Belfast Telegraph

Villas-Boas searching for fluency

Andre Villas-Boas has vowed that Chelsea will show their true Barclays Premier League title credentials once the Champions League gets under way.

The Blues' less-than-convincing start to the season continued as they survived another Stamford Bridge scare to beat 10-man Norwich 3-1. Chelsea have looked anything but championship challengers in their opening three games, but new manager Villas-Boas has insisted they are improving and that they will get even better once they begin playing twice a week, instead of once.

"When the midweek games start coming in, it will help with the fluency of our game, because you play the games more often and you get more of a relationship between players," said Villas-Boas, whose side face Sunderland, Bayer Leverkusen and Manchester United in the space of eight days after the international break.

"The quality of the game will improve and that's what we want straight away, to find that fluency.

"You get more match situations instead of training situations. In the end, it's the game that matters."

Chelsea left it late again on Saturday to snatch all three points and maintain their unbeaten start under Portuguese prodigy Villas-Boas.

They looked like finally showing championship form when Jose Bosingwa's first goal in almost three years put them ahead after less than six minutes, but Norwich deservedly levelled when Grant Holt pounced on a horrible error from Hilario and the visitors even went close to taking a shock lead before Villas-Boas' substitutes came to the rescue for the second week in succession.

One of them, Nicolas Anelka, played in Ramires for the penalty which turned the game - Frank Lampard scoring after John Ruddy was sent off. And another, Juan Mata, made sure on his debut by striking in the 11th minute of injury time.

Mata's performance highlighted the lack of creativity in Chelsea's midfield prior to his introduction but Villas-Boas insisted the Spaniard did not change the game unaided.

"Mata found some good spaces," he said. "Also, the team helped him find these spaces. Bringing on (Romelu) Lukaku and Nico helped the fluency of our team."


From Belfast Telegraph