But the Blues couldn’t have hoped for a better result with both Arsenal and Manchester United dropping points to Everton and Birmingham respectively. Other good news saw Didier Drogba’s Ivoirians held 0-0 to Burkina Faso and they may now therefore require a win against tough opposition Ghana. An early return for the BBC’s 2009 African player of the year would certainly be a late Christmas present. Despite the top two challengers failing to overturn the Blues at the top of the table, Manchester City re-emphasised their credentials with a thumping win over struggling Blackburn. Ex United man Carlos Tevez was granted with a glorious hat-trick. The Argentinian has driven the City slickers within seven points of the leaders and City – with cash to spend and a new manager at the helm – are sure to be up amongst the pack come the end of the season.
It seems all the clubs fighting for title success are going to drop points to gritty opposition this season and good runs like City’s current one are sure to cause concern for the Chelsea regime. The Blues haven’t played a game in two weeks now since they comfortably stormed through their FA Cup clash with Watford. A few weeks will have allowed the players to recover from a heavy Christmas period but will hope to have not unsettled any rhythm. Without a game until Saturday, the Blues would have played their last Premier League game almost 22 days ago. With a rest from on the field duties, surely Chelsea’s action in the transfer market would have stepped up a gear in recent weeks – had there be any reported action of course. However it seems reported target Sergio Aguero is a loyal player and refuses to part way with the club he loves mid-campaign. Therefore the promising Argentinian is likely to sign a pre-contract with the Blues which will see him arrive in the summer. Others are claiming he will be signed now and loaned back to Atletico Madrid, either way the young magician is not a short term answer to the African Cup or Nations, nor is he a hurried panic buy as many expected Chelsea to make during the window.
Other reported signings have also signalled their intent to stay with their current clubs, Kevin Kuranyi of Schalke and Ezequiel Lavezzi of Napoli either signing new deals or simply not interested in Premier League life. Frank Ribery on the other hand has not ruled out a move, but has made it clear he wants to know where his football lies before he leaves for World Cup duties with France. Ribery would be a welcomed signing at the Bridge and it would be expected for his reputation to enforce a formation alteration. The natural winger would command first team football and his heavy price-tag would certainly not be used to warm the bench. A potential Ribery signing would therefore impose width with either Flourent Malouda, Yury Zhirkov, or the reportedly unhappy Joe Cole occupying the opposite flank. The fans would be overwhelmed to see a re-introduction of the 4-3-3 that served the club so well under Mourinho’s reign.
It is not big stars the club require, however it is depth there need to be reliable players to step into the shoes of the ageing squad departures. Ricardo Carvalho, Juliano Belletti, Michael Ballack, Deco and even Drogba and Frank Lampard are amongst those comfortably into their thirties now. All of whom will necessitate replacement within the next three to four years indefinitely. The January window has been remarkably quiet so far and although the big guns rarely splash their cash during this period, their action is likely to be last minute.