Chelsea 0-1 Queens Park Rangers – The Proverbial Buck

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Introduction

Does the buck really stop at the manager? Such is the eternal debate in football. The modern structure of the game lends it to be so. Derided as malignant cancers killing a club from within, lambasted as they err in order to do what they perceive to be right for the team – or perhaps their own careers – or hailed as patriarchal panaceas, the category in which Rafael Benitez belongs in is yet to be seen, although a recent resurgence in fortunes has certainly raised his stock. The anti-Rafa cohort must, however, take a rest. Their hate has reached fundamentalist proportions – essentially unfounded and based on a loose string of extrapolations and past partisan infractions.

Having said that, it is strange why Harry Redknapp never took the interim reigns at the Bridge. He would be the closest thing to a Hiddink-esque stop gap. Rumours are that he has been approached before, but for whatever reason, it has never transpired. I can’t imagine anything but results and respect with him in charge. As it is, QPR is a challenge that has enticed him. Partisanship aside, one must wonder why Rangers dwell in the nadir of the Premier League. Their owner, Tony Fernandes, has, by all accounts, backed the club superbly. The players brought in don’t exactly constitute relegation fodder. Perhaps it was one player too many brought into a club determined to compete in the top flight. But Uncle Harry will save them from relegation; I have little doubt of that.

Speaking of signings, Chelsea have met Demba Ba’s release clause – the grand, exorbitant fee of… seven million pounds. I am no lawyer, auditor, accountant or agent, but how on earth does a striker of his quality maintain such a laughable release clause? Not that I’m protesting, but the financial system of European football is truly in tatters. It just wasn’t the same without a West African target man, and he will be welcomed with open arms. The schizophrenic form of Fernando Torres will no longer go unpunished and is there anyone who does not foresee a seven million pound signing completely outdoing his 50 million pound counterpart? Tatters. After Anelka (and Torres), this is the only other striker we have picked up from another Premier League team in the Roman era. Someone finally spoke some sense in that Templar of a boardroom.

Abra and his minions might ejaculate at the thought of sacking manager after manager, but one thing they have never done is engage in the undignified treatment of players, especially stalwarts. That is why I see no substance to the paper talk of Frank Lampard being forced out this month or at the end of the season. We have been here before – with Drogba, with Lampard, even with John Terry. None left. Roman entertains his players to lavish getaways on his private yacht. He holds his coaches and his players on two separate plains of existence. Lampard will be offered a new deal, but whether it would be wise for him to take it is another story. He will not see much playing time at 35. Yet, that experience and influence will be crucial in the second leg away ties in the cauldrons of Europe. His two goals at Everton were reminiscent of his performance against Bayern Munich in 2005, taking up similar positions in and around the box, getting forward with deadly calculation, and maintaining his position in midfield when need be. Super Frank.

Team Selection

This is effectively the closest thing we have come all season to seeing a wholeheartedly second string squad. The fixtures come thick and fast during the holidays and rotation is Rafa’s trademark. In his last post-match interview, he readily admitted that QPR are a “dangerous side” given the position they are in. He forgot to add that it’s a dangerous side with the wily old wheeler-dealer face-twitching Harry Redknapp in charge – a man who has gotten the better of Benitez in the past.

Defensive Quartet: Cahill and Ivanovic have demonstrated that they are a lot more secure than any permutation that includes David Luiz at the back. Azpilicueta is quickly becoming one of the best defensive signings we’ve made – quick and a sharp crosser. A proper wing-back. But question marks still remain over Ryan Bertrand as the post-Munich euphoric confidence has all but faded and exposed his inexperience.

Midfield Duopoly: David Luiz has been a revelation in midfield. His eccentricity and obsessive penchant to be creative is far better utilized, and far less detrimental, just in front of the defense rather than at the heart of it. With Super Frank by his side, this could be a masterstroke from Benitez in terms of shape and selection, or a gamble that will stop paying off eventually. As a long-term solution, perhaps a player who never crosses the half way line would be a better coil for David Luiz to roam rather than two players with tendencies to get forward whenever possible.

Triumvirate: While there are no qualms in starting Moses or Oscar, surely Hazard or Mata had to also start this match?

Lone Wolf: The opening act for Demba Ba.

First 45

There wasn’t one. Apart from Marko Marin’s enactment of the Vandal sacking of Rome – which should have been a straight red card and perhaps was a sign of things to come – along with a few lively moments from the little one, I have seen drug-fuelled hangovers that looked better than Chelsea did. In fact, the performance stank of perhaps an excessive New Year’s night. It must be said that Julio Cesar was in top form, reacting brightly with his feet to save a deflected effort.

Second 45

There were chances indeed. Lampard was adjudged offside, which was a very, very close call. Imagination and industry was stifled without Hazard and Mata on the pitch. The repeated routine of playing it out wide in the hope that Torres would attack a cross as he did against Aston Villa were naïve and brought back haunting memories of the most dire performances of last season when, at times, Bosingwa seemed to be assigned as the playmaker.

We soon seemed content to declare this match won by corner count. Despite having 11 corners, none were converted. It seemed perfectly teed up for Commandant Ivanovic, adorned with the captain’s armband, to deliver a signature vital winning goal. But not even he could capitalize, grazing the crossbar from yet another corner.

Torres’ golden chance came when he found himself in a perfect angle to slot it underneath an onrushing Cesar, only to blast right at the keeper.  Maybe I’m being harsh. Or maybe his schizophrenia has well surpassed the vast threshold of my patience.

As the match laboured, there wasn’t a single Chelsea fan alive who doubted that QPR could very well take the lead – and even win this sorry excuse for a football match.

So it was.

From only their second corner of the match, QPR lured Chelsea into a near post corner, only for a clearance to allow Taarabt to majestically lay the ball into Shaun Wright-Phillips’ path. It’s not the first time he’s come back to deliver a death blow since leaving. Would Cech have saved that? Maybe. He most certainly wouldn’t have been as far off his line as Turnbull was for the low shot. But that’s conjecture. QPR deserved the victory simply because we were so bloody inept and apathetic.

I have actually lost count at the amount of times teams from across the continent have managed to alter the course of their season by a victory over Chelsea. It seems that you really can’t change your situation without first beating us, home or away, and then have the media deify said result.

But even with a second string squad, there is absolutely no excuse to not having scored a goal in 180 minutes against one of the worst sides to ever grace the Premier League.

Following the magnificent away win at Goodison, we were very much in contention to, at the very least, catch Manchester City and only then rally to push United till the last whistle on the last match day  There will be a reaction in the next few matches, hopefully, but as long as we’re capable of losing a derby at home to the bottom of the barrel, we have no hope in hell of challenging for more than a top four finish.

Alan Hansen on Match of the Day simply attributed the upset to “just a crazy league and a crazy game.” Spare me the disguised lack of insight.

Where exactly does the buck stop here and now?

Player Ratings

Chelsea’s XI (including substitutes and management): 0 – 1. That is the only set of numbers that matters.

Man of the Match

Marko Marin for actually giving a flying fuck. Literally.

Press Reports

The Guardian, David Hytner: “It had been difficult to find anything that was not stacked against Queens Park Rangers in this derby or their crusade to avoid the drop into the Championship. A couple of statistics stood out. They had not won at Stamford Bridge since 1983. And only one club that has entered New Year’s Day at the foot of the Premier League table has avoided relegation. The obstacles merely added gloss to a performance and result that will live long in the memories of every QPR fan that witnessed it, particularly if it can serve as the catalyst for a feat of grand escapology.”

The Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “QPR are still five points adrift of safety but they have given themselves hope, not simply with the three points but with the disciplined, determined performance. They outwitted the champions of Europe. “Can we play you every week?’’ inquired the 2,800 visiting fans as the home sections of Stamford Bridge emptied speedily after the final whistle.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “At the final whistle there was an impassioned chorus of Rafa Benitez’s name, sung by supporters with pride and delight. Unfortunately for the Chelsea manager it came from the Queens Park Rangers fans in the away end at Stamford Bridge.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Chelsea succumbed to a first home defeat against neighbours Queens Park Rangers since 1983, thanks to a late goal from Shaun Wright-Phillips. The result leaves us in fourth place, still a point adrift of third-placed Spurs, but with a game in hand.”

Goal Video and Highlights

78′ Wright-Phillips 0-1
Match of the Day highlights




There are 64 comments

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  1. Blueboydave

    OK, it’s own up time, Vik, perhaps the buck stops with me – I may have become a hex on Rafa-era home games.

    Since he took over we have had 5 home games in all competitions, 1 of which [Fulham] I had been due to miss anyway because of a long-term commitment elsewhere.

    I chose to attend the Man City 0-0 bore-in and last night’s “sorry excuse for a football match” as you so aptly put it, while I skipped the goal-fest games v Nord-whatsit and Villa.

    Clearly my anti-Rafa feelings are more powerful than I realised.

    You will all be relieved to hear I have not bought my regular seat for the Swansea home leg and I feel it my bounded duty to head for Viagogo to make sure I watch Arsenal on TV only too.

    I trust you are all truly grateful for this act of self-sacrifice on my part.

  2. GrocerJack

    Repeated from earlier post……..

    I dont hate Benitez but I don’t love him either. He got that very wrong last night, even if the starting XI was more than good enough to live with most teams. Play the best team. get the comfy lead then give the others a run out. Either that or instil some passion and desire about how important this game was. Oscar was poor 1st half, Lampard invisible, Marin bright, Luiz defensive and Bertrand sadly looking out of his depth again. All improved second half but still too much fluffy fucking about instead of making the flaky keeper workBut it was Torres who stunk the house out. A disgraceful display of apathy, gutlessness and cowardice combined with the look of a haunted player spooked by the ghost of what he once was. He’s broken. He’s scared. he’s incompetent. He’s so bad I’d take Kalou or Malouda ahead of him. At least Kalou always seemed to try. When we bought Sheva it wasn’t long before we could see he was ready for the glue factory but the fact was despite his shortcomings in pace, he always tried hard. Torres on the other hand is not even a passenger.He’s a fucking stowaway. Get rid. Now. We will not win the league. I can’t see an FA Cup either. I expected a trophyless season but I expected to see some fight as the team formed. Last night we saw none. Pathetic. #Torresout as i’ve been saying on Twitter. 

  3. Blue_MikeL

    I really don’t want to upset Cuningplan, by talking about Torres, so instead I will talk about something different. 
    Who is responsible for signing him? Three  managers were fired because this fuck couldn’t produce anything, isn’t it time to punish the one who brought him to the team?   

  4. Der_Kaiser

    All quite depressing, frankly. 

    Many, many things wrong with last night – most of them have been listed elsewhere n times over, but for the sake of catharsis I shall do so again. 

    Team selection. Cup games on Sunday and Wednesday, the first against opposition who have higher priorities and no league game for 10 days – why rest your best / most effective players (completely changing the creative herbert trio that played against Everton) when you are already lacking leaders like Cole, Cech & Terry? Foolish in the extreme.  We roll along almost perfectly over Christmas and then… that. He’s not solely to blame, but this is exactly what cost Benitez and Liverpool the league in 08-09; winning big games and then faffing around against supposedly smaller teams and blowing it.  Mourinho would have hauled 3 off at half time, if not before when it became abundantly clear that some were below par and the plan wasn’t working.  But we wait for 60-75 minutes before anything is done by which time QPR have their tails up and a growing belief that they can get something from the game.

    Frank and Luiz. Hmm. While Everton may have illustrated the reason for a 2 yr deal for the former, last night was the reason for a rolling 1 yr contract or lump it. The game passed him by for the most part, albeit that he spent a lot of time plugging holes that his partner left.  

    As for said partner – much debate as to his best position and so forth, but frankly if Barcelona want to throw £30m our way for him I wouldn’t be complaining. The warning signs were there against Everton, but we got away with it – suspect that ‘Arry watched that game and set his stall out accordingly. Taarabt caused him too many problems – he was out of position too often and far too casual with and without the ball. Great character, fun to have around but the odd spectacular pass in amongst a few games in midfield against largely average sides doesn’t make him Socrates. The midfield misses Mikel badly in games like that – really needed him to dictate the pace of things in the middle last night.

    Torres; please, just make it stop now. It’s the lowest thing to wish injury on any player, least of all your own, but I genuinely wish something would happen to put the guy out for the rest of the season – he’s just unwatchably bad. I’d ask what he has to do to be subbed / dropped, but the answer ultimately involves Roman’s girlfriend, a cucumber, some bulldog clips, gaffer tape and a pot of Swarfega.  And I bet he’d still miss the appropriate opening.

    Positives. Not many; Dave the RB looks decent. Cahill and Ivan occasionally shabby but overall not bad. Marin very lucky to stay on but improved as the game went on. Oscar dipped in and out of the game.

    All that said, the team we put out should have been enough to beat that shower of sh*te, albeit that they set themselves up well and stuck to ‘Arry’s game plan admirably. Shooting / heading practice for all concerned. And as a final more general point, it may not be relevant next season but it would be good if the team / manager could realise that playing us for QPR is a like Christmas and a cup final rolled into one. Please, take it seriously, even if they are a bunch of no-marks.

    And… rest. Back to work, I suppose.

  5. Chris

    Also repeated from an earlier post, before last night’s debacle…

    “Turning to Benitez, I’m not sure I see where he can claim to be responsible for the improvement in results. Maybe more use of Moses in place of Oscar, though I still like the Mata, Hazard, Oscar trio best. Lamps returning from injury has helped calm the midfield. And I think the Luiz as holding mid experiment has been a failure. He makes the occasional long pinpoint pass that is a thing of beauty, but he is caught with the ball or makes foolish passes several times a game, and when he does we are immediately exposed at the back. Just too dangerous against better teams that will punish us more effectively than the lower level teams we have been playing recently.”

    Like GJ I don’t hate Benitez. I don’t stand up in my living room in Ohio 16 minutes into the game and sing peans to RDM. But I remain convinced that it was a very bad decision to fire him in the first place (premature based on results, and costly to our long-term hopes of getting a top quality future manager), and that nothing about Benitez suggested then, or since his hiring, that he could do a better job. We have beaten up on a handful of weak teams (Villa have collapsed against everyone since losing to us) and failed in the really big ones (Juventus, Corinthians). The ridiculous claim that Benitez could somehow revive Torres has been proved to be just that: ridiculous. It’s not pathology to be bitterly disappointed with Benitez; its harsh reality.

    • GrocerJack

      Wasn’t the RDM sacking and the logic behind it mentioned in last nights programme by Gourlay (a man designed to show us all just how fucking good at CEO Kenyon was).

      As I say, Rafa got it wrong last night but can’t be blamed for the levels of apathy rife through the team during the first half. Marin may have been lucky to stay on but at least there was fire in his belly.

  6. mark_25

    Last night was inevitable.  0-0 at Loftus Road plus last season’s defeat was the writing on the wall amplified by the Rangers fans singing “Pride of West London” as I exited Fulham Broadway Station.

    There are always games like last night so I’m not getting too wound up.  Rafa was right to rest some players.  Utd rotate 5 and get away with it, so shouldn’t we?  Mata looked knackered against Everton so I’d rest him for two weeks.  Don’t blame the manager or the rotation, the buck stops with the players.  Ivanovic and Luiz both insisted on shooting into the upper tier and the midfield lumbered back and forth sideways barely creating a chance so I don’t even see how Torres can take the buck on this one.  It’s too early to tell whether the Luiz experiment will pay dividends or if something horribly unknown will transpire like the Quatermass experiment.

    Talking of Torres, Vik referred a couple of times to schizophrenia.  Is this an appropriate term because I’ve only seen the empty vessel, pale shadow of a glorious past side of Torres.  Is there a good side?  Or is Vik referring to the shirt sales?

    Typical of SWP to score but I thought he stood head and shoulders above Marin.

    We’re never going to win the league this season so let’s forget that.  Reset your expectations to so something circa 1968 or 2004.  Top 3 finish plus one cup will do me fine.

    We can at least be happy for Uncle ‘arry.  Still hope he takes our neighbours out of the Premier League and back where they belong; on the Jeremy Kyle show.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Rotation is fine to an extent – simple fact is altering the whole of the attacking 3 was a gamble – taking an hour to react before changing it cost us dearly.  Remember laughing merrily when Benitez did it at Liverpool, often with disastrous consequences – sadly not so amusing any more.

    • Vik Sohonie

      Bonjour Mark! I think Torres has been schizophrenic because he is able to score a double at Sunderland and a bullet header against Villa one day at then revert to an amateur footballer the next.  He’s given us some good moments, Barcelona come to mind, and continues to show glimpses of his former self to build us up… only to let us down.  The main issue being that schizophrenia is a serious problem and a detriment to success.  Having him as a back up striker wouldn’t be very wise either because I very much doubt that he will ever able to pull something off from the bench in times of dire need.  

      I have also been reading about Demba Ba’s knee problem and his past failed medical, which is why his release clause has been set so low – Newcastle didn’t want to be stuck with a injury-plagued striker if that’s what it came down to.  So, again, we are gambling.  And I truly hope the legacy of failed strikers at the Bridge doesn’t provoke long-term injury in Ba, because I think he is the type of player that Chelsea desperately need in the system we play.  Target man or bust really. 

      And I seem to have been wrong on Frank Lampard.  JT’s Instagram has said the following: “Devastated is an understatement.  We should retire the no. 8 shirt in honour of Lamps.”  This comes a day after Lampard’s agent allegedly said he is definitely leaving come season’s end.  But today he has denied giving an interview.  If he does leave, JT is right.  Devastated is an understatement.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hopes up.  

      Cheers. 

      • Der_Kaiser

        Think there is some way to go on the Frank saga.  Does appear more likely than not he’ll go, but an awful lot of what is happening might well be the usual positioning by both parties.  Only time will tell.

        • Blueboydave

          Indeed, but you’d have to say Frank and his agent are well ahead in the PR stakes in their sympathy building campaign 😉

          Am I the only one tired of hearing pundits contrast our club’s treatment of senior players with Man U, citing Giggs and Scholes, while blithely ignoring Hughes, Keane, Bruce and Strachan who all might have less rosy memories of the way they were discarded?

          • Der_Kaiser

            Very true on both counts.  Giggs and Scholes have been kept on as a necessity as the various replacements Fergie has acquired or bought through from the youth set-up haven’t generally worked out.  And in fairness, both still have a fair amount to offer (or at least have in the last season or two).  Not sure how much further they will go, though.

          • mark_25

            Actually I’m not impressed by Frank’s PR positioning. I don’t think it’s good practice to look all forlorn and innocent in each interview, like some desperate Princess Diana circa 1980’s when asked if Charles is going to marry her.

            I’d prefer Frank to say “My contractual arrangements are between me and the club” and leave it at that rather than say “Chelsea have paid me £30m quid in the last 8 years and continue to pay me £150 grand a week but they won’t talk to me about committing to more £150 grands per week for another 2 years even though I’m now in decline.  It’s so hurtful I might have to go to America for £4m quid”.

            Glad we’ve signed BA.  The thought of the Saints tomorrow without Torres is making me go weak at the knees.

            http://www.chelseafc.com/news-article/article/3030470/title/ba-transfer-completed

          • Blueboydave

            Well, the doe-eyed look in interviews worked well for Diana who supposedly captured the entire nation as “Queen of Hearts” [apart from the 2 of us, apparently] and you seem to have heard different interviews with Frank from the ones I have.

            Are you sure this isn’t your hard-hearted accountancy streak over-compensating for your latent man-love for Frank?

          • mark_25

            Possibly.

            I find it very difficult to show sympathy for footballers at the top level in their contract negotiations.  It’s not like the old days when players were hauled in by the chairman and told they’d been sold and you’re getting £100 a week, take it or leave it.

            Most players from the golden age aren’t rich.  That’s why they have to parade themselves at half time to earn a few bob.

            Also players today screw clubs to the limit whilst they’re at the peak of their powers and then start bleating when the ball’s on the other foot.

            Not that I don’t love Frank.  Our best midfielder ever.  That doesn’t mean I think we should give in to him and give him whatever he wants.  We have to think of financial fair play and if we can get BA for £70k per week that means within the same financial limits it’s either one Frank or two BA’s.

          • Day Tripper

            I agree with you. I also didn’t like the way he used overtures from Inter Milan to get himself an improved contract back in the Phil Scolari days. I’m surprised you say he is our best midfielder ever, the more so as I know you go way back with Chelsea – to the mid sixties if I’m not mistaken

          • mark_25

            Well I’m struggling to think of who’s better?

            192 goals and played a big part in 3 Premier Leagues, Champions League, endless FA Cups and a few Carlings.

            As much as I loved John Hollins, Charlie Cooke and Butch they never quite reached Frank’s heights, not forgetting 93 England caps.

          • Blue_MikeL

            Regarding Frank it is actually very simple situation. Club ready to pay X and Frank wants to get Y. Now, if Frank can get his desired amount Y somewhere else and club not ready to compromise Frank may go to that place; whether it is China or USA I don’t really care.Some people around here were crying about Drogba. Be reasonable guys could we afford to pay what he is getting in China? The answer is no, so there is nothing to cry about.
            P.S. One more thing. I don’t know, if he (Lampard) is the best Chelsea midfielder, but he is definitely our most successful midfielder!!!

          • jonners

            Not sure whether Frank is the best midielder ever to play for Chelsea but in the way that he uses the media to get  public(especially  chelsea fans) opinion behind him he is certainly one of the smartest. .After all he does always come across as “Mr Reasonable” in tv interviews  so if he says the club have not talked to him about another contact who could possibly doubt what he says?.

  7. Biggs

    this was a fluke. we could play qpr 100 times with the same team and would win every time…i saw the whole game, and somewhere in the 30th minutes caught myself thinking – this feels like a 0:0 or even a 0:1.
    and so it was. qpr simply pulled same routine we did to barcelona last year and it worked.

    • Blueboydave

      He’ll be another one that Mad Rafa can clearly get the best out of presumably? 

      Meanwhile, here’s a stab at an idea that I recall being floated that the blog ought to compile a list for, sometime ago:

      http://whatculture.com/sport/chelsea-transfers-10-worst-signings-of-abramovich-era.php?

      – though I think ours was going to be “The 10 [or 20] Worst Decisions” so that managerial hire/fires could be included too.

      PS – my ticket for the Arsenal game sold on Viagogo inside 20 minutes – there’s still some keen fans out there then, or very active touts? 

  8. CMM_76

    Terrible result, but with Benitez at the helm, not unexpected. He never really cared about the league when he was at Liverpool- his focus has always been on cup competitions. Hopefully his foolishness won’t take us out of the top four. Based on the excuses he threw out and the lack of responsibility he exhibited after the match, though, I’m not optimistic. It made me sick to see him complaining about how many games we have in the next few weeks. We’re Chelsea, not Liverpool- we have higher standards for our players. He just doesn’t seem to get that winning the FA Cup means nothing if we don’t qualify for the CL next year.  And Torres needs to go, we’ve been patient and supportive and he’s given us some wonderful moments, but week in and week out, he can’t be counted on to take command of the game or strike fear into our opponents defensive. 

  9. Agh57

    I agree with Mark. Whilst there’s no doubting his contribution to the club on the pitch, he’s got form for this type of thing. There was a similar situation over his last renewal which I seemed to recall was ended by suprise announcement with a big build up on Chelsea TV. I would prefer it if it was all kept behind closed doors.

    And then there are those stories that have found themselves in the press the day after he has been dropped a few times over the last couple of seasons.

    Blue boy Dave is also bang on. It’s getting very tiresome with all the pundits claiming we must be mad not to offer him a contract and saying why can’t we treat him like Giggs/Scholes etc. As far as I understand it we have, we have offered him a one year deal which he’s turned down.

    • bluebayou

      I can understand why Benitez made that statement. By making that statement at the beginning of his reign, he was trying to highlight one area of potential grief for which he should not be blamed and taking himself out of the situation so that his use of Lampard in the team was a separate matter from future contract negotiations. The same with Ashley Cole.

      Fairly sensible really from his point of view..

        • Blueboydave

          But is that possible anymore with TV/radio/ press journalists all pushing questions at managers and players to fill all those empty spaces in the 24-hour news cycle?

          And endless “no comments” mean all too many of them will just make something up.

          Meanwhile, I assume Mark would approve of the way Inter are reportedly playing hardball with Sneijder even at 28, insisting he take a big pay cut:

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/20910839

          Note too further down the article a classic bit of ‘Onest ‘Arry not tapping up a player from another club, definitely not!

  10. Der_Kaiser

    Good news about Ba.  Proven Premiership goalscorer for that kind of money is a decent deal.

    Let’s face it, any signing that potentially means less Torres can only be a good thing.

  11. bluebayou

    Well done for entertaining us in trying circumstances Vik.

    I was there, it was not pleasant but having had time to mull over the night’s events I think Biggs is right and we would beat them with that team more often than not. On the other hand the lack of tempo and width in the first half was depressing. Early in the second there were a few openings but they didn’t take the chances.

    Fatigue may be a factor with Torres but his lack of ball retention and a by now predictable inability to beat a player one on one is stifling the team’s chances of breaking sides open. Whatever about Torres himself or indeed Benitez’s ability to inspire him, the decision to enter the season with only two out and out strikers seems ever more mystifying. I know most teams play with one up, but the option to put on a second striker to occupy the center backs rather than playing with two central midfielders against deep lying teams is denied to them when form, injury or the owners whim leave just one striker available.

    Swapping in Demba Ba for Sturridge still leaves the squad light in that area

  12. Chris

    I haven’t been following the Frank saga, but I thought the issue the length of the contract rather than the amount of weekly wages, with the club wanting nothing longer than one year and Frank wanting two. Is that not the case? We shouldn’t pay over the odds, I’d just much rather that he retired a Chelsea player than the ignominy of entering the autumn of his years in the MLS.

  13. Benjami

    Yeah solid performance for the team he put out, I watched the whole game and Ba did look good. Its an easy bandwagon to jump on to, but subjectively, it looked like he was working harder off the ball than Torres. He was following in shots from Lamps at the end and looked a really presence up front that caused them problems.

    Interesting stat from thechels.co.uk: “Fernando Torres averages a goal once every 254 minutes in the Premier League this season, while Demba Ba once every 134 minutes & Romelu Lukaku once every 130 minutes.”

    Who needs to spend all that money on Falcao/Cavani, at the moment we have two fighting for 1 position, and next year we will have 3.

  14. ChelseaAfrica

    Frank: Sorry for not allowing you to take the penalty
    Ba: It’s okay, but I would have had hat-trick in my 1st match for CFC, at least for a record
    Frank: Oh, I’m pursuing a record too
    Ba: That’s okay

  15. Biggs

    as usual – no posts when we win 😉

    i wanted to say a long time – the quotes at the bottom are great. being a foreigner – i learned so much about chelsea of old. top stuff. /like/ 🙂

  16. Musumba

    Could we possibly sign Willain as Lampards replacement at the end of the season in case it happens,i think he can comfortably control/dictate a game and do what Mata and Lampard do,Oscar is talented but i find him a lightweight, it will take some time for him to assert himself in the league ,am also glad to see Rafa using Moses, i still think Fergie can’t get the best out of Nani i firmly believe he is the best attacking player in the world,  and can offer us a variety of options when played as a striker.

  17. Vik Sohonie

    How the shit is not a single player from a Champion’s League winning side not in the FIFA World XI? Are they fucking kidding? Marcelo over Ashley Cole? Casillas over Cech? Sergio Ramos?? My god. 

    • Blueboydave

      This comes too on the back of his post-FA cup game interview on TV when he kept repeating obsessively how happy he was to play whatever position the manager wanted him to and definitely not insisting on playing through the centre.

      Either he’s had a personality transplant/seen the error of his ways or as you suggest he’s, err, rather overdoing the ingratiating stuff.

    • Blue_MikeL

      Yes, read it today as well. We all knew he is not the sharpest tool in the box. Add to it recent meningitis he suffered from and the reason for these comments will be very clear-idiocy.

  18. mark_25

    That was stinking. Everyone was crap aside from Ba who only got 5 minutes. We need to buy another striker this window and Torres needs to spend time with Malouda.

  19. limetreebower

    Swansea v Bradford –the sponsors’ dream final.

    Happy New Year everyone! Remember the mantra … “transitional … transitional … it’s transitional …”

  20. Benjami

    Well if RA can’t realise it now he never will, the best result we can have now this season is 1. A new contract for Ashley Cole, 2. Torres never ever plays again 3. A new contract for Lamps.

    We weren’t crap, we played well in patches and should have got a goal. Made the chances just didn’t take them, and the inevitable happened twice.

    Overall I don’t mind FSW, I think the team looks sharper, is more knowledgeably/prepared with regards to the opponent, is not as defensively naive as it was, and is tactically organised leading to us to concede less goals. However, the guy is a retard when it comes to making decisions mid game, he looks like a person who works his ass off, but lacks the ability to see ways to change the game as it is flowing.

    It was so obvious a change (again this has happened in previous games) should have been made around the 55min mark, if not at half-time. I would love to see a stat of the average timings of subs for each manager. Instead it takes him till the 71 mins, and the 81-83 mins to get 3 on. Ridiculous.

    Hes fine till the end of the season, get us to 4th that is all the matters, then out. If he continues in his role we will slide down the table.

    Good cameo by BA, and well defended by Swansea, you make your own luck.

  21. dustylancer

    And the top prize for a damn good impersonation of Arsenal-Chelsea match goes too – Chelsea-Swansea.

    Amazing what you can accomplish trying to imitate Barca, without any young midfielder of Lamps calibre trying to shoot from distance, wingers who can’t cross half as well as our star striker and a striker who is on the bench. In short you get Arsenal minus van Persie.

    It also is really funny, the things you can achieve with a team that is well drilled defensively and will take their chances as the come despite conceding the majoirty of possession with a good striker, Chelsea circa 2005.

    Yet let us persist with the Farcelona experiment in a league that is not really conducive to that style of play and whose managers have been borrowing entire fucking chapters out of the Mourinho style of play handboook since his departure to supplement their own football philosophies.

    Lastly too all those fans who weren’t on the Torres out bandwagon, get on it now. As long as the club, the owner and the fucking manager insist on measuring his worth by his price tag and not their actual fucking eyes we are fucked.

    Funny one match has us going BA BA BA and the other bah bah bah.

  22. bluebayou

    Since Rafa the Gaffa took over, Chelsea have played at home 6 times. They have scored 14 goals while conceding a mere 4. That means an average of 2.33 goals a game scored with only 0.66 goals against.

    So statistically that’s all good there then, nothing to see, move along.

    But just a minute, how many of the 6 did we win?

    Just the 2.

    Draw

    Just the 2

    Lose

    Just the 2

    Yes we managed to score a whopping 14 goals to 4 against and still lose two and draw two games.

    It seems that cruel fate has decided that we should resemble a poor man’s Barcelona from last season. Win big then fail to unlock stout and well organised defences and get mugged in the process.

    Last night seemed particularly cruel as we not only handed it to them on a plate, but pushed in their chair, tucked in their napkin, blew on their potatoes and cut the meat into small manageable pieces as well.

    Unlike against QPR, Mata and Hazard played. Total aditional scoring effect = 0

    Chelsea could and indeed should have scored in the first half.

    Score early, score often is indeed becoming the team mantra.

    But they didn’t. And Branislav Ivanovic took it on himself to resurrect that unfortunate caricature, the mad Balkan.

    In some ways it is a good job it was him. For there are others, who shall remain nameless, who would not have got out alive for single handedly chucking it to the Swans.

    Whatever Rafa did or didn’t do, there really is no legislating for that kind of a meltdown.

    And it is becoming painful to watch Torres struggle on. I hate to see someone so ground down. Personally I don’t like to hear a player being booed off. Many feel it is fine. We’ll have to disagree.

    Of course what Rafa should have done was either started with or put Ba on after an hour maximum. He should also have sacrficed some defence for another attacking player. I appreciate it’s two legs and he didn’t want to be so gung-ho as to allow Swansea to get a greater advantage, but in that scenario where you are not forcing a sitting defence to change shape at all, then offering something different, something to inject a bit of hesitation, a doubt,  was a necessity.

    Short Biographical Note:

    I have attended 3 home games since Rafa’s arrival, all on a midweek night. Perhaps you can work out which ones.

    Total Chelsea Goals Seen out of 14 = 0
    Total Opposition goals seen out of 4 = 3

    Perhaps it’s me.

    Note of Warning

    I have a ticket for the Southampton game next Wednesday.

    • Blueboydave

      Ah, good. So I can blame you for my noble sacrifice in not buying a ticket for last night’s game failing to improve their home form.

      I’ve only been to 2 home games under Rafa so far which had an aggregate score of For 0, Against 1!

      Unsurprisingly,  I see Viagogo is awash with as many hundreds of tickets available for the Southampton game as there were for the midweek Fulham game after the Citeh bore-in.

      Is there anything good on TV next Wednesday?

  23. mark_25

    Agreed it sounds pretty lame but if it’s true it’s a worry that Ba only lasted one game before joining the list of knackered striker acquisitions!

    I’m in the Potteries. So much clay!

    • Blue_MikeL

      I don’t think it is true. Ba started the game against Stoke and was not bad at all.
      Walters has become the fourth player in EPL history to score two own goals in one game, but the first one who in addition to it missed penalty.
      Great win, which can be explained by the fact that we played 11 man from the start (I am hinting on Torres absence in starting eleven).


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