Ahead of the game I spoke to the assistant editor of TattooedFootball.com and one of the chief contributors of False10.com Jack Crosswell.
Thanks to Jack for his time.
What are your thoughts on your start to the season?
I have been very impressed with the way the team has come together (especially after our capitulation against AtleticoMadrid in the Super Cup) and is playing a type of football that so far has not only produced our best start to a Premier League season ever (I think) but is enjoyable to watch too. It is a shame that John Terry’s antics have stolen so many headlines away from the entertaining football that Chelsea has produced so far.
What have you made of your new signings so far? Hazard, in particular, has been in sensational form…
Hazard has been a revelation. Every time he gets on the ball you just know anything can happen! I would hate to be an opposition defender playing against him, you must just hope he doesn’t do anything that makes you look too stupid! I also think that the additions of Oscar, Victor Moses, Marko Marin and Cesar Azpilicueta all show that we are heading in the right direction. Oscar in particular has been very good, I would have expected him to take some time to settle in to the Premier League but he has just dropped right in and looks comfortable in that exciting attacking three with Hazard and Mata. The other signings all show that we are heading towards a youthful attack minded team, which I think is always going to be exciting for a fan.
Do you think Fernando Torres will ever get back to being the 30+ goals a season striker that he once was or do you thinkhes simply not that sort of player anymore?
I will always hold out hope that he will, I have bet on him being the Premier League top scorer ever since his transfer to Chelsea (so far not exactly in profit on that one!), while he seems to be back to his normal confidence and does have an enviable list of people to supply him with the killer ball I don’t think he will be a 30+ striker. That is not to say that he should be replaced though. The way we are playing now the goals are coming from all over the team, even the defenders are getting in on it, and Torres work rate has really impressed me, I often think he is a bit of an unsung hero at Chelsea to be honest.
Is Roberto Di Matteo the right manager for you long term?
To be brutally honest I don’t know. As a Chelsea fan I love having Robbie at the helm, it’s always good to see an old legend managing the club successfully. Plus he will always be the manager that won us our first ever Champions League trophy so certainly deserves credit for that miracle. The problem is that I think Abramovich is dead set on getting Pep in to turn Chelsea into BlueLondonBarcelona, so Robbie will have to achieve more and more to stop Roman replacing him. That said the players respect him, he is winning games and doing so playing a much more attractive style of football than we are used to at the Bridge so maybe that’ll be enough to placate Roman. If I had my way I would give him the long term reins and let him get on with it, we are playing a more youthful team and he seems to know what he’s doing.
Do you think AVB deserved more time to implement the changes he was trying to bring to the club?
I think I am now the only Chelsea fan that thinks so, yes. You can’t give someone the scope of doing something over 5 years and then drop them after 9 months. AVB is clearly a talented manager, and yes he made mistakes on the way at Chelsea, mainly with the way he dealt with the “old guard”, but I still think that given time he would have gotten us where we need to be. That said we won the Champions League without him, so maybe not!
Are we now witnessing the end of the Chelsea old guard (Cole, Terry, Lampard etc) and do you think you have adequate replacements ready to take their place?
Yes I think so. Lampard and Terry more so. Terry (before his ban) was being “rested” much more than we are used to, andLampard isn’t starting every game now either. I do think that they will be playing for the club for a while longer much like Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs are, but will be used as and when the manager needs to utilise them and their experience. Cole’s case is a bit different, he is still our undisputed left back, although Bertrand is playing more (even if it is often in front of Cole) and looking a decent prospect, however there are a lot of rumours linking him with PSG and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move on in the summer when his contract is up. Until then though he will continue to start pretty much every game (other than some cup games) unless his legs are broken, and even then he may get the nod.
Onto the game, who do you think will win and what will the score be?
This is a difficult one, United have won all of their games except their opener against Everton and the 3-2 loss to Spurs, while Chelsea are undefeated (with a draw with QPR our only blip so far). Both teams have ridiculously talented attacking players and any game that is likely to feature Torres, RVP, Mata, Rooney, Hazard, Welbeck, Oscar, Chicharito and many others is likely to yield goals (so it should be a good game for the neutral). I am going to go for a Chelsea win and the reason is (my obvious bias aside) I think that Chelsea’s defensive record is slightly better than that of United. Chelsea have kept 4 clean sheets so far this season and only conceded 3 goals at home (1 against Norwich and 2 against Reading), while United have scored 8 goals at Away games this season and have conceded 4 on the road too. Chelsea do have Terry missing, but I think that may be a blessing in disguise as Cahill is a much more mobile replacement, while United will be missing Vidic and have a toss up I goalkeeper between the talented but still struggling to find his feet a bit De Gea andLindegaard, which I don’t think helps the stability of the team. Both teams will score, but I think Chelsea will just edge it at home so I’m going for a 3-2.
Where will you finish this season?
If we can keep up the way we are playing at the moment, definitely top 3, I think it will be very close up there between Chelsea, United and City. I think City are struggling a bit at the moment and United are having a bit of trouble defensively so while it is a bit optimistic and a bit early for predictions (have I covered myself enough there?) I think we will finish top.
Where will United finish this season?
As I said I think the top 3 will be Chelsea City and United, City I think are faltering too much and United have a decent squad chock full of attacking talent. I think United will come second if Chelsea come top as I think City will fall away a bit this season.
Finally, will you retain the Champions League?
I would love more than anything to do that, but I think it will be incredibly difficult. We have started well in the competition and have a good squad for it. I think that we will make the quarter finals along with United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Juventus and after there it is anyone’s guess who will win the competition although I would say we have as good a chance as all those 8, if not better than a few.