Premiership: Sheffield United 0 – 2 Chelsea

Match reports

The Observer, Jamie Jackson: “‘We played last time against Barcelona without two keepers. Maybe on Tuesday we play without any strikers. So I take the bus there,’ joked Jose Mourinho, after what were, ultimately, three regulation points for Chelsea. There are, though, signs that the champions can be worried if a side are willing to go at them. Sheffield United had a first-half penalty saved during a period when their opponents played like mugs, but overall could not match the underlying excellence of the visitors.”

Sunday Telegraph, James Mossop: “United were fired up by their eccentric manager Neil Warnock, the qualified chiropodist with a knack of putting his foot in it. They swarmed at Chelsea, with every chase, every tackle, every lung-bursting run cheered with roof-lifting fervour.”

Sunday Times, Paul Rowan: “Ashley Cole didn’t travel, Mourinho resting him for his battle ahead with Lionel Messi, and he wasn’t missed. Andriy Shevchenko was also absent with a leg muscle injury, and Mourinho lost Drogba with a foot injury at half-time, when he jumped out of an innocuous-looking challenge from Davis and landed awkwardly. The Chelsea manager said his striker was “in a lot of pain”.”

The Guardian, Simon Burnton: “It was hard to tell how Drogba’s injury was inflicted, with little contact visible in the challenge with Phil Jagielka that first prompted the Ivorian to seek treatment. We may not know how he damaged his foot, but the Blades shot themselves in theirs.”

Independent on Sunday, Guy Hodgson: “When Neil Warnock was looking at the “congratulations on your promotion” messages last spring he was surprised to find one came from Jose Mourinho. “It was nice,” the Sheffield United manager said, “but I did say to him that I hoped the only two losses he would suffer this season would be against Sheffield United.” Some chance.”

The Times, Matt Hughes: “The $64,000 question is no longer whether Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack can play together, but how on earth do you stop them? It is enough to turn Steven Gerrard green with envy.”

The good

  1. Frank Lampard. Is getting back to his best. Put in a good performance and capped it off with a trademark goal. Quite what Sheffield United’s Paddy Kenny was doing is anyone’s guess. Lampard may not have the same license to roam he had prior to Michael Ballack’s arrival, but he’s adapted and the change is almost imperceptible.
  2. Michael Ballack. Scored his second headed goal in as many games. Had a slow start to the season – not helped by injury and a three-match suspension – but is now showing something like his best form. His passing and movement were effortless. Was fortunate not to receive a yellow card or worse after petulantly kicking out at a United player.
  3. Lampard and Ballack. It was just a matter of time before they clicked as a midfield pairing. And the best is still to come.
  4. Henrique Hilario. The game would have been very different if Danny Webber’s penalty had gone in. Hilario still needs to work on his kicking, but his cult status is growing with each passing game.

The bad

  1. First half performance. We dominated the opening ten minutes but couldn’t make our superiority count. From the tenth minute until Lampard fired home just before half time, United were the better side. With the backing of raucous home fans and nothing to lose, they came at us and we struggled somewhat. Lampard’s strike and Ballack’s header just after the break knocked the stuffing out of them and we controlled the remainder of the game. Things could have been very different if Webber had scored.
  2. Injury to Didier Drogba. Mourinho reported post-match that the Ivorian was in a lot of pain. With Andriy Shevchenko out injured (slight muscle strain), Soloman Kalou may lead the line against Barcelona tomorrow. The good news is that both Drogba and Shevchenko travelled with the squad. Fingers crossed one or both is fit.

Man of the Match

Frank Lampard.

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