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Having won just two of their last seven fixtures, Chelsea are heading towards the gloom they never expected following a successful closure to the preceding season. Luckily for the Blues, there is still time to make amends and get right back on track.
The FA Cup titleholders have a Fourth Round replay against Brentford. They are also targeting glory in the UEFA Europa League. The prospect of clinching the double seems realistic but there are five things Chelsea must do to rejuvenate their currently stressful season.
A fit and firing Fernando Torres is more than enough to destruct stabilized defences on regular basis, this is proven by his record at former clubs Atletico Madrid and Liverpool. “El Nino” has probably been suffering from a lack of confidence ushered by a poor goal scoring record since he joined Chelsea. In Rafa, the Blues have a man who introduced Torres to English football.
If Chelsea are to get back on track, it is very important that Rafa inspires Torres to find his scoring boots. Another option is to bench the £50M striker as long as he remains incapable and construct the attack around Demba Ba. That could push the Senegalese further into the spotlight and Chelsea further towards glory.
Chelsea do not seem to be having a proper squad capable of playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, yet they seem to be persistent to make it work. Of late it has been seen that the two central midfielders (Lampard and Ramires) are left isolated in the middle of the park.
It therefore looks essential to add another body there. Frank Lampard deployed as a defensive midfielder has not been beneficial for the team on the whole. Having played in a more advanced position all his life, the Chelsea veteran who is currently in fine scoring form prefers to play higher up the pitch and is often caught in between the striker and the attacking midfielder looking for goals.
Meanwhile, his role in the current side is to play a little deeper, maintain possession and spray around passes. It might thus be more beneficial for Chelsea to switch to a 4-3-3 approach, or perhaps return to their famous diamond tactic.
Rafa is widely known for his rotation policy. While it is important to rest star players to protect them, it is equally essential to carry on the winning mentality. Some of Rafa’s decisions have been shocking, to say the least. The most recent example came in their tie against Newcastle, where Benitez dropped the inform Azpilicueta in favour of Ivanovic who has been jittery at the back. It is important for the ex-Liverpool and Internazionale manager to identify the 11 best players in his side and stick with them.
Two clean sheets in his first two matches at Chelsea seemed to signal that Rafa had brought defensive stability back to the club. However 10 goals conceded in the last six games is a statistic showing that many changes must be made to improve the team’s backline. Chelsea have defenders blooming with quality. However, they do lack in organization and more so in consistency. For the FA Cup and UEFA Europa League contenders to get back on track, it is very important that the defensive leaks are fixed.
The Chelsea squad has been surrounded by all sorts of drama, starting from captain John Terry’s racial abuse incident, John Obi Mikel’s condemnation of referee Mark Clattenburg as a ‘racist’, and the most recent one involving Eden Hazard and the ball boy. This has been amid to reports of unrest in the Chelsea dressing room. It is very important that steps are taken to ensure that the players do not forget their due responsibilities and direct their efforts towards football only.
The season is not over yet. Roberto Di Matteo miraculously turned things around between March and May. Can his successor, Rafael Benitez, do the same this term?