Rafa’s Frank Assessment

Successive 0-0 draws, followed by a 3-1 defeat, and its because his squad are tired, quipped Rafa Benitez this week. He claims that the Chelsea squad is simply not big enough, and those that are there, are just too tired, having to compete in a Champions League campaign alongside the domestic cups.

In fairness, he may well have a point. Di Matteo’s start was great, but just 19 players had been used by Chelsea this season, and Marko Marin became the 20th last week, which is the lowest total in the league.

£100,000 a week, and they are tired. Fair enough, they may have to sometimes play 3 games in 8 days, but i do find it hard to believe that this is the sole reason behind the recent turn in form for Chelsea. Plus, one can only imagine Roman Abramovich buying players that are better than those already here, so its probably hard to put a figure on what Benitez thinks needs to be spent in January.

He is rumoured to be after a left-back, defensive midfielder, and a striker. Fair enough assessment I think, it is clear that Ashley Cole, even if he doesn’t leave on a free at the end of the season, will need to be replaced for the long-run, and Leighton Baines is probably a prime candidate for that, just as he will undoubtedly take over from Cole in the England setup pretty soon.

Mikel and Ramires in midfield have been consistent, but John Obi jets off to the African Cup of Nations early next year,  so it is clear a midfielder is also needed, Daniele De Rossi would be my favourite choice, although at 29, Roman may be skeptical of paying a large sum.

Also, Frank Lampard continues to suffer on the injury front, and Benitez admitted they were missing the leadership of him (and Terry) meaning the long term future of our midfield has to be addressed, as it seems that was lost in all the furor of the Oscar and Hazard purchases this summer.

As for our strike force, it seems until Torres scores a succession of hat-tricks, there will be constant speculation over a replacement joining the Bridge, with Taison, and Jackson Martinez’s names doing the rounds this week, while it seems increasingly likely that Lukaku will be brought back, particularly with Sturridge also on the injury list for the time being. Whilst Torres just needs any sort of break, both mentally, and physically.

It may be hard for the Chelsea fans to digest, but I guess Rafa is pretty confident that this is the case, and that he needs more time to assess, and to rotate the squad, to build back their fitness and form. After all, this isn’t FIFA 13, Roman can’t just purchase a fitness card or buy bodybuilding supplements and suddenly the squad is ready to go.

It certainly won’t get any easier for Rafa. After a first loss of his reign, he will be hoping the first win is extremely close.


By Brad Smith


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