Grinding Out Wins
There was nothing sexy about Chelsea’s last two wins, but those ugly wins are what championships are made of. The Chels grinded out two hard earned wins against Middlesbrough and Tottenham. It is safe to say that our starting 11 is set in stone. Even John Terry admits that his starting position was lost and that his absence in the starting line-up is actually a good thing because it shows his teammates are winning matches. Lack of European football may be a positive thing for Chelsea this season. It has given Conte more time to have the squad home at Cobham preparing weekly for our fixtures. It has given Antonio Conte time to implement his system and his philosophies because the team doesn’t have to travel midweek for European Football.
As solid as Chelsea have been, our squad lacks depth in key positions. There is nobody currently on our roster that could slide seamlessly into Marcos Alonso’s position. We do not have another left-footed player that has the ability to contribute offensively as well as defensively the way Marcos does. What really pisses me off is Kenedy has the skill set to thrive in this position. Could you imagine having Kenedy on the left and Moses on the right? That is just downright scary. Kenedy has a bright future, and he hasn’t been given a proper look at Watford – it’s a shame. Then we have Nathan Aké (also out on loan) who could play left-wingback in a pinch providing us with further cover. As a fan, I am concerned that a loss of form or injury to either Alonso or Moses could derail our title hopes.
Victor Moses is an inspiration, seriously. After hearing his story about moving to England to seek asylum I became a fan. Then, every summer Moses would show up with the right attitude and dominate the preseason year after year before being exiled back out on loan. The wingbacks need to be able to provide defensive cover at the far post and like Moses’s goal against Tottenham, they need to cover the far post offensively in case a cross leaks through; they literally play up and down the entire side-line. If Moses misses time with injury or suspension, our only seemingly viable option is Ola Aina – the twenty-year-old youth product. Aina looks more than capable, but he is still raw and needs development. I think Willian would be serviceable as a rotational wingback. Pedro has stolen Willian’s starting spot in the front 3, but Willian has the endurance, power, stamina, speed, and positional awareness to play wingback. He also was praised highly for his defensive capabilities last season in Mourinho’s system. Luckily, we don’t need to rotate the squad as often as normal due to our lack of Cup and European football. In the circumstance that Moses misses time, I think we should look to Willian.
David Luiz now sits on his fourth yellow card – his next one will result in a suspension. I think that a suspension is what will inevitably break our running string of playing the same starting 11. Diego Costa has been a saint; we have had him pegged for suspension since September. I wonder if Conte is making Diego go to church with him, or what? Because he seems born again. With John Terry’s injury and David Luiz flirting with a suspension, maybe we will finally get to see the long awaited return of Kurt Zouma. I am beyond excited to see how we stack up against Manchester City; this match should set the tone for our title run.