After watching that enthralling display from Hazard and Co against West Ham today, my football imagination is running wild.
What follows is a short (and not so succinct) summary of my thoughts. Feel free to reply, criticize or simply rollback over to your Guinness-induced, post-Paddies Day hangover.
So in my mind, Chelsea now posses the most tantalizing set of attacking midfielders (AM's), since the heady days of Duff, Robben and Joe Cole. For various reasons (injury, formation, Mourinho blunting the attacking instincts of JC) those players never lived up to the sum of their combined potential in a blue shirt.
What sits in front of Mikel and Lampard now however is an entirely different prospect. If managed correctly, I feel Mazacar could be the answer to Abramovich's quest for tiki-taka tainted world domination.
Let me elaborate further. Some of Hazards touches today were sublime. He finally appears to be bringing all the elements of his game together, to devastating effect. In no particular order, he can initiate driving runs at defenders, retain possession, hold up play, finish, deliver majestic through balls and even run back to make clearing headers. He is therefor the most multifaceted of Chelsea's AM's, a Michelangelo-of-all-trades - if you will.
Mata is slightly more limited but no less thrilling. What he lacks in pace he makes up for with sheer wizardry. His vision is unparalleled amongst the squad and possibly the Premiership (Silva has gone off the boil recently, Michu is now being played too far forward to be comparable and Cazorla is nowhere near as consistent). Unfortunately El Matador thrives as a number ten and going forward I don't see a 4-2-3-1 being sustainable (it simply doesn't accomodate Ramires and a number of our other top players). Thankfully Mata should be able to thrive on the right or left of 4-3-3 and drift inside, as long as cover for the fullbacks is forthcoming (Mikel I'm looking at you!!).
Don't get me wrong, Mata is still the best player Chelsea have right now, I just feel he may be eclipsed in years to come and is not as adaptable as Hazard. If he goes on to prove me wrong, then its a win-win for everyone.
Oscar has the highest ceiling of all three - if only because he is so unused to the combative nature of a top class European league (remember Hazard previously spent two years in France prior to this season). Oscar is still very light on his feet. The sheer Brazilianness (most apt word that comes to mind) of his play though is amazing (think Ronaldinho and his goal against Cech from just outside the box- that stuff isn't premeditated, it just happens organically). As Pat Nevin said on Match of the Day, it's as if Oscar possesses that rare telepathic awareness of whats going on all around him.
Granted a lot of his plays don't come off, but think of him like a young Voldemort (sheer evil aside) - he has prodigious powers and just doesn't know what to do with them yet. Keep in mind, this guy is 20 years old and is the Selacao No.10. That's an amazing feat in itself. He also ranks above Mata in some ways because he seems comfortable dropping back and dictating the play from midfield if necessary. That places him up there with Hazard in terms of adaptability. What can I say - you better watch out ALL Premier League defenses next year - 'A War is Coming' (think Sarah Connor as she utters that phrase)
While Mazacar may be the shinny bonnet on our Russian built Porsche - players like Moses (direct runner, good in the air, ability to track back) and Piazon (sigh, I could comfortably write another paragraph on this guys potential) are no less important. They either compliment or provide something slightly different to what we have already. This kind of depth is essential to any title challenging side.
The above has lead me to the following conclusion - Chelsea posses potentially the most dynamic, lethal and creative set of attacking midfielders in Europe. Yes Barca, I know you currently hold that title. And yeah Madrid I see your big, bulbous, TV revenue inflated head looking on in shock.
But guess what, all your players are peaking now. Ozil, Di Maria and Ronaldo are in their prime (Ronaldo especially). Chelsea's sextet (including Piazon and Marin) of attacking players will only be approaching that stage in in 2-3 years. And at by then they will have had years to gel - and hopefully develop - into one fearsome, interchangeable attacking unit (for effect - think the Megazord).
That concludes my first post of discussing the talent in our ranks. Now some further thoughts to mull over, which I intend to deal with in the future (time permitting) -
1. What formation will best suit the above players?
2. Imagine the (metaphorical) destruction which awaits defenses, when we add the U.S.S Lukaku to our forces!
3. What midfielders will best suit the Mazacar?
4.And finally, who is the man to lead Chelsea to Premier league and European glory in the next 4-5 years?
Till then, sit back and just enjoy the ride.