Branislav Ivanovic points at the team who aren't complete incompetents.
It's tempting - incredibly tempting - to have a go at Chelsea for playing like a gaggle of idiots for most of the match. Even before the game began, Andre Villas-Boas was drawing criticism for leaving Gary Cahill out of the starting eleven, starting Branislav Ivanovic in the centre and Jose Bosingwa on the left. He was also rather mystifyingly criticised for leaving Florent Malouda in the starting eleven when left with virtually no other options thanks to a slew of midfield injuries, which seemed rather unfair.
What the manager might be blamed for is the performance of his players. In recent interviews, Villas-Boas has taken great pride in describing himself as more than just a tactician, having backed off that facet of play to become a motivator, a man who can get the best out of his players. If he believes that's what he's doing right now, he's delusional. Over the course of the season, only Ramires has been a consistently good player. A team with the talent of Chelsea should not look anything like this bad, and if the manager is going to take responsibility for unlocking their potential I'm going to give him an earful when they play like I used to when I was six.
Swansea came out of the blocks flying. They kept the ball with a crisp passing game and took advantage of every Chelsea mistake (and there were lots). Fernando Torres gave the ball away for no reason in the first fifteen seconds, and while I attempted to count the number of unforced mistakes the Blues were making I lost track about fifteen minutes in. Eventually, they cut the basic errors out of their game, but by that point Swansea had already given them a major scare as first Branislav Ivanovic and then David Luiz was forced to clear off the line with Petr Cech nowhere to be seen.
Chelsea settled into a fairly comfortable possession game with no penetration whatsoever, but were rocked by a set piece goal just before halftime. Juan Mata fouled Angel Rangel during one of Swansea's increasingly rare forays forward, and the excellent Gylfi Sigurdsson whipping in a delivery that Bosingwa - who was in the middle while David Luiz stood alone to the right - could only nod in the vague direction of Scott Sinclair. The former Chelsea man responded with a brilliant looping volley that floated over Cech and settled in the top corner*. He didn't celebrate, which was nice.
*This was literally the only useful thing Sinclair did all match.
Then Brendan Rodgers made a silly mistake. Instead of taking advantage of the fact that Chelsea were putting in an attacking display that would make a rockery ashamed and going for goal number two and certain victory, he showed the Blues entirely too much respect and pulled his team back to defend.
It's telling that despite being comfortably superior to in terms of attacking intent and penetration, Swansea only had two real scoring chances the entire match. Part of that was to do with the defending - Oriol Romeu, David Luiz and Ivanovic were the only three Chelsea players who came out of the Liberty Stadium with their dignity intact - but much more of it was about pulling ten players back to defend for the entirety of the second half.
It's a mystery as to just what they thought they were defending against. Florent Malouda's inability to do more than run into players and lose the ball? Raul Meireles astonishing inability to pass the ball more than five yards without losing possession? Fernando Torres's astonishing knack for beating defenders as he tried to take the ball away from goal? Danny Sturridge's complete and utter failure to take advantage of chances to get loose in the box? Juan Mata's fun little habit of trying to play flicks that don't help at all only to look like a sad little hobbit when they don't come off?
There was no attacking threat from Chelsea. Twenty minutes in, and they had 28% possession. By the time the match finished, they had 54%, and had generated two chances from open play. Sure, they had a few headers here and there from free kicks, and Michael Essien, who was thankfully impressive in his half-hour cameo, sent a long-range piledriver inches over Michel Vorm's crossbar, but the Dutch goalkeeper had almost nothing to do until the equaliser, which came in stoppage time and appeared to be entirely accidental.
With Chelsea down to ten men after Ashley Cole compounded a fairly dire performance by picking up two stupid bookings, the Blues didn't look like closing the gap. But Bosingwa, whose crossing had an air of vague incompetence all match, cut in front the right, sending a low cross... right into Neil Taylor, the first man. Fortunately, it spun off the left-back's thigh and into the back of the net, leaving a wrong-footed Vorm completely helpless.
Chelsea actually had a chance to win it in the ninety seconds they had left only for Fernando Torres to blow an amazing opportunity for the counterattack by completely missing a pass to Romelu Lukaku, who was ten yards away and completely open. In the end, they'll be happy with a draw.
We didn't deserve a point, but neither did Swansea deserve three. They sat back and invited us to equalise, and despite our best attempts to ignore the invitation, we finally went ahead and scored. That's the sort of thing that's happened to us all too frequently, and you'd have to imagine that Rodgers is ruing his decision to go for a 1-0 win rather than the 3-0 or 4-0 his team were no doubt capable of.
As for Chelsea... well, they were awful. At some point, the buck stops with the manager. Whatever the hell this is, without Didier Drogba it simply doesn't work. The attacking players all had nightmares, and Villas-Boas needs to shake things up. Drop the 4-3-3 with Torres starting (hell, start Lukaku, I don't care), exile Malouda, switch to 4-2-3-1, do something. But don't just keep running out the same team over and over again only to see it look like a flaming pile of crap. The definition of insanity is... well, you know.
Chelsea's man of the match?
David Luiz (94 votes)
Oriol Romeu (10 votes)
Jose Bosingwa (12 votes)
Branislav Ivanovic (10 votes)
Michael Essien (40 votes)
I can't believe you're asking this (248 votes)
414 total votes