Another victory for the blues, that’s now a perfect run of 4 wins out of 4 games in the EPL. First of all, I have to say I was surprised to see Ramires start the game ahead of Benayoun. I thought Carlo would surely have seen the Israeli as a more apt replacement for Lampard given his premier league experience and vision/creativity. I was even more surprised to see the Brazilian play the full game on his 2nd appearance only for Chelsea.
That says that Carlo really sees something in this kid. Now he surely has to work, especially on his positioning, both offensively and defensively, but I thought he looked lively. He looked better going forward than defending, as he showed pace and good dribbling skills.
I was very excited to see Kakuta on the field, though it was only for 15 mn or so. In that amount of time, he looked quicker than anybody else anytime he had the ball, and even got close to getting an assist for the night, with a superb through ball for Drogba. Unfortunately, the Ivorian failed to score. Kakuta’s quick passes and dribbling will be an asset Chelsea can hopefully capitalize on this season. I think he offers skills nobody else in the squad possesses at this point, except maybe for Josh Mc Eachran.
Now let’s talk about the game itself. I thought Chelsea were not brilliant, but I can’t complain or say that the team didn’t play well. This was an away game and the team seemed to pass the ball around after scoring 2 unanswered goals. They never pushed very hard for a 3rd; in fact Drogba seemed to spend more time passing the ball forward from deep position, and crossing corner kicks, than leading the attacking line. I think the reason why Chelsea were cautious on Saturday is the fact that they have 2 games coming up this week, with first an away CL game mid-week, followed by an EPL game over the weekend. Carlo wanted his players not to use too much energy unless they had to, and with an early 2-0 lead, no need to up the tempo as the team usually does.
Carlo has already talked about changing the lineup for the CL game in order to rest some players, and I think he will rest either Essien or Mikel in midfield, and play Ramires or Benayoun instead. I also think he will rest Terry and play Ivanovic and Alex as center backs. With Drogba suspended for the CL game, Kalou will probably get a start alongside Malouda and Anelka, and I would not be surprised to see Sturridge or Kakuta come in for one of the 2 at some point in the game.
Now I can’t talk about the West Ham game without mentioning Essien’s performance. The man was outstanding! not only because he scored 2 nice headers, but just because he was every where ! he was as efficient going forward as coming back down. Mikel’s job in central midfield allowed him to spend more time upfront, and play more freely. I thought up to this game we had not seen the real Essien back yet, but he certainly showed up on Saturday, and I just hope to see more of this from him throughout the season. With Mikel and Essien partnering up so well in midfield, Ramires will find it tough to break into the starting team. I’m still glad Carlo got him now though as come the end of the season he will have valuable EPL and Chelsea specific experience and will be a better player for the next season.