A Fan's View: Chelsea 2 Albion 1
By Site Editor
Updated Sunday, 21st August 2011
DonnyValdo gives his verdict on Albion's defeat
Now that Wolves and the Villa are now going to win the league, or at least make Europe, it just shows how cruel the fixture list has – again – been to us. Seven days after matching Manchester United for long periods it was Albion’s turn to travel down to West London and face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
In Andre Villas-Boas’ first game in charge, Roy Hogdson’s men in red were unchanged from the spirited defeat against United at The Hawthorns.
Albion started brightly and it was nice to see that under Roy we didn’t look like rabbits in front of headlights. Again we were organised and looked threatening on the counter-attack with Shane Long building on his performance against Manchester United.
Long, who is more than happy to chase down ‘lost’ balls and hassle defenders, got his reward in the fourth minute when he robbed Alex in the centre circle, muscled the defender off the ball, and then sent Hilario the wrong way. What a start. This doesn’t usually happen to Albion!
The onslaught which many Albion fans expected didn’t really materialise. In fact, if anything, it was Albion who were controlling the game – Scharner and Mulumbu effectively breaking up play and Long and Tchyoi looking threatening on the break.
Chelsea had half-chances at the home crowd began to get restless. But it was Albion who had the next chance to trouble the scorers. Chris Brunt did well to win the ball off Ashley Cole before firing an excellent ball down the channel with the outside of his left boot. Shane Long – whose movement was excellent all game – latched on to the ball with Somen Tchyoi waiting for the cross completely unmarked in the middle. But, when a simple side-rule pass would’ve made it two-nil, the Irishman over-hit his pass and the chance had gone. Every Albion fan knew the missed opportunity would come back to haunt us.
Ben Foster had to make an acrobatic save from Ashley Cole before the half time whistle, but Albion had stood firm and managed to maintain the lead after the first 45 minutes.
After the break
I was pretty sure that the second half wouldn’t be as easy for the Baggies as the first 45 minutes were. Unfortunately I was right. Chelsea took just eight minutes to equalise. Nicolas Anelka caught Nicky Shorey inside his own half and travelled at pace towards the Albion goal. The ball was fed inside to Frank Lampard who jumped over the outstretched leg of Jonas Olsson. A dive for everyone to see, apart from the referee who failed to caution the England man – a week after he did the same thing against Stoke. The ball came back to Anelka on the edge of the area, he skipped over Shorey’s desperate sliding tackle before firing the ball towards goal. It took a massive deflection off Olsson’s left calf and spun just inside the far post – almost a carbon copy of the goal conceded late on against United.
It seemed that the writing was on the wall at this stage. Tchyoi was no longer holding up the ball and Long seemed to be playing deeper. There was no ‘out-ball’ and we were soaking up pressure at will. But again we stood firm. Tamas and Olsson heading everything away and Steven Reid back to the form of last season at right back.
In fact we almost took the lead. Morrison did well to twist and turn away from Ramires down the left. He got to the byline and sent over an excellent cross where Paul Scharner headed towards goal. But his effort deflected off his shoulder and over the bar, much to his dismay.
At the other end it was Reid who kept the scores level when he magnificently blocked Malouda’s goal-bound volley after Foster had saved with his feet from point-blank range from Anelka.
Despite us lacking the attacking threat we had in the first half, Long and Tchyoi were handfuls for the host’s backline on the occasions we pushed forward. Tchyoi drew Hilario into an excellent flying save after a trademark curling effort as it looked we’d get the draw we deserved.
But, with ten minutes left, another Chelsea goal did come. Morrison and Shorey let Jose Bosingwa between them without making a challenge. The right-back slid an inviting cross across goal where Malouda was waiting to give Chelsea the lead. Reid, despite his attempts, was unable to recreate his heroics of moments ago.
Although there were only minutes left on the clock and a number of players looking visibly weary, we again pushed forward in the hope of a deserved equaliser. Roy Hodgson gave the fit-again Peter Odemwinige his first appearance of the season from the bench as Albion went three up front.
Long made another curling run in behind the Chelsea backline and fired in a cross. The ball found its way to Steven Reid on the edge of the area, who sent over an inviting ball to the back post. The ball bounced invitingly for Odemwingie to mark his new contract with a goal, but his volley went straight into the welcoming arms of Hilario. A yard either side of the goalkeeper and Albion would be heading back up the M40 with a point.
It’s testament to the work that Roy Hodgson has done in his short space of time at the club that we’re unhappy not to get at least a point against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The organisation that he has brought to the side has not taken away our attacking edge. Shane Long built on his debut last week and looked a handful all afternoon. His movement was superb and he won a number of headers against John Terry.
Although our midfield tired, Mulumbu and Scharner were again good in the centre. Brunt – who still doesn’t look match fit to me – did well, with Morrison catching the eye with a mixture of tough tackling and simple passing. Yes, I did use the words tough tackling and Morrison in the same sentence.
Shane Long and Somen Tchoyi carried on where they had left off up front, but it was the backline – bar Shorey – who deserve praise. Steven Reid was excellent at right back. Gabriel Tamas showed he does have the quality to play in the Premier League and Olsson, well, Olsson was just his usual self. Throwing his head at everything, using the ball cleverly and putting his body on the line when called for. Ben Foster also showed why he was Hodgson’s No.1 transfer target after a number of good saves. I won’t mention his rush of blood to the head in the second half!
Although I’m disappointed after playing so well against United and Chelsea and earning nothing, I think there are far more positives than negatives. Long looks like he’s been playing in the league for years, Tchyoi also looks a different player to the one we signed last season. If we can play that way against Stoke, I’m sure the ‘hoodoo’ will come to an end.
Come on you Baggies!
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