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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan

Auba arrived bang on time but will it cure Chelsea’s soft underbelly?

By Paul Lagan

The transfer window is closed and it’s either been a couple of days of massive movement in and out of the corridors of SW6 or it’s been a disaster, or a combination of the two – these things can become very subjective.

Wesley Fofana and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were the only two major deals over the line. The season-long loan move for Denis Zakaria, the Swiss midfielder from Juventus, was a last-minute response to the growing injury problems in midfield.

Todd Boehly did not succumb to the seductive romanticism of taking on Ronaldo, or Neymar? But will it cure the squad’s most pressing ailment? The recent two aways shockers has exposed the soft underbelly of this side that has the capacity to perform at the very highest level. But at the very highest level the opposition tend to focus on what they do with the ball, rather than stop Chelsea playing with it.

The tactics are so simple – Sunday morning pub stuff. We’ve all played for a side which was okay but knew that the big lads were up next and it was going to be tough. What do you do, you  try to disrupt their rhythm, you employ what are laughably called the Dark Arts in football. Basically you kick, pinch, punch, pull hair and generally act like schoolboy bullies.

That’s what Leeds did to the Blues last weekend, and it’s what Southampton did on Tuesday night when the Blues went down 2-1 after going 1-0 up. Where does the transfer window fit into this? Well, simply put, there are a host of players who don’t want to be at the club.

They may not be deliberately creating a dressing row fracture, but it seems to exist.

The trouble is many of these players are forced to be on the subs bench. Ross Barkley can wring his hands with glee, knowing his contract has been successfully paid up and he’s free to join a club willing to take him on – no strings attached – ditto Marcos Alonso last night. Unsurprisingly Billy Gilmour moved to Brighton and Kenedy signed for Real Valladolid.

Chelsea would love to do that to quite few players, but sadly for head coach Thomas Tuchel, these players are assets to the club, and it would have taken either a transfer fee or a favourable loan fee to shift them from the club – Callum Hudson-Odoi’s loan move earlier this week to Bayer Leverkusen is a classic example of what they wanted to happen, but to more players.

Of course once that happens, Tuchel can look for replacements. Wesley Fofana was signed as expected on Wednesday for around £80million from Leicester.

But it’s at the other end of the pitch that serious surgery was required – and Aubameyang brought in to rectify. Fofana said all the right things – the cut and paste comments for any new signing whether its for the men or Emma Hayes women’s side were as expected.

But it’s always fun to read them anyway. He said: “I’m very excited to start playing for the fans and the club. “I’m here to win trophies – the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, and the Boat Race.” Okay he didn’t mention the Boat Race but you get what I mean. At 21, he is expected to be the long-term successor to Thiago Silva, who is looking to finish his international career with Brazil at this year’s World Cup. His league career won’t be too far behind. Silva has been, along with Reece James, the stand-out performers so far this season for Chelsea.

Quite a few remaining players should be asking Silva what it took to be so successful on the pitch, for so long.

One of the characteristics is a ruthless desire to be the best and to win. If you have 11 of them, then there will be no soft underbelly to worry about. Chelsea face West Ham at the Bridge at 3pm tomorrow.


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