The newspaper reports
The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “Encountering Stoke City is a repetitive experience, but few learn from it. Chelsea drew at the Britannia Stadium as they did last season, although there was not even a goal apiece in André Villas-Boas’s first competitive fixture. Much of the interest aroused by the appointment of the Portuguese remains because this hard-fought contest told us little about how his side will fare in the more considered matches.”
The Independent, Sam Wallace: “In Villas-Boas’ defence, without Romelu Lukaku yet and no other major new signings, he is still trying to reinvigorate the same group of players who fell short last season. Yesterday he picked Fernando Torres ahead of Didier Drogba and was rewarded with what was arguably the best Chelsea performance on the day. Yet by the end of the game he had reverted to an approach that has been tried before: Torres, Drogba and Nicolas Anelka on the pitch together.”
The Daily Telegraph, Jonathan Liew: “It is the dancing feet of Torres rather than the imposing presence of Drogba that Villas-Boas appears to believe are best equipped to carry out his intricate, give-and-go attacking strategy, and if the Spaniard can stay fit, he could make himself an automatic first choice before autumn is out. One sumptuous piece of Torres skill lit up an earnest first half, a twisting, mesmerising run into the Stoke area thwarted only by Ryan Shawcross’s desperate heel. The longer he continues to play with this kind of gay abandon, the more inclined we may be to believe Villas-Boas when he insists that his two-year-long trough was the result of dwindling confidence rather than physical decline.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “Nobody said it was going to be easy. A much livelier Chelsea in the second half than the first took the game to the home side but with three penalty shouts turned down and two good saves by Stoke keeper Amir Begovic, the breakthrough proved elusive.”
Andre’s had a full pre-season and 90 minutes of Premiership and we’re already playing catch up with Man Utd.
Surely we’ve all had enough of AVB and it’s time for Roman to pull the trigger?
Well only kidding but looking at some of the early posts on the blog some (say a number between one and fiftee) appear to be seriously thinking this way!
Watching the first half it did seem like an extension of the end of last season with slow, ponderous and predictable build up with no end product. And each player seemed to be exactly the same with the exception of Fernando Torres who looked like a quality player. Whereas last year he looked like a lost little boy, desperate to impress and trying too hard, today he was making great runs, showed excellent control and good decision making; maybe not a complete waste of £50 million quid after all.
Second half we were much better. Upped the tempo and played most of the game in Stoke’s half.
I was concerned by a couple of AVB’s selections.
Firstly I’d have picked Ivanovic ahead of Bosingwa because I thought we’d need his height in defence and last year I thought Bosingwa was gutless and wasteful with his crosses. I was wrong and AVB was right. Bosingwa was excellent and wasn’t afraid to get stuck in and made some great runs down the right.
Secondly I’d have picked Drogba ahead of Torres simply to help out on corners. Again AVB was right because Torres was excellent and will be our number 9. His recent concussion with Spain has obviously shaken him out of his coma and he’s remembered that he is a world class footballer and not a cast member of the Ladyboys from Bangkok.
Two players didn’t step up a gear in the second half. Malouda was still slow of thought, lazy looking and predictable. Kalou was… well Kalou was Kalou, what else should I have expected!
Second half the foul on Lampard looked a definite penalty from where I was standing and Kalou had a great opportunity. A top class, clinical finisher would have buried his headed opportunity.
If we could have had a couple of decent wide men today supporting Torres we’d have won comfortably. Unfortunately we don’t have any, we only have central attackers, including the imminent arrival of Romelu Lukaku if he can ever be persuaded to take the cap off his pen.
The player ratings
- Disappointingly frustrating – Kalou, Malouda
- Better than feared – Bosingwa
- Our best player – Torres – he might be back from wherever he disappeared to
As I sat in the taxi back to the station the crowd chants were still ringing in my ears, “Stoke’s a shit hole, there’s nothing to loot” and, looking out the window at the surrounding wastelands, I tended to agree.
The related links