Chelsea 2-2 Apoel: Uninspiring again as we lose Essien!

So we all knew that we had won the group and last nights game, Matchday 6 of the Champions League group stage could possibly of been a non-...

So we all knew that we had won the group and last nights game, Matchday 6 of the Champions League group stage could possibly of been a non-event. I still would of liked us to go out and stamp our authority on the game and the Champions League.

Ancelotti rotated the side once more to give players a game and some players a rest. Cech was rested and Ross Turnbull ( would could of done a bit better with the goals and made a good save to his left ) came into the side in goal. Ash Cole rested once more for Zhirkov (who played quite well) who made the start. Juliano Belletti ( played ok ) came in at right back next to Carvalho and John Terry who kept their places in the side.

Mikel ( who was calm and assured all game till he made a clanger at the end that cost us ) came into the starting eleven in place of Ballack. Essien kept his place. Deco and Lampard were replaced by Malouda ( who played well, but made a couple of mistakes giving the ball away ) and Joe Cole who for me was busy all game and did well.  Didier Drogba kept his place and Gael Kakuta ( who did ok but should of concentrated on his passing as he did for our second goal, rather than flicks and tricks that never came off )came in for Anelka.

So the game kicks off and you at least think with the team we have, we should take the three points but you know APOEL will sit back and look to soak up the pressure. But then what happens!, we go a goal down. Sloppy down our right hand side, JT leaves his man as he is well offside, but as the ball is played in, the flag stays down and the centre forward dinks is past Turnbull 1-0 APOEL! What a nightmare start.

It was only then that it gave us a kick up the arse and we started to play. Some of our passing was crisp as we moved the ball about the pitch well. Essien struck the equaliser with a thunderbolt that moved in the air from 25 yards. Keeper had no chance 1-1. Now we are on song and playing well.

Shortly after, Essien goes into a challenge and immediatley feels his hamstring. He has to go off and will more than likely now be out for three weeks. He has protective shorts on (what bloody good they do these days!) but it make no difference. Its a blow to lose Essien. No one can doubt his presence on the pitch. One of the most powerful players in the Premier League. This of course means Mikel will be first choice (more on that later).

Back to the game and we get our second goal with some lovely passing football. Must of been about 20 or so passes that comes together as Kakuta is played in about 35 yards out dead centre. He plays a slide rule pass inbetween the defenders for Zhirkov who gets to the byline down the left, looks up and plays the ball back square behind their covering defenders and Drogba walks onto the ball and strikes it left foot into the corner. 2-1 Chelsea and in the lead I'm thinking "let's kick on and wallop this lot".

The half comes to an end and we are now well on top. Lampard has come on for Essien and has had 3 shots in the space of ten mins and he looks like he will score tonight.

Second half and we batter APOEL tme and time again with possession but nothing comes of it at all. A couple of close efforts and a Joe Cole deflected cross that hits the top of the bar is all we can come up with which is really disappointing. Its all well and good keeping the ball and playing our pretty passes in the first two thirds of the pitch but again tonight once more, we get to the final third in the second half and struggle to create anything of note!.

I noticed that Drogba was becoming more and more frustrated in the second half. Numerous times he found space and was waiting for the killer ball but it never happened. He protested to the rest of the side and I shouting "give him the bloody ball for christ's sake!". Florent Malouda was the best player for us in the first half but drifted out of the game in the second half. At times he lost the ball or played stupid passes out wide blind without checking where the defender was and the ball was intercepted at least twice.

We just seemed to want to play in third or second gear. We are at home, in the Champions League so why play that way? Once we took a 2-1 lead we should of carried on playing the way we did towards the end of the half with killer balls into Drogba but no. We get the ball near their box and with their two banks of four defending we made things difficult for ourselves.

Then the sucker punch. Mikel has looked calm and assured and has played well all game. He is played the ball into feet just inside our half of the pitch. Rather than take a touch he looks to play the ball back to the person that passed it to him as a 1-2 but plays it to their attacker. He takes the ball on as he has a free run at goal. Zhirkov comes across to close him down, Turnbull comes out FEET FIRST AGAIN and the forward slots it under him and makes it 2-2 with just minutes to go. A classic sucker punch from a side who have sat back and looked to soak up pressure all game. Their fans go ballistic I'm thinking for f**k sake Chelsea.

Better still for APOEL, they have a chance at the death as they get in down our right hand side and overhit a cross which evades their man in the box and the ball goes out for a throw. Ref blows the whistle and we have dropped points at home in a game we should so easily have won.

A frustrating night for Chelsea and for all of us the fans. Carlo Ancelotti said after the game:

"“It was not a good evening, We did well in the first half. We go [1-0] down after six minutes, but we had a good reaction and we played with intensity. But the second half was totally different. We lost intensity. We lost concentration. We played too slowly. For this, I am not happy. We have to play 90 minutes with intensity and concentration. The result was not important, but what is important is to play our best in every game and tonight was not what we want. Their second goal was the consequence of our play. We played too soft. We had the possibility to close the game but we didn't play well and it was right that Apoel drew the game.”

So why did we, and do we in certain games lose our intensity? Is it because he is rotating players? Like I said about the Man City game, maybe we should keep the same side and keep the fluidity of our play. Think back to when Guus Hiddink took over last season and the run we went on after he took over. He hardly rotated the players at all, so much so that Carvalho and Deco never really got a look in!. Is this something Ancelotti needs to consider?

One thing is for sure, we need to get our intensity back, our act together and cut out these mistakes ahead of Everton on Saturday.


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