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The Nazis Had Pieces of Flair ...

... and it looks as if we do now.

During the first half of Wednesday's 1-0 win over Reading, Chelsea showed signs of Avram Grant's often-mentioned, but hardly-seen "beautiful football." While I may be a master wordsmith -- surprising I know -- I'll let the papers do the honors.

  • The Telegraph: "... Chelsea found their range, cultivating a cute passing game that aesthetically eclipsed the dour defensive arts beloved by Jose Mourinho."
  • The Independent: "... the real impression last night was left by Avram Grant's side on the pitch with a performance rich in creativity – through a midfield triumvirate brilliantly marshalled by the indefatigable Claude Makelele – and intent."
  • The Guardian: "It also featured patches of the free-flowing football that is craved by Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner. The points were the bottom line but Shaun Wright-Phillips' and Joe Cole's artistry, in particular, proved cheer and the gloss."

The Guardian also featured perhaps the most truthful of comments. As said by David Hytner: "This was a scoreline that deceived. Chelsea ought to have won by a handful, and not only by Michael Ballack's fifth goal of the season."

If only SWP had converted a pair of one-on-ones with Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann. Anelka was denied as well, on a few occasions. So, too, was Joe Cole. Still, it was a performance that underlined Chelsea's title challenge and will no doubt keep both Arsenal and Manchester United looking in the rear view.

The performance also spelled relief (at least for me) following a string of games that produced results, but were altogether unconvincing. In the process, Chelsea equaled a club record with its ninth successive win in all competitions.

Of concern will be our lack of ruthlessness. While it can be said we should have won by a handful, we did not and it is worrisome. We need to start putting teams away, rather than coasting in -- the second half, in particular, saw Reading up their play and, in fact, had at least one clear opportunity to come away with a point. Regardless, we held on and remain within four points of the league leaders. And let's not forget, Liverpool lost -- oh happy day.

Match Highlights

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