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Blog Page 23

The Final Word On Shaktar!

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Despite being outplayed for the majority of the game and with our defensive frailties seeing us concede a further 2 goals (15 in the last 7 games now), we once again found a way to dig out a victory when all hope of it appeared to be lost.

Shakhtar may top the group due to having scored more away goals in their defeat to us than in ours to them but Robbie Di Matteo’s Midas Touch in cup football continues.

A draw in Turin and victory over Nordsjaelland will see us qualify for the knockout stages but we are doing it the hard way. The Chelsea way.

1st half

The Blues made a bright start. An early Luiz Free Kick was fumbled but saved by Pyatov who had a game to forget.

Fernando Torres spurned his first opportunity from Oscar’s pass on 6 minutes.

From the restart, Pyatov played a 1-2 with his left back and his attempted clearance cannoned off Torres who gratefully accepted the gift. The rest of Torres’ evening would be industrious, with his work rate back to the high level we have come to expect.

Torres had a further opportunity saved after again being played in by Oscar before Shakhtar equalised.

Fernandinho left Ryan Bertrand slipping as he pulled a cross back for Willian to score from 10 yards. Bertrand had a poor night and suddenly the left back position at Chelsea, so long formidable, looks increasingly like our achilles heel.

The Blues were visibly deflated in the aftermath of the equaliser but Hazard, whose light burned brightly throughout dribbled and played in Torres wide on the left. He opted to shoot when a pass to the now unmarked Hazard was the percentage ball. No criticism from me for that though Fernando.

Oscar and Torres once again linked up well to force a corner on 19 minutes but the next 20 minutes were largely Shakhtar’s. Comfortable in possession and with players whose familiarity with each other has been pivotal to their unbeaten 2012 to date, for a while, it was easy to forget that we were playing at home.

The best they had to show for their dominance was an Alex Texeira shot that was inches wide of Cech’s right hand post. The lack of pressure on the ball, a worryingly repetitive feature of recent defensive displays was again in evidence.

Torres headed wide from Mata’s chip but had to try and generate pace on the ball: a quarter chance at best.

With 5 minutes to Half Time, Oscar’s goal scoring affair with the Champions League continued. After sustained Shakhtar possession, Hazard emerged with the ball and found Mata. His crossfield ball was headed out by Pyatov (sweeping way outside his box) and the ball feel to Oscar 35+ yards out who took one touch and launched a right foot drive into the unguarded net.

So many times, such efforts clear the bar or go wide but Oscar kept his cool and took his chance with a terrific strike.

Oscar had another shot turned out for a corner in the last significant action of the half. After a below par performance against Swansea, he had delivered a superb 45 minutes of intelligence and creativity. He would fade from the game in the Second Half but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

2nd half

Shakhtar equalised within 2 minutes of the restart with a carbon copy of their first goal. Ryan Bertrand was AWOL as Srna crossed for Willian to finish.

Their goal set the tone for a challenging second half that Chelsea looked destined not to score in.

Shakhtar had back to back chances to take the lead from successive corners. Rat’s sweet left foot strike swerved and crashed against Cech’s left post before being scrambled out. The next corner led to a shot that was a whisker wide of the opposite post. Our defensive organisation had once again left the building.

After Hazard was tripped outside the penalty area, his Free Kick evaded everyone before going behind. Ivanovic could and should have had a tap in at the back post if he’d gambled.

On 65 minutes, Torres was upended. Mata’s Free Kick was headed home by John Mikel Obi but as the Matthew Harding Lower went delirious, the bubble was burst by the Assistant Referee’s flag. Mikel had strayed half a yard offside.

Hazard’s shot from a tight angle was well saved by Pyatov at his near post. Hazard then played in Ramires who was clearly fouled and went down inside the Shakhtar penalty area. It seems Blues fans are getting used to the number of these decisions that go against us, despite a brief chorus of “we’ve seen it before”.

Mikel volleyed wide before Oscar was replaced by Moses on 80 minutes.

A Mata corner was headed goalwards by Cahill but Willian cleared at the expense of a corner.

As the clock ticked down on normal time, Sturridge replaced Torres before Shakhtar had 3 shots blocked in succession by some last ditch Chelsea defending, the last turned away for a corner.

3 minutes of added time yielded nothing until a corner was forced with seconds remaining.

Mata, who looked to be limping for the last 20 minutes commanded his wand of a left foot to deliver an inswinging corner. Moses rose to head home a bullet header from 6 yards at the near post.

For the second Wednesday in succession, Chelsea had changed the course of their season’s destiny in a competition with the last effective kick of the game.

Most of the 41,067 in the crowd could not quite believe what they had seen. Maybe, that’s why we’re Champions of Europe.

Positives

The haters can say what they like but even the most ardent cannot deny that we have a never say die team spirit. Winning when playing below your best is the most valuable commodity in football. It is essential for success in the Champions League and Premier League, by which ultimately Roberto Di Matteo will be judged.

Eden Hazard exemplified the need for a talented footballer to keep his head up to the end. He was at fault for one of Shakhtar’s goals in the away defeat and looked like a man who wanted to make amends for the rest of that game and throughout this one. Even when not at his best, he gives us a sharper attacking edge and is not shy of tracking back.

Having been critical of his performances since the International Break, Fernando Torres deserves credit for a return to his hard working self. His goal was deserved and his celebration of Oscar’s almost as enthusiastic as his own.

Negatives

Clean sheets have deserted us. A worrying number of goals are coming from defensive problems on our left. Ashley Cole has not been at his best for several weeks and Ryan Bertrand was arguably at fault for both goals last night. Last night was Ryan’s chance to enhance his claim to be our first choice Left Back if as seems likely, Ashley Cole moves on sooner rather than later. He didn’t.

Ramires is not always the most aesthetic looking footballer and when he has a bad game, as he did last night, he looks like the kid who is last to get picked for a kickabout in the playground. He ran into too many cul-de-sacs and his distribution was below par. Mikel may not be everyone’s favourite footballer but he outshone Ramires here. Hopefully, the real Ramires will be back for Liverpool.

Juan Mata looked to be limping for the last quarter of the game. Given the importance of the game if he was rushed back, it was arguably worth it. In the short term. If he misses a month as a result it would look short sighted.

Moment of the match

Oscar’s goal: a sublime finish. As great as he is, how good could he be in the years to come?

Carefree.

 

Thank heaven for Moses. But Champions League Qualification Still In Balance

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Chelsea’s Champions League destiny became a little more clearer last night, but there can be no slip-ups in the next two games. If justice is done – and in football that’s not guaranteed – Shakhtar Donetsk will get through to the next stage, but the impressive Ukrainians cannot take progress for granted.

In the two games with Chelsea, Shakhtar were the better side. At Stamford Bridge, there were long periods where the home crowd was deathly silent and the only noise that could be heard was the thumping of the ball and the happy, chanting away fans. Their team almost – and the final result forbids me from being more definite –gave Chelsea the sort of lesson that Red Star Belgrade gave pre-conquest Liverpool back in the early 1970s. If Shakhtar had won, few could have complained. They were, at times, really quite outstanding.

If Chelsea, or indeed any of the European leviathans, don’t put a hefty cheque on the table for Willian in the coming months, I will be staggered. He is absolute top drawer, involved in everything and his running off the ball, let alone his use of it, was superb. The second Shaktar goal proved just that.

Chelsea, though, demonstrated the spirit of Munich to get the win, and that characteristic, so often associated with the English game, should not be under-estimated. At times, their football – going forward, I would add –  was quite something, but at the back, it was again a horror story. Ryan Betrand and David Luiz must have been expecting the board to go up signalling their departure from the scene at any moment, but it never came. Instead, it was Oscar and the disappointing Torres who left the pitch, the former after scoring another excellent goal.

And as for the goals, one was a gift, one a sort of gift, albeit executed magnificently, and the other a set piece. Chelsea rarely opened up Shakhtar the way they so casually exposed the Blues. No wonder John Terry was upset at being left to warm the bench!

In the minutes leading up to Chelsea’s winner, I felt they had done well to contain the men in orange and black – a kit that made them appear like an EasyJet XI – so to come away with three points was a massive coup. It is a win that will look better and better as time goes by.

So now Chelsea pack their passports for Turin. This is the not the hurdle it once might have been, but RDM’s men must avoid defeat. Shakhtar could take a grip on the group by beating the hapless Danes, but a draw, followed by a win against Nordsjaelland will be enough to see Chelsea through to the last 16. But they will need to be more solid if they want to make the sort of progress expected by SW6’s favourite Oligarch…..

Huge Result In Entertaining Game Against Shaktar

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After the Champions League not much fuss was made over Chelsea’s group and it certainly did not earn the moniker “Group of Death”.

However our opponents yesterday Shaktar Donestk are playing fantastic football and have set up the group in a way that could see us or Juventus fail to qualify from the group.

Last nights game was one for the football purist with both sides fielding strong, creative and attacking line ups with both sides taking seeming to give little thought to how they would prevent the opposition from scoring.

This was the kind of football that neutrals want to see every game, the game was free flowing and had a fast paced end to end tempo from start to finish.

Shaktar dominated the first half but went in behind due to less than impressive goalkeeping and a moment of divine skill from Oscar.

The second half belonged to Chelsea although it saw Shaktar equalise earlier in the half and only a last gasp header from Victor Moses prevented the Ukrainian champions from claiming a well deserved draw.

This was the first defeat in 25 for Shaktar and a huge result for Roberto Di Matteo, only one point separates the top three teams in the group and the game against Juventus will be huge for us.

Earn a draw and a win at home against the group minnows will be enough to see us through to the next round, lose and well there are several potential outcomes.

Onwards and upwards and hurrah for good football.

Stamford Bridge Home To Football’s Entertainers!

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Stamford Bridge is fast becoming the place to watch the entertainers of European football.

The last four games in SW6 have each yielded five goals, with Chelsea on the wrong end of the results just once, just the controversial league game against Manchester United muddying the waters.

Free from the shackles of our Champions League success we have gone out and recruited a clutch of players that are the perfect support for Juan Mata who is somehow managing to build on his debut season during which he won the Champions League and the supporter’s player of the year.

Oscar and Eden Hazard have taken to the Premier League like a duck to water ably assisted by Victor Moses who has chipped in with a goal in our last two games, including the dramatic winner against Shaktar Donestk.

This is great entertainment but each of the games should come with a health warning as we have been almost as leaky at the back as we have been deadly going forward.

Despite a solid defence on paper we are vulnerable to pacy wide play with Manchester United and Shaktar scoring from wide positions.

It seems a shame to want the drama to end but if we are to challenge for major honours this season we will need to remove these leaks from our game, however if we outscore our opponent does it matter?

If not we will have to start selling popcorn and beta blockers at Stamford Bridge as the Champions of Europe are putting on a show that will get your pulse racing.

Final Word On Swans – Issues To Address Before Shaktar

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As I didn’t watch this game live, I’ve dispensed with the full match analysis which, by now, others will have put on their blogs.

Instead, I’ve picked out some observations on the game, positive and negative, based on what television allows.

The elephant in the room: we really missed Juan Mata. His goal threat in open play and set pieces, assists and overall intelligence have seen him become the Premier League’s most prized asset in recent weeks.

3 games in 6 days may have been a factor in a jaded, leggy performance. No one really grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck. Swansea are a fair side but no more than that. To mount a serious Premier League challenge, we cannot drop many points like this away from home.

We seemed to settle for 1-0 as soon as we’d scored. Perhaps with an eye on Wednesday but a second would have given more wriggle room in the crucial last 10 minutes. Swansea pushed up, stopped us playing out from the back and in fairness, deserved a point.

Without Mata, we looked a crucial yard slower in our build up and lacked punch, returning to a more predictable side to side movement of the ball with much less penetration.

Its easy to forget that Oscar and Hazard are 3 to 4 years younger than Mata and expectations need to be tempered a little, especially away from Stamford Bridge.

Playing Romeu and Mikel together is like eating the same meal twice: as nice as it may have been the first time, once you’ve eaten it, you know what’s coming next.

Moving Ramires to the double pivot was inspired. He had a quiet half after replacing Romeu but his directness and energy, is ideally suited to playing alongside Mikel, whose primary instinct is to stay and shield.

Mikel’s own engine is improving. He made a great block midway through the first half from a Swansea break that started with him ahead of the ball.

Hazard’s trickery will frustrate some supporters at times, especially when possession us conceded or he shoots when he could pass. He has huge self belief (his 93rd minute penalty to take the League Cup game to extra time exemplified that) and his set pieces in the second half, including the corner that led to our goal were high quality. His pace over the first 10 yards is a real asset.

Oscar had a quiet game and missed Mata more than anyone. He showed his tender years by getting caught on the ball and his final ball was not too his usual high standard. He was due a dip and had one.

All the more reason to give minutes to Marko Marin. This game looked ideal for him to get at least half an hour. After Moses’ goal, Robbie Di Matteo could have turned the screw with Marin’s fresh legs but chose not to. A trick missed perhaps.

Shakhtar is a must win game and I’d be tempted to start with Sturridge on Wednesday. In my opinion, he is not a Chelsea Centre Forward. If Torres starts, he must play in the width of the penalty area and really up his work rate. His brittle confidence has returned and my advice to him is simple: wherever possible, have a shot.

Despite an instinctive flick of the head for his goal, when he has time to think about what he’s doing, Moses must work on his finishing. He carried on where he left off in midweek and needs to add a clinical finish to his repertoire. His substitution though suggests he may start on Wednesday.

Ashley Cole’s display was an improvement from Man Utd last Sunday but his sloppy, misplaced pass after our throw in led to their goal and again he got caught too far up the pitch on several occasions, unable to get back. That 2 year extension is sadly looking like a bullet dodged in a League that does not respect reputations.

Ivanovic and Cahill may well be our medium term first choice pairing at Centre Half. They both read the game well, stayed close enough together and organised the line.

Carefree.

Follow Chris Davies on Twitter: @chrisdaviescfc

 

Late Goals Conceded Must Be Eradicated To Compete This November

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This weekend’s result is frustrating; despite Swansea arguably deserving a point to have got the lead and concede so late is oh so frustrating.

Last season we caught the late goal concession bug and it was at least partially responsible for the dismissal of Andre Villas Boas.

We cannot afford a recurrence if we are to challenge for major honours this season.

This year we conceded in the 88th minute against Swansea and this should be the time when we are at our most dangerous and rely upon superior fitness to punish our rivals as they push for a way back into the game.

This is just one game so it is too late to panic, but after the last two November’s I am on edge and keen to avoid the slumps that effectively ended the reigns of two former managers.

Hopefully Swansea will be just a minor aberration on our record as November is an important month.

Starting with Shaktar Donestk and Liverpool we need the performances that will put us back in the hunt for trophies.

Chelsea Fans Are Not Racist – The Idiots Do Not Define Us

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I would like to open this blog by stating categorically that the majority of Chelsea fans are not racist and Chelsea Football Club is not institutionally racist.

Like all football clubs there is not a selection process for supporting Chelsea football club, fans come from different backgrounds and all walks of life. Unfortunately some people who choose to affiliate themselves to the club I love tarnish the image of the whole group.

Chelsea attract fans ranging from upstanding members of society to those that are at times morally reprehensible. The spectrum goes as low as Members of Parliament and those lacking intelligence such as the racists that continue to blight football.

This is true of other clubs, Osama Bin Laden was reportedly an Arsenal fan and David Cameron an Aston Villa fan, this does not make Arsenal fans terrorists or Aston Villa fans inept politicians.

Therefore please do not associate these idiots with my club, these people are not representative.

On Wednesday of the 40,000 fans at Stamford Bridge it took just one to steal the headlines after a pulsating match where football should have been the story.

With tickets on general sale it is even harder to identify this individual or even fully determine if he was even a Chelsea fan, however this is immaterial this fan should be found and an example made so football can again show that racial hate will not be tolerated.

There is Racism In Football

I am not denying that there are people who try and affiliate themselves as Chelsea fans that are racist I have heard songs that are bigoted and frankly chilling when on a football day out, there has been some success though as you generally do not hear these in the stadium due to enforcement.

The links between some Chelsea fans and racist far right groups in the past have been written about before however, these fans never represented the majority and are fortunately a dying breed.

Extreme chants are now only heard in places the fans know they will not be heard by authorities as they have been driven out of the ground by the club and fans who demand that this behaviour is not wanted or tolerated at Stamford Bridge.

For all the hard work of the club there is still a small minority that need to be continually reminded that racism will not be tolerate and a drive towards eradication maintained.

The Other Chelsea Related Racism Scandals

The John Terry racism saga was not a great advert for the club, innocent in a court of law but guilty in the eyes of the FA no party feels truly vindicated by what happened and football was damaged by what happened.

I do not believe John Terry is a racist but our club cannot afford any more incidents alleged or otherwise of this nature.

I will not comment on the allegations made against Mark Clattenberg as I do not know what evidence exists, it is positive that this is being investigated but we must not condemn the referee until the facts are clear.

Racism is a serious issue and must be taken seriously, we must avoid making it a points scoring exercise between opposition fans and instead use it as a way of rallying together cracking down on incidents as needed.

Focussing on The Football

I love football as a game and am passionate enough to write about it regularly, it upsets me that these social issues are impacting upon our game.

So much progress has been made since the dark days where open racism was tolerated in our stadia.

Let’s hope that football can pull together to “Kick It Out” so we can all focus on the football.

Kristian Downer is the owner of FamousCFC.com a Chelsea fan blog

 

Chelsea v Manchester United – Confidence In A Can

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Well what a great game of football, 120 minutes, nine goals and a come from behind Chelsea victory that included a last kick of the game penalty to send the game to extra time.

Both teams made changes but both sides were relatively strong with a blend of fringe youth players and squad members mixing with regular first teamers to create a blend that lead to a brilliant game dynamic.

This time the second half was not ruined with red cards and we were treated to a goal fest with the pendulum swinging backwards and forwards across the 90 minutes.

Whilst both defences were porous the attacking prowess on display made the game exhilarating and meant that we were on our seats for the full hour and a half.

We saw an inspired performance from Victor Moses whilst if Cesar Azpilicueta and Oriol Romeu struggled but once we brought on the big guns we looked like scoring at every opportunity.

After the weekend we needed something to raise our spirits and breed positivity coming into another important month in the Premier League.

Scoring 5 goals and coming from behind is a perfect tonic, confidence in a can you might say.

Final Word: Well done to the ref, despite giving three penalties he got the big decisions right, only criticism was that Scott Wooton stayed on the pitch.

Roberto Di Matteo’s Team & What His Team Talk Should BeTonight

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Chelsea have made six changes as Roberto Di Matteo rotates his squad. Lucas Piazon retains his Capital One Cup starting berth and George Saville is the only youth player to make the bench.

Chelsea

  • 01 Cech
  • 04 David Luiz
  • 24 Cahill
  • 28 Azpilicueta
  • 34 Bertrand
  • 06 Romeu
  • 10 Mata
  • 12 Mikel
  • 13 Moses
  • 23 Sturridge
  • 35 Piazon

Subs

  • 40 Hilario, 19 Ferreira, 07 Ramires, 11 Oscar, 17 Hazard, 21 Marin, 56 Savill

TeamTalk

Roberto Di Matteo’s team talk tonight should be simple given the events on Sunday.

Even though just five players from that game are playing tonight, the anger at the result should be enough to spark a performance tonight.

 

Why Chelsea Fans Must Avoid Manchester United Ref Witchhunt

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Football is facing a new racism scandal, with Chelsea making formal allegations about the conduct of referee Mark Clattenberg during our game against Manchester United on Sunday..

These allegations are very serious and leave this referee’s career hanging in the balance. For this reason I implore Chelsea fans to be objective and separate what was an abject refereeing performance from the alleged inappropriate comments, particularly if they have a racial element.

If these allegations are true and proven then this may well be the end of the Clattenberg’s refereeing career with the men in black unlikely to be given the same opportunity of redemption as players charged with using racial language by the FA.

As others have stated as a referee the standard that referees are held to should be higher than than the players as they are supervising the game and are the inforcers of the rules.

The FA cannot risk their refereeing appointments being bigger news than the game, particularly after the controversy over the recent Kick It Out week of action that attracted the wrong kind of media attention and called into question action being taken on an important issue.

Unlike the FA I believe in nnocent until proven guilty and this should be applied to this case.

Therefore as tempting as it is to transfer anger at the result on Sunday onto the allegations against Mark Clattenburg, we should refrain.

Due to the seriousness and the fall out, we should wait for the evidence to become clear and let others judge guilt or innocent, in turn avoiding rash judgements or letting the influence of bias impact our opinion on this issue.

For now Clattenberg is just a shocking referee, is he a racist? Well that’s for somebody else to decide.