Scolari plays down Drogba impact – who is he kidding?

I’m going to make this relatively brief today, because I have often commented on this blog that I consider Didier Drogba Chelsea’s most important player. This view hasn’t changed and I don’t want to bore you with the same views again.

However, something riled me slightly last night after the narrow victory over CFR Cluj in the Champions League. Earlier, Drogba had come of the bench and scored the goal which helped Chelsea stumble into the last 16 of the competition. The striker’s influence was there for all to see and he gave the team a new dimension, a new belief and a new impetuous.

Everyone in the ground knew that Drogba had made the difference. Chelsea were looking rather short on ideas until the Ivory Coast man came on.

However, speaking after the game, Luiz Felipe Scolari seemed to play down the impact that the striker had on the game. Despite the fact that Drogba played a huge part in securing Chelsea’s first home win since the beginning of November, Scolari couldn’t quite bring himself to heap to much praise on the player.

The Chelsea boss did describe Drogba as ‘one of the best in the world’, but this was merely a brief passing comment. Scolari’s focus was instead on ensuring that people knew that Nicolas Anelka is his main striker right now.

He said that ‘our scorer is Anelka’ and proceeded to remind everyone that his team haven’t done too badly considering Drogba has only played 11 times this season. This may well be the case, but I think it is fair to say that if Drogba didn’t play again this season, the football odds wouldn’t fancy Scolari’s men to conquer in Europe.

There may not be too much to read into Scolari’s comments, I just found it bizarre that he was being so defensive. We all know that Anelka has done well in recent weeks and we all know that Chelsea are a more threatening team at the highest level when Drogba is playing. Why not just admit that? Why is there the need to defend Anelka when praising Drogba?

Chelsea captain John Terry told it more like it is. He said that it was a ‘great boost’ to have Drogba back and that he is a ‘great dimension’ for the team. These are the views echoed by everyone – other than Scolari, whose opinion is likely to have the most impact on Drogba.

Chelsea can’t afford to lose Drogba during January, because he is irreplaceable in terms of the team’s ambitions this season. Something that makes Scolari’s nervy and defensive comments even more bizarre.

Thoughts?

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about football betting

The Case Against Didier Drogba

There’s no doubt about it, the subject of Didier Drogba is one that completely divides opinion at Chelsea. As already seen in the previous article, and to an extent, as he showed in last night’s game, he’s regarded by some as the one player capable of getting us a result – and possibly even turning our home form around.

Other supporters though – myself included – regard him as a right pain in the arse. A damaging influence, who’s brief but sulky appearances this season continue to suggest he couldn’t really care less about the club and is just biding his time for a better offer.

Not only does he seem to need constant adulation but he demands that the game revolves around him. For me, his ego just needs a little too much rubbing and again last night’s game highlighted this. Apparently satisfied by the excitement his warm-up seemed to induce, he was then prepared to launch himself fully into the game for the first time this season. And it didn’t take him long to take over up front, reducing an unhappy looking Anelka into the almost redundant supporting striker role.

Fair play, it was a great take from the Ivorian for his goal, but when Anelka had the opportunity to play a pass at one stage and took it on himself without the desired outcome, the look on Drogba’s face while he stood hand on hips already suggests he isn’t thinking in terms of a partnership here. Because ultimately, this striker has to believe the game revolves around him. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that all the strikers brought in to play alongside Drogba – Kezman, Shevchenko, Kalou, and Anelka – have failed to cut the mustard on the same pitch as Didier.

I guess for me though, the biggest problem is that Drogba hasn’t made up for the Champions League, and whilst some might point to it being his goals in the win over Liverpool that put us into the final in the first place, I still maintain there was little or no point working his arse off in the semi-final only to cock-up in such spectacular fashion when it mattered most.

And what about his dodgy knee and increasingly prolonged periods of time out injured these days? I mean, he’s 30 now and the fact is, since April last year, Drogba has missed twice as many games as he’s started. Of course I fully expect his fan club to remind me that of the eight Premier League games we’ve played against United, Arsenal and Liverpool without him, we’ve only won one and of the three he’s played in we’ve beaten both United and Arsenal and got a draw against Liverpool. I accept the statistics suggest we’re just not the same team without him and yet he’s clearly no good to us if he can’t stay fit.

But then Drogba’s no good to us unless he sorts his attitude out either. His petulance on the pitch and persistent press coverage off it are damaging and recent rumours point to senior players getting a little bit tired of his self-obsession.

And yet he’s got the club over a barrel. Chelsea don’t have the strength in depth up front and for all Anelka’s goals this season, he still doesn’t have quite the presence of Drogba in and around the opposition’s defence.  And with a lack of funds available, not to mention suitable replacements in the January window even if the money was there, we’ll be relying on him at least until the summer – and he knows it.

The Case For Didier Drogba

On Sunday the legendary and probably Chelsea’s best player of all time will return to the Bridge.

However, as well as welcoming Zola back to Stamford Bridge I will also welcome the return of Didier Drogba from his three match ban. Anelka is in the form of his life and is very much top of the race for the golden boot with 13 goals, with second place being Robinho 5 goals behind.

You could argue the majority of Anelka’s goals seem to come away from home where we get more space and can hit teams on the break. While at home and in the big games Anelka goes missing for me especially when teams come to defend or get their tactics spot on. We often run out of ideas and end up kicking the ball long. Now with Anelka at front this is not going to work. Anelka’s best attribute is not his physical presence it’s staying on the last man using his pace to get in behind.

As many of you would probably agree we need a plan B.

Drogba over the years has probably won the game single handedly more than any over player. In 2005 the community shield against Arsenal,  Drogba was too much for the Arsenal defence especially Senderos,  scoring 2 goals. We went on to win 2-1. In the 2005-06 season, who could ever forget the 4-1 win at Anfield? Drogba played a part in every goal and was man of the match that game. Also another game against Liverpool this time a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge where Drogba scored a 25 yarder taking it on his chest then turning and hitting it with his left foot.

33 goals in the 2006-07 season making him the top scorer in the Premier League – the first player since Kerry Dixon to score 30 goals in a season for Chelsea. Another 2 goals against Arsenal in the league cup final and don’t tell me you have forgotten his winning goal against Man United in the FA Cup.  Didier defiantly performed for us in the big games and I could still go on about how many times he saved us in recent seasons.

This season he has yet to be fully fit and is just coming back from a three match ban. We do not need a new striker…. if Didier can keep fit he can give us that plan B we so desperately need. Chelsea needs to hold onto Didier if we don’t… we will be losing a very special player.

 

carefreeluke is a member of TalkChelsea.net

CHELSEA 2-1 CFR Cluj: Another Forgettable Night In Europe

CHELSEA 2-1 CFR CLUJ

Well, Chelsea had been warned Cluj weren’t just coming to make up the numbers last night and so it turned out as we recorded a marginal 2-1 win to go through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

The first half was as dull as ditch water, with not much to write home about as Chelsea did the usual ‘huff and puff’ routine at home. I mean, we didn’t particularly look like we would lose but then again, with our attack looking about as effective as  an umbrella in a hurricane, it wasn’t the most entertaining game we’ll ever see.  Any threat from our left backs was smothered, our defence had more holes than a tramps vest and our midfield looked like they’d never met before the game.

To suggest Joe Cole was our liveliest player and he’s probably not even match fit, is probably the best way of describing the first half.  To be fair though, I thought Mikel had a decent game although even a rush of blood to the head for him didn’t help the nerves much.

Still, even with  Kalou’s first half opener wiped out early in the second by a bloody good equaliser, the fact that it was now against the run of play was a good enough omen – well, that and the fact Roma were beating Bordeaux anyway.  And just when I was ranting about Scolari’s persistent delay in substitutions, on came the Ivorian to save the day.

Drogba, who took his time lapping up the adulation before he threw himself head first into the game, had an immediate impact.  Inspired by the substitution, Chelsea looked a lot more assured and never more so than after the winner was dispatched sublimely off Drogba’s foot and into the back of the net six minutes into his game.

Overall then, another forgettable game in the Champions League but the win that we needed means we can breathe easy again for now.

 

TEAM

Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, A Cole, Mikel (Bridge 87), Ballack, Deco, J Cole, (Belletti 74), Anelka, Kalou (Drogba 65)

Unused subs: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Stoch

 

Goals

Chelsea: Kalou 40, Drogba 71

CFR Cluj: Kone 56