Chelsea Soapbox: beaten but not humbled by Blues

In a model of even-handed match reporting, Pete Sixsmith praises what Sunderland did well, puts aside disappointment that we could not quite rise to the occasion and do better and salutes a powerful display by the Champions in general – one José Bosingwa da Silva excluded – and one man, Nicolas Anelka, in particular …

As games go, it was a good one. There was plenty of exciting and attacking football, some poor defending, controversial refereeing decisions and a sublime performance from one player. The pity was that we lost it.

These are the games where we measure our progress. Too many times in the past, we have come up against one of the very good sides at the top of the League and we have been rolled over. So, on that criterion, we have advanced. We were beaten, but Chelsea did not swamp us.

Had it been a boxing match, Harry Carpenter or Eamonn Andrews would have said that we slugged it out toe to toe with the Champ until his (their) superior strength and technique showed in the second half of the fight.

We left ourselves wide open after striking the first blow. Bardsley’s goal was a belter, not just the finish across Cech, but the run and the sidestep, which were reminiscent of Micky Gray or Lennie Ashurst at their best.

He is by far the most improved player in the club and is a great advert for the virtues of the typical English player; what he lacks in technique he makes up for with sheer effort and concentration. Compare him with the wretched Boswinga – all style and no substance!!
Phil Bardsley - Sunderland - Premier LeagueAddick-tedKevin

We then proceeded to give Chelsea two goals. The first one came when Elmohamady, his mind presumably on events in his homeland, decided to climb all over Ashley Cole. Down he went and in went Lampard’s penalty.

It galvanized the Blues and a terrific pass from Anelka put Kalou in. Indecision between Gordon and Ferdinand meant that Gordon came too far off his line and the ball trickled into the net. Game over we thought.

Not a bit of it. Elmo made up for his attempt to mount Cole with a sparkling run which resulted in him being brought down on the edge of the box. Up stepped Kieran Richardson to send a low free kick past Cech to level. Four goals in half an hour and the prospect of more to come made the half time apple that much sweeter.

Alas, that was it as far as we were concerned. Whatever Ancelotti said, it worked. They were helped by a poor decision from Mark Halsey, who awarded a corner when it looked like a goal kick. He wasn’t sure, looked at his assistant, who was equally unsure and then succumbed to the pressure exerted on him by Terry and gave a corner. I thought that if you had doubts you gave the defending team the benefit of them – which is what would have happened had it had been at the other end.

Having said that, we defended the corner abysmally. Gordon made a fine save, but Terry was unmarked and unhindered as he drove a powerful shot into the roof of the net. Anybody but JT: I can’t stand him. I know he is a good player, but I just find him offensive, with his stupid haircut and his overbearing arrogance. Chelsea fans can castigate me if they wish, but that’s the way I feel.

Once that went in, we were chasing shadows and Nicolas Anelka’s in particular. He was outstanding in his midfield role and never looked hurried or flustered. He laid off balls left and right, came back to win and receive the ball and rounded the evening off with a tap in to give the scoreline a realistic look as they were two goals better than us.

It was an honourable defeat, but a defeat nonetheless. We lacked a holding midfield player; Cattermole or Meyler would have ratted around and not allowed Anelka the room he had and would have challenged Essien, particularly in the second half when he came into the game. Henderson can’t do this and while he tried to win the ball, we may have been better employing Colback in that role from the start. But it’s easy to be wise after the event.

Sessegnon did well enough to show that he could well be a considerable asset, although he must have been amazed at the pace of the game compared with Le Championnat, which is a bit like a Victor Sylvester ballroom dancing lesson – slow, slow, quick, quick, slow – compared with the frenzy of the mosh pit that is the Premier League.

So, a really good game between a developing side (us) and a side coming back to their peak (them). No quibbles with the result, but Chelsea make it hard for others to like or admire them when a clown like Boswinga take two minutes to be substituted. He seemed to want to shake hands with everybody on the pitch as he made his exit – an old Portugese custom or a new Chelsea ploy? You decide.

17 thoughts on “Chelsea Soapbox: beaten but not humbled by Blues”

  1. That was the image that was emblazoned on my mind when I was writing that last post. He had been saving that moment up for six years during which he must have woken in cold sweats punctuating hundreds of sleepless nights. Three lions on the shirt. There was always a real lion inside of his. Fantastic player who knew what it was like to work for a living outside football. Hard to imagine that he could have ever slipped through the scouting net as a boy.

  2. One of the best left backs if not THE best England has ever produced. Loved his face after he scored that penalty in Euro ’96! One of my favourite ever footballing moments.

  3. Aye Martin. They reckon he knocks them in regularly in training. You are right about him. He used to see the $$$ signs when he got anywhere near the box and used to blaze it. He’s calmed down no end.

    I prefer to try and forget about the association between Stuart and N*** Martin. He was just adding to his pension plan by the time he went there. He was a magnificent player don’t you agree?

  4. Is that Stuart Pearce the ex-Newcastle player Jeremy?!

    I wpndered why Bardo used to shoot as much because he was always off target – in fact before his goals I posted that I wished he would stop shooting! But apparently he’s always doing it in training so the coach and the other players must egg him on to keep shooting!

  5. Unfortunately defenders will be getting wise to him now. He just kept going. A tremendous finish. When he’s had attempts at goal in the past he’s tended to rush it. Since getting on the score sheet at Villa he’s looked more confident and relaxed about it. He reminded me of one of my all time favourite players Stuart Pearce with that last night. He has to be our player of the season the way that he’s turned it all around.

  6. I just now went looking for it, Jeremy, and Bardinho is right? What a lovely run, confident, unhurried, beautifully taken. It was as if he knew as he started his run, that this one was going into the net.

  7. Sixer

    In relation to the corner, I know your comments were based upon what the referee and linesman saw (if they weren’t sure of a deflection they should have given a goal kick), but the reality was that the ball did come off one of our players – I was right in line with the incident.

    Agree with comments on Bardsley but I also think that credit is due to Bramble who many of us didn’t rate, but who, in general, has been very good for us this season.

  8. Bardsley has been a complete revelation and he is becoming a cult figure like Bally, Benno, or Dickie Ord. His transformation is astonishing when you consider that he was an average right back moved to a position in which he was clearly struggling to adjust. He’s probably been our most consistent performer all season and his passion inspires those around him. He’s shown that we don’t need to sign a left back now as he’s better there than he ever was in his “natural position.”

  9. You missed a cracker Bill.

    Listen – the aggragate score – which is the one I’m far more interested in, was 5-4 to us. What does that tell you folks?!

    Credit where it’s due – Anelka was unstoppable, and played out of his skin. We did leave a lot of holes in the middle of the park though.

    In the first half we lived with them, even though it was obvious they were determined to balance the books. Our energy and our belief was there for all to see. A different team came out in the second half though. We looked tired and seemed to lack belief that we could compete with them.

    Chelsea are like a machine – they have so much flare going forward and every player is stupidly comfortable on the ball. They have an arrogant swagger about them, like an air of inevitability that they’re going to win. I would compare them to Dolph Lundgren’s character “Ivan Drago” in Rocky 4 – don’t ask me why – I just would!

    All hail Phil Bardsley – good shout Pete. What a player he’s become! I keep on harping on about belief, but Phil seems to have a new found confidence in his ability and can actually play it out of defence as opposed to humping it up pitch. He’s got to be worth about 6 million now!

  10. >Chelsea milked a whole 2 mins off the clock with the Richardson handbags.<

    Halsey played 6 mins 37 secs. of the extra 5 minutes shown.

  11. Sometimes you learn more from defeat than victory. The big difference with Sunderland now is that we are not frightened of the big guns any more. As usual the absence of Alex and Essien is at the top of the media’s agenda. No mention of Turner, Cattermole, Meyler, Welbeck, Zenden, Campbell, and the new arrival Muntari or the fact that we haven’t been able to replace Bent. We did this well despite the absentees.

    I thought we competed and played football with them for the first 45. Second half we weren’t really in it, although 4-2 possibly flatters the visitors. 3-2 would have been a more accurate reflection I though. Chelsea went home with the points, but they knew that they’d been in a game alright.

  12. The ref should have booked Boswinga for unsportsmanlike conduct. Amazing that he let him get away with it.

    Further, Chelsea milked a whole 2 mins off the clock with the Richardson handbags.

    Still, good game and the better team won.

  13. Nice to see Bardsley scoring again. From Pete’s account of the game and a couple of others I’ve read, we were a lot better against Chelsea than they were in the game that we won. Yeah, it’s always a bummer to lose three points but this was not a disheartening performance.

  14. Anelka was really spurred on by the arrival of Torres and his fear of losing his place caused motivation enough to see his performance increase 10 fold. He showed qualities rarely seen since his Arsenal days. Chelsea looked like champions and were outstanding on the night but we gave a good account of ourselves and with better defensive organisation could have got something out of the match.

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