Chelsea dropped to fourth in the table before today's match got underway, and a loss or a draw would have meant their next Premier League game against Manchester City would have been played with Chelsea looking up at Tottenham. Luckily enough for Chelsea, they managed to pull off a statistically improbable victory despite playing at home and taking a dreaded 2-0 lead midway through the second half.
Chelsea took a 1-0 lead into the break after Ramires put them on top with a deft touch over the keeper, and they'd double the lead early in the second half when Eden Hazard rolled one in off of a beautiful Azpilicueta cross. The inevitable defensive error leading directly to a goal would come seconds later, but luckily for Chelsea, Frank Lampard would save the day.
There's now just 12 Premier League games to go before we're potentially free of Rafa Benitez, and Chelsea will head to Manchester with a comfortable gap to fifth. I hate to say it, but the sooner those 12 games are done, the better. For now, here are a few thoughts from today:
- Today was the first game since 1999 in which Fernando Torres has worn anything other than Nike footwear. It was also one of his better games in a Chelsea shirt. Make of that what you will, but since Nike doesn't send my free shoes not to point out stuff like this (hint hint), it's now noted.
- Ramires may not be a natural wing player, but playing him there takes advantage of his strengths much more than playing him in the pivot does.
- I know we've been short of pivot options of late, but I hope that Rafa has noted that Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic have been making an awful lot of really stupid errors since he's taken over. We really need to make sure that either David Luiz or John Terry are in our center back pairing for every single game, even if that means an unthinkable shift away from the 4-2-3-1 to make that happen.
- I hate to say it was fortunate that Oscar had to limp off the pitch, but prior to him picking up an injury, Rafa was planning to take off Gary Cahill and replace him with Juan Mata. That would be a very logical move when trailing 2-1, but when leading by a goal with about 15 minutes to play that really seems like an awful, awful decision.
- Cesar Azpilicueta was absolutely filthy today. He really deserved a goal for his effort, but it was nice to see Marko Marin have the opportunity to do something positive.
- Ali Al-Habsi was just fantastic today as well. This one really could have been a lot worse.