If Chelsea spent the start of the transfer window looking to acquire the most talented of attacking midfielders in Eden Hazard and Oscar, the Blues have certainly changed their tune in less than 24 hours by added some very valuable yet inexpensive players to the squad. Looking to defend their FA Cup, European Champions League titles and add the Premier League to it, the Blues have gone bold with picks intended to shake up the status quo in the side. On that famously weak right side of theirs.
The Blues’ crowded midfield is likely to leave a vast portion of Chelsea’s burgeoning midfield ranks fighting for scraps. That level of competition should spur Chelsea’s more complacent stars into pulling their socks. At some point, any grumbling in the dressing room notwithstanding, di Matteo must have figured it was just what the defensive and offensive ranks needed. An injection of good ol’ fashioned looking over your shoulder to see who’s angling to take your position on the right – Chelsea’s no man’s land.
Chelsea’s right has always been a poor cousin to the star-studded left, at every position – with Bosingwa who never truly matched Ashley Cole’s heroics, Ferreira only a bit-part player, Ivanovic more comfortable in the center, Sturridge and Anelka both hankering to play up front and Essien’s days on the right side of midfield a thing of the past. The only saving grace on the right in recent times has been Ramires, and Chelsea have finally woken up to the realization that he could do with some assistance.
Cesar “Azpi” Azpilicueta, who made his entry into the big leagues with three productive seasons at Osasuna before moving to Marseille where he suffered a devastating injury to the anterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee, is arguably the right man for Chelsea’s defense. Having let the defensively suspect Jose Bosingwa leave in the summer, the Blues decided Ivanovic and Ferreira weren’t exactly the horses to bet on in a busy season.
If you’re feeling especially generous, David Luiz could stand in on the right even if that is likely to give supporters a few anxious moments. While Ferreira has to struggle to make the substitutes’ bench, Ivanovic has been reliable and a sturdy rook at the back. The Serb has also added to his attacking repertoire with several well-fashioned goals. None of this takes away from the fact Ivanovic is primarily a central defender, who does his best work guarding Petr Cech at the posts.
With John Terry and Gary Cahill looking unusually generous in front of goal, Ivanovic’s no nonsense attitude might come in handy sooner than later. Roberto di Matteo couldn’t have gone with a better pick than Cesar Azpilicueta in trying to shore up the right back spot. He’s young, defensively sound, has a talent for moving forward that can only get better with Chelsea’s license to bomb forward. And with Ramires, Sturridge and a certain same-day purchase as Cesar sure to feature on the right, perhaps an eye for goal isn’t exactly what Cesar was brought into the team for. Developing him into a long-term solution to Chelsea’s right-back woes, along with Bertrand’s continued growth on the left might see Chelsea settled on the fullback front for years to come.
Just how Di Matteo manages to keep Luiz, Terry, Cahill and Ivanovic content with their appearances for the team is quite the puzzler. But it’s arguably inevitable that Luiz or Ivanovic might clamor, come season-end, for a move elsewhere if di Matteo doesn’t play his formations right.
Which brings us to the certain same-day purchase referred to earlier. If fighting for scraps is good for Chelsea’s defense, it ought to be good for the forward ranks as well. Victor Moses’ entry into the team is not exactly great news for Sturridge. While Victor Moses’s abilities overlap with some of his other new teammates, he checks all the boxes that Sturridge does. On-field outings on the right are slim pickings now with Ramires having cemented his standing in Chelsea’s incredible run to end last season. While Ramires and Juan Mata are comfortable dropping off into midfield leaving Torres and Hazard up front, Sturridge isn’t likely to share the feeling.
Victor Moses’ arrival and eventual featuring in the side will mean Chelsea are likely to go with the 4-3-3 again. The Wigan winger’s ability to play through the center as a forward is also likely to be a thorn in the side of Daniel Sturridge’s plans at Chelsea. If Torres were to be unavailable, you would still have to pick Sturridge as the expected centre-forward although that could change if Moses sees more action at Sturridge’s expense.
Has Moses’ arrival signaled the end of Chelsea’s pursuit of another dyed-in-the-wool striker? All indications certainly point to that. Chelsea seem almost certain to go thru the rigors of the Premier League and other tournaments, with Torres up front and Sturridge and Moses as the next in line. If that doesn’t work, there’s always the winter transfer window.