LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 13: John Terry of Chelsea celebrates soring their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge on May 13, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
This game meant nothing to Chelsea in the standings, and with the biggest game in the club's history 6 days away it was no surprise that Chelsea ran out 11 guys that are unlikely to start in that final. Romelu Lukaku got to celebrate his 19th birthday with a start, and Sam Hutchinson made his first start of the season. Other than that, it was generally the regular backups and the suspended players modelling the 2012/13 kits for us on this fine day, and what beauties those kits are. Well done whomever decided on them, it's a big improvement from any of the last three seasons.
Chelsea started the game controlling possession for the most part, but a Raul Meireles deflection caused Ross Turnbull to be the first keeper tested on the day. He'd make a fairly nice save to push the ball over the bar, looking much sharper than midweek. Chelsea would survive the ensuing corner, and then they'd ease back into control of the match.
Daniel Sturridge and Romelu Lukaku would begin to assert themselves at this point. Sturridge seemed to be operating largely in the center of the pitch, and it was interesting to say the least. He looked good there, manufacturing a shot which was deflected for a corner (Lukaku headed wide), and then playing Lukaku through with an excellent chip that the keeper managed to clear. The two youngsters were looking good though, something that's nice to see heading into next season.
Sturridge continued to create chances for Chelsea, just missing Lukaku with an excellent cross before connecting with him minutes later. He'd then find himself on the other end of a Malouda cross, but his header would miss wide. All told things were looking very promising for Chelsea as Blackburn weren't doing anything with the ball when they had it. It looked only a matter of time before the guys in blue took the lead.
We wouldn't have to wait much longer for a goal, as Romelu Lukaku delivered a near perfect cross to John Terry. Terry calmly buried his header next to the near post, and just like that it was Chelsea on top. Nothing like passing out assists on your birthday I guess, the captain can thank the big Belgian later.
2-0 would come just minutes later, as Chelsea continued to push the attack. Michael Essien dribbled into the box, beating his man before being tripped in what was likely a penalty. The ref kept his whistle in his pocket though as the ball rolled directly into the path of Raul Meireles. Raul would bury the shot in the left hand side of the net, and this one was all but over.
There was one substitution for Chelsea in the first half. Florent Malouda came off for the mascot (Paulo Ferreira), and Ryan Bertrand pushed forward to the left wing. Tha change caught most of us off guard, but it appears that Malouda may have been nursing a bit of an injury. With Meireles and Ramires both suspended for next weekend, this is a bit of a concern for Chelsea.
The second half would start with no more changes, Sturridge and Lukaku continued to look threatening for the Blues. Both forwards would come close in the opening minutes of the second half, and both would continue to pump crosses from the wings when they drifted wide. Sturridge looked awfully good when Lukaku would head to either flank, always filling in in the center of the pitch for him. That's something you just don't see with Mata, and something to think about for next season.
Lukaku would be subbed off for Drogba, with the big Ivorian getting a few minutes ahead of the big game next weekend. This was easily the best game I've see out of Lukaku this season, it's a real shame none of his chances found the back of the net. It certainly gets me excited for next year though, as I can really see the youngster making an impact wherever he plays.
Scott Dann would celebrate his second consecutive relegation with a goal shortly thereafter. Ross Turnbull vacated the net to whiff on a corner, Dann coolly headed home into the gaping net. It was now 2-1, but Blackburn really weren't looking dangerous.
Sam Hutchinson would now depart to get Fernando Torres a few minutes on the pitch, Paulo shifting to the right and Bertrand moving back to the left. While disappointed not to see Piazon today, I think getting Torres and Drogba a few minutes ahead of Saturday was probably the right decision in the end. The young Brazilian will get his chances, it will be interesting to see where he ends up next year.
I'd love to give you a more detailed report on the last 20 minutes or so, but I really spent most of it watching the title deciding games at this point. From my limited viewing though it appeared that Chelsea had the bulk of the possession and were trying the aerial cross route into the forwards. They'd keep getting corner after corner, but Blackburn defended them pretty well. The game would end 2-1 and Chelsea finish 6th domestically.
It was certainly an interesting league season, and finishing 6t is massively disappointing to all of us here. I don't think there is any question Chelsea are a better team than their finish would indicate, individual defensive errors at awful times really did seem to kill us this season. Oh well, all will be right in the world again if we come out on top next weekend. One game to go, let's hope it's a good one.
This may well have been the final game in blue for a number of these players, and may have been the final home game for some others. The futures of Drogs, Malouda, Ferreira, and Essien are all very much up in the air at this point so it's nice to see them get a win today. There's also that nasty rumor about Real and Brani out there, I'm not really sure I believe it though. Regardless, it's always nice to end the Premier League season with a win, and hopefully next year we'll be playing for a title at this time.