Sunderland, Aston Villa and now Stoke have all shipped a magnificent seven against the Premier League leaders. Should Chelsea and their Italian manager now be regarded as the league’s ‘great entertainers’ after scoring 93 Prem goals so far this season?
As a Blue I believe it is about time that Chelsea were credited for their football this season and it has been refreshing to see us play with a certain swagger under the former AC Milan chief. Like his predecessors Ancelotti is very much haunted by the ghost of former boss Jose Mourinho, who won back-to-back titles in west London with a resilient side that were labelled ‘boring’ and too defensive by many critics.
How has Carlo managed to transform a utilitarian Chelsea team into a free-scoring and entertaining side to watch?
He hasn’t achieved it by way of transfers that’s for sure as Yuri ‘Russian Ronaldinho’ Zhirkov was the only significant addition last summer. Although Yuri has impressed in the absence of Ashley Cole recently he has barely featured in the side this season. So, Ancelotti basically just inherited a squad that Sir Alex Ferguson accused of living up to the club’s former nickname as a bunch of Pensioners, who were ‘too old’ to win the title.
Perhaps the Italian manager has just been lucky that two of his OAPs Frank Lampard and the mercurial talent of Didier Drogba have both enjoyed a rich vein of form this term. Lamps (as he is known by his fans) scored his 19th and 20th Premier League goals against Stoke on Sunday (not bad for an overrated off-form fat bloke, eh?). The 31-year-old was astonishingly overlooked when the PFA Team of the Season was announced at the weekend as his peers decided that midfield enforcer Darren Fletcher (kicks the opposition more than the ball, go figure) was more deserving of a place in the XI. But Frank won’t care too much and has benefitted from a reversion to a 4-3-3 formation after Ancelotti originally employed him at the apex of a diamond formation and has scored 25 goals this term, which is his best return at the club.
Drogba amazingly has not scored a single goal in any of the seven-goal hauls this season, but has already equalled his record for goals (33) and laid off plenty of assists despite going away for the African Cup of Nations in winter. The Ivorian has a great chance of winning the Prem’s golden boot award as he is just one behind Wayne Rooney, who is suffering some injury problems.
Before Guus Hiddink arrived at Chelsea last season Florent Malouda’s form was as bad as his haircuts, but he has continued to improve and has been a revelation for Ancelotti this season and has to be regarded as the club’s most improved player and along with Ashley Cole (who was on fire before his injury) has given Chelsea a deadly dimension down their left flank.
Carlo has not had it all his own way this season though and has had to deal with many problems on and off of the football pitch. This season the tabloids have preferred to focus on the misdemeanours and bedroom antics of John Terry and Ashley Cole rather than the football, which has drawn unwanted attention to the club and appears to have affected the form of the usually solid Terry. Chelsea have also face the possibility of a transfer ban (which they have successfully overturned) over the signing of promising starlet Gael Kakuta and Ancelotti has had to bounce back from many poor results against Wigan, West Ham, Hull, Inter and Spurs to name a few.
Carlo Ancelotti has certainly brought something different to west London and is within touching distance of an historic double. He’s still got a lot to learn about the Premier League, but his team have been great to watch this season.
Ruud Gullit was the man who brought ‘sexy football’ to Chelsea in the late 1990s and the Stamford Bridge faithful will hope that the current attacking brand of play under Ancelotti will long continue.
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