After a first win in eight games in the Premier League, it seems our rut may well have ended, and what better place to build confidence than at the Club World Cup this week.
It has been clear that goals were the problem, scoring them that is, as we only managed six goals in the seven games where we failed to record a win, compare that to nine in the last two, notably with Fernando Torres getting four of them. It’s certainly no coincidence that we go and score three at Sunderland after scoring six at Nordsjaelland. Goals breed more goals, so a couple of games against poorer opposition in the Club World Cup may be what we need.
Huge favourites going into the cup this week, with the fact that the Europeans have won the competition in each of the last five seasons, means this should be more of a training exercise for us, and a welcome distraction from the league.
We play Monterrey in the semi-finals on Thursday, and it is clear that Benitez will focus on getting our attacking prowess going again, especially in a Premier League season where goals seem more important than in previous years. Man United are six points clear now, despite shipping 23 goals in 16 games, proving the emphasis this season for teams seems to be trying to outscore the opposition. Six of our games this year have ended with four goals or more, a large part down to our leaky defence.
There is no doubt Rafa Benitez will take this competition seriously, he won it with Inter Milan in 2010, and astonishingly missed his father’s funeral to attend the final with Liverpool in 2005, which they lost to Sao Paulo.
It is another chance for Torres to show what he can do to our fans, and hopefully he will bring his current form through until the New Year, and with games against Aston Villa and Norwich coming up, there are certainly chances to do so, as we look to close the gap on the two Manchester clubs.
If Chelsea can live up to their favourites tag this week in Japan, it may well be the confidence they need to kickstart their Premier League campaign again. Benitez may not be popular at the Bridge, but bringing the cup home this week may well quell the negative chants.
Only time will tell.
By Brad Smith