Going into the game, Chelsea were just seven points ahead of Spurs but eleven ahead of us, this was really a must win for us and considering they lost to Palace last Saturday we had every chance. With no defeats for us in eight games as we walked out and with Chelsea looking pretty strong, there was a little bit more hope with non-regular Kurt Zouma being in the starting eleven for his first start of the season in the Premier League. Could we expose him?
Well there was a slight hope, but we had Navas at right back again along with Fabian Delph starting for us in centre midfield, which seemed a bit confusing too. It was of course great to have our captain Vincent back, it would be fantastic if Pep could somehow keep him fit and have him playing week in week out for us. However, he got off to a bad start as we conceded within ten minutes with Kompany and the rest of the team clearly not at the pace of the game from the off. The ball was pulled back from Aspicuelta down the right, who had so much space, Hazard hit one first time and with a slight deflection off Kompany it was passed Willy in our goal.
Not a great start at all but we did try quickly to get back into it and Fernandinho long-range effort was our first effort on target. We followed that up with some great passing play, but Sergio’s shot from the edge of their area was quite tame.
We then got some luck and were back into the game, we earned our luck though as Aguero put Coutois under pressure, and although he still should have cleared it quite easily. He didn’t. Instead he whacked it straight to Sliva, he got it under controlled, went straight towards goal and with Luis closing him down took a shot from a tight angle. Courtois to be fair was up and in position quickly after his mistake to make the save, but the rebound just popped out for Sergio to tap in. Game on.
Courtois made up for his mistake not long after as we put another quick and brilliant move together to put Sane through. Courtois stayed big and only went down to block the ball just as Sane got there. Moments later an absolutely stupid tackle from Fernandinho on Pedro in the area, he was just too tight and at the wrong ankle to make the tackle. In futsal I’m sure they’d call it winning a tactical free-kick or in this case a penalty. Willy saved from Hazard, but the rebound went straight back to Hazard who tapped it in.
Conte and Chelsea made second half changes which restricted our passing play and it worked, as we were restricted to a few half chances. Like a fortuitous header off Kompany from a free-kick that hit the bar, then Stones’ header was straight at Courtois from a corner. They then had one superb chance to finish the game but Hazard ballooned his shot over when it would have been easier to complete his hat-trick.
Title challenge fully over. Chelsea were definitely relieved to finish the game in the end as both Aquero and then Stoner again had close range chances again, but it wasn’t to be. In summary, we need new defenders urgently for the start of next season, In the meantime let’s forget this game and concentrate on winning the FA Cup and a Champions League place.
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