And a replay it is...Yay for even more fixture congestion!
Prior to today, none of the four West London teams (Chelsea, Fulham, QPR, Brentford) had played competitive fixtures against all of the other three West London opponents in the same season. Chelsea became the first side to do so when they took on Brentford in the FA Cup. They'll now be the first West London side to play home and away with all three local rivals, as the 2-2 draw has ensured that we'll be seeing this one replayed at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea looked terrible for the bulk of the first half, and Brentford managed to take a 1-0 lead into the break. Oscar would level it shortly after the restart, but Brentford would go back ahead on a penalty that didn't involve any actual contact. Fernando Torres and Demba Ba would connect to level it again late, and that leaves us with a home tie against Brentford. Here are some thoughts after this one:
- I'll start by giving Rafa some credit here. I'm happy with the starting lineup that he chose today. Resting several key players against Brentford today was probably the correct decision to make. Especially now that Eden Hazard is facing a decent little suspension. The eleven players that Benitez picked should easily be able to deal with Brentford.
- Now 'm going to take some of that credit away. Rafa made wholesale changes against weak opposition and ended up with a lineup that clearly wasn't best suited to playing his typical 4-2-3-1 system. If I'm making those moves, it seems like a golden opportunity to play with something other than a 4-2-3-1 (you know, like something that suits the personnel). Rafa ran out the 4-2-3-1. He's a tactical mastermind, that Rafa...
- Just prior to the equalizer, I could clearly hear the Brentford fans responding to Chelsea singing with "You're not worth a quid, you're not worth a quid, Fernando Torres, you're not worth a quid!". I promptly wasted the coffee I had just made when my laughter made it end up all over my sweatshirt.
- People are going to call the penalty a dive due to the lack of actual contact, but that was an awful, awful challenge by Ross Turnbull and that penalty was rightly given in my mind. Had the player not jumped over the goalkeeper, he'd have had two broken legs. It was clearly dangerous play, and it destroyed a goal scoring opportunity. Turnbull was probably lucky not to get a red.