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DAVID LUIZ CREATED the very first chance against Villa when he slipped a great through ball into the path of Torres. With only Given to beat, the Spaniard forced a good block from the Villa keeper. An early goal denied.
The main man in this attacking move obviously was Luiz -- a center-back who can pass like a creative midfielder. Torres should also get some credit for his smart run off of the defenders' shoulders, although it would have been great if he did better with the chance (i.e. score). While re-watching the replays though, the movements of Mikel, who didn't even touch the ball in this build-up play, really caught my eye. Basically, his movements off the ball during this play highlights part of what the Nigerian brings to the team. Let's take a look.
Mikel in Supporting Role
|Picture 1. Mikel Filling in the Gaps|
This move started on the left with Lampard in possession of the ball. As Lampard was closed down, Mikel, under Ireland's close surveillance, moved towards his vice captain to offer a passing option. Lampard decided to pass the ball to Luiz instead.
As Luiz got the ball under controll, Mikel started to move diagonally towards the right -- if Luiz were to pass the ball to Ivanovic on the right, Mikel would have been in the vicinity to open himself up for a pass, as he did for Lampard a few seconds ago on the left.
Luiz opted to dribble forward before making that delicious pass to Torres. Upon seeing Luiz's movement forward, Mikel immediately dropped into the space Luiz had just left. If Luiz were to go on his usual forward runs, Mikel would have had him covered. As it turned out, Luiz just wanted make a defense-slitting pass from Chelsea's half, making Mikel's cover unnecessary as the Brazilian came back to his center-back position shortly after his pass. No problem; Mikel moved back into his central midfield position in front of his back four.
|Picture 2. Mikel in Support|
This is the wide-angle view of the pass, showing Mikel's position in this build-up. There no glamour involved in some of the work the Nigerian does for the team. While the rest of the team hunts for goal (and glory) on the other end of the pitch, Mikel often fills in the gaps and plays his supporting role with a certain coolness and maturity that makes you forget he's ONLY 24 years old.
Carefree, wherever you may be...