The psychology between us & Chelsea has altered enough in the last few years that despite the last gasp penalty save we came away disappointed at only gaining a point. We played well in patches but werenâ€™t at our best.
It was a high tempo and breathless game. At one point, just after the hour mark we seemed almost out on our feet. After spending ten minutes hurtling up and down the pitch alternately attempting to increase our lead at the Paxton End and then protect it at the Park Lane the players took a collective breath, looked at each other and made â€˜calm it downâ€™ type gestures.
There were few moment of high quality with probably the biggest moment of class coming after quarter of an hour when Pav made space in front of Terry with his first touch when receiving Defoeâ€™s pass and fired home a fine left foot shot with his second. Unfortunately this was one of the last sure footed things the Russian managed, he was subbed for Robbie Keane after 78 minutes shortly after heâ€™d incurred the crowdâ€™s wrath by moaning to the lino after being dispossessed instead of giving chase to his erstwhile mugger.
We failed to take full advantage of our lead. We found space down the flanks but didnâ€™t threaten often enough when the ball was delivered into the centre. Chelsea came back into it and Kalou managed to find space in our box several times.
We were down on possession in the first half and I havenâ€™t looked the stats but would guess that we conceded even more in the second. Chelsea started from deep and played narrowly, attempting to break through by playing balls into the centre of our defence. There were few moments of danger as Bassong continued successfully with his new policy of arriving just in time rather than anticipate danger and Dawson played admirably given his long absence. He did look ring rusty though when Drogba won an aerial battle, got to the dropping ball first and sent in the volley for the equaliser. The forward may have been helped by an illegally raised arm but there was no excuse for Gomes letting the shot go through him into the net, despite its power.
Our efforts in the second forty five were mostly from range as Defoe, Modric and Lennon all sent shots narrowly wide. Hutton was finding space and Crouch was winning balls in the air but we seemed to have conceded that a draw and a point was satisfactory when in injury time Gomes again intervened by arriving just after Ramires to a flick on in the area. The faithless got up to leave and beat the rush, the faithful stayed to see the Brazilian push aside Drogbaâ€™s spot kick. We collected the rebound and hared up field to perhaps score a famous winner but the lack of composure and dodgy decision making was a good summary of a slightly disappointing second half display.
Despite not being able to send the charm free champions home with nothing there were some positives to be drawn not least the performance of Wilson Palacios who gave an excellent energetic display and combined it with confident, accurate and occasionally creative passing. Modric was also on form, it was great to see Dawson back and Lennon was dangerous for long spells.
Blackpool next week and the start of a busy festive fortnight that gives us a chance to get right up amongst the thick of things at the top which given our goal scoring problems (only once have we taken a two goal lead all season) and defensive vulnerabilities (only one clean sheet) is a remarkable thing in itself.
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