Rafa Benitez’s appointment at Chelsea failed to inspire them to a victory against the champions, with the home crowd letting their new manager know how little they thought of him throughout.
What are the main points for Chelsea fans to take from the match?
Benitez may or may not have been brought in especially to try and ignite Torres’ Chelsea career, but if he has, it’s looking like it will be a particularly tricky job. Torres looked the same clumsy striker he has been under previous Chelsea managers, and is the major factor in Chelsea’s poor attacking returns in recent games. If Benitez is going to turn Torres around, it has to be done quickly, as they can’t afford to carry him in the side.
Torres’ lack of confidence seems to be spreading to the rest of the Chelsea side, with their trio of exceptional attacking midfielders lacking zip in the final third. Juan Mata’s fantastic form has dropped off considerably as he has been rotated in and out of the team to give him a rest, and Chelsea are heavily reliant on the brilliant Spaniard being at his best. Hazard’s form has dipped too, and with Chelsea taking a more defensive approach to recent games, their attack suddenly looks disjointed from the rest of the side.
Whilst they were mostly dominated in terms of possession and territory by Manchester City, Chelsea did not look particularly troubled at the back. Moving Ivanovic next to Luiz allowed them to field their best four available defenders, and they were far more solid as a result. Azpilicueta looks a great signing, and with Ivanovic impressive in the centre, this seems the best set up for Chelsea in Terry’s absence.
One man who looked more assured in Chelsea’s defence was David Luiz, who was more composed and emphasised the qualities he brings to the side. Not only can Luiz play the ball out of defence, he is probably Chelsea most accomplished central defender when facing fast, technical players like Silva and Aguero, who Ivanovic sometimes struggled with.
John Obi Mikel
Mikel carried out his defensive duties well on Sunday, but restricted himself to a very meek passing game. This would be fine if Mikel was an out and out midfield destroyer, but he should be a better player than that. Rather than slowing down Chelsea’s breaks with ponderous passing he should be a vital link between the likes of Mata and the defence, and he can do this without sacrificing his defensive duties by playing longer passes. Instead Mata and the other attacking midfielders had to come deep to receive the ball from Mikel, and were then too far from goal to be a real threat.
image: © Ben Sutherland