Wycombe Wanderers 1 – 1 Chelsea

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Match reports

The Guardian, Jon Brodkin: “Never mind that Chelsea remain overwhelming favourites to reach the Carling Cup final. Being held at Wycombe last night was the latest confirmation of their dwindling powers and this was no lucky outcome for the League Two side. Jose Mourinho’s team were second best for most of this game and Wycombe deserved a draw courtesy of a goal in the final quarter of an hour by Jermaine Easter, the most expensive home player at £80,000.”

Daily Telegraph, Oliver Brown: “Where the weekend’s demolition of Macclesfield was driven by acute status anxiety at Stamford Bridge, against Wycombe his side were thrust into far more hostile surrounds as Adams Park generated all the fervour that propelled the League Two side to a hugely impressive draw.”

The Times, Matt Hughes: “The Football League and Wycombe will no doubt have taken Mourinho’s team selection as a huge compliment to the strength of their respective products, but in reality it reflected Chelsea’s crisis of confidence, not to mention their lack of options. With the 6-1 FA Cup rout of Macclesfield Town nowhere near as convincing as it may have seemed, Mourinho dared not risk humiliation at the home of a more accomplished Coca-Cola League Two rival.”

The Independent, Jason Burt: “[Jose Mourinho] must … have been relieved that this was not a one-off match. If it had finished on this pitch, there would have surely been only one outcome. Mourinho said things would be different at Stamford Bridge. “We are surviving,” he said of his team’s problems. But only just.”

Official Chelsea FC Website, Neil Barnett: “The draw was a major achievement for Wycombe in front of a capacity 9,771 crowd. For Chelsea, it was a 90 minutes diversion from more important matters – but only providing the home win is secured.”

Reaction

Not as bad as many would have you believe.

The reaction we are seeing from some quarters is unquestionably harsh. You would think that we were knocked out of the competition.

Of course we should be beating teams from League Two, but with such a disjointed line-up – no recognised centre-backs, no first choice strikers or wingers, and a third choice goalkeeper between the sticks – we had excuses.

Instead of focussing on those players who perhaps didn’t perform to their best, credit should be given to those who played in positions foreign to them.

Michael Essien was great at the heart of the defence; his only fault was being out-muscled for Wycombe’s goal.

Paulo Ferreira did his best, and Wayne Bridge was pretty good on the left of a front three. His goal was superb, his first since that memorable strike against Arsenal in 2004’s Champions League quarter-final.

Credit must also go to Wycombe. They did their homework, looked to take the game to us, and took advantage of our makeshift back four. We’ll see how well they cope at Stamford Bridge in 13 days’ time.

Jose Mourinho declared himself satisfied: “I am happy with the result and the effort, but not the performance,” he said.

“We still have to play at Stamford Bridge so we are in a good position.”

Indeed we are. It’s an oft-used cliché, but things really can only get better.

I look forward to seeing more of Ben Sahar and Scott Sinclair. I made the mistake of downloading the demo of Football Manager 2007 yesterday. You can rest assured that both Sahar and Sinclair will get plenty of opportunities to shine in my team in coming weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

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