We excavate this snippet and republish this from our Friday piece as today’s action is about to get underway.
• Chelski vs. Europa’s Elite: Man City
Man City now have a but the Premiership trophy to focus on as they, too, departed the Champion’s League brackets this week and headed to Europa’s minor leagues.
In some ways on Monday it’s Old Chelsea vs. New Chelsea. Gone are the days when Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich splashed the cash on any brand soccer name that would look good–to him–on the back of the Blues uni (Ballack, Schevchenko).
Chelsea’s core (Lampard, Cole, Terry, Cech) is still intact and the Stamford Bridge crew are both better and worse for it.
On the positive side, there is still class–on field that is–with the aforementioned names.
Flipping to the negative side–with how firmly those critical-for-success players are entrenched–it is a poison pill for any manager trying to take over the ship and win some possessions for the trophy cabinets.
Chelsea are almost like the Yahoo of the Premiership. They still have massive talent and operational scale, but they need to clean house of the top players to re-position for success.
(BTW, Google (Manchester United) and now Facebook (Manchester City) have since passed Chelsea by while Arsenal–I’d guess you’d have to consider them e-Bay at this point–are still a thorn in their side.)
No bigger conundrum is than that of Frank Lampard. The man is consistent. He is prescient. He is an exceedingly smart player. However Lampard also plays what can be considered a “luxury position,” not unlike the “elephant” role on NFL defenses.
Just like the elephant role, Lampard’s role is one where he is typically relied on to make plays but do very little dirty work.
In the attack he has the advantage of trailing the play and either getting forward or issuing a shot goal after the workers in front of him have already cleared a path and set-up a table. Defensively Chelsea play high line, reducing the space that a midfielder needs to cover and play a holder (Obi Mikel, Romeu) tasked with snuffing everything else out.
So Lampard is well hidden and is well fed. His role can hide, but it can also be oh so much more if they shuffled the starting deck.
Another midfield situation in the Prem to watch.
• Serious A: Roma vs. Juve
(This section by coffee bean, The National and Serie A expert Eric Giardini.)
Monday afternoon sees Juventus travel to Rome to take on Roma to close out the Serie A weekend. The two clubs are heading in very different directions. Juventus are the last remaining unbeaten team in Italy and have a two-point lead over Milan and Udinese at the top. Last time out, Juventus made fairly routine work over Cesena 2-0. However, striker (and ex-Roma player) Mirko Vucinic picked up an injury in the match and is out until the new year.
Roma, on the other hand, are in a tailspin. Losers of two in a row (2-0 to Udinese, 3-0 to Fiorentina), things are not getting easier for the club who’s next two are against Juventus and Napoli. The buzz from the Eternal City is that these two matches are a make or break for manager Luis Enrique or he may find himself on the outs. Things are tougher, still, with the suspension of three players (Bojan, Juan, Fernando Gago) for red cards picked up against Fiorentina.
Just to make things worse, the long-term injuries to Simon Kjaer and Nicholas Burdisso means that Daniele De Rossi is looking like he will play out of position at center back.
Juventus should leave Rome with all three points, leading to further speculation on Enrique’s job status and increased panic on De Rossi and his ongoing contract situation.