Derby County 0 – 2 Chelsea

Match reports

The Observer, Jamie Jackson: “Chelsea will take the three easy points from this outing against dire opposition, but will be cursing the straight arm that late substitute Michael Essien offered Kenny Miller in added time. The Ghana midfielder was sent off and Avram Grant faces the loss of a key player for three games. It was clumsy from Essien, but at least Chelsea fans wake up this morning to see their team just two points behind champions Manchester United, who lost at Bolton. It seems that the Premier League title race is very much back on in west London.”

Independent on Sunday, Ronald Atkin: “The Essien incident marred an otherwise comfortable evening’s stroll for Chelsea, who closed the gap on Manchester United while still fielding a side with an eye on their Champions’ League trip to Rosenborg in Wednesday.”

Sunday Telegraph, Nick Alexander: “Shaun Wright-Phillips scored his first goal for Chelsea for seven months to silence the Derby boo-boys who had turned on the Blues’ England contingent.”

Sunday Times, John Aizlewood: “They say there are no easy games in the Premier League. As most of Derby County’s opponents this season have discovered, sometimes there are.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “A fourth consecutive away league win leaves Chelsea fourth in the table, just two points behind second placed Man United.”

The goals

17′ Kalou 0-1
73′ Wright-Phillips 0-2

The good

  1. A stroll in Pride Park. What looked like an easy fixture on paper turned out to be just that. For the majority of the game, Derby stood off and admired our ability to keep possession of the ball; only complacency allowed the Rams a sniff at goal. They were a tad unfortunate with the offside decision, though. Doomed to relegation I’m afraid.
  2. Our first goal. Four players, five touches: Jon Obi Mikel to Frank Lampard, Lampard to Steve Sidwell, Sidwell to Salomon Kalou, Kalou took one touch then slotted it past the Derby keeper. Brilliant. Minutes later Kalou missed an open goal from three yards out. Inconsistent and frustrating.
  3. John Terry’s return. Like Lampard before him, Terry’s injury lay-off looks to have done him the world of good. Lampard’s shown some great form since his return from injury; hopefully a refreshed Terry will do likewise. He’s badly needed with Ricardo Carvalho out for at least another month.
  4. Jon Obi Mikel put in another composed midfield performance, including a number of clean tackles. It was good to see him refuse to get riled up by the close attention of Kenny Miller during one spell when the Scotland international seemed intent on getting him booked or sent off. To his credit, Mikel just ignored Miller and got on with controlling the midfield.
  5. 12 games unbeaten. 9 clean sheets. 2 points behind Manchester United. Arsenal are 3 points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand. Our game at Ashburton Grove next month will go some way to proving whether we’ve got what it takes to challenge for the title this season.

The bad

  1. Michael Essien’s red card. I’m still not sure whether Essien meant to smack Miller in the chops; if he did mean it then the red card was warranted. But it’s galling that Essien’s hand-off was rewarded with a straight red, yet vicious Irish midget Stephen Hunt’s career-threatening tackle on Gelson Fernandes in the Manchester City versus Reading game was judged to be a yellow card offence. Crazy.
  2. Not a whole lot else to include here. Andry Shevchenko was anonymous all game except for his tackle which led to the second goal. Tal Ben Haim had a couple of nervous moments but for the most part looked okay – I should think so against such inept opposition. And perhaps we should have scored more goals. That said, the first game back after an international break is always tough so I’m satisfied with the three points.
  3. The inane booing of England players here and at other Premiership grounds. As idiotic as booing the opposition’s national anthem. Just what do fans who boo players and national anthems think they are achieving, apart from highlighting the fact that many of them are IQ deficient, jingoistic yobs? I really have had enough of the whole England football thing.

Man of the Match

Jon Obi Mikel.

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