Monday, 25 February 2008

Chelsea 1 - 2 Tottenham (1-1 aet)

Does the shadow Jose's first trophy signal troubled times for AG ?

It should have been Grants first piece of silverware and, even though he maintained throughout the campaign that the Blues had their sights on higher things, you have to believe he'll be smarting from this one. Not just because we lost, but the manner of the defeat. Out played, out thought and out fought by a team who wanted it more than us - it was never Jose's style to be out'd like this and so comparisons and questions will inevitably start all over again.

There's lots of pieces written this morning about team selection but very few fans would have been moaning when the saw the team sheet - I wasn't !! Drogba and Anelka up front, SWP picked ahead of Joe Cole to stop things going narrow. Lamps and Essien with the Jedi holding (ok maybe Ballack could have started but ....), JT back as captain and Belletti and Bridge for speed going forward. No one complained before kick off. This team, on paper, had all it needed to win but ...... they played poorly, Spurs were sharper and hungrier and that's what counted in the end.

The AG issue will be the tactics and ability to change things during open play. It was clear from very early on that the formation was not working and players weren't performing. Essien looked knackered, Anelka was way off (he's OK drifting out wide but clearly not starting from there), SWP was a shadow of his terrier like performance against Spurs in the league (when he was at the top of a diamond) and Belletti was too nervous. Now you cant change everything, but Joe Cole at half time looked an obvious call and Ballack replacing the Jedi with Essien dropping into a holding role was also a possibility. Nothing happened though and inevitably Spurs got back into the game and once their tails were up there was no stopping them.

Of course the ref was poor - it was Halsey !! - and extra time was almost as much of a farce as Cechs lunge at the free kick (he did stop two other certain goals though !!) but the bottom line was that we played poorly, weren't good enough, Spurs played at their best and wanted it more ..... end of !!

Now we need to regroup and focus on winning a tough away game at Upton Park followed by the swift and efficient dispatching of Olympiakos a few days later to put things back on track. Anything less and the knives will be out.

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