Looking to build on the midweek FA cup victory so again no Drogba (he's not even on the bench) but the really bad news comes as we hear that Joe Cole had an operation on his knee this morning and will be out for the rest of the season. Worse still is that JT limped off during the warm up and is replaced by Alex. So its up to Malouda and Kalou to provide width for Anelka. No Deco either (calf strain) so its a very young bench with Di Santo, Mancienne, Stoch, Kakuta as 4 teens from the possible 7 subs.
Its a nervy start as an early Delap throw causes havoc in a strange zone come man-to-man hybrid. But from then on its all Chelsea as they park in the Stoke half. Lots of possession and half chances - Ballack hits a free kick straight at Sorensen and on 23mins Lamps whips in a free kick which beats the entire Stoke defence but Kalou knocks the chance over the bar. Kalou is brought down in the box 2mins later but the ref is having none of it. On 32mins, a lovely exchange of passes on the edge of the box breaks to Anelka but his snap shot is well saved by Sorensen. You believe a goal must be coming but again the Blues are denied on 42mins as a goal bound Ashley Cole strike is deflected over. In the last 2mins Lamps twice lets rip from the edge of the box but both times Sorensen gets his gloves behind the ball. Its been all Chelsea but the first half ends goalless.
No changes at half time and its the same pattern - first a driven free kick from Lamps and the Bozzy drives over. On 50mins a flowing move ends with Malouda floating a simple cross which Ballack somehow heads wide when completely unmarked. Apart from one Beattie effort its been all Chelsea but on the hour Beattie feeds Delap whop works his way into the box and lifts the ball over Cech. We're loosing at home to the team with the worst away record in the league and the response is to swap Malouda with Di Santo. With 63 mins its nearly 2-0 as Cech comes and flaps at a Delap throw but its scrambled away. A lovely exchange with Anelka a minute later sets Lamps free but he drags his shot wide. On 69mins the ball is fed out to Ash and his cross / shot eludes everyone. This is not our day (or season ?). Jedi, Ballack and Alex all blast over and this is looking desperate as first Belletti and then Stoch come on for Bozzy and Jedi respectively with 5mins to go and finally Belletti connects with a knock down from Di Santo and its 1-1.
So we celebrate an equaliser against the team with the worst away record in the league - hardly acceptable but ..... on 90mins Kalou picks up the ball in his own half and runs at Stoke only to be brought down on the edge of the box. The free kick is tailor made for Lamps but for some reason Belletti flicks it wastefully into the Stoke wall. On 92mins a fabulous cross field pass from Lamps finds Stoch and his drive is parried by Sorensen. With 30seconds to go and a shot from Anelka breaks on the edge of the box to Lamps whop drives it home - What a turn around. !! Unbelievable scenes as the team and bench go wild....
OK so its a well overdue home win but ....... it was against Stoke and incredibly lucky - just hope this is that start of something better. COME ON U BLUES