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Chelsea 3-2 Shakhtar Donetsk – On Leadership

Leadership

Introduction

Only quack footballogists would claim to have accurately dissected the thinking behind Abramovich and Gourlay’s leadership. Indeed, a decade is a healthy enough time frame through which to analyze the inner-workings and motivations of most wealthy estates.

But not this one.

The curious decisions the hierarchy has made over the years regarding players, management, finances, complaints, or the like, can fervently be chastised as improvised failings of a club not matured to the meticulous art of sport-craft or praised as a calculated strategy by visionary leadership operating on the entrepreneurial ethos of scraping through the layers mistake and failure until a game-changing product is achieved.

Whether the decision, oddly backed by extensive legal counsel, to formally report Mark Clattenburg to the FA for racist language is another unwanted embellishment in the litany of poor judgement calls made by the club or a solid stance against a medieval blight that might also turn the tide of officiating bias is truly anyone’s guess. Calculated or improvised? Truly anyone’s guess.

As the referees claim to have had enough with Chelsea’s targeting of their elite, impressionable clique and threaten a boycott, one thing is certain: the club will continue to persecute the enforcing class so long as Chelsea remain a targeted club. This is not conspiracy theory – delusions of conspiracy are the last refuge of the weak, which this outfit is anything but. The chips are always down, but the cards we play are a different story.

Let’s talk nefariousness, though. Seems strange that someone managed to snap a supposed Chelsea supporter, who does not hold a season ticket yet was stationed in a front-row seat, gesturing like an ape during the League Cup tie in midweek following Clattengate, in which the word “monkey” was alleged to have been thrown out. Barring the assumption of human nature being inherently too thick for words, the man was planted or paid. Believe it.

There has, however, been one outstanding gesture from the stands this season. In the loudest of voices, in any setting, in any circumstance, Chelsea’s battle-hardened choir has serenaded stadia with the spine-tingling chant of “We know what we are – Champions of Europe – we know what we are.” Even in the most absurd of illegal, digital streams, where the pixelated match effectively resembles a game of Football Manager, and the acoustics mirror that of a flushing toilet, these words are all that remain crystal clear.

Coming into the most vital European tie since that epic day in Munich, perhaps those words should serve as a reminder rather than a taunt. Few things in modern global football are more mercurial than a testing European night at Stamford Bridge and this nouveau Chelsea side have their first real chance to demonstrate that progress has not come at an unwanted cost. The hallmarks of heroism and leadership are required without compromise if a bedevilling Shakhtar Donetsk is to be beaten.

It’s a common theme really: outplayed away from home; the return fixture proving vital to chances of progression; a must win tie even with our backs to the wall. A circumstantial delicacy in West London.

Riding a 23-match winning streak in their domestic league, we welcome the Brazili… err… Ukrainian outfit to the soil on which they have not mustered a win in five attempts. Chelsea also seem to be embracing a similar Brazil-focused policy given the signing of 18-year-old right-back, Wallace, from Fluminense. This begs the questions: what does Wallace look like? And English, does he speak it?

Team Selection

With Sir Frank Lampard, John “Why Always Me?” Terry, and perceived contract rebel Ashley Cole dropped or injured, we have our very first glimpse of a truly new Chelsea side completely devoid of bygone spectres. Apart from Petr Cech, a Ranieri signing and neutral figure, and John Obi Mikel, a stalwart playing his best football under Di Matteo, not a single player in the starting XI has played under Jose Mourinho. This XI is effectively Chelsea’s future as the old guard gives way to unbelievably promising avant-garde.

No angst amongst fans with Ryan Bertrand slotting in for Cole because he is a solid player. Di Matteo’s decision to play him in the Champions League final worked wonders for his confidence and our trust.

Fernando Torres, inevitably leading the line with no real alternatives, is due a goal. I have lost count at the amount of times I’ve said that. Hard work aside, when will he not be due a goal?

Lastly, it is a testament to the indomitable character of Juan Mata, whose youth academy has reached financial breaking point and is selling shares which you too can buy to keep them afloat, that despite signing three playmakers to ease the creative burden on his shoulders, he has excelled and remained the talismanic lynchpin of all that is good about the Matteoan Chelsea.

Just as Didier Drogba devoured all competition that came his way, bringing with him the power of a continent to do so, Juan Mata has adapted the lethal aesthetics of Spanish football to book his place as an untouchable leader for the distant future.

First 45

Without a normal time victory in four matches, and a penchant for conceding first to an early goal, exactly how Chelsea would start this game was a point of concern. Center-halves split to either end of the pitch with Mikel filling the vacuum to distribute play is a massive step in the philosophical direction the team intends to take, but for now, it seemed unwise given recent form.

David Luiz, whose zest for life has detrimentally been transplanted onto the pitch, is not learning from his mistakes and continues to repeat them. He is danger of – or perhaps already is – crossing the line from lovability to liability.

Shakhtar are an assured side whose players know each other well. Their passing and movement could very well offer a few notes of guidance in shaping Chelsea. While most will tell you that confidence resonates from the back, Lucescu’s side seems to operate a tad differently. Letting his talented teammates down, Andriy Pyatov, rifled in a clearance right into the path of The Man Who is Due A Goal. Torres has now reset the timer and is, again, due a goal.

1-0 Chelsea. Forced, but undeserved.

A response was swift and forthcoming. Pre-match preparations seemed to have done little to counteract the threat posed by the man of the match in Donetsk, Fernandinho. Perhaps any plans that were made would inevitably be futile because what a player he is. A defensive midfielder with pace, vision, a brilliant first touch, and acute passing and finishing ability. Storming into the box, with David Luiz reacting far too slowly to cover the beaten Bertrand, Fernandinho cut the ball back to the equally impressive Willian. Whatever happens, he mustn’t be allowed to move to Tottenham. More on our defensive organization later.

1-1. Deserved.

As the Ukrainian side created chances by luring Chelsea’s enforcers into the center of the park with tight passes and then spraying the ball wide to stretch play and give young Ryan one hell of a time against the bombarding Dario Srna, we laboured in the final third. Shakhtar were undoubtedly the superior side, again.

But trust the stars to align themselves on nights like these. A second faulty clearance from Pytov gave Oscar, the little genius, the chance to control and half-volley from 40 yards. Again, our best signing this season scored the goal of the round. Either the space afforded to players or the pace of continental competitions conforms to that of Oscar’s previous Brazilian surroundings, the No. 11 shirt is now forever blessed, or this boy is just a legend in the making. As the praiseful proverb from his homeland goes, “Quem fez você, não fez outro” (Whoever made him, did not make another). Wouldn’t you agree?

2-1. Deserved?

Second 45

The weak point is obvious to perhaps everyone apart from the players themselves. Cut-backs from our left flank cannot be dealt with. Lucescu took a page from Ferguson’s game plan at the Bridge when two United goals emanated from shoddy defending on low balls from the right wing.

Bertrand was having a terrible game, to be brutally honest, but even with his mentor commanding that position, the left channel has been exposed time and time again. Willian took up virtually the exact same positions as Robin Van Persie to slot in a double. This exemplifies that, as I’ve stated before, Chelsea’s play is intrinsically tilted to the right, often leaving our left hand side vulnerable.

More, Eden Hazard, not unwilling to track back, was often delayed in aiding a struggling Bertrand. And, even more significantly, the back line along with Mikel and Ramires drop incredibly deep in the box, rushing to the goal line to clear rather than closing down the attacker.

Who exactly is to be shamed when we are fooled in identical fashion a staggering four times over?

Perhaps signature goal line heroics have affected the defensive mindset. Realistically, however, Terry’s commandeering of a shaky ship is sorely missed.

2-2. Deserved.

On the other end, Torres, despite having gotten a stroke of luck, seems to have little idea what to do with the ball. I, like many, have stuck by him for two years now. He has not markedly improved. He is forever progressing and retrograding, never maintaining. To see out a gruelling season, a leader must take the reigns of a lone striker. A leader he is not.

The balance of the tie seemed precarious, and a Chelsea loss was not entirely unfeasible. Were it not for the post, that could very have well been the outcome.

And, as per usual, a blatant penalty was denied. A customary affair for months to come, I’m sure.

Chelsea’s performance had indeed improved in the second half, though, and ensuring Hazard was in secure possession more often proved to be the catalyst. He should stick to slipping in cute passes rather than attempting a long shot. We all know where his strengths lie.

The night grew tired. An anti-climactic 2-2 draw on a crucial European night at the Bridge? Something was out of place. Not even Terry’s Balotelli-esque gym workout on the sidelines could make up for the fateful energy that favours improbable twists on this ground.

In the 94th minute, the reminder that we are, in fact, European Champions, finally took hold. And substitute Victor Moses – would it really kill the team to experiment with him leading the line? – headed home a masterful Mata corner, sealing all three points and cementing Chelsea’s leadership at the top of a group that could have all but slipped away from our control.

3-2. A quintessential Chelsea victory. Deserved? Couldn’t care less.

Shakhtar, however, did not deserve to lose. But this is Champions League football at Stamford Bridge. Change the guards, change the manager, the DNA of those destined to lead is not easily extinguished.

Leading the table on goal difference with a match against Juventus in Turin forming the last challenge of the group stage. Palpable relief is an understatement.

Player Ratings

They say the world is divided between leaders and followers.

From the starting XI, Chelsea’s leaders: 

Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Mikel, Mata.

Chelsea’s leaders in the making: Ramires, Oscar, Hazard.

Shakhtar’s leaders: Fernandinho. I see no reason why he should not be considered when we’re one short in midfield as Lampard gradually calls it a day. The complete footballer.

Man of the Match

Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior. Take a bow.

The Press Reports

The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “Chelsea’s style has shifted, the muscular grind of the recent past replaced with flamboyance and flair, but the stubborn refusal to wilt in this competition remains. As this thrilling contest tore relentlessly into added time their grip on the trophy felt loosened, the prospect very real of becoming the first holders to see their defence stumble at the group stage, after two bruising collisions with Shakhtar Donetsk and with Juventus having finally stirred. Yet, by the final whistle, they were a side revived.”

The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “The winner was created by Juan Mata, swinging over a corner that the unmarked Moses headed unerringly home as Stamford Bridge rocked with relief and glee before the fans then launched into: “We know what we are, we’re champions of Europe”. Moments later, when Moses walked off the pitch at the final whistle, a beaming Roberto Di Matteo tapped the popular 21-year-old affectionately on the back of the head in appreciation. Moses’s header has transformed Chelsea’s Group E fortunes.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “It is little too early in the season for yet another Chelsea crisis but were it not for the intervention of Victor Moses last night that looked to be the way we were heading. On the great scale of failure and triumph by which all Chelsea managers are judged by Roman Abramovich, elimination in the Champions League group stages is uncharted territory. It is unthinkable for many reasons, not least because no manager has ever failed like that before – not Luiz Felipe Scolari or even poor old Andre Villas-Boas.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “A stunning last-gasp header by substitute Victor Moses secured a much-needed 3-2 win which leaves us tied at the top of Group E with our beaten opponents.”

The Goals

6′ Torres 1-0
9′ Willian 1-1
40′ Oscar 2-1
47′ Willian 2-2
90+4′ Moses 3-2

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  • http://www.chelseafcblog.com/ Nick

    A cracking read as usual, Vik. Thanks.

    I’m pretty sure this game was only the second 90 minutes I’ve watched live from beginning to end this season. I loved every minute of it, it was nothing but exciting and I’ll take excitement over grind every time.

    I agree that David Luiz was a liability and Bertrand looked out of his depth. I’m one of the few who thinks Luiz is having a good season and hopefully last night was just a blip. Who doesn’t like a touch of the crazy in player anyway?

    I’ve taken out full membership of the Torres Is Crap Club. Crap is probably too strong a word but he’s had more than enough time and chances now. Just imagine how good we’d be with a world class striker in front of Mata, Hazard and Oscar.

  • Blue_MikeL

    Great review and great read, thanks Vik. I couldn’t agree more with all said there particularly about Torres, Bertrand and so on. 
    We need to learn, but more that we need to fix!
    KTBFFH
      

  • Geoff Fordham

    I’m surprised there was no real mention of Luiz who was not just dreadful – he looked disengaged much of the time.  I hope on Sunday we see JT back but this time alongside Cahill who i think starts to look the part.

  • Geoff Fordham

    oops there was if i read it more carefully!

  • mark_25

    Excellent writing as always making me feel like Torres compared to Drogba.

    There’s never a dull moment but I guess this is what I wished for (along with Roman).  Rather than a Mourinho-esque performance, going up one nil after ten minutes and spending the rest of the game admiring the rivet work in the stand roof hoping it’ll soon be time to go home, we’re now subjected to open crazy football hoping we’ll score one more than the opposition.

    We looked very stretched last night which I put down to

    1. Ramires getting confused by so many Brazilians and passing to theirs instead of ours
    2. Luis and Cahill falling well short of Terry and Carvalho
    3. Mikel boldly going where he’s never been allowed to go before, spending a fair bit of time in their half, even venturing into their box and scoring, albeit offside.

    All’s well that ends well.

    • Blueboydave

      Agree it was mad, breathless stuff that might help rescue the dull reputation of the CL group stage if we’re not careful.

      Although, by coincidence, during the half-time break my eyes were caught by some odd-looking panels now suspended from the underside of the roof of the West Stand that I’d not noticed before, close to some of those heaters I promised never to mention again some time ago [am I allowed that one?].

      Perhaps some one more versed in tactics can explain to me why, whether it’s Cole or Bertrand at left back, we persist in leaving acres of empty space down the left side of our defence for fast-countering teams like Shakhtar, Man U or Athletico Madrid to exploit repeatedly with the same disastrous result?

      And where our supposed holding midfielders disappear to when the ball is then cut back into the middle of our penalty box? 

      Is RDM perhaps trying to convert Mikel into an auxiliary striker to make up for Nando’s continuing deficiencies. I recall at least one open-play attack where he was by far our most advanced player when we lost possession?

      And if you haven’t already, do check out Giles Smith’s ever-brilliant take on last night and the “early-leavers” version of the season in his column today on the official website. 

      Pure genius.

    • Jmuballe

       @mark_25:disqus lol at Ramires getting confused by so many Brazilians and passing to theirs instead of ours

  • bluebayou

    Great read Vik.

    I don’t really have anything to add to such a comprehensive summary other than to say it was a good game of football for all the faults. There was always something to admire on both sides.

    I think the moment where Chelsea were breaking forward sometime during the middle of the first half and Mata just got the ball on the halfway line ahead of an SD player, he did some sort of change-up with his feet I think that left the SD players for dead. I can’t really say what it was but it was one of those moments where you think it was worth the seat monet on it’s own. Fabulous.

    A draw would have been a fairer result, maybe, but thems the breaks as we are only too well aware.

    I haven’t seen a replay but it did look like a certain penalty on Ramires late in the 2nd half, from where I was sat in the East Upper.

    • mark_25

      Yes, a riveted on penalty.

      You get the best view of the rivets in the East Upper.

  • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

    First things first, and I thoroughly enjoyed the night, perhaps a little too much so, and that is my only complaint, because I ended the night totally rat-arsed and can’t quite remember the game clearly enough to comment properly on it in any detail.
    We had problems it’s true, but Shaktar should not be underestimated, and yet again, they were really good.

    Thought we were pretty good ourselves from the off, but after scoring we slightly sat back which proved a risky business so early in the game when they were full of running, and the night then switched and swayed in a most captivating manner.

    Coming so soon after the US election, it was difficult not to draw comparisons with that match-up, which was also ‘too close to call’ for much of the time. As in America the best team won, and although victory is no guarantee of progress, defeat would have been a disastrous regression of the highest order.

    Given the undisputed talent that we have, character is possibly a more important asset to cultivate, and we displayed plenty of that for sure. 

    Can’t say that I agree with your individual appraisals, Vik, but as always you raise some interesting points, and perhaps the mystery of playing with two Holding Mids is explained if we accept that some of our tricky triumvirate won’t always be tracking back, as you’ve noted, and maybe we don’t want them to. My own feeling is that forcing Ramires, in particular, to stay back, negates so much of his value to the team.

    Blip over? Back on track?

    Only time will tell, but at least there was no need for a re-count.

  • Jmuballe

     Excellent match report; the best match report i’ve read today. Afew of my takeaways:

    - I agree that we were vulnerable on the left; Ashley would have done better, i hope
    - Luiz has taken a lot of flack for his performance yesterday but i thought he did well with the poor coverage on the left

    - Mikel and Ramires seem rather good together
    - Oscar and gives us that extra je ne sais quoi that can change games
    - Moses gives us a different dimesion – physicality, and pace
    - We are fast becoming like Man Utd in snatching victory for defeat

    - We seem to enjoy coming from a goal or two down; why can’t we win the easy way
    - Hazard struggled yesterday without the space
    -
    Commentators make it seem like Shakter is a small team from no where,
    when in fact they are almost the best of brazil; add luiz and Oscar and
    that’s an excellent Brazil side
    -@fansincethesixties:disqus couldn’t agree more on the importance of character. Teams as good as Shaktar are going to be the new normal; and advantage will come not from talent but character

  • Cunningplan

    I would just like to clarify a couple of things with regard Torres and various opinions on here.
    If he has a good game in respect of, he makes some good runs, links up play nicely and makes goals for others, he’s lambasted for not scoring.
    If he then has a poor game seems disinterested, and scores he’s still lambasted.

    The jury is still out with me, I’m prepared to give him until the end of the season to see if he’s the right first choice up front, he’s certainly a better choice than Sturridge, so until we sign Falcao or the likes let’s not be to dismissive of him.

    • mark_25

      I don’t feel Torres has delivered for us particularly taking into account his transfer fee, wage and reputation.

      Yes he does do some nice stuff off the ball but we’ve now got the three amigos to do the nice stuff and we just need someone to stick the ball in the net.

      I can’t remember any other player who has received such unstinting crowd support despite the fact we all know it’s not really happening.  Nor can he complain that the club haven’t supported him since we’ve abandoned all other strikers, so his place is not under threat, and we’ve changed our game style from long ball to Iberian to give him the support he demanded.  Torres seems scared to shoot and wants an extra touch.  Jermain Defoe would have scored more for us this season since he’s quick, only ever thinks about shooting and hits the ball hard.

      I’ve lost count of the times where it seems Torres has turned the corner but I’ve concluded he’s turned so many corners he’s actually going round in circles.  Torres has been accused of having a long face but unless his form dramatically improves before the transfer window his unhappy look will take on a new dimension by February.

  • bluebayou

    Mark, you say “I can’t remember any other player who has received such unstinting crowd
    support despite the fact we all know it’s not really happening.” But surely you haven’t forgotten that player beloved of the Shed?

    (to the tune of Yellow Submarine) “And number one is Robert Fleck and number two is Robert Fleck and number three is Robert Fleck and number four is Robert Fleck….” and on to infinity

  • Blueboydave
    • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

      Profit for the financial year was £1.4m compared to a loss of £67.7m.

      That’s an amazing bit of news but it’s hard to see how we made over £28m in transfers when we’ve been buying so much talent. Not that I care though, because moving into profit is one serious achievement, and all those financial bods that we’ve got deserve a bit of credit (excuse the pun) right now.

      They said we’d break even soon and that’s what we’ve done

      It also shows what winning CL can mean although we probably earned more than usual after both mancs exited so early.

      • Blueboydave

        A significant amount of healthy scepticism about the size of the turn around into profit seems entirely understandable, especially as our PR dept. are so excited about the news the press release has come out before the accounts have been filed, meaning no one can check any of the details yet.

        That £28.8m. profit on transfers is the bit that made my jaw drop and sent me scurrying to my Yearbooks and then to the best unofficial website summary here:

        http://www.transferleague.co.uk/premiership-transfers/chelsea-transfers.html

        Kudos to the accountants who managed to turn anything like these figures into a £28.8m. profit in the financial year to June 2012.

        Did we really get £13m for Zhirkov, or £17m as I saw suggested somewhere else this morning?

  • limetreebower

    Nice read Vik, thanks. I’ll add my voice to all those giving Shakhtar credit. They play with a most impressive combination of technical skill and directness — like Barca without all the pointless fannying around. I’d back them to do pretty well in the competition this season.

    In the field of disaster striker signings, my memories stretch back only as far as Paul Furlong, but that’s still a big enough sample to suggest that all our big-name imports are cursed. Remember Chris Sutton? He was considered a can’t-miss signing when we got him, as I recall. Sheva was supposed to be Europe’s best striker at the time. I don’t think Nando’s quite up to 10 in the Shevchenko Scale of disastrously overpriced forwards yet, but it’s looking increasingly like he’ll end up there eventually.

    I’m sure Falcao or whoever would be just the same.

    I’d be tempted to put my faith in Lukaku. We paid for potential in his case, rather than established reputation, so perhaps he’s escaped the curse. Plus he’s a proper centre-forward to complement the attacking three. Probably best to leave him on loan for the rest of the year while poor old Nando helps us huff and puff our way to fourth place or whatever, but if this group stays together they’re going to be bloody good over the next three or four seasons and I can see Lukaku doing his bit at the business end.

  • Agh57

    I remember being quite excited when we signed Furlong. Mind you I was even more excited when we signed Fleck. How times change!

    I wanted Torres to succeed, but like others am starting to tire of him. He’s lost a bit of pace, but his head seems shot to pieces. He seems to see himself as the victim in all this whilst forgetting (i) he initiated this move (he’s not been kidnapped and being forced every week to play against his will); (ii) he’s being paid a vast amount of cash; (iii) if he’d stayed at Liverpool he’d probably be even worse by now. There’s a slight chance he could turn this around, but as others have indicated, it’s difficult to see what more the club/management could have done.

    Like Tony, I’m in the pro-Luiz camp. He’s made the odd mistake, but not as many as he’s being blamed for. In the past couple of weeks, most of the problems have come from the left hand side and he’s been coming accross to try and assist, which has then resulted in him being out of position. Cahill (excellent goals apart) has also looked a little shaky recently, but this seems to not have got a mention.

    Finally a quick word on Oscar, his first touch to me look’s even better than Franco’s. Long may it continue.

  • Cunningplan

    Well guys I appreciate your opinions on Torres, and I don’t mind being the lone voice in standing by him until the end of the season.

    I think he brings a lot more to the team than people give him credit for.

    • Agh57

      I’m not massively anti-Torres, but can feel my own support/hope/belief (call it what you want!) is starting to wane.

      I agree with you that there are other parts of his game, but he was bought for a lot of money to score goals on a consistent basis, and that’s not been happening. I also think we need to stick with him until the end of the season, as in reality  we’ve left ourselves with no other option.

      I hope I’m wrong, I would be quite happy to keep him if he ended the season with 20+ goals, but we’ll have to wait and see.

  • beermoth

    Torres isn’t going to change now..He’ll have his moments ,but he’ll never be the player he was.
    We’ve given him the benefit of the doubt until now ,but enough is enough.
    As they said on the Fancast, imagine how many goals Kerry would score playing in front of this threesome.

  • Cunningplan

    Well lets just hope he does deliver, I’ll keep the faith.

    • http://www.chelseafcblog.com/ Nick

      Did you edit your comment, Clive? ;)

      They’re Whooper Swans. http://www.theswansanctuary.org.uk/swan_species.php#BM_3

      • Cunningplan

        Yes Nick; my wife pointed out they were geese, but I then decided to check for myself, and realised I needed to change it very quickly. ;-)

  • GrocerJack

    Anyone else nervous for today? We’ve hardly had the better of Liverpool at SB recently……and Duarez might be a diving shit, but he knows where the goal is…..

    • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

      Gotta say that I’m developing a permanent state of nervous tension when we play these days, not that it’s a bad thing, adding an extra bite as it does. 

      I’d hate to become one of those arrogant Red types who delude themselves into believing that they deserve/should win every game they play. At my age, anything that adds a bit of heightened excitement to proceedings is actually quite welcome, excitement being in rather short supply, so to speak.  

  • Cunningplan

    Totally calm and relaxed with regard today. Provided we don’t go into our comatose state at the start of the match, then we should have an enjoyable afternoon.

  • limetreebower

    It’s getting closer to being a blip.

    At least we defended well today, on the whole. The ‘Poo were dreadful, though, and we really ought to be beating toss like that.

    • Cunningplan

      Have to agree we should have buried them by half time, why Mata didn’t pass that ball into the net instead of blasting it, is beyond me.
      Our final pass was poor today, far too much overplaying the ball in and around their box, also Mikel was immense as was our midfield as a whole, was Gerrard playing?

      Two points dropped to a shite team, who without Suarez would only have two points themselves after eleven games!

      • GrocerJack

        It may be the annual winter blip but as RDM says we’re in better shape than this time last year and very much in the mix.

  • GrocerJack

    Gerrard looked genuinely out of sorts today, and maybe a bit heavier than usual. I wonder if the Rodgers experiment is going to gradually exclude him – he patently wasn’t happy at times. Mata seems above criticism at the moment but that miss was a shocker considering all the really hard work has been done.

    But at times our football was breathtaking in both pace and style and with more clinical and selfish finishing. Torres looked sharp today but there’s still no threat like there is from RVP, Hernandez, Suarez etc. I commented that he was becoming more and more like anelka in his style. Good at holding the ball and creating but not a deadly striker in the vein of the aforementioned. Sturridge is OK but again not clinical enough. I would take Defoe despite being generally mercenary and loathsome, and failing any signing of Falcao then why not give Darren Bent a go? The rumours from inside the club and very close to RDM is that Falcao is virtually done already. I’ll believe that when I see it although the source is a very close friend of RDM and spends a lot time on the golf course with him.

  • beermoth

    If you haven’t seen this yet…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BiTo8zxLxlo

    Josh McEachran doing a great George Best impression on Friday night.

  • Gleb

    The problem with attractive football is that the team can fool the fans into thinking that everything is fine while dropping points left and right. A path many teams have got stuck in over the past years. Give me ruthless, clinical, ugly and boring any day, if it means winning. Too bad Roman is just a casual fan who thinks that football, for some reason, needs to be played in some set beautiful way. What is this beautiful way anyway, but a southern style played by wimpy shorties who are scared of any kind of contact… The Brits invented it with no passing for God’s sake! I’m obviously exaggerating but if you’re running a football club you need to dig deeper than jumping on the fancying Barcelona bandwagon. Not scaremongering here (yet), just a general observation.

  • http://primaryaccount.blogspot.com/ WorkingClassPost

    Don’t quite know what to say about that one, but tomorrow/today is a work day so better say something before I go off to kip.

    Liverpool probably deserve some luck, and when the tooth fairy decided to crock JT and then gift them a goal, it was probably certain that we wouldn’t take the points. Personally I feel that losing (which we almost did) was worth the gamble if we’d really gone for the winner in the last minutes.

    Never mind, what’s done’s done, etc., but we looked very sorry for ourselves in those final minutes, and that’s not what champions are made of. 

    Would JT’ve pushed them back and made it 2? Who knows, but it’s a measure of his presence that we missed him, even after all his time out before this one.

    My guess is that we’re gonna have to really dig in to get even second spot this season, as the slow, inexorable whittling away of our resolve by referees, starts to get to our players and affect our results. It’s not so much the blatant destructiveness of that manu type of game, but the consistent niggling, of pulling ours back and letting theirs go, that takes it’s toll.

    When a shoulder in Ramires’ back gets nothing, seconds before a shoulder to shoulder gets them a free kick, at ‘tother end, we must start to wonder, and it’s that doubt that can make the difference over the course of a season.

    We were so much better than them, yet I always felt that we needed the second, even when it looked as if they had more chance of finding their car intact after leaving it unlocked when they got home, than scoring against us. 

    And Robbie’s too much of a gentleman to know that taking Torres off was not a good move in this game, but when he watches the replay and witnesses that baying, barracking, howling bunch of shits, I’m sure he’ll see that if anyone’s motivated to score against them, then it’s FT, and that goes right up to the last whistle. 

    So this is what transition looks like, and for most of the time it looks pretty darn good.

  • GrocerJack

    What…no match report?

    • http://www.chelseafcblog.com/ Nick

      It’s on its way…

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