In order to compete for the Premier League and the Champions League this season, Chelsea need more than Juan Manuel Mata, but he is a good start.
After watching Chelsea against West Brom at the weekend it was blindingly obvious that they were in desperate need of reinforcements in several positions. Chelsea looked old and slow and struggled to play with any real tempo and they will struggle against better sides than West Brom this season, unless they sign a number of younger players and offload some of the dead wood in the squad.
Bosingwa, Alex, Lampard, Mikel, Anelka and Kalou are just a handful of players who do not belong in the starting line up at Chelsea anymore and get exposed in the real big games. They are crying out for a bit of flair, pace and creativity, but fortunately for them, Mata will provide some of that.
If Chelsea do eventually complete a deal to sign Luka Modric, he and Mata can strike up a fantastic understanding at Stamford Bridge and add that creative spark to rejuvenate the team and in particular the struggling Fernando Torres. The £50 million striker has found goals very hard to come by at the West London club and has been starved of any decent service from his team-mates.
In my opinion, Chelsea should’ve signed the man who replaced Torres at Liverpool, Luis Suarez. He is exactly the type of player they were crying out for. His speed, movement, trickery and work-rate could’ve sprung life into an ageing Chelsea team. But instead the Uruguayan is now breathing a new lease of life at Anfield and has made Liverpool a force to be reckoned with again.
Chelsea still have the basis of a very good side who will be challenging for the Premier League. John Terry, Ashley Cole, Petr Cech, Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda still have something to offer and are still very good players, despite being in their thirties or approaching thirty.
The likes of Ramires, Ivanovic, Benayoun and Sturridge are good players to have on the bench. David Luiz will establish himself as a top class Premier League centre-half and he was an impressive acquisition. New signing Romelu Lukaku, dubbed ‘the new drogba’, will become a very good striker in the future, but at just 18 years-old he will find minutes hard to come by this season.
Andre Vilas-Boas is a very intelligent manager, but in order for him to get this Chelsea side to play the football he had Porto playing last season, they need several new recruits. He is a big fan of the 4-3-3 system but unlike at Porto, Chelsea don’t have the wingers to make that system work effectively.
Jose Mourinho operated that formation during his tenure at Stamford Bridge, but he had Arjen Robben and Damien Duff, two out and out wingers, working the flanks. Chelsea simply don’t have that now, with Florent Malouda the only natural winger in the squad.
The incoming £25m signing Juan Mata may be asked to operate from a wide left position, but quite frankly his talent would be wasted there. Mata is a playmaker who relishes a free role but he won’t be offered that with Frank Lampard in the team. Mata is an excellent passer but lacks the pace and the dribbling ability to become a natural winger. He will come inside a lot and look to play centrally which could disrupt Chelsea’s shape.
Andre Vilas-Boas has a difficult job on his hands getting his methods across to this set of players in the Chelsea squad, but I will be intrigued to see who Chelsea can sign over the next 8 days to improve what is an ageing squad.
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