Archive for the ‘English Premier League’ Category

pl-stage-jose-mourinho

Here at Chelsea Headache, we love to welcome guest writers to express their thoughts on Chelsea. Today, we have the great opportunity to host the opinions of a certain @ChelseaRumours:

Thursday, 20th September 2007.

This was the day the world woke up to the news, that José Mourinho and Chelsea had parted company. Having won back-to-back titles, the 2nd and 3rd championships in the club’s history, Mourinho had already cemented a special place in Chelsea supporters’ hearts. However, an indifferent start to the 2007/2008 season that culminated in successive home draws against Blackburn Rovers and Rosenborg became the end of Mourinho’s era at Chelsea. It was to become the start of a season of heartbreaks, as we lost the league cup final to Tottenham in extra time, and then the lowest point in recent Chelsea history – losing to United on penalties, after John Terry slipped and hit the post.

Since, we have enjoyed mixed fortunes and under several different managers. Avram Grant took over immediately after José, but was never seen as a long-term solution by anybody. He was fired immediately after Chelsea’s champions league final defeat.

When Scolari was appointed in July 2008, hopes were again high at Stamford Bridge – but some zonal-marking later and we were managerless once again. Guus Hiddink took over, a favour for his old pal Roman Abramovich, and it was public knowledge that he would only be in charge for the rest of season. He did fantastically well in his brief period as manager, and by the end of his reign, many fans were wishing he would stay. A win % of 73 says it all, just one defeat in his 22 games in charge – and as all Chelsea fans will remember, the win percentage would’ve been even higher had a Mr. Øvrebø not decided to forget to put on his contact lenses when we faced Barcelona at the bridge. (Barcelona then played United off the pitch in the final, and that left all Chelsea fans wondering what might’ve been…) Never the less, Hiddink won us the FA Cup and left with his head held high.

Then came Ancelotti – and boy did we turn on the style in 2009/2010! 103 league goals, one FA Cup and one Premier League title later, and we’d won the first double in the club’s history. However, Ancelotti’s reign came to an end after a trophyless 2nd season, where a winter slump essentially cost us the title – we very nearly won it in the 36th round when we faced United at Old Trafford, but they ran out 2-1 winners and more or less secured the title that day. Fans and pundits alike were outraged when the news broke that Carlo had been fired – and looking back at the 2 seasons that have followed, it probably was a big mistake.

André Villas-Boas was the hottest manager name in the game when we appointed him, but some dreadful man-management skills and drastic tactics soon meant that he was unemployed again. His assistant Roberto Di Matteo, already a name known to the Chelsea supporters of course, took over – and we all know what the lead to. FA Cup glory and a Champions League won through shere determination against opponents who had far better players than us saw Roberto being offered a 2-year contract, which he signed. However, people were already saying that he was just a short-term solution before Abramovich could get his preferred manager in: Pep Guardiola. It proved to be a very short term solution, as we crashed out of the Champions League in the group stages and suffered a few poor results in the Premier League… things seemed bleak…

And then Rafa took over. As much as Chelsea fans unite in glory, here they united in rage. Some went as far as to saying that it was the worst possible replacement for a club legend – and many agreed. Results such as 0-1 at home to QPR and throwing away a 2-goal lead at Reading didn’t help Rafa convince the supporters that he was the right man for the job either, however a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford proved to be the turning point in our season – a few good results later, and Champions League participation as well as the Europa League trophy had been secured. Rafa left, and fans were now wondering who would take charge at the Bridge.

We were all hoping.

We were all dreaming.

But when it finally happened, we couldn’t really believe it. José Mourinho, the man who left Stamford Bridge on that Thursday in September 2007 had returned.

“I had in my career two great passions, Inter and Chelsea, and Chelsea is more than important for me. It was very, very hard to play against Chelsea and I did it only twice which was not so bad so now I promise exactly the same things I promised in 2004, with this difference which is I’m one of you.” – José Mourinho’s first interview during his second reign as Chelsea manager.

In many ways, Mourinho put more effort into this interview than he needed – he had us at ”I’m very happy.” – he’d continue his winning form at Chelsea by winning 2 italian titles with Inter as well as the Champions League, before winning the Copa del Rey and La Liga with Real Madrid. We’ve never doubted his managerial skills, and when Chelsea finally announced his return, my Twitter timeline exploded with happy tweets… After such a season with a manager like Benitez, it’s difficult to remember the last time we’ve all been this happy. (19/05/12)

Furthermore, Mourinho has stated that he’s in it for the long haul this time around. He says he’s much more mature, ready for a different kind of long-term project, where his previous clubs have mostly been about achieving immediate success – which, granted, he has done.

This new project includes establishing a confidence in the young players we have in our squad, a confidence that will see them achieve great things – which talents like Oscar, Eden Hazard and Lukaku as well as our youth players (Chalobah, Baker, Piazon, Aké and Loftus-Cheek spring to mind) are destined for. We might not see immediate success, but at the same time we are only one or two additions away from having a squad that is ready to challenge at the highest level – and I’m sure Mourinho has some players in mind.

Some of the big dilemmas he’ll face though, is whether to keep the likes of Petr Cech and Frank Lampard in our first XI, or whether to replace them with the huge talents that are Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne. While it is always hard enough to just say goodbye to legends like these, they might also be an important part of Mourinho’s plans in terms of the balance of experience and young talent – and it is no secret that these two as well as Terry and Ashley Cole are great friends with Mourinho, and could be vital for him to obtain a ”daddy” status (as Essien has labelled him) for some of our newer additions to the squad who aren’t familiar with José and his training methods.

Additionally there is the question of whether we need to sign another striker, with a big money move for Edinson Cavani being discussed. Romelu Lukaku has publically stated that he’d prefer to be loaned out if we do sign Cavani, as he fears he wouldn’t play frequently. Admittedly at his age, minutes on the pitch are a necessity, and Mourinho must decide if he trusts him to be our first choice striker (or whether Demba Ba or Fernando Torres are good enough for that!)

With André Schürrle all but one foot in Chelsea, maybe Mourinho will think of that as enough goal-scoring talent in the squad, with the likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard regularly hitting the back of the net – not to mention our defence who scored 27 goals this season, a quite spectacular amount of goals!

Mourinho will have many tasks to face as Chelsea manager, but he is up for the challenge – in fact he stated in his first interview that ”he wishes they’d start tomorrow.” while recognising the fact that the players obviously need a holiday. He’s determined, he’s got a plan and he’s at home here, so why shouldn’t it work out? It will most likely be a different story, but he has already said that himself as well – this is a new project, hopefully a long term one. Ultimately, this is what all Chelsea fans wanted to hear, many have screamed out for stability since Mourinho’s first reign as Chelsea manager, and is there anyone we’d rather have in charge of a long-term project Chelsea than The Special One? I doubt it.

He is one of us.

*This post was written a week or so ago so some topics such as Schürrle signing have now developed

Aiming For A Trophy

Posted: January 19, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Cech, Chelsea, English Premier League, Essien, Goalkeeper, midfield

Chelsea have never gone two successive seasons without winning a trophy since Roman Abramovich bought the club all those years ago. Cech believes we can keep that trend up:

“We set a standard in recent years, and that’s the way it is at a big club – especially here. We want, ourselves, to win something. We don’t want to go another season without trophies, so our aim is to end this season with silverware.”

Brilliant attitude.

Despite this season being of significant change and alteration under the reign of Villas-Boas, Cech still believes it’s no excuse for not winning any silverware. The addition of Gary Cahill from Bolton and Essien back from injury is giving the squad a strong look as we enter into the second half of the season.

Obviously it’s unfortunate Essien couldn’t make the African Cup of Nations however it’s nothing but excellent for us. Our first team central midfield choices now consist of Lampard, Romeu, Ramires, Essien, Mikel and Meireles (with McEachran now on loan with Swansea until the end of the season). Pretty good, eh.

Cech is also conscious that it will not be an overnight job to make the “new” Chelsea a success:

“You can see this team, there have been changes in recent years because you can’t stop players ageing. It’s normal in a top club that people change. We changed the manager and a bit of the philosophy, so it needs time.”

After all, patience is a virtue.

@GaryCRobertson

It took a while, but now Gary Cahill has been confirmed by Chelsea to have passed a medical and signed a contract in what has been believed to be a transfer fee somewhere in the region of £7m.

Seemingly Cahill passed the medical “with flying colours” on Saturday morning and then proceeded to watch his new teammates defeat Sunderland 1-0.

The stories claiming Cahill was holding out, only for money, were quite possibly false to disrupt the entire transfer.

Cahill had this to say about joining Chelsea:

“Chelsea is a massive club, it is a club that looks to win trophies season in season out and it is a big opportunity for me to be a part of that. Opportunities like this you can’t turn down.”

What’s more, Cahill is eligible to play in the FA Cup as Bolton kept him out of their squad which drew 2-2 against Macclesfield Town in the third round. Bonus.

In September 2011, Gary Cahill scored on his first competitive start for England (3-0 win vs Bulgaria). He is expected to be one of England’s first choice centre backs in the coming years.

Welcome to Chelsea, Gary Cahill.

@GaryCRobertson

Cahill in, Alex out?

Posted: January 14, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Bolton, Chelsea, Defence, England, English Premier League, Rumours, Transfers

Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed that English defender Gary Cahill is very close to becoming a Chelsea player after passing a recent medical on Saturday:

Gary passed his medical and should be our player soon.

It’s taken awhile but it shouldn’t be too long now folks.

Cahill, who has been capped for England seven times, will cost Chelsea somewhere in the region of £7 million (according to media reports – yeuch) and will be an immediate replacement for the imminently departing Alex. Cahill was due to be out of contract in the coming months with Bolton, so Chelsea took advantage of the situation with a bid – the rest is history (if everything goes through correctly that is).

Onto the subject of Alex. Reports say he could join Queens Park Rangers sooner rather than later. On the other hand, a Chelsea spokesman said: “I can say at this time there is no agreement between the clubs.” Who to believe?

Villas-Boas will be holding out for as high a bid as possible as he is all too aware of Alex’s financial worth: “We know Alex’s market value and we’re just not going to let him go quite easily.” It would also seem that there’s significant interest from foreign clubs meaning QPR may not be where Alex ends up. After all, he has already said he’d prefer to move away from England. Maybe he will link up with Ancelotti at PSG?

Nothing is decided just yet but in the next few days, we can be sure to expect Cahill to arrive, Alex to depart or both.

@GaryCRobertson

Match Facts (Pre-Sunderland)

Posted: January 14, 2012 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, England, English Premier League, facts, pre-match, stats

Here are some stats and facts ahead of our game against Sunderland:

Chelsea have won two of their last six home Premier League games (won 2, drawn 1, lost 3).

Chelsea have won 13 out of the last 14 Premier League clashes against Sunderland (won 13, lost 1).

There have been five 90th minute+ goals in the last six Premier League games between Chelsea and Sunderland.

Chelsea are the only team who have not conceded a goal from a corner this season.

There have been 35 goals scored across the last seven meetings involving Chelsea and Sunderland, with 3+ goals in each of those matches.

Chelsea have lost only one of their last eight Premier League games (won 4, drawn 3, lost 1).

Chelsea have kept one clean sheet in their last 12 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge.

Sunderland have earned more points (13) since Martin O’Neill took over in six Premier League games than they managed in the 14 games before he took over this season (11).

Martin O’Neill has only won three Premier League games as a manager against Chelsea (won 3, drawn 6, lost 7).

Referee Phil Dowd has given more penalties away than any other referee in the Premier League this season (7).

@GaryCRobertson

(Opta)

First of all, happy new year to all our readers! We hope you had a nice time over the festive season. All the best for 2012.

And now onto what this blog is all about – Chelsea.

This could be a pivotal few months: Torres almost guaranteed a starting place due to Drogba and Kalou away at AFCON, McEachran likewise but with Swansea (loan) and also potential new signings slotting into the side.

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It’s getting near the now or never stage for Torres to perform consistently. I firmly believe he will get there and with Drogba unavailable for selection, pressure may be dropped from his head. New attacking signings which may be made this month could prove to be vital in Torres’ future with Chelsea. As has been suggested before, a Mata-Torres partnership (4-2-3-1) would be a successful way to go but would mean altering the formation just for him – something Villas-Boas probably wouldn’t be too pleased to do to suit one player but you never know, he’s surprised us before.

McEachran’s loan to Swansea is something that I’m looking forward to as well. We haven’t been able to see Josh play week in week out in the top tier but now it might just be time to see him playing first team football for the Welsh pass meisters. I think we may be watching some more Swansea football on MOTD now that he’s going to be active in the Premier League. It’s obvious Brendan Rodgers is over the moon that he’s been able to get McEachran on loan – he will definitely utilise him properly.

And then we have the possibility of fresh new signings. Everyone likes new signings but I think I speak for everyone when I say, the Cahill transfer is getting a bit boring. Either sign or don’t! We’re getting fed up. There’s also been a number of rumours linking us with players including Eden Hazard of Lille and Di Maria from Real Madrid (most likely false). But it would seem the press are finding it difficult to find out who Chelsea want to sign so have reverted to who they will get rid of. Laughable at times. Best thing to do is wait until the club officially announces anything. That way it’s genuine.

So yeah, these next few months will be important in shaping the future of Chelsea. When (not if) McEachran succeeds with Swansea he will undoubtedly be a front runner for our first team next season. Torres, as I’ve said already, will have a  perfect opportunity to prove why he’s still one of the deadliest strikers in the world. And we could be gifted with a bunch of new faces too to liven up competition for places in the team. I’d also like to think that in the next few years, some of the young talents from the reserves will be able to make the leap into the first team.

All in all, there’s plenty to look ahead to.

(Also ESSIEN IS RETURNING SOON which is truly splendid)

I have put together two lists for the Top 10 Chelsea attackers in Premier League games. The first is only my opinion based on how I thought they performed for the blues. The second list is purely stats based, by looking at a minutes played to goals ratio. Let’s see how the two lists compare and if you agree with my list.

My Top 10 Attackers
10.   John Spencer (103 games, 36 goals)
9.      Nicolas Anelka (124, 38 goals)
8.      Mark Hughes (95 games, 25 goals)
7.      Tore Andre Flo (112 games, 34 goals)
6.      Eidur Gudjohnsen (186 games, 54 goals)
5.      Hernan Crespo (49 games, 20 goals)
4.      Gianluca Vialli (58 games, 21 goals)
3.      Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (136 games, 69 goals)
2.      Didier Drogba (208 games, 96 goals)
1.      Gianfranco Zola (229 games, 59 goals)

One player who narrowly missed out was George Weah, who I wish had stayed for a longer period. In a few years I hope to be able to add Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge to this list.

Top 10 Attackers (based on goals per minute)
10.    Gianluca Vialli (199 minutes)
9.      Mark Stein (197 minutes)
8.      John Spencer (190 minutes)
7.      Mateja Kezman (187 minutes)
6.      Tore Andre Flo (183 minutes)
5.      Mikael Forssell (162 minutes)
4.      Didier Drogba (162 minutes)
3.      Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (150 minutes)
2.      Daniel Sturridge (149 minutes)
1.      Hernan Crespo (141 minutes)

So, there you have it. Hernan Crespo is the most effective attacker Chelsea have had in the Premier League in terms of minutes per goal. There are four players in this list who did not make my personal selection; Mark Stein, Mateja Kezman, Mikael Forssell and Daniel Sturridge. Carlton Cole is next line with a goal every 200 minutes, just one minute behind Vialli.

You will not be surprised to see that Chris Sutton did not appear in either list. In fact, he came last in the stats list with a goal every 1,845 minutes. Just behind him is Robert Fleck (994 minutes).

So, do you agree with my list of attackers? Who would be in your top 10? Please state them in the comments box below.

If you liked this then please follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder

With Chelsea set to travel to Old Trafford this weekend in what will doubtless prove to be their most challenging game under AVB to date, I ask the question – who should play at Right-Back?

United are in devastating form and Chelsea have been a little laboured if truth be told. So what chance do we have? Well, call me an optimist (you’re an optimist Derek) but I think we can do ‘em up there. I feel we have a big performance in us and a burning desire within the squad to shove two fingers up at the media for their constant badgering.

In spite of my confidence, if David Luiz plays at centre-back, I feel there is a big decision to be made at right back…

The options:

Jose Bosingwa:

Jose has been like a man re-born under AVB and looks somewhat like he has re-discovered his top form after some very indifferent performances last season.

Strengths:

A very quick attacking full back who has a decent delivery and a real knack of getting into good advanced wide positions. He can overlap and/or offer support to our right sided attacker and really adds another dimension to our attack.

We saw against Norwich that he has a dangerous shot in his locker when the situation arises and is in confident form due to his good start this season.

Weaknesses:

Jose can be very suspect defensively. We all remember Ryan Giggs tearing him apart at Stamford Bridge last season in the Champions League. His positional sense isn’t the best and usually comes down to his lapses in concentration.

He is not the strongest individual either – if it comes to an important tackle or block being made you wouldn’t exactly have your mortgage on him would you?

Branislav Ivanovic:

Strengths:

A beast of a man; Branner is a real tough tackling and inspiring defender who has the ability to drive on those around him. He is strong in the air and on the ground in the tackle and is very brave in all situations.

He is a threat in the box from set pieces and has scored some important goals for Chelsea in the past.

Weaknesses:

Branner would consider himself a centre-back rather than a full-back but he has played in the right-back position admirably for some time now.

Not the best at rampaging up the wing and his crossing can leave him down at times. The fact that he’s not a natural attacking full-back means that the opposition can focus on cutting Ashley Cole’s threat off on the other side which affects Chelsea’s balance and ability to create from deep when needs be.

Conclusion:

These two players offer something completely different from right back. Bosingwa is an attacking outlet whereas Ivanovic is a natural defender. If we could morph these two players into one we’d have one of the best right-backs ever. Unfortunately I couldn’t get in contact with Jeff Goldblum this week.

For all the criticism of Bosingwa’s defensive capabilities, let us not forget that at left back in the Champions League a couple of years ago versus Barcelona that one Lionel Messi hardly kicked the ball over two legs when being marked by the pacey Portugueezer. Yes he may get caught out at times but if (big IF), just if he can keep his concentration and be disciplined up against Ashley Young he may well be the man to stop their threat down the left and instigate ours up the right.

Of course this may be all elementary if Ivanovic plays at centre back instead of Luiz, but I enjoyed writing this anyway!

What do you think? Who should play? Please feel free to comment below or tweet me @fattyfoulke

The Ultimate Chelsea Player

Posted: September 3, 2011 by chelseachadder in Chelsea, English Premier League, Random, Tales of the Chadder

The current Chelsea squad is full with young players, international stars and world class players. Each of them have something to give to the blues, whether it’s Frank Lampard’s goals, Didier Drogba’s power, or Josh McEachran’s skill. However, there are some things us Chelsea fans could do without, such as Salomon Kalou’s finishing, Jose Bosingwa’s crossing, and Henrique Hilario’s kicking.

If you had the chance to make your ultimate Chelsea player, mixing the attributes they have, what would you include? The two players I have demonstrate this.

Ultimate Player

Right foot: There are many players to choose from, but for different reasons. Lampard has a fine range of passing and an eye for goal. Essien keeps the ball moving and is accurate in his distribution. Alex has a thunderbolt of a freekick, which we have all seen for its ferocity. However, the right foot I would choose is that of Didier Drogba. He has the power of Alex and can cross a ball better than most of the players in the team. For me though, his greatest attribute is his ability to control any kind of pass instantaneously. I have to admire the way he is able to bring down a long punt by Petr Cech, hold up the play, and cause havoc amongst the opposition defence.

Left foot: It seems as though Chelsea have collected a surprisingly large group of left footed players, although I’m unsure whether this is intentional (probably is). These players include McEachran, van Aanholt, Bertrand, Kakuta, and Sturridge in addition to the established first teamers. Ashley Cole is widely regarded the best left back in the world. I think most people would agree with this, and also agree that he is very left footed! However, the player I’m going to select is Florent Malouda. Yes, his performances over the last few years have been very up and down, but the Frenchman certainly creates chances as well as scoring goals.

Head: John Terry is a man mountain in the Chelsea defence and is often seen towering over opposition strikers (except Peter Crouch). His determination to win the ball is one of his strongest attributes. Didier Drogba is also great with his head. In fact, over the last few seasons, he is one of the top goal scorers in the Premier League for headed goals. He can also be found in his own penalty box heading away the opposition’s corners. However, the player that I think has the best of attacking and defensive heading is Branislav Ivanovic. The Serbian defender has chipped in with his goals over the last few seasons (including against Liverpool) and is rarely beaten in the air.

Work rate: This was a tough choice for me. The emergence of Ramires has really boosted Chelsea’s performances, especially in the last 15 minutes. Essien (when not injured) covers a lot of ground and, when in the Defensive Midfield position, works tirelessly without the ball. However, my choice for fitness would be Frank Lampard. His box to box mentality and immaculate fitness has been the driving force behind the plaudits he has gained from fans, fellow professionals and the media. However, we all know this fitness will not last forever, and I can see Ramires being the next ‘engine’ in midfield.

Skill: Again, a tricky one for me. Gael Kakuta has so much potential. Although he has had a limited number of appearances for Chelsea, his exploits with the French youth teams have really highlighted his talent, especially in the final third. Nicolas Anelka has very good close control, however, his persistence in holding on to the ball frustrates many fans. Chelsea’s new midfield acquisition, Juan Mata, has already shown a glimmer of his ability in his brief cameo. He is the signing that most blues fans are excited about, and we await to see if he is the ‘next Robben’ (or better). However, although he is still very young, Josh McEachran seems to have a natural ability to hold on to the ball, find a pass, and take players on. Therefore, I have chosen the skill of young Josh as my skill player.

Cult factor: There is always a player that the fans take to their hearts. Players like Zola and Osgood are obvious choices, but it’s players like Petar Borota, Mickey Thomas, Pat Nevin and Mark Hughes that really got the crowd going. There seems to be an appreciation for John Obi Mikel amongst Chelsea fans, although rarely gets the fans on their feet. What about ALEX, ALEX, ALEX. This chant can be heard whenever there is a freekick around the box. However, ever since his arrival in January 2011, David Luiz has gained a massive following. He is the reason why #IWantCurlyHairToo and #SideshowBob start trending on Twitter. His ‘crazy’ style of football is matched by his personality, especially the practical jokes he plays, often for the viewers of Chelsea TV.

Worst Player

Right foot: Ashley Cole

Left foot: Henrique Hilario

Head: Jose Bosingwa

Work rate: Florent Malouda

Skill: Paulo Ferreira

Cult factor: Salomon Kalou

Who would you submit as your best/worst player when looking at the current squad? Please put your ideas in the comments box below.

If you liked this article then please follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder

There are shades of Arjen Robben, who scored 15 goals in 67 matches for Chelsea, in the Blues’ new boy Juan Mata. The Spanish 2010 World Cup winner also scored on debut in Chelsea’s 3-1 home win against Norwich. Mata came on in the second half to add some excitement to what was rather a dull first half by Chelsea, bar Jose Bosingwa’s fifth minute goal. There’s no doubt about Mata being a regular at Chelsea after the dream debut, that player is the real No. 10 (I apologise to Yossi Benayoun, who I think is a good player, but just hasn’t done enough at Stamford Bridge). There will be question marks for the next two league games, and some cup matches, as to who has to sit out to accommodate Mata.

Florent Malouda made way against Norwich, but a more permanent replacement needs to be made. But before dwelling on how we fared in our third Premier League match, let me explore a little bit why Mata reminds me of Robben. Yes, they are both left-footed and are very creative. Mata won the World Cup with Spain, and Robben was at Soccer City in South Africa as well playing for the Netherlands, who lost 1-0 after an extra-time goal from Andres Iniesta. Mata scored 10 goals for former club Valencia last season and we all know that Robben was a 10 goals a season kind of player. So, with this we say hello to creativity and have to confront Frank Lampard to say: something is missing Frank. Had it not been for manager Andres Villas-Boas ‘brave’ decision to pull off Malouda for Mata, Chelsea might have been in trouble against Norwich.

Mata is certainly the kind of player we need and it’s even more exciting to learn that he snubbed both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs to sign a five-year contract with Chelsea. Being able to play as a left midfielder or winger, and even just behind the front men, is an added advantage to see us win the Premier League at the end of the season. It’s early days and I for one don’t want to punt him up as the next best thing at Stamford Bridge, but we all have to admit, he looks a sure bet to help us to success.

This is what the coach thinks about our new man, who faces his former teammates in the European Champions League after Chelsea were pitted against Valencia in the group stages.

Villas Boas: I think all the players are creative, they just express themselves in different ways. Mata is different from other players, and found some good spaces today [against Norwich]. For a player with only two training sessions he showed some quickness.

Villas-Boas’ major headache: If we do indeed get Luka Modric in the final hour of the transfer window, picking his midfield players on match day could turn into a nightmare for the manager. But for now let’s say Modric will stay at Spurs. Then Villas-Boas is still left to making a final decision – possibly on the eve of a big match – on who to bench to make space for Mata. He can play where Lampard and Malouda usually operate. And his best days are still to come at Stamford Bridge. But this is good for rotation. With the FA Cup, Champions League and Premier League matches still to be played, we certainly look to have enough depth to get positive results.

There’s also been criticism about playing John Obi Mikel and Ramires in the starting line-up. Although Ramires can make daunting runs and get us in scoring positions, he can be a bit too defensive – then playing the same type of style as Mikel.

Our manager has some tough decisions to make.