Chelsea’s clash at Stamford Bridge over the weekend against Aston Villa promised to be much more competitive than it turned out to be. Coming on the back of a 3-1 victory against Liverpool at Anfield, with striker Christian Benteke in form, one could have expected a lot more out of this young Villa side against the reigning European Champions. On the other hand, the Londoners were coming on the back of a morale boosting 1-5 victory (away from home) albeit against Championship opposition Leeds United in the Capital One Cup.
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez chose, yet again to experiment with his midfield, pairing David Luiz with the experienced Frank Lampard in midfield. With Luiz playing the role of a defensive midfielder, Lampard was given the authority to make his late runs into the box. The duo managed to come out unscathed from the game as they weren't really tested by the opposition.
It was observed that Luiz made quite a few forays forward in the first half and so did Lampard. However after having the luxury of three goal lead at half-time, Luiz suppressed his attacking instinct to a great extent in the second half as he was seen in a much deeper position during the course of the second period.
|Luiz was impressive yet again in a midfield role|
It has to be duly noted that this pairing of Luiz and Lampard could have been exposed had they come up against sterner opposition. This has been well-illustrated in the games against Atletico Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and Corinthians where Lampard had abandoned his defensive duties by venturing too far forward. In addition age has finally caught up with the former West Ham man as he does not have the legs to track back and help his side defensively. From an attacking perspective Lampard provides a reasonable threat but is a liability when it comes to defensive duties.
If Benitez does continue to use Luiz in a midfield role, he needs to ensure that the Brazilian is partnered with a defensive minded player like Jon Obi Mikel or Oriol Romeu.
The inclusion of Victor Moses has been a surprise for some considering he takes Oscar’s place in the starting line up. Moses provides some much needed width which Oscar does not. His strength adds a different dimension to Chelsea’s attack along with his ability to mark out Torres’ runs and release that early ball for him which sees him make the cut above the Brazilian in Benitez’ Chelsea. Not only this, but his crossing is good, and he has the courage to cut inside and shoot powerfully at goal. Although the Brazilian did well after coming on, a right balance between the two will make the Blues’ tactics a bit difficult for others to read.
|Moses - Chelsea's version of Dirk Kuyt?|
Another change, albeit a surprising one was to see the defenders act as wing backs. Ashley Cole and Cesar Azpilicueta were overlapping Hazard and Moses respectively to good effect. In fact the first goal, which Torres headed in powerfully, came in from an Azpilicueta cross. Not only overlapping, but the wing backs were instructed to drift in towards the centre thereby squeezing the play when the ball was being worked on at the opposite flank. This avoided giving Villa an opportunity to use their wings to attack there by leaving Benteke completely isolated upfront. It’s another fact that the Belgian was not his usual self as he was guilty of straying offside very often and was equally handled well by the Chelsea backline
All in all, nothing came together for the Villains, a clinical Chelsea side motivated from their recent troubles took this opportunity to increase their goal difference and in fact their belief that all is not lost, yet.
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