So far this season, we have seen a new Chelsea in the making. The team has been a work-in-progress, focusing on implementing new ideas and tactics brought in by AVB. Those ideas are mainly playing possession game with high pressure up the filed, and passing the ball at high tempo. AVB also believes in vertical play, which calls for players to pass the ball in a direct and vertical way along the field. The best illustration for this change is David Luiz, who frequently bypasses the midfield players by carrying the ball out of defense and playing it straight out to the attackers. These have been some of AVB’s main ideas, and they have resulted in a more fluid offensive display from Chelsea. However, they have also resulted in much poorer defensive performances.
After this weekend’s loss to Arsenal at the Bridge, some are already talking about the failure of his “philosophy”. Though I’m as disappointed by the weekend’s results as any other Blues fan, I still strongly believe in AVB’s model. His philosophy can be implemented successfully; in fact, he didn’t invent it, he learned it from the Barcelona school. Barcelona is able to implement those ideas better than any other team in the world, and that’s because of the following two main reasons: they have the personnel, and they have engrained those ideas in the club’s DNA.
All of Barcelona’s players are good ball handlers, at ease in possession, versatile on the field, and have great passing abilities. These are the skills that the new Chelsea players need to possess. In addition, all of Barcelona’s players have been trained with the same mentality over the years. From the academy, all the way to the first team, players are taught the same principles and learn football the same way. Once they put on the Barcelona first team shirt, they only know one way of playing football.
AVB’s project is ambitious, but feasible. To be successful, he will need two things: number one: players who fit his model, and number two: time. The first piece to the puzzle so far was a masterstroke: Juan Mata. Mata has brought the flair the Bridge has been craving for all these years, and for AVB to succeed in a short period of time, he needs additional players made from the same cloth. One player that would help Chelsea achieve this goal in a minimum amount of time is Stevan Jovetic. The youngster plying his trade for Fiorentina in the Calcio has flair, amazing playmaking abilities and an eye for goal. Moreover, he is versatile enough to play any advanced position in midfield, as well as further up on the wings or as a second striker. He was even recently deployed as the lone striker for Fiorentina against Juventus. A bid for him in January would take Chelsea closer to AVB’s vision.
Though Chelsea’s defense has been an area of concern, I don’t think it necessarily requires a change in personel. As mentioned before, it will take time for the players to better implement the new coach’s ideas, and this will be done by sticking with David Luiz alongside either John Terry, Ivanovic or Alex. Indeed, despite his impetuous character, David Luiz is best suited for the high defensive line Chelsea is playing this year. Playing regularly will help him sort out his decision-making and shake out the bugs out of his defensive play.
In conclusion, I’m still overall upbeat about Chelsea’s performances so far this season, and confident that the results will only follow, as the players get more an more familiar with their new roles.
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