Chelsea's squad depth dilemma
Chelsea and their squad depth dilemma
The summer transfer window closed and all teams submitted their squad list. On paper Chelsea's squad looks the toughest but is that the real scenario? Their immense squad depth is backfiring them early on in the season. Of course having a strong bench through out the season is really good for a team, but the right chord has to be struck. Jose Mourinho faces a really tough decision of selecting his squad every week. He has an incredible amount of option for the same position; and he also has to keep the players happy.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech is first choice and he will undoubtedly start all the matches unless he is plagued with injuries. However an experienced keeper in Mark Schwarzer to have as a substitute is really good for Chelsea.
Defense: Ivanovic is sure to find his place glued at right back, with his replacement being Cesar Azpilicueta. Ashley Cole also seems to be featured in the starting eleven every week with the only option being Ryan Bertrand who has not been selected by Mourinho till now. Following Chelsea's 6 matches played (in all competitions) this season, the defensive changes made to Chelsea's back four have been the centre backs. It seems to be likely that we will see a Cahill-Terry partnership for Premier League matches and a Cahill-Luiz partnership in Chelsea's European endeavors.
While Cahill has grown himself to be a great defender, improving very well since his arrival at the Bridge, the understanding between Cahill and Luiz is still to be ripened. Cahill and Terry have fantastic understanding and their partnership has worked very well. David Luiz is no doubt a great defender and Mourinho can turn him into a world class defender. His ability to make forward runs is a great advantage for the team whereas in the same time makes his team vulnerable at the back too. He needs to compose himself and his understanding of the game has quite a lot improved since he arrived at Chelsea.
Midfield: This is the area of concern for Chelsea. Chelsea have so many midfielders that it is possible to make a playing 11 out of them alone. After Ancelotti's reign, Lampard had been made accustomed to the holding midfield role. Chelsea have Lampard, Ramires, Mikel, Essien and van Ginkel to play in that role. Ramires and Lampard have started at matches against Hull City, Aston Villa, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. At Everton Ramires and Mikel played whereas against Basel, van Ginkel and Lampard did. So there is Lampard, Ramires, van Ginkel, Mikel and Essien (very rarely) who need to work it out with each other to get the rhythm going.
Then comes the 3 player behind the attacker. This is where the creativity lies. There are a plethora of options for Chelsea in Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Willian, Schurrle, Oscar, De Bruyne. De Bruyne-Oscar-Hazard started against Hull, Mata-Oscar-Hazard start against Aston Villa, De Bruyne-Oscar-Hazard again at Manchester United, Schurrle-Oscar-Hazard against Bayern Munich, Schurrle-Mata-Hazard against Everton and Willian-Oscar-Hazard against Basel. Just look at the different options Mourinho has tried so far. The most creative side of the team was different in all the 6 games played so far.
To find the right combination of players and for players to adopt playing with different system every week will take time. Out of the 6 games played so far, Chelsea have scored 7 goals and 5 of them have come from the midfield position. Chelsea's result throughout the season will hugely depend on these 3 attacking midfield roles. Once Mourinho cracks the puzzle, Chelsea will start getting favourable and most importantly consistent results.
Attack: If played, Torres can make an impact on Chelsea's attack. Torres is the only striker to score a goal for Chelsea so far in their 6 games, though he's started only 2 games. He was phenomenal against Bayern Munich, unquestionable. Samuel Eto'o has started two games for his new club this season and he was wasteful against Everton and didn't quite make an impact against Basel. Will Eto'o adapt to the Premier League is another question only time can tell whereas Demba Ba is still searching for his shooting boots, which he probably left at St. James' Park. Torres, out of the 3, undoubtedly has more experience with the Chelsea squad and he can get the goals for Chelsea if he is in the playing 11; Eto'o can be used as a substitute for Torres until he adapts life in England and Ba can be used for League Cups and as a substitute at European stages so he can find his form back.
Chelsea fans must remain patient as it is just a matter of time for Mourinho to find the right mix for his cocktail and results will definitely follow.