Chelsea lack strikers, but continue winning ways
Chelsea beat a rampant Queens Park Rangers team this past Sunday 1-0 thanks to a wonderfully taken goal by Cesc Fabregas in the 88th minute, after an awful goalie mistake by QPR’s Robert Green. Prior to this match, in the past 33 years, Chelsea’s record away against QPR was an abysmal 1-6-6.
Although QPR played with a renewed confidence, after taking four points from consecutive away matches at West Brom and Aston Villa, and accumulated 15 shots, four of them on target, it was once again the heroics of Thibaut Courtois that sealed the victory for The Blues.
With the win, Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the table, to seven points with one game in-hand, while QPR stayed in the relegation zone on 26 points, two points behind Hull City who are safe in the 17th spot on the table.
Concern for Chelsea moving forward in securing the Premier League title comes in the health of their strikers. They were without super striker Diego Costa due to his recurring hamstring injury (who is expected to be sidelined for a month), resurgent backup Loic Remy picked up a muscular injury on Saturday and was not included in the Blues' squad, leaving only 37 year old club hero Didier Drogba (who recently announced that this season is “not going to be my last season”) to lead the Chelsea attack.
Fabregas seems to be regaining his early-season form, feeling more free to roam around the attacking third with Matic sweeping up any midfield defensive-duties, while Chelsea’s defense and goal-keeping seem to be a tough nut to crank. But the team needs more support upfront and can’t only count on the in-form and potential Barclays Premier League player of the year candidate Eden Hazard to create wonderful chances off the left flank.
On Saturday, April 18, Chelsea face a red-hot Manchester United squad (fresh off drubbing rivals Manchester City 4-2 and winning four of their last games) and must be prepared to take advantage of The Reds weakness, their defense. United boasts a formidable midfield and striker Wayne Rooney, but still lack cohesion and are apt to make a big mistake at the back.
Two key matchups to watch are Hazard vs. Valencia and Matic vs. Fellaini. Hazard should have much delight running at Antonio Valencia who is an attacking right-winger by trade but is being deployed as a right-back while Matic must be able to battle Fellaini and handle his physicality in the midfield as well as headers in the box.