The Observer, Paul Wilson: “Chelsea went down to an early goal, recovered, and sent on all their available attackers in search of the three points to keep their title hopes alive. There the similarity with Manchester United ended, however, and after accepting his side could not afford to drop any more points and retain a realistic chance of overhauling the leaders Carlo Ancelotti will now be able to concentrate on the Champions League.”
Sunday Telegraph, Rory Smith: “Within eight minutes of kick-off, Chelsea were behind to Jon Walters’s strike; they fought back admirably to earn a frenetic point, but it will not be enough. Their chances of silverware now rest solely on the Champions League. The spectre of United haunts them there, too. Against Sir Alex Ferguson’s champions-elect, they have 180 minutes to save their season.”
Independent on Sunday, Tim Rich: “By the time Chelsea began the warm-up, the electronic screen behind them was showing images, 10 feet high, of Wayne Rooney dragging the title ever closer to Old Trafford. And when the final whistle went and the screen relayed pictures of Stoke’s manager, Tony Pulis, embracing his backroom staff it confirmed what most, deep down, at Stamford Bridge, already knew.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “Didier Drogba’s first Chelsea goal since late January levelled the scores after Stoke netted early on but two points were dropped in a lively encounter in the Potteries.”
Reasons for visiting the Potteries
- My wife likes Emma Bridgewater pottery and this match is our annual pilgrimage to the factory
- I enjoy away games because of the enthusiasm of our away support
- I believed when I bought the ticket we had a chance of the title
- I believed when I bought the ticket we had a chance of getting to the Champions League Final and therefore I had to give a final boost to my loyalty points total (hence West Brom away in two weeks)
Rollercoaster of emotions
This was the normal rollercoaster of emotions derived from supporting Chelsea. Enthusiasm for the match soared to greater heights as I listened to West Ham take a 2-0 lead over Utd. Quick calculations in my head meant that after we beat Stoke we’d be just six points behind with a game in hand (which we’ll win) and if we then go up to Old Trafford and win the title’s ours. Between leaving the car and getting to the stand it had all changed with that ‘fat bastard’ scoring a hat-trick. Following the game itself my emotions told me it was pointless to start re-calculating the league run in.
You’ve heard the expression ‘it’s a game of two halves’.
This match was a game of 65 minutes and 25 minutes.
A slightly sloppy opening couple of minutes and then a bit of slack defending by Luiz allowed Walters to run on goal and score. But for the next 65 minutes we totally outplayed Stoke during which Drogba scored a great header from an excellent Anelka cross. After our 65 minutes it all fell apart and we were left hanging on in the end as Stoke made some serious threats on our goal.
Player ratings (based on my view from the away end and without the benefit of replays)
- Team – (65/90*8) + (25/90*5) = 7.16
- Cech – 9 – some great saves and kept us with a point
- Cole – 7 – steady enough. Withstood the banter from the crowd that he “shoots kids”
- Luiz – 7-1+1 = 7 – generally ok but -1 for giving the goal away. I think Luis will give us plenty of heart stopping moments in his time with us, some for good reasons and others for bad, a sort of Peta Borota effect. The six blokes in front of me all had Luiz wigs on so I’ve given him +1 for services to the wig industry and economy. They did remove their wigs in disgust for five minutes after his mistake. Also towards the end he did get outdone by Fuller and generally didn’t handle Jones too well so maybe Luiz doesn’t like playing against big blokes
- Bosingwa – 8 – I’ve been very critical of him during recent weeks but today he played well and managed to get his crosses in without hitting the first man
- Terry – 8 – a natural leader and got stuck in
- Essien – 7 – seems to be regaining some of his energy. I think he’s improving
- Ramires – 8 – he’s our engine
- Lampard – 6 – ponderous, some sloppy passing and no longer able to come up with the goods in our hour of need
- Malouda – 5 – lacks energy and does everything at walking pace. Whenever he got the ball we slowed right down
- Drogba – (65/90*8.5) + (25/90*6) = 7.8 – scored a great goal and worked hard, including a chase back all the way to our box when the defence was caught short. As soon as Torres came on he stopped
- Anelka – 6+1 = 7 – overall a 6 because he played a bit like Malouda but marginally better. +1 for his cross for Drogba to score
- Ivanovic – 6 – didn’t do much and one lapse of concentration let the ball slip under his foot
- Torres – 6 – you can tell he’s got class but he was trying too hard and tried to run the ball himself when a pass might have been a better option
- Kalou – 5 – something he can be an impact sub. Today he twice got into good positions and stumbled as he ran in on goal but left the ball behind him
- Carlo – 8-2-2+1 = 5 – His initial team selection and our play for 65 minutes was good, so an 8. However the team stopped after 65 minutes and this coincided with his substitutions. Taking off Ramires shocked the away end; it was like pulling out the spark plugs so -2. Playing Torres and Drogba just didn’t work. With each attack Torres and Drogba alternated between playing up the middle and on the left. This is Carlo just ducking the issue by effectively saying “I don’t know how to play you so just take it in turns”, hence -2. Carlo did manage to wave to us, without prompting from Ray Wilkins, as we chanted “Carlo, Carlo” so +1 for his improved English.
- Woodwork – 8+2-2 = 8 – saved us twice but cost us twice
Premier League title hopes
I’m travelling to Old Trafford Tuesday week for our Champions League match. I think we should take the Premier League trophy with us, take a slight detour east to the Emirates at the start of the journey to remind Arsene and his young boys what silverware looks like and then drive it up the M1/M6 and hand deliver it to Fergie’s office.