Baba Abdul-Rahman got his second nod to start in the Barclays Premier League for Chelsea in their 2–1 defeat to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. Here are a few observations from Rahman’s game against Stoke City on Saturday:
Rahman needs to get physical
The Barclays Premier League is noted for its free flowing and physical style. Strikers and attackers throw everything (speed, skills, physique and mind games) at defenders in hope of wearing them down and having their way. This was the exact technique Xherdan Shaqiri employed on Ghana’s Baba Rahman on the right flank, and it worked perfectly. He combined his pace, physique and skills to wear Rahman down and shatter his confidence, while using the left channel to feed Stoke City frontmen Walters and Marko Arnautović with threatening balls to penetrate the porous Chelsea backline. The Swiss international’s [Shaqiri] efforts eventually paid off in the 54th minute when he successfully dummied Rahman to whip in a neat cross for Arnautović to steer home Stoke’s only goal of the game. Moving forward, Baba Rahman must work tirelessly on his upper body strength, pace and aggression to ensure he fends off all the threats thrown at him by attackers.
Rahman’s confidence is hurt
Again, Rahman’s low level of confidence was a worrying observation from Chelsea’s 1–0 loss to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. The energetic and pacey Baba Rahman we knew from the Black Stars, looked a pale shadow of his usual self. He adopted an extremely cautious approach as though he was scared of making mistakes. He could barely surge forward, deliver a cross, or even throw in a tackle at his opponents. Watching him get exploited by Xherdan Shaqiri down the left flank time and again made one thing quite obvious – the 21-year-old Ghana full-back was low on confidence. It has become quite clear that José Mourinho’s statement insisting he needed more nurturing for the rigours of a top-level team like Chelsea, had weighed down on his psyche. Moving forward, he’d need a ton of encouragement if Chelsea really wants to get the best out of him.
Promising Through balls
Despite this, there were also some positives in his game against Stoke City. Rahman’s through balls from the Chelsea half were a delight to watch. A typical example was in the 14th minute, when he intercepted a ball after a corner kick and laid a long pass to Eden Hazard to start a counter attack, which eventually got squandered by Ramires. I could count at least five of those type of passes from him in the opening period. This shows that he’s currently sitting on a lot of potential and will need a healthy dose of encouragement from the Chelsea backroom staff to allow him do more than he’s currently achieved on the field of play for the current champions.
Undefeated Record Wrecked
Finally, prior to the game against Stoke City, Chelsea had not lost in open play in any of the games Rahman had started for them. He had made four starts for the blues this season since his transfer from Augsburg during the summer. They beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0 in the Champions League, thumped Walsall 4-1, defeated Aston Villa 2-0, and pipped Dynamo Kiev 2–1. This trend gave out the impression Ghana’s Baba Rahman could be the solution to Chelsea’s leaky defence this season. However, his performance coupled with Arnautović’s goal served Chelsea fans a big wake up call, while also affirming the fact that José Mourinho’s problems transcended beyond 21-year-old Baba Abdul-Rahman.