The mid-season lull appears to have arrived early.
Chelsea were below par once again. Lethargic at times; wasteful, too. Still, Wednesday's 1-0 win over Fulham at Stamford Bridge represents another three points banked - and a moderate lead at the top of the Premier League table (four points) restored.
Michael Essien, in between a night filled with errant distrbution, scored the winner. Then, as time was expiring, capped his return from a toe injury with a red card. Whether it was deserved is irrelevant. The three-game ban, meanwhile? That's more than relevant, what with Frank Lampard's status still unclear.
Vintage Salomon Kalou on this night as well. Sandwiched between brilliance were a handful of missed opportunities, including a couple of sitters. The Mighty One - malaria-cured? - displayed hints of form, but nothing concrete. Florent Malouda drifted in and out of the match. Yuri Zhirkov was competent once again. The backline was not exactly teflon, but very good; Jose Bosingwa, in particular, showed real guile in his parades forward.
Why we allowed Fulham to apply pressure as the match closed - and thus grow in confidence - is beyond me. Clearing headers from England's Brave John Terry on the edge of his own penalty box is not, at least for me, a good sign. Especially against a side that had created little prior to the final 15 minutes. Nevertheless, it's three points. And, after the weekend, a much-needed three.
Make your selection for man of the match, then drop a few sentences in the comments section on what you thought of the performance. KTBFFH