After Chelsea won away at Crystal Palace, we ask what we learned from the game.
Chelsea need a left footed winger
We recently learned that Christian Pulisic is apparently inbound in the summer. While he is good player, his signing is a frustrating one. Games like today’s against Palace showed why a left-footed right winger is a must. So many more passing angles open up for the left footer, providing new challenges for parked bus defences. There is also the added threat of cutting in on the left foot to shoot, something that Willian just cannot do.
Pulisic, a right footer, will not provide this crucial element that Chelsea need. Until the Blues sign a player such as Leon Bailey who can provide this, they will continue to lack variation in their attack.
2. Ross Barkley is not good enough
Barkley is a perfectly decent player but he is not good enough for a Top 4 club. He probably never will be either. Everton was his ceiling as he is making clear with his performances.
Today, as he so often has this season, he offered absolutely nothing. He played very deep and did not venture forward ahead of the ball. When he received it, he either gave it away or lacked the confidence to do anything ambitious and passed sideways or backwards. As things stand, he will be sold for a small profit in the summer.
3. False 9 was the system for this game
Maurizio Sarri was left no choice but to play Olivier Giroud up front due to the injuries to Pedro, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi. This was a shame and Chelsea were worse off for it. Giroud was so slow and none of the link up balls he tried worked.
Crucially, his movement was non-existant so Palace’s defensive structure was not challenegd. One of the advantages of Eden Hazard playing number nine is that he drops deep. This gives midfielders another passing option and defensders have to leave the defensive structure to track him as he is so dangerous. This opens up space for everyone else.
The Blues got away with the victory and Sarri will look forward to having Hazard back in the nine position.