Chelsea beats Liverpool 2-1 in FA Cup Final
Liverpool looked like the Chelsea of a few months ago – which isn’t a compliment – in Saturday’s FA Cup Final. Chelsea wasn’t fantastic, but they were more than good enough to claim their seventh FA Cup title in club history.
Ramires (who scored first for Chelsea in the 10th minute) has poured it on in recent weeks. He seems to be hitting his stride right now – fantastic at open field runs with the ball, and much more efficient at finishing than he was earlier in the season. Chelsea was wise to secure Ramires in a long-term deal this year, as he looks likely to be a key player for the club in the next several seasons.
Drogba added the Blues’ second goal in the 51st minute. The guy is a clutch performer. Chelsea will need him to show up in a major way in the Champions League final. He just knows how to get the job done when a lot is at stake. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be in favor of resting him so much between matches as Di Matteo has preferred lately, however, the extra rest hasn’t seemed to rust Drogba at all. I’d really like to see Torres paired up front more with Drogba as opposed to this constant either/or situation. For the Munich Final, Torres could get plenty of crosses in to Drogba as well as free up some space for him by pulling defenders out of the middle where Drogba usually lurks.
Petr Cech has also improved over the past couple months. It’s easy to take Cech for granted because he’s been so consistently good for Chelsea for several years. This hasn’t been a strong season for Cech overall, but like a true pro, he has upped his game at crucial times for the club recently. His saves were huge in keeping Barcelona at bay in the Champions League semis, and Saturday’s point-blank deflection of Andy Carroll’s header late in the match preserved Chelsea’s lead and ultimately led to their fourth FA Cup title in six years.
Chelsea’s FA Cup triumph is a nice consolation of sorts for what has been a stinky Premier League season for the club. It’s also another important confidence booster ahead of the Champions League Final on May 19. Can’t wait for that one!
Who do you think were Chelsea’s key performers in the FA Cup win over Liverpool?
Newcastle dashes Chelsea’s Champions League hopes for next season
It’s been such a great month for Chelsea that it almost seems ungrateful to complain about their 2-0 loss to Newcastle Wednesday. But I was pretty mad about it after watching the game last night.
Winning has a way of spoiling fans. We very quickly come to expect it every single match, even though winning every time is rarely realistic. It’s been a dismal season for the Blues overall, which is why this great run under Di Matteo has been so fun. No one saw it coming. And it just kept going and going before it apparently peaked with the Blues’ gutsy elimination of Barcelona from the Champions League.
The fact that defeating Barcelona was so fun made Wednesday’s loss to Newcastle all the more jarring. Against Newcastle, Chelsea resembled the Villas-Boas era Blues: some decent and sometimes fancy possession with absolutely nothing to show for it. To be fair to Chelsea, they were scored on by two of the awesomest goals of the entire Premier League season (both by Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse). But it was still upsetting that the team that shut down Barcelona for 180 minutes got beat twice by the same guy (and couldn’t muster any goals themselves)!
Losing to Newcastle is depressing because the match was Chelsea’s last hope for insuring a Champions League spot for next season. There’s still a sliver of hope of course – they’ll qualify for the next UCL season if they win this season’s UCL final against Bayern on May 19. But that’s just the thing – I’m not feeling confident that Chelsea will able to beat Bayern in Munich. I’m afraid the Barcelona semifinal was the high point of Chelsea’s season. I hope I’m wrong. I don’t know about other Blues fans, but my heart is set on the Champions League title. Yes, the FA Cup Final is Saturday and it would be great to win it, but for me it’s all about the Champions League Final.
Who do you think will win Saturday’s FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool?
Chelsea grinds out 1-0 win over Barcelona
Well, it wasn’t pretty. Possession-wise it was one of the most lopsided matches I’ve seen in a long time (in favor of Barcelona in case you didn’t watch). But Chelsea held on for dear life, defended with steely resolve, and it somehow worked! They capitalized on a sliver of an opening at the end of the first half when Lampard stole the ball from Messi, launched it down the left-hand flank to the on-rushing Ramires, who then slid it across the box to who else? Old-man Drogba, who knocked it in. I giggled with delight, caught my breath at halftime, then went back to nervously rocking in the fetal position as Barcelona played keep-away for another 45 minutes, occasionally rattling the post or forcing Petr Cech to make Gumby-like stretch saves.
Six months later when the final whistle blew, I pried my fingers out of the couch armrest, allowed myself to smile and breathe normally for a few minutes, then began wondering if my heart will be able to weather the return leg next Tuesday at Barcelona! It was a heroic effort today, far from Chelsea’s best, but they got the job done. One down, one to go!
Will Chelsea be able to finish off Barcelona at Camp Nou?
Blues have their work cut out for them in Champions League semifinal
Chelsea are underdogs in their pending clash with Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. Barcelona is widely regarded as the current best club team in the world. Chelsea is widely regarded as currently over-the-hill and inconsistent. But Chelsea does have a psychological advantage heading into this first semifinal leg after their huge 5–1 defeat of Tottenham in Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal. It was an exciting win with an old-school-Chelsea vibe about it. Drogba and Lampard scored jaw-dropping goals that elicited gleeful cackles from this fan. Chelsea didn’t look too over-the-hill on Sunday. It was a much-needed confidence booster, perfectly timed to prime the Blues before their biggest match of the season.
Chelsea will have to play with absolute defensive resolve and unity to withstand the slippery Barcelona attack. Obviously they’ll need to be wary of that Messi guy – no shots allowed for him! The Blues must seriously reduce their giveaways in the middle of the field. They must also counterattack with greater speed and efficiency than they’ve shown for much of the season. Scoring opportunities will materialize for Chelsea at home, but they must convert with precision. They need at least two goals in this first leg and allow absolutely none from Barcelona.
Barcelona has several short guys so Chelsea needs to physically dominate the game. They’ll have to be careful not to get too crazy with the physicality; after all, the refs are likely to protect the Barcelona hobbits – I mean superstars. The Blues will want to be careful not to get on the ref’s bad side early on. Yellow cards could cause serious problems in the second leg, so the team must be tactful with their challenges.
Since David Luiz might not be available Wednesday due to injury, Cole, Terry, Cahill, and Ivanovic should probably start in the back. Di Matteo has several options at midfield, but regardless of the lineup, Lampard must be in the mix. Forwards need to be Mata, Drogba, and Sturridge. Drogba can wreak enough havoc in the box that it could open up some space on the right for Sturridge to attack.
A good monkey wrench to throw at Barcelona would be to start Torres at right midfield. His best contributions this year have been passes and crosses into the box anyway, so why not make him designated server? Something a little unconventional might throw Barcelona off just enough for Chelsea to get a couple goals in hand for the return leg.
What do you think Chelsea must do to beat Barcelona?