The average of times and the worse of times: a tale of two Chelsea halves

Michael Regan

Chelsea fail to fulfill ambitions in Istanbul.

As has often been the case this season, we saw two Chelseas on display Wednesday night.

One, for most of the first half, was basically your average, bordering-on-good Chelsea.  Solid in the back, pressing well, breaking quickly and breathlessly.  And then promptly squandering chance after chance.

"In the first half we were the best team, we had three or four chances where we should have been more effective and score."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Chelsea FC

Chelsea were running riot through Galatasaray's midfield and defense, eventually forcing Roberto Mancini into an early substitution.  Credit to the Italian for acting swiftly and decisively, as stemming the Chelsea tide ultimately got him a not-disastrous result.  But it could've been oh-so-different had we not fallen victim to our usual blushes in front of goal.

"That's our team, some other teams have three chances and score three goals. We have five and score one, that's not a critique of the strikers but it's the profile of the team we have. We create but when we arrive in the final third of the pitch, the correct pass and right movement is something we don't have. We are paying for that, in the Premier League we are losing points and in the Champions League we could have had a different result."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Chelsea FC

While Mourinho was quick to credit his side's work rate, determination, and discipline, we were clearly second best in the second half even though we only conceded from a bit of shambolic set piece defending.

"We were comfortable defensively but we conceded a goal from a corner, which I don't like and the players don't like. In the second half they were stronger, they put more pressure on us and I think it was a fair result in the end."

-Jose Mourinho; source: Chelsea FC

Set pieces can be the Achilles heel of even the best sides, and even more so when you have Didier Drogba to worry about in the penalty area.  Though he himself did not score, Drogba's presence probably had some sort of butterfly effect that contributed to making John Terry and Petr Cech pay dearly for their individual mistakes.  It was only the fourth goal we've conceded in the last 15 matches, but hopefully it doesn't signal a return to out error-strewn ways of late-November and early-December.

To end on a positive note, making his first start since injury, Fernando Torres scored once again and is now just one goal away from reaching double digits in all competitions for the third consecutive season.  He's scoring at a Chelsea-career-best rate of one-in-three (and better than one-in-two if we take just starts) and is having a "very acceptable" season, especially in Europe.  Which basically means that he now provides frustration and joy in equal measures.  It's the small victories.

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