Tuesday, 30 April 2013

April Discussion: Part 2.1

Frank Lampard after scoring against Swansea

Starters (4-2-3-1):
Cech (GK)
Azpilicueta (RB)
Ivanovic (CB)
Terry (CB)(c)
Cole (LB)
Luiz (CM)
Lampard (CM)
Moses (RW)
Mata (AM)
Hazard (LW)
Torres (ST)



1. Cech: Never doubted his skills. Made several more spectacular yet crucial saves in the past month. Really top class.

2. Ivanovic: Won a place in my eleven due to Luiz' brilliance in midfield and Cahill's absence. But still a proper CB anyway. Azpi performed better at RB than Brana.

3. Cole: Missed out several games due to injury, but performed as good as ever when available.

4. Luiz: Again a maestro in midfield as he played several creative passes and assists (including one long assist for Torres against Rubin), and had some excellent goals as well. Decent CM.

7. Ramires: Always a menace to our oppositions, and a wonderful player. Unlucky to miss out due to Luiz' brilliance and Lampard's strong presence in midfield.

8. Lampard: Consistent performances in all games. Great assists, including the one for Torres against Rubin. Always brilliant when called upon and unfortunate not to have matched Sir Bobby Tambling's record by now. One more to go, dear friend.

9. Torres: Brilliant in the games against Rubin Kazan, and played with sheer confidence in the games after. Was it the mask?

10. Mata: A bit turned off in some games. Perhaps he needed a rest, but now and then always a constant menace and always with a vision. Oscar did not performed as well, so Mata gets the spot.

Monday, 29 April 2013

April Discussion: Part 1

          Another hectic month as the boys played 9 times this April. As we had to juggle between 3 fronts, mixed results were the outcome, and now we remain strong in two after backing off in the other...

Benitez praises Lampard after midfielder stars in Swansea win

The Masked Crusader Striker

          Yep, that pretty much explains our very own number 9, Fernando Torres. For the past month he had to wear a nose-protection mask since the hit on his nose in the last 16 of the Europa League. But that in turn had him producing some of his better performances in the quarter finals. He scored two goals in the first leg and another in the return fixture to put us through to the semi-finals. And not just that, he had been performing better in the league as well. He played with extra confidence and fighting spirit to inspire the team in several occasions. The mask was only to protect his nose, but some superstitious minds (like my own) find it funny if that mask actually brings out the best of him. Then maybe he should wear it for the rest of his career (which is ridiculous) and we will be known as the team with the masked striker. But we shall hope that he can continue to perform and score goals, for his own sake, and for the team. With Ba unable to play in the Europa League, Torres may be key to our final hope of winning a silverware this season.


          The race for top four finish cannot get any more intense than this. With only 3 points separating the three London clubs fighting for two spots in the top four, and with 3 or 4 games to go, the race can never get any tighter than this. Arsenal had a played a game more, however their remaining fixtures are relatively easier. While Spurs are 3 points below us, the match at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday cannot get any more important, as losing that game could mean Spurs may overtake us. That match may be crucial and pivotal and we must make sure that we can win that game to strengthen our chances to finish in the top four.
          The FA Cup semi final game against Man City was a disappointing one in terms of results, but with regards to the performance, we did well and showed them that we never give up and will always fight. A pity to lose at this stage, but then again you can never win everything. We still have the Europa League and our chances are pretty strong now. We will be taking a 2-1 lead to Stamford Bridge this Thursday, and a draw would be enough to see us through to Amsterdam for the Europa League Final, with potential oppositions either Fenerbahce (where Meireles is playing now) or Benfica (former club of Luiz and Ramires). It will not be easy, but we have a good chance of winning it.

Friday, 5 April 2013

March Discussion: Part 2.2

Demba Ba after scoring against United

13. Moses: Played in rotation with Mazacar, but recently his performance wasn't as good as previous months, hence losing his position in the starting eleven.

17. Hazard: Performed very well recently, and have been scoring some excellent goals too, and provide good assists, as the one for Lampard. Connected well with Mata when playing together. Deservedly earn his place in the starting eleven.

21. Marin: Didn't have a lot of game time in March. Needed to perform when given the chance to earn himself more and more playing time.

24. Cahill: Played in rotation with other CBs. Need to be more solid at times, but in general he is a very much improved player.

26. Terry: Captain, Leader, Legend. No other words can describe it. Although we can do well without him, and although sometimes we may lose with him playing, the qualities he possess remain indispensable. We will need him in the coming weeks.

28. Azpilicueta: Probably the player I have special praise for. Ever since the start of the calendar year, he has been performing excellently and showing his true qualities as a RB. Consistent, quick, smart, and improving quickly into one fine full back.

29. Ba: Not scoring as much as he should, but have been scoring important goals too. Improving his game recently, and edges out Torres given his recent form.

30. Benayoun: Starting to get more game time, but like Marin, must perform well when called upon, and must play with more conviction.

34. Bertrand: Second to Ashley Cole, and I really mean second. His recent performances haven't been that good, and he must improve greatly if he is to replace Cole in the future. As our no 3 is injured, Bertrand will have to take the chance and play well to show his qualities.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

March Discussion: Part 2.1

          From this point onwards, players who are missing or didn't play for the month will not be mentioned below...

Fernando-Torres - Chelsea

Starters (4-2-3-1):
Cech (GK)
Azpilicueta (RB)
Luiz (CB)
Terry (CB)(c)
Cole (LB)
Mikel (CM)
Ramires (CM)
Oscar (RW)
Mata (AM)
Hazard (LW)
Ba (ST)



1. Cech: Magnificent saves and sheer athleticism makes him one of the best shot-stoppers and he remains an invaluable asset to the club.

2. Ivanovic: Played as CB more often now, but had to play as RB to give Azpilicueta the rest he needs. Powerful athlete.

3. Cole: Considerably the club's most indispensable old guard. Bertrand was nowhere near his level, and we certainly need Cole for the near future.

4. Luiz: With Mikel back, played in his initial position (CB) recently, however didn't disappoint most of time. Great player.

7. Ramires: His energy and speed remains a great asset for the club.

8. Lampard: Edging towards breaking Sir Bobby Tambling's club record, however loses out in the starting eleven given Mikel & Ramires' recent performances.

9. Torres: Scored an important goal against Steaua, however Ba's recent performances edges him out of the eleven.

10. Mata: Could never take this man out of the starting eleven. Whenever he don't play/perform well, we are basically struggling. Remains our hero/saviour time and time again.

11. Oscar: Connected well when playing with Hazard & Mata, however struggled to get the game going when left alone.

12. Mikel: His return to form was pleasing. A strong figure in the holding position, and very calm on the ball. Good to have him back, and deservedly earn a place in the starting eleven.

to be continued... 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

March Discussion: Part 1

          Due to the international break, we had only 6 games to play in March. However, by the time I wrote this article, we have played another and won against Man Utd to send us through to the FA Cup semi-finals...

FA Cup


          Our team has certainly the depth and numbers to enable rotations between matches. But as what I have observed so far, we have certainly been overdependent on the trio 'Mazacar', and more specifically Mata himself. I'm not sure if these are truth or facts, but the results & statistics have certainly proven it to be the case.
          No Mata in the Southampton game, and we lost. Mazacar played against Man Utd, and we won. No Mata (late sub) in the Bucuresti first leg game, and we lost. Hazard entered in the second half (to complete the trio) against Man Utd in Old Trafford, and we won. It's not concrete science or theory, but things just went better for us with the trio playing well. More specifically, Mata have been our best player, and our hero and saviour time and time again. Hazard is explosive and amazing, but inconsistent. Oscar have amazing touches, but lacks the vision of Mata. But the three together provides an amazing show of football, and a winning formula as well. Although we would rather rotate the team, but currently it just seems as though we need 'Mazacar' at every game possible.

Premier League

          In the league, we are just hanging in the balance. Spurs have overtaken third position again, although we have a game in hand. Moreover, Arsenal are only 2 points behind us and Everton four. So the pressure is on and the race for fourth spot is on. We have to make no more mistakes if we are going to survive being in the top four. A slight slip up, and Arsenal could deputize. Of course, with us also chasing silverware in the FA cup and Europa League, there is no relaxing, and every match must be taken seriously. This will be difficult, but every game matters from now on.

FA Cup & Europa League

          We are now going to Wembley once more, having taken down one Manchester club, only to take on another in the semi finals of the FA cup. From the match at Old Trafford, it would seem that we deserved to win given our spectacular comeback in the second half. Good thing, the match at Stamford Bridge assures that. Now, our next opponent will be the blue side of Manchester. It will be difficult, but we have had more than enough experience, and we are certainly the Kings of Wembley (given recent FA cup wins), and with the determination of our lads, we are in with a big chance of winning it.
          The Europa League doesn't look that different anyway. Our chances of winning are always there. The first leg defeat against Bucuresti was a bit worrying, but its another brilliant comeback by the boys (splendid finish by Torres as well) to see us through to the last 8. Of course, some of the bigger clubs are out, leaving our fellow PL clubs possibly the biggest threats remaining, but then again, any team reaching the last 8 of the EL are not to be taken lightly. But we certainly have a good chance of winning this. So, let us support our boys to win the FA cup and Europa League, and to end the league with a top four position.