Today I think we saw a glimpse of the new Chelsea, or at least one more step along that route. We have obviously set up to improve the speed at which we counter attack. In the past few years our change from defense to attack has been ponderous at best. There have been many fan complaints over those years about the treacle-like speed we have attacked. At times the opposition not only had time to get back and defend, but most probably had time for a quick cuppa.
Even with the supposedly more attacking Lampard in the double pivot, we have only occasionally broken with speed. The most notable exception being the tying goal against Barcelona last year. (And Lampard wasn't really playing that position.)
Cue today. I certainly was a little surprised when against Stoke we launched probably the lightest-weight band of three Chelsea have ever fielded. (And shocked there was no Terry against the Potter behemoths.) But lo and behold, with Ramires playing on the inside with Mikel, we created a ton of turnovers as Stoke came forward.
Oscar won several balls, as did Hazard and Mata. However, Ramires, who has come in for no little heat this year, playing more centrally, was a revelation. He was quick to the ball. Even when he jumped in a little soon, a la David Luis, he was able to get back and steal the ball.
We went from defense to attack with scarey quickness. Sometimes that was with a few one touch passes. Sometimes it was with a quick turn. And Ramires doing his little sprint into space was terrific. Even Mikel, the epitome of the slow build up, was moving with the flow. It was kind of funny to see him suddenly attacking in the box-he looked up and you could almost hear him think "What the heck am I doing her?", which gave Shawcross the time to get back.
I have heard several comments from varied sources about how this was not a good match to watch, but for this reason alone, I thoroughly enjoyed it (made better by the win).
Though I think if Torres had taken his chance in the first half we would have won in a run away, with the chances we were creating with the turnovers.
If this is indeed the next step in the Chelsea evolution, I am looking forward to it.