Mails: Defending Chelsea because it nearly worked…

Date published: Monday 5th March 2018 3:21

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Wait a minute…Chelsea nearly did it
I could be missing something but, amidst the cries of ‘anti-football’, didn’t Chelsea restrict City to one goal (from an individual defensive error) and few good chances, and weren’t they an in-form proper 9 away from posing a threat on the counter?

It might not have been attractive but Conte set Chelsea up very effectively.
Chris MUFC


…They were some criticisms of Chelsea’s approach in the previous mailbox.

I’m not sure I completely agree, Chelsea’s tactics seems to have worked in the first half. They mostly kept City quiet. Yes they were going for a point but one point is more than zero.

They’ve away form have been horrendous lately and while they displayed intent against United, well City are a different beast together at the moment. Chelsea may be defending champions from last season but at the moment they’re a team that’s fifth playing the runaway league leaders.

Where I do agree with is Conte’s approach after they conceded or at the very least later on in the game. I can understand being cagey when things are level but not when you’re behind. This I agree Conte got wrong.
Yaru, Malaysia


…A lot of fellow Chelsea fans disgruntled about the tactics yesterday don’t see the bigger picture. No we didn’t press and yes it was awful to watch but Conte’s tactics arguably could have worked not to dissimillar to the Barca game where one defender turned off and the opposition took that chance, that one chance winning the game. The sit off and don’t press might have resulted in City having 71% possession (surprised it was that low) but resulted in three shots on target the only one of which Alonso should have been more alert to. How many chances did Barca create against us? Perhaps the only one was capitalised on a mistake which top teams do. Plus there is only a very select handful of teams that would sorely miss Kante if he was one of their first team 11.

Offensively the tactics didn’t work out in this game unlike the Barca game due to the amount of times on the counter attack the ball was given away by frustratingly mainly by Pedro. Hazard can’t compete as a number 9 for balls that were cleared to nowhere near him and needs to play facing the goal but at the same time Pedro is far far busier when not in possession.

However I must admit how frustrating it is as to how late Conte usually leaves it to make a change and can flaw him for this.
Gaz, CFC, Sidcup (Sane is gonna be a top top player)


No, it was depressing
Chelsea was set up exactly as I was expecting against Manchester City. This was a precursor or a practice match to how we are going to set up against Barca. But what I was not expecting was that Chelsea’s decision to completely abandon the thought of scoring an actual goal given the few opportunities. It was a really depressing performance from the Champions of England. It is as if we have already given a pass to the top four. If it is a ploy to save energy and put all the eggs in one Champions League basket then we did a good job in the first part of that by restricting Man City but still completely forgot the second part of the job that is to score goals, provided that we must score in Camp Nou to even think of progressing.

It was not the first half that made me pull my already falling hair. It was the response of the team after going behind. It was really disheartening to see them just play the way they were playing and not even trying to attack. It was as if they are in a futuristic virtual game where spectators can get into the ground and see the other team playing from close quarters. Giroud after 75 min and Morata after 85 min ? Why so late? That was as ridiculous as the game itself.

Now a few words on Manchester City. I fully agree that they have been a great team this season and worthy champions and they may even win the Champions League. But, by god that was really awful from them yesterday. I know they can’t do much attacking when the other team is sleeping across the goal post, but it was not their backward passing or sideways passing that riled me up. It was their personal passing game between two players at different instants of time at the centre of the pitch. It was really awful to watch as if they were just passing to each other just to increase the Opta stats and create a record of passing. One of the most boring games I have ever watched and that too between the current champions and champions elect of England.
Sreekanth, Germany


Dirty? Maybe but it works…
In response to Lewis, Busby Way about how cynical and dirty Man City are, yes I would agree that they are. But the thing to keep in mind is that this is all part of the master plan.

Ultimately we all play the same rules and Man City do just enough to stay within them without incurring serious infringement. If a few cynical fouls results in free-kicks and taking-one-for-the-team bookings then so be it. It stops the breakaway which, by the nature of things this season, is probably one of their opposition’s few opportunities to score against them. It stops the momentum and ultimately stops City conceding a goal. They can regain possession a bit later and carry on their merry way back to the opponents box.

They can play this way because their attacking might means they have the lion’s share of possession and therefore rarely need to resort to cynical fouling as much as if they were playing like, say, Chelsea yesterday (#boomboom). If they did then they would be down to nine men before half time.

I don’t want to come over all ‘PEP IS A GENIUS’ fanboy type but, ultimately, he has come up with a bloody good system that means they can score 120 goals a game and keep 92 clean sheets each season. It may not always be within the spirit of the game but who the buck plays that way these days eh?
Rob (feeling dirty), Leicester


Are Spurs worse?
Although I am also a United fan, I am fully in agreement with Lewis, Busby Way this morning on the tactical foul situation. City are bad, but I don’t actually think they are the worst club for it, at least according to the eye test (i.e. in my opinion, because I can’t be bothered checking the statistics). Spurs are much worse, and Pochettino’s Southampton were awful for it as well. It is a key factor in their pressing game, and very much fits with Poch’s “as long as we can get away with it, we’ll do whatever we can to win” philosophy. And I’m not sure I can really blame them, or City, or anyone else for exploiting it. Much like time wasting, which is equally frustrating to watch, it is down to the FA and their referees to find ways to prevent and punish those tactics.
Tom Coxon


Come on Jose…open up
I think I speak for all Liverpool fans when I say we hope that Jose approaches this weekend’s game gangbusters style (option 2 in Mark’s email).

C’mon Jose, open up, let’s play some football. He won’t though. He will park the bus in his own back yard and look to frustrate the Reds while trying to catch us on the counter attack or at a set piece.

In fairness it is his best chance of getting the three points. If Man Utd open up against the Reds this weekend then they better pray DeGea has one of those games.
Gough, LFC, Dublin


Xhaka can…occasionally
In and amongst some truly terrible displays from our keeper and our goalkeeper and let’s not forget Bellierin ballsing up as soon as he took the field, there was a fairly decent second half performance from one of the Arsenal players yesterday.

While Wilshere thinks he can fool the fan base by running arahnd, swearing, saying ‘ave it and showing some farkin pashun, Xhaka actually played well.

The assist to Aubameyang actually seemed to embolden him and he seemed to excel in playing further forward in his actual preferred position.

Food for thought for Wenger’s successor in 2029 certainly.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


On West Brom woes
Peter Goldstein’s piece is a pretty fair appraisal of things at West Brom I think.

There was a discussion at the Moon Under water in Watford on Saturday morning that went like this….Which players of 10 years ago were having the pinnacle of their careers with us, and which are now. As the song goes, it was probably Morrison, Gera, Brunt and Texiera, Robert Koren and Johnno (Greening).

And who is it now? Ben Foster and Craig Dawson probably, and you can’t get a tune from that.

Recruitment has been an issue at the club since Dan Ashworth left to join Uncle Roy at the England Camp. The club had a good 50/50 hit rate recruiting early 20s talent. We haven’t had a really good forward since Lukaku on loan and Peter Odemwingie. it seems we went through a patch of recruiting has-beens and never were’s.

The midfield was pretty much bypassed under Tony Pulis and is rotten. We’ve lacked a real attacking pace, other than Matty Phillips, but even he is deficient when it comes to providing any cover in defence.

The support (especially away) is the one thing that keeps me hooked. It finds humour in the darkest places, and although we won’t always agree, at least we feel in it together now, rather than just numb under anaesthetic Pulisball.

I fear there’s worse to come from this season, and we will go down. We might not bounce back this time, but I hope we are at least refreshed, as there’s still a nasty taste in West Brom mouths.

Sam Field, Oli Burke, Craig Dawson, and Johnny Leko are our future now. let’s hope it’s the start of something new!
Rusty (A green and yellow away kit will make all the difference) Gray, West Brom


…Good piece by Peter Goldstein on WBA. He’s generally hit all the right notes, but you need to understand how bizarre Pulis’ transfer policy was in his final year.

In an already defensive, goal-shy team he signed another three holding midfielders in his final six months (Barry, Livermore and Krychowiak who he immediately decided to play as a DM.) He also re-signed Yacob (about three starts since) and Sam Field emerged.

In attack Pulis signed £15m Oliver Burke who he never played, then we lost Chadli and Morrison all term. Chadli is a particularly farcical case, he refused to do the Pulis pre-season of running up Austrian mountains because he said it was too hard, then he played half fit, got injured and hasn’t got back since.

He basically created two banks of four and five slowly rumbling up and down the pitch towards Rondon, who can’t hit a barn door. A 4×4 stuck in first gear, robust but horribly slow. Pulis then won 2 in 23 games, deservedly getting the sack.

The ‘careful what you wish for’ brigade point out that Palace, Stoke and WBA are all worse without Pulis, but that outside analysis removes the fact that there is only one way to play with a team of slow-moving giants.

Pulis leaves a husk. A complete absence of any of the tools that a normal manager would need. In a season when half the league is facing a relegation scrap, there’s a reason no-one signed Pulis to keep them up.

Pardew has been a feckless disaster. Barcelona, taxi gate, Sturridge, complete absence of subs or guile, winning away at Liverpool then not picking that team again since. He’s out of his depth.
Andy Jones


Negative talk
In response to Ian, LFC (I was positive Girona was going down in August…) Hartford, CT USA, in 2004/2005 Everton qualified for the Champions League with a negative goal difference (-1).

So, y’know, maybe Big Sam doe have a plan up his sleeve after all!
Mick Campbell, Dublin


…As a Liverpool fan I’m surprised Ian, LFC, doesn’t recall our blue nosed friends from down the road reaching the champions league ahead of the ‘pool in 2005 with -1 goal difference. And then the glorious failure of being knocked out by the yellow submarine in the qualifying rounds of the competition that following year. Vaguely recall some comically bad referring against the toffees by the usually brilliant Pierluigi Collina. And of course Villarreal made it to the semi final that year, eventually beaten by Arsenal. And for the Gunners, the point the 12 year misery began.
Mark, LFC, Hong Kong


In response to Ian, LFC, Huddersfield last season finished fifth with a -2 GD, they ended up promoted, whilst Fulham a place below them had a +28, poor Fulham, but if we go more worldwide then I found out after a five minute google, POSCO Atoms, who were South Korean champions in 1986 finished with a goal difference of -2, but even more funny is the fact this was despite losing more games than they won.
Mikey, CFC (Can we just end the season now please?)

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