Official Chelsea FC Website: “Chelsea scraped a dramatic late draw at the Madejski Stadium thanks to goals from Salomon Kalou and Alex in the closing stages. Two goals down and with just minutes to play, it looked like being a first defeat for Carlo Ancelotti in what has been a successful pre-season, but we kept on pressing and Kalou made the breakthrough on 88 minutes after Reading had netted twice late in the first half. The performance left plenty of room for improvement, but the spirit and determination shown by his men will have pleased Ancelotti, who was leading the team for the first time on English soil.”
Mail on Sunday: “Welcome to English football, Signor Ancelotti. What was supposed to have been a stroll in the park almost turned into an embarrassment as Chelsea completed their pre-season schedule by salvaging a last-gasp draw against Championship opponents. Call it fatigue after their four-match tour of the United States or lack of intensity. The way Carlo Ancelotti saw it, the sharpness he has come to expect in his brief tenure at Stamford Bridge was not there.”
Sunday Times: “Chelsea should have capitalised on their early domination, but Reading’s Jimmy Kebe and Scott Davies scored before half-time. Salomon Kalou’s last-minute goal and an own goal afforded Chelsea belated reward as they finished with a flourish.”
Bracknell Forest Standard: “Jose Mourinho’s apprentice Brendan Rodgers almost came back to haunt the Blues at Madejski Stadium as they were so close to becoming the only team to defeat the 2009 FA Cup winners this pre-season.”
38′ Kebe 1-0
45′ Davies 2-0
88′ Kalou 2-1
90+1′ Pearce (og) 2-2
Cech (Turnbull 76′); Ivanovic (Bosingwa 45′), Carvalho (Alex 45′), Terry (c), A. Cole; Mikel, Essien (Belletti 63′), Deco (Malouda 45′), Lampard; Anelka (Sturridge 63′), Drogba (Kalou 63′)
Reaction (by Haberdashers)
A very poor match from us but strangely it’s probably the best thing that could have happened ahead of the Manchester United game next weekend.
Before we get to the negatives, we should concentrate on the positives as there were quite a few. Firstly, the sloppy, lazy and slow play which was typical of Chelsea in some games last season was back again and was rightly punished by Reading. Ancelotti will now realise that he has to keep the team focused or our ridiculously kind early season fixture list will hurt us. Our impotent display in the first half will also surely persuade Roman and Peter to continue the hunt for that attacking player we’re desperate for. The Pirlo deal is almost wrapped up but it is an attacking spark we were missing today and I fear that if we reach another Champions League semi-final and are in the pack chasing the title, we will come up short yet again. Apart from this, a couple of players did impress. Lamps was at his usual industrious best and I did like Ancelotti’s decision to choose Ivanovic as our first choice right-back. His strength, heading ability and defensive quality should ensure a return to the clean sheet days of Jose. But it was Kalou and Sturridge who impressed most despite only being given a cameo role. Both looked sharp, mobile and dangerous compared to the rather pathetic Anelka showing or tired Didier performance. The fact we also kept going and scored twice in the closing minutes will also impress Ancelotti.
But there were quite a few negatives today. Firstly, Mikel had a shocking first half and should be worried by Pirlo’s arrival. He’s a player of great potential but today he was awful, with poor positional play, lazy challenging and he generally looked off the pace. Deco was ineffectual and looks to be going as we buy yet another midfielder and as mentioned above our first choice attacking pair were poor. Belletti should also be sold after Pirlo lands as he just isn’t needed anymore and luckily Ancelotti appears to have sidelined Pizarro and Sheva who were nowhere near the side today.
I know it was only pre-season and that Reading away on a rainy, grey day wasn’t exactly the most exciting of fixtures to motivate the side but Deco apart, that looked like our first team and we looked poor today. We had plenty of the ball but our front two didn’t do much with it and the lack of attacking threat was a little worrying. But it’s nothing to panic about and with two weeks before the league starts and four weeks of the transfer window left, it is clear that our squad still needs some work if we are to be ready. The Pirlo arrival will probably be worthy of a whole new posting but his quality on the ball will improve us and we must hope he’ll be the next Makelele and not the next Maniche. He will be the fourth new arrival leaving just one more until Buck’s “five in” policy is fulfilled and now should be the time that we concentrate on getting rid of some of the dead wood if we are to go all the way in the big two competitions.
Player ratings (by Haberdashers)
- Cech – 5/10 – Strange performance from him. Only did three things of note, which were to be rounded for the first goal as he ran out to the attacker’s feet, to miskick a clearance quite badly and then to line up a wall very well only to then fall asleep as the ball rolled past him on his side. Hopefully, just a blip.
- Ivanovic – 6/10 – Very steady and a favourite of mine in defence. A great run of form in 2009 has seen him become a cult favourite with the fans and a favourite for the righ-back spot.
- Carvalho – 6/10 – Didn’t do much but his experience and calm interceptions were a reminder of his class. Welcome back.
- Terry – 6/10 – Again didn’t do much but was clearly annoyed at our sloppy start and it’s great to see him back on home soil in a Chelsea shirt.
- A. Cole – 6/10 – A poor touch in defence was punished but he’s locked out the left-back position and Zhirkov seems to be playing for a diamond position with Malouda instead.
- Mikel – 4/10 – His second half assist apart, a very poor showing on the eve of Pirlo’s arrival. Hopefully that five-year contract hasn’t gone to his head with poor defensive play but he’s still a very good young player with time on his side to develop. However, this is a big season for our no. 12.
- Essien – 6/10 – His energy and power are priceless and despite a quiet pre-season thus far, that right diamond slot is definitely his for keeps.
- Lampard – 7/10 – Our most lively performer in the first half and looks set for another great season. What else can we say about him? The best ever Chelsea player? No doubt for me.
- Deco – 5/10 – A bright opening, well for five minutes at least, but fell away as the game went on. That pattern sounds familiar somehow.
- Anelka – 5/10 – Poor. Weak finishing and very little movement. A start striker would immediately steal his spot next to Didier but until that mystery signing arrives, he’ll stay in the side. Must watch out for Sturridge though.
- Drogba – 5/10 – A lethargic and slow performance from the big man but so far in pre-season he’s looked somewhere close to his best. Is desperate for a world class partner up front though.
- Sturridge (sub) – 7/10 – Some flashes of his great ability were definitely on show and is already third in line in out striking league table. A star of the future.
- Kalou (sub) – 7/10 – A very bright cameo and a lovely finish from probably the must frustrating player in England. He needs a run in the side but won’t get this season and my bet is he will be sold in 2010.
- Belletti (sub) – 5/10 – Past his best now and apart from a couple of long shots every season, he has no place in this squad. Thanks for the memories but it’s time you left.
- Alex (sub) – 5/10 – Has lost out to Ricky and a possible move to City has been reported. Would hate to lose him but a £16-18m bid definitely changes things.
- Bosingwa (sub) – 6/10 – A much greater attacking threat than Ivanovic but his final ball was poor and has probably lost his place to the Serbian.
- Man of the Match – Lamps always gets it so today I’ll give it to Kalou. A Marmite player if there ever was one but he does have talent and if given a chance will succeed. Will he get it at Chelsea? I think we all know the answer to that one.