Early kick off on a freezing Saturday morning against the reigning European champions (as they may have mentioned, once or twice, zzzz)
Not a great set up, after our recent run of no wins in 3, but I had a feeling that if we got at them we had a chance.
As most people expected Lanzini came in for Benrahma. We also changed to 3 at the back with Coufal and Johnson as wingbacks, to allow Diop back in to the defence, to partner Zouma and Dawson
The game itself early doors was what you would expect. Chelsea were on top possession wise, and we defended resolutely and got the odd breakaway. One issue at this point but it persisted throughout was Antonio. Constantly giving the ball away and falling over for no reason. Embarrassing. How about use the skills that got you to where you were , not start relying on faking fouls.
Our visitors took a lead from a corner, makes a difference for someone to get a set piece against us ! 10 minutes later we were gived a lifeline after Bowen was brought down by Mendy running away from the goal with no one else in the box. Cheers. Up steps Lanzini and comfortably puts it away to level up. Just before half time Ziyech send across an amazing cross form the left straight onto Mounts foot, and Deccers best mate gave the visitors the lead going in to half time.
Everyone I spoke to at half time was doom and gloom . Talk of 4 or 5 -1 hidings abounded. I thought it may stay the same as neither team were on fire.
We started better, and Masuaku was on for the injured Johnson, which gave us a bit more balance going forward. Soon enough we got the equalizer from Bowen which went through the keepers legs with a nice well hit curving shot across the goal. Chelsea at this point were full of uncharacteristic mistakes and a bit blunt in attack despite Lukaku coming on at half time. We knew the keeper had a mistake in him so had to keep the pressure on, and we did. Bowen had a couple of other chances as did Benrahma when he replaced Lanzini. And with 3 minutes to go off normal time it was an odd shot / cross / who knows from Masuaku that beat Mendy on the near post to wrap up the points and streams of Chelsea leaving early.
Whats the takeaway ?Great game and we seem to have got over our habit of parking the bus against top 4 teams. We are still in there on merit, and are going into what would be considered easier games against Burnley, Arsenal and Norwich.
Injuries to Johnson, and Zouma could be massive if longer term. That would 4 first team defenders out. Not a good position. We have a dead rubber European game this week against Zargreb and although not very sporting I would play none of the first team at all , and save them all for Burnley.
It was pointed out to me (by the opposition) thatDeclan was quiet. I will say that Chelsea gave him less space than usual so fair play. He still made some key interceptions on the edge of our box and covered some distance. Soucek is more worrying. Another through the motions game. But we have to remember that his 6/10 is the same as others 8/9.
MOTM Bowen all day long. The goal, the effort, the linkup, using the space left to him by the Chelsea’s midfield trying to contain Rice.