The Times, Matt Hughes: “Given that his boss is the man who has everything, it is perhaps just as well that Avram Grant has promised Roman Abramovich the earth. In his first programme notes, the Chelsea first-team coach pledged to provide trophies, entertainment and winning football – everything, indeed, but the proverbial moon on a stick. Five weeks to the day since being handed the ultimate hospital pass, he is in danger of delivering. José who? Grant is yet to hear his name chanted at Stamford Bridge, but that prospect is no longer as fanciful as it once appeared.”
The Independent, Sam Wallace: “What do Chelsea and Gelsenkirchen, the gritty industrial Ruhr hometown of Schalke, have in common? Neither of them are really built with entertainment in mind. Avram Grant’s mission is to change all that and usher in a new era of fantasy football at Stamford Bridge, although for the time being it looks suspiciously like he is happy to win matches by any means possible.”
Daily Telegraph, John Ley: “Mourinho finished his Chelsea career with three games without a win; Grant has won five of his last six even if at times last night the hosts rode their luck. Schalke were deprived of key striker Kevin Kuranyi in the warm-up before having a ‘goal’ disallowed for offside, striking a post and, towards the end, being deprived of another scoring opportunity through a blatant ‘professional foul’ by Alex.”
The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “This period of seclusion might just be to Chelsea’s taste. They consolidated at the top of Group B without inspiring any bullish predictions that they are set to win the Champions League. No one is fixated with them for the time being. Even the referee Peter Frojdfeldt did not pay much attention when Alex, after perpetrating a short backpass, brought down Schalke’s Soren Larsen in the 85th minute. Somehow, no foul was awarded, no red card shown.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “Rosenborg’s win against Valencia means [Chelsea has] a healthy three point cushion at the top [of Group B].”
Good quality videos available here.
- Didier Drogba. Another decent performance topped off with a goal, his 14th in the Champions League for Chelsea, from just 30 games. It made him Chelsea’s highest ever scorer in the competition; he’s just two short of Peter Osgood’s European tally of 16.
- Frank Lampard and Ricardo Carvalho. As Peter pointed out in the comments, it’s no coincidence that our form has improved since Lampard, Carvalho and Drogba returned to full fitness.
- Florent Malouda. Like Drogba, he seems to have accepted the fact that Chelsea is ultimately more important than Jose Mourinho. Somewhere close to his best in this game.
- Good to see Wayne Bridge back. He had a solid game, particularly in the first half. Apparently he’s suspended in the league after being sent off during a reserve game. Paulo Ferreira also had a much better game in his preferred right-back position, and supplied a great cross for Drogba’s goal. Seems our full-backs have been given license to get forward more.
- Rosenborg’s 2-0 home win against Valencia.
- Alex. He started well enough but gradually worsened as the game went on and should have been sent off for hauling down Schalke’s Soren Larsen. He was definitely the last defender but the referee didn’t seem interested. The ref also failed to give us a certain penalty a few minutes later. It seems to be accepted that referees balance out poor decisions.
Man of the Match
Didier Drogba. His importance to the team cannot be underestimated.
While there hasn’t been any noticeable improvement in performances under Avram Grant, at least in this game we continued to press after going 2-0 up. Mourinho probably would have been happy to sit back and defend and hit Schalke on the break.
Clutching at straws? Perhaps. I still believe that it will take a significant change of player personnel to produce the kind of football Grant has promised.