Who would have thought on Friday that Messer’s Webb and Carragher would play such big parts in the score line at Stamford Bridge?
Although, I must say Howard’s first touch is appalling!
In the past I have been accused of being far too positive, which somehow makes me less of a fan apparently, so what I wanted to do in this piece was present some observations from the game that will provide my thoughts into the pluses and negatives that can be taken.
1. Taking a step back and looking at the result from yesterday will surely show that it was a cracking point. We travelled to the home of the current European Champions, high after a late winner midweek, fighting again for the title and boasting an attacking front four of Torres, Hazard, Mata and Oscar.
Even behind that front line they had a solidity of experience and class in their core. Looking to their bench, with the likes of Marin, Sturridge and Moses, they are spoilt for (expensively gathered) choice. In comparison, our side is rebuilding the team. Our confidence and our form – through circumstance – find us with a very young side including the likes of Sterling, Wisdom and Suso who are making their break through. To travel here and get a point, almost snatching 3, is a fantastic result for where we are.
2. It is fairly clear that things were not right first half (more on that later), but the changes installed by Rodgers, for and during the second half, show that he is big enough to recognise his own errors and how to correct them. He was able to highlight what was not working and where we were being overrun, and tactically out manoeuvre Di Matteo to change the tide somewhat. Please don’t take this as a direct comparison as it is not, it is merely an observation. Remember 2005, a certain Spaniard made an error of judgement in the first half of a game, changed it at half time and the rest is history.
3. I make that 6 games unbeaten in the league, which is a start. They say that winning is a habit and using that logic, not losing is also a habit. The psychology of football is a curious and often fragile thing and momentum is crucial for form and confidence. Watching the Villa v United game on Saturday reminded me of the 2008/09 Liverpool side. Countless times I watched that team with the greatest midfield in the world perform comebacks (for me against City was most memorable as it was the day I brought my Daughter home from the hospital for the first time), and that season, form was high, confidence was high and the continued momentum from only losing twice in the league really drove us on.
We can only rebuild one piece at a time and in my mind corners are being turned, albeit slowly. Towards the end of last season we looked dead and buried after conceding, yet this season we are starting to show that fight of old.
Another great example of momentum is in Brad Jones. He came across as very fragile and nervous deputising for Reina last season, but now he has had a run in the first team he has grown in confidence with each appearance, and made some cracking saves yesterday.
4. Luis Suarez. Need I say more? Nope, but I will so don’t worry! Every team needs star players, and in him we have a world class talent. Much is made of him not being a finisher and not having the return of goals expected, but isn’t he top scorer in the league? The false opinion of Suarez not being able to finish is purely based on how many chances he creates for himself!
If he had the clinical finishing ability Hernandez appears to have then he would have at least 20 by now. What must, must, must happen next is that he is reinforced with quality; not only to maximise his talents but to reassure that we are heading the right way.
1. By merely taking a glance at the team sheets for the game yesterday shows how far we have fallen from the Benitez days. Whereas we can’t compete with the financial muscle of Abramovich, our signings at that time remained competitive and allowed us to enter on a level footing with established superstars. This current squad has promise and provides glimpses of a rosy future, but that will remain a distant dream unless we sign players for today as well as tomorrow.
Yes it was a good point, but the game clearly highlighted that our squad is clearly lacking. If we are to progress and move forward then investment is needed from the owners. Rodgers is their man and they need to back him in January and beyond.
2. Yes we are six unbeaten in the league, but only two of these are wins. We also only have 2 points from a possible 12 against the Champions League teams this season.
The realisation here is that the squad is not good enough as it stands in terms of the limitations, numbers and experience bring. I fully believe that there are members in our squad who will grow in the coming years into top players but we also need that top level performer now. The club needs investment in January, and not the frugal ‘not a good market’ approach. It is no coincidence that our best player this season cost in the £20m price range. More often than not money will bring quality.
If we can build that solid core, like the team of Rafa in 2008/09, the following transfer windows will only require tinkering. If we don’t spend, it heaps more pressure on the team and manager and could be a negative sign for our current stars.
3. The first half yesterday was a worry. Implementing a new formation with an inexperienced centre-back, and a centre-back who hasn’t had many minutes this season is risky. Trying this without Lucas, is again risky.
We were well beaten in that first half and fortunate to trail by only one goal (an individual error again). We looked weak in the centre, and although I’m a huge fan of both Allen and Sahin, neither can perform that Lucas role, and in attempting to do so takes away from their natural game.
4. Luis Suarez. What is that collective WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?? I hear? Don’t worry, he is not the negative; the fact that there is only Luis Suarez is the negative.
There is a stat out there that shows without him we would be bottom. Ridiculous stat on a lot of levels, but what it does highlight is the lack of goals from elsewhere and the lack of support. We have been burnt in the past with an over reliance on one striker, and we need to address this issue sooner rather than later. Wheels need to be in motion now, we can’t afford to wait until Jan 31st.
The stark warning to FSG is that the murmurings of discontent now will explode into life should we have a transfer window repeating the last one.
5. My last point may be seen as controversial due to who it concerns, but I am a human being first and foremost so balls to it. I myself suffered a really nasty leg injury that put paid to my football playing days (pictures of it available on request!) so a negative from the game for me was seeing that injury to Terry, not nice.
Should he have been playing? No, his ban should have been at least equal to Suarez, and in my mind, more. Do I like him? Not at all, for me he is the epitome of what is wrong with the modern game. But nasty leg injuries are horrible for many reasons so I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
I hope I haven’t bored you, and if I have then hopefully insomnia isn’t a problem anymore. Let me know what you think we can class as positives and negatives as we move forward, and why. Come find me on twitter @timdibs