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From my seat: Chelsea (A)

By Ken Buckley :  05/12/2010 :  Comments (10) :

Blue Vanilla regain some pride at the Bridge

Following last week?s humiliating 4-1 reverse at home, coming to table-topping Sky favourites Chelsea was on paper a daunting task. After a spirited opening ,when Saha almost beat his time record for scoring against the hosts, only to be denied by a sprawling Cech save, Chelsea took control of the half with Essien and Malouda prominent and our central midfield of Fellaini and Rodwell coming to terms with being partnered together for the first time and little game time for both players this season.

With Chelsea carving the openings, Distin marshalled the defence well and Jags, looking more himself at last, not many heart stopping moments occurred. One that did saw Howard make another rick but Jags was on hand to act quickly and hack the ball away from behind the keeper before a Chelsea man could pounce. We had worries when Kalou glanced a header wide and, from a half cleared corner, Terry lobbed one against the bar that we cleared.

We did attack when we could and Coleman was put in on the right but smashed his shot across goal when a measured pass to Cahill may have been more profitable. Rodwell at last showed that an Everton player can shoot from outside the box but his effort sailed over the bar. With halftime approaching Chelsea were getting more ragged and their passing was worse than ours as we at last started to put a few joined-up moves together. Fellaini and Rodwell were getting better touches and released the Baines-Pienaar axis a couple of times but again Saha was not exactly busting a gut to get free for a final pass.

Getting in at half-time all square looked likely until Neville took a hand in proceedings. He received the ball on the right touchline, looked up, looked back, then looked up again... and, deciding nothing was on, passed back toward the keeper without looking ? leaving Anelka one-on-one with Howard. He ran up to the keeper and poked the ball past him then seemed to run straight into Howard they both fell in a heap. Penalty said the Ref. and yellow for Howard.

Drogba took the penalty with power and we were one-nil down ? a real downer to go into the half-time break. Just before that break came, Neville got in a tangle with Malouda and the Chelsea man raised his hand to Neville. Just a word from the Ref to both players due to Neville?s good sportsmanship of not making a meal of it and getting up and shaking hands. Then Neville no more than runs unavoidably into Drogba and is booked... Ref?s eh, hard to fathom at times, yet I thought today Mr Probert had a good game.

The half-time chat was that we were at least more committed than last week and a bit unlucky to be one down as the Distin inspired defence had not been over-run. Most wanted Saha to be replaced ? the only argument being should it be Yak or Beckford?

Second half and we started with more purpose. With Fellaini and Rodwell getting more of an understanding, we played more joined-up stuff and looked the better side but once again only up to the final third... but it was more threatening than anything Chelsea were offering. It was a good sign for us that Fellaini and Rodwell were winning the mid-field battle with Essien, Mikel and Malouda fading. Up until the hour mark, only a Rodwell shot wide was all either side could muster on goal.

The manager changed Saha for Beckford and this coincided with the mid-field five and Baines seemingly going up a gear. Baines got down the left and put in a special, Rodwell had stormed into the box and got his head on it only for his effort to hit the post and cannon back across the goal and cleared. Coleman was now giving Cole a real game and he was on the back post to meet another Baines special but powered his header straight at Cech when heading back across goal was the goal.

"It's coming..." I thought as Rodwell had one deflected wide and then from a Baines corner Jags rose and got too much on it as his glance had too much height for Rodwell to reach at the back post where he had ghosted in unmarked. The Blues attacked again and from a through ball Cahill, Terry and Cech went for it and Cahill slid and caught Cech on the head which brought a namby-pamby reaction from Terry that caused the Aussie to no more than stare at him; the usual melee took place.

Cech was down for ages then got up, took the free-kick and the game continued after a long delay. The next action of note saw a Chelsea cross go across goal but a determined Coleman had tracked Cole and denied him a tap in with a tackle that had to be spot on. It was all Everton now and they had earned the right to play ? and play they did, putting Chelsea under tremendous pressure, much to the angst of their fans as it was the roars of the faithful that rung around the Bridge.

It had to come... and come it did as Baines went on a run past four Chelsea players and swung in another beauty, Cahill rose majestically and did what top strikers do when they can?t get it on goal, he headed it back across goal to Beckford and even he couldn?t miss and scored with a close range header. The Blue end went mental and the roars of ?Come on? were deafening as Chelsea restarted.

Come on we did, the Champions on the ropes and looking ragged but we got a little excited when cool heads may well have sealed a win. Fellaini had two shots at goal when a pass was the better option. Seven minutes of injury time passed in a flash for Blues fans ? it must have felt like twenty minutes for Chelsea fans as we battered them but alas that bit of composure got lost in the heady thirst.

Overall I thought it was a cracking game between two teams with little form of late but it was the Blues of Everton who found theirs in the second half. MotM was hard as many put in good shifts, none more than Baines in that second half but over the piece my vote goes to Distin. As the game wore on the Rodwell/Fellaini midfield pairing started to blossom and deserves another couple of outings to see if it can really gel.

I don?t know if it showed up on TV but the off-the-ball running of Cahill, Coleman and Pienaar was excellent. Distin?s positioning and marshalling was excellent. Coleman, although still learning the position, had his best game yet in terms of playing that position and at times in the second half gave England?s Cole a bit of a chasing both up and down the field. Jags seemed to be coming back to his gritty best. Neville had a shocker but fair play he didn?t hide and had the nous to avoid a second booking.

Wigan at home next. I wonder which Everton will turn up? I hope the manager sticks with today?s line-up but Beckford for Saha. Beckford is 27 this week and we need to be finding out if he can do the job over 90 minutes rather than impact sub, where I think he gets over-excited in trying to hard.

See you there
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Mike Prendergast
1   Posted 05/12/2010 at 17:52:59

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Thanks Ken. I look forward to your reports every game. I can not get to the games so your insight is most welcome.
Gaute Lie
2   Posted 05/12/2010 at 19:33:20

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BIG improvement I say. Especially after the break. They attacked, played the ball neatly (sometimes). Chelsea's penalty was a mistake from the ref.

I hope this is a lesson to the team. Now they know how to play, produce chances ? and stand up to teams a la Chelsea. Let's all hope Moyes saw this in the second half as well, and that he saw the possibilities in playing a bit offensive.
John Ford
3   Posted 05/12/2010 at 20:22:51

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A fair reflection in my view. There were plenty of positives ? Fellaini's second half, Beckford's movement, Baines's (in particular) and Pienaar's and Coleman's energy. We reduced them to a shambles at times later on. Calm heads from Fellaini and Beckford could/should have produced a win.

It's now time to see if Beckford can do the business.
Ian Smitham
4   Posted 05/12/2010 at 21:06:45

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Ken, thanks for a well balanced observation of the game without any apparent bias. Cheers
Dick Fearon
5   Posted 05/12/2010 at 21:18:41

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Ken I expected somewhere in your as usual excellent report you might have mentioned a bit more about the Vanilla strip. IMHO it looked real class.

As for that penalty, I go along with Michael K's view that at best it was obstruction and deserved no more than an indirect free kick. Or, as Michael K puzzled, has obstruction been demoted as a punishable offence? Perhaps one of our more knowledgeable and up to date webbers could clarify.

Stewart Oakes
6   Posted 06/12/2010 at 00:19:34

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Just had a look at the laws of the game on the FIFA site and should have been a free kick to us because Anelka jumped into Howard, there is no mention of obstrucion in the box being anything other than an indirect free kick.
Chandra Kumar
7   Posted 06/12/2010 at 03:58:53

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I have become a regular reader of your reviews. Thanks for the insights. I really hope that Felliani - Rodwell get a decent run of games.
Chris Perry
8   Posted 06/12/2010 at 13:13:45

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We play better without the "average little spaniard we know".

Not a fan of Beckford, I don't think he has what it takes to be a Premier League footballer; that said neither have half the Everton squad ? in Moyes "best squad I have ever had".

We need to batter Citeh, although they looked pretty good against Bolton and should have scored a hatful.
Tony Cheek
9   Posted 06/12/2010 at 15:06:48

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Think you have it weighed up as regards to Beckford....he just tries too hard when used as sub. To be honest , I think it cost us not playing him from start . Let him start AND finish a few games now and I a m sure he and the team will benefit.
Bob Parrington
10   Posted 06/12/2010 at 22:20:03

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I agree with the push to play Beckford from the start in some games. Probably wouldn't have started him vs Chelski but, as Moyes did, brought him on as sub. However, he should be blooded fully vs teams like Wigan, Bolton, Newcastle, West Ham, Sunderland, Villa, West Brom etc while he gains some composure. The guy gets in to position to score so regularly, which is refreshing compared to just about all of our supposed strikers.

Good report Ken!
COYB

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