Middlesbrough 0 – 2 Chelsea

Match reports

The Observer, Duncan Castles: “This match proved to be ugly viewing for Middlesbrough, but further testament to the strength of character at Chelsea. Few now contest the damage Jose Mourinho’s forced dismissal from the club did to the Blues’ dressing room, yet a team largely at odds with themselves, their under-qualified manager and their interfering owner still possess the professional pride to dig out results like this.”

Sunday Telegraph, Jonathan Wilson: “Drogba described the club as having been “broken” by the departure of Jose Mourinho, but he certainly hasn’t been. Yesterday, on his return from suspension, he was not at his rambunctious best, but he still took the opening goal with an elegant efficiency, and his power and intelligent running unsettled Middlesbrough throughout.”

Independent on Sunday, Michael Walker: “There was a chant of “Chelsea are back” here yesterday, and if that overstates what has gone on at Stamford Bridge these past few weeks, you could understand the underlying sentiment. In Henk Ten Cate’s first game as assistant manager, Chelsea won with comfort and style at a ground where they lost last season and the one before that.”

Sunday Times, Paul Rowan: “When one’s place in the team is blocked by the England and club captain, it is important to take any opportunity that comes along, and Alex Rodrigo certainly did that with a vengeance when he announced himself to the Premier League with a rocket shot from 30 yards that capped a commanding performance from Chelsea.”

Official Chelsea FC Website, Andy Jones: “Three away wins on the bounce leaves Chelsea in a far healthier position than some expected, with Schalke and then Manchester City next up at Stamford Bridge.”

The highlights

Click here for extended high quality video highlights from Virgin Media.

The good

  1. Didier Drogba. I’m not sure what to make of the interview Drogba gave to France Football magazine. It’s not the first time he or one of his connections has talked to the media about his desire to move on, and probably it won’t be the last. Ultimately all that matters is what Drogba does on the pitch, and in this game he was at his awesome best. The biggest worry is that without Drogba we can be very ordinary.
  2. Frank Lampard. I think the majority of us wish Lampard would just forget about the shambles that is the England national side and concentrate on being Chelsea’s linchpin in midfield. His performance in this game wasn’t all action, stand out great, just brilliantly effective.
  3. Ricardo Carvalho and Alex Rodrigo. Carvalho rarely gets the plaudits he deserves. In the absence of John Terry, he showed why he is our best and most consistent defender. Alex continues to improve and his typically Brazilian free kick was superb. Let’s hope he can do it more than once, unlike his fellow countryman Roberto Carlos, who lived off a similar strike for almost a decade.
  4. Petr Cech. The World’s Best Goalkeeper™. Enough said.

The bad

  1. Not a lot to include here. Florent Malouda was a tad disappointing, and Paulo Ferrieria didn’t have the best of games out of position at left-back. We could do with a fit Wayne Bridge.

Man of the Match

Didier Drogba.

Final thoughts

You have to wonder how Jose Mourinho is feeling right now. Happy that the blue machine he built is still functioning well without him at the controls, or sad that there has been no apparent improvement in performance since control was wrested from him. There’s little sign of the expansive, “entertaining” football promised by Avram Grant.

I would prefer Grant to just get on with things and forget about telling the world that he wants to entertain. We’re all capable of judging what we see on the pitch, and what I see on the pitch is Mourinho’s team playing Mourinho-esque football. It’s probably going to take some big changes in player personnel to affect the big changes in style and performance so desired by Grant.

Until such time, I’m just happy that we’re winning.

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