As I mentioned in my match preview, there could hardly be a better way to bounce back from a damaging league defeat than to seal progression into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
On an evening in which the revered Dider Drogba made his much-anticipated return to Stamford Bridge, Samuel Eto’o’s third minute strike preceded Gary Cahill’s emphatic tap-in as we comfortably booked our place in the quarter-final draw.
Oscar is back
Oscar, as confirmed by Jose Mourinho, had been experiencing a winter slump. Following a few uninspiring displays, the Brazilian midfielder showed signs of emerging from the disheartening period with a scintillating individual performance.
He was instrumental in most of the attacking moves, assisting Eto’o for his opener and generally contributing healthily to our advancement. His link-up play with the superb Eden Hazard and brilliant Willian was admirable.
He was also heavily involved in Cahill’s goal, pressuring Galatasaray full-back Alex Telles into conceding a corner.
The 23 year-old will be of greater importance on Saturday, given the respective absences of Willian and Ramires when Arsenal visit the Bridge.
Eto’o should start
Eto’o, indisputably, contributes more than Fernando Torres. The Cameroonian, who was an absurd omission at Villa Park as Torres laboured in our defeat, has developed a propensity to influence games, scoring goals and using his experience to gain advantages. Torres hardly imposes himself on matches, rather disappears in the midst of them. The Spaniard replaced Eto’o and was presented with a glorious opportunity, wasted as his timid strike was directed too close to Fernando Muslera.
Eto’o additionally links up well with the offensive trio behind him, contrasting to Torres’s ineptitude to do so.
Eto’o should start on Saturday, and as we well know, he thrives on the big occasions.
Cole not in Jose’s plans
If Ashley Cole’s future at Chelsea required confirmation, Mourinho has offered it in recent weeks, omitting the England full-back from the matchday squad, in preference of Cesar Azpilicueta and Tomas Kalas respectively. The Czech defender even came on for his Champions League debut in stoppage time.
Azpilicueta fully vindicated Jose’s faith in him once again with a defensively solid performance. The Spaniard stifled the threat posed by Didier Drogba, even dispossessing the Ivorian on occasion, an achievement not common-place.
Hazard can win us trophies
Eden Hazard’s mercurial excellence once again played a pivotal role in our victory, bewildering the terrible Galatasaray defence with his adept dribbling and intelligently relentless movement. The Belgian has proved crucial in our charge to the Premier League summit, scoring 13 goals and contributing richly to the cause. Now, he promises to lead us into the latter stages of the Champions League.
Cahill and Terry are a dynamic duo
With Cahill and John Terry complimenting each other superbly, it comes as no surprise that the duo have conceded the least amount of goals in the Premier League. The former’s athleticism and the latter’s experience and nous was the foundation of our comfortable passage into the quarter-finals.
Both seem to have formed an excellent understanding, defending cohesively and providing a goal threat when they found themselves in attacking positions – and a goal, coming from Terry’s header which Muslera was unable to hang onto and Cahill’s tap-in. Terry could have also scored spectacularly before that, volleying over the bar as he exploited the space left behind by the dodgy Turkish back-line.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Lampard, Willian, Oscar, Hazard, Eto’o.
Subs: Schwarzer, Kalas, David Luiz, Mikel, Schurrle, Ba, Torres.
Galatasaray: Muslera, Eboue, Semih Kaya, Chedjou, Alex Telles, Selcuk Inan, Yekta K, Melo, Sneidjer, Burak, Drogba.
Subs: Ufuk, Burdisso, Ceyhun, Hajrovic, Umut Bulut, Hakan Balta, Sabri Sarioglu.
Agree on most points, but I’m OK with Eto’o or Torres starting, depending on which one is fitter and sharper on the day. Problem when FT doesn’t play, he then tries too hard and suffers as a consequence. My issue is that when we’re in control but can’t score, we hook our striker (whoever it is), instead of supporting him.
Another good performance, but it’s these big games that we always turn up for, we seem to forget that the little games still carry the same number of points.
Still, Arse at home’s a bit of a biggie, so hoping we’re all up for an early start.
To talk like this about striker who in three years couldn’t venture coherent performance in two consecutive games unless against some obscure team in Europa League 🙂 It doesn’t matter if he starts on coming on as a sub, or no matter what 🙂 He just lost it, long time ago.
Torres against Villa was horrible. He couldn’t hold onto the ball, losing possession easily and seeming to trip over either the ball or his own feet on a couple of occasions. Imagine what we would be like with a recognized striker.
I am all for playing Torres at left back ( in the dressing room ) and trying Shurlle as a striker.
Looking forward to the Arse game although it starts at 8:45 here on the east coast.
Ive just learned that it’s Fernando’s birthday today. It seems that he is only 30. Plenty of years left in the tank. And perhaps some transfer value ??
It looks very much like an FT departure this year, and the best way for him to get the move/deal he wants is to start scoring, the World Cup only makes it more imperative, so it’s up to him to do the business on the pitch when given the opportunity.
Personally I believe all our strikers, including Demba Ba, are capable of winning games and scoring goals on with regularity. With us it seems a recurring theme of confidence and form that stymies our forwards.
Media pressure doesn’t help for sure. There was no talk of Suarez having a slump during his recent lean spell when his assists and general play received nothing but widespread praise. Rightly so, but our guys get nothing but stick unless they’re cracking three or four a game.
Interesting. One wonders whether a large part of the problem, then, is the fact that it’s not really clear who the first choice striker is (and hasn’t been for a while). Nando was obviously bought to be the no. 1 but he keeps turning out to be slightly less effective than the players who are supposed to be backing him up, with the result that there’s some confusion all round.
It seems to me that with the three speedy tippy-tappy midgets operating behind a central striker, what you want up front is someone with presence as well as movement: someone who can shift defenders around as well as play the nifty little exchanges; someone the attacking three can aim for. Eto’o’s been doing this quite well recently, but everyone knows he’s a stopgap. Nando’s a surprisingly big chap but he seems happiest playing as if he’s a bit like Hazard, getting the ball deeper and running at defenders, with the result that he often seems to get in the way.
Lukaku looks like he’s meant to be the answer. I suppose we’ll find out next season whether José reckons he’s up to it or not.
Edit: delighted with the CL draw. The worst would have been the Mancs, though they’re probably the weakest team left in the competition — always hate playing English teams on European nights. Nice to have avoided Barca for the moment since that’s always a bit fraught. And Real and Bayern seem a bit scary, so it’s good to save them for later, if necessary.