Opposition view: Chelsea
By Ric Turner, Fri 12 April 2013 08:23
Ahead of Sunday's semi-final at Wembley, Bluemoon caught up with our resident Chelsea fan Castiel to get the lowdown on the opposition...
What are your expectations for the rest of this season?
The primary goal for most of us is CL football. A surprising number of Chelsea fans I've spoken to would rather secure CL football than success in the cups, because we've had plenty of recent cup success but our future depends on CL football. It'd be nice to win the cups too and we expect the team to fight for them, but CL football without any trophies this season wouldn't be a disaster. A trophy without CL football would be.
Are you happy with the manager?
Nope and not many are as you'd expect. There is a personal hate for him amongst many. He's not even that great a manager and has made some absurd miscalculations during his time here. I don't think he's terrible, but I don't hold his ability in the same esteem as some of the others we've had in the past (Ancelotti, Mourinho etc). He's stabilised the ship for the moment but Chelsea always performs well in crunch time, regardless of who we have in charge. Most can't wait to see the back of him come May.
Who are your key players?
Mata and to a slightly lesser extent Hazard. The difference they make to our play is astonishing. They've carried us through some rough periods this season and I've yet to see them meet a defence which truly contained them.
Were you happy with the business conducted during the January transfer window?
I actually am. Panic spending has never worked out for us and I'm glad the board was thinking ahead this time. We did excellent business last summer and I hope the trend continues this year.
Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?
One of our youth players on loan to Watford, Nathaniel Chalobah is a special talent. You all know about Bertrand who is turning into a decent (but not amazing) left back and our "wonderkid" signings like Courtois and Lukaku. But Chalobah is an academy product with some impressive talent. I expect to see him either loaned to a Prem club or used in reserve for us next season.
Your Achilles heel?
In general our striking options are sub-par for a top team. Our defence should be better but I think that's more a product of organisation and discipline than personnel. In the context of Sunday's game, we'll be weak at Left Back with Cole and possibly Bertrand out injured.
If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
Aguero. I wanted him when he was still at Atletico and he's proven to be one of the best in the world. If he wasn't constantly rotated I think he'd post numbers comparable to RVP and Suarez. He's also an intelligent player who would thrive on the sort of service Mata and Hazard delivers.
What is your perception of City as a club?
Neither love nor hate. City have made it harder for us at the top but they've also made the league more interesting. We now have no assured "Sky 4" and the league is much more competitive which is only a good thing for a sport. In a couple of years we could have 4 or possibly more teams capable of winning it every year, rather than United vs X every year which was getting tedious.
Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?
I'm not sure about some injuries and Rafa sometimes makes some strange decisions but I'd like:
Azpili - Ivan - Luiz - Bertrand
------ Mikel - Ramires
-- Oscar - Mata - Hazard
Can't guess the score but I don't think either will keep a clean sheet and I'd give the game 60/40 odds in City's favour considering all factors. I think extra time is likely for me and I think the difference will come down to what our key players do on the day.