Chelsea v Manchester City: The first task for Rafael Benitez is knocking his defence into shape
24 November 2012 12:00
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To John Terry and co, this is a bloke here for the short term, keeping the
seat warm for Pep Guardiola. How can Benítez possibly command the dressing
room with any real authority when, the chances are, he won’t still be there
come the start of next season? He might as well have ‘stand-in’ tattooed on
Nevertheless, the Spaniard, I’m sure, has enough confidence in his ability to
fancy his chances of bringing an improvement to a Chelsea
side that has struggled of late to strike a balance between attack and
defence. The flair and imagination demanded by Roman Abramovich has often
left the back four unhelpfully exposed.
First port of call, then, is the task of tightening up. Never mind Fernando
Torres and reinvigorating the striker. That can wait. No, in the short time
he has before Sunday’s clash with Manchester
City, Benítez will probably be concentrating on the team’s shape to
try to prevent the visitors from causing chaos on the counter-attack.
Having watched DVDs of Chelsea’s recent games, Benítez will have noted how
opponents found space between the lines. How the likes of James Morrison,
for instance, managed to sneak behind John Obi Mikel and Oriol Romeu, the
two holding midfielders, in last weekend’s defeat at West Brom.
This comes down to concentration, to staying alert when your own team have the
ball, making sure you don’t drift out of position. Chelsea, after all, have
enough talented players on the front foot to cause City problems. Someone
such as Mikel doesn’t need to join in.