CHELSEA’S RATING FOR THE SEASON
Chelsea have been in great form this season with consistent wins and a marked improvement in the squad over the summer, which justifies their top spot in the Premier League table. They have been ruthless and dominant this time, and have changed their style significantly from last season by deploying more skill and technique than directness. Here are the ratings and grades for Chelsea on various levels of performances shown so far, and expected in the future.
DEFENCE: Rating 8/10.
Chelsea have 6 regular defenders in the squad, which is a bit thin to compete on all fronts. But, owing to some good managing, Chelsea have not had any defensive crisis so far with a solid defense to choose from whenever they have to select a team.
Captain John Terry, Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma form the trio of central defenders, while Branislav Ivanovic, Filipe Luis and Cesar Azpilicueta form the trio of fullbacks. Chelsea depend on the versatility of their defenders as Kurt Zouma can deputize as a Right Back in emergency situations while Branislav Ivanovic is an experienced player in both the Right Back as well as the Center Back spot. Also, Cesar Azpilicueta is capable of playing on both sides of the defense as a Right Back as well as a Left Back.
Their defensive performance is based on covering each other’s back. Chelsea back four works very hard on team ethics and has a very strong resilience in its spine. The mid season saw Gary Cahill’s form dropping several folds as he couldn’t deal with the high pressing system where he was getting exposed from Ivanovic’s Right Back position. Kurt Zouma has risen to the role because he has the pace to recover whenever he gets exposed.
Chelsea press higher up this season, and Ivanovic and Azpilicueta/Luis bomb forward to contribute to the attack. While the left backs are more or less comfortable in tracking back, Ivanovic has been pretty much ultra-attacking and has been very important in that aspect though Chelsea have been a bit poor defensively on his flank.
When pushed into a corner, Mourinho and his defenders are a very tough lot to break down as the Chelsea midfield is well drilled in defensive work.
MIDFIELD: Rating 9/10
Chelsea have one of the best midfields in the country and in the world. The starting line-up of Chelsea undoubtedly has the best midfield in the league with the best balance and flair. Chelsea’s midfield five in the starting line-up consists usually of Nemanja Matic, and Cesc Fabregas in central midfield, Oscar, Willian and Eden Hazard in the triple attacking midfield that Chelsea field in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The midfield has flair, work rate and decisiveness and it certainly makes a statement in games this season offensively as well as defensively, as the Blues have shown the tendency to maintain possession and play with more skill and dictate tempo as and when required.
Cesc Fabregas has been exceptional with his playmaking, as he leads the assists charts this season while Eden Hazard has been an exceptional creator and goal scorer as well. Hazard is widely considered as the best player in the Premier League and one of the best in the world just below the bracket of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Nemanja Matic has been the world’s most consistent defensive midfielder for the past two years and has proved his mettle in Chelsea with world class form. Chelsea are dependent on him for extreme defensive and offensive stability, poise, class and tactical advantage in midfield. He has brought clean defending into Chelsea’s defensive demeanor as he wins possession in a clean manner and with a very calm mind. Chelsea usually struggles if Matic is having an off day, which is very rare.
What Chelsea lack is adequate tactical depth in central midfield. That is because John Obi Mikel and Ramires are totally different types of midfielders in comparison to Matic and Fabregas.
Chelsea have an in-form world class striker in Diego Costa who has been consistent this season. Even when he is not scoring goals, he contributes to the game with his work rate, aggression and lifting the team up with his commitment to the side. There is always a moment of passion or two whenever Costa is on the pitch which pushes the team to perform better. Chelsea have the perfect striker they wanted all this while.
Also, Chelsea’s deputy forwards are also top quality ones. Loic Remy is good enough to start for most of the Champions League teams and almost averages a goal per game with respect to the minutes he has played on the pitch. The confidence and finishing in Loic Remy has always been an assurance for Chelsea whenever Costa has succumbed to injuries or suspensions. Didier Drogba brings the wealth of experience that Chelsea needed to boost the team’s morale. Drogba has also scored a few crucial goals this season and he also has the knack to lift the team and his own performances for the big occasions.
Chelsea has the best forward line it could possibly have arranged for this season, as the strikers match the type of football that Chelsea like to play.
STYLE OF PLAY: 9/10
Chelsea have been table toppers all this while with the most wins and the most number of goals scored and the second best defense in the league. They have been the best team due to an innovative style of play.
Jose Mourinho has been pragmatic and tactical in his approach and has drilled this team to dominate games. Possession has been Chelsea’s weapon this season as Fabregas, Hazard and Oscar have done a lot of damage by keeping the ball. Also, possession helps when the team wants to take the foot off the gas, as Chelsea do time and again every match.
Sometimes, the tactic backfires as Chelsea are hit on the counter and concede a goal etc, but usually, Chelsea manage to keep a lot of possession and establish a defensive demeanor in the middle periods of the second half.
CLOSING THE GAME/KILLING THE GAME: 8/10
Chelsea’s main strength has been the presence of trio Hazard, Fabregas and Costa as Chelsea find flair, passing and finishing in the team on a regular basis. The tempo is controlled by Fabregas, the final third is bossed by Hazard and the chances are finished by Diego Costa. Thus, Chelsea are brutally unpredictable and clinical in the final third.
Also a highlight of Chelsea’s style has been the inconsistency once in a while in killing the game off. This has often resulted due to slack defensive passing and then defending deep to protect a one-goal-lead. Though Chelsea has been in great touch, there have been a handful of matches where Chelsea have won narrowly. Though that is also because Chelsea showed a tendency to concede a late goal consistently in the early and middle periods of the tournament. So sometimes, Chelsea have just nicked the result, even though they have been dominant throughout the game.
Overall Rating for Chelsea this season: 8.8/10
Predicted Finish: League Winners