Date: 25th January 2011 at 11:28am
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People, people, calm down. Yes, it was a bad result. Yes, very few players (Holden, Robinson) played anything like they should. Yes, the defence and goalkeeper were culpable for three of the four goals and the captain was responsible for the other. Yes, Fabrice Muamba is currently playing like he has just been introduced to the game. Yes, playing Matty Taylor on the right to facilitate playing Martin Petrov on the left hasn’t worked before and doing it last night worked less than the last times we tried it. Yes, Johan Elmander is back to where he was last season. But besides that, what have the Romans ever done for us?

In hindsight, what did we expect? This is a professional game and for all their respect to Sir Nat and black armbands, man for man Chelsea are still better than us, and if they had the opportunity to show it, they were going to take it. They had won the previous seven games at T’Reebok, and that without conceding a goal. We expected them to still be in a slump and the talk before the game was for a close match and a win, or at worse a draw. It didn’t quite turn out like that.

This isn’t to say that, again, we had our chances, especially the Matty Taylor header that was well saved by Petr Cech when the score was still 1-0, but they were few and far between and when Chelsea scored, it was oh so easy.

So, for the benefit of Zat Knight and Gretar Steinsson, here is defensive lesson number one:

1a. When the opposing team have pushed two players further up the pitch to make you play a ball, DO NOT (and that is the most important thing) play the ball across the defence. Play it back to the keeper or play it forward, that will be fine. Whatever you do, do not play it across the back line.

1b. If you receive such a ball and you see an opposing player coming towards you, don’t attempt to take a controlling touch with it unless your body is moving to take the ball away from the opposing player. If you have to put your foot through it, then do so. We are not the old Bolton and can get away with a few of them.

Of the goal, from the ground it appeared as if Jussi could have done a lot better. From the replays it showed the amount of dip and swerve that Drogba had put on it. Jussi was perfectly placed for the position that Drogba was in when he shot and no blame can be placed on the keeper. I knew it would happen anyway, as I’ve just taken Drogba out of my fantasy football team. It was just one of those goals and no keeper would have saved it.

Of the second goal, again the defence should have done better. There is absolutely no excuse for conceding a goal scored by a man standing almost side by side with Lofty Jr. That the ball hit Cahill’s legs before rebounding to Malouda put Jussi out of position for the rebound, but for Malouda to get a second bite of the cherry shows the continuing defensive frailties that we have. It took four seconds to realise that the ball had gone into the net, such was the ineffectiveness.

Turning round with a 2-0 deficit, we took the game to Chelsea, much as we did at the beginning of the first half. SuperKevinDavies, standing on the byline, attempted a cross field ball that only fell to Chelsea who quickly moved forward. Twice in the previous five minutes we had managed to stop Chelsea when they were four on three, but not this time. Essien took the ball forward and fed Drogba whose shot was blocked by Zat Knight. It fell to Nicolas Anelka, who,with time and space, doesn’t miss from there. Apparently he has scored eighteen times against former clubs, but he’s had that many it must be hard for him not to score against former clubs.

Mark Davies and Rodrigo came on for the ineffectual Muamba and Petrov, although Rodrigo started on the left, with Taylor remaining on the right. With that, and the fact that Chelsea had an unassailable lead, we seemed to create more, with Mark Davies being the fulcrum, but it didn’t stop Chelsea scoring a fourth, Ramires netting his first for the club with a shot that a Sunday League keeper could have kept out, Jussi not getting down quick enough, nor with wrists strong enough, to keep the ball out.

With that, the ground emptied, most fans in one mind that the performance on the field did nothing to epitomise the spirit of the man we had come to honour and pay respects to.

Before Christmas I suggested that the best way to go was a settled side, injuries and suspensions notwithstanding. Now we are second bottom of the form table, only being propped up by West Brom who are, ironically, the only team we have beaten since Christmas, my attitude has changed slightly. I was surprised to see Steinsson back in for Ricketts yesterday and it seems that the manager cannot make his mind up between the pair of them. That David Wheater has come in hasn’t changed my mind about the Cahill/Knight pairing, far from it. However, if anyone thinks that Gary Cahill is currently in the shop window, after last night’s performance, I wouldn’t want to be shopping where they’re shopping.

That was miss Chung-Yong Lee is evident, and as far as I’m concerned it shouldn’t matter if we have to carry him from the airport next week, he has to be back in the team for Wolves. Or, we could just sign SWP who was at the game last night, apparently. Fabrice Muamba has gone back to being a liability, poor on the ball and tackling awkwardly, as he did on Ramires last night that for all the world was a yellow card. With Wigan and Wolves coming, an attacking midfield is called for, which means bringing Mark Davies in.

As for the front two, we are left with the problem of who do you bring in. Klasnic is still injured, but may be OK for next week. Elmander has stopped scoring and, once a player does that, some time on the bench is called for. Klasnic is THE natural goalscorer at the club and if not him then Rodrigo came to the club with some reputation for playing up front. Or, and here’s an idea, what about Danny Ward?

Naturally, dropping the captain is out of the question, but he must be advised about ill judged crossfield balls.

All teams have a wobble and it needs just one or two good performances to get back on an even keel. With Wigan and Wolves, two floundering teams, next we have the opportunity to do just that. Or shoulders will suddenly be being looked over.


10 Replies to “The Line Must Be Drawn Here And No Further.”

  • Watched in horror, started fairly well conceded a wonder goal fell apart and looked like school kids in comparison with Chelsea. If Cahill is worth £20M on this seasons performance then I am a Dutchman.
    Not a fitting effort after the week we have had.

  • I admire your optimism Quentin but I thought we were woeful last night. Steinsson, Robinson & Davo were responsible for the first 3 goals with schoolboy errors. After that, I was busy daydreaming about what effect an “in his prime” John McGinlay would have on the game so dunno who to blame for the fourth.
    Further adding to the black cloud, we were well beaten by a team who hadn’t won away in 3 months, making it 1 point in 18 (at home to Wigan) and our only victory in that run an unconvincing win against York. Pass me the rope!

  • Agree with the Seed. Terrible performance last night. The way we started I thought we were going batter em. Really can’t see how Jaaskelainen has evaded blame for any of the four goals to be honest. He used to be one of the best shot-stoppers in the prem, he now looks like he has the agility of an armoured vehicle. The pen against stoke, he guessed the right way, the ball was a yard inside the post and at full stretch he couldn’t get to it? drogba’s “wonder-strike”?He could’ve caught it, but instead went for tv save and as for the other two, did he accumulate a distance of 2 yards in total length of his dives to save these efforts?He needs benching minimum for me. If we receive an offer amounting to… getting rid of his wages for the rest of the season, i’d snap hands off. He doesn’t remotely care. His pretending to challenge for headers, inability to stay on his feet, that one on one albeit offside. The man has no class, no skill, no technique, no balance. I bet liverpool were****ing themselves when the papers linked them with him. I rated him for his effort during his dry spell/era. Even thats gone now. This team needs gutting.And despite his magnificent performances this year, the team can’t go forward until SKD leaves or until that midfield is gutted. Holden+Muamba/Davies is too threadbare. Would lioke to see all three, but then we’d need a lone striker and two capable wingers. For all the praise Lee’s got so far, he doesn’t change a game, he’s a microcosm of it. Anger subsided… Now breathe…

  • Not again…squeaky bum time in January!! If we dont get two wins from the pies and the other wands then it will another season end of nail gnawing. May be simplistic but we cant score and we cant defend!! Which is pretty catastrophic. A few changes needed to instill a bit of heart methinks.

  • Bliimey, I thought I was p*ssed off but Rob’s put me to shame! In current frame of mind, I’m finding it hard to disagree with too much of what he says. Perhaps if we put 6 past the pies it’ll all be sunshine and roses again…. Perhaps…

  • would love to see our run change against pie dingles. come on whites! for anyone who’s interested, 33/1 us to go down, but i will fall out with anyone who puts it on!

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