Chelsea Vs. Man City; Rome vs. Juve: Preview, Live Action

We excavate this snippet and republish this from our Friday piece as today’s action is about to get underway.

The saga continues...

• Chelski vs. Europa’s Elite: Man City

Man City now have a but the Premiership trophy to focus on as they, too, departed the Champion’s League brackets this week and headed to Europa’s minor leagues.

In some ways on Monday it’s Old Chelsea vs. New Chelsea. Gone are the days when Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich splashed the cash on any brand soccer name that would look good–to him–on the back of the Blues uni (Ballack, Schevchenko).

Chelsea’s core (Lampard, Cole, Terry, Cech) is still intact and the Stamford Bridge crew are both better and worse for it.

On the positive side, there is still class–on field that is–with the aforementioned names.

Flipping to the negative side–with how firmly those critical-for-success players are entrenched–it is a poison pill for any manager trying to take over the ship and win some possessions for the trophy cabinets.


Chelsea are almost like the Yahoo of the Premiership. They still have massive talent and operational scale, but they need to clean house of the top players to re-position for success.

(BTW, Google (Manchester United) and now Facebook (Manchester City) have since passed Chelsea by while Arsenal–I’d guess you’d have to consider them e-Bay at this point–are still a thorn in their side.)

No bigger conundrum is than that of Frank Lampard. The man is consistent. He is prescient. He is an exceedingly smart player. However Lampard also plays what can be considered a “luxury position,” not unlike the “elephant” role on NFL defenses.

Frank: Not balding, but aging...

Just like the elephant role, Lampard’s role is one where he is typically relied on to make plays but do very little dirty work.

In the attack he has the advantage of trailing the play and either getting forward or issuing a shot goal after the workers in front of him have already cleared a path and set-up a table. Defensively Chelsea play high line, reducing the space that a midfielder needs to cover and play a holder (Obi Mikel, Romeu) tasked with snuffing everything else out.

So Lampard is well hidden and is well fed. His role can hide, but it can also be oh so much more if they shuffled the starting deck.

Another midfield situation in the Prem to watch.

• Serious A: Roma vs. Juve

(This section by coffee bean, The National and Serie A expert Eric Giardini.)


Monday afternoon sees Juventus travel to Rome to take on Roma to close out the Serie A weekend. The two clubs are heading in very different directions. Juventus are the last remaining unbeaten team in Italy and have a two-point lead over Milan and Udinese at the top. Last time out, Juventus made fairly routine work over Cesena 2-0. However, striker (and ex-Roma player) Mirko Vucinic picked up an injury in the match and is out until the new year.

Roma, on the other hand, are in a tailspin. Losers of two in a row (2-0 to Udinese, 3-0 to Fiorentina), things are not getting easier for the club who’s next two are against Juventus and Napoli. The buzz from the Eternal City is that these two matches are a make or break for manager Luis Enrique or he may find himself on the outs. Things are tougher, still, with the suspension of three players (Bojan, Juan, Fernando Gago) for red cards picked up against Fiorentina.

Just to make things worse, the long-term injuries to Simon Kjaer and Nicholas Burdisso means that Daniele De Rossi is looking like he will play out of position at center back.

Juventus should leave Rome with all three points, leading to further speculation on Enrique’s job status and increased panic on De Rossi and his ongoing contract situation.

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by EFG on 2011/12/12 at 12:00 PM

    Confirmed: De Rossi at center back, for what it’s worth.

    Good think I’m in the office or I’d need a drink.


  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2011/12/12 at 12:15 PM

    Lampard starting on bench against Manchester City.

    Sad to say — with Mata there Chelsea would be better off with Parker than Modric from Spurs.


  3. Posted by dth on 2011/12/12 at 1:01 PM

    Mancini should be punched whenever he selects Milner. Face or genitals if it’s out wide.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/12/12 at 1:25 PM

      What’s pathetic is that Milner is regarded as some neutralizer or something….because he’s left-footed?


    • Posted by Alex on 2011/12/12 at 4:48 PM

      My fondest memory of James Milner was the USA vs ENG match at the World Cup. Subbed before the end of the first half HAHA


      • Posted by dth on 2011/12/12 at 5:40 PM

        Someone has to figure out why managers seem to love James Milner so much. He’s an honest player, but he’s midtable quality ultimately.


  4. Posted by dth on 2011/12/12 at 1:03 PM

    Aguero is such a pimp.


  5. Posted by dth on 2011/12/12 at 1:38 PM

    Daniel Sturridge is a heckuva player. Crazy that Chelsea were prepared to give him up for Torres. In terms of smartest things I’ve said on this website, the recommendation that Liverpool take a flyer on Sturridge and keep the remaining cash for Summer 2011 has to be high on the list.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross [@BhasViswanathan] on 2011/12/12 at 8:39 PM

      I must admit, when there is not a lot of money involved, I always wonder why you’d allow a [young] player to go to a direct competitor – wouldn’t that make you think “why do they want him?”. I understand that Hughes was under pressure for immediate success, so he might not have wanted to put his trust in a young, unproven teenager, but why not at least send him out on loan to gain some PL experience / playing time? It seems that the loan at Bolton last season has done his confidence the world of good, and he might just become the player many of us thought he would become c2007 – and Chelsea not City will benefit from this.


  6. Posted by Excellency on 2011/12/12 at 6:25 PM

    Chelsea are clueless on the midfield. Hollywood starlets don’t play midfield.

    Chelsea only shapes up next to the box at either end. In the middle is nothing but a hash.

    When a team plays Chelsea they play both offence and defence on the midfield. Everybody has caught on.


  7. Posted by GeorgeCross [@BhasViswanathan] on 2011/12/12 at 8:54 PM

    I hear Sir Alex is interested in Nathaniel Clyne – I said 2 years ago it was a matter of when one of the big clubs picked him up. Wilfred Zaha is another one to watch out for -rumours have Liverpool [among others] eyeing him up.

    It really is a pity that this happens because we’ll never get promoted if we cannot keep hold of our best players – but I cannot fault them for having their heads turned by the likes of United and Liverpool. Hopefully, we’ll get the the League Cup final and you guys can see for yourselves what I have been trumpeting for a while!


    • Posted by Alex on 2011/12/13 at 12:41 AM

      Please excuse my ignorance but who are the guys you just named?


      • Posted by GeorgeCross [@BhasViswanathan] on 2011/12/13 at 6:01 AM

        Two of the hottest properties in the Championship. I forgot Croydon-born Sean Scannel.


        • Not directly related to these players, but I do think it benefits non-UK fans of the game in England to look up towns like Croydon or Tooting or Brighton to get an idea of what the spacing/demographics are like.

          Even though I knew things like “how close Goodison is to Anfield” I never realized how close Croydon and Palace are to London until I actually took the overground through Croydon to Kings Cross.

          I mean the distance between London and Newcastle is just a bit shorter than driving from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, BC; or about the same distance as LA to Vegas.


          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/12/13 at 1:43 PM

            Croydon is a London Borough. But because it’s not central people don’t consider it part of London. It is only 12 miles from Charing Cross and about 15 mins from Victoria on the overground.

            Even though I am Palace, growing up, I went to Plough Lane, The Valley, Upton Park, Stamford Bridge, Highbury, White Hart Lane, Loftus Rd and Craven Cottage many times over the years, and this is just London. Back then, you didn’t have to take a second mortgage to go to a game


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