Chelsea’s win over Wigan and draw with Fulham were discouraging
It feels odd to be disappointed after a win against Wigan (last Saturday) and draw with Fulham (last Monday), yet Chelsea’s play was utterly lifeless in both matches. The Blues’ effort was particularly dispiriting for fans leading up to the two biggest games of the season: this Sunday’s FA Cup Semifinal against Tottenham and Wednesday’s Champions League first leg Semifinal against Barcelona. If the Blues don’t discover an entire new gear they are in for a very rough end to an already turbulent season.
Chelsea didn’t deserve the win over Wigan. A missed offside call facilitated Ivanovic’s goal and Juan Mata added the winner in extra time, but Chelsea’s attack was extremely bland for most of the match. Where’s the spark? Where’s the energy? Chelsea is a shell of the attacking team they were the two previous seasons. Ironically, Carlo Ancelotti was fired and Andre Villas-Boas brought in at the start of this season to craft a more “attractive” attacking style and yet the attack is far less fluid and effective than it’s been in years.
The draw with Fulham was unacceptable as it blew an opportunity to catch up with Tottenham and Newcastle in the league standings. Once again, Chelsea’s attack limped along, with the only goal coming from an iffy PK call that happened to fall Chelsea’s way (Frank Lampard reliably converted the kick). The Blues’ defense held onto the lead for most of the game until Clint Dempsey’s late header made it 1 – 1. Very frustrating.
I think I’ve been delusional about Chelsea all season because I thought they were much better than this. Most fans would probably agree it feels like we’ve been waiting all season for the team to get up to speed and they never quite have. They’ve come close several times, and are still capable of occasionally heroic efforts (like the second Napoli Champions League game!), but overall performances are painfully lackluster. Chelsea is simply very average right now. The air of near-invincibility fans have enjoyed about the club for years has turned into considerable vulnerability. Every Chelsea match seems a toss-up now.The bad Wigan and Fulham matches coaxed me to purge all my negative feelings about Chelsea’s current state. Hopefully doing so will temper my expectations for the big Tottenham and Barcelona matches. This purging stuff is therapeutic, but it takes some time. So tomorrow I’ll continue by addressing a few specific player issues in part two of Dismal Blues.
What do you think? See any positives for Chelsea during the Wigan/Fulham games?
Thoughts on Chelsea’s 2-1 loss at Man City and 0-0 draw with Tottenham
After the generally dismal season Chelsea fans have endured, the past couple weeks have been a very welcome respite. Just a month ago, a loss at Manchester City like the one this past Wednesday would’ve seriously irked Blues fans. But there is enough positive afterglow from the Champions League comeback against Napoli to outshine the disappointing loss at Manchester City.
This EPL season was a lost cause for Chelsea long ago. It’s all about Champions League survival now – advancing in the current tourney and qualifying for next season’s edition. It doesn’t render EPL games unimportant of course – a win Wednesday would’ve been very helpful, but yesterday’s clash with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge carried the most significance. Even interim Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo admitted a loss to Spurs might have put next season’s Champions League berth out of reach.
Chelsea and Tottenham played the whole match Saturday like they were afraid to lose. Mission accomplished as neither team scored. The goalless draw was more disappointing than the loss at Man City since no progress was made toward reducing the five point gap separating Spurs (in fourth place) and Blues (in fifth). It was a disheartening missed opportunity for Chelsea. Though there are eight league games remaining, it is a very tall order for Chelsea to overtake Tottenham. Failure to qualify for Champions League play next season would be a huge disappointment. It’s hard to imagine that competition without Chelsea! Still, there are eight games left. Chelsea must take care of business and hope Spurs sputter badly.
Meanwhile, there’s the little matter of Chelsea’s trip to Benfica Tuesday for the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. Can’t wait for that one. It’s going to be a suspenseful April for Blues fans!
What do you think – will Chelsea earn a Champions League slot for next season?