Tactic Talk: Ramires vital in Chelsea midfield

Manchester City suffered their first Premier League loss of the season with a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. In a result effectively keeping Chelsea in the title race and stalling City’s campaign, a key performance in this clash was that of Ramires. With Chelsea having undergone something of a midfield makeover in recent months, the Brazilian’s display was crucial as Chelsea sought a first win over a fellow title contender under Andre Villas-Boas.

With summer arrivals Raul Meireles and Oriol Romeu preferred in midfield to Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel, Ramires, himself just a year into his Chelsea career, offered the only continuity to a midfield almost unrecognisable from that deployed in previous seasons, with Chelsea boss Villas-Boas opting for a faster, more technical approach from his central trio. While Romeu continues to emerge as a hugely promising holding midfielder, moving the ball from defence to midfield with the typical poise and confidence of a former Barcelona trainee and Meireles impressing in attack to score Chelsea’s equaliser, cancelling out Mario Balotelli’s early opener, Ramires would also go on to demonstrate the form that has made him a mainstay in the Chelsea midfield.

Signed from Benfica in the summer of 2010, Ramires received mixed reviews in the early stages of his Blues career. However, having adapted to the pace of the Premier League and impressed in the latter stages of the Carlo Ancelotti era, Ramires has carried his form into the new campaign, earning a regular starting place under his new manager, typified in his performance against City. Enjoying the freedom to attack from midfield, a key feature of Ramires’ game is pace, regularly running at opponents, including a tenacious burst to score against Valencia in his side’s previous match. On this occasion, the Blues midfielder tormented City, successfully taking on his opponents on no fewer than five occasions, one of which proving to be a pivotal moment in the match.

With the hour mark approaching, Ramires again broke from midfield. Fouled on three occasions the Brazilian skipped past City left-back Gael Clichy, only to be taken down by the former Arsenal defender. Having been booked for a foul on former City starlet Daniel Sturridge 10 minutes previously, Clichy was shown a second yellow card and was dismissed by referee Mark Clattenburg.

As Chelsea celebrate propelling themselves back in to the hunt for honours, both domestically and in Europe in their most recent games, many of the Chelsea squad look to be finding their feet under Villas-Boas’ new methods. As The Blues look to continue their form through the hectic December schedule into the new year, with the likes of Lampard, Mikel and Josh McEachran competing for places in midfield, Ramires continues to produce the displays which saw him break into the starting line-up last season and allowed him to retain his starting place this term. As Chelsea look to continue their revival following a string of disappointing results, the performances of Ramires give Blues fans plenty of cause for optimism.

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