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Final Word On Swans – Issues To Address Before Shaktar

By Nov 6, 2012No Comments

As I didn’t watch this game live, I’ve dispensed with the full match analysis which, by now, others will have put on their blogs.

Instead, I’ve picked out some observations on the game, positive and negative, based on what television allows.

The elephant in the room: we really missed Juan Mata. His goal threat in open play and set pieces, assists and overall intelligence have seen him become the Premier League’s most prized asset in recent weeks.

3 games in 6 days may have been a factor in a jaded, leggy performance. No one really grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck. Swansea are a fair side but no more than that. To mount a serious Premier League challenge, we cannot drop many points like this away from home.

We seemed to settle for 1-0 as soon as we’d scored. Perhaps with an eye on Wednesday but a second would have given more wriggle room in the crucial last 10 minutes. Swansea pushed up, stopped us playing out from the back and in fairness, deserved a point.

Without Mata, we looked a crucial yard slower in our build up and lacked punch, returning to a more predictable side to side movement of the ball with much less penetration.

Its easy to forget that Oscar and Hazard are 3 to 4 years younger than Mata and expectations need to be tempered a little, especially away from Stamford Bridge.

Playing Romeu and Mikel together is like eating the same meal twice: as nice as it may have been the first time, once you’ve eaten it, you know what’s coming next.

Moving Ramires to the double pivot was inspired. He had a quiet half after replacing Romeu but his directness and energy, is ideally suited to playing alongside Mikel, whose primary instinct is to stay and shield.

Mikel’s own engine is improving. He made a great block midway through the first half from a Swansea break that started with him ahead of the ball.

Hazard’s trickery will frustrate some supporters at times, especially when possession us conceded or he shoots when he could pass. He has huge self belief (his 93rd minute penalty to take the League Cup game to extra time exemplified that) and his set pieces in the second half, including the corner that led to our goal were high quality. His pace over the first 10 yards is a real asset.

Oscar had a quiet game and missed Mata more than anyone. He showed his tender years by getting caught on the ball and his final ball was not too his usual high standard. He was due a dip and had one.

All the more reason to give minutes to Marko Marin. This game looked ideal for him to get at least half an hour. After Moses’ goal, Robbie Di Matteo could have turned the screw with Marin’s fresh legs but chose not to. A trick missed perhaps.

Shakhtar is a must win game and I’d be tempted to start with Sturridge on Wednesday. In my opinion, he is not a Chelsea Centre Forward. If Torres starts, he must play in the width of the penalty area and really up his work rate. His brittle confidence has returned and my advice to him is simple: wherever possible, have a shot.

Despite an instinctive flick of the head for his goal, when he has time to think about what he’s doing, Moses must work on his finishing. He carried on where he left off in midweek and needs to add a clinical finish to his repertoire. His substitution though suggests he may start on Wednesday.

Ashley Cole’s display was an improvement from Man Utd last Sunday but his sloppy, misplaced pass after our throw in led to their goal and again he got caught too far up the pitch on several occasions, unable to get back. That 2 year extension is sadly looking like a bullet dodged in a League that does not respect reputations.

Ivanovic and Cahill may well be our medium term first choice pairing at Centre Half. They both read the game well, stayed close enough together and organised the line.


Follow Chris Davies on Twitter: @chrisdaviescfc


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