Sunday Telegraph, Jonathan Wilson: "Perhaps in the Cup all that matters is progress, and Chelsea did achieve that, but if they were hoping mid-table Championship opponents would give them an opportunity to rediscover their swagger, they were disappointed. Home is still an uncomfortable place for Chelsea."
Sunday Times, Brian Glanville: "Amidst all these swirling rumours about Chelsea’s corporate future, the team stuttered then succeeded against a resolute Ipswich Town. For a while when Ipswich had equalised it had looked as though the 3-0 thrashing at Old Trafford and the humiliating home draw in the previous FA Cup round against Southend would have a sad sequel."
The Observer, Duncan Castles: "There are difficulties in every game, set-piece goals conceded aplenty plus a worrying inability to brush aside lower-league opposition. Burnley have won here, Southend United drawn here and yesterday Ipswich Town came back from a goal down to fray Chelsea nerves once more. If two second-half free-kicks of unquestionable quality saw Scolari’s team into the FA Cup’s fifth round, they did not appear a team set fair to win that trophy."
Official Chelsea FC Website: "The upturn in form continues although once again character was needed."
16′ Ballack 1-0
34′ Bruce 1-1
59′ Ballack 2-1
85′ Lampard 3-1
Back in the early eighties I always enjoyed watching Ipswich on TV as they challenged for the Championship and European success. The team contained many top quality players such as John Wark, Paul Mariner, Russell Osman, Arnold Muhren, Alan Brazil, Terry Butcher and Frans Thijssen all managed by the nationally loved Bobby Robson. Since then Ipswich supporters haven’t had much to cheer about so I guess one lesson we could learn is to be more grateful for what we have.
Today the Ipswich fans would have driven down the A12 on their tractors with high hopes of recreating past glories by taking on Premier League opposition that has looked frail against lower league teams twice previously this season.
Cup games bring out a different breed of supporter. In my part of the West Lower a surprising number of season ticket holders don’t purchase their seats for cup games and so there is an influx of temporary new blood. These cup game supporters are more enthusiastic than us battle weary season ticket holders and cheer and sing just that little bit louder and longer. Unfortunately for me the temporary supporter in front on me was 6 ft 5 inches tall and the one to my right about 20 stone which together made my viewing all the more uncomfortable. I have often thought that football crowds should be segregated by physical attributes with the tall blokes in row ZZ and the fat buggers refused entrance by narrower turnstiles.
If I was a government statistician it would be easy to portray our current run of three successive wins as clear evidence of the green shoots of recovery. Looking behind the stats and realising the wins have been against Southend, Stoke and Ipswich the picture isn’t so rosy. Today the score of 3-1 sounds comfortable but the reality was that our performance was generally turgid and Ipswich put up a good challenge and could have taken the lead. On the upside we did score three very good goals.
Our first arrived after 16 minutes with the ever willing Ashley Cole overlapping and crossing for Michael Ballack to slide in. Surely time to sit back and enjoy a comfortable win? There are a few certainties in life. Obvious ones like death and taxes. And less obvious ones like banks will only lend you money when you don’t need it, or my kids leaving their washing up in the sink and… Chelsea conceding against all comers from a set piece. Alex, son of Steve Bruce, slotted home to create another groundhog day.
Mid way in the second half Ballack restored our lead with a fine free kick. This was outdone later by a fantastic Frank Lampard free kick from 35 yards to make it 3-1. In between Phil Scolari brought on Didier Drogba for Florent Malouda. Scolari has struggled with pairing Drogba and Nicolas Anelka up front and usually Anelka has been pushed to the wing; which has been reason for him to sulk. Today Scolari found the solution by playing Drogba on the right wing. Brilliant! Why couldn’t I think of substituting a winger (Malouda) for a centre forward (Drogba) and leave on the bench a winger (Miroslav Stoch) who made a big impression last week and surely deserved another appearance.
- Petr Cech – 6 votes – How much responsibility does he take for our set piece weakness?
- Jose Bosingwa – 6 votes – Unable to open up their defence.
- Ricardo Carvalho – 6 votes – Yet to regain his top form.
- Alex – 6 votes – Steady.
- Ashley Cole – 7 votes – Spirited.
- Juliano Belletti – 6 votes – Why wouldn’t he shoot when the crowd cried out for it?
- Michael Ballack – 7 votes – Well he did get two goals but also misplaced a lot of passes.
- Frank Lampard – 8 votes – Cracking goal, plenty of shots and accurate passing.
- Florent Malouda – 5 votes – Last week I argued his defence stating it’s best to put square pegs in square holes. I’m now thinking we need a different shaped hole.
- Salomon Kalou – 6 votes – Lots of running.
- Nicolas Anelka – 5 votes – Ineffectual.
- Didier Drogba (58) – 4 votes – He’s got new boots.
- Branislav Ivanovic (70) – 5 votes – Not on for long.
- Deco (79) – 4 votes – On for even less. I wanted Miroslav Stoch.
Frank Lampard – man of the people.
Our Premier League rivals rest players whereas we’re always playing our full squad which means we’re not bringing young players through and we’re not giving our top players a rest. Today Ricardo Carvalho went off after 70 minutes and I can only assume he picked up an injury. With John Terry’s back still playing up and rumours of Branislav Ivanovic’s imminent departure we might be a bit thin at back for our crunch visit to Liverpool.