Last seasons victory at Old Trafford was the turning point, Chelsea went to Manchester at a similar time of the season and victory was arguably the difference in finishing the season as Champions. Double-winning Champions.
This Premier League season, however, has been very bizarre to say the least. Chelsea are currently on course to reach the lowest amount of total points gained since Roman Abramovich took over in 2003 and Manchester United have really struggled away from home. Proven by the fact they have won more Champion League games than away games this season, quite an achievement.
Arsenal haven’t invested enough in their squad, a shock defeat to Birmingham in the League Cup final really knocked them and their best chance to win the title for a considerate amount of seasons has all but vanished.
After the first six games of the Premier League season, Chelsea were breath-taking and started the season like they finished the previous. However, a turbulent few months which began with a 1-0 defeat against Manchester City led Chelsea to a mid-season breakdown including defeats to Birmingham, Wolves and most unforgettably Sunderland.
Not only that but failing to score in all three of these games signalled that something wasn’t quite right. Drogba, Malouda and Anelka couldn’t find a goal between them and with Lampard’s injury and subsequent lack of fitness the end of 2010 couldn’t have come quick enough.
Then the change of the year saw a revival for Chelsea. Although it started slowly the signing of Fernando Torres and, in particular, David Luiz was a major factor in Chelsea’s recent resurgence. Luiz’s goals contributed to the wins at home to both Manchester clubs and at a time that many people thought Chelsea weren’t even going to reach a Champions league spot. How things have changed.
Many would believe the signing of Luiz was pinnacle; he’s not only a quality footballer who has impressed the whole division, he is an absolute character (http://yhoo.it/h8hKtP – recent interview). Members of the dressing room admit the atmosphere has freshened up and has helped take the pressure off even the strongest of characters, such as John Terry and Frank Lampard. When Terry claims Luiz will be a future Chelsea captain, it shows the amount of respect the whole team has for him.
It can also be argued that the signing of Torres has significantly benefited the squad, not with necessary what the blues expected though. When Chelsea’s strike force was struggling to score goals, variation was needed. There were many shouts from Chelsea fans to give Sturridge three or four starts to prove his worth.
Instead, with pressure from the hierarchy at Stamford Bridge, Fernando Torres, a long-term target of Abramovich’s, was bought for a British record transfer fee of £50m. Some say this heaped pressure onto Torres after struggling to find his form for the previous 18 months and his price tag wouldn’t help. In fact, it’s helped Chelsea as a team and in particular the ever maturing Didier Drogba.
Drogba’s form had tailed off, yet he’d started every game. Apart from his spectacular goal against Bolton Chelsea hadn’t seen half the player they had last season. Being 33 and defeating the bout of Malaria he recently had, could his body physically take the strain of leading the line week in week out? Questions were raised.
At first the Torres signing will have startled Drogba but now provides him a much needed rest. Now Chelsea can boast an incredible squad of strikers and in turn competition for places which, if managed correctly, will only improve Chelsea as team. But there are still unanswered questions; `can Drogba and Torres play together?’ and if not, `can one sit on the bench whilst the other plays?’. Debates are welcomed.
This Sunday is sure to bring a lot of nerves, tension yet excitement. The Champions were written off two months ago by many people, including most realistic Chelsea fans, but the belief is still within the camp and that’s what counts. Carlo needs to picks a team suitable of winning at Old Trafford with the right balance.
It’s not a time to see if Drogba and Torres can play together, it’s time to play a TEAM that will connect and if that means leaving Torres out then so be it. Although I’m sure he will finally want to win a domestic title after so many years of disappointment at Liverpool.