Blog Page 26

Thoughts & Analysis Of West Brom Defeat

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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 (never quite as good as “being there’ but better than nothing).
 
Regular readers will notice some recurring themes carrying forward from recent games.
 
The starting XI appeared to be based on pragmatism, following the midweek Internationals and with an eye towards Juventus in Turin.
 
6,000 air miles alone pointed to Ivanovic starting at Centre Back ahead of David Luiz. More so in view of starts for Azpilicueta and Bertrand. Shane Long’s pace may have been a mitigating factor.
 
Victor Moses played out of position on the left to accommodate Daniel Sturridge. Marin and Sturridge or Marin and Moses would have been a more natural combination either side of Hazard.
 
All the more strange as most of Chelsea’s offensive success came down the West Brom left, with Hazard ending up on the left after half an hour, with Sturridge in behind Torres and Moses moving to the right, where he looked more at home.
 
This was an Ideal game to start Daniel Sturridge at Centre Forward (not that he is for me), whilst sending Lukaku out on loan looks like folly given the lack of alternatives. 7 shots in the game (4 in the last 28 minutes at Centre Forward) but no goals shows Sturridge is not shy of shooting but lacks a killer finish and too often misses the target. One of his better games though and least he gets shots away.
 
In contrast, Fernando Torres had no shots in 63 minutes in another below par performance. Its increasingly difficult not to conclude that he’s a busted flush. The system we’re playing and the players we have this year give him a much improved supply line and far fewer excuses to hide. I know this won’t meet with universal agreement but I’m saying what I see and would love him to bang in 8 goals in the next 5 games to prove me wrong.
 
Another game, another early first goal conceded. We do not chase games well and cannot afford that luxury, regardless of the opposition, home or away.
 
Defensive howlers all round for the first West Brom goal. Azpilicueta, Romeu and Sturridge were all drawn to the ball but when it broke to Morrison he had time to pick his cross. Luiz went to sleep, allowing Long to peel off his shoulder and negate his height advantage to slot his header from point blank range.
 
Another goal conceded through deficiencies at Left Back. Odemwingie found it all too easy to brush aside Bertrand to head home Long’s cross for Albion’s winner. Ryan needs to compete much better physically if he’s going to make the position his own, long term.
 
Our lack of an incisive final ball when Mata doesn’t start is alarming with Azpilicueta’s crosses from wide the best examples on show before Mata came on.
 
Within seconds of coming on, Mata twice picked out Sturridge (now at Centre Forward) who could not convert. Another combination of the 2 with 13 minutes to go met with the same result but Sturridge’s movement at least was encouraging.
 
Eden Hazard did superbly for his goal. After spraying the ball out to Azpilicueta, he did superbly to pull off the back of Jones and head home the equaliser. If only he could beat the first defender with his inswinging corners.
 
Victor Moses’ lack of composure in front of goal continues. He blazed over from well inside the box at an angle when a low ball into an unmarked Sturridge would have given him a tap in at the back post. He should however have had a blatant penalty when Yacob’s shoulder charge went unpunished.
 
This defeat and draws with Swansea and Liverpool should temper fans’ expectations to a realistic level. 22 points from the first 24 available for our young side was a little flattering whilst 2 from the last 12 has brought us back down to earth. A top 4 finish remains the objective, anything more is a bonus.
 
For me, Robbie Di Matteo is a better manager in Cup competitions than over the course of a Premier League season. He nevertheless deserves the time to put his stamp on an evolving squad. Calls for his head after a defeat to a side who started the day in fifth are frankly absurd.
 
Carefree.
 
Follow Chris Davies on Twitter: @chrisdaviescfc

 

West Brom The Start Of A Magical Journey!

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AVB was sacked after defeat at the Hawthorns against West Brom

They say life is all about coincidence and defining moments. This season, when I think of the Allianz Arena, I cannot help also thinking about the Hawthorns and the last game of AVB’s reign.

Like much of the AVB reign our performance was dire, even though our support was good.

A few times the “Don’t worry about a thing, cos every little thing’s gonna be alright” song  broke out from sections of the ground. In particular, one girl in front of us was singing it on her own for 10 minutes.

Whatever we sang I am not sure that we believed ourselves, particularly when West Brom scored late on to consign us to defeat.

We left the game dejected and I remember taking this picture walking down the pathway to the exit and seeing the head steward for the Matthew Harding stand in his hi-vis organising the transport for fans back to London.

We chatted to him briefly about how poor we had been and how bleak things looked before walking out into the Birmingham night.

I did not put much significance in seeing these people at the time, but then I did not know how significant the next time I saw them would be.

May 19th 2012

The next time I saw the girl and the steward was the 19th of May 2012 at the Allianz Arena.

During the break between full time and extra time   “Don’t worry about a thing,  cos every little thing’s gonna be alright” was being sung in our section and I looked to my right and who did I see 10 seats away and one row down but the singing girl from the West Brom game.

Well I think it was her, I didn’t walk up to her in ultimate stalker fashion and go “hello, you don’t know me, but were you at West Brom”, but I am sure it was her, and hell, it makes a much better story if it was.

After the game and post-match celebrations we dragged ourselves away and towards the exit of the stadium compound and saw the steward from the Matthew Harding stand on coach trip once again. What are the odds?!

My Dad shook his hand and summed it up quite well: “Who would have thought when I last saw you that the next time we would be CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!”

We headed into the crowd from a miserable away day at West Brom and ultimately emerged the Champions Of Europe. It really was an incredible few months and it all started on a dreary day in Birmingham.

This is an excerpt from our eBook – 720 Miles to Munich which you can buy for 99p here!

Juan Mata Future Chelsea Captain?

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The caption “Captain Leader Legend” is entirely appropriate for its beneficiary: John George Terry.
 
However there are not many natural successors in our current ranks and it is for this reason I would like to make the case for Juan Mata as a candidate for this role in the future.

The word “Leader” for me is the one that resonates most at this moment in time.
 
Leaders are born, rarely made. Strip John of the Chelsea captaincy but he’d still be our leader. He can’t help himself.
 
Our cup overfloweth will talent at The Bridge. That is indisputable.
 
However, with Drogba gone, Lamps and Cole edging closer to the exit and John playing less, mainly due to age, as the seasons pass, who is stepping up to fill the leadership void?
 
This is not a rhetorical question but it is a serious one.
 
Remember, this is not a token Captain but a true leader we’re looking for.
 
Someone who starts regularly. Who instinctively leads. The leader who stares in the face of a 2 goal deficit and sees the potential to win the game.
 
Let me be candid: In the current squad, I’m struggling.
 
Theoretically, Ivanovic or Cahill in the back 4 are potential leaders. Branna is certainly a regular starter, Cahill less so but as we’re haemorrhaging goals, who is leading the line now?
 
Turning to midfield, Hazard and Oscar, though sublimely gifted don’t emit an abundance of leadership signals.
 
Ramires’ body language does not scream of leadership. Mikel, arguably our most improved player this season is more vocal as the years pass but is he a leader? Not for me, not yet anyway.
 
Fernando Torres is a talented footballer. His travails as a Blue are well documented. His focus must be on leading the line, not the team.
 
You’ve probably worked out by now that my nomination is arguably our most influential, creative and dynamic player of the current crop: Step forward Senor Juan Manuel Mata.
 
He commands respect from everyone. Have a look at Hazard’s goal against Norwich and his reaction. I know Mata played him in but there are many other examples.
 
JT is our club captain and I don’t expect that to change. For me though the mantle of leadership is passing slowly but surely to Mata. He is a PR dream but more importantly, he inspires THIS generation of Chelsea players to achieve greatness.
 
I’ll be watching with interest to see his influence grow in the coming months.

Should Chelsea Buy A Striker In January?

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When Chelsea started their golden period of 2004-2007, and even in the Indian summer of 2010, they had options up front, even if they chose not to exercise them. The frontline centred on Drogba and as time goes on, his role in Chelsea’s La Belle Epoch will be seen more and more as highly influential. The fact is, Torres is no Drogba and he’s never going to be. Unlike the great Ivorian, Torres cannot change games. He can – when in the mood – finish off the good work of others, but after almost two years, it just isn’t working, no matter how much Chelsea officials and supporters try to talk themselves into believing it will come good.

And now, it is also apparent that the options Manchester City and United have in the striking ranks is going to outgun Chelsea in pursuit of the title. Look at what’s happened in recent weeks – Hernandez at the Bridge and Villa Park, Dzeko off the bench to inspire City. Both players are not guaranteed starting places at their respective clubs, yet both would grace any top flight Premier club. The fact is, when the title race gets tough and form, suspensions and injuries kick in, Chelsea will not have the flexibility up front. United and City both have around four strikers of quality they can call on.

Opportunities may have been lost in the summer, for while Chelsea packed their midfield with arguably some of the most fleet-footed and nimble talent around – Oscar and Hazard – all the eggs fell into the Fernando Torres basket. You cannot blame Mr Abramovich for wanting to get a return from his £ 50m investment, but the price tag has weighed heavily on Torres’ and indeed, Chelsea’s shoulders. Everyone wants him to succeed, celebrating every Torres goal as if it’s his last – it could well be – and claiming the start of a new personal dawn for the Spaniard. The truth is, Torres’ performances are no better than a handful of average Premier strikers plying their trade elsewhere.

Have Chelsea done him justice? Patience aside, it has seemed as though the burden of expectation has been too much. He’s lacked a partner to play alongside and the singular striker role just might not suit him.

Perhaps it is time to cut the losses on Torres and look elsewhere. They had to give it two years, largely because of the fee, but that time is approaching and the transfer window is starting to creak open. Atletico Madrid’s Rademal Falcao is an obvious target (69 goals in 76 games versus 19 in 80 for Torres) – his mobility, finishing and virtuosity are all qualities that Chelsea lack beyond the midfield. But he won’t come cheap and the fee may approach the £50m tabled for Torres. Chelsea cannot afford to get it wrong again.

What went wrong with Torres? When he arrived at Chelsea, he was not exactly firing all cylinders at Liverpool. In his first three seasons at Anfield, his goalscoring form in the Premier was impressive: 24 in 33 games; 14 in 24; and 18 in 22. In 2010-11, he netted 9 in 23 before joining Chelsea. There was also constant talk of him moving and that he had become a “surly and sulking figure” – something he has often appeared to be at Chelsea. Some said he was past his best, but that a change of club would reinvigorate him.  Despite winning the Golden Boot at Euro 2012, it has not really happened for him at Stamford Bridge.

There’s not a lot wrong with Chelsea’s side that a couple of January acquisitions would not solve. In defence they have to get it right, but that should be in their own hands. Likewise, once they face the truth about Torres, they should put a couple of strikers on their New Year shopping list. Do nothing and the advantages the Manchester clubs have in the “goals for” column may ensure Chelsea’s promise of late summer disappears in the depth of winter.

Final Thoughts On Chelsea v Liverpool

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Team News


The biggest news was John Terry’s return as captain after sitting out the win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard missed out again with a hamstring and calf problem respectively, whilst David Luiz missed the game through tonsillitis.

Branislav Ivanovic moved to Centre Back, with Cesar Azpilicueta starting at Right Back.

Observations

Chelsea’s inability to kill this game off in the 1st half came back to haunt us, as our poor recent record against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge continued.

Once Liverpool equalised John Terry’s 50th Chelsea goal, they were arguably the side more likely to go and win the game.

In the past 2 seasons, the clocks going back have heralded a sharp downturn in our Premier League form (it is now 3 games without a win).

From leading the Premier League by 4 points 3 games ago, we’re now 3 points behind Manchester United.

West Bromwich Albion away next Saturday is now a very big game indeed. Not as big as Juventus away perhaps but the snowball of momentum has come to an abrupt end in the Premier League and needs to start moving again.

1st half

Chelsea started well enough. Oscar shot over on 5 minutes from the inside left channel after a 1-2 with Eden Hazard.

Quality was in short supply as the teams huffed and puffed but struggled to control possession.

Ivanovic fired over and wide after a free kick was touched off to him. Soon after, Torres’ persistence won us a corner.

Mata’s remarkable recent record for goals and assists continued, whipping in a corner from the right, which was headed home by an unmarked John Terry, who celebrated with gusto.

Whilst Chelsea looked comfortable enough, penetration was hard to come by. On 26 minutes, a Hazard break led to a Torres shot being saved and from the follow up, Hazard failed to hit the target: he should have done better.

Liverpool had fired barely a shot in anger when John Terry went down on 34 minutes in agony as his knee buckled after a coming together with Suarez. This would become one of the turning points of the game, as Terry had kept Suarez in his pocket throughout his time on the pitch.

An MRI scan is scheduled for Monday to determine the extent of the knee ligament damage Terry sustained.

After a 5 minute delay, Gary Cahill replaced Terry. In the 5 minutes of added time, came the second turning point of the game.

Azpilcueta’s throw ended up at Mata’s feet, who with the beating of Carragher had a clear run on goal. Normally so assured in these situations, he shot over the bar from just inside the penalty area when he could have gone on and chipped the keeper or found the corner of the net. It was a big miss and ultimately punished.

2nd half

A half of 2 halves. For the first 22 minutes, Chelsea were comfortable and it looked inevitable that they would score a second goal and see out the victory.

Allen was booked for a foul on Torres and Mata’s Free Kick was cleared for a corner.

A neat build up finished with a shot from Mata on the right apex of the penalty area that fizzed just past Jones’ upright.

Johnson was next to enter Howard Webb’s book for a foul on Oscar.

From a Hazard Free Kick, Torres’ header was well saved by Jones. As he chased the ball along the touchline he appeared to be tripped by Gerrard who stayed down.

After the ball was recycled, pandamonium reigned in the Liverpool penalty area. Mikel had an airshot from 6 yards and Mata’s shot was charged down. The ball was still not properly cleared as Webb blew to allow treatment for Gerrard, to the crowd’s dismay.

The highlight of a scrappy few minutes was a crunching but fair tackle on Gerrard (miraculously recovered), by Ramires.

Mata’s volleyed pass into Bertrand’s path was crossed in but could not find Torres to provide the finishing touch.

Gerrard saw yellow for a crude tackle on Oscar, leading to the third turning point of the match. From Mata’s Free Kick, Jones’ weak punch fell to Mikel but his instinctive prod was wide.

Ramires’ shot well over after good possession led to a half clearance finding him 25 yards out.

The Liverpool equaliser came on 72 minutes. Carragher’s flick on from a corner found Suarez who planted a free header past Cech. The body language of the Chelsea players reflected the dejection of the crowd.

With 18 minutes to go plus stoppage time, there was plenty of time to find a winner but the self belief to do so, ebbed away as the minutes passed.

Oscar, Hazard and Mata combined on the break but the move came to nothing and a Bertrand break and cross was easily cut out.

Liverpool were doubling up on Azpilicueta with Johnson (switched from Right Back) and Enrique giving him an examination that, under the tutelage of Ivanovic, he largely passed.

Moses replaced Oscar for the last 15 minutes. After Mikel was booked, a blatant dive from Suarez went unpunished. Not for the first time.

Sturridge replaced Torres with 9 minutes to go but failed to make an impact. Ivanovic headed over from Mata’s corner before Hazard won another as pressure was sustained. He took it himself but it came straight back to him. Cutting in, he sliced his shot wide of the far post with our last chance of the afternoon.

In the 4 minutes of added time, Liverpool came closest to snatching all 3 points.

After possession was given away, Suarez waited patiently before finding Enrique whose shot from inside the area was turned away by Cech for a corner in the last meaningful action of the game.

Positives

John Terry looked imperious on his all too brief return.

Eden Hazard, though prone to conceding possession was industrious. Ditto Fernando Torres.

Negatives

Another game, another gimme goal conceded. This record is well and truly stuck.

2 points from a possible 9 in the Premier League are at least 4 too few.

When Juan Mata is becalmed, so are we. He had a relatively quiet afternoon, despite being pivotal in our best offensive work.

Why did Marko Marin not get minutes here? Sturridge for Torres was a rare insipid choice from Robbie Di Matteo. Marin for Mata or Hazard would have injected something different.

Moment of the match

John Terry’s goal celebration. 50 goals from Centre Half: great effort.

Carefree.

Follow Chris Davies on Twitter: @chrisdaviescfc

Debt Free Wherever We May Be – We Are The Profitable CFC – Two Fingers Up At UEFA Fair Play

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The Champions of Europe have completed another long and arduous journey by reporting an annual profit for the first time since the arrival of Roman Abramovich.

The figure is small, a humble £1.4m which may not sound like much but represents a move towards sustainability and a long term future that will undoubtedly upset the UEFA fair play merchants of doom.

Remember they framed their policies to spite teams like Chelsea.

UEFA fair play is here to stay and it looks like we are on track, even better we are not saddled with any debt.

Part of the announcement today was that that Abramovich has again changed any debt owed to him into equity (i.e. he has made it part of his shares in the club).

We needed some good press coverage and this is very welcome news.

The key test will be whether this is maintained next season, with the signings of Hazard and Oscar this seems unlikely but with a new TV deal and the benefits of being Champions of Europe we have a fighting chance.

Football is all too often dominated by matters off the pitch these days, but the financial security of the club is important.

“Debt free, wherever we maybe”

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.