Well it could have been a lot worse couldn’t it?
LAST season’s exit from the Carling Cup was also followed by a loss away at Eastlands – a phase which saw only one win in seven games – I hope there are no Groundhogs around as I doubt we would get away with it again.
Ancelotti’s substitutions sometimes still confuse me. It was evident to anyone watching the game on Saturday that City’s tactics were negating Ramires and his style of play – he looked exposed and lightweight and most of us thought it was only a matter of time until we saw his number on the subs board. So Mikel’s exit was met with much confusion and shaking of heads in the Chelsea stand.
The only thing I could think of was that perhaps Ancelotti thought that he was in danger of being sent off. Even then, it should have still been the Brazilian that had gone. Worryingly, Ancelotti thinks Ramires had a good game. Hindsight is a wonderful thing I know, but he was proving a liability even before the goal — not that the rest covered themselves in glory. Effort looked minimal for the majority which was disappointing. Perhaps it’s not a great idea to give them a week off.
But back to Ancelotti’s substitutions; to take Drogba off when you are desperately in need of a goal seems just plain stupid —especially replacing him with Sturridge, who had looked pretty poor earlier in the week against Newcastle.
Perhaps the manager wanted to give John Terry a little respite from the booing as Sturridge was definitely the least popular person in the stadium, the City fans not in the least bit aware of the irony of their “one greedy b*stard” chant as they cheered on their expensively assembled squad. But then “Twenty-two greedy b*stards” doesn’t scan too well does it?
The match couldn’t exactly be described as the beautiful game, but I thought that the criticism City got in the media was uncalled for. Far be it for me to defend another team, but City did what they needed to do to win the game. Ask Wenger if he would have taken winning ugly against West Brom. Liverpool tried winning any which way they could of course, and still failed.
We looked like a team with more than one eye on the Champions League, although Drogba of course didn’t even have that excuse as he was suspended for Marseille. He was just having one of those “bad” Drogba days, but he still could have popped up with a goal.
But we can’t get too carried away just yet as we managed to lose convincingly to City both home and away last season and still did the Double.
The Carling Cup exit was annoying – just for the fact that it allowed the papers to dismiss our youth players as not good enough based on nothing more than the fact that we went out.
It was actually a really good game where the majority of the kids played well — their skill and talent was evident — if anything it was their strength of character that needed a bit of work and that comes from experience.
Their heads went down when we initially conceded and the cohesion of the team was temporarily lost. It took the introduction of new crowd favourite Josh McEachran to rally the troops; he took the opportunity given him with both hands, bossed midfield, and almost single-handedly dragged us back into the game.
He showed no fear and simply went out all guns blazing to do what he does best. He put in a performance that earned him a subs place against City and didn’t look at all out of place when he came on.
There are many false dawns when it comes to young players and I don’t want to overplay this lad’s talents, but I really think he can make it to the top. He is composed on the ball, showed some fantastic skills and his on-field decision making was faultless.
It is a mark of how well he played that all the talk in the pub after the game was about his performance — despite us losing the game in time added on as we did. The lads performance prevented most from looking at the mistakes Ancelotti made in this game which mirrored those made in our exit against Blackburn last season. We must be careful not to over-burden the youngster with the weight of heightened expectation but he is one to watch definitely.
So we enter this weekend’s game with both ourselves and Arsenal having lost — so no psychological edge for either team really. This is a serious bragging rights game these days.
Chelsea went too long as the also-rans in London for us not to take great delight in beating the team that is heralded as being all that is good in the game today. We need Drogba to get over whatever it was that was affecting him at Eastlands and put in the kind of performance that has scared the gooners half to death in recent years.
By the way, if you happen to be in North London today, make your way down to Islington Town Hall. I hear Arsenal have an open top bus parade where the team will be showing off their last financial year accounts.
Come on Chelsea!