et’s start with the bleeding obvious:
Ballboy Charlie Morgan, the 17 year old son of a Swansea Director and self confessed “lad”, gained over 85,000 followers on Twitter in under 24 hours after his time wasting led to Eden Hazard kicking the ball from underneath him.
Hazard was Red Carded by referee Chris Foy.
Child Services are investigating (though I suspect not so poor, not so little Charlie might just make a full recovery from not being kicked in the ribs).
No Win, No Fee Solicitors briefly licked their lips (before the Morgans announced they would not be taking legal action).
Best of all, the FA are reviewing video footage to establish if Hazard’s automatic 3 match ban should be extended and we’ve given the 4th estate several days worth of brick bats to beat us with.
This story will no doubt run and run.
To paraphrase Mario Balotelli, “why always us”?
I almost feel sorry for our PR Department but they’re well paid and as Chelsea FC employees, well versed in the dark arts of spin doctoring.
All the hyperbole around this sideshow has somewhat conveniently distracted most people’s attention from these 6 of the best “statements of the bleeding obvious” on the story of the Blues:
1. Chelsea have blown our best (remaining) chance of silverware this season.
2. We were out thought by Swansea over 180 minutes and failed to score in either leg.
3. We do not have a plan B (tactics/formation) or an “interim” who will take any sort of risk until a game is into the last 20 minutes.
4. Our success since 2004/05 was built substantially on counter attacking football, particularly away from home. Surely, its worth trying now and then?
5. Demba Ba (whose inclusion I pleaded for) fluffed his lines last night. Poor first touch too often, 2 good chances failed to hit the target. Our “strategy” of lumping balls in his general direction yielded very little as we rarely won the second balls from headers he did win (which were few and far between).
6. Oscar looks lower on confidence than Fernando Torres. Yes, he will recover but right now, he’s a passenger.
Swansea started the better of the 2 teams, Michu drawing a good save from Cech and Routledge having a shot deflected behind off Azpilicueta inside the opening 10 minutes.
The Blues came into the game after 20 minutes. We dominated possession and territory but with Swansea playing deep with little space between the lines, our creative 3 were starved of space and time.
Width was at a premium, as was our ability to get behind the Swansea back line and get them facing their own goal. This is a recurring feature of recent games.
Any Premier League defence is relatively comfortable with the ball being played in front of them (one of the reasons for the home defeat to QPR). Get behind them and they all look vulnerable. We did it once last night (Ashley Cole).
Ashley Williams had an imperious game racking up blocks, interceptions and tackles like confetti. Chico Flores was not far behind.
For all our huff and puff, until stoppage time, a long range effort from Ramires, Cahill’s header (comfortably) cleared off the line and a scuffed left footed steer from Hazard were the best we could muster, with Oscar twice frozen out in threatening positions.
In stoppage time, the chance of the half fell to Ba who blazed over from inside the area when, as a minimum, he should have forced a save from Tremmel.
Throughout both halves, Swansea maintained pressure on the ball when we had it and looked more than capable of scoring themselves on the counter.
Aside from long range strikes from Lampard and Ramires that were not within yards of Tremmel, Chelsea were restricted to 2 real goal scoring opportunities in the 2nd half.
Ba tried to curl a right footed shot into the bottom corner but missed by a yard and Mata, on his swinger, forced Tremmel to save to his right.
Our relatively modest squad depth led to a bench featuring just Marin and Torres (plus arguably Luiz) who might influence the game offensively.
Luiz replaced Ivanovic on 67 minutes (a full 3 minutes ahead of the normal Benitez schedule). Torres replaced Oscar after Hazard’s Red Card and Ryan Bertrand got the 5 minutes normally reserved for Marko Marin as Ashley Cole was replaced.
This was an anaemic performance that will be quickly forgotten in the flow of games to come. Brentford, Reading and Newcastle (all away) follow in the next 9 days. All are winnable but Chelsea being Chelsea, we’re unlikely to make them easy for ourselves.
As for Eden Hazard, his ever present record comes to an end in a manner he won’t forget. He’ll miss all 3 games and now the FA are investigating, an extended rest is a distinct possibility.
Finally, a mention to our travelling support. Superb from first to last, clearly audible despite Sky turning down the pitch microphones. Its a pity we couldn’t find a performance to match.
Follow Chris Davies on Twitter: @chrisdaviescfc