Article by Jack Cox
Rafa Benitez has been quoted in the press prior to the 2-2 away draw at Griffin Park, claiming that Chelsea's squad size is too small, and blamed that for our under-par performances recently.
" In terms of selection it has to be different, we do not want too many players playing too many games, we have played nine games a month, we have two in the Africa Cup of Nations, we do not have too many bodies, and we have to change the approach."
Rafa is correct, our bench is looking far too weak for a team who is supposed to be competing in all competitions, and the players on the field are starting to look very fatigued. The thing is, we currently has 23 players on loan. Yep, you read it correctly, twenty three players. That's enough to make two teams, with one extra player! In total, these 23 players have cost the club £80million, so why doesn't Rafa call any of them back, seeing as our squad is running thin at the moment?
Our loan list is no shy of talent, and top Premier League-quality talent at that, as well as senior international stars such as Michael Essien and Kevin De-Bruyne, as well as up and coming starts such as Nathaniel Chalobah and Josh McEachran.
At the moment, we are running low on players that can play in the double pivot role, behind the 3 attacking players. We would usually start John Obi Mikel, but he is off competing in the African Cup of Nations, and David Luiz is currently injured. Frank Lampard and Ramires have been starting in those two roles at the moment, but they don't seem to get on with it well - especially Ramires.
This is why if I was Benitez, I'd consider calling back Nathaniel Chalobah from loan. Chalobah is currently playing for Championship side, Watford, who are sitting in an impressive fourth position. Chalobah may only be 18 years of age, but he has surprised most of the football world with his fantastic displays through out the season, including a promising FA Cup display against Premier League champions, Man City.
Chalobah has been at Chelsea for a long time, and has came up through the academy system. He made his debut for the U18 side aged 15, and made his first senior bench appearance at the same age. Chalobah has played at every England youth level, captaining the sides even though he is usually a few years younger than his team mates. Chalobah makes strong decisions both on and off the ball, and you won't see him making any crazy David Luiz-style runs up the pitch. Chalobah isn't quite the best defensive midfielder, but he certainly will be one day. I'd call him back, as I'm sure he could see frequent minutes in that midfield of ours.
Many would say that Chalobah would see more vital minutes at Watford, so that is why I would consider recalling Michael Essien instead. It baffles me why we let him leave, especially on loan! Essien is a senior player with a lot of experience, and that has been needed in Chelsea's team whilst captain John Terry has been out injured. Essien would fit into the double-pivot perfectly, and has looked impressive under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid. He may not be at the same standard he was five years ago with his recurring knee injuries, but Ess is still a top player with a few years left in him.
We've also been having a bit of trouble up front, with Fernando Torres being, well, Fernando Torres. Romelu Lukaku is catching the attention of many football fans and professionals after his great displays for West Brom. Lukaku has already scored 10 times for West Brom, and he bullies defenders on the pitch. This gif of Lukaku out muscling Jamie Carragher never gets old;
Lukaku could easily start for Chelsea at this rate. 'The young Didier Drogba' has a point to prove to his boyhood dream club Chelsea after costing us a hefty £18 million. However, Demba Ba has looked impressive in the few games he has played to cover for Fernando, and with Odemwingie handing in a transfer request at West Brom, Lukaku could see a lot more minutes in the second half of the season.
Lastly, I would consider re-calling Kevin De Bruyne. Kevin has really impressed whilst being on loan at German side Werder Bremen, scoring 5 and assisting 7 in all competitions. Kevin has played as a winger and well as an attacking midfielder, a box to box player, and also a lone-striker role against Bayern Munich. De Bruyne's versatility would be very beneficial to Chelsea right now, and would fit in any of the front four roles. Eden Hazard is banned for two more games, and Lucas Piazon has left to go to Malaga until June. Marko Marin doesn't look like Premier League quality at the moment, whilst De Bruyne would start for nearly any team in the league.
So stop it Rafa, stop complaining! Look to see who's on loan, have a chat with Micheal Emanalo and get some players back for Christ sake! If we recalled Essien/Chalobah, Lukaku and De Bruyne, we would have a very strong team competing for a top four finish.
Jack is the newest member of the motp writing team , he has a personal blog here , we look forward to many more articles from him