Chelsea: Half-term report on Di Matteo's men
Chelsea have started the new Premier League season in fine style with a draw against Queens Park Rangers being the only blip in their seven-match unbeaten run. They lead the Premier League table with 19 points from seven games and sit four points above Manchester United.
takes a look at how Chelsea have improved this season when compared to
their results at this stage last season.
To begin with, Chelsea accumulated 16 points after seven games last season as against 19 points this season. They sat in third position at this stage 12 months ago and a three point improvement over last season's tally at this stage means they are the team to beat in the Premier League. It means that the Manchester sides have picked up fewer points this time round than they did at the same stage last season. Currently, 16 points would guarantee you a second place.All attack, no defence?
Chelsea have garnered a lot of warranted praise for their attacking display, orchestrated by the likes of Mata, Hazard and Oscar. In output terms, Chelsea have scored two goals less than the 17 goals they scored at this juncture last season.
Of course, any comparison of this kind requires a longer time scale, especially when new signings take some time to acclimatise themselves to the rigours of the Premier League. In terms of defence, they have given away only four goals this season, as compared to eight last season. Thus, despite the off-field controversies surrounding Terry and Cole, the defence has performed well. Di Matteo would be happy at the state of Chelsea's back line even though much of the praise is aimed at Chelsea's fluid footballing displays.
Now, the detractors of Chelsea often say that Chelsea have not really been tested this season, with Arsenal the only exception. Two points must be made in this regard. One, Chelsea can only play teams that the fixture list throws their way and hope to win those matches. Two, the argument of a fixture list that favours them this season is not a merited one.
Last year Chelsea faced their biggest test in an away game against Manchester United. Other teams they faced at this stage were Stoke, West Brom, Norwich, Sunderland, Swansea and Bolton. Now, compare this fixture list to this season when Chelsea have played the likes of Arsenal, Newcastle, Stoke and QPR among other teams. Certainly, this season has already thrown up challenges full of sub-plots that Chelsea could have botched up if they had not been focused. The 'Terry-Ferdinand' face off at Loftus Road and the fact that Newcastle United finished above the Blues in the Premier League table last season, come easily to one's mind.
Di Matteo has rotated his squad admirably in such a short span of time. It is justified in terms of the large number of games they have to play in a short span of time. Frank Lampard has seen his playing time curtailed in favour of a more mobile midfielder like Ramires. Di Matteo has not been afraid to drop out-of-form players including Hazard who made a blistering start to his Chelsea career.
Oscar has been blooded into the first team gently, offering him the European stage at first and then easing him into the hustle and bustle of Premier League football.
The point is that this season was supposed to be one of upheavel at the club. Fans feared it was going to be difficult to cope with the absence of star forward Didier Drogba. Add to that the exodus of players like Meireles, Kalou, Bosingwa and now Essien on loan, the prospect of a squad overhaul seems daunting indeed. So far, Di Matteo has not only managed to blood the youngsters well, he has also managed to get results at a club where any shortcoming on this front is brutally exposed and punished.
Calling all Cheslea fans: Do you agree with Apoorva's assessment? How do you think the season has gone for the boys in Blue? Can they go on to win the title or retain the Champions League? Whatever you views, we'd love to hear from you.
For more Chelsea articles, click here