It’s not fair to put the problems of a side during a loss to an underrated side like Shakhtar on one player but Chelsea continue to play a striker-less football style while Fernando Torres is on the pitch, but doing nothing, once again, to remind us of that.
It wasn’t his turnover that began the move for the second goal. It wasn’t his mistake to put Frank Lampard in the lineup or the fact that Lampard limped off 18 minutes into the match, having Eden Hazard fill in. It wasn’t his fault that Di Matteo’s side looked nothing like a team that has any idea what the tactics and formation is for most of the match. But having no striker to rely on reflects on the whole side, regardless of how talented the trio of Hazard, Mata and Oscar are.
Shakhtar will always fly under the radar, no matter how many times they impress us in the Champions League. This team has a group of Brazilians with a touch of Eastern Europe here and there that’s been playing together for several years and is a joy to behold when they play well. Chelsea played well off the ball, and allowed Willian, Fernandinho and Alex Teixeira enough space to operate and feel comfortable. Shakhtar were the better team throughout the match.
Chelsea’s switch of tactics from defensive to attack in the second half left them too open for counter attacking. Say what you will about Obi Mikel, but his absence was felt. He usually adds nothing when it comes to offense, but his presence as a defensive anchor is always a much needed presence on a team that’s still playing without a natural right back and will always be a bit exposed in the back, no matter the combination of centre backs Di Matteo sets up.
And then there’s the attack. One team did its homework, leaving Mata out of the equation, while Oscar and Hazard struggled to do everything on their own. Torres wasn’t involved in the build up or the finish. Just wandering aimlessly, doing nothing without the ball and not doing a lot more when he had it between his feet. No confidence, and sometimes, it looks like he just doesn’t want to stay out there very long. Actually suffering.
At the moment, Daniel Sturridge isn’t much of an option – Out of shape, just returning from injury, while Di Matteo doesn’t hold him in high regards as well. The wait for Falcao is an answer, but that won’t happen until January at the earliest, if Chelsea actually manage to sing the Colombian. For now, they’re in some kind of trouble against quality teams.
Their midfield was so weak and inferior for most of the match it was hard to ignore. Oscar and Hazard eventually took over, but playing dual role as main attacking threats and being those who run things in the middle isn’t going to work against tougher competition than Tottenham. Despite the league form and despite the flair and flamboyancy on some matches, Chelsea have some holes in their plan which can be exposed when the right kind of team comes along. Di Matteo, despite all the praises, is very far off from a perfect team.