Chelsea? Sexy? Yes, a sentence not many thought they would read, but that is what has become of Roman’s boys in blue. There is a sense of swag and perhaps tika-taka that can now be associated with this current Chelsea side. It’s simple, with Di Matteo came a sexier more aero dynamic convertible and off went the blue coach that was last seen parked inside the Nou Camp last season.
I for one remember a time when you couldn’t pay us to watch Chelsea in the Champions League group stages. Well, I suppose you could, but we would take the money and watch whichever English side was also in action on the same night. But that was then and this is now.
Tuesdays night’s fixtures was a no-brainer for me, it had to be Chelsea vs Shakhtar Donetsk, and not just because I wanted to see an impressive Ukrainian side so Brazilian that they barely have a last name between them, but because I genuinely felt this is where I would find value for money. Chelsea are now genuinely interesting to neutrals – predictability and emphasis on shape have been replaced by vulnerability and emphasis on creativity and attack, que Hazard & Mata.
Now, for all Chelsea’s creativity, they haven’t really been tested at the back this season, well, Spurs had a go this weekend, but seemed to have forgot how to defend. Non the less, this defeat was coming for Chelsea. They have played only two genuinely good teams in the Premier League and twice rode their luck to come away with all three points. They may have allowed Shakhtar 23 shots on Tuesday night, but that was less than the 26 gifted to Tottenham (who were of course equally generous with a raft of defensive mistakes) on Saturday. Shaktar showed us exactly what can happen when the opposition do not tremble at the sightings of Hazard, Oscar & Mata. The trio will scare the life outta most Premier League defenders, but Donetsk worked hard, kept their defensive shape, gave them no time on the ball and then unleashed their own terrific triptych of Willian, Alex Teixeira and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The term ‘Footballing lesson’ is an over-used phrase in football – but on Tuesday night it seemed apt.
I just now wonder what Roman Abramovich might have made of Chelsea’s performance in Ukraine and whether the Russian understands that this is the kind of schooling that can happen if you commit to a more open brand of football. This new Chelsea is altogether more entertaining but can this new Chelsea repeat the trophy-winning feats of the older, duller Chelsea? Well, there is one thing for sure, I will rather enjoy watching them try.