Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn Rovers – Newspaper Reaction, Goal Videos, Match Report, Player Ratings

Newspaper reports

Sunday Telegraph, Gerry Cox: “Branislav Ivanovic came to Chelsea’s rescue as they beat Blackburn to record only their second win in ten Premier League games, and move back into the top four. Ivanovic opened the scoring just before the hour mark and set up an easy second goal for Nicolas Anelka to complete a double over Rovers. But it was hard work as Chelsea still looked far from their fluent best and failed to turn their territorial advantage into goals.”

The Observer, Paul Doyle: “This was not quite a return to form for Chelsea but it was an encouraging step in the right direction, albeit against a Blackburn side whose ability seemed as limited as their ambition.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “In October, goals from Nicolas Anelka and Branislav Ivanovic beat Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. In the return at the Bridge today it was the same scorers with only the order reversed.”

The goals

57′ Ivanovic 1-0
76′ Anelka 2-0

The preamble

It’s taken me a few weeks to get there but I have finally got to a state of calm resignation during our most disappointing season since 1999. That was the season when the side containing Desailly, Leboeuf, Petrescu, di Matteo, Wise and Zola really should have won the Premeirship but cocked it up with three daft draws in April against Middlesbrough, Leicester and Sheffield Wednesday when we were neck-and-neck with Man Utd with games in hand.

But the debacle this season has been harder to live with because I never really expected Vialli to win it in 1999 while this year we have thrown it away when five points clear in October.

The reasons for our failure have been acutely analysed by many of the writers on here in previous games so I’m not going to go over that ground here. Like many other supporters I know, I have accepted that this will be a season of failure unless we do something in the Champions League and I am not too hopeful about that competition. But what I would like to see is that we use the remainder of the season to rebuild the side.

The old side fashioned by Jose on the JT-Lamps-Drogba spine is coming to the end of its natural life, if it has not already done so. Drogba has been a nightmare this season and I do not believe that we can rely on JT and Lamps – due to their recurring injuries – to be as influential as they have been over the past seven years. The same applies to Essien, who has never recovered from his time under the groping hands of the Ghana medics. What is more, we no longer have a goal-scoring machine (see below). Whether that is due to ailing or over-age players, or out-of-date tactics, we need to start bringing in new blood, starting now.

January reports suggesting that we are bidding for another centre-back with Benfica’s Luiz one name mentioned, are encouraging. But is Abramovich really going to part with serious money for someone good? Or are we going to see a cut-price replacement who will only add to the prevailing mediocrity? The fact that we seemed to be seriously bidding for the likes of Pienaar from Everton, or Godin from Atletico (who?) suggests the latter. In which case you can all expect a return to the really-close-we-almost-did-it-oh-if-only roller-coaster seasons we endured under Vialli and Ranieri ten years ago.

If Abramovich really has decided that no more serious money is going to be spent (and the new UEFA rules directed largely at English clubs may have enforced that decision) then we really are left with the youngsters. Logically, that means bringing on McEachran, Bruma, van Aanholt, Kakuta and some of the Youth Team players fast. So why the fuck are we allowing Mancienne to stay at Wolves on loan and Fabio Borini to be snapped up by the likes of Parma in mid-season, when neither of them have been given any kind of chance to prove themselves?

The team

After yet another defeat to relegation candidates last time out I no longer expect home wins against the likes of Blackburn. We were very lucky to beat them in October at their place with that late winner from Ivan. They also have five of their recently missing first team returning, with Roque Santa Cruz back from Manchester City on the bench with a point or two to prove. A draw seems a very possible result to me and the bookies seem to agree: you can get 4-1 on that result today.

I am really hoping that the Daily Mail gossip is true and that Carlo is going to drop Essien and Drogba. Would be great to see Josh given another chance as a holding midfielder and Sturridge another game up front. Not because they played well against Ipswich (that result was meaningless) but because I want to see some evidence that we are going to MOVE ON and develop the team; not just keep floundering on with the same tired old players. But Carlo’s pre-match comments, in which he fantasizes about our winning 15 from our remaining 17 matches, don’t give me much room for hope.

So I immediately groaned when I saw the same-old same-old team selection: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivan, Cole, Ramires, Essien, Lamps, Anelka, Drogba, Malouda.

Subs: Turnbull, Bruma, Ferreira, Mikel, McEachran, Kalou, Sturridge.

Three of those players – Bosingwa, Essien and Drogba have been given the message: ‘No matter how crap you are you can still expect to be selected’ while another two – Sturridge and McEachran – have been given another message entirely. Something like: ‘Well done, lads, you have been playing really well, but I am going to persevere with the usual dross – but do keep on trying!”

The first half

We start off with the usual slick left-sided play with Ashley pushing up and Malouda, Lamps, Drogba and Anelka passing tippy-tappy style between them but no real end-product to show for it.

Ramires and Essien are the two holding midfielders (with Ramires roaming forward) and Lamps in front of them with Malouda and Anelka playing off him further up. For the first 15 minutes we dominate possession and territory, with Ramires hitting the bar 10 yards out but then, as so often this season, it all starts to unravel. Blackburn flood the midfield and we start giving the ball away, allowing them to counter-attack. In previous games that has usually been the prelude to our going 0-1 down. The fact that didn’t happen today was down to a) fierce tackling from Ramires (who forced Dunn off with an injury) and b) rock-solid performances from JT and Ivan. As for Essien, you wouldn’t have known he was on the pitch. Even so, first Hoilett and then Olsson nearly put them 0-1 up with two great shots that Cech just manages to keep out.

When we do force the ball up-field (Ramires doing most of the work) we keep breaking down in the final third with Drogba, Malouda, Anelka and Lamps unable to find each and so we keep giving the ball away. Ashley is being closed down but that leaves Bosingwa with a chance to go forward on the other wing but his crosses go nowhere, as do his two long-range shots. But, to be fair to him, when he does cross neither Drogba, nor Anelka, nor Malouda are to be seen in the penalty box. On 33 minutes Drogba is one-on-one with Robinson but takes ages to line up his shot before being dispossessed by Givet. He really is a pale shadow of the striker he once was.

But he does well to set Anelka up with another chance on 43′ and from his cross Nic diverts it across goal and onto the post. But the fact is we haven’t had a single shot on target in the first half. The 1-2-3-pass 1-2-3-strike goal machine that won us the Double last season just isn’t there any more.

Half time Chelsea 0 Blackburn 0.

The second half

The first thing I notice is that Malouda and Drogba are fighting a lot harder for the ball this half. So much so that Malouda could easily have got a red card for a two-footed tackle on Diouf. Did Carlo or JT give them each a bollocking in that dressing room, I wonder?

The second thing I notice is that JT is up playing like a support striker and driving everyone forward. He almost scores (twice) himself but his first is intercepted by their left-back, Salgado and his second goes just wide when he heads Lamps’ misplaced shot just wide. We still aren’t getting shots on target but we are playing with intensity, passion and fight.

Three minutes later and we are 1-0 up. Malouda finally manages to get a corner over on target, JT heads it across goal and Ivan, with four Blackburn players on him, somehow manages to knock it in.

Characteristically, having gone 1-0 up we start backing off and let Blackburn come on to us up-field. That tactic might have worked once, when Malouda, Anelka and Drogba were on top of their game and capable of scoring goals from swift counter-attacks but it isn’t working now. We have had about 11 attempts on goal now but only two of those have been on target. Lamps is also culpable: he is twice in on goal with only Robinson to beat but is dispossessed; and two more tame shots are easily saved.

On 75 minutes Drogba misses the easiest chance of the match. He anticipates Samba’s back pass, collects it, and, one-on-one with Robinson shoots straight at him. That was a chance he would have buried last season.

But straight from the corner we score again. Malouda again manages to put in a corner that is on target and, this time, Ivan powers a header in on goal which Nic diverts on with his calf. Thought that was going in anyway and Ivan should really have been credited with his second.

And here is another telling statistic: that is the first time we have gone 2-0 up in a league match since 23rd October.

On 79 minutes Carlo makes two substitutions. The first one: Josh for Essien, is at least 30 minutes overdue while the second one makes no sense at all: Kalou for Anelka. Why is Kalou on and not Sturridge? And why is Nic off and not Drogba?

Immediately, Josh starts up with his beautiful play: fierce tackling, wonderful turns, and silky passing and we look still more dangerous. He seems to be everywhere and anywhere in between our penalty area and theirs. In stark contrast to Essien, I will add.

Dan Sturridge is less successful. His forward runs end either in a hurried pass which loses possession, or in two shots that are well wide. But, then, if you only give the man 12 minutes to make a mark he is bound to be trying too hard. Which is why he needs more time on the pitch.

Even so, we end the match pouring forward at every opportunity with far more shots on target – mostly from Lamps and Malouda. It should have been 3-0 but Malouda’s fantastic drive from a set-up by Josh is just beaten out by Robinson.

Full time Chelsea 2 Blackburn 0.

The good

  • The second half showed an awful lot of desire and it is clear that Carlo has the team behind him and players who are willing to give everything they’ve got.
  • Our first Premier League victory by more than a single goal in nearly three months.
  • Another badly-needed three points as we struggle towards that top-four finish.

The bad

  • We still looked disjointed, disorganized and mojo-less for a large part of the first half and for about 20 minutes half-way through the second. Our strikers are seriously off the pace when it comes to scoring and it is significant that our goals – and some of our best strikes – came from JT and Ivan.
  • Still no Abramovich in the Directors’ Box. Has he given up on this club?

Player power

  • Ramires was superb today and played exactly as Essien used to do a few seasons ago: tackling everything that moved, getting that ball back, and driving forward with it. A vital player in the new side we are (hopefully) rebuilding.
  • Ivan. Scores one and sets up the other and still found time to smother Santa Cruz and Jason Roberts. What a player.
  • McEachran. Only on for 15 minutes but excites me more and more.
  • JT. An absolute colossus and if we do get anything out of this season then it will be due largely to him. Seems to me that he is the real Assistant Manager at this club. My Man of the Match.
  • Cole, Lampard and Anelka. Thought they played OK without being outstanding. Lamps is some way off being 100% I think. But we do look a better side with him in the team.
  • Drogba and Malouda. They didn’t do – on the pitch – what we want them to do, which is set up and score goals from open play. But both deserve a lot of credit for the fight they showed in the second half.
  • Bosingwa. I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt. His crosses looked wayward at first glance but, then, if Drogba isn’t in position in the penalty box to receive then there there is little he can do about it. Another player who worked hard in the second half.
  • Essien. Awful. Totally anonymous. If Carlo really thinks Josh McEachran isn’t ready for a full 90 minutes then he should at least give Essien’s place to John Obi Mikel.

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  1. Anonymous

    Hard to avoid the conclusion after watching today that Drogs is in what one might euphemistically call the autumn of his career. A particularly filthy day in mid-November, if you want details. For me it wasn’t so much the second half shot after the defensive mistake, but the through ball in the first half when he was clear and powering towards goal. In previous seasons he’d have streaked away and buried it. But now he’s visibly huffing and puffing, and he was caught up and dispossessed by a not particularly athletic looking defender.

    I don’t think anyone would accuse him of slacking today. He just doesn’t have the speed and power he used to.

    Otherwise on the whole I thought this was a better performance than the report suggests (good report though). Lots of intelligent ball movement, especially from Frank, and the clean sheet looked easy. Ramires and Branners duke it out for MotM, I think.

    Josh’s Zidane moment was wonderful. It seems to come so naturally to him, too. It’s not showing off (pwith Studge one slightly feels that he knows he’s being looked at, but not with Josh).

    A special shout out to the young Blackburn lad called David Hoilett. Respec’ for having survived the playgrounds, man.

  2. Benjami

    Limetreebower has identified the moment I wanted to mention as well. That moment Drogba got through should have at least been a shot on goal.

    Its worrying that we are looking for a defender when it is so obvious that we are struggling at the other end of the pitch to score goals. I like Sturridge but I see him becoming another Kalou type player, leaving us in more trouble next season when Anelka and Drogba are a year older.

    • Jon

      God help us if our front line is still only Drogba and Anelka next season. It’s so clear we need another 22-25 yo striker. I am also hoping we will also have a lampard successor in the squad by the start of next season.

  3. Anonymous

    “On 75 minutes Drogba misses the easiest chance of the match. He anticipates Samba’s back pass, collects it, and, one-on-one with Robinson shoots straight at him. That was a chance he would have buried last season.”

    No he wouldn’t. It’s not because he’s playing badly at the moment but ever since he arrived he’s been terrible at one-on-ones. Think of the three misses against Barca under Guus or the miss against Birmingham this season or any other of the hundreds of missed one-on-ones. His head down and hope technique isn’t good enough really. There was a slight improvement in effort from him (Malouda not so much) but the quality of his performance was still way below par. His inability to complete a simple pass or dribble past a defender does confuse me sometimes.

    But the win is encouraging. The first hour or so varied from poor and depressing stuff to pretty impressive, high tempo, attacking football and the match ended with us putting on a very good show.

    However, even as we regularly powered forward to the edge of their box, our old stagers up front didn’t seem to know what to do to get a goal for most of the game. It was too predictable, with too many sideways passes and we were missing the spark of creativity a new signing would surely bring. However, the confidence did begin to flow back after we went 1-0 up and the last twenty minutes were very good indeed. 4 of the back 5 looked good (Bosingwa’s defending is still horrific) and Ramires controlled midfield on his own thanks to Essien’s poor performance. We did look impressive in terms of controlling possession but at times the lack of pace or creativity up front does get tiring to watch.

    And despite being one of Carlo’s biggest fans, even I have to criticise some of his selections. As you say, it’s not about the fact that the old stagers failed to get us the three points as they found a way to get there in the end but that the message Carlo gives to these young players is so depressing. If scoring 7 goals in a week (Sturridge) and impressing in a MOTM performance (Josh)in the FA Cup isn’t enough to get you a start, at home against Blackburn, when those in front of you are playing so badly, then what will? The old guard look to be untouchable under Carlo and sidelining the kids is the exact opposite of what we need when Roman refuses to spend. It seems so avoidable as well because it is clear that Josh deserves a start. The hype around him has nothing to do with him being home grown or a Chelsea fan or the next young superstar and instead concerns the quality of his performances which should be enough to win over Carlo. Today, his 15 minute cameo was one of the best things we saw all day as he did all the simple things which seemed beyond some of the oldies. His passing, touch and technique would add to a midfield that at present looks experienced and powerful if a little one dimensional. So come on Carlo, just give him a chance.

    But we’re 4th again ahead of a massive Super Sunday. Only 9 points to make up to be Champions. Easy.

    And that moron Avram cheered me up further tonight. His clueless face wasn’t the funniest thing about the match, nor was it the 5 fans who were asleep after an hour but the fact that it looked like he had spent all of half time planning how to get as much sympathy as possible from the press. So he strode out with his pathetic home scarf on, started yelling at the ref so that he could look sort of passionate and then screamed at his players to avoid the tag of looking tactically inept and finally waited until he was alone on the pitch before throwing his scarf to the fans. It’s because he cares so much, you see. A tear came to my eye at that point. It was because I laughing so hard at this awful display of acting as Avram finaly realised that after getting sacked for the 3rd time, he has been exposed as a fraud.

  4. Anonymous

    Has someone stolen DD’s pace? It’s gone somewhere, MOTD has just shown me that. Awful scenes, the reports of Studge playing in his place were wrong, but they really should have been right.

    CB and forward are most definitely order of the day in the window.

  5. MachchanHongKong

    Ramires 9/10. I know it is not popular to say I told you so but when everyone (almost) was writing him off a few weeks ago I said he was already running around more than the other lazy buggers and will get it together soon. Good to be proved right, not just in this match but this has been building up in the past few he’s played; the new Essien indeed.

    Agree 100% also that the midfield looked far more competent after McEachran came on and that Kalou on before Sturridge is stupid under the current circumstances. And why so late with the subs – Sturridge on at 85 or 86 if I remember right. Ancelotti is unnecessarily conservative and is sending wrong messages to the kids to boot.

    Nevertheless, got the long overdue win and we have to be grateful for small mercies.

  6. Anonymous

    To be fair, Carlo said that he went with Essien and Drogs specifically because of the way Blackburn play. Neither of them were that impressive but they were both pretty muscly when needed, and Bburn did take every available opportunity (fortunately not many) to lump in long balls.

    The real test will be whom he selects against the ‘Poo.

    Though like all of you I suspect that he’ll pick the old guard again, using todaoday’s result as an excuse. [sorry for typos — text box isn’t scrolling so typing blind.] But then again, he said at the beginning of the season that the key with young players is patience. Obviously we’d all love to see them all playing now — I didn’t think Cashley was great and would love to see Pat Vn A play again, for example. But the gradual introduction probably makes more sense, as long as it does in fact keep happening.

  7. Der_Kaiser

    Good, enjoyable report, Marco – decent degree of balance which is most welcome.

    Thought we looked pretty decent in spells, given the general lack of ambition and ‘none shall pass’ tactics we were up against, and a bit shaky in others. Said it before, but when the chips are down, you have to concentrate on doing the simple stuff well – set pieces in particular which we did yesterday to good effect. Just a little bit of variation, more movement (JT dragging two out of position and his little flick for the first being case in point), a willingness to attack the ball and a decent slice of luck can (and did) make all the difference. Clean sheets and goals – however they come – will do nicely, thanks.

    Forward line still creaky but there were encouraging signs in the second half that they were at least prepared to have a crack; some confidence gradually returning. Easy to slate Drogs – yes, he’s clearly not right – but it was probably one of his better overall performances since the heady early days of the season and his workrate seems to be improving. But for Robinson the scoresheet might have read differently.

    Personally thought Frank was fairly quiet and still finding his way back; Ramires is growing in confidence with every game which is great to see and as Mark (I think) has previously noted, he is one gutsy little bugger.

    Essien – hmmm… just don’t know whether the last 2 years have robbed him of something critical; you feel that he needs to stay fit for the remainder of the season, get a proper pre-season under his belt and hopefully we’ll have the player we all think he is back for 2011-12. Really starting to get the feeling the next 12-18 months is make or break for his career in blue.

    Next few weeks are going to be a good test of where we really stand. 3 tricky away games ‘oop north in the space of 8 days followed by Liverpool at the Bridge and then the European merry-go-round kicks off again. If we’re not splashing money in the window, getting Alex and Mikel back to fitness in the not-too-distant future would be very handy – also be a good time for Carlo to start using the full extent of the squad, but thereby hangs another tale entirely…

  8. Anonymous

    It’s a sad comment that for once MOTD’s minimalist highlights well down the running order was about as much as the game deserved and Shearer’s highlighting of the Drog’s inability to convert his chances was right.

    I took up my seat towards the end of the pre-game warm-up and thought the current state of our confidence was shown as I saw the entire squad taking shots at goal from about thirty yards, only 2 or 3 out of about 20 of which were even close to being on target. I was more encouraged by our start which seemed to have more pace and purpose than we’ve managed recently but that dissipated within quarter of an hour and it was back to slow, poor first touch build-up.

    If we’re like that with a week’s rest between games how are we going to cope when mid-week games come around again?

    Still back-to-back wins and another fine cameo from Josh are better than nothing, and agree Ramires seems to be getting to grips with EPL fairly swiftly.

  9. Jon

    Ramires was good today … but still not seen anything from him that justifies a 17 million price tag or anything to suggest he is of the calibre to play for chelsea as opposed to Bolton or Sunderland.

    I think Carlo played a full strength team as we are not in a position to be resting players. Our team is not playing well and needs confidence. That will only come from playing time … hence why Drogs was kept on the pitch and Nik taken off.

    Have we turned the corner … who knows but I am feeling positive about a top 4 finish. I just can’t remember the last time since RA took over that we have fallen out of the race for the EPL in Dec. Here’s to a better 2011 and a good cup run in the FA and CL.

  10. Anonymous

    Definitely a better performance. Not up to previous highs but good in patches and at least we won.

    Don’t know if we’ve turned a corner? Are we at a junction? Is there another corner just after this one? Is it a trajectory and there are no sharp corners, just steady decline before we hit the surface? Or have we hit the surface and yesterday was just a bounce? Or are corners a totally inappropriate metaphor? My head’s spinning around in circles just thinking about corners.

    Frank seems to be regaining fitness, Essien seems a lost soul but Ramires is plugging any energy deficit with his boundless energy and willingness to get stuck in.

    Young Josh made another amazing cameo. What must it feel like, as a 17 year old, warming up by jogging down the touchline towards the Matthew Harding and everyone stands to give applause. You could feel the love.

    • Anonymous

      And that’s without considering if it might be a dead cat bounce which opens up a whole other menagerie of cliched metaphors……

  11. Anonymous

    Turned a corner? Not yet. More like we’re navigating a roundabout, trying to work out which exit’s ours.

    Maybe a bit of a blessing we’re not playing until Monday, a few weary limbs and creaky bodies with more time to heal. Or potential new signings to be integrated in the squad….

  12. Anonymous

    I thought we were better yesterday, much better. Don’t understand the Malouda criticism, from what i saw he was very close to his old self yesterday, turned a few players and tackled hard. Drogba is still nowhere near the beast of last year, and I have wondered if he’s like a racehorse that’s done one race too many. Strikers rarely fade, the tend to decline quickly. One only has to look at JFH and how quickly he went off the boil, and arguably Terry Henry and Mickey Owen as well. I guess we’ll know BUT if he is still suffering form the after effects of Malaria then why is he even on the pitch, that just doesn’t make any sense to me

    I rather hope we do get Pienaar, he’s as good as Benayoun for me, and I think he’ll add something to us. He shouldn’t be whinging about wages though when he has the chance to join one of the best clubs in Europe. .

  13. Gleb

    Seems we [i]are[/i] getting close to signing Pienaar. Don’t really know what to say… I’ll trust some of you guys who think he’s a decent player. I personally am quite skeptical towards him. The ‘Poo penalty was a disgrace 🙁 Everton deserved to win!

  14. Brad

    I actually think Pienaar could be useful. Though he tends to play on the left side, he has featured on the right and in the center for Everton. He has a lot of experience in England and would not require any of the seasoning that other transfer options might. He also is not cup-tied in Europe, which is a huge bonus. More importantly, he would threaten Malouda (and possibly Anelka) for a starting spot, creating a competitive environment that we are lacking in certain positions right now. Kalou is simply not a full-time starter and never will be, and Kakuta is a few years away. My favorite thing about Pienaar is that his first inclination when he receives the ball is to go at his opponent and attack. Very few of his touches are wasted. He is quick and efficient with the ball, and makes excellent runs. In a season when we have lacked options on the bench and where our creativity has seemingly dried up, I think we could do a lot worse than this guy. He is also a few years younger than Malouda, and on current form, I don’t expect Malouda’s contract to be extended anyway. Let’s hope that a deal can be worked out.

  15. lamps

    pienaar is good. pacy option. coming relatively cheap. only worry is he is an african and would go away every two years for ACN.

  16. John

    Very good report thanks. I thought we were much better but clearly we’re still not right and it all felt a bit fragile: we played some really good stuff in spells and apart from the first half double effort, when we were saved first by Cech with a good save and then by Terry with a heroic block (after Bosingwa yet again failed to clear) Blackburn did fuck all except defend, yet you always sensed that they might nick one any second and that if they did our form would drain away. Ramires, Terry, Ivanovic and Cech excellent, Cole and Anelka good, Malouda improved, Lampard still not back to normal, Drogba and Essien sluggish and poor (though once again quite early on Michael was penalised by a ridiculous decision after a perfectly fair tackle – is this a factor in his poor performances?), Bosingwa hopeless (but I acknowledge a bias against him).
    Can’t say we’ve turned a corner or bounced but yesterday’s results were good. I just dread Tottenham squeezing us out of the top four! I’m not sure about Pienaar and I don’t know enough to say with certainty what we need, but I do think it would be foolish to rely entirely on simply playing all the kids. I doubt that would win us anything and more importantly it could stunt their development.
    Finally, not one of ours but as a traditionalist I mourn the passing of a football great and one club man – RIP Nat Lofthouse. I guess our game at the Reebok will be Bolton’s next home fixture and I trust we’ll participate in the minute with all proper respect.

  17. Anonymous

    Pienaar’s an odd one. If the reported figures are correct then I suppose you’re getting a pretty decent player for not much outlay, but as others have pointed out he plays in a general area where we have plenty of current and future talent either at his level or better.

    Perhaps Carlo has spotted right-back potential in him.

    Or perhaps this is to do with selling shirts in South Africa.

    No fan of Bosingwa this season either, but he still looks very dangerous as long as the other team don’t have the ball. Absolutely everything against bburn went down his side in the first half. It’s not been much fun watching him in the games where we don’t have 60% possession, though.

  18. bluebayou

    Good stuff Marco. I saw the second half on a stream and we did show some spark as the game wore on. Saying that Blackburn seemed to lack the “ambition” that some other teams have shown at the Bridge lately so it’s difficult to measure progress if any. Like others I think confidence is brittle and am not sure we could withstand serious pressure. But every victory rebuilds confidence.

    I thought Ramires looked to be improving, Malouda is showing signs of a revival but Drogba and Essien are still struggling. Essien is particularly worrying as it’s difficult to know whether the serious injuries have taken their toll or it is a matter of time to play himself back in.

    Just have to sit tight and hope.

    As Arsene counselled quite rightly, we musn’t submit to the “Dictatorship of the Moment”.

  19. Marco

    Worrying comment from Harry Redknapp in relation to the bid for Pienaar and the behind-the-scenes politics at Stamford Bridge:

    “It’s all very strange to me how they have suddenly offered £3million for him. The manager of Chelsea, who’s a lovely guy and honest as the day is long, comes on television and denies they made an offer for Pienaar – so I don’t know who has made the offer. I’ve got my own ideas about the whole situation but I couldn’t say. I think I do know what’s happening but if I said I would be in big trouble.”

    Although ‘arry (like Terry Venables) sometimes annoys me with his blokey comments I don’t see him as a mischief-maker.

    Could it be that Carlo is now a dead man walking and that that is now common knowledge amongst the rest of the EPL club managers?

    I have felt all along that Carlo has been undermined by Abramovich, ever since we learnt about Emenalo’s promotion. I might change that view if we learn about some decent signings this month but I don’t seriously expect that will happen.

    • Gleb

      Fair point, but don’t all managers tend to deny transfer speculation until the deal is done? It’s kind of the rules of the game, they all do that.

  20. Anonymous

    Think you’re right Gleb — plus no Chelsea manager of the Abramovich era has claimed to be in control of signings, so there’d be nothing massively sinister about the idea of the suits doing business without keeping the manager involved, right?

    It seems very unlikely there’ll be any big signings. The questions appears to be: will Carlo be allowed to see the team through the “rebuilding” process?

    It seems like it would be kind of stupid to admit that you’re waiting for young players to come through, but then fire the manager because the team lost too many games.

    But then this is the club that decided a worthy successor to José was …

    • Der_Kaiser

      Would second that – I don’t think any CFC manager since Vialli (and possibly before him) has had complete control over transfers.

      I don’t generally believe a word ‘Arry says, but he’s a canny bugger – stating openly what he did says to me that he’s hinting strongly to the player that, whether true or not, the manager at Chelsea doesn’t know who he’s buying and you don’t want to sign up for that, do you son…?

  21. greenlightinoz

    No longer able to view any comments when checking out the website from my ipad………

    The home page on the ipad appears to have changed with an index on the left hand side and match report on the right…..No sign of any comments button though.

    Resident geeks, any suggestions as to why this might be and what I can do to fix it?

  22. Jon

    As far as new signings go … pls can one of the stato’s confirm whether or not we can in fact buy a non-English player like Luiz or Sanchez or Piennar?

    Aren’t the new regs the reason we only have 19 registered squad players this season and we can only sign foreign players if we release a current player?

  23. PeteW

    Think the last Chelsea manager with complete control over signings was Hoddle. Under Gullit, it was a mixture of the manager, Graham Rix and Colin Hutchinson and that pattern has remained the same throughout. Also, Carlo simply doesn’t talk about transfers whereas Harry blabs and blabs as much as he can. Different strokes. But have Spurs ever conducted a transfer in private?

    Looks like we aren’t getting him anyway. Not too bothered, would rather get a striker in.

  24. Chris

    The lack of transfer activity is worrying for what it says about RA’s intentions. It is one thing to want to bring on more young players, and to avoid big splashy expensive signings — those are reasonable goals — but no one can be in any doubt that if the aim is to be a top European team, we need some serious upgrading, including a central defender and a striker. Surely CA got some kind of guarantee when he took the job that there would be money available to rebuild the squad. He would have been mad to agree to just rely on the existing squad plus whatever unproven talent there is in the reserves.

  25. Anonymous

    Fuck me, I thought things were bad and couldn’t get any worse, but to lose out to Spurs for an average-at-best player shows how far our stock must have fallen.

    Or we weren’t prepared to he held to ransom by someone we weren’t that interested in. Who knows?

    I await the arrival of one of the usual level headed posts from the sensible contributors. Me? I’m off to scour League 1 talent to propose names for us to sign in the window…..

    • Der_Kaiser

      I’ll have a go… 😉

      Unless he just preferred Spurs (think he’s made some mention of us not ‘persuading him’ or summat), money probably played a part. Think they paid less than we were offering so I presume it was down to personal terms; maybe he wanted more than we were prepared to put on the table.

      That Jamie Cureton got a decent goal for Exeter in the first leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy (Southern Area) final last night. If we get in there sharpish we might head off Scunthorpe’s interest in him…

      • Cunningplan

        You leave Jamie alone, he likes it down here in the South West. Can’t wait for that bloody window to close, it’s causing a hell of a draught.

    • Jon

      Thank God we didn’t sign Pienaar, Spurs offered higher wages (he wanted 75,000 a week) and we wouldn’t pay that kinda of money to an average player. We didn’t offer it to Joe Cole so why give it to worse player.

      I think financial sense is creeping into the club, could be also the reason we haven’t sacked CA i.e. paying him 12m euro’s to piss off a year and half early.

      Either way – I found the following which means as far as I can work out, unless the player is 21 or under, we can only buy Home Grown players. Rules state squads must have 4 English and 8 HG players in the squad. Ours squad is:

      Home Grown (5)

      John Terry, Ross Turnbull, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Michael Mancienne

      Non Home Grown (16)

      Alex, Nicolas Anelka, Yossi Benayoun, Jose Bosingwa, Petr Cech, Dider Drogba, Michael Essien, Paulo Ferreira, Henrique Hilario, Branislav Ivanovic, Salomon Kalou, Florent Malouda, Nemanja Matic, Jon Obi Mikel, Ramires, Yury Zhirkov.

      Notable u21’s (no squad restrictions)

      Jeffrey Bruma, Franco Di Santo, Gael Kakuta, Fabio Borini, Josh McEachran, Daniel Sturridge, Patrick Van Aarnholt,

      • Anonymous

        Good to see reality starting to bite among the bloggers on our realistic targets – bur surely Carlo must have some old Italian contacts who could find us a cheap has-been from Serie C back home to help out?

        @Jon – we’ve been through this before: to have a squad of 25 over-21year-olds there need to be 8 English/”home-grown” included. This means we can have 17 foreigners, which is 1 more than we currently have by your own list, though I think you’ll find Matic is not in our named list and we can therefore have 2 more cheap rejects from around the world 😉

        • Jon

          @BBD – Maybe your right about Matic, but I think the reason we were allowed to play in the league without 8 HG players (we were the only team to register less then 8) was based on only having 16 Non-HG players. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think we can add another non-HG player to the squad while this season. Not sure how we are set up for next season i.e. apart from Sturridge … whom else from the reserves will be over 21 and therefore qualify as HG and get us over 8 HG players in the squad.

  26. Marco

    Pienaar wanted £75,000 a week – the same amount Ramires signed on for (which is presumably why he he dreamed up that figure in his head when he came for his interview at SB). Tottenham have met that figure – for a midfielder – when they already have 11 midfield players and the likes of Jenas, Bentley, Kranjcar and Jamie O’Hara can’t get regular games.

    Good luck with that one ‘Arry!

  27. Anonymous

    Hmm, so we didn’t pay enough to secure a player Carlo doesn’t care about and no one else thinks we need.

    If this is the new regime, sign me up.

  28. Ashwin Singh

    I personally hate news stories such as the one above from the Guardian. There is no news, only an expectation that he will sign a new contract, and an offer for Luiz. They should just stick to reporting things that happen.

  29. David.

    How has it all gone wrong… Double winning champions to scraping wins against the likes of Blackburn. The team do need a new big player, not for the quality of the squad which is very good despite the results, but to give the players the positive signals and to push them.


  30. PeteW

    Can Spurs really afford to pay Pienaar 75k a week? Something strange is going on there.
    Had an interesting debate about transfers with a couple of pals of mine, one Spurs, one Liverpool. I was saying that we had been barely been involved in the market in the last five years and had been hugely outspent by Spurs and Liverpool. Spurs fan was saying that we’d spent loads of money 8 years ago so that negated Spurs current outspending (true, to an extent) and the Liverpool fan was saying, yes but Chelsea spent a lot of money on players when they did spend (also true, to an extent). whereas Liverpool shop at the cheaper end of the market.
    In the end, we crunched numbers and it turns out we’re all right.

    Stats are
    Spurs bought 40 players (34 for transfer fees). Gross spend of £232m, average transfer fee of £5.8m
    Liverpool bought 43 players (28 for transfer fees). Gross spend of £173m, average transfer of £4m
    Chelsea bought 18 players (13 for transfer fees). Gross spend of £123.5m, average spend of £6.8m

    Huge difference in number of players brought in. Liverpool also well behind in the level of the market they are shopping at. Spurs get decent prices but are spending a lot, and wages will be shooting up. Is it sustainable? How important is a new stadium and will it come before Harry brings the house down around his ears?

    • Der_Kaiser

      Which wouldn’t be amusing at all… do they make reasonable money in terms of sales? Can’t really think of who they’ve shifted out in recent years for anything like serious money – did see they will cop 1.6m in sell-on fees from the Bent to Villa deal.

      Question is, what happens when we pip them to 4th place (ahem) and someone pitches in with serious money offers for the likes of Bale and Modric; that will be the true test of how serious they are about playing with the big boys.

      I always maintain that in the grand scheme, whilst we spent a great deal in the early Roman era, there were actually very few players we truly overpaid for at the time given the prevailing factors (i.e. a new breed of owner, richer than Croesus etc.); plenty like Veron and Mutu who, with hindsight were expensive mistakes, but at the time were arguably reasonable deals given that we were always going to pay over the odds in the circumstances.

      (OK, you could hear Fergie laughing when he offloaded Veron on us…)

      I’d say SWP and Shevchenko were the two real transfer disasters of the Roman era, the latter especially so.

  31. Cunningplan

    Yes the spending and wages at Spurs are certainly interesting, especially since Harry arrived. I’m starting to think how much he was part of Pompeys financial problems.

  32. Anonymous

    And for Pompey read West Ham, and for West Ham read Bournemouth.

    There are cynics out there that point to the troubles each of those ‘Arry related clubs have experienced.

    Not me. I’m just relaying what I’ve heard. Honest.

    • Anonymous

      I can’t believe it. Never in footballing history has one player got so much of the ball and done so little with it.

      No doubt tomorrow we’ll re-sign Winston Bogarde!

      • Aravind NG

        Totally agree. Awesome stats this guy posts. In one other tweet today he says Frank has setup 631 chances since ’03 – the highest in Premier League. Other things I learned today are that Drogba has had maximum attempts on goal this season in PL and that Mikel’s pass completion rate has dropped by a single percentage to 88 compared to last year.

  33. Anonymous

    I think he’s a good option as second choice right back, which is essentially the role now assigned to him. It’s been pretty clear for about a year that Branners is the number one option on that side. Otherwise there’s Mancienne (who seems to be better as a defensive midfielder) and Ryan Bertrand, who I’ve not seen: neither of them obviously a better backup RB than Bosingwa, though.

    Probably fair enough to give him the extra year rather than shelling out for a new player.

  34. Aravind NG

    Bosingwa is being called a bad defender here multiple times. Agreed he has been shit since his return. But isn’t he the same guy who kept Messi quiet for 180mins out of position at RB?

    He’s just lazy and “i-dont-care” about defending. Hiddink did get the best out of him though.

  35. PeteW

    To be fair to Jose Boswinga he was very good before his injury, lots of assists and goals under Scolari and solid under Guus. He’ll play his way back into form.

    As for Spurs, they;ve bought relatively well and have a lot of resale value on their signings – Dawson, Modric, Bale, VdV, Defoe, Lennon will all make money and sPav should break even at least – and they’ve all improved the team considerably. They’ve made some money back but the net spend is still very high. As JD says, no idea where it leaves them if they do not make the CL spots again, and the new stadium is clearly absolutely key because I doubt they can sustain this level of spending without increasing matchday income quite considerably.

    Looking closely at the figures you can also see how Liverpool have been buggered in the transfer market in the last two years and cos Rafa was a shit squad builder, they’re really paying the price now.

    On the other hand, I hate to disagree with JD, though, but do think we wasted an awful lot of money in RA’s first years. Glen Johnson, Veron, Crespo, SWP, Del Horno, Ferreira, Shevchenko, Boulahrouz – all worth considerably less then we paid. We paid top market rate for Makelele, Essien, Drogba, Carvalho, Tiago and probably underpaid on Robben, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole and Cech. Only Cech was really a bargain.

    Pattern hasn’t really changed – we tend to pay what players are worth (Anelka, Zhirkov, Ramires), Malouda was a good deal and Ivanovic a snip, but we don’t get that many bargains. I mean, I like at VDV and Modric and think ‘everybody knew they were good players, why didn’t we take a punt on them?’

    But the real problem with the RA early years was more the indiscriminate nature of it all.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Morning Pete

      Money was certainly wasted, but I’d still put it down to the ‘Roman premium’ we were paying (inclusive of the Zahavi premium, obviously), but on the basis of the usual factors for transfer fees (age, length of contract remaining, track record and so on), I don’t think too many of those mentioned were that unrealistic in the circumstances. Even looking at the list, SWP and Sheva are still the two that cause the biggest ‘ugh!’ gut reaction when I look at it.

      Mixed transfer rumours – Lescott? God’s teeth, no. And wasn’t Van Der Wiel the one caught up in a Twitter related controversy with the national side? Stated to his followers that he wasn’t fit (possibly unwell?) to play and later tweeted that he was having a jolly splendid time watching a recital by some gentlemen of the hip-hop persuasion?

      Oh, and good luck to the kids tonight…

  36. Anonymous

    Going dahn the Bridge to watch the yoof against Young Arse tonight. Anyone else? It sounds like quite a few of last year’s team still qualify. I thought the ones who’ve been promoted to the reserves (or the first team squad) wouldn’t get involved in the Yoof Cup but apparently I’m wrong.

    I wonder if Young Arse have training sessions in Wengeristic Excuseology? I’ll listen out for group chanting in the away dressing room. “All together now boys — They Didn’t Try To Play Football! They Didn’t Try To Play Football! …”

  37. Anonymous

    Interestingly, today’s David Luiz story in the Guardian mentions we may add a player into the mix to secure the deal.

    Hope it’s none of the kids.

    But it also goes on to indicate we have a new right back joining in the summer – Gregory Van Der Wiel from Ajax.

  38. bluebayou

    Went to a meeting at the new Spurs training ground that’s currently under construction. Enquired what the large fenced off area of grass away from the training pitches was for and was told it’s a large paddock where the vast herd of spare midfielders will be grazed. Impressive.

  39. Anonymous

    Did you manage to make a discreet survey of the fencing arrangements, Dr. B?

    I’d be willing to join a gang to go along one night and rustle Luka Modric.

    • bluebayou

      You’re not some undercover police type trying to lure us law abiding worthies into nefarious activities just so you can announce a major swoop on a gang of ne’er do wells? You’ll be offering to provide the van next.

  40. Cunningplan

    Is it bash Spurs week on the blog? If it is we should do it annually and hold a prize who can come up with the best put down.

  41. Anonymous

    Just back from the Bridge – we won 2-1 after going behind in the first minute.

    Spirited performance. Several schoolboy errors but we were more determined and dominated most of the game.

    Josh didn’t dominate quite as I’d expected.

    It was bloody freezing.

  42. Anonymous

    Terrific game dahn the Bridge. Young Arse were (not surprisingly) very challenging opposition; I’d be a bit surprised if our kids had to face another team as good. Nevertheless, they made more and better chances, and though on the evidence of that game they’re not as good as last year’s vintage in terms of skill and ball movement all over the pitch, they were very assured and impressive.

    I was particularly struck by the 15-year old who plays for England U17, Chalobah. He was one of the central defenders — good going when playing against kids 2-3 years older and much heavier and musclier.

    A kid called Nditi (I think) came on near the end and showed some lovely fast fearless touches — nutmegging his man repeatedly etc. He’s also a schoolboy apparently, so 15 or 16.

    Josh kept things ticking over nicely without being obviously at a different level. But I like the way he’s quite happy to be uncomplicated and take up whatever role the team needs.

    The Slovakian [I think] lad at centre forward, Lalkovich, looks like Stoch Mk II — terrifyingly quick and with very clever feet.

    Great fun to watch and you’d think they’ll do very well in the competition.

    Yes it was very chilly. Thankyou Mr Lalkovich for sparing us extra time.

  43. Anonymous

    This is hilarious.

    Yes, “Giuseppe Muro,” it does seem so very likely that all 7,000 fans (6,500 of them Chelsea fans) were outraged at the referee’s decision not to award a penalty … against the home team.

    And isn’t it interesting, “Giuseppe,” that the game was “scrappy” because on the one hand “Arsenal played without their usual rhythm and tempo,” but on the other hand “Chelsea lacked the quality to create any substantial chances”. (One assumes, incidentally, that the qualifier “substantial” excludes the two shots from which you, “Giuseppe,” point out that your keeper had to make excellent saves, and the open goal that you mention a Chelsea player missing — not to mention the large number of decent shots and near misses created at the Arsenal end.) After all, everyone knows that Arsenal teams are always actually better than the opposition, even when they play worse and lose.

    You’d think Wenger wouldn’t have time to write match reports for youth team games on top of all his other duties. Nice pseudonym, though.

    • Anonymous

      The Gooners maybe still can’t win a trophy but they are always clear winners in grudging gracelessness in defeat.

  44. Cunningplan

    I think people are missing the point with regard Arsenal, they never lose any game they play, the opposition just happen to score more goals than they do from time to time.

  45. Anonymous

    Indeed, I had a recent reminder of the depths of delusion and worshipful attitude to the Great God, Arsene, by Gooners on Wednesday evening on the tube when I overheard 2 fans on their way home to watch their FA Cup tie on TV discussing with reverent admiration his principled refusal to spend big on the transfer market because he knows “it would be too easy” to win that way, but just wrong!

  46. Anonymous

    Carlo’s press conference today not only hinting we could be in for another bout of “I hope Lampard will be fit next week” but also revealed JT’s dodgy back is giving him gyp again. Is there a miracle chiropractor in the house?

    On a brighter note, I know some of you will be very pleased to hear Danny Baker is currently between spells of chemotherapy and feeling well enough to make a surprise one-off appearance on his BBC Radio London show even as I write.

    • Anonymous

      DB was trending on Twitter so I like many assumed the worst. Great news – the wireless set is a poorer place without him.

  47. Anonymous

    Fuck off Liverpool.

    No denying that’s how you win at Wolves though.

    Pienaar had a stormer though. Or maybe not.

    Let’s hope the injuries heal before Monday, 3 points is necessary or it’s season over.

  48. Anonymous

    The Luiz deal sounds like is close to being complete, with a youngster moving to Portugal on loan. Interesting that we don’t seem too bothered about him being cup tied in the CL. Apparently they asked for Kalou as part of the deal. I would have happily provided transport to tge airport for him. Hell, I’d have driven from Norwich to Cobham to collect him, then driven all the way to Portugal to deliver him.

    We’re also finalising a deal to let Kakuta out on loan, which is a bit odd given how utterly awful we look up front at the moment.

    No Lamps tonight. What chance a Josh start?

  49. Der_Kaiser

    In two minds about the Luiz deal; pushes Bruma further down the pecking order which seems silly, but does also suggest that the club may be thinking longer term (specifically how long JT can go on for). When’s Alex due back – early Feb?

    We note with interest that pantomime buffoons Keys and Gray have made complete arses of themselves. Again. Would be interesting to get the (far more qualified) female assistant referee they were belittling to sit in the commentary box with them one day; I’m sure she’d be very useful in terms of putting them right on the numerous misconceptions and inaccuracies they spout about the laws of the game every week.

    Bolton, wet Monday night in January. Hmmm. The expensive foreign johnnies in the Chelsea team won’t be too keen on that one, Keysie…

  50. Anonymous

    I’m leaning towards thinking that the Luiz story (if true) is a good thing. Tony’s post at cfcnet (linked on our home page) is very good and surely right, but you get the sense that JT could crack at any moment, and Alex is 28, so even if Bruma is only a year away from being ready to start regularly I can see the argument for adding someone who’s ready now in that position.

    Not that I have any sense of Luiz as a player but since he’s tall, hairy and mournful-looking I’m assuming he’s in the Riccy mould.

    Hope Kakuta doesn’t end up like Mancienne, disappearing off the radar.

    The Keys/Gray thing is embarrassing for all sorts of reasons, not least that despite all the finger-wagging and solemn apologising which will now occur we all know there’ll be no sanctions — which indicates that at least in certain environments misogyny is still entirely acceptable in a way that racism no longer is. Even Murdoch wouldn’t have been able to keep them on if they’d made similar remarks (mutatis mutandis) about a non-white lino. And the fact that people who make that comparison will hear replies like “Well its different innit cos race aint got nuffin to do wiv playin sport but women just dont belong in mens football” only confirms my point. Embarrassing in a state-of-the-nation kind of way. Bastards.

  51. Marco

    Good and bad news for us Chelsea fans.

    Gray and Keys have been taken off Sky Football tonight so we won’t be subjected to their squinny-eyed ‘opinions’ concerning Chelsea, women, the off-side rule and whatever else appears on their auto-cues.

    But Lamps is out – again. Come on Carlo – let’s have Josh on.

  52. Jon

    Kakuta on loan is joke.

    CA just gave an interview saying that this season we got rid of players near the end of their contract in order to give our youth a chance. If we now loan out Kakuta … what chances do we have of signing young players like Neymar.

    We are just making it clear that unless your 25+ – you ain’t getting in the 1st team.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Of course. I’d make some sort of crack about bigger tits, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger pair than Keys and Gray themselves.

      Cloakroom attendant, my jacket please…

      • Anonymous

        I was just thinking that it would be a blessed relief to be spared Keys and Gray tonight, but then I remembered that most of Sky’s “B” team pairings make Jon Champion and Chris Waddle/ Joe Royle on ESPN seem sparkling and insightful by comparison.

  53. bluebayou

    No-one stands behind me in the queue to pay homage to Rio for his balanced outlook on the Gray/Key affair:

    England captain Rio Ferdinand said on Twitter: “I’m all for women refereeing in football, discrimination should not happen in our game at all … prehistoric views if u think otherwise.” (bbc website)

    For as we know, Rio doesn’t care about the gender of the officials, as long as they grant him a private interview over every decision, it’s all ticketyboo. Other wise he’ll scream the livinging bejaysus at them about 2mm from the end of their (pretty little / ugly hairy – delete as applicable) noses.

    • Der_Kaiser

      And if they’re really lucky and pretty enough, he might just invite them along to one of those famous Man U Christmas parties that Sir Alex doesn’t really approve of…

  54. Anonymous

    As usual, I’ll jump in with both feet before kick-off, but a midfield 3 of Essien, Mikel and Ramires has about as much creativity as something extremely uncreative.

    Still, I’m sure Josh will do more in his 14 minutes than any of the others, just to prove what were missing.

  55. Anonymous

    I know Mah Fellow Bloggaz aren’t big Paul hayward fans, but his piece on the sexism imboglio is good —

    — if only for the sense of a meejah insider taking the chance to reveal how horrible the world of meejah insiders is. Fave sentence: “Keys, all oiled and polished, has reached such a stage of self-inflation that even the self-protecting part of his broadcasting brain has shut down.”

    No susprises about the team sheet. That’s how this season is going to be. At least it’ll be the oldies who go down with the ship (though, ironically, Essien and Obi and Ramires all count as young talent, don’t they?)

  56. Glen

    We seem to be doing rather well, all thanks to Jaaskelainen. Good enough score to finally give Josh more than 10 fucking minutes in the EPL?

  57. Ashwin Singh

    When I first saw the teamsheet, I was wishing that Sturridge had played instead of Drogba. He’s done very well today, good thin I’m not a coach. By half time, seems like Bolton are getting increasingly desperate and we can do the ‘moving the ball around not really looking threatening’ thing we’ve perfected over the past couple of months.
    I agree with Gleb, would be nice to see Josh, Sturridge or any of the other bench players.

  58. Der_Kaiser

    I thought our forward line was old, slow, ponderous, unfit and generally useless and only good for shooting / pensioning off?

    I eagerly await the opinion of the experts.

    At least I think that’s by they’re called…

  59. bluebayou

    There will be plenty said about the game but hats off to Big Sam for a fair and balanced turn as summariser. You could forgive him for partiality but he seemed determined to be fair throughout. It may not have been the most animated performance but a refreshing change.

    In a day when comments off mike have been the flavour it was great to hear him mutter to himself in admiring tones “nice touch” as Josh beat a couple of men on the edge of our box with calm authority.

    He may not be a favourite of ours but I’ll take him over some of what we get on the goggle box.

  60. Anonymous

    Don’t know about ‘not happy’ but the result’s the main thing. Thought Malouda and Anelka were awful for an hour and then when Bolton gave up and it became a training ground exercise they were suddenly interested.

    How on Earth Josh can come on and look so cool and calm on the ball AND make all his passes count is mind-boggling. At 17. We’ve got something hugely special on the horizon there, just want to see him play more. I genuinely believe he can make a difference for us. Ditto Sturridge / Kakuta, was horrified to see Kalou appear ahead of them. He seemingly has nothing to prove, they have everything. Game was over, why not put them on?

  61. Anonymous

    Nice to see the reawakening of the real Essien today.

    From what I could see on my iPod we looked snappy and solid. The kind of away win we’ve been used to: tight, and then picking them off. And yes, JD is right, the front three are good again, at least until the next game we lose/draw when they will of course be old and useless again.

    I liked Big Sam’s comments about playing kids. He seemed quite heartfelt about the sheer size of the step up to Prem League football, and I imagine Carlo would say exactly the same thing if he could.

    Which, as 50ee points out, makes Josh’s calmness all the more astonishing.

  62. Gleb

    Common you guys! How come no one’s mentioned Drogba’s absolute cracker yet? Give the man his due credit and support! The root of all evil lies in people always wanting something/someone they don’t have (yet?) rather than loving something/someone they do. All this transfer talk and whatnot obscures the basic truth: we love Chelsea FC first and foremost, not other players from other clubs (until they’re sat at that press-conference table at the Bridge), and we should support them!

    Trust me, I’m not delusional, and we still didn’t play all that well today (luck + their keeper, both of which covered up our players’ persisting weaknesses), but I’m just saying… Fans are always so eager to consign a player to oblivion as soon as his form takes a dip. They’re rich, spoilt and mostly uneducated bastards, but they’re our bastards and that’s what makes them special!

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