It’s all hands on deck at Stamford Bridge and with Chelsea’s season petering out, Guus Hiddink is initiating a number of experiments with his squad. With youth being filtered into the side and forgotten stars being given second chances; it’s a time of change.
One consequence of this has been the rise of the relatively unknown centre-back Matt Miazga who has capitalised on a series of injuries to wiggle his way into the first team. The American’s arrival was certainly a surprise and his recent performances haven’t quashed the doubts.
The ascent of such a mediocre player at a club wielding such prestige as Chelsea exemplifies how shallow their centre-back reserves are. With the summer window approaching, the club simply must invest in defensive cover.
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Chelsea’s trip to Aston Villa saw Hiddink implement a squad overhaul and with his hands tied, Miazga started for the first time in a Blues shirt. It proved a steady performance but against an Aston Villa side with just 16 points; you can only draw so many conclusions.
However, against a much stronger team in Swansea City, the 20-year-old appeared a fish out of water and garnered prominent criticism. His misery was compiled by the fact he was substituted in favour of Kenedy at half time.
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While the blame can far from fall entirely on the American, it’s certainly telling that the half he played against the Swans led to the demise of Chelsea’s 14-game unbeaten run in the league.
Hiddink favoured experience in the end and ensured the Blues at least trundled to a second half clean sheet. The move had raised eyebrows in January and such a whimsical showing far from aided the Blues’ justification of such a transfer.
Injuries cannot be helped in football but it should worry Chelsea fans that if their defence suffers a spell of crocks that Miazga is to whom attention turns.
The American is still young and the experience will serve him good. Nonetheless, Chelsea need to recover as soon as possible to return to the Champions League and Miazga is far from the finished article the club is crying out for.
A success in the future maybe but now is not the time.
With John Terry set to leave and Gary Cahill on the decline, the Stamford Bridge side are becoming gradually stripped of centre-back reinforcements. The fact Miazga has been pummelled with such responsibility all of a sudden accentuates this lack of depth.
As a consequence, Chelsea should invest this summer. Playing Branislav Ivanovic at centre-back is far from a long-term solution and the club needs the addition of a strong presence in defence to bring back the wins.
Whoever this signing will be is unknown, yet it is nonetheless a pressing necessity. The Blues have won the Champions League and four Premier League titles; they can do much better than Miazga.
While there is nothing wrong with implementing youth, the American should be eased in when the club has found its feet again. In the mean time, Roman Abramovich should dip into his pocket to ensure their lack of defensive depth doesn’t come back to bite in 2016-17.
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