League Cup review: Chelsea 4 – 0 Wycombe Wanderers (Agg: 5 – 1) (includes video)

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Match reports

The Guardian, Simon Burnton: “These have been a testing few weeks for Chelsea but, although they have been humbled enough of late, they were not to be humiliated. Wycombe might have beaten Fulham and Charlton on their way to the semi-finals but the Premiership champions were too good for them last night in a match that was always fiercely contested, but never much of a contest.”

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Blue heaven was finally a place on earth for Andrei Shevchenko yesterday, not some distant, dreamed-of land. Chelsea’s passage to the Carling Cup final last night was really one man’s voyage from apparent pariah status to paradise. Shevchenko even earned a thumbs-up from Jose Mourinho, so maybe on the coldest night of the winter a thaw in their relations has occurred.”

The Times, Matt Dickinson: “Someone will point out that [Shevchenko’s] two goals, both fine finishes, were against Coca-Cola League Two opponents, and they were, but that would be to underplay the pressure that he was under at kick-off. Granted a start, Shevchenko knew that he had to perform precisely because the opponents were lowly Wycombe and he met the challenge with the most heartening performance of his troubled Chelsea career to steer Chelsea to the Carling Cup final.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “[Shevchenko] came off with seven minutes left to a raucous farewell from the Chelsea fans, his first two goals in 10 games since hitting the net against Levski Sofia on 5 December. This time there was even a handshake from the manager, who pointedly blanked him when he left the pitch at Anfield on Sunday. “One of the principles I have is that the players who perform game after game are the players who are on the pitch,” Mourinho said, “I’m very happy Sheva got the message.””

Official Chelsea FC Website: “Beating a League Two side at home for a place in a cup final wasn’t the most difficult task ever placed in front of this Chelsea side but on an enjoyable night, it was job well done nevertheless.”

The goals

The good

  1. Andriy Shevchenko. Simply outstanding. Could have had a hat-trick in the first 15 minutes. Was gifted the chance to score his first goal in 10 games and took it brilliantly. His all-round play was inspired: battling, great ball retention and link-up play… he even seemed to have a yard more pace. Topped off a great performance with a second goal and rightfully received a standing ovation when substituted. Jose Mourinho said post-game that the Ukranian will definitely start against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
  2. Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel. The two of them made Michael Ballack look relatively ordinary again, although Ballack improved as the game went on. Two more superb goals from Lampard, the first taken with aplomb after more great work from Shevchenko.
  3. Didier Drogba. Didn’t manage to add to his tally of 21 goals, but was at the heart of everything. Irreplaceable.
  4. The back four of Lassana Diarra, Michael Essien, Ricardo Carvalho and Ashley Cole coped admirably with a spirited Wycombe side. Essien was superb. Perhaps Diarra deserves a chance against better opposition to prove he can fill in at right-back more often?
  5. Petr Cech. Fearless. Peerless.
  6. A trip to the Millennium Stadium to look forward to. Spurs in the final? Yes please.

The bad

  1. The number of stupid fouls given away in dangerous areas, particularly just outside the penalty area. Against better opposition the resulting free kicks would have cost us at least one goal.
  2. Mike Dean. A really poor referee. I had a horrible feeling he was itching to send off a Chelsea player. The yellow card he awarded Essien for a perfectly legitimate tackle was scandalous. If it comes back to haunt us…

Man of the Match

Andriy Shevchenko.

Final thoughts

Beating a team from the fourth tier of English football wouldn’t normally be considered important, but this result has lifted the atmosphere around Stamford Bridge and amongst the fans. Will we remember Tuesday 23rd January as the day our season turned?

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