Wigan Athletic 1-1 Chelsea – In the Blue

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The preamble

Are you scared of snakes? I am. Even the small ones. When I’m out walking my dog and a grass snake, about the diameter of my little finger and a foot long, slithers out the long grass and across our path, it sends shivers down my spine.

An interesting point about snakes is that they shed their skins. The frequency that this occurs depends on a number of factors but shedding will occur regularly.

A snake about to shed is referred to as being “in the blue”. The signs you will see indicating a shed is about to take place are consistent and include:

  • Skin becomes dull.
  • Eyes become cloudy or “bluish”.
  • Increase in nervous behaviour (because they cannot see well).

As far as the snake is concerned this a perfectly natural phenomenon and an essential part of renewal and a healthy life. As the skin starts sliding off its back it’s never been recorded or witnessed for the snake to look over and advise the old skin of what’s happening. The old skin knows it’s had its day and is happy to slide away, relieved that it’s led a full life and grateful to have escaped being turned into a handbag or pair of shoes. Once the skin is off, marooned and abandoned, the snake doesn’t stop to wave goodbye or thank its old skin for services rendered, but weaves its way forward, seeking its next adventure.

With a starting eleven of Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Romeu, Lampard, Meireles, Sturridge, Drogba, Mata, with Luiz and Ramires likely starters if circumstances allowed, it appears the skin is at least half way down the body.

The first half (typed in real-time)

Very sloppy first nine minutes but then Sturridge made a very positive run and cut a decent ball across the six yard box. Sturridge does have the knack of beating a defender and it appears that passing is also now on the agenda. After 14 minutes Terry made a good run and has a fine effort from 25 yards with his right boot.

Great shot from Romeu as he picked up on a loose clearance and volleyed from outside the box.

After 25 minutes it’s all Chelsea, but we haven’t created much.

Drogba’s playing as if he’s concluded his contract negotiations but after 37 minutes has a decent diving header which slides just wide of the post.

Wigan have a penalty claim but, despite the protestations of the commentators who are desperately seeking excitement, it was never handball by Ivanovic.

Half-time: After the exciting trilogy of Newcastle, Valencia and Man City it’s all a bit dull and predictable. Thought Martin Keown summed it up stating that it’s alright performing when your backs are against the wall but you also need to do it on nights like this. We look complacent.

The second half (typed in real-time subject to battery)

Kalou on for Romeu. Bet PeteW is pleased!

Maybe we’re missing the pace and energy of Ramires?

You know how Drogba’s recently got back to his best? Well so far he’s back to his worst!

53′ – and a nice little run by Kalou to the byline but Drogba fails to convert the cross.

Lampard currently off the pitch with a bloodied mouth.

58′ – cross-field ball from Cole, beautifully controlled by Sturridge and finished magnificently – GOAL! Earlier in the season I was negative about Sturridge and didn’t think he’d make the grade. I’ve put on a fair bit of weight recently with the amount of humble pie I’ve eaten.

65′ – Mikel on for Mata – what, we’re shutting up shop already?

73′ – JT lands badly and injures his knee. Someone get a message to Alex to get out of Peter Jones (Sloane Square’s John Lewis) and do a few minutes training.

75′ – utter calamity in our box and we nearly give a goal away. Now Cech’s injured. All hands to the pump.

77′ – Sturridge gets whacked up the arse.

78′ – Malouda on for Sturridge. All three subs used so Torres stays on the bench again which must be quite uncomfortable with the size of his wallet in his back pocket.

Normally I don’t like distractions when I’m watching us play but to be honest writing these comments is a useful filler during a very dull match.

87′ – Crap indecisive defending followed by Cech dropping the ball and Wigan equalise 1-1.

Final score 1-1.

The summary

We started poorly. One bit of class from Sturridge followed by us slithering into oblivion. I picked the wrong reptile for my analogy, I should have chosen a tortoise instead. We were back to our worst of this season. Is it too simplistic to conclude this was because too many of the old guard were resurrected as we finished the game with Lampard, Mikel and Malouda? AVB is guilty too for going all defensive when we were 1-0 up. It was only Wigan for heaven’s sake.

Anyhow, Roman’s the head of the snake and as a body of fans we’ll follow wherever it takes us.

The match reports

The Sunday Telegraph, Duncan White: “Just when Chelsea had began to build momentum, they found it checked where they least expected it. In their last three games against Wigan Athletic Chelsea had won with a cumulative score of 15-0 and came up here expecting more generosity of the season. Roberto Martinez’s side had different ideas.”

The Observer, Paul Wilson: “A dramatic late equaliser by Jordi Gomez robbed Chelsea of all three points just when an efficient if uninspiring performance seemed to have preserved their winning habit. After a pulsating game on a cold night and a wet pitch neither side truly deserved to lose, but Wigan will undoubtedly be more pleased with their point than Chelsea. The visitors played well enough to put suggestions of disunity or unrest to bed but not well enough to close out the victory that Daniel Sturridge’s splendid opening goal seemed to have earned.”

The Independent on Sunday, Steve Tongue: “Villas-Boas was forced to admit that they lacked creativity and penetration, which was why he took off Oriol Romeu at half-time and changed to a 4-2-3-1 formation. It appeared to have paid off with Sturridge’s goal, but the gamble to sit back thereafter was flawed, allowing Wigan to gain the initiative for the first time after an ineffective first half.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Daniel Sturridge’s ninth goal of the season, a quality strike in the second half, was not enough to maintain the winning run as the home side were allowed to equalise late on. A formation change for the second half looked to have paid dividends but once the hard work of breaking down the Wigan defence had been done, instead of closing out the game, the Blues allowed Roberto Martinez’s side some chances, one that required Branislav Ivanovic to clear close to the line before the lead was surrendered when Jordi Gomez scored.”

The goals

59′ Sturridge 0-1
88′ Jordi Gomez 1-1




There are 95 comments

Add yours
  1. Cunningplan

    It was a crap football match, a crap result, and a crap mistake from Cech. The pundits were also crap, and the commentary were only slightly less crap.
    Have I overused the word CRAP?

  2. Anonymous

    AVB likes to flirt with being classed as competent, only to completely disregard that with amateurish changes.

    He cost us today as much as Cech. We were never comfortable at 1-0, certainly not enough to remove our one creative spark in midfield for Mikel.

    Thursday could be nasty. I know I said the same against City but they’re so very obviously ‘gettable’. Spurs aren’t, and I fear we’ll be fighting tooth and nail for that forth spot in the table.

    Shit. Must do better. Drogs back to his worst. Torres completely done now?

  3. Ryan

    I find it quite amazing that Torres can’t even get off the bench against Wigan when Drogba’s playing like shit. If he is not for sale at any price and he can’t get on even as a sub we might as well just give up on him. I’m not sure his form really warrants the extended dropping he is currently enduring. If he’d have played today and done exactly what Didier had done everyone would be on the same old “he’s finished” theme. Same against City. It does seem a bit like double standards. Didier had a good game against Valencia. But their defence was shit. Simple. I’m not slagging Didier off. I love the mad bastard. I just don’t think he’s pulling up any trees to keep FT out of the team. So what does that say about Torres. He can’t be that bad. Can he?

    I have had one idea. Let’s send him on loan to Barcelona. Villa’s broken his leg. Maybe six months in Spain is just what he needs. Surely he’d score a few goals when they’re beating Osasuna 8-0 every other week? Could be good for his confidence. And if he can’t score playing with them then at least we’d know he really is well and truly fucked and accept we bought a £50 million Chris Sutton/Robert Fleck.

    Is there now a case for just playing Sturridge in his favoured position. If we’re picking on form he deserves to be playing through the middle.

    I wasn’t particularly surprised by today’s result. Seen it too many times. Great result followed by extremely mediocre one. Interesting to think if we’d won away at QPR and today at Wigan we’d be one point behind City. That worries me more than losing to Arsenal or United. They’re always going to be tough. QPR and Wigan are 3 points a go if you’re going to have any chance of winning the league. Both games soft mistakes. Both games didn’t manage to dominate the game when it mattered against inferior opposition.

  4. Machchan

    Fine report Mark; your frustration speaks volumes between the lines.

    AVB has to take the lion’s share of the blame for this debacle.  Selecting Lampard (on current form) was like the snake reversing back into it’s dead skin, borrowing your analogy…  it meant a neutralised midfield.

    Then came his amateurish tactics of trying to shut shop with 30 minutes to play and particularly amateurish set of substitutions… I’m not a fan of Gary Neville’s but AVB’s tactics smacked of a teenager playing Football Manager.  

    Apologies in advance for hurting anyone’s feelings…

  5. Fat Nakago

    The way Chelsea played today, they didn’t even deserve a draw. They played like fock, AVB managed like fock. The don’t deserve to be a considered a championship team if this is the way they play….when faced with an inferior opponent, you still have to play at YOUR level, not there’s. But that’s what Chelsea did today, they played to Wigan’s level. They played without passion or desire or joy. Wigan did, but not Chelsea. And that’s a shame.

    Earlier today, my other favourite team, Norwich City, played to a similar 1-1 draw with Everton. And just like Chelsea, they gave up a late equilizer. And while I was disappointed that the Canaries didn’t get all the points, I don’t feel as bad about the result. Unlike Chelsea, Norwich City plays with the same passion and desire and joy no matter who they’re playing….they are consistent and determined and even when they lose, as they did 5-1 at Man City, they still play their solid football, albeit with less talent. I can’t complain all that much about their 1-1 draw today as I can about my Blues 1-1 draw.

    Today, for Chelsea, if victory were a snake, it would have bit them. In fact, it did, it bit them on the ass.

  6. Ganesh

    Just for the sake of holding on to the lead… playing Drogba for his better height and body doesn’t augur well for the AVB tactics. After the score went to 1-1, Wigan were the most likely scorers of the second.. we just didn’t turn up.

    I just don’t understand why Nando is been so overlooked. Drogba hasn’t been playing great except the game against Valencia. This could have been a great time to give a run out against Wigan and I strongly feel, he could have managed to use the space behind the Wigan defence. It is also not that he was performing so bad that he warrants this kind of treatment. Except the Liverpool Carling cup game where the whole team performance was abysmal, from my opinion he didn’t had a very bad game. You have to play him consistently with Mata, Studge rather than giving him a game with Malouda & kalou then move him to bench again.

    If he is not been given enough play time, I don’t understand how he will start performing immediately, when Didi is out for ACN.

    Now, I strongly believe AVB wants Nando out for some reason. But i can be sure, if he goes to anywhere like  Spurs he will start scoring loads of goals. He just need better midfield co-ordination and he will surely performing well.

    Yesterday our midfield was so pedestrian and slow.. constantly overlooking the flanks…just like the last season.. maybe partly due  to the inclusion of Lamps… he takes too many touches to move the ball forward.
    and for god sake someone tell him to pass the ball than running at the defenders.. he looks so stupid loosing the ball thinking he can get past the players with his pace and dribbling..

    • Anonymous

      You summarised it all about Lamps and there is nothing else to say! We were desperatly missing speed and technique of Ramires yesterday! 

  7. Nick

    For the first time since he was appointed, I found myself thinking that just maybe AVB’s a little bit out of his depth. Or a bit too contrarian for his own good. Or something. I’m wondering if maybe he plays the management game by relying too heavily on stats and numbers and formations and the like without taking into account the human element. I don’t know. It’s all a bit baffling. Maybe this is just what transition looks like. The Torres thing is very odd indeed.

  8. Oladiran Abimbola

    Football fans can be blind sometime. People keep saying Drogba’s crap and all that. I think he’s done ok this season. He had very little service due to our rubbish midfield. You can’t expect him to bulldoze past players ever game.

    • Ryan

      Not exactly saying he is crap. Just making the point that if Torres was doing what Drogba’s been doing he would still be getting criticized for not being the player he was. Not sure that Torres was bad enough to warrant being benched for as long as he has been. Speaking personally I don’t think Didier is in great form. I think he has been great for us. He has also let us down at times. My point really centred around Torres and not slagging Didier off.

      It’s easy to say we’re blind, Didier isn’t crap, the midfield let him down, he can’t do it all on his own etc.
      If Torres had played yesterday to the same level I suspect plenty would’ve been blaming FT for Chelsea’s inability to beat Wigan and suggesting AVB can never reasonably pick Torres ahead of Drogba. Surely you can see that I’m really just talking about double-standards here.

      For the record I don’t have a preference re FT or DD. Neither look world-class at the moment. Certainly neither will be winning us any trophies this year. It says something for the paucity of our striking options that Sturridge, who was considered to be bottom of the pecking order last year and is playing in an unfamiliar position is by far our best striker.

      • Oladiran Abimbola

        My comment wasn’t directly targeted at you to be honest. It’s just that every time I check on the website there seems to be one or two criticisms directed towards Drogba (even the guys that do the reports sometimes give him 1 out of 10 rating). I agree he has been on and off this season but so has the entire Chelsea team. I really don’t mind Torres starting as long as he contributes and we win. He still has that dazzling feet just needs to be sharper in front of goal.

        • Anonymous

          Yes, we do give him stick and poor ratings. It’s quite simple, we’re reviewing him on the current game, not on his history, therefore  if he gets 1 from 10 that’s what he’s deserved. 

          Yesterday Drogba was  a waste of skin, and had I been rating then yes, he may have scraped na 2 from 10. You won’t like this but DD is a Big Time Charlie, only seemingly up for big games. To leave him on for the full 90 when he barely touched the ball, won a header or tackle was a shameful cock up by AVb.

          And I am a staunch fan of AVB. 

          What else did he get wrong then yesterday. See below as well as some of my own comments/thoughts

          1.) Starting Lampard, although with Ramires injured he had little choice. Games like this used to be meat and drink for Frank, but yesterday he descended into the level of anonymity we saw against Liverpool. If Ramires is fit then he wins against Spurs surely?

          2. Keeping Drogba on beyond half time. It was obvious to nearly all that Drogba was in full on ‘can’t be arsed mode’. Like I said blowing cold more often than hot and frankly getting on my tits.

          3.) Picking players on history rather than form. It’s not just AVB, every coach post Mourinho has succumbed to this.

          4.) Kalou for Romeu? Really? If Kalou was playing for  aplace in our team or any other top side by the shop window method, then he look for an offer from West Ham/Bolton/Wigan/Portsmouth very soon.

          5.) Malouda? Did he do one thing of any use yesterday? I’m seriously sick of seeing this nice guy lame duck, lazy bastard come on for us and do fuck all. 

          6.) Mikel? Ok this was an ok move when trying to see the game out and In still believe in this young man. 

          7.) Taking Studge off and Mata…..I couldn’t care less who was on the bench, with these 2 we always had players who could make something happen. 

          8.) If ever you wanted to a Chelsea of the past then there it was at the end  – Kalou, Lampard, Terry. Cech, Drogba, Malouda and Cole. JT and Cole would survive my axe, and lamps if he accepts he’s not a frist choice and Cech if we get a real competitor in.

          9.) Cech’s mistake. One of seemingly more frequent ones. Genuinely not fit to lace Schmeichels boots. Blimey, I’d take Cudicini back right now. That mistake was UNFORGIVEABLE at this level. 

          10.) Would Torres really have done as badly as DD? If you were FT wouldn’t you be like Joe Cole must have been when Clownio Ranieri bought on Veron versus Monaco? You know, thinking to himself ‘just how shit does Drogba have to be before I get a game’. Right now I hope FT hands in a request and we grant it and get what we can. He’ll go to Spurs and score by the fucking hatful because Redknapp seems to know all about pace and service. Whilst we lumber around keeping the ball and doing fuck all with it. Every ball into the lazy Drogba was cut out easily yesterday. 

          Rant over. AVB fucked up BUT so did many of the players with an attitude that stunk of complacency and downright fucking laziness. 

          • Ryan

            What really wrankles is all the bollocks midweek about “winning bread and butter games” and “winning against city meaning nothing if we don’t get three points on Saturday”.

            Never mind giving it the big one because we beat City. Give them a freezing cold, Saturday evening on a shitty surface against a team that couldn’t beat a blind school last month and they drop the ball (literally in one particular case). See the Utd. score against QPR today… Didn’t give away a soft penalty in the first 10 minutes. Didn’t have two silly cunts sent off. Didn’t racially abuse anyone. Didn’t abuse the referee and get fined £10k. Didn’t drop three-points. Spot the difference.

        • Ryan

          That’s fair enough but there are plenty here who will brook no argument regarding Didier. Like they say football is all about opinions.

  9. Cunningplan

    I did say on the other blog that this game would be the trickiest one for us, and complacency might be our undoing. I’m sure we’ll raise our game against Spuds, just like Citeh, and perhaps the positive spin on the last two games would be, 4 out of 6 points is great, I think most of us would have taken that.

    No doubting yesterdays game was of awful quality, it seemed like I was watching a game from the lower leagues at times. Still no excuse when you go 1-0 up against the likes of Wigan (no disrespect to them) we should be picking up 3 points.

  10. Ryan

    As I mentioned earlier it is games like yesterday and the QPR away defeat that are usually the difference between first and second in the league (us and utd. In recent times) and the third, fouth, fifth and sixth (Liverpool, Spurs, City, Arsenal). Winning all the games you mentally expect to take all three points from is the level of consistency you need to win the PL.

    If we beat Spurs Thursday we’ll all accept seven points from those three fixtures is a good result.

  11. candidaalbicans

    I thought AVB ruined the game with his wrong substitutions, a constantly irking element he portrays . His great undoing is knowing when to sub but not knowing who to sub,this unpredictable stochastic random walk seems to converge in failure or some minimal success. I hope he gets it right, but then again maybe Di Mateo is misleading him…….. AVB should get rid of Kalou Essien,Lampard Torres,Lukaku, Malouda Ferreira and Mikel

  12. Anonymous

    We probably want City to win don’t we now? Title challenge all but over, much better if our opponents are defeated.

  13. Marco

    As a remedy for piss-poor performances against Wigan I recommend looking at the press-reports site Nick discovered:

    http://www.bounder.friardale.co.uk/Match%20Reports/

    Such is the deception of memory that we forget that even our great seasons were littered with fuck-ups against lesser opposition – including the sides that were managed by Jose.

    The paradox is that we are still in (gradually fading) distance of the title with the other top-four sides looking vulnerable.

    Think the Grocer has got it more or less right – the Wigan result was down to still more crap performances from ‘history’ players who just didn’t do anything for us last night. And I am disturbed that Cech has now joined the likes of Drogba, Malouda and Lamps and others in the general malaise.

    I really do hope AVB comes good but he looked clueless last night and I just don’t get the impression that he is impressing his personality on the squad. Seems to me that he has given up his original plans and gone back to relying on the Old Style in the previous three matches but doesn’t have a clue what to do if that Plan B doesn’t work. He strikes me as a desperate, panicky, man who has lost his way.

  14. SweetDairyAir

    I think AVB has some blame to take from yesterday, but there is still a major problem with just the number of good players he has available to choose from. We have a few African players leaving for the ACN, and he cannot play our pretty obvious first team (with the likes of Mata, Meirelles, Ramires, Luiz, Ivanovic at right back etc) for 90 minutes every game because that just won’t work. He has to bring on the likes of Malouda et al sometimes, due to injury, suspensions or tiredness. When Mata isn’t firing, we don’t have another creative outlet. And the fact that we can’t rely on players like Cech, Lampard, Drogba, Kalou and Malouda to close out a lead against Wigan says a lot. Even I would expect them to close up shop. 

    I’m afraid to say that our season rests a lot on what happens in January. Who we buy and who we sell will determine the outcome of the season because there are about 5 or 6 players who are the long term future of the team, a few squad players who will stay (Mikel, Lampard as sub more often, Essien perhaps), but a lot of dross rounding out the rest. This means that it’s going to be a lot more difficult to sustain any sort of good momentum or form we manage to get because the crappy players won’t be able to keep it going. They get complacent too easily now, they’re too old, slow and play a type of football that doesn’t seem to be as effective as it used to be. Times are a changing, but a lot of our team still seems to be stuck in the past. We need to hurry up with the turnover.

  15. SweetDairyAir

    Also I think AVB is the best manager we have had in ages, and it’s best to stick with him. He is incredibly young and maybe sometimes naive (although who are we to say why he makes the decisions he makes, really), but he is one of the best out there at the moment. He is doing an ok job with what he has to work with. He has brought the best out of Sturridge, Luiz has improved, Mata is great (although we rely on him too much), Romeu was a steal and Ramires has continued to impress. The older players have mostly seemed to regress, but you can’t have everything! I cannot name another manager I would realistically rather have right now. You can’t go backwards and bring back Jose, Guardiola wouldn’t touch us (and I’m not sure he would do much better with the players we have), and apart from those two, errr yeah. 

    And Cech isn’t as good as he used to be before his terribly injury, but the timing of his slight decline and inconsistent form also seems to coincide with us hiring Lollichon as goalkeeping coach. The rational part of me hates wildly speculating, but there you go. Let’s see how Courtois does after a year or two on loan. I hear he is doing incredibly well at the moment, so he might start for us earlier than expected. 

    • Ryan

      I don’t think we can attribute Cech’s demise to Lollichon. I’m pretty sure he came to Chelsea with Cech from Rennes?

      • SweetDairyAir

        Actually Mourinho had his own GK coach, and Lollichon came over at Cech’s insistence after Mourinho left.

  16. Anonymous

    If AVB is so convinced he’s unsackable, I wonder how his squad ‘improvements’ would be impacted by only being able to offer Europa League football to prospective signings next season? Hardly a big pull for the top players is it?

    I know we’re still very much in with a chance of qualifying for the CL, but no more so than finishing in a Europa League spot. Doesnt really bare thinking about yet, does it?

  17. WorkingClassPost

    Gotta feel that this was our season’s turning point.

    We treated Wigan with contempt rather than complacency and they deserved more than a point from the game.

    AVB has got more support from the owner and supporters than anyone I can remember and he needs to lock himself in a darkened room and contemplate on what really is the ‘best form of defence’ and why ‘one goal is never enough’.

    I don’t blame the players, when Flo was brought on for Danny, he looked more surprised than anyone and it really was a strange move.

    Are we playing DD to make sure he signs a new contract and so AVB’s worried that FT might score and force his way into first choice before the ACN?

    Who gives a shit anyway, we looked a sad and sorry excuse for a championship challenging side. As the game wore on it was hard to compare that performance with some of those earlier this season.

    I’m sure that the jibes about us being too adventurous have had their effect, but if letting the media pick your team is wrong, then letting them dictate the way you play is doubly so.

    I hope that yesterday’s sorry squad watched Barca against Santos and cried over their bank statements.

    You win some, you lose some, but playing like shite is still playing like shit.

  18. Ryan

    I’m just watching Wayne Rooney terrorise QPR. Very interesting to observe the way when he drops deep or moves wide to link the play he absolutely knocks his bollocks out to get back in the box, find space, get on the CB’s shoulder. This allows Utd. to play a conventional 4-4-2. No extra holding CM required against inferior opposition. Look at Utds midfield today. Not exactly vastly superior to our own.

    Maybe it’s true that our midfield isn’t spectacularly creative but it doesn’t help that Drogba and Torres look like they want spoon feeding sometimes. Both are guilty of dropping deep into midfield/wide areas and not getting back into dangerous positions quickly enough. This is exacerbated by essentially playing upfront alone and becoming isolated. So could be them, could be the midfield, could be the system. In truth probably a combination of the three.

    I hope AVB’s watching the way Utd took QPR apart and comparing it to the way we ineffectually fucked about at the DW.

  19. SweetDairyAir

    Adding to what others have mentioned about Cech, he isn’t suffering from the old-age problem others are going through. He is halfway through his goalkeeping career at his current age. I think it is a matter of form and confidence really. His shot stopping (particularly against Arsenal) has deteriorated, but hopefully as our defence regains some solidity, so will he. Perhaps he appeared to be world class under Mourinho because as a team everyone was great, we were brushing teams away and we hardly conceded goals at all. As the team has gone through worse results, maybe he just doesn’t have the confidence in himself or the team to perform as well as he used to. Also the injury cannot have helped.

  20. Ryan

    Apologies. My mistake. Maybe he’s had it too easy with his own man in there coaching him. Good point. Christ Cech has been at Chelsea a long time. Going on 8 years. With no meaningful competition. Was the big fella’s mistake yesterday but the defending in the lead up wasn’t good.

    I’m off to brush up on my recent history of CFC coaching staff!

  21. Ryan

    Yep it definitely helps if you win more or less every week. Good for self-confidence, team confidence and overall perception of talent. I ve heard Hansen say on more than one occasion “when JT was at his best he could play with anyone alongside and be fine…”. Little hard to quantify as when he was “at his best” he had Makele holding in front and Rico Carvalho alongside. So yeah he was great at that time but obviously having two world class players nearby helps. Same goes for Cech. Good point SDA.

  22. WorkingClassPost

    Can’t go along with the blame Cech thinking.

    The replay showed his hand kicked away, albeit accidentally, and are we forgetting that not long before his ‘fumble’ he’d dug us out after a suicidal back-pass had almost given them the equalizer.

    In any case, these things happen (especially to us, it seems), which is why we should never settle for a one goal lead when there’s more to be had.

    Problem might be our slow build up, and always trying to get defenders into the attack, which leaves us vulnerable at the back so we’re afraid to go forward when protecting a lead, but a good counter-attack shouldn’t use more than two or three players when it’s done quickly and decisively.

  23. ravenous1

    We had a similar run-in with Newcastle a few weeks back. leading by 1-0. Backs to the walls with Ameobi hitting the cross bar and Goal line clearances etc., but what do we do? Bring Mikel on, keep Studge, Bring in Torres. 3-0. easy victory. end of.
    However against Wigan : For whatever joy, we take off all our attacking threat and bring in Slo-mo, Mikel and Kalou! hey, I still think Malouda and Kalou are useful players to have around but AVB’s insistence to use all 3 subs in every single game is what I find ridiculous. That really reeks of computer game strategy. Its just impossible for an average player to come in at 70 min and fit-in straight away when the opponent team is pressing hard and breaking up your play. Its easier for a forward (torres) than its for a wide player who has to carry the ball from the back.

    I think it was ChelseaTony on twitter during the game, around the 70 minute mark mentioning that there is a good chance we are going to get mugged at the end. Somehow once this was read, when the goal went in, it was a tad bit easier to take 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Yes, it was me who tweeted that. I had a huge sense of doom, possibly from having seen it so many times before. 

      it gave me no pleasure to have predicted correctly for once 🙁

  24. Anonymous

    Spot on report, Mark.

    My own personal distraction happened mid first half when things were getting so dire I found myself starting to  watch the pitchside electronic advert boards changing just for something to do. I was particularly struck by one for “Charming Vietnam” which made me feel very old realising what I still think of as a war zone is now a tourist attraction.

    Speaking of adverts, the Daily Wail on Saturday carried an interview with Cech which was fairly unremarkable apart from the end which stated:

    “Petr Cech was speaking on behalf of [name deleted by me], official travel partner of Chelsea”
    and went on to plug their travel packages for the Napoli game giving a phone number and website.

    Is this what “building the brand” has come to now, commercially sponsored player interviews?

    I know Cech/JT/Lamps/Drogba have long been described as the dressing room leaders, but am I the only one who didn’t realise they actually constitute the “Players’ Committee” at the club?

  25. Anonymous

    Decent win for the reserves.

    Nice to see Lukaku knocking the goals in regularly for them.

    Better to see youngsters like Piazon and ‘our next big thing and the next Josh McEachran’ Nat Chalobah both playing and scoring. Chalobah seems to be enjoying a pretty decent run at the moment at the different levels he’s picked at (Youth and Res for us, different age groups for England).

    Wonder how far he really is from challenging Bosingwa for the RB spot. Mind you, everyone should be challenging Bosingwa. We’d have more success there if they picked a seat number from the crowd to play there. Yes, even empty seats would defend better….

    • Der_Kaiser

      Yes, good result that.  Chalobah certainly seems to be picking up the plaudits – chatter across the more knowledgable Chelsea-ites on social media suggest that he’s pretty mature and physically advanced for his age.  Big jump to make, obviously, but nice to have another youngster knocking on the door.

    • WorkingClassPost

      That empty seat selection might not be such a bad idea, bearing in mind we scored with only ten on the pitch and some of our better performances have been when a man down.

      It could also be a way for players to review their game: did they contribute more than empty space?

      If we started with only 10 we might even take teams like Wigan more seriously.

  26. Peterw

    Astonishing when you compare this season with Carlo’s first. Carlo barely spent a penny on new players, but had Chelsea’s one-dimensional dinosaurs playing brilliant attacking football, scoring goals AND keeping clean sheets, while also – and this is absolutely key – keeping the fringe players in the squad happy and motivated. 

    Remember the three title-winning performances from Deco, or Joe Cole’s key goal against United, or any number of vital performances from Belletti?

    By contrast, our football is now sour and sterile, we can’t score or keep clean sheets, and half the squad look like they want to be somewhere else. 

    I’d say that it’s a crying shame, but sometimes you get exactly what you deserve in this game.

    • Anonymous

      Pete, you’re getting so bitter and twisted.  I can understand it because following a team is an emotional commitment.  Couple of points.

      1. Carlo didn’t manage one-dimensional dinosaurs but aged reptiles because that was two years ago.  The same players are now aged dinosaurs.
      2. Against Newcastle, Valencia and Man City I didn’t think we were sour and sterile.  We only reverted to sour and sterile when AVB mistakenly thought he could mix things up against Wigan and we finished game with the ageing dinosaurs of Lampard, Malouda, Mikel and Kalou.  Personally I think the future, with the likes of Meireles, Romeu and Ramires is the opposite of sour and sterile. Is that sweet and dirty or sweet and fertile?  I’m undecided.

      • Peterw

        Not bitter and twisted at all thank you, but I am enjoying watching all those people who cut double-winter Ancelotti zero slack jump through hoops to defend the new guy cos he is young and good-looking. 

        • Anonymous

          Maybe it’s just me, but I rather like Pete being bitter and twisted. At least you do it with panache and style BUT one huge gaping error. AVB good looking? It may be my old eyes but that’s some beak the lad has there. Seriously, if he stays and builds dynasties then I fear he will outdo old Purplenose himself.

          In other news

          http://bit.ly/rVh3au

          Does this mean a desperate sale bid by the administrators means we’re potentially in. And what does ‘a bad bank’ do if Barclays, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Bros and all the others aren’t in that category?

  27. Nick

    Jonathan Wilson nails it:

    http://www.lifesapitch.co.uk/opinions/why-chelsea-must-keep-faith-in-villas-boas-methods/

    And that is why Chelsea must be patient with André Villas-Boas, for it is wholesale restructuring that they are facing. The short-termism of their approach to managers has led to a long-term problem, a squad that has been allowed to grow old together. It’s not just age, though; there is a cabal of senior players, a core of Mourinho loyalists, who seem resistant to change. Within a few weeks of the arrival of every manager who has followed Mourinho, with the exception of Guus Hiddink – who was only ever a temporary appointment – there have been rumblings about unpopular training methods. Every manager since Mourinho has attempted to change Chelsea’s shape, and everyone has ended up going back to 4-3-3.

    […]

    Villas-Boas has responded by … finding a compromise. In some quarters that’s been seen as an admission of defeat, but it’s surely more a case of learning the capabilities of his players. In the next year or so, he will presumably bring in players more suited to his vision of football, easing out the old guard; he will make Chelsea more like his Porto.

    Transition, though, takes time and that is something previous Chelsea managers haven’t had. This time, there must be a leap of faith, a belief that the occasional poor performance is an inevitable part of building a brighter future.

  28. Peterw

    Wilson writes like somebody who reads about Chelsea in papers but doesn’t actually watch them play.

    What reasons does he have – based on what we have seen from him so far – that suggests we should have ‘faith’ in AVB? He’s never managed a transition before in his life – to be fair, he’s barely managed *anything* before in his life – and his supposed tactical brilliance has already been shown to be a sham. It’s facile analysis. 

  29. Anonymous

    Selective memory —

    [“any number of vital performances from Belletti’ ?? — hmmm yes, and what about the large number of hideously embarrassing ones?]

    — plus Self-contradiction —

    [weeks spent criticising AVB’s supposed new/attacking philosophy; welcoming its apparent abandonment last week with the words ” AVB seems to be learning – or the players have made it clear one way or
    another – that there is one way to play with this Chelsea team, and
    it’s what has made us one of the best teams in Europe for eight years”; this week, “our football is now sour and sterile”]

    — equals: Hmmm.

    Can we have the real Pete back please?

    Can’t comment on the game itself since I didn’t see it. Presumably the selections and substitutions were made with some kind of rotation principle in mind?

    • Peterw

      I don’t recall any hideously embarrassing performances from Juliano, just a stoic acceptance he should do his bit for the squad despite limitations and the fact he was frequently used out of position. My point, which you have ignored, is that CA was excellent at getting the best out of each and every member of his squad, and that is a key factor in any manager who hopes to win the title (it’s one of the things that Ferguson really excels at). AVB so far scores low on this scale, though I’m sure that is all the fault of the players.
      As for the criticism of the playing style, well maybe I went too far, although the Wigan performance did not surprise me – and nor would a victory over Spurs. That’s kind of what I am getting at, the inconsistency of performances and general attitude of the squad remind me of the Scolari days, and I made the mistake of defending him.

  30. Peterw

    If I sound pissed off it’s because I am.

    Last season was squandered because Roman didn’t back Carlo in the summer so we went into the season with a seriously diminished squad that simply couldn’t cope with injuries and the challenges of competing in four competitions. This season we have a much stronger squad – as people have noted, we are at least halfway to a new team already – but it’s being squandered because of all the reasons I have stated before. 

    To be fair, I like the players AVB is bringing in, but think he has so many obvious flaws – in his management of players, his tactics, his substitutions, his dealings with the press – he just reminds me of a young Rafa Benitez. An okay manager, but not a special one.  

  31. Nick

    I don’t think the fact that AVB hasn’t managed a transition before is reason enough to not let him have a go now. Surely that’s the reason he was brought in – or the main one. Admittedly he appears to be finding it more difficult than perhaps he and the club were expecting.

    I was as angry as any fan when Carlo was sacked, but I just can’t maintain that anger. While a doubt or two did creep in at the weekend, I’m willing to keep “faith” with AVB and his flaws. He does seem to be learning, which is a good sign.

    • Peterw

      Maybe Nick, I just think Wilson’s argument that we should stick with this one because we didn’t stick with any of the others to be a little lacking in logic. I don’t think I’m angry, but I was definitely disillusioned by the behaviour of the fans as much as that of the club last season.

      • Der_Kaiser

        I know it is heresy to question someone like Wilson, but I am starting to find some of his stuff a little like Hansen on MotD; capable of some pretty incisive and thought provoking comment, but mixed in with some really generic, punditry by numbers stuff that is phoned in. No doubting the guy’s knowledge, but you have to wonder if he isn’t stretching himself a bit thinly these days.

        Fond of AVB, but he’s growing up in public and some of it just isn’t pretty. Time will tell, and if he can learn from his mistakes which he is (slowly) doing, then we might have a manager on out hands. Long way to go yet, though.

        So, 8 games for Suarez – looks like we’ll be in the market for some JT shaped cover in January. And I suspect the price just went up, too.

  32. Ryan

    Very prescient! Apparently the deal for Cahill is done. £7million. Cleared to play for CFC immediately after the Xmas fixtures end. So they’re saying anyway.

  33. NorthernVA

    I hope that the Tommy Langley/AVB story isn’t true. If it is I think we can all agree that Pete has been too kind in his criticism much of which I already agree with.

  34. NorthernVA

    As far as his substitutions go I may be in the minority but aside from the third sub I think he got it right on the mark. He was praised for a similar sub at the half against United. Once we took the lead he was wise to bring some balance back into the team with Mikel. Imagine the headlines if Wigan would have equalized with only Raul and Frank in midfield.

  35. Anonymous

    I still find myself undecided on AVB, caught halfway between respect for his youthful ‘I’m doing it my way and screw anyone who disagrees’ way and his naivety with pretty much everything off the pitch. The Alex / Anelka thing, Langley story from yesterday, the removal of non-first team squad from Cobham before the City game. All came across as a bit ‘spoilt kid’.

    Had it all worked, I’d have no argument. But it hasn’t. Far from the City result and performance being a benchmark or yard-stick for us, it was a one-off. Maybe a fluke.

    I agree he needs time to build ‘his’ Chelsea, and he can’t do that without money or transfer windows, but he’s currently a manager at a big club. Not a big manager at a big club. He needs to realise that before he upsets one too many people.

    • Der_Kaiser

      I think that’s a pretty decent summary, Fifters…  Concern is that he’s just shown the hacks he’s easy to wind up and as such, they’re not going to let up on him until he delivers his final Rafa-esque ‘FACT’ rant to them and finally descends into complete madness.

    • Anonymous

      It’s impossible to say at this stage whether AVB’s management style is good or bad, only hindsight will inform us.  Fergie doesn’t tolerate much and sacks players and staff, walks out of interviews and refused to talk to the BBC for years.  Of course Fergie is admired, due to Utd’s success, ruling Old Trafford with a rod of iron and this discipline has underpinned their success.

      Because AVB is young and the new kid on the block, and none of us are really sure whether this experiment will turn out good or bad, it’s easy to conclude he’s a ‘spoilt kid’.

      If Alex and Anelka are coasting on their £100k a week and unsettling the place I’m all in favour of frogmarching them off the premises.  Call it vindictive if you like but others would call it strong management.

      • WorkingClassPost

        Got no problem with the AA situation, either, seems like a sensible, businesslike thing to do. 

        If they’re not part of this season’s planning, then let them sort out their affairs, concentrate on agents and whatever else they need to do, and get the best deal possible for themselves and the club.

        It looks to me little more than an enlightened bit of ‘gardening leave’ and best for all concerned.

    • Anonymous

      Fiftee, 
      I believe I understand what do you mean, but I think that AVB is better than you think. Do you really think that you know our strong players and he doesn’t?  The point is not to find strong players and play them all the time. This is pretty much what our previous managers did. What was the results – over reliance on old guard and no continuity. The point is to show to everyone that he has got place in the squad and must perform whereever manager tells. EACH ONE OF THEM!!! This is something we never had, since TSO created the cast of untouchables we started our way down and this is exactly what AVB is trying to break. He doesn’t want 5-6 good players, he wants good squad.

  36. Ryan

    There seems to be a lot of negative Chelsea stories about at the moment. It seems like now we aren’t getting beaten every week the press are trawling for stories. The Tommy Langley story to me sounds like it has been spun to create the story The DM etc. want. The most informative part being the admission that Langley has not spoken out about his dismissal. Apparently because he still harbours some ambition to return to CTV when AVB calms down. Well if he hasn’t spoken out about his dismissal I would suggest that DM can only be “guessing” at his motives. Essentially they’re putting two and two together and getting whichever number makes the story they want.

    Let’s be honest CTV is nothing special and Langley really ought to have screwed the loaf before calling his employers choice of manager, in essence, a bit of a cunt for making two wantaways park somewhere else. I agree with AVB. If you want to go, fuck off. You don’t want to be part of the team anymore. So you don’t train with the team, park with the team etc. Vindictive is stopping your wife seeing the kids at Xmas. Changing a man who earns £90,000 a week’s parking space…. I m not so sure. I highly doubt that AVB cares what TL thinks of his management style. If TL was a managerial genius he wouldn’t be on CTV.

    Seems like the press wanted AVB to be a Chelsea manager who was intimidated by the job, scared to drop senior players etc. He obviously isn’t and now they’re looking for another angle.

  37. Armchair Fan

    I have followed this blog for a while and found it very
    enlightening. So I thought I’d take the plunge and put in my two penny worth.
    These are my very general thoughts on the situation. It seems to be  agreed that we are in a transitional state, a
    different style of play being introduced while older players are being moved
    out and new young blood being introduced. 
    A very good earlier post addressed the problem of dealing with an
    established “old guard” many of whom may not exactly embrace the changes.  Change Management impacts on every level.   I think it follows that effecting these
    changes will also be a factor in team selection. Not saying a lot I know, but worth keeping in mind sometimes.  

    On “The Owner”:  He
    made a vast fortune at a very young age in a hard, volatile environment. He is
    bright and astute. It has been implied that an inner circle of “advisors”, a
    chosen few, can influence his decisions unduly. I tend to think that given his
    background he will judge both the message and the messenger and the messenger’s
    potential stake. I liked the broken telephone analogy in an earlier post, the H
    M Bateman cartoon “Adventures of a Rumour” is a similar idea. Also Mr A
    displayed early impatience for results, and indeed, results allied to a style
    of play. As he gets a bit older perhaps he may be becoming a little more
    patient! Of course us fans would need to be too!

  38. Ryan

    Mmmm… Good to see Utd. kicked off their festive campaign with a typically testing away game and yet another team travelled to the Etihad hoping to let City have the ball all night and not get beaten.

  39. Ryan

    Stoke City were genuinely so poor tonight that in the whole of the MOTD highlights we did not see a Stoke player pass the ball to another Stoke player.

  40. Ryan

    I m wondering how long it is going to take for some PL managers to realise that you aren’t likely to get anything against City if you don’t have a go at them. Playing the whole game in your own half isn’t tactically sound. It just allows their six most creative players to take the piss. Bayern, Napoli, Chelsea and Liverpool (to some extent) stopped City from bossing the game, frustrated them and City made mistakes. I know it helps if you’ve got the players but if every team outside of the top six is going to make it that easy for them then they might as well give them the PL now.

    Maybe I’m doing Stoke a disservice here but they play Villa, Wigan and Blackburn between now and Jan 2nd. Three very winnable games. I’m not sure they were too bothered about City last night. They didn’t exactly look “up for it”. Tony Pulis said after the game “They were better than us” no disrespect but most teams in the PL are “better” than Stoke in purely footballing terms. Stoke are just more effective than ten or twelve of those teams. City were good no doubt about it but they weren’t as good as Stoke made them look.

  41. Cunningplan

    Bloody hell there’s some doom and gloom posts on here, I thought I wandered onto a Leonard Cohen appreciation site, Merry Xmas you miserable sods (and you Moffat) 😉

    Anyway on a positive note, we’re making a little bit of ‘istory tonight (shame we have to share it with Spurs) apparently this is the first Premier league game ever played on a Thursday (information from Chris Evans on radio 2 this morning) haven’t checked validitity of info myself.

    Seriously though, thanks again to Nick and all the report writers who make this blog possible, plus my fellow bloggers, Merry Xmas.

    • Anonymous

      Plus the other bit of history, because the stewards will be wearing headcams to get video evidence of anti-social behaviour.

      Presumably our fans have been practising Christmas carols to ensure all chants are politically correct; or will carols be deemed anti-semitic?

      Won’t be too long before the headcams can read your thoughts.

      • Anonymous

        Christmas ‘Songs’ not Carols. Carols can be construed as sexist, unless referred to as Karel’s, as in Poborsky.

    • Nick

      Thanks, Clive.

      It seems that not many people have time to watch and write about football two days before Christmas. If you’re someone who does and you fancy writing a few words after the match, drop me an email. [email protected]

      Merry Christmas everyone.

  42. Anonymous

    Has everyone planned their route for Boxing Day due to the tube strike and National Rail never running on boxing day?

      • Anonymous

        Where’s your sense of adventure gone?

        Still, it was jolly decent of London Transport to decide to arrange planned engineering works for both Dec 26th and 27th that closes the District line entirely between Wimbledon and Parsons Green even if there wasn’t a strike. Ideal opportunity really with significant numbers of both sets of fans wanting to use that section.

        I’m lucky enough to be close enough to the ground to walk, but we must be nailed on for a seasonal downpour I imagine 🙁

          • Anonymous

            Castle Blueboydave doesn’t stretch to guest rooms – and even the couch is buried in teetering piles of books and DVDs.

            For a very large fee though,  I might make available my special “Hotel California” offer …….

  43. Candidaalbicans

    What the f**k is wrong with villas boas ,I think his team
    selection is absolutely rubbish another failure expected ,drogz 
    injured!!!!!

  44. Benjami

    I am happy with the team selection in a game like this Mikel has more experience at Premiership level and shutting down players like Modric / VDV.

    The question is which Drogba will turn up. The one we love or…. 🙁

    AVB needs to work on motivating Drogba every game or its not worth extending his contract.

    We better not concede an early goal again ;p

  45. Benjami

    Yawn ;/ Skybox just needed to be reset, turn it back on and 1-0 down already. Our defence is utter utter pants these days

    The problem is I feel Spurs attack is more dangerous than ours which puts us on the defensive. Our attack simply isn’t scary enough to make them back off these days, which is exposing our weaker defence.

  46. Anonymous

    Difficult to know what to think really.

    On the one hand Spurs humiliated us for 20 minutes, Ivanovic out with a hamstring, Boswinga has found his new vocation at centre half, Paolo at right back marking Bale, Mata nowhere to be seen and Ramires on a yellow and now suspended.

    On the other hand the useless Mikel has departed injured, we’ve had more shots on goal and it’s 1-1.

  47. Benjami

    Our goal came out of nowhere but no complaints ;x

    Ramires bit scary on that yellow but we playing well, a little unlucky not to be ahead was great goalkeeping by Friedel.

    Spurs defence looks knackered if we can get a run at it.

  48. Benjami

    Good performance by everyone I think, AVB set the team up right in the 2nd half and we really dominated in midfield and made Spurs look poor.

    Just a shame we again conceded a silly early goal (would love to see stats on early goals conceded in the league)
    Only scored 1 out of 20 attempts? Get their shooting boots on next week in training AVB!! Especially Ramires 😉

  49. Anonymous

    Only saw the second half but seems like a decentish performance, and the result’s ok. I was confused when I came in to see Bosingwa in central defence and Paolo playing. Good to see Paolo come in and be his usual steady self despite the rarity of his appearances.

  50. Anonymous

    Second half we played really well.  Have you spotted the correlation of when we play well?  It’s when Meireles, Ramires and Romeu are in the middle.  In fact I think Romeu is the biggest factor.  When Mikel wants three touches Romeu needs just one.  When Mikel plays sideways Romeu plays it forward.


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