What have Chelsea been doing right this season?

Chelsea fans have good grounds to be disappointed this season: 3rd position isn’t terrible but the fans would obviously love to be higher up; their 3-1 loss to Manchester United is not something any fan wants to see and only once in the league have they kept a clean sheet – a 0-0 draw on the opening day of the season against Stoke but that is hardly anything to shout about and a humiliating 1-0 defeat at the hands of QPR this evening has definitely put everyone on a downer.

Things definitely aren’t as bad as they seem however, thrashing Swansea, Bolton and Everton 4-1, 5-1 and 3-1 respectively with a 5-0 win against Genk in the Champions League are impressive results. A few slip-ups and a thrashing from Manchester United has certainly made the season seem like a bad one.

Andre Villas-Boas

However, new manager André Villas Boas has been doing a lot of good this year. Tactically fascinating as touched upon here, his signings have been extremely successful and he’s motivated players – such as José Bosingwa, Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge – into form in the first two cases and to continue his excellent form in Sturridges.

Bosingwa fell out of the first eleven under Ancelotti and was replaced by Ivanović at right-back. Since Villas-Boas has took over at Chelsea, however, he’s come into the form of his life and really adds to the right-hand-side offensively, much more so than Ivanović is ever capable of. Villas-Boas is Portuguese like Bosingwa, so it’s very likely they’ve developed a good relationship and Bosingwa has definitely grabbed the opportunity presented to him when given games.

Fernando Torres was, quite rightly, criticized for his terrible form following his £50 million move from Liverpool. He seems to have re-captured his form this season with 4 goals and 3 assists in 9 appearances. Villas-Boas likes him, and he’s re-paid him. I doubt many people would bet against Torres coming back from his suspension and scoring around 20 goals this year. He was definitely missed today against QPR.

Daniel Sturridge has scored 4 goals already!

Daniel Sturridge is a player who showed a lot of potential at Manchester City as a very young player, so much so he earned a £3.5 million move to Chelsea where he impressed but could never quite make the first team. Luckily a loan move to Bolton has re-ignited his career, with Owen Coyle taking care of him and he scored 8 goals in 12 appearances. He then came back to Chelsea and it was unclear how Villas-Boas would rate him. He was given pre-season games and impressed and earned his place. He has since played excellently, scoring 4 goals in 5 appearances in the league.

His new signings – Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku, Oriol Romeu and Raul Meireles – have also impressed: settling in and playing really well. Lukaku and Romeu are both young players with massive potential, showing André’s approach and they’ve both been given a few starts this season already. Lukaku has been a favourite to buy on Football Manager for a few years so don’t be surprised to see him turn into a world beater!

Mata has settled in really well, grabbing himself 2 goals and 3 assists already. He’s added another dimension to Chelsea’s left wing, providing creativity which is something Chelsea lack when they play 3 of Sturridge, Anelka, Drogba and Torres but Mata is just as able to beat a man for pace or skill and has shown his finishing ability.

Meireles has also settled in well, performing the Ramires role of making forward runs and the Mikel role of sitting deep forming a triangle with the two centre-halfs whenever necessary. He has proved indispensable to Chelsea’s midfield in the absence of Essien. It will be interesting to see if he retains his starting place when he’s back.

Torres and Mata - Villas-Boas loves his Spanish players!

The signings of Mata, Meireles and Romeu also show Villas-Boas’ tendency to sign Spanish or Portuguese players and, just as the form of Torres and Bosingwa show, get them performing. Whether this will continue should Villas-Boas be the manager for some time will be interesting, as Chelsea could become similar to how Liverpool once were with Spanish players.

It’s doubtful after Manchester City’s performance against Manchester United, and Manchester United’s form, that Chelsea will win the league or even come second. However, it would be foolish to write them off completely. Once Torres is back and the QPR setback is behind them, I predict a very good run for the Blues. Should André Villas-Boas be in charge for a long time, I predict a very bright future, too.

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