Tag Archives: Chelsea

Inter v Milan – what did we learn?

Watching the Milan derby is always a pleasant experience; it is an important match to both sets of fans and more so this year as a win for Milan would put them with touching distance of Inter going into the end of the season. This year, however, the game took on extra significance as both teams would be playing English opposition in the Champions League. Inter will face Chelsea and Milan will play Man Utd. With Sir Alex Ferguson watching on what will he and Carlo Ancelotti make of their opposition.

Milan

Leonardo started with a 4-3-3 and it become evident early on that the middle three of Gattuso, Ambrosini and Pirlo were being overran. Sneijder, before being sent off, was finding too much space. There is an imbalance in those three players as all three are naturally deep players but all three seemed to compensate for the others by going forward. This left too bigger gap between the defence and midfield and Inter exploited it.

Going forward the two full backs did not offer any quality but could easily get up and down for overlapping runs. Pirlo was disappointing as the creative player in the midfield. Beckham, when he had the ball on the far right provided some trademark crosses but Borriello was too isolated and easily picked up by the Inter defence. Ronaldinho will cause Ferguson the most problems. Although not on top form tonight it was clear that he was a handful for Maicon. Man Utd have problems at right back and these could be exploited by Leonardo.

Overall it should be an easy win for Man Utd but with a note of caution. An orthodox 4-4-2, giving support to Borriello could see a tougher game.

Inter

Inter played a 4-3-1-2 system, a change for Mourinho which I think has been made with one eye on the Chelsea game. He knows that they don’t play with a lot of width so is getting used to packing the centre channel of the pitch. The three central midfielders were all very defensively minded and this enabled not only Sneijder, Militio and Pandev to play without fear but either full back could go forward and have suitable cover. I am particularly looking forward to seeing Maicon against Ashley Cole. There is also a solid centre to Inter’s defence; Julio Cesar (best goalkeeper in the world in my opinion), Lucio, Samuel and Materazzi.

Inter certainly have the better team and with Eto’o to return from duty in Africa Chelsea should be concerned about their chances. Mourinho will be spot on with his tactics against them and who knows Chelsea’s weaknesses better than him.

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Season so far – Part Two; Burnley, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham and Hull

Burnley

 

At the start of the season if you would have said to Owen Coyle or any Burnley fan that the club would be 11th after ten games they would have bitten your hand off.

 

The home defeat to Wigan would have caused some concern for Coyle but I’m sure that it will serve to galvanise them for the next home game. I think that the danger for Burnley and the reason why I think they’ll struggle this year is due to depth of squad. This is not necessarily due to not having enough quality but rather a lack of experience. Also, it has to be questioned how long Graham Alexander will be able to survive into a Premier League campaign. He is a leader in the team and hugely experienced. Unfortunately he is 38 and it is difficult to play 80% of games at the intensity of the Premier League.

 

In January I think Coyle needs to get someone with experience of a Premier League relegation fight in the team. Someone along the lines of Robbie Savage would be the right type of player. Obviously not Savage himself as I don’t think the Blackburn connection will help, but someone of his ilk.

 

P.S. The Beast is looking to be a liability

 

Chelsea

 

They look by far and away the strongest contenders for the title; very fluid in midfield and attack and lots of options.

 

Two things will stop Chelsea from winning the league. One is the African Cup of Nations, particularly if they can’t buy players as a result of Kakuta. However, which player would want to go to Chelsea knowing that if the transfer bans happens then they will not be sold under any circumstances. For example, David Villa moves to Chelsea in January. They lose their appeal at CAS and the transfer bans kicks in, running until summer 2011. Villa finds life in the Premier League or England difficult and wants to go home. Chelsea can sell but can’t buy a replacement; would they sell?

 

The other factor is the appalling defending continues. Chelsea may be able to score at least two against most teams but two decent set pieces from the opposition will see a draw come out. The trouble with the defending is that it is not a problem which is easily fixable. Chelsea’s defenders are not kids and it will be tough to teach them how to defend set pieces. I would think that Carvalho has to be dropped once Alex is back up and running.

 

Everton

 

A stop start season so far with a lot more stops than starts. Everton started quite badly last season as well but had picked it up by now. All Everton fans will cite the Phil Neville tackle at Manchester Utd and the catalyst.

 

Everton are playing with a few new players which always disrupts a team which is built on organisation. The squad is strong, well balanced and I think it is a matter of time before results start coming their way. Questioning what has gone wrong is difficult as it is not just one big problem but lots of minor problems.

 

Clean sheets should be the priority for the next couple of games and ensuring that Phil Neville is replaced adequately. I would play Moyles favourite 4-5-1 for the next couple of games and resist the temptation to play two of three good strikers available. This should grind out some results and but Everton back on track.

 

Fulham

 

I have written about my thoughts on Fulham’s season overall (see previous post) and I have to say that so far the start has gone contrary to my expectations.

 

The goals have been following from a number of different areas of the pitch and the defence, whilst not watertight, is holding its own.

 

My concern, alongside those mentioned in the earlier post, is that the goals being scored are not ‘standard’ goals. By that I mean that not enough goals are being scored in a calculated way, most are being scored from distance, after ricochets in the penalty box or an opponents mistake. Contrast that with Chelsea’s goals, most come from a predicable move. That type of goal dries up a lot quicker than others and when they do I see Fulham starting to falter.     

 

Hull

 

Words cannot describe the trouble Hull are in. To all Hull fans…be thankful Portsmouth exist so that at least you have someone to mock.

 

In January Hull need to sell players and prepare for the Championship. Don’t start to think you’ll get out of this mess and spend even SOME money. How Phil Brown is still in a job is beyond my comprehension.

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Admission of guilt?

The axe has fallen on Peter Kenyon. Unlike what is being made out by Chelsea he has not resigned – he has been sacked.

If he were to be resigning then he would not make comments such as ‘I have one more challenge in me’. Kenyons sacking indicates conclusively that he was at fault for the Kakuta incited (where Chelsea can not buy players for the next two transfer windows) and that, whilst they will appeal, it is unlikely to be successful.

He is one of footballs characters and I will miss him. Always reliable to put his foot in it, or be caught having dinner with people he shouldn’t be having dinner with.

But who to replace him? Will Chelsea, like Man City and Liverpool, look outside the sporting world or will Abramovich’s friend Arnsen be promoted again. Or, will Ancelotti have a say and give Chelsea a more Italian structure. Maybe an ex-player (think Leonardo) will take the role? Guillit? Desailly?

If I were a betting man then it might be an ex-Chelsea player who has had dealings with Ancelotti in the past.

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Well done FIFA

I don’t like FIFA for a number of reasons, most of which will become evident throughout the season.

 

I don’t like Sepp Blater for a number of reasons, including but not exclusive to the fact that he is the head of FIFA.

 

However, I must stand up and applaud them for the stance they have taken against Chelsea and FC Sion (it’s not just Chelsea being victimised). If Chelsea are found guilty of tapping up a sixteen year old and inducing him to break his contract is simply awful. They would be using their influence to make an impressionable young man do something he is now going to regret for the rest of his life.

 

Michel Plantini has been on the war path about ‘big’ clubs signing young players, some as young as twelve. I agree with him to a certain extent but I do recognise that those skilled people who are developing in their education (both football and traditional) need the best teaching. If Arsenal, for example, can give a promising player better facilities, support and coaching than Crystal Palace, for example, isn’t the child allowed to study with Arsenal if he and his parents choose?

 

I agree far more strongly with Plantini in that young players should not be allowed to move to a different country until they are at least eighteen. Although Fabregas moved to Arsenal when he was sixteen (or maybe younger) he is success story. How many players come over and fail?

 

FIFA have done the right thing in banning Chelsea from registering any new players for two transfer windows. If their action deters ‘big’ clubs from trying to sign gifted young players on the cheap then that can only be good for smaller football clubs. Ironically if Chelsea had have negotiated with Lens then I’m sure an agreement could have been made for the player to learn at Chelsea and play for a period with Lens as part of his education, helping both clubs.

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Will Chelsea survive ‘Kakuta’?

To turn a popular advertising slogan around – “was he worth it?”

 

That will be the question Roman Abramovich is asking Bruce Buck, Frank Arnesen and Peter Kenyon. I’m sure this is not news to most readers but Chelsea have been banned from registering any new players in either of the following two transfer windows, i.e. 1st Jan – 31st Jan and 1st July – 31st August 2010.

 

It is arguable as to whether they need any new players. Chelsea have started the season incredibly well and are many peoples favourite for the title this year. Furthermore, this is the team that were the only ones capable of stopping Barcelona last season and are serious contenders for the Champions League.

 

The problems for Chelsea will arise when players who are not getting regular first team football (Alex, Kalou, Joe Cole (?), Deco, Ferreria) want to leave in order to find that regular starting spot. It has become almost customary to let a player leave if he wants and examples have been seen in the most recent transfer window (Ronaldo, Michael Turner, Alonso). Chelsea no longer have that luxury as they can not replace the want away player.

 

Only time will tell how the squad will be affected by the lack of incoming players. I suggest that if they can continue their good form and stay injury free then everything should be fine. If, however, Ancelotti starts ‘doing a Scolari’ then it could be very difficult to motivate those who desperately want to win more trophies before their careers end. If they see Chelsea as standing still then will they stay? Doubt it.

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