Rafa Benitez has a big job on his hands both by leading Chelsea to trophies this team, as well as winning over the Chelsea faithful, who dislike the Spaniard as a result of his spell in charge of Liverpool. If he wants to win the fans over he isn’t really going about it in the right manner, despite keeping two consecutive clean sheets. Even when Chelsea had ten minutes to go against Fulham, Rafa took off Hazard, hardly indicative of a man who is chasing three points.
Benitez’s safety first policy will not go down well with Chelsea fans who had been used to seeing a far more fluid attacking approach from their side in recent months. The ‘three amigos’ have been restrained somewhat under Benitez in their last two games. Against Fulham Chelsea only managed three shots on target. Against City the same was the case, with Chelsea blunt in attack as they looked happy to settle for a draw. This is to a degree understandable, Chelsea hadn’t kept a clean sheet in 10 games, so back to back clean-sheets is a positive of sorts. Chelsea also wouldn’t have wanted to lose against City, but surely they cannot harbour league title ambitions anymore after falling even further behind the two Manchester clubs.
The main issue lies around the cautious nature in which Chelsea have played in their last two games. Chelsea fans would have certainly hoped for a victory over Fulham, who have been in mixed form of late. Tactically Benitez is a very cautious manager and wants to make Chelsea hard to beat. Given the side’s inability to keep clean sheets this is sensible. But, at home against Fulham, Chelsea could have been a lot more expansive. Playing Bertrand as one of the ‘three amigos’ was negative and always going to lead to criticism from the fans. Further to this, he could have allowed the defensive midfield pivot more freedom to get forward. Under RDM Ramires would burst forward to link the play and open up space, something he has been more restrained in doing in the last two games.
The third game in a row Chelsea have failed to score does lead to questions over the effectiveness of the system being utilized at Chelsea. Much of the goal scoring problems boil down to Torres, whose lack of movement and inability to take chances is negatively impacting the team as a whole. His movement is too static and he is not good enough to hold the ball up, only managing 60% pass completion against Fulham. If Benitez wants to win fans over he must stop persisting with Torres and either use Hazard as a lone striker or bring in Sturridge, who will be desperate to impress. As things stand however, Benitez does not look like he will be making many friends at Stamford Bridge any time soon.