An easy match and suddenly, another disappointing result. Juan Mata continues to be the only stable thing in the Chelsea strutcture, as their defense, without the leadership of John Terry, continues to give away goals and points while Rafa Benitez is off to a worse start for the Blues than Roberto Di Matteo had through his first 12 matches.
Yes, that’s the truth of it: Chelsea, under Benitez, have won 22 out of 36 possible points. Under Di Matteo? 24 points in 12 matches. You do the judging about where was the football better and about the direction of the club, but simply put, Chelsea aren’t doing the job, for various reasons.
Surprising or not, not having Victor Moses is really hurting Rafa Benitez and this team. A good 4-2-3-1 needs at least one capable winger – Chelsea have none at the moment. All the attempts to convert Ryan Bertrand into the next great left winger won’t do him and the club any good; Oscar isn’t a right winger as well, and his form since Di Matteo left leaves a lot of questions regarding the price paid for him, although he is young and has his moments of brilliance.
Juan Mata, playing behind the ghost-like Fernando Torres, is the only one to make things work, when Demba Ba isn’t playing. Mata has the killer instinct almost no one on Chelsea has, except for Frank Lampard, John Terry and David Luiz. Lampard was the other player to score a goal, but a midfield unit consisting of him and Ramires won’t get far without the right kind of players around him. Lampard might be able to score goals from penalty kicks and absolutely free heading opportunities, but when it comes to creating things in motion, it’s clear that he’s not up for the task anymore.
The absence of David Luiz is obviously hurting the team. Benitez making Luiz his DM was a welcomed change, adding some defensive structure to a midfield unit that is obviously sub par against most competition, but that leaves the Ivanovic-Cahill-Azpilicueta unit vulnerable. Not because they’re bad players, but because there’s no leadership in that unit, and the mistakes and panic exhibited in Reading’s two late goals after not creating a single shot for the entire match were a perfect example while experience and leadership sometimes can cover up for fading footballing and physical attributes.
Don’t believe it for a second when the people at Chelsea say they’re not thinking about winning the title; that’s pretty much all that is left, and despite being six points away from Manchester City and 13 from Manchester United, they still believe there’s a chance. Playing only so they can hang on to third just doesn’t seem right, and yet that’s probably where they’ll end up. There’s a better chance of finishing fourth than in the top two, that’s a certainty.
Rafa Benitez loves rotations, but he should quit it. If Fernando Torres is really done as most think he is, this should be Demba Ba playing in front of Juan Mata, with Torres either coming off the bench or sometimes playing in two-striker set from the get-go. Trying to justify a bad purchase from two years ago isn’t going to help Chelsea, and it isn’t going to help Rafa Benitez keep his job.