Cardiff 1-2 Chelsea: Slow, Laboured and Woeful. Despite a lucky three points.

Three points for the blues in Wales yesterday to close the gap on Tottenham and Manchester United with Arsenal playing this evening. We w...

Three points for the blues in Wales yesterday to close the gap on Tottenham and Manchester United with Arsenal playing this evening. We would have taken them gladly if we were offered before the start of the game but once again our performance for the most part was poor again under Maurizio Sarri. 

I have said this time and time again on here and in my Vlog videos, Chelsea are at their very best when we play at a high tempo, move the ball forward into wide areas quickly and drive at our opponents. That's when we see the potential of our team unleashed and more often than not, forces our opponents backwards as they try and deal with our attacking threat.

For the last couple of months now we haven't seen anything like that at all. We only see it when it almost becomes a last ditch throw of the dice to chase a game or an equaliser which is hard to try and understand. It's one thing to control possession in games but if you offer little or no attacking threat then what's the point? Gonzalo Higuain must have some concerns about his overall involvement at the moment because he hardly gets a look-in.

I want to take a moment to speak about Cardiff here. Now they are a team that looks like they want to fight for every point. There are no big name stars on mega wages, there are no show-ponies in their side but a team of grafters, players who are not prepared to give up on the Premier League and despite knowing that on paper Chelsea should blow them away, they were prepared to dig-in, to remain organised and compact to then look for something from a set piece or cross into the box - and it worked.

There were a couple of decisions that went against them and cost them the game and we have to admit to that. The Azpilicueta goal was two-yards offside, a couple of tussles in the penalty box grabbing hold of peoples shirts would have been punished if VAR was in use at the moment and Toni Rudiger was lucky to remain on the pitch after fouling his opponent who was through on goal (although it has to be said that Kepa looked like he had it covered). I can understand and sympathise with Neil Warnock who let's face it, isn't everyone's favourite but tells it exactly as it is and was spot on yesterday.

So to Chelsea yesterday. The team selection baffled all of us. We are fighting for the top four and need to play our best team every week to give us the best chance of winning games. To decide to "REST" N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard - our two best players because the manager claims they are tired was a joke. We have only got seven games to go in the season before they have the whole summer off - I do not understand the logic. If you then take Callum Hudson-Odoi who was left on the bench and not involved at all, then it becomes even more frustrating.

Before the Cardiff opening goal - right at the start of the second half, Chelsea were awful. Our possession was too slow and laboured, we had no cutting edge, there was just a single ball over the top into Higuain for a possible half-chance which was cleared and it was easy for Cardiff to defend.

After the goal Eden Hazard was introduced with Ruben Loftus-Cheek shortly afterwards for Pedro and Jorginho. Both were ineffective and playing just as poorly as everyone else so it could have been anyone coming off to be honest. RLC revealed that Maurizio Sarri and Gianfranco Zola asked him to play further forward and for Ross Barkley to play with more discipline - similar to the way we played against Manchester City in the League Cup Final and Tottenham. It gave us more attacking threat and Chelsea look far more dangerous almost instantly than at any other point in the game.

I've been asking us to play this way since we beat Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. That's the blueprint for Sarri's tactic to work. When one midfielder goes forward the other sits alongside the player who is in the pivot position in front of the back four. That's how we should have been playing week in and week out but for some reason the manager has reverted back to a formation that struggles to be successful in the Premier League.

The final introduction of Olivier Giroud gave us a different dimension up front as it became clear that Higuain offered little or no presence at all against their centre backs when we had been looking for a focal point up top. He immediately put them both under pressure and played a role in both goals, not for anything of note but he forced their defence to rethink who they are marking. Why he doesn't start now is beyond me.

So to the goals and the positive for us is that we kept going. Having made a mess of most of our corners all game, we finally got one right as Willian swung the ball into box for Marcos Alonso to flick the ball on at the near post. Yes Azpi was two-yards offside but, he was in a position where he could grasp the opportunity and did so to make it 1-1.

Our second was a great ball into the box from Willian, over the head of Giroud who again was forcing his opponent into dealing with him leaving RLC at the back post to out-muscle his defender and head into the bottom corner to win it in injury time. It was good to see him score and will give him confidence between now and the end of the season.

It was a real let-off for Chelsea and for Maurizio Sarri - more on him in my next blog post. It's Brighton next and we simply cannot afford another slow, laboured performance like this one.

What did you think of everything to do with the game yesterday?


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