The Independent, Jason Burt: "Two defeats in four games? It is not a crisis at Chelsea but it is suddenly a lot less comfortable. A late afternoon deluge had put this game in serious doubt and then Chelsea’s Champions League hopes also took a severe dousing as they succumbed – capitulated more like – to a resurgent Roma to leave qualification in the balance. To add insult they also had Deco sent off – his second caution coming, somewhat ridiculously, for taking a free-kick too quickly."
The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: "If Chelsea had travelled to Rome sensing progress to the knock-out phase was within grasp, then they returned home in the small hours of this morning beaten, bewildered and with this group breathing disconcertingly down their necks. Luiz Felipe Scolari’s reign suffered its most resounding defeat to date here against a team that had apparently been broken by a dreadful run of defeats. Progress from this group suddenly appears more awkward."
Daily Telegraph, Oliver Brown: "[Mirko Vucinic’s] contribution shot to pieces the notion that Roma were a spent force, despite their position of fourth from bottom in their own league. It also dismantled the logic that Luiz Felipe Scolari can guide Chelsea to the Champions League title on the strength of their defensive record. Where Scolari could have dismissed the recent home league defeat to Liverpool, the evidence here was stark: the firm foundations on which this team are built have started to creak."
The Times, Matt Hughes: "Scolari’s frustration will have been compounded by Chelsea storming out of the blocks before stalling after half an hour, but he can also reflect on some important lessons. To judge from their second-half performance, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka’s future as a partnership is even less promising than that of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, while the Frenchman’s very survival at the club could be in doubt after his lacklustre attempt at leading the line on his own in the first half."
Official Chelsea FC Website: "Away results in Europe continue to fall short of those domestically as the Blues were well-beaten in Italy after a promising opening to the game."
- The first 33 minutes. Lots of fans will probably disagree, but we were in complete control. Roma were content to sit back, let us have the ball and hit us on the break. We passed the ball well and kept it for long periods but couldn’t break down their resolute defence, which limited us to long range shots – Doni pulled off some sharp saves to keep his team in the game. But therein lies our biggest problem this season – breaking down tactically astute, defensive teams.
- The result. It was a bad night at the office but not the end of the world: one poor performance does not a bad team make. We’re still in control of Group A, a point clear of both Roma and Bordeaux – our destiny remains very much in our own hands. Bordeaux looked distinctly average at Stamford Bridge (we didn’t even play that well and still put four past them), and the final game is at home against CFR Cluj. So no need to panic. Besides, it would get boring watching 5-0’s week in, week out.
- The performance. There’s sure to be a lot of over-reaction to what was undoubtedly our worst display for quite some time; it’s certainly unusual to see such carelessness from every outfield player. But we were on top until a rare mistake by John Terry cost us the lead. Then we chased the game and were caught out by two good goals from a pacey striker: an unstoppable shot from 20 yards, and a well taken goal on the break. These things happen. That said, there does seem to be a pattern developing this season: we are struggling to penetrate well organised teams with packed midfields and resolute back fours. Efforts to break down defensive teams often leave us open to counter-attacks – teams are learning that we’re susceptible to being hit on the break. Felipe Scolari admitted recently that we can be a bit one-dimensional; he will have to address this if he hopes to return to Stadio Olimpico this season. He’s talked of adding a player who can give us that something extra, an occasional spark of genius a la Arjen Robben at his best. Finding such a player in January who’s not cup-tied won’t be easy.
- Deco’s sending off. Harsh. But if the referee told him to wait for the whistle (which seems very likely otherwise there probably wouldn’t have been a second yellow card shown) then he has nobody to blame but himself. He pushed his luck throughout the second half with some daft tackles. The result was beyond doubt anyway because we never looked like getting back in the game with a full contingent on the pitch.
- I’m not going to pick out individual players for criticism – the whole team was off its game tonight. You can bet there won’t be another team performance as bad as this for a while.
Everyone gets 3.95, bar Frank Lampard who gets 4.79 for a couple of good long range shots in the first half. Also, I thought Florent Malouda did okay in the opening 45 minutes and was surprised to see him substituted at half time. He gets 4.79 too.
Man of the Match
Brief and to the point.
I could have spent more time dissecting what was our worst performance in quite a while. But, in the grand scheme of things, this result hardly matters. While it has made the task of qualifying for the knock-out stages that bit more awkward, we’re still strong favourites to win the group.
In the long run results like this do a lot more good than harm. Blackburn Rovers 0 – 4 Chelsea?
I’m staying awake to watch history being made in the US. If predictions are correct, there will be a lot of blue flags flying high over there in the very near future.