On Wednesday, Chelsea’s quest to mount a credible challenge to defend the most coveted trophy in European football, the Champions League begins with a tough battle against the Italian Champions and one of the most respected European clubs Juventus (The Old Ladies of Serie A). It was in such tough cup competitions that RDM and the old guards of Chelsea rose to the occasion and always stood to be counted. However the leader of the old guards, the legendary Didier Drogba and some others who contributed all the way to the glorious day of 19th May at the Allianz Arena are no more or if there, (like Malouda) has been banished to the reserves. In place of that team are an amazing group of young talents who are hungry for success, have been acquired by the club. Our performance in the league can hardly be described as bad since we are on top of the league but thanks to Atletico Madrid, we are fully aware of what await us in Europe and so we can’t be deceived by our position on the League table. The headache for many managers who have a good number of quality players is how to get their starting eleven right and RDM’s recent team selection has shown clearly that he may be suffering from this syndrome. Not only does he seem to be having problems with his starting eleven but his use of players like Bertrand and especially Ramires on the wings seem to be backfiring day-in-day-out and has become the growing concern for many Chelsea fans. “Azonto Epistles” want to ask who our best eleven are and how do we play our best eleven?

The Issue of Ramires and Bertrand on The Wings:
Selecting our best eleven may be seen by some as premature but certainly the use of Ramires on the wings as well as Bertrand while we have players who can play better on the wings is ripe for criticism. We used Bertrand on the wings in Munich because of the threat of Arjen Robben and we also lacked natural wingers but against a team like QPR it was a bit surprising to see Bertrand still on the wings. I like the young boy a lot due to his confidence and hard work but he offers very little when going forward and I was not surprised when we could not score goals or create the needed chances for Torres. On the other hand, Ramires has also been used on the wings a lot lately and many of his performance lately have not been the vintage Ramires we use to know. The Ramires of last season who was described as the Jet Engine and the heart of Chelsea team is withering away due to his positioning on the wings. To play on the wings you should not only have the pace as Ramires has but also you should be technically brilliant and be ready to take on defenders which Rami is not too good at. If we can play someone out of position on the right wing, the best player to do that should be Daniel Sturridge. However we don’t even need to play people out of position if we have natural winger like Victor Moses. Moses has proven himself in the EPL enough to be getting enough starts. He was the most successful dribbler in the EPL last season and his pace and ability to defend has also been good. Therefore “Azonto Epistles” will conclude that RDM should never play Ramires on the wings. He is good playing in the midfield and he even showed it when we changed to the 4-3-3 formation later on against QPR and he dropped to the middle.

 Oscar has also been playing everywhere behind the striker for Brazil and we can’t afford to keep a player who is one of the best in Brazil at the moment and was purchased for 25 million Pounds on the bench of Chelsea. If you are as intelligent as Oscar, you do not need to be hugely built before you can play. The boy is too good to be sitting on the bench and I hope RDM will be starting him in games rather than coming in late. If Chelsea wants to see the new style of play, it should be Oscar who can start it. His quick short passes suites well with the style of Torres a lot and he can lead the transformation of our team into a quality attacking team. He is the type of player Barcelona wanted to see in Fabregas which he is not showing to Vilanova at the moment and if Oscar were in Barcer, there is no doubt he would be playing.
We seem to have made the right buy in the market but our team is mostly the same and that is because we can’t be doing the same old things and be expecting different results. If playing 4-2-3-1 will make us rely on the same old players who cannot offer any quality to our team or will make us play players out of position, we need to change it and use a formation which can make use of our best talents. Quality players should be played together and I believe there are too many quality players in our team for us to challenge for any trophy in the world. We need to try other formations like 4-3-2-1 and 4-3-3. I also strongly believe that we do not have the right players to be playing the double pivot if Mikel and Lampard are the best we have. Many of our blunt attacks and weak midfield have been due the Mikel-Lampard combination in a holding midfield role. A formation which will make Lampard and Mikel the key players in Chelsea is not worth sticking to. Both have shown great deficiency in playing that role and Atletico Madrid’s coach Diego Simeone in his post-match analysis showed the world if we continue sticking to the two players (Lampard and Mikel) in our midfield as double-pivot, we will capitulate against quality and tactically discipline sides as we did against Atletico.

 Daniel Sturridge and Torres:
Against QPR, the whole team failed to offer the necessary attacking threat we have all been craving for and Torres was outplayed by Ryan Nelsen. It was no surprise Torres was hauled off by RDM later on for the enterprising and enthusiastic striker Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge in his short time was a handful for QPR’s defence but this is not the reason to call for more playing time for the boy. Sturridge is one player who has
shown that he is so confident that he doesn’t fear to take on defenders, outpace them and shoot at the least of opportunity. His performance last season especially before the exit of AVB was outstanding and at some point he was the player who could make something happen for our team any time he had the ball at his feet. If Sturridge had been playing for another team he would have commanded a huge price which I know we would have been linked to him. The issue is that, Sturridge is one of our best five (5) players in the team and we need to utilize his talent in our starting eleven. If you ask me to compare Torres and Sturridge, I will say the difference is in price tag and maybe experience which Torres has over him and nothing else. Against City in the Community Shield, Torres scored but the few minutes Sturridge spent, he made the best of it; it was the same against Reading, Atletico and QPR. It comes back to the question of how do we get the best out of our best players? Torres and Sturridge do not need to compete for position if our team will be better of playing the two together and that is what RDM is paid to do. He needs to sit up quickly and fix it whiles he has the chance to. “Time and tide wait for no man”  
#Seth Adusei (twitter @sethaadusei)     
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