Chelsea 2-0 Fulham: Three points, top of the league - everything is OK right?
Hello Chelsea fans from all over the world! I want to start by saying that I haven't read any...
Hello Chelsea fans from all over the world! I want to start by saying that I haven't read anything to do with the game yesterday including match reports, pundit opinion or even the full post match quote from Jose Mourinho after the game as I want to write this post based on my own opinion of the match and our performance.
When news of Jose's team selection came through, there were three things that stood out for me. I was pleased that Jose selected Cahill to play next to JT as I believe they work well together and understand each others games better than any other combination.
I was disappointed and frustrated that Juan Mata was left out of the squad totally. That is something I will never understand and as I said yesterday, he faces a fight to save his Chelsea career!
Finally, I couldn't understand why Eto'o started again ahead of Fernando Torres! We have heard Jose talk of Eto'o being rusty after playing a lower level of football in Russia so why select him again? (I would like to point out that Torres had more of an influence on the game in the time he was on the pitch compared to Eto'o who played the most part!)
If any of you out there have ever been on a Management or Supervisory course during your work career, you will be familiar with a technique called "The Sandwich Technique". If you are not aware of this phrase, it means to surround a negative with two positives and that's exactly what I intend to do here but, at the moment, the negative is a major concern.
The first positive is the three points! It's safe to say that every single one of us would have taken three points no matter how they came ahead of the game if we were offered them. It's what is written down on record in the Premier League that counts this morning and Chelsea took an all important three points, scoring two goals against our local rivals Fulham.
Now the negatives and where do I begin? I'll start by talking about our first half performance. We have all watched our performances against United, Everton and Basel and despite the first half at Goodison and the chances we created, the second half there and in the 90 minutes of the other two games produced very little goal scoring opportunities.
This was based on the tempo of our play and we played the first half exactly the same yesterday. When teams set themselves up against us, it's obvious that they are going to pack the midfield, be disciplined without the ball and look to negate any space for Chelsea to exploit in their own half.
As a result, Chelsea dominate possession of the ball and do nothing with it! We have plenty of the ball but have no penetration. As we look up to pick a pass, there is very little option to try and create space and we end up playing the ball side to side or backwards! As soon as this happens, the tempo of our play slows right down and we play right into the oppositions hands!.
How many times did Gary Cahill, Mikel and John Terry touch the ball in the first half compared to our attacking three?. For all our possession in non threatening areas, we could and should have gone in at half time a goal down if Darren Bent hadn't made a mess of the best chance of the game! Credit Petr Cech for coming off of his line early and doing well to block his shot but let's be honest, it should have been 0-1.
I spent most of the first half Tweeting to my 18,000 Twitter followers (and counting!) that I wanted us to play at a faster, higher tempo and to have some penetration of the Fulham back line! It never happened and I was becoming more and more frustrated.
Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell had it easy in the middle of the pitch because our tempo was lacking. We never moved the ball quick enough forward into wide areas to spread the play and stretch the two of them apart. If we had done that, spaces would have opened up in front of their back four and we could capitalise on that. It was too easy for them.
At half time we go in 0-0 and at that point, I said that I hadn't seen anything different from the last couple of performances from Chelsea based on the coverage of our so called "crisis". I wanted to see a positive reaction in that first half but if anything, it once again highlighted that our team misses the quality of Juan Mata!
I was calling for a change in our formation to be made at the time. I had suggested that Eto'o, Schurrle and Oscar should come off for Lampard, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernando Torres to come on and switch to 4-3-3. This would mean our back four remained the same but Lampard would play next to Ramires and just in front of Mikel with a forward line of De Bruyne, Torres and Hazard to really take the game to Fulham. It never happened.
Now for the second positive! Our second half performance won us the game and was better.
What I had been looking for from the start, finally happened in the second half. We played and moved the ball quicker and started to find gaps in the Fulham defence. As a result, they sat deeper, Parker and Sidwell struggled to get involved in the game in attacking areas and found themselves on the back foot and Chelsea started to create better chances!.
Oscar took one of those chances to make it 1-0 shortly after the break and Mikel (Yes Mikel!) scored to make it 2-0 and Chelsea had the game won and an important three points were ours at last!
It frustrates the life out of me as to why it took us 45 minutes to get going yesterday! We all saw the difference when we did, it was the exciting style of play we know we have in us. When we play at pace, teams struggle to cope with our movement and our tempo.
So, after all this, Chelsea sit top of the league ahead of the Premier League games today and we have put ourselves in an important position with the Manchester derby taking place later.
Without question, Chelsea are a work in progress and the Juan Mata debate still rumbles on. We have a trip to Swindon coming up on Tuesday ahead of a difficult trip to White Hart Lane on Saturday and we need to work hard if we are to take another three points next week!
Carefree & KTBFFH!