Well that could have been more fun. Chelsea battle to a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park against a mediocre Everton side whose single greatest goal threat was Louis Saha, meaning that a replay at Stamford Bridge is in the works. Of course, Chelsea were similarly mediocre, and probably slightly worse than their hosts - if they should be embarrassed that Louis ----ing Saha scored, how should we feel about having our bacon saved by Salomon Kalou?
Silly. I'm going with silly. We should feel silly for Salomon Kalou having to rescue us from being knocked out of the FA Cup. Granted, it was a a beautiful goal, from a terrific counterattack, but Chelsea should never have required it in the first place. Collectively, the team put in the worst performance since the Wolves match three weeks ago, and looked nothing like the team that smashed Bolton last Monday.
They also played a really, really boring game. It's not hard to put me to sleep when I'm awake at 4:30 in the morning, so maybe I'm overstating this, but the first half of the match could have been used to cure insomnia. Apart from Nicolas Anelka having a one on one saved by Tim Howard and Jack Rodwell seeing Petr Cech block a similar chance after a horrendous piece of play by Michael Essien, who was responsible for a number of horrendous pieces of play over the course of the match. Ramires and Florent Malouda weren't doing so well either, at least in the opening minutes, but both settled down somewhat as the game progressed, and Ramires was involved in pretty much every good piece of Chelsea play.
Anyway, nothing happened in the first half except for Chelsea generally bossed around midfield by Belgian hair giant Marouane Fellaini, mainly because Frank Lampard was somehow supposed to be tracking both him and Mikel Arteta and went for the option that lowered his risk of death by cannibalism. Meanwhile, Michael Essien, who is totally capable of going toe to toe against yetis, was opting to stand around doing nothing while Ramires was pitted against an inexplicably advanced Jack Rodwell. Essentially, Chelsea were forced into a 4-2-3-1 by the absence of John Obi Mikel which left both teams with a free midfielder - Essien in Chelsea's case and Fellaini in Everton's. Only one of these played anything like well.
The second half was pretty disastrous. Chelsea simply could not clear their lines, mainly due to horrendous play from the aforementioned Essien as well as captain John Terry, who had his worst performance since Lolbridgegate. With Everton getting plenty of chances to score, they were going to convert eventually, and when Louis Saha powered home a corner swung in by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov I don't think anyone was too surprised. Oh, I should mention that Terry was 'marking' Saha, which explains how Louis Saha powered home a corner swung in by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
Chelsea then proceeded to do not much at all, but that's ok because Everton weren't actually playing very good football - they'd merely taken advantage of a defence that would have embarrassed Wigan at their lowest. And then Salomon Kalou came on for Florent Malouda. Granted, that's not much to get excited about, but with Kalou comes energy, and the game needed energy.
The equaliser came from an Everton corner, which had become less dangerous to the Blues after Saha's goal had startled them from their slumber. The delivery was quickly cut out and cleared to Nicolas Anelka, who held his run just long enough for black and orange jerseys to start streaming forwards. Anelka played a diagonal ball in the general direction of Ramires, who played an excellent dummy and allowed the pass to run to Kalou. With Lampard on the overlap, all of Goodison Park was expecting another pass, especially with Sylvain Distin closing him down. Kalou would have none of that nonsense, electing instead to simply shoot through the defender's legs and into the bottom corner.
At 1-1, the game remained pretty boring, although there were a couple of interesting moments, most notably when Branislav Ivanovic totally mishit a clearance and left Jermaine Beckford in the clear and bearing down on goal. The substitute got his shot on target, but Cech, who was incredible all game, was able to beat the ball away. Chelsea also hit the post with a Ramires long-ranger in the late stages of the game, but in general the match died out in much the same way it had started. Oh, and Drogba did some falling down, although he did start bleeding copiously at one point so I'm not sure I should mock him too much for getting injured on Fellaini's hair.
Everton fans will no doubt claim they were robbed, and I think they were probably marginally the better side so maybe there's some truth to that. But at the end of the day, I also don't think either side did enough to win, so 1-1 was the correct result. The replay will be held on February 19th at Stamford Bridge.