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Perhaps the Spaniard will put it down to karma after his troubled initiation at Stamford Bridge, but it has been the perfect week for Rafa Benitez. In aiming to establish a degree of calm after the sh*tstorm that welcomed him into his employment (through no fault of his own), Chelsea's interim manager needed a shot in the arm, and lady luck came bearing early gifts.
First was the ideal preparation for a trip to the Stadium of Light. FC Nordsjaelland are a contender for the poorest Champions League team in a number of years, and the brushing aside of the Danish side allowed some much-needed confidence to flow into veins. Hell, even Fernando Torres scored twice in a 6-1 victory.
An hour before the match against Sunderland, Benitez learnt the news that Steven Fletcher had been ruled out for the hosts. Rather than the striker's intimidating presence, David Luiz and Gary Cahill would instead face Connor Wickham, a forward with six starts in 18 months. In a fragile state after last weekend's defeat to West Ham, Sunderland were the ideal opponents when hunting for a win, the Mackems having won two of their last 22 in the league.
Benitez's final lucky break may have been slightly more shrouded. The suspension of John Obi Mikel for three games after his altercation with Mark Clattenburg forced the manager into a tweak in midfield, Oriel Romeu taking the Nigerian's place in the side. When, after 20 minutes, Romeu was injured, Oscar was his (considerably more attacking) replacement.
No manager or fan would wish absenteeism on his squad but this alteration of personnel, however slight, allowed Chelsea to operate in a markedly different fashion. Ramires became the lynchpin of the midfield, with Juan Mata, Oscar and Victor Moses able to interchange in an effort to provide for Torres. Looking almost instantly invigorated after Tuesday night, the striker scored two first-half goals, the first a delightfuly controlled finish. Nando even stuck up his hand for the penalty, a clear sign of returning confidence. It was Torres' first penalty in England.
Mikel is not a poor footballer (and certainly does not deserve much of his criticism), but he is something of a one-dimensional player. He is a tackler, a worker, an archetypal holding player. He is useful in breaking up play, but in the current age more is often required, and Mikel's presence in Chelsea's starting line-up can be seen as something of a stick rather than twist.
Much has been made of Alex Ferguson's continued reluctance to invest in a holding midfielder, but the fact is such positions are often not considered necessary in the upper echelons of the Premier League. Instead, box-to-box midfielders are preferred, content with ball at feet. These are players that must be as comfortable orchestrating moves in addition to breaking them up. Ramires fits this mould perfectly.
The selection of Mikel in midfield granted Benitez a comfort blanket, but also emphasised his determination to operate a defensive mindset, a system that had hampered the club against Manchester City. Without him, Chelsea were instantly more expansive, just as on Wednesday when the Nigerian was also left out. They were not without defensive troubles, but this was an overdue and welcome victory, earned through early adventure.
The suspension to Mikel and injury to Romeu will surely force the manager's hand, and Ramires will be asked to perform a slightly more defensive role. More than competent enough to adapt, Chelsea may well benefit from the alteration. The absence of Mikel may not make the heart grow fonder. With no game against a fellow member of the top five until February 24, the necessity for the defensive limitation of the Nigerian may be temporarily postponed.
It is clear that Benitez still has much to do, but there are reasons for positivity. Chelsea now have the Club World Cup, which the manager can utilise as a mid-season break, removing his squad from the tabloid firing line and taking the opportunity to formulate extensive plans for their domestic campaign. And whilst Chelsea fans will continue to boo their manager, they can at least enjoy a Saturday evening for the first time since October.
Daniel Storey - Be nice to him on Twitter