I can’t really fault a lot of performances today except perhaps for Torres. Some weren’t particularly exceptional, like Ramires or Ivanovic. But they were still decent enough. Mikel was outstanding . Though, part of it was perhaps to prove a point. It was nice to see him playing higher up the pitch at times. He exhibited some good touches like he always does, played a delightful through ball once, even took a shot at goal. I know some may disagree, but, except for the Juventus game he has been fantastic this season. I don’t even blame him much for giving away the ball against the Italian side. It happens. Their counter started close to the half way line. But I do feel he should’ve pressed to win the ball back. But we as a team just stood our ground.
Torres often divides opinions in the most extreme way.. For me, he has been disappointing. I’d go on to say that apart from a goal against Newcastle and one against city where he showed his strikers instincts, he has been rather poor overall. He gives the ball away too much, trying to do the fancy stuff he really can’t do anymore.. He tries to run his way out of a crowd sometimes- twisting and turning in his attempts to do so. Torres had some excellent games for us last season, even when he did not score for us. It appears now that he has been told he is free to look for goals and leave the creating bit for others. Perhaps why the increased tendency to take on a crowd . He sure won us a penalty against the Toon this way, but people chose to ignore the countless times he gave the ball away; often looking extremely silly while doing it.
Something else we learned, Hazard is best when played next to Mata . They have a great one-two going for them. So, when Oscar comes in at the central role it leaves Hazard and Mata at opposite flanks sometimes, making Eden less effective than he was in the first few games . Our system is lot more fluid with interchanging of positions and all. But if we can, Mata and Hazard should mostly be next to each other in the field.
Also, Ramires is so much better at the center. Yes, a rather obvious statement. Doesn't make it less true, even at the pivot. But if he has to play out wide, same comments apply as Torres. He tries to dribble his way out and loses the ball; make him do the simple thing Robbie- a short pass to a near by player and then make a run for the return pass. Pass and Move Rami. While I’m at it , I’d say that there aren’t a lot of players who make themselves available for the pass when Ramires is crowded out on the right side. These are simple things. But I can't even begin to count the number of times he has lost the ball this way, partly because there was no better option . No one to receive the ball . When you play out wide, there isn't much you can do when crowded ; either beat the man or pass it inwards and unlike in center , you only have one direction to. When the opposition narrows your passing options , it is important one of the pivot players makes himself available for the pass.
Oscar would thrive at the central mid (attack) role of a 4-3-3. That statement stands by itself.
All things considered, why not put Eden as the false nine of a 4-3-3. Now, this suggestion has come up few times. And of course, partly why we did not sign a third striker. A 4-3-3, with Sturridge or Moses at one flank, Mata at the other. As Hazard drops deeper to receive the ball, it sort of switches to a 4-3-1-2. I’m not fully convinced on Mata as a left forward, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. In some scenarios, when mata drifts to the center, Hazard can move into wide channels at left . Besides, with cole giving width, even a slightly assymetric system might work. I have a vague feeling this would be our fall-back plan for the season; when the misfiring spaniard is dropped , or simply for the matches when he is rested. But as an observer with no( erm minimum) prejudice , I feel its time sturridge is given his rightful chance and Torres benched. I have always wanted Torres to succeed , still do. But it is just difficult to understand why sturridge hasn't had more gametime this season. It is important to note that Torres hasn't been rested so far this season. Perhaps he would benefit from some. Still the point stands, sturridge brings more to the table, link-up play wise or goal scoring wise.
I dont want to look like a line-up geek; because at the end, its the coach who decides and doesn’t matter what I yell from here. But here is how the attack might look like
It sort of accomodates sturridge as a right central forward when the wide forwards converge. Most importantly, Hazard and Mata can play next to each other. Oscar and ramires are still centrally played. Ramires is a box-to-box runner as he should. Sturridge can sneak into more central areas with Hazard and Mata gathering most of the attention from opposition defense. Moses , Sturridge and Marin have the innate tendency to cut in and shoot . It all sort of works out well. Half the sides in the league would now play against us like stoke did; 'Welcome to the Barcelona condition', might as well copy their system.