Petr Cech’s calf injury could quite easily change the course of Chelsea’s season with deputy Hilario now thrust into the limelight to play a pivotal role in Chelsea’s quest for major honours.
Cech’s calf injury is one that has plagued him in recent months and his latest setback is likely to keep him out of action for up to a month with a torn calf muscle the diagnosed culprit after being stretchered off against Inter Milan in the Champions League around a week ago.
His deputy Hilario or ‘Hilarious’ as he’s rather less affectionately known on the terraces is a player of such incompetence that he’s presence in the starting line-up can send shivers down the spines of many a hardened Chelsea fan. His performance against Man City was woefully inept and short of the standard required at a top club and with Chelsea challenging on three fronts, he could seriously damage their chances of silverware during his time in goal.
At fault as much as John Terry for Tevez’s first goal and beaten far too easily by Bellamy’s first, Hilario has the look of a keeper way out of his depth. It’s always hard for a keeper to dip in and out of the side, there’s no doubt about that, being in goal is a position that requires match practice more than any other and your mistakes are magnetised tenfold to what they would be anywhere else on the pitch so I do have a degree of sympathy for Hilario but the Portuguese international is some way short of being Premiership class.
Scolari’s move to sell Cudicini to Spurs now looks as ill-judged as ever and to be honest Chelsea have never really replaced him. It’s clear to see Hilario doesn’t feed his back four with confidence; he’s both hesitant and clueless in equal measure and a cause for concern for Ancelotti.
Many pundits cited Chelsea reliance on African players ahead of the African Cup of Nations but such is their strength in depth you’d hardly known they were missing at all and far too much was made of this issue as they enjoyed a great run of form over the Christmas period. Fast forward a couple of months and Chelsea’s form has dipped notably the during February and to be without such an integral member to the side’s spine such as Cech is nothing short of a crisis.
Chelsea host the return of the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’s’ Inter Milan side to Stamford Bridge on March 16th with Hilario likely to be between the sticks for that occasion. Without Cech in goal the tie at the San Siro could well have been over already and the Czech international’s presence will be sorely missed.
Ross Turnball remains the only alternative and after his baffling move to Chelsea he’s seen even less action than Hilario this season and during his time at Middlesbrough he didn’t look the best to be honest. It can be said other than Man Utd, Spurs and Villa very few clubs in the top flight have good deputies, Arsenal have the shaky Fabianski and Liverpool have Cavalieri who looks every inch a Brazilian keeper and in a bad way.
If Cech is out for as long as is scheduled he’ll miss tricky ties at home to Stoke in the FA Cup, away at Blackburn in the league as well as the aforementioned Inter Milan tie and should he be out a little while longer he could even miss the potentially title defining matches against Aston Villa at home on March 27th and Man Utd away on April 3rd.
Individual mistakes cost you matches, points and most importantly as John terry will testify to, they can cost you trophies – with Hilario in goal all three are more likely to happen over the next month or so than if Cech had stayed fit. He resembles a keeper incapable of saving a shot, much like Almunia does for Arsenal, and with him in goal Chelsea stand an extremely testing month ahead.
Written By James McManus