Chelsea 1-1 Burnley (aet; Burnley win 5-4 on penalties)

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Match reports

The Guardian, Mike Adamson: "In 1956 these two teams played an FA Cup tie that lasted five matches and nine hours, the length of time this tie must have felt to the Chelsea manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari. He watched his team concede the first-half lead given to them by Didier Drogba, making his first start for six weeks, as an impressive Burnley team took the game to extra-time. The Championship side then beat the Premier League leaders on penalties thanks largely to the heroics of their goalkeeper, Brian Jensen."

Daily Telegraph, John Ley: "Burnley created the shock of the season so far as they sent Chelsea out of the Carling Cup in the most dramatic of penalty shoot-outs thanks to a man nicknamed The Beast. After starting the season unbeaten, Luiz Felipe Scolari has been introduced to the London Bus syndrome: wait ages for a defeat, then three come in quick succession."

The Times, Nick Szczepanik: "The Carling Cup has been boom or bust for Chelsea since 2004-05 and last night it was bust again as they went out to Burnley on penalties at Stamford Bridge. Winners twice and losing finalists once in the past four seasons, Chelsea also recorded the only domestic home defeat in José Mourinho’s time as manager in this competition, when they went down on penalties to Charlton Athletic after a 1-1 draw in October 2005."

The Independent, Hyder Jawad: "The pain of Moscow came flooding back for Chelsea as they bowed out of the Carling Cup last night, losing 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out against Burnley at Stamford Bridge. The stakes might have been lower than they were against Manchester United in the Champions League final, but that was not how it felt to the Burnley supporters, all 6,500 of them, who celebrated a memorable victory."

Official Chelsea FC Website: "Didier Drogba’s first goal of the season was not enough as shoot-out misery continues."

The goals

Sky News highlights (54 seconds).

The excuses

  • We were trying to conserve our resources for the main competitions.
  • The pitch was too dry. We can only play on an inch of water.
  • With the economic downturn the club wanted to save fans the expense of a cup run.
  • Players got distracted by the scores coming through from White Hart Lane.
  • We’re better after a defeat because we have great bouncebackability therefore we’re nicely set up for West Brom away which is more important.

Unfortunately I can’t find a genuine excuse. We were poor, Burnley were workmanlike and spirited, we got what we deserved and they got what they deserved, so good luck to Burnley who will enjoy another day in the sun.

Who’s to blame?

Big Phil

  • Clearly doesn’t understand the quality of the full league in England and has not learnt from the mistakes of others, like Benitez who made a similar error for Liverpool to lose to Burnley in the FA Cup.
  • Picked a team that was neither fish nor foul. Either play the reserves/kids or play the first team.
  • If you’ve got big players on the bench you’re better off starting with them and taking them off when we have an unassailable lead, rather than bringing them on later.
  • Had a mix of players that meant we couldn’t play our normal game of passing and attacking down the wings.
  • Poor substitutions. Taking off Drogba when the game clearly wasn’t won and leaving us with no further substitutes was naïve and we got suitably punished when Di Santo went off injured leaving us with 10 men.

Ray Wilkins

  • He does understand the quality of the full league in England and should have given Big Phil better and stronger advice.

The match

We started badly. You can normally tell within the first five minutes of a match whether the team is going to play well or badly and this had all the signals of a poor performance. Our normal slick passing game evaporated and we struggled to find any rhythm, instead humping a few long balls up to Drogba.

Belletti got injured and Super Frank arrived after 30 minutes. Within one minute the first quality ball of the game was made by Frank and Drogba, still with some work to do, made a quality finish. Surely time to relax and enjoy the romp. But Burnley didn’t lie down and we all knew that this wasn’t game over.

At half time Mikel came on for Deco and finally we started to pass a bit so clearly the Mikel/Frank combination is crucial to our new style of play.

After 70 minutes Drogba was replaced with Di Santo. Within a minute Burnley equalised. A shot was saved by Carlo but Akinbiyi followed up on the rebound.

We huffed and puffed and had a few good opportunities, especially an open goal for Alex but had to play extra time with 10 men because Di Santo hobbled down the tunnel. Penalties looked inevitable.

Wayne Bridge missed our second penalty. You could tell by his run up that he didn’t look confident. Burnley missed their penultimate kick and it looked like we might be redeemed but Mikel followed with a miss. Game over.

The players

  • Carlo Cudicini: Fragile. Only Gomez inspires less confidence. Dropped plenty of balls early on and made lots of suspect clearances that immediately put us under pressure. Once rated the best in the Premier League unfortunately, despite being a lovely bloke, we need to get a new number 2.
  • Paulo Ferreira: Ok but doesn’t give attacking options like the Bos. Difficult to take seriously because every time Paulo got the ball the bloke behind me shouted “Here comes the wine waiter”.
  • Alex: Average to good.
  • Branislav Ivanovic: Average.
  • Wayne Bridge: Good but not as good as usual. One superb cross but rubbish penalty. Captain for the night?
  • Juliano Belletti: Hardly got going before getting injured.
  • Deco: Useless. His completion rate of passes was 100% (to Burnley players). Slow witted and kept losing the ball.
  • Florent Malouda: Average to poor. Gets his name shouted a lot by the crowd but not in a way he’d find endearing.
  • Mineiro: What’s the point? Looked like Makalele’s kid brother.
  • Salomon Kalou: Average to poor. Willing but mis-directed.
  • Didier Drogba: Average. Looked a bit better than recent comebacks and took his goal well. Chucked a coin back at the Burnley fans so will probably be suspended. He’s due a rest.
  • Frank Lampard (sub 25): Good, set up the goal.
  • John Obi Mikel (sub 46): Good. Our best player.
  • Franco Di Santo (sub 68): Lightweight.

Best player

John Obi Mikel.

Conclusion

So the plan was to save the big guns, like Lampard and Terry, roll over Burnley and be fit to topple West Brom at the weekend. As it transpired Lampard had to play 90 minutes and a large number of regulars had to play 120. And we lost. Clearly a plan that misfired!

We didn’t play our passing game. I’m wondering how much of this was due to having Drogba in the team which tempts the players to hump it long to his chest. Time will tell but Big Phil will face a dilemma if and when Drogba gets properly fit.

We can now concentrate on three competitions, just like our closest rivals Liverpool, so we’re not giving them an advantage.

Only the end of season review will be able to prove whether this defeat is a blessing in disguise or the first of many calamities. I’m certainly enjoying our style of play this season but we don’t want to become the new Arsenal, with lots of stylish play applauded by the critics, but trophyless. Only one question remains. Who is more crap at penalties, us or England?

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