Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughTime is ticking for Andre Villas-Boas but what’s different? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Time is ticking for Andre Villas-Boas but what’s different? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Time is ticking for Andre Villas-Boas but what’s different?

Chelsea FC is a club who has recently, over the past 5 years, cemented themselves as title challengers in the Premier League and cup contenders on the European stage and in England. Even before their first Premier League title in the 2004/2005 season, they had some of the best players the league had to offer. For example, Gianfranco Zola was a player who could dribble past defenders with ease with his close control and skill and Marcel Desailly the rock at the back who worked with now captain John Terry at training.   

Now, in 2012, the club has players that are considered the best players in their position around the world, Petr Cech and Ashley Cole to name but a few, but after their League title win in 2009/2010 and strong starts to the season since then, what’s been holding the club back this season?

Chelsea played Wolves away from home on Monday evening after receiving boos by their own fans when they lost 3-1 to Aston Villa on the weekend in a game they should expect to win. They did seem to right their wrongs this time as they managed to end a 5 winless game streak with a 2-1 victory thanks to a late Frank Lampard goal. 

Those score lines do make you take a step back and think is that the same Chelsea team from 2009 that beat Wolves comfortably 4-0 and 2-0. So what’s different about this Chelsea team and the team that won the league title only a few seasons ago? 

Let’s start with the manager. Andre Villas-Boas is a young manager who is trying to get Chelsea playing with a certain style compared to previous managers. He prefers his teams to get the ball down, look for the right pass and be patient with the build up if the pass isn’t on. Past managers have just let the squad play to their strengths which was pretty direct to star striker Didier Drogba and relied on John Terry and Petr Cech to keep the goals out at the other end. That style of play seems to have been pushed out of the players systems and you can see that they aren’t yet fully confident with employing AVB’s tactics after a few of their defeats.

A Chelsea side full with confidence would have the full backs, the likes of Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa, overlapping the midfielders in and around the opponents box; Frank Lampard finding himself in the opponent’s box putting his side ahead or level with a goal and John Obi Mikel protecting the back four and getting an attack started. At this moment in time Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata look like the only attacking players causing other teams problems. The previous title winning team had the likes of Nicolas Anelka down one flank and Florent Malouda down the other, always looking dangerous with the ball at their feet, grabbing goal after goal and beating full backs. Not only that but they had the likes of Drogba roughing up teams and running a riot in the opponents box.

The formation the current side play is slightly different too. Before AVB, Chelsea played 4-3-3, which basically meant 3-4-3 on attacks because the full backs would push up and support the midfield while one centre midfielder would drop to protect Alex and Terry just in case a counter occurred. Now they play with 2 forwards upfront instead of just the one target man. Even when they play the same tactics now they seem to lack that attacking edge.

Secondly, the current side has big names in it but I think it’s time to bring in new fresh faces that have the ability to play the way AVB wants. They’ve been struggling at the back so far this season, especially with finding John Terry a permanent partner. David Luiz has been playing that role for the past few games but has been caught out on several different occasions, not picking up a man when defending, losing the ball at the back and not reading the game. Things a defender at this level should really have mastered. Alex has also had a few games at the back but has struggled too. It’s reported that Bolton’s Gary Cahill is on the way to Stamford Bridge to solve the defensive problem. Cahill is a player that will put his body on the line to be first to the ball and knows how to win a tackle. Not only that but he would add an aerial threat to Chelsea’s attacking free kicks and corners.

It’s not just at the back that AVB would want to swap things around, but up front too. So far Chelsea’s star upfront has been young Daniel Sturridge by a long way, converting most of his chances and looking the most dangerous in front of goal. Apart from him, the rest of the strike force seems to be under performing. Fernando Torres still hasn’t found the form that made Chelsea sign him from Anfield for 50 million, Romelu Lakaku seems to be struggling to get games and Drogba has only started showing signs of his old self in recent games grabbing himself a few goals. Maybe it’s time for Chelsea to get a striker who will get them 25+ goals a season to replace an aging Drogba, taking the pressure off of Torres because he has shown glimpses of the Torres that took Nemanja Vidic to the cleaners when he was having one of his best seasons in Rio Ferdinand’s absence.

At this moment in time Chelsea need to stick with AVB as they go through transition stage of trying to rebuild their team because his philosophy can really improve the quality of football they play. The best teams in the world keep hold of the ball and make teams work extremely hard to get it back. The less possession your opponents have, the less likely they will score. So Chelsea fans stay hopeful, soon everything will go to plan.

Jordan Brown @MediaJB

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