Chelsea v Manchester City: The first task for Rafael Benitez is knocking his defence into shape
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 his forehead. 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.
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