This is a new Chelsea team. A team that likes to have the ball, a team that doesn't particularly like a fight, managed by a guy who isn't interested in any fight his players may get into, almost the polar opposite of Chelsea's teams under Ancelotti and Mourinho. Chelsea need to try and find a style that allows the fancy football but also allows the team to possess the ability to bully their opponents out of a game.
When you think of Chelsea under Mourinho, Ancelotti and Hiddink, what words come to mind? Pace, aggression, power and more importantly trophies. Their teams were built on a solid spine of Cech, Terry, Lampard and Drogba which sadly isn't a luxury that Chelsea have anymore but around them you had players like Carvalho, Cole, Essien, Ballack, Makelele, and Alex. All very good footballers but they were all made of steel. There was a solid base for players like Robben, Duff, Cole, Malouda and Anelka to go do their thing. What happened to that solid base?
Benitez commented after the game that he did not see Suarez bite Ivanovic because he was focusing on the game. He bottled making a comment about it because he didn't want to upset the Liverpool board. He must have forgot that it is the Chelsea board who are currently paying his wages. Can you imagine Mourinho or Sir Alex Ferguson not making a comment on an incident like that? Mourinho would have been on a plane to London instantly and camped outside the FA headquarters until Suarez was punished. I miss having a manager who genuinely cares about this club.
On the pitch, things aren't much better. Mikel is solid but he is 'Mr Nice Guy', he hasn't got the same sort of bite that Essien and Ballack had, he isn't nasty enough. When teams have got Chelsea pinned in their own half and under immense pressure, can you picture Mikel being the one who gets the team out of there? Me neither. I'm not saying that Mikel isn't quality because I believe he is but I'd like to see him pressure the ref, stand up for his team mates and let people know that they aren't going to push him and the amigos around.
I know Ramires likes to put in the odd terrible tackle every now and again but he's too interested in running to focus on other aspects of the game. Lampard doesn't see enough game time in big matches these days to have an influence which is a shame because he wouldn't let people bully him and his team mates. If you can recall Barcelona away last year you'll remember him winding up Cesq and Messi all night which ended up with Messi getting all up in Lampard's face and then receiving a booking. He's like Cole, generally calm but won't back down when someone challenges him.
David Luiz impressed me during the Liverpool game. Whilst Carragher continuously embarrassed himself with the way he appealed for absolutely everything, Luiz rightly pointed out in an aggressive manner to the referee that Sturridge (who was annoying brilliant) had nearly just broken Bertrand's leg. He is a character but he's also a fighter, which is why he should have the captain's armband when Terry or Lampard aren't on the pitch. Cech has more experience but it's hard for a goalkeeper to put pressure on the ref which is something a captain has to do. If you watch Terry, he is in constant dialogue with the referee. He isn't disrespecting the referee, he just likes reminding him of everything that has happened and what he feels that the referee has got wrong so far. I feel sorry for referees who had to deal with Drogba, Ballack and Terry because they were all in constant dialogue with the referee.
Of course there are three very talented, young men who are hopefully the future at Chelsea who you wouldn't exactly put your money on in a fight. They are all little geniuses but they need to be surrounded by players who are going to protect them when the going gets tough. If someone is continuously kicking Mata then I want to see Luiz confronting that guy, they're a team and they should be looking out for each other.
The priority this summer should be reinforcing the spine of the team. Another centre back wouldn't be the worst thing in the word but the priority has to be reinforcing the central midfield area. Ideally, I'd like to see two midfielders come in, preferably Viktor Wanyama from Celtic and Kevin Strootman from PSV. Strootman is rumoured to be Manchester United bound so I doubt that would happen but I'd like to see a similar player come in. Wanyama is similar to Mikel but with a little more steel and bite in my opinion.
Whilst I enjoy seeing Mata, Hazard and Oscar flick the ball around and pass teams to death, I do not enjoy seeing teams kick them off the park. Everyone is going to hate Chelsea regardless of how we play or who is playing for us so adding a few players to the squad who are going to annoy opposition fans and stick up for our amigos sounds perfect to me.