Fan Report vs Chelsea

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Not much went right for us on Sunday what with the injuries and penalty decision but I think it’s also fair to say that we didn’t do our best to help ourselves as well. The decision to cope with the loss of Modric by changing to a diamond system to match Chelsea’s set Ramos shaped alarm bells ringing from the word go. As we near the anniversary of the start of the Redknapp revolution it might be salutary for him to remember that a large part of his success in turning things round was the back to basics approach he installed. Communication with and motivation of the players immediately improved but the  dismissal of the constant tinkering with formations and the playing of players out of position was also crucial.

Starting with Palacios on the left and Lennon down the middle where neither looked comfortable or has a history of being effective was a gamble that was unlikely to come off. It was our choice to restrict two of our better players from doing what they do best. From the beginning Bosingwa was constantly in space in front of Assou-Ekotto as Wilson struggled and Ashley Cole must’ve been delighted to find that a winger who has left him on his arse many times in previous battles had been shoved into the middle out of harm’s way.

Having said all that, everything looked pretty rosy for the first twenty minutes as we passed efficiently & pressed the Chelsea back line into errors but it’s arguable that it was another decision of our own making that meant we didn’t take proper advantage of our period of relative superiority. So far this season Defoe’s strikes on goal have been net busters so why did he try and place the ball when through against Cech? Too much time to think maybe? Anyway in your mind’s eye you could see the shot whistling past Cech’s leather hat into the roof of the net, your actual eye saw something much more tame and the chance went.

After about 25 minutes we stopped doing all the things that we’d been doing well and started to allow Chelsea possession and territory. The midfield couldn’t give the ball away fast enough and started to concede free-kicks and until Crouch came on at the end we never really had a spell of pressure to speak of. The goals and injuries flowed in regular intervals and by the end the match was just a struggle. Howard Webb is looking more and more like a man whose reputation as one of our best refs is in fact just based on the fact that he looks a little bit like Pierluigi Collina. It wasn’t only the clear penalty he missed, a blatant barge on Defoe by Essien, Carvalho taking out Lennon off the ball and Assou-Ekotto’s handball from Lampard’s free kick near the end were all ignored.

The penalty would’ve given us hope at 1-1 but with King gone, Corluka (and eventually Huddlestone) joining the ranks of those playing out of pos, Drogba in full ballerina mode and Webb his main cheerleader it’s hard to see that we’d have held on to be honest. For the second week in a row you ended the game feeling that we’d been out muscled on the field and probably out thought on the bench too. It was great for the first half an hour but when things started to go against us we didn’t change anything to try and get back into the game until it was too late.

So all a bit disappointing but despite that we’re still 6th after six games that include three against the ‘big four’ so it’s still a good start and one most of us would’ve taken at the beginning of August. Harry’s got a few more days to ponder his next solution to the left side of midfield problem, hopefully someone will remind him before Saturday that that’s where Nico Kranjcar plays.


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