Chelsea Set for Changing of the Old Guard Despite Champions League Progress

All change at Stamford Bridge?

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Andre Villas-Boas let out a great sigh of relief last night as Chelsea qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League after a fine 3-0 win over Valencia at Stamford Bridge last night.

Two goals from Didier Drogba and one from Ramires proved to be enough to see AVB’s side into the last sixteen and will surely ease some pressure on the Portuguese manager.

Interestingly Frank Lampard was left out of the starting line up and speculation is rife that Lampard could leave Chelsea in 2012. After being substituted midway through the second half against Newcastle Lampard was annoyed at being replaced and had a bit of a sulk on the bench.

There is still a notion of a Mourinho hangover lingering down at the Bridge and AVB will want to shake it off pretty quickly.

The players have struggled to adapt to AVB’s tactics and style of play, the problem has been pace. The likes of Lampard and Mikel don’t have the pace to break and attack teams at speed, even at the back Chelsea have struggled to adapt to the high defensive line AVB wanted to employ. John Terry and David Luiz aren’t quick enough to chase back a forward who has broken their line.

Last night’s game showed how and why ABV will be a successful manager. Give him time to amass a team with pacey attacking players and he will do a decent job. Daniel Sturridge has arguably been Chelsea’s best player this season as he is given the freedom to run at defenders and hug the touchline before receiving the ball.

At the back last night Terry and Luiz sat a lot deeper than we have seen under AVB allowing them to face attackers rather than running the risk of them dropping in behind – it completely worked, the majority of shots Valencia had were shots from outside the box. It would be criminal for Chelsea to revert to the high line which they have employed and been exposed of in recent weeks. If AVB wants to carry on with the high line it will no doubt mark the end of John Terry – or if AVB persists with the high line and plays Terry he will be putting the noose around his own neck.

If Andre Villas-Boas has his way expect to see more pace in the team with a couple of young German players heavily linked with a move to the Bridge in the next two windows. At a guess I would say André Schurrle and Lars Bender linked which could and (under AVB’s new style) should potentially see the end of Frank Lampard in a starting berth.

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