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Looking at Problems Elsewhere


Jase

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We headed into the 2012/13 season with plenty of renewed optimism and vigour after gloriously winning a famous cup double of the FA Cup and Champions League last season. This was not just fuelled by the success of finally claiming the Champions League and becoming the ‘Champions of Europe’ but also with the purchase of exciting upcoming talents with flair and creativity in the likes of Hazard, Oscar as well as a few others to befriend Mata in a bid to play an expansive style of football at Stamford Bridge. However as the season progressed, many on and off the pitch problems occurred that has derailed our season ranging from the managerial upheaval to poor performances on the field leading to one trophy after another being surrendered meekly. Much has been written and discussed about the obvious problems such as the change in manager from RDM to Benitez, players’ performances, challenge for a Top 4 finish and all that but in here, I will be looking at some of the perhaps less talk issues this season that has caused us problems and ones that we can improve on.

Lack of Pressure on Opposition
We have leaked in many goals this season as a result of individual errors and poor team defensive organization but arguably, one of the most annoying ‘leakage’ this term has been goals conceded from crosses. Letting in goals from crosses is nothing new but it becomes incredibly frustrating when we keep on repeating the same mistakes over and over again and allowing those to go in. This has boiled down to the fact that we are being passive with our defending and not putting pressure on the player crossing the ball. In turn over or counter attacking situations, it is understandable if we cannot press the crosser especially if the opposition work themselves into a ‘2 v 1’ scenario. The issue here is when we get back into our defensive team shape, which is two banks of four in Benitez’s 4-2-3-1 formation, we still fail to pressurize the crosser. The opposition player is usually being given far too much time and space to put in a pinpoint cross for their striker to score and numerous goals have been conceded by us as a result of it this season. Take for example Rickie Lambert’s goal at the Bridge. Nathaniel Clyne, who assisted the goal, got to the byline on the right hand side and had Cole to deal with but yet the latter backed off and did not close Clyne despite Lampard being on Cole’s right hand side to cover should the Southampton player cuts inside. And with the obvious lack of pressure, Clyne was allowed to cross the ball easily for Lambert to score. A more recent example would be Aguero’s goal in the FA Cup Semi Final. Manchester City worked themselves into a decent position on our left hand side and they then passed the ball to an incoming Barry. Again, there was no pressure on the Englishman and he was given time and space to get onto his stronger foot to whip in a cross for his striker to score a simple goal.

This issue is also not helped when we have a right back who has become incompetent in defending crosses mainly Ivanovic. Not saying that all the goals we have conceded from crosses have been his fault but it is not beneficial to us if our full back cannot defend them properly. In Ivanovic’s case, his defending has become so passive over the last 1-2 years that he is now constantly backing off the opposition’s wide player and allowing easy crosses to be put in. One of his major mistakes would be Giggs’s cross for Hernandez in the 3-3 home draw against Manchester United in the Premier League last season. Rather than being aggressive as he once was and close down Giggs, he just stood off him and watch the ball went past him only to then see it entering the net. That being said, our centre backs are nowhere innocent in this problem either. When a cross does come into the box, they have not dealt it very well due to a loss concentration, poor positioning or just not bothering to defend at all and there have been several examples on this. Cahill gave away a yard on Pogrebnyak and was not close enough to pressurize him from scoring the equalizer then for Reading at the Bridge back in August. Then, there is also Terry’s mistake in allowing himself to be beaten so easily at the far post by Gutierrez in the away game against Newcastle. Terry dropped a tad too deep that when the cross was whipped in, Gutierrez had the space in front to run and attack the ball that put Newcastle 1-0 up before half time. Another scenario would be the Aguero’s goal(again!). The Argentinian was moving in front of Ivanovic just before the cross came in and when it did, the Serbian was caught ball watching and allowed Aguero to ghost past and went behind him to score an easy header.

It is impossible to prevent every single crosses from coming into the box but we have failed to do is pressurizing the crosser, not giving him time and space to whip in a cross thereby reducing the accuracy as well as the chance to pick out his striker. There is a need to be aggressive and proactive in defending these situations and not letting cheap goals in. If the opposition is going to score against us, then make them work as hard as possible to get the goal(s) so that we do not always have a mountain to climb in games after conceding soft goals like that.

Attacking Play from Pivot
Defensively, the pivot has been widely criticized for many reasons this season which will not be touched on to avoid making this sound like a broken record piece. Another aspect of the pivot that is sorely lacking is having a deep lying playmaker as one of the two midfielders there to dictate the tempo, play and control the game. Ever since the likes of Ballack and Deco left the club in 2010, we have lacked a central playmaker to ensure that matches are under our control more often than not. Carlo Ancelotti once tried to bring Pirlo in specifically to play that role but it did not happen. Right now, Lampard is the closest thing we have to a deep lying playmaker and even though he is capable of playing incisive passes from deep to front like those over-the-top defence ball, he is not an out-and-out playmaker. As a result of this, our offensive play has suffered despite the presence of Mata, Oscar and Hazard in front of the pivot. There is no one capable of seating deep and play in those quick direct splitting-defence passes when needed and instead, we have been forced to play it short too often to the trio mentioned, slowing down our tempo in the process and allow the opposition to park the bus making it very difficult to break them down. Despite having the players capable of playing quick 1-2s and in tight areas, it would be extremely helpful to have a reliable passer from midfield and not just rely on the creative trio in front. Having a deep lying playmaker would also allow our forward attacking players more space to operate and do damage because the opposition is likely to come out a bit more to press the playmaker and prevent him from controlling the game totally like how Paul Scholes and even Xabi Alonso work for their respective clubs.

Moreover without a deep lying playmaker, we are not fully exploiting the abilities of the wide players available at our disposal mainly Hazard and Moses. Both of them have very good dribbling skills and not afraid to take on their defenders but if we want to see them causing as much damage as possible, then we definitely need to have a playmaker capable of playing in long diagonal passes to these players. The likes of Hazard and Moses need to be played in more often and quicker in wide areas so that they can get into 1 v 1 situation, beat their defender and provide more attacking threat as well as creating further chances for the team. We have already seen what Hazard and Moses are capable of when they get into the said situation with space to take the defenders on. Both of them have won us many penalties this season especially in the case of Hazard, created goals and scored some spectacular goals as well. Instead, those moments have been sporadic mainly because our tempo are usually not quick and high enough and when those said players are played, the opposition is already parking the bus and they have to take on 3-4 players, rather than just 1, which the attacks usually result in nothing.

Lack of Attacking Runs in Final Third
This might not be a major issue but it is definitely one we can still improve on. As mentioned previously, we have the players capable of playing 1-2s and operating in tight areas but generally, there is not enough players that get themselves into attacking positions to be available for a pass in a more threatening position as opposed to just sitting deep to receive a pass. At the moment, we just seem to have lots of players wanting to get on the ball but not enough making threatening runs into the opposition penalty box. We are playing a lot in front of the oppposition by knocking the ball about and it normally need some sort of magic from the likes of Mata and Hazard to actually create something. The only ones that usually make those runs are actually our strikers but not others when they are capable to. Maybe one could point to Benitez’s rigid setup where he wants the players to stick in their respective position and do the damage from there as we did see more of these attacking/threatening runs in the free flowing style that RDM tried to implement early on this season. In spite of that, with the players we have got, they should be allowed or need to make more of these sort of runs to pose even more threat to the opposition. There is no doubt our attacking players’ goal and assist return have been good this season but with more attacking/threatening runs into the opposition penalty box, it could be even more impressive.

What do you think about the problems mentioned and discussed above? Agree or disagree? What are some of the other on the pitch issues that we can improve on but has not been talked much?

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We're to pussy to press and whenever we press, the opposite team easily plays a long pass that'd usually end up in a goal or a corner.

Our Pivot shit is a bigger lie than the whole 9/11 hoax, There's not a single match, when they have defended properly nor a match they have helped in building up attacking moves.

Oh and We make a lot of runs, believe me a lot of runs, but the problem is no one try to pick them up.

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Last point is the best. This is quite annoying, no one tries to run in behind or do anything different, just passing at the edge of the box. This is why Schurrle would be different, because not only does he take pretty decent long shots, but i've seen him staying out wide waiting for a ball to run onto in behind.

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Oh and We make a lot of runs, believe me a lot of runs, but the problem is no one try to pick them up.

Disagree with that. More often than not, especially under Benitez, we don't have enough players getting into the box whenever we move into the attacking third. For example, when we have Azpi or Bertrand/Cole down the flank and wanting to put in a cross, it's usually only Torres/Ba in there and maybe 1-2 other players. You are not going to trouble the opposition that much if you are not committed in attack. Also, we are guilty of overpassing it in front of the opposition's defence because no tries to break beyond their defence to make themselves available for a defence splitting pass. Just look at the Fulham game for example, up till the Luiz's goal, we actually don't even look like scoring because we were just passing around and in front of Fulham. Moses and Hazard were stationed out wide to receive but neither tried to get into attacking/threatening positions when the likes of Mata, Lampard etc are on the ball.

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Disagree with that. More often than not, especially under Benitez, we don't have enough players getting into the box whenever we move into the attacking third. For example, when we have Azpi or Bertrand/Cole down the flank and wanting to put in a cross, it's usually only Torres/Ba in there and maybe 1-2 other players. You are not going to trouble the opposition that much if you are not committed in attack. Also, we are guilty of overpassing it in front of the opposition's defence because no tries to break beyond their defence to make themselves available for a defence splitting pass. Just look at the Fulham game for example, up till the Luiz's goal, we actually don't even look like scoring because we were just passing around and in front of Fulham. Moses and Hazard were stationed out wide to receive but neither tried to get into attacking/threatening positions when the likes of Mata, Lampard etc are on the ball.

Oh that, merr it was too long lol. I thought it was about general runs, not the runs in the box. Apologies mate (:

and you're totally right, it's surprising what our coaches and staff have been doing lol. I've seen Rafa making up notes, I don't know if he ever work on them.

Oh and that lack of runs in the box might change, if we get a proper DLP. It would take off the burden from Mata and Hazard, and they could involve more in the box.

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One thing I'd like to add to the last part, it not just the 'runs' in particular. The movement, in general, of our forwards is just pathetic. It has improved under Rafa; you now constantly see overlapping runs by the full backs and proper runs on the counter. In fact, against Fulham, I though the whole movement of the team was pretty good. But we still need to work A LOT on this aspect. We need to see in every attack movement by the front four that would put them in enough space to receive the ball. We're very far from that, atm.

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One thing I'd like to add to the last part, it not just the 'runs' in particular. The movement, in general, of our forwards is just pathetic. It has improved under Rafa; you now constantly see overlapping runs by the full backs and proper runs on the counter. In fact, against Fulham, I though the whole movement of the team was pretty good. But we still need to work A LOT on this aspect. We need to see in every attack movement by the front four that would put them in enough space to receive the ball. We're very far from that, atm.

Aren't runs basically movements? :P

Perhaps movement would have been a better description of it but understand what you mean. Sometimes they are too static that it's just mind boggling given they can do better!

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Aren't runs basically movements? :P

Perhaps movement would have been a better description of it but understand what you mean. Sometimes they are too static that it's just mind boggling given they can do better!

Absolutely no-one attacks the ball when it's put into the box now. Compare that to Carlo's team where Malouda, Anelka, Lampard, Drogba would be flying in to the box to convert chances. Lack of cutting edge is painfully evident

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If there is any need to reinforce the first point I made, you only have to look at the 2nd goal conceded today. We had 3 players on Sturridge and yet there was no pressure whatsoever on him. We just stood there and watched him crossed with his left foot(his strongest foot FFS!) to Suarez who wasn't even marked by Ivanovic! He was in front of Ivanovic FFS!! :rant:

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Cech is a problem. Doesn't mean he has to go, but he is a problem.

You know that attack which Liverpool built up at the end, leading to their 2nd goal? Cech had kicked it up to the invisible Drogba, it went out for a throw, then they applied pressure from there.

Why can't he just pass it to Luiz and build patiently from the back to wind the clock down I do not know. Why he insists on giving the opposition the ball back every game I do not know (Maybe he's just a nice guy?). Why this hasn't been addressed yet I do not know.

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Cech is a problem. Doesn't mean he has to go, but he is a problem.

You know that attack which Liverpool built up at the end, leading to their 2nd goal? Cech had kicked it up to the invisible Drogba, it went out for a throw, then they applied pressure from there.

Why can't he just pass it to Luiz and build patiently from the back to wind the clock down I do not know. Why he insists on giving the opposition the ball back every game I do not know (Maybe he's just a nice guy?). Why this hasn't been addressed yet I do not know.

Nooooo !

Of course - in hindsight - a pass to Luiz looks better. But the root cause is really the lack of marking and pressure, also from the pivot. There will always be long hoofs and bad attempts - but the issue is the defensive responsibilities. they are basic and are NOT fulfilled. We have 'hubris' as a red line through our season after winning the CL.

The other teams keep playing, so should we.

Ps: An illogical asshole like Rafa doesn't help.

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Nooooo !

Of course - in hindsight - a pass to Luiz looks better. But the root cause is really the lack of marking and pressure, also from the pivot. There will always be long hoofs and bad attempts - but the issue is the defensive responsibilities. they are basic and are NOT fulfilled. We have 'hubris' as a red line through our season after winning the CL.

The other teams keep playing, so should we.

Ps: An illogical asshole like Rafa doesn't help.

@Leif, even if Cech had passed it to Luiz or Ivanovic, they'll probably just lumped it forward aimlessly and give back possession to Liverpool. And as Stingray has mentioned, it's nothing to do with Cech. We are just not being ruthless and streetwise enough when it comes to defending these days.

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Cech is a problem. Doesn't mean he has to go, but he is a problem.

You know that attack which Liverpool built up at the end, leading to their 2nd goal? Cech had kicked it up to the invisible Drogba, it went out for a throw, then they applied pressure from there.

Why can't he just pass it to Luiz and build patiently from the back to wind the clock down I do not know. Why he insists on giving the opposition the ball back every game I do not know (Maybe he's just a nice guy?). Why this hasn't been addressed yet I do not know.

CECH PUNTS....

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