For some years Chelsea have been criticised for the manner in which they play football. While the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal have been praised for their free-flowing attacking football in recent years, Chelsea are generally seen as a team that win ugly.
This criticism goes back to the Jose Mourinho era, though some of it is harsh; in The Special One’s early days Chelsea played an expansive style of football making use of Arjen Robben and Damien Duff on the wings. It was closer to the end of his time that accusations of ‘boring’ football were thrown Chelsea’s way and may have contributed to Mourinho’s departure from the club as the owner wanted to see his side playing attractive football. The idea that Chelsea play uninspiring football was never truer than in the year that Avram Grant took over when West Ham manager Alan Curbishley claimed that it would be an injustice if United didn’t win the title as they played the more entertaining football.
Luiz Felipe Scolari was brought in to make Chelsea a more entertaining outfit, but after a bright start he lost his grip on the side. Hiddink was brought in as a quick fix and he did a splendid job; the Dutchman motivated the likes of Anelka and Drogba and the two strikers now form the lethal partnership that so many thought was impossible. Now under Ancelotti, Chelsea have begun to master the art of winning games with an impressive style of play. He has done what many expected Scolari to do and freed the full-backs. Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic are both comfortable in the attacking third of the pitch and compensate for the lack of width a diamond formation can result in.
A lot has been made of the physicality of the Chelsea side; Drogba, Essien, Terry and Lampard are all extremely powerful players and this certainly made the win over Arsenal a lot easier. But Chelsea are also very comfortable in possession and are beginning to play with a real flair as shown by Drogba’s goal against Bolton a few weeks ago that came at the end of a superb flowing move. They are good to watch, their first goal against Arsenal was well worked, from Terry’s burst forward to Cole’s inch-perfect cross and Drogba’s smart finish. They can no longer be accused of being boring; playing good football and probably the strongest team in Europe, Roman Abramovich’s vision for Chelsea may be coming true.