A horrid first half and a fantastic second leave us with a replay to come at Stamford Bridge
Rafa Benitez may be best known for the 2005 Champions League final, a game in which he made some halftime adjustments that saw his side come back from 3-0 down to win the final against AC Milan. We hadn't seen anything since he came to Chelsea that remotely resembled the reputation he earned with that comeback, although today's game had some remarkable similarities.
Chelsea were an absolute shambles at the start of this one. The defense was disorganized, there was far too much space in the midfield, and even Petr Cech looked out of sorts. We'd concede an early pair, and were probably a bit lucky to only be down a pair at the break.
The second half would be totally different, as we were far more compact and much more fluid with our pressure. Chelsea were the far better team, and may well have been unlucky to only score a pair. In the end the draw was probably fair, and it was a very encouraging second half display:
- The first goal is a perfect example of the defensive organization issues we have written about here in the past. Half of the Chelsea defense wants to hold the line, while half insist on tracking runs into the box. Petr Cech's decision there was surprising, but the defensive organization issues that led to the chance are not.
- It's amazing what happens when a squad makes a few early changes, isn't it? Bringing on Eden Hazard paid off almost immediately, and our shape was noticeably better with the addition of John Obi Mikel.
- While the personnel changes will be the talking point, we also seemed to push into a high line with more pressure at the same time as the substitutions were made. I honestly think that has far more to do with the way we started to play than the substitutions, as all of a sudden there wasn't space or time on the ball for United to exploit.
- We still need to be more clinical on the whole, but those second half goals were superb.
- Gus Johnson and Ian Wright are just atrocious. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever heard worse commentary on a professional sporting event.
- In all seriousness, I cared more about the result of the Spurs/Liverpool game this morning than I did about this one. Thankfully, Spurs lost 3-2, a result which should increase the odds of Chelsea's next manager having Champions League football next season.
- Unfortunately, the draw today means we have a fairly ridiculous fixture congestion problem, with no available date for a replay.