CHELSEA 2-0 BLACKBURN
If I’m honest, whilst our players might have celebrated as if it was another cup-final, I still felt short-changed but bearing in mind we did get a win and the first time we’ve gone a couple of goals up in a league game since October, I’ll try and do this with a bit of balance.
Carlo Ancelotti had talked up McEachran and Sturridge’s chances of a start before the game, with Drogba and Essien having the threat of being dropped on them after some under par performances. As it turned out though, Sturridge’s reward for a couple of goals against Ipswich (not to mention his 5 for the reserves against Spurs) was a place on the bench and McEachran’s for daring to give us something to get excited about lately was a seat beside him. So it looks to be a case of our manager talking the talk but not walking the walk.
So, a predictable line-up and unfortunately a predictable performance, at least for an hour or more anyway because, nothing had really changed since our last league game. It was the same out of form players, lacking creativity – and the ability to string more than a couple of passes together apparently. Not that we didn’t have enough possession, we had plenty, we just failed to do anything with it. Ramires hit the bar early on and Anelka had another go at dislodging it just before half-time but that was as much excitement as were going to get from the first 45 minutes.
The second half was better from us so presumably someone said something right before the players came back out. We didn’t miraculously put in a Barcelona style performance or anything, we just looked like we’d come out for a game. Malouda came out with a bit too much fight maybe and could easily have gone off for a two-footed tackle on Diouf although unfortunately still could muster up quite as much conviction when it came to attacking Blackburn’s goal. In fact, if positioning’s anything to go by, Malouda and Drogba were pretty bashful when it came to the opposition’s area, so much so, they managed to make Bosingwa’s crossing look worse than usual – which takes some doing.
We managed to go ahead just before the hour though, with JT getting on the end of a Malouda corner to head it across goal and despite being surrounded by Blackburn players, Ivanovic somehow managed to get it in. But whilst once upon a time we’d have pushed on from there, we don’t bother with all that now because that would require some imagination and creativity and we don’t seem to be able to find anything resembling that. So, it was back to stop-start football (without the aid of officials) and back to being frustrated by Didier Drogba looking as lethal as a rubber knife.
A similar combination for the opening goal though, finally sees us get a second on 76 minutes. Another Malouda corner and Ivanovic where he needs to be to head it in, although Anelka’s late touch to make certain just pinched it. And with Carlo’s substitutions as late as ever, McEachran comes on to replace Michael Essien (yes folks, he really had been on the pitch) for the remaining ten minutes and for some bizarre reason known only to himself, Ancelotti brings Kalou on for Nicolas Anelka.
Almost as if Paul Daniels himself has appeared, McEachran’s introduction brings with it the energy and creativity our midfield was lacking – trust me, this lad is well worth the hype. Where Essien had played the game unnoticed, McEachran was everywhere and we played out the remainder of the game threatening the Blackburn goal a lot more than we had for the first 80 minutes, almost finishing it 3-0 with a more alert Malouda calling on Robinson to just tip it out.
Overall then, not brilliant but a win is a win whichever way it comes and for it to be by more than a single goal for the first time since October, we definitely can’t grumble. Obviously of concern is the continued poor form of players like Drogba and Essien and even more concerning is Ancelotti’s apparent oblivion to it when it comes to team selection. Balancing that though, we have the performances of Ivanovic and Ramires – who it’s fair to say we’d have struggled without given the real Michael Essien is still missing. John Terry seems to have found his mojo again and in Josh McEachran, we look to have a player to really get excited about.
So, a much needed result and another badly needed 3 points but have we turned the corner? Personally I think we’re still only halfway up the road but at least we look as if we’re heading in the right direction again now.
CHELSEA: Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Ivanovic, Cole; Ramires, Essien (McEachran 80), Lampard; Anelka (Kalou 79), Drogba, Malouda (Sturridge 87)
BLACKBURN: Robinson; Salgado, Samba, Nelsen, Givet; MB Diouf, Dunn (Lowe 24), Pedersen, Olsson; Hoilett (Roberts 68); Kalinic (Santa Cruz 45)