Chelsea 7 – Villa 1, showing some heart at last.

Coming into this game I didn’t know what to expect. After the victory against Portsmouth in mid-week, I should have been confident, but I really wasn’t. The team has failed to show consistency in recent games, and after all just about any team in this league could beat Portsmouth right now. Villa is a much bigger piece and it was crucial to get not only a win against them, but also play well, to boost the squad’s confidence ahead of the trip to Manchester next week. The team aligned by Carlo just held one surprise: Drogba on the bench, and Anelka leading the attack. That was a bit of a gamble especially against a strong team like Villa, but I can understand the reasons behind this gamble. First, Ancelotti wanted to rest Drogba ahead of next week’s clash, and second, he wanted to see if Anelka could recapture his goal scoring form if given the chance to play as the main striker. No matter how well Anelka played, (and he did play well) he has to be disappointed not to get on the scoring sheet when the team managed to put 7 goals in. I’ve been saying this all along, Anelka needs to play as a support striker behind Drogba in a 4-4-2 system; that is what suits him best to either create chances for Drogba or score occasionally. They complement each other and can both play as out an out strikers like Milito and Etoo at Inter. If we maintain the current 4-3-3 formation, he needs to be dropped to the bench for Cole or Kalou to play out wide on the right. The good news of the day were Frank Lampard’s and Malouda’s form. Aside from scoring goals, Frank looked very comfortable organizing our attacking moves. He was the brain behind our attack, combining well with Malouda’s trickery and pace to make things happen. The worry here once again is that our attack looks very one-sided. Everything comes from the left flank, because Lamps and Malouda are both roaming that left flank most of the time. With Joe Cole and Kalou being inconsistent, there is no real threat coming from the right wing. You can be sure that Sir Alex will look for ways to occupy Malouda on the left and mark Lampard closely, so we will need either one of our right flank players to step up to surprise Man U. For that game, Carlo should stick with the 4-3-3, playing Malouda-Drogba-Cole in front. Cole has shown glimpses of form here and there, and is the closest we got for a right winger right now. He should start the game with the option to sub him for Anelka and adapt to a 4-4-2 formation with Anelka playing behind Drogba. I have to say with what he’s shown lately, Malouda is the one I’m looking at to create opportunities next week. Lampard will probably tasked with more defensive duties than against Villa, so Malouda should get the freedom to really focus on playing attacking and provocative football.

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