Although Cahill now refers to Fernando Torres as “the main man”, it is the more mercurial skills of Eden Hazard and, to a lesser extent Juan Mata, Ramires and Oscar, around which Chelsea’s new 4-2-3-1 formation is being based.
Those four players were constantly interchanging positions during the 4-2 win over Reading on Wednesday night and, although the team have now scored six goals in two games, significant cracks did also appear defensively.
Roberto Di Matteo, the manager, reminded his players of the need to strike a balance but Cahill also believes that it is necessary for the defenders to take added responsibility. “We have got attacking minded players that want to show their flair and ability,” said Cahill. “They did that so you can’t really complain as they were so dangerous in and around the box. Maybe defensively we might be a little bit more exposed. That is something us at the back have got to organise and deal with. I don’t think you want to stop the way they play because I thought the attacking players were fantastic.”
Cahill, who scored Chelsea’s equaliser, also felt that the team were answering criticisms from just three months ago for the way they won a unique Champions League-FA Cup double.
“I certainly wouldn’t say we were boring against Reading — there was some exciting stuff,” he said. “I thought Hazard was phenomenal. It’s exciting to see those boys playing their stuff. I would rather keep clean sheets and win games but it’s about winning games.”
Hazard, in particular, has shone so far, whether playing behind Torres as he did at the start of Wednesday’s match, or to the left of an attacking three where he finished the game and showed his selflessness by squaring for Branislav Ivanovic to score the fourth. Hazard already has five assists from two Premier League games. “Maybe we’ve not been so rigid,” said Cahill. “You trust these guys on the ball and the way they move around. There is a bit more of a free role going on. It’s just intelligence really from the players. I think moving players around gave us the creative edge.
“Eden’s intelligence takes him into space. He was superb. He has a low centre of gravity, a great first touch and that bit of pace and he has got that little burst of pace when he gets past a player.”
What proved to be the winning goal on Wednesday was scored from an offside
position by Torres, whose form is likely to be pivotal in deciding whether
“He has dealt with pressure right the way through his career,” said Cahill. “He is the main man this year and he’s got off to a fantastic start. After scoring goals in the Euros, I think he took that sort of form into this season and probably took his confidence from there.”
Chelsea now lead the Premier League for the first time since November 2010, an opportunity that was particularly highlighted by Di Matteo in his pre-match team talk.
“The gaffer stressed that we hadn’t been top of the league for months and months,” said Cahill. “It’s important that we challenge this year and we have made a good start.”