PAT NEVIN: MATCHING UP
For a columnist and keen observer of all matters Chelsea, there is no shortage of subjects to consider when looking back on the last seven days, as Pat Nevin has discovered…
I will get on to the transfer window momentarily but first I have to say that I have rarely, if ever, felt so positive following a defeat. The performance and effort against Bayern Munich in the Super Cup was at least as invigorating as it was heart rending.
In the space of five short days Mourinho's men have drawn against the European champions after 120 minutes (that should be 121 minutes), having stood toe to toe with the English champions earlier in the week.
What was most intriguing were the tactics adopted for the two ties. Against Manchester United there was a defensive solidity at the core, but against Guardiola's all-star outfit there was already a more penetrating counter-attacking philosophy in place. On another day Oscar, David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic could all have wrapped it up long before Bayern equalised. The breaks were lightning quick and it is clear that this is a style which will undoubtedly be needed going forward this season.
I am not convinced Chelsea will play this way every week, but the need to be adaptable and tight at the back, especially away from home in the most challenging European ties, will be absolutely necessary. To win big in Europe, especially in the Champions League, you need to know when and how to shut up shop. The Blues are releasing this under Jose, the attacking options you feel are already well in place.
The European draw itself would have pleased most Chelsea-minded folk. It is never actually going to be easy, but it certainly could have been a lot harder. Steaua, Basel and Schalke will all be tricky, particularly away from home, but with the organisation and meticulous preparation that Jose brings, I expect a positive outcome.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the playing style of the last two games demands huge levels of energy and fitness. If you consider the work rate of the likes of Oscar it becomes clear the entire squad will be needed at various points. It may look as though we have a multitude of international-class midfielders, but playing this high tempo lung-bursting style will demand rotation if this is going to be a successful season in most, if not all, of the trophies we compete in.
It has been an incredibly busy week down Stamford Bridge. I am on paragraph six here before I can get round to welcoming one of the greatest strikers in world football over the past decade to the club. Samuel Eto'o has in his time terrorised defences as much as any striker on the planet and we hope that after his sojourn in deepest southern Russia, he is ready willing and able to get to the pinnacle one more time.
Willian, his former team mate at Anzhi, joins too at the height of the fire sale over there, so the strength, the depth and the talent is now arguably the equal of anyone in the league in that midfield area.
At the weekend, with the Blues not playing in the regular Saturday and Sunday spots, I nipped over to the Emirates to check out the local rivals this season. Having been to see Spurs the week before playing very impressively against Swansea, I expected AVB's side to push on with all their new signings in the north London derby.
Suffice to say that team still needs a little time to bed in, whereas Arsenal, after their awful start against Villa, looked far more impressive for the majority of the game. Their problem looked to be a lack of depth and the injuries they seem to get to their most important players. Ozil may well plug that gap. Even so, the suspicion so far is that both sides may be more concerned about what is coming up from behind, i.e. Liverpool, than what is likely to be ahead in the league.
The final few days' transactions in the transfer window may however make a difference, and what a window it has been. Rooney may well have stayed put, as is his right, but huge truckfuls of money changed hands. Who bought best? We will have to wait and see; the Premier League has been awash with as many big money failures from abroad as it has had successes. It is something akin to a lottery at times and as Arsene Wenger attests, it is a pretty expensive one to play, which is why his move is so impressive, but let's not forget that Chelsea and Jose felt that there was enough here to let a few go on loan such as Moses and Lukaku.
The last hours did however surprise a few Blues fans as Lukaku and Mata news started to be reported in the media. With Ba, Eto'o and Torres around and only one place to fight for, I guess Romelu has been allowed to move to get even more experience to add to what he got at West Brom. I still suspect he has a huge future at the club.
As for Juan and the stories that surrounded him, that will be covered by Jose over the coming days. A huge favourite and twice Player of the Year, I am just happy he is still with us, full stop.
My apologies are due on two counts regarding last week's quiz. First of all my dodgy typing meant that the wrong email address was put at the bottom of the page. Fortunately many of you figured out the error that 'chlesea' is not quite the right spelling of our club's name and you managed to switch the 'e' and the 'l' to good effect.
The second apology is that it was a tricky question.I asked 'Who was the last Chelsea player to score the winner against Man Utd?' The vast majority recalled (with some pleasure) Juan Mata burying the ball in the corner of Lindegaard's's net in the 1-0 win back in May. The problem was that the dubious goals panel (the misers), looked at the goal with a view to giving it to Phil Jones, after it took a nick off him on the way in. Jones isn't the correct name obviously because he isn't a Chelsea player. In actual fact the dubious goals panel did look at it and decided to give it to Juan, so they were good guys after all. So all of you who searched back to the previous cup game, good thinking, but no.
There has to be a winner however and the one chosen at random this week is Jayanth Koundinya Serla from Hyderabad in India. Congratulations and the prize will be shipped out in the very near future.
This week a bit more straight forward, could you guess how many Chelsea players will score international goals before next Tuesday? Belgium are playing Scotland, so there might be a couple in there for starters, although I personally hope not as a fervent Scot myself. (P.S. I am not including loan players from Chelsea in this question!)
Answers to me this time at the right address, firstname.lastname@example.org The lucky winner randomly chosen will get a DVD review of last season signed by one of the players. Good luck with that and to the boys off on international duty.