Stretford End Arising: What are your thoughts on Tuesday’s game? What team is Carlo Ancelotti likely to select and what formation will he adopt? Where will the game be won or lost?
deg0ey: I think that if we come out and cause you some problems early on then it could be an interesting game. Despite all our problems, we’ve been solid at the back and have still conceded the fewest goals in the league this season. Our big problem has been scoring goals, and if you set up well at the back I think we’ll have trouble. Rio’s injury is helpful although Smalling has looked pretty solid in his place, so I still wouldn’t consider your back line to be particularly weakened.
I think our best chance would be if we play: Cech; Cole; Terrry; Luiz; Ivanovic; Lampard; Mikel; Ramires; Zhirkov; Anelka; Torres. It’s more likely that Malouda starts ahead of Zhirkov and Essien for Mikel, however.
mad_mac: Always tough matches against Man United, and over the recent years they have usually been close affairs. I think we have the problem of a team short in confidence, while Man U are coming in having played a heavy run of games and then in the back of your minds will surely be the match against Liverpool later this week. I think with Tottenham losing, and Citeh drawing, this becomes very important for us to try and secure a top 4. I hope we don’t start Drogba and Torres. I’d rather see us play with Nico and Torres, or Nico and Drogba. 4-3-3 probably with Essien in the more defensive role with Lampard and Ramires ahead of them. Game will be won and lost in the final 3rd for both teams.
Footballoholic: Simple. Win at all cost. 12 points behind your lot, I don’t have any title hopes, its all about that top 4 spot for me. The team that Carlo is likely to go with would be 4-3-3:
The game will be won/lost (drawn I actually feel) in midfield. Usually I’d be confident our midfield is stronger than yours, but not this time. All the other match ups seem pretty even. Nani v Cole will be a very important one, although I noticed he was playing on the left against Wigan. So either way, depending on Giggs’ fitness. Torres has had some success against Vidic in the past as you’ll remember, so that should be another intersting match up and we’re hoping he can open his account this time.
SEA: What are your thoughts on the signings of Torres and Luiz? How have they fared so far for Chelsea? In your opinion is Torres an Ancelotti or Abramovich signing? How has Ramires progressed since we last spoke?
deg0ey: Torres is obviously under a lot of pressure to justify his mammoth transfer fee. Obviously he’s yet to score, but he looks keen, he looks focussed and he looks like he could score a lot of goals when he’s had time to adjust to our system. In short, he looks like being everything Drogba should have been this season.
I’m very happy about signing Luiz. Haven’t had a chance to see much of him yet but he was on fire against Fulham. If that’s a sign of things to come (and I know it’s not really possible to judge a guy on one game) then I honestly think he could be one of the top defenders in the world in a few years time.
Ramires has also been very good of late. Took him a little while to settle in and realise what types of challenges he could get away with and what he couldn’t here in the Premiership. It also took time for him to get used to not having as much time on the ball as he did in Portugal. However, he’s been one of our best midfielders the last couple of months and is another hot prospect for the future.
mad_mac: Torres will have to adapt, and the team will have to adapt to him. I think we paid too much for him, but to see Liverpool pay £35 Million for Carroll is just laughable. Luiz is a great player, and certainly one I am very happy with. As to who signed Torres…probably Roman in my opinion, I just hope we don’t line up against your mod on Tuesday with the front three of Torres, Nico and Drogba. Then we’re seeing Carlo play players due to reputation, and not how they are playing. Ramires has been very good. In the FA Cup he was a great player, good work rate, but Felaini was pretty handy in pushing him off the ball…which is a concern.
SEA: The last time we spoke (Other Side Of Coin: Chelsea Fans On Postponement, Wilkins, Ancelotti and more) the general consensus of Chelsea’s slump in form was not due to the departure of Wilkins. Have opinions changed? Why do you believe Chelsea have only managed 5 victories in their last 16 league games?
deg0ey: IMO, it’s a confidence issue. Our defenders are still doing their job for the most part, but we’re struggling to score. End of last season and the beginning of this, we had players that were on top of the world and believed they could score from anywhere. Consequently, that’s what they did. A few key injuries, a personnel change and a string of losses down the line and our goalscorers have lost their edge.
mad_mac: I don’t completely buy into the fact that Wilkins is to blame. However, I don’t know what to put it down to. It seems to me that there is a complacency and a Malaise in our camp, I think some players are realizing that their places are not in Jeopardy, and don’t look bothered.
BlueSkies: Because a) the squad is mostly old and reaching the end of their careers. We had injuries to key players. c) No matter what happened, Carlo refused to alter the lineup or the system and try something different, like throwing in a couple of youngsters from the start, or trying a different formation. It was the same crap week after week.
SEA: Would Chelsea failing to qualify for Champions League football be disastrous? Would you expect established players to leave in the summer? Do you expect Drogba to be a Chelsea player next season regardless of Champions League qualification?
deg0ey: Failing to qualify for the Champions League would definitely be a bad thing. This season has shown that we struggle to compete on all fronts with the players we have. My view is that we need to buy a couple of players come the end of the season and without the money that comes with the CL, our ability to spend will be significantly reduced.
As for established players leaving, a number of players have disappointed for some or all of this season. It’s possible that they have been over worked due to our small squad and Carlo’s reluctance to play the youngsters; however, with the age of players like Drogba and Malouda, it may well be time to cut our losses and get some cash for them while they still have some value. Your guess is as good as mine for what will actually happen, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit of a shake up in the dressing room before next season.
mad_mac: Yes it would be a huge loss, both financially and as a matter of pride. I don’t think it’d be disastrous as some people are making it out. I just think it shows that we can’t keep relying on the same old players. There are some tired legs out there, and the squad needs freshening up. We’ve not spent that much in the last few years, and then let a good number of players go. I think we will see some players leave in the summer, but I expect that whether or not we qualify for the CL. Drogba is one of the players I expect to leave. I think we’ll see him making a move back to Marseille, where he can get a hero’s return. I also expect players like Nico and Lampard to stay, but play lesser roles. Quite like Giggs and Scholes for Man U. Maybe we’ll see Malouda and Zhirkov leave – but that depends if we sign a left winger or not.
Footballoholic: I wouldn’t call it disastrous. But with the FFP rules, once we’re out of it, I feel it will be tough for us to get back in, with our aging squad. But instead of Roman packing up and leaving like the Media would like you to believe, we could see him invest heavily with renewed interest. Wishful thinking maybe. I don’t expect there to be any departures over loss of Champions league football. I do feel this could be Drogs and Malouda’s last season with us regardless.
SEA: We also discussed several youngsters including Josh McEachran, Gaël Kakuta, Patrick Van Aanholt, Nathaniel Chalobah, Conor Clifford, Billy Clifford and Fabio Borin. How are they progressing? Are there any other young players emerging from the ranks?
BlueSkies: McEachran – PLays well every time he gets on, shows real composure and skill. Carlo said a while ago he was ready to start in the PL, but has barely featured since then, so clearly he’s not willing to risk him with the CL spot being still up for grabs. Kakuta – On loan at Fulham, not featuring much though. He won’t make it at Chelsea. Van Aarnholt – On loan at Leicester, played well against Derby, but apparantly defensively poor recently. Still think he’s a good playter though and should be rotated with Cole next season at LB. Chalobah – No idea; I don’t watch youth/reserve matches unless they are big cup games. C.Clifford, B.Clifford – Same answer. Borini – Scoring lots of goals in the reserves, but looks like he might be on his way out, which is a shame; because I think he could have done well if given a chance.
mad_mac: McEchran seems to be the most promising of the lot, and he’s on the fringes of the first team. PVA is on loan, along with Bruma which is good for the lads. The only loan that doesn’t look promising is Kakuta, as he’s gone from our bench to warming Fulhams. The rest are all still in the ressies, but it’ll be interesting to see. Others to look out for: Gokan Tore, and Jacob Mellis.
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