Ahead of tonight’s game, Chelsea fan and Daily Mail journalist, Rik Sharma, has answered a few questions for RoM on the season so far.
Scott: Are you happy with Chelsea’s transfer business over the summer?
Rik: Yes, but we need to sign a striker. Romelu Lukaku is the best we’ve got, and he’s not good enough to spearhead a title-winning side just yet. The return of players like Kevin De Bruyne is useful, while picking up Marco van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle for a combined £26million or so, is great business. Mark Schwarzer is just what we need as a back-up keeper too. At the time of writing, we’re poised to hijack Willian’s transfer to Spurs and as good a player as he is, it seems a bit superfluous with so many other attacking midfielders to pick from.
Scott: What do you make of your start to the season?
Rik: Two games, four goals, one conceded, six points. Good enough for me. Performance-wise the first game against Hull was ‘typical Jose’; we shut up shop after taking an early commanding lead. The Aston Villa game was a bit shaky – a couple of decisions went our way and by all rights we should have drawn the game. But Jose’s still finding his feet with the squad, much the same as David Moyes is at United.
Scott: Let’s hope the referee is as kind to Moyes as he was to Mourinho last Wednesday then! Who do you think will be your most important player?
Rik: The most important player on Monday will be whoever is picked up front. I’d choose Lukaku although Fernando Torres is favourite to start. If he can get behind United’s defence – and find the form he had towards the back-end of last season – we will be a threat. If he’s off-colour then United can attack with abandon and not have to worry about the consequences.
Scott: You sound concerned about the options you have up front..?
Rik: Yes I am. In Lukaku we might have the striker we are seeking, but that’s a big gamble to hinge your season on. Demba Ba is a squad player at best and Torres at best will be erratic. In 75 minutes against Hull he had no shots. At all. Not good enough.
Scott: So how keen are you to sign Wayne Rooney then?
Rik: I’m as keen as Chelsea are to sign Wayne Rooney. At the start of the summer he wasn’t our top target but with the others (Falcao, Lewandowski etc) either moving elsewhere or being unavailable for other reasons, Rooney is left at the top of the list. I certainly wouldn’t want to swap David Luiz or Juan Mata as part of any prospective deal. Imagine Mata playing with Van Persie? That would be disgustingly productive. But Chelsea need a ‘top’ striker. All four of Manchester City’s are better than anything we have at the moment.
Scott: As are our top three. During Jose’s pursuit of Rooney, do you think he’s behaved as ethically as he keeps claiming he has?
Rik: Ha! Of course not. That’s never been one of his strong points. Jose is a game-player and this is one of them. Not that I think this is a great shame or a stain on his reputation or equivalent tarnishing – just part and parcel of the man. Unsettling a rival before a big match is a completely legitimate tactic in today’s world; more unethical would be the whole Willian affair. Which is, from a blue-tinted perspective, completely hilarious.
Scott: Why do you think Mourinho enjoys a better relationship with the press in England than he did in Spain and Italy?
Rik: The UK press was ‘there from the start’ with Jose. From beating United in Porto’s Champions League run to dazzling us with his style and swagger when he arrived at Chelsea, he entertains, provokes and, let’s face it, sells newspapers. His behaviour has got worse since leaving Chelsea – in Spain especially he went too far on several occasions. Poking Tito Vilanova in the eye was a low point. The stress of battling Barcelona wore him down and took the sheen off him. Jose was a breath of fresh air to us, but by the time he left for Italy, they already knew what he was about. Tensions escalated in those countries, but he still maintains a good relationship with the British press.
Scott: How keen are you to see Chelsea start producing their own players?
Rik: Extremely keen, of course. Watching a player come through the ranks and into the first team isn’t a pleasure we’ve had at Chelsea recently (though we have had many more in exchange). Josh McEachran, the last great hope, has stagnated somewhat and is looking to go out on loan again this season. Currently Nathaniel Chalobah is the best bet. He excelled in midfield for Watford last season and can also play at centre-back. Expect big things from him, although we can but hope that they’re with Chelsea.
Scott: If you could have one United player, who would it be?
Rik: Robin van Persie. You don’t need me to tell you why.
Scott: And finally, what are your predictions for tonight’s game?
Rik: It’s so early in the season it’s hard to call. I’ll go for a tight, scrappy, tense 1-1 draw (you can thank me for the goal-fest later).
Scott: As long as we’re on the winning end of that goal-fest, I definitely will be doing! Cheers.
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