Thu 12 Apr 2012InArticles
@prajwalpj61685 Views We have debated about Lampard, Meireles, Mata and the other midfielders’ contributions this season, quite extensively here on TalkChelsea but what about the one that got away – Yossi Benayoun.
Mock me all you want but Yossi Benayoun could have been the much needed link-up player between midfield and attack
Benayoun joined Chelsea from Liverpool on a three year deal for £5.5m after the League and Cup double in 2010 as a direct replacement for the departing Joe Cole who coincidentally headed in the opposite direction. He had a great début, coming of the bench to score the final goal in a 6-0 thrashing at Wigan. Things were looking good for the little Israeli midfielder whose link-up play and quick feet were hailed by the media. On 22 September 2010, he ruptured his Achilles tendon in a Carling Cup game against Newcastle to be forced out for most of the 2010-11 season. He did not return until April when we played Wigan again.
At the start of the 2011-12 season, he gave up his no.10 shirt to Juan Mata and took over the no.30 shirt saying – “I decided to give Mata the number 10 – his favourite. For me it's just a number, not my lucky 15”. He had a good pre-season – scored a wonderful cheeky goal against Wycombe - and thus it was a surprise when he joined Arsenal on a season-long loan late in the transfer window. Most Chelsea fans did not give much thought to this strange move simply because Arsenal had just been thrashed 8-2 at Old Trafford and were nowhere near the top 4. But Arsenal recovered and as the season progressed and Benayoun is increasingly becoming a crucial part of Arsenal’s attack. He started the crunch games against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City repaying the manager’s faith in him with no-nonsense performances. “Yossi knows the job in this position,” said Wenger. “He is also highly focused in the big games – that is a massive part because you cannot switch off. So we have a good balance in the team with him and good focus. And he has quality. In the games he started, he did extremely well and the team did extremely well as well. That is never a coincidence”. Although he has scored only one goal this season, it came at a crucial time – a late winner away at Villa Park.
Judging Benayoun by goals is harsh on him. He is a player in the ‘Dirk Kuyt/Park Ji-Sung’ mould. But given how Chelsea midfielders have performed this season, I think Andre Villas-Boas missed out by letting him go. Meireles was recruited on deadline day and apart from the odd good goal, he has been a major disappointment. Meireles, Mikel and Essien are the exact same type of players. They are typical holding midfielders. How many times have you cursed them when they got the ball and passed it straight back to the centre-backs? Most of our attacks are either crosses from the full-backs or long balls from the centre-backs.
That is where I think Benayoun would have been a more than useful addition to our squad. He gives the holding midfielder an extra option and his link up play with the forwards is much better than anyone else at Chelsea. Sure, Lampard scores goals, but he has lost a yard of pace and is increasing playing alongside the holding midfielder now. Benayoun, Mata and Sturridge in the 3 attacking midfielder slots would have been a much better attack than Kalou or Meireles playing as one of the attackers. Moreover, Benayoun has played with Torres at Liverpool and I think Torres would have scored at least a couple more goals with him around as long balls from the CB’s and crosses from full-backs does not really suit his type of play. Torres loves a playmaker threading balls through to him and sadly, apart from Juan Mata, no one is capable of doing that in our squad.
Even though he is growing old, I hope Chelsea retain Benayoun next season. He will be a handy squad player who will do a good job when called upon
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