Coventry City 0-2 Chelsea – Newspaper Reaction, Goal Videos, Good and Bad, Player Ratings

Match reports

Sunday Times, Joe Lovejoy: "Chelsea hardly had to change out of second gear to dispose of disappointingly poor opposition, whose performance reflected their status in the bottom half of the Championship. Coleman’s post-match complaint that the referee, Steve Bennett, had been “too smug and friendly” with the Chelsea players and had “talked down” to the home team had the sour-grapes taste of a bad loser."

Independent on Sunday, James Corrigan: "Five out of five and at least one visit to Wembley booked in for the fans. Guus Hiddink’s first four weeks in charge must now be credited as being the start of dreams. Of a billionaire’s dream at that. In truth, though, anything but advancement from this rather dull FA Cup quarter-final would have been disappointing for Guy the Gorilla, never mind Guus the Genius; particularly as Hiddink fielded his strongest XI. With the Champions’ League return leg at Juventus looming on Tuesday, it was, as the Coventry manager, Chris Coleman, called it, "the greatest compliment"."

Sunday Telegraph, Steve Wilson: "Didier Drogba continued his renaissance under Guus Hiddink and recorded his third goal in four matches to hand Chelsea victory in their FA Cup quarter-final clash with Coventry at the Ricoh Arena that was confirmed with a goal on the counter attack finished by the unlikely figure of centre-back Alex."

The Observer, Paul Wilson: "Didier Drogba scored, Ashley Cole was booed, Michael Essien made his first appearance for six months and Alex rounded things off with one of the stranger goals of the season. Oh… and Chelsea ended up in the FA Cup semi-finals. This was another occasion when the fabled drama and romance of the competition were somewhere else. ITV might have had more luck screening a Tic Tac commercial."

Official Chelsea FC Website: "Comfortable is the word to describe this win in front of a record 31,407. Coventry had their odd moment but marshalled by another superb John Terry display, the defence never looked likely to be breached."

The goals

15′ Drogba 0-1
72′ Alex 0-2

The preamble

Guss Hiddink fielded the same side that beat Portsmouth in midweek. Nicolas Anelka missed out again with a foot injury, while Ashley Cole kept his place in the team despite his arrest on Thursday for drunk and disorderly conduct. Michael Essien, out since August with a serious knee injury, and Ricardo Carvalho, also returning from a lengthy injury layoff, were on the bench.

The good

  • The performance. Comfortable and professional. From the moment referee Steve Bennett blew his whistle to start the match it was clear that there was no chance of Coventry pulling off a giant-killing. We bossed possession throughout and made the Sky Blues look very ordinary, like an average Championship side in fact. Their centre-back pairing of Ben Turner and Scott Dann were given a torrid time by Didier Drogba, while Jose Bosingwa and Salomon Kalou had a field day down the right. The second half was much the same with Ricardo Quaresma replacing Kalou at half time.
  • Didier Drogba. Scored his third goal in four games, another quality strike. From a long ball, Coventry defender Turner’s clearing header was poor, team-mate Dann had a chance to hoof the ball clear but dithered. Drogba muscled him off it, rounded keeper Kieran Westwood and smashed a lovely left-footed shot from an acute angle past two defenders on the line and into the top corner of the net. Drogba ran to the bench to celebrate with the fit again Essien, which was nice to see.
  • Ricardo Quaresma. Brought on at half time in place of Kalou to take advantage of the acres of space down the right. Was once again very impressive. I’m sure a few of you questioned Hiddink’s decision, as I did, to bring off Kalou instead of Florent Malouda, who had an average first half – but as one of the commentators said, you would be a fool to question Hiddink’s man management. Hiddink’s decision was proved right as Malouda improved significantly after the break. Let’s hope it improves his confidence, which might have been in Hiddink’s thinking. I would still like to see Quaresma and Kalou start in future games though.
  • The second goal. A great finish by Alex, who moments before had been receiving treatment on the sidelines with Drogba after an accidental coming together in our penalty area. We defended a long throw-in with nine men and cleared the ball just as the two of them were allowed back on the pitch by the referee – much to Coventry manager Chris Coleman’s chagrin. Malouda and Drogba took advantage of a mistake in the Coventry midfield and found Quaresma on the right. Quaresma put in a fabulous cross and Alex, who had run the length of the pitch, coolly side-footed the ball past Westwood. A wonderful break.
  • The return of Michael Essien, who replaced John Obi Mikel with half an hour to go. The away fans’ reaction as he took the field said it all. Whether Mikel deserves to lose his place, if indeed Hiddink intends to play Essien as a holding midfielder in upcoming games, is moot. I’m not convinced the holding midfield role is Essien’s best position, and Mikel’s been one of our best performers this season. It’s a good problem to have though. And it’s great to see Essien back.

The bad

  • There wasn’t a great deal to criticize. Malouda had an average first half but improved in the second. And that was it.

Player ratings

Rated using the binary number system, because it’s been an on-off season.

  • Petr Cech – 01112 – Dependable. Didn’t have a testing save to make. Distribution was first class.
  • Ashley Cole – 01112 – Booed throughout after his midweek misdemeanour but didn’t let it affect him. Got forward well as usual.
  • John Terry – 10002 – A typical Terry performance. Put himself about and was rarely threatened. Superb.
  • Alex – 01112 – Took his goal really well after a length-of-the-pitch run. Looked cumbersome in defence at times. Carvalho’s return to fitness could see him return to the bench.
  • Jose Bosingwa – 01112 – Was more a second winger, particularly in the first half. Linked well with Kalou. Fluffed a few crosses.
  • John Obi Mikel – 01102 – How must he be feeling now that Essien’s fit? Fantastic season so far. Dealt quite well with being man-marked in this game, but it meant he didn’t dominate like he can.
  • Michael Ballack – 01112 – Took advantage of the extra space afforded him by Coventry. A much improved performance.
  • Frank Lampard – 10002 – Orchestrated proceedings. He’s gradually making the Player of the Season award his own.
  • Florent Malouda – 01102 – Disappointing in the first half but improved after the break. Continues to frustrate in front of goal.
  • Salomon Kalou – 01112 – Had the run of the right side of the pitch in the first half. Gave the Coventry back four a tough time but didn’t make them pay. Substituted at half time.
  • Didier Drogba – 10012 – Coventry’s centre-backs didn’t know what had hit them. Another goal, his third in four games. Long may it continue. Man of the Match.
  • Ricardo Quaresma (sub) – 10002 – Took advantage of all the space down the right, which Kalou failed to do. Put in some brilliant crosses. Deserves to start a game.
  • Mickael Essien (sub) – 01112 – Composed. Great to see him back.
  • Franco Di Santo (sub) – 01102 – Brought on to save Drogba ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League game. Not enough time.

Man of the Match

Didier Drogba. A player re-born since Phil Scolari was given his marching orders. There’s no better striker when he’s in this kind of form. How many seasons has he got left in him though?

Final thoughts

Sixth win in a row. Another trip to Wembley to look forward to, our third FA Cup semi-final in four years.

Onwards and upwards.

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