Football.com - everything football

A Chelsea masterplan: how the Blues can still win the title

By Bradley King



Chelsea's Spanish manager Rafael Benitez (R) shakes hands with Spanish striker Fernando Torres (L) as he leaves the pitch during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in London, on December 23, 2012
Chelsea's Spanish manager Rafael Benitez (R) shakes hands with Spanish striker Fernando Torres (L) as he leaves the pitch during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in London, on December 23, 2012

Chelsea' battling 2-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park was the first time they had avoided defeat against the Toffees since 2008 and has enhanced the Blues' chances of making an unlikely title charge. But what does Rafa Benitez's side need to do to break the stranglehold that the two Manchester clubs currently have on the Premier League?

Sign a striker - but persist with Fernando Torres

Rafa Benitez's arrival was touted as the tonic that Fernando Torres needed to improve his dismal form in front of goal. To some extent, Torres' performances have been more promising. He has found the net seven times since Benitez flew into west London in late November - the same amount as he had scored since August, pre-Benitez.

But just seven of the Spaniard's 14 goals this season have come in the Premier League and, not for the want of trying, he is still underperforming in a title-chasing side. He also remains the only senior striker at Chelsea. As such, a new forward is a must.

Demba Ba has been the man most fervently linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge and, with a release clause of £7million, it would be a shrewd signing. Radamel Falcao is arguably the world's number one striker but is hinting that he wants to stay at Atletico Madrid until the summer.

Continue to utilise David Luiz in midfield

The history of David Luiz is something of a riddle. How did a footballer so ambitious with the ball at his feet and so keen to get forward end up as a centre back? Having started life as a defensive midfielder, Luiz was converted into a central defender in his teenage years after a series of bad mistakes whilst playing in the engine room of Vitoria's youth team.

Ironic then that Luiz, who Chelsea shelled out around €25million for in 2011, has now been moved forward into midfield again after his inappropriate performances at centre back. With Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill and John Terry in the squad, Chelsea are well-stocked in defence, meaning Luiz's attacking qualities can be taken advantage of higher up the pitch - Chelsea's recent results imply that the team will reap the rewards of such a move.

Rotate players wisely

Previous manager Roberto Di Matteo will go down in Chelsea folklore for sealing Champions League victory but his lack of rotation earlier in this campaign may have cost him his job. Di Matteo employed all three of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar in almost every match and the trio's approach became tired and repetitive.

Rafa Benitez has had a more varied approach to his attack. Against teams with vulnerability in wider areas, Benitez has selected winger Victor Moses. In the win over Everton, he opted for a midfield three, recalling Frank Lampard.

Lampard's future is unclear at the moment but Benitez should consider keeping hold of his veteran midfielder, at least until the end of the season. His leadership qualities, along with his vast Premier League experience, means that he, and John Terry, will be vital in the next few months and should be used appropriately.

Hope United and City slip up

There isn't much that Chelsea can do to influence this one. Currently 11 points behind leaders Manchester United, any gains the Blues make will depend on those above them taking their eye off the ball.

Chelsea take on QPR, Stoke and Reading next month and need to take maximum points from all of those matches if they are to stay within sight. With Manchester United hosting Liverpool and having to make a tricky trip to Tottenham Hotspur, there is a real chance that the gap could be far closer in a month's time.