All the focus was on the fans’ reaction to Rafa’s rant and the match was merely a sideshow. Actually I don’t think Rafa ranted; don’t you think it was more of a monologue?
The performance of the anti-Rafa brigade was a fairly typical Chelsea performance. Plenty of hype beforehand but when the time arrived to perform they took ages to get going, didn’t do much and meekly fizzled out. Pre-kick-off there was barely a murmur. On nine minutes some witty souls near me performed a minute’s appreciation of Peter Osgood and at 11 minutes the same for Peter Houseman.
On 16 minutes the Matthew Harding end kicked off the Di Matteo applause but in the West Lower they got boos and derision. To be honest I think the majority of fans are sick of the anti-Rafa brigade. There was surprisingly little anti-Rafa singing but he did get booed when he trapped the ball on the sidelines which amazingly he performed three times. That’s more controlled touches per match than Torres can manage. On occasion there were a few Mourinho songs and on 66 minutes one rendition of “Rafa Benitez, we’ll sing what we want”. Have you anti-Rafas now got it out of your system?
Is it alright to talk about the football?
Team selection saw JT return to the bench but, unusually for Rafa, the inclusion of the three amigos Mata, Oscar and Hazard.
Did we have much to fear in West Brom? Not really, they’re just a one man team and he wasn’t allowed to play under the terms of his loan agreement.
First half was a quiet affair. On 28 minutes, after a succession of corners and crosses not clearing the first man, Oscar floated over a cross that was at the other extreme destined to clear the last man but, just as the words “What the bloody hell…” were leaving my lips Luiz impressively headed the ball back into the six yard area for Ba to tap home.
Second half we dominated and kept the ball down the Matthew Harding end for the majority. The three amigos impressed in short bursts and we do have three very technically gifted players. Frank had a goal disallowed so he remains stuck on 199 goals but today was his 592nd appearance making him our third equal highest alongside John Hollins. Impressive.
Torres and Moses appeared late on. A break by Moses down the right to the edge of the box and a cross to Torres to tap in from eight yards. Unbelievably Torres managed to kick the ball away from goal, effectively clearing it. His lack of technique has now reached comical proportions.
The last two minutes were typically last ditch defending but thankfully we retained our 1-0 lead and secured three welcome points. We can now spend the evening deliberating whether we want Spurs to beat the Arse tomorrow, and thereby keep Arsenal at arm’s length, or whether a draw or Arsenal win would suit us better.
The Sunday Telegraph, Paul Kelso: “Rafael Benitez emerged from the most testing afternoon of his Chelsea tenure unscathed on Saturday after his team completed a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.”
The Observer, Dominic Fifield: “There was a smattering of homemade cardboard placards, and even one banner that looked as if it had been professionally produced, to accompany the usual choruses of disdain directed at the dugout. And yet, at the final whistle, Rafael Benítez could reflect with relative satisfaction upon an afternoon that had initially felt destined to be fraught.”
The Independent on Sunday, Matt McGeehan: “Demba Ba’s 28th-minute goal saw Chelsea return above Tottenham to third place in the Barclays Premier League for 24 hours at least, ahead of tomorrow’s north London derby.”
The Official Chelsea FC Website: “A single Demba Ba goal, scored from close-range in the first half, gave Chelsea a third home league win in a row. The Blues had the chances for more goals, Oscar in particular having a frustrating afternoon in front of the target, but it was a game that only found a high gear on a few occasions.”