All the flair and creativity in the world coming from Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard can’t be enough on their weaker matches, which can be expected in this never ending season for Chelsea, can’t make up for a striker that seems lost, dazed & confused on 90% of his appearances. Rafa Benitez loves rotations, and was burnt by using Fernando Torres instead of Demba Ba.
The result? Chelsea led twice against Tottenham in a match that should have sealed the deal for them in the Champions League race, but allowed a second equalizer with 10 minutes left, ending in a 2-2 draw. Chelsea have the lead – two points over Arsenal (4th) and three over Tottenham (5th), but it’s still not over.
And Chelsea should have been more desperate to end this whole race. Oscar has made the most appearances in matches of any outfield Chelsea player in any season in their history, and Petr Cech has played the same amount. Juan Mata has more minutes than Oscar. Fatigue, exhaustion, both physically and mentally, is sinking in. Chelsea are the better team, but their desire to put an end to it all paralyzed them in the final minutes.
Cesar Azpilicueta could have been the man of the match. All the talk is always about stopping Gareth Bale, letting the other players try, and usually fail to win matches without him. The Spanish wing back completely erased the Welshman from the match, but Emmanuel Adebayor and Gylfi Sigurdsson made up for his absence. Chelsea didn’t push forward until it was too late, when they were already too spent to try and steal back the lead.
Rafa Benitez lacks killer instincts. Too conservative, too tactical, and believes too much in his team’s ability to close out matches through defense. But Benitez should know that without a solid midfield, it’s impossible to really kill off a match by not attacking. He should know that when he has such a talented group of players playing behind his striker, there should be no fear or retorting to tactics that fit a team that feels lucky each time it scores.
Fernando Torres is a special case, that one day will be studied in the halls of those who care about the certain erosion in footballers. The Spanish striker did assist Ramires on the second Chelsea goal, but his presence sometimes made things worse for his teammates. Turnovers, bad positioning, bad choices, bad finishing, you name it. He has somehow gotten to score 20 goals this season, but in the league, Torres has been waiting for a goal since December 23. And Demba Ba sat the entire 90 minutes.
Being stuck in certain frames of mind is dangerous for Rafa Benitez, even though he doesn’t have a job to save. He’s gone when the season is over, but he still would like to leave the ungrateful fans with some success. Chelsea are still in the lead to finish the season with a smile, but taking his chances on Fernando Torres seems like a bad decision and dangerous gamble to make.