Opening day: We'll take it

Welcome to England, Carlo. Specifically, welcome to the world of Chelsea Football Club.

Ancelotti, a notorious smoker, may not have been able to light one up during the match, but no doubt partook in the old puff following Saturday's dramatic opening day. A day which ended with an all-too-close, just-in-time 2-1 win over Hull City at Stamford Bridge.

As seen last season, travellers to the Bridge remained resolute. Deep-lying Hull nearly walked away with their second point in as many trips to the west of London, until a certain Ivorian emerged from the share-of-the-points depths with a piece of inspired luck not seen on this side of the capital in some time.


Didier Drogba's lofted crossing pass to the far post may have been intended for the unmarked Salomon Kalou. Yet when it drifted over Hull goalkeeper Boaz Myhill, inspired for much of the day, and looped just under the crossbar, you didn't mind. You didn't mind at all.

Regardless of the final result, this was a frustrating day for Chelsea staff, players and fans alike.

Hull, and it's record of one win in 22 games -- now 23 -- warmed to this ocassion. The Tigers' centerhalf pairing, in particular Michael Turner, proved to be worthy detractors to the Chelsea cause. The visitors did well to deny both Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa pathways into attack; this negated the width we sought, width needed to avoid a midfield clusterf***. If not for Drogba, two-plus minutes into added time, Hull would've succeeded.

There are more worries, too. The lack of sharpness in front of goal brings back some haunting memories. Of Chelsea's 33 shots, just 10 were on target. Thirty-three shots, two goals? Worrying to say the least.

Nicolas Anelka provided little, in my view. Even Drogba struggled in the goalmouth, hurling an opening-minute sitter wide and finding Myhill on a pair of ocassions when it looked as if the goal was an easier target. Still, the Ivorian was at his battering best for much of the day -- the same cannot be said for Anelka.



by Guardian Chalkboards

The introductions of both Ballack, at intermission, and Deco later into the second half proved positive. Deco was incisive and Ballack's replacing of Mikel allowed Essien to move into defensive midfield where his energy and versatility dwarf that of the young, but promising, Nigerian.

Obviously, there are improvements to be made. But three points from three is what is is, quality. Remember 2005-06?

Wigan? Crespo? Premiership title.

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