. The young Englishman has been the only ray of light in Chelsea's otherwise bleak season. His movements and attacking skills have earned him fans all over the world. If he continues in this form, it will be hard to deny him regular first-team football.
Chelsea signed promising Belgian wonder kid Romelu Lukaku, touted as the next Drogba, to fortify their attacking options. But given the way Sturridge has hit the scene this season, it is only a matter of time before he replaces the temperamental Ivorian hitman at the pinnacle of Chelsea's attack.
The manner in which he harrowed Newcastle's famed defense with complete ease was a very welcome sign. With Didier Drogba looking set to leave Stamford Bridge next season, Sturridge looks like a more ideal replacement for him at present than Lukaku, who still has lots of work to do to fill Drogba's shoes.
Torres Is Starting to Get That Old Sheen Back
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Chelsea's £50 million signing has already been started to be regarded an expensive flop for Chelsea. His performances for the West London side have been anything but impressive.
But over the past couple of matches, El Nino has started to look sharp and dangerous in front of the goal. He has got back some of his magic touches. Though he is yet to score goals galore, his performances have no doubt shown plenty of promise to make the Chelsea fans smile a bit.
Coming on as a substitute for Drogba, the ex-Liverpool poacher looked dangerous often in front of the goal, and it was his selfless attitude that gave Chelsea the second goal. He made some very good moves inside the Magpies' defense but failed to convert.
If the Spaniard continues his progress with confidence, it might not be too far-fetched that the Spanish goal machine starts doing what he does best—score goals galore.
Chelsea Are More Comfortable in the 4-3-3
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Many critics of Chelsea's new manager Andre Villas Boas have blamed him for failing to make do with a stable formation or a starting 11. His random shuffling of players and formations was also blamed as the reason for Chelsea's poor form this season.
Villas Boas played with a diamond formation in their midweek Carling Cup encounter against Liverpool. The team looked uncomfortable from the start, and it resulted in a 3-0 loss as well as Liverpool being knocked out from the Cup.
The decision was severely criticised by both fans and critics. Villas Boas promised to start against Newcastle in the more common 4-3-3 formation. The result was clear for everyone to see. The team looked comfortable playing in their favoured formation, which resulted in the thumping victory.
Villas Boas is free to make changes to the team's formation, but he should have first made the players comfortable in those plans and then implement them.
It's Time Someone Replaced Lampard for Taking Penalties
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When Cabaye brought down Daniel Sturridge inside the Toons' box, everyone cheered aloud, as it meant Chelsea had the chance to take a vital lead.
The man of the moment, as always for Chelsea, was Frank Lampard. Touted as one of the best penalty specialists of all time, Lampard has had some bad misses in recent times. Yet he is the obvious choice for taking the penalty and no one questioned it.
But when his low, not-so-firm shot was saved by Newcastle goalie Krul, it became evident that the time was up on Lampard. He never looked confident while taking the shot, which can be attributed to his misses in the last season. That miss could have cost Chelsea much if they had not found the net thrice.
The new manager should start preparing one of his young players to take Lampard's role for taking penalties. Today's miss did not cost Chelsea anything except a goal, but any further misses could cost them titles. Lampard is no doubt a legend and his quality cannot be questioned. But it is time he made way for someone as every legend has done over the years.
Chelsea Play Better When the Odds Are Against Them
They were looking well after a promising start and some impressive performances. Everyone touted them as the favourites.
They started losing match after match until their backs touched the wall. They turned around and got back to winning ways in their old form. Yes, I was speaking of Chelsea's behaviour in the past two seasons.
This season they were not impressive but nevertheless, the Blues managed to be in close competition with rivals Manchester City and United. Suddenly, they lost one match and everything seemed to go haywire. Chelsea rapidly found themselves falling out of the top four in the league, saw their Champions' League future uncertain and crashed out of the Carling Cup.
Everyone predicted that the Blues were crumbling and that this season could be the last for the West London club in the top four. The future of Chelsea looked bleaker by the day, and their weekend match with Newcastle was touted as their season-deciding match.
With their backs on the wall, AVB's squad delivered a performance that not many had expected, not even the Chelsea faithfuls. Such a promising win ahead of a tough set of fixtures that might make or break their season is undoubtedly much to rejoice about. But what became most evident today was that the Blues deliver best when they are downtrodden and lost.