In light of the recent results a lot of people have been questioning the line ups that have been used by Jose Mourinho. Everyone has their own opinion so I thought it would be pretty cool to get everyone's ideas in one place for some polite debate and such. What I'm going to do is state a few assumptions we should take on board:
- All players are fit - people are talking about match fitness with Mata and sharpness with Eto'o, we will assume that the entire squad is fully fit.
- Form is important - let's assume that we are picking a team based on the results and performances from the first games of the season.
- Mourinho doesn't have a preferred team - we want to choose a team with which we want to build cohesion for the next 5 games - Fulham (H), Swindon (A), Spurs (A), Steaua (A), Norwich (A)
- Based on point 3, we don't want to experiment with new roles/positions, players should be playing in a roughly familiar position.
So I'll crack on.
- GK - Cech - standard
- RB - Azpilicueta - while I love Ivanovic, his style of play at RB is not conducive to the team as a whole, he doesn't make good decisions when running forward and often tries to play long passes and deep crosses against a deep defensive line to a small striker who isn't what he used to be. Azpilicueta is more likely to choose his runs more wisely, he has better close control around the opposition's area and is a better short passer of the ball.
- RCB - David Luiz - A fantastic passer of the ball and watching him read the game is often magnificent. He can defend proactively and start counter attacks better than most other defenders on the planet. While he can get caught out of position when we defend deep, a good pivot will cover for that.
- LCB - Ivanovic - I like Terry and think he has been very good so far this season, but the way I want to see the team means playing a high line and using pace to cover for any mistakes. We've all seen what happens when Terry plays in a high line. Also Ivanovic seems to be a bigger aerial threat from set pieces than JT these days, I saw someone quote a stat saying he has won 90% of set pieces directed towards him this season.
- LB - Bertrand - Cole was the best left back in the world arguably one of the best ever, no two ways about it. but he looks a little lost at times, lost a bit of fitness maybe, sloppy touch and passing, he's not right and I'm sure most would agree. So giving Ryan a shot surely can't hurt.
- RCM - Mikel - The most marmite footballer since Suarez. I'll confess I used to despise him until I started paying more attention. He makes interceptions and retains possession nearly all the time he needs to. His tackling could perhaps be better but his positioning is the perfect complement to Luiz's style of play at CB. While he is very good at what he does, you can definitely argue that he can be responsible for slowing down play on the counter attack, I'm not sure why this is because his passing range is phenomenal.
- LCM - Ramires - Possibly the most difficult position to decide given our current squad. But Rami would fit into the style of play I think we need. With a high line we would need to play a pressing game, the 5 second press is basically what Barcelona do, and it is the reason their tiki taka crap works. For anyone who doesn't know, basically when Barca lose the ball they smother the player who has the ball, working insanely hard to get it back, but only for 5 seconds, after which time they organise their ranks and wait until a mistake to start the cycle again. Using this system a deep passer is not as necessary as it is in our current set up, because the gap between the pivot and the band is much smaller, therefore much easier to play a quick pass to our creative players and launch a faster attack.
- RAM - Hazard
- CAM - Mata
- LAM - Willian - Our attacking band has the most combinations in infinity and while this is a good thing, it is difficult to develop a winning team with massive rotation. Mata is without a doubt our best AM and plays best in the centre, his start to the season hasn't been world-beating but my reasoning is that he needs a run of games with some consistent team selection. Hazard hasn't been fantastic lately but I think playing on the right means he won't be so tempted to cut inside every time he gets the ball, which reduces our width and slows down our build up play. Willian is one of the most experienced players at our disposal for this position and is pacey and direct. Any of the remaining three players could take up two spaces on the bench and come in if a tactical change or fresh legs is necessary at any point.
- ST - Torres - OH THE CONTROVERSY. On recent performances he has been the best of our striking options. Eto'o is not quite a right fit from what I've seen and probably needs a bit more time training with the team so he can develop some chemistry with our plethora of AMs.
So there we have it, this is basically just a way for me to vent after the Everton and Basel results. Comment any criticisms you might have and share what you think your line up would be and why.