You'll forgive me for the tardiness of this recap, but I needed a 24-hour reprieve from all things Chelsea to clear my head. This was as hard a loss to swallow as we've endured this campaign. If you could have predicted this outcome, then you'd probably be a rich man right now- or a Liverpool fan. Either way, we officially have a crisis on our hands. Yeah I said it.
In reading Jamie's previous post, I was struck by how raw her words felt. 'The Pit of Despair' is probably the most apt description you could conjure to accurately convey our current state. It's gone from bad, to worse, and then it's managed to some how get even more fucked up. Carlo, clearly, seems a man without a plan or the slightest clue of what's going on or how to remedy the situation. I won't say he's 'given up' at this point, but I think it's safe to say he shouldn't be investing in any real estate anytime soon.
On this day, as all others of late, we were drab. Insipid, uninspired, unfocused. In short, somewhat hard to watch. Opting to start Obi Mikel in place of Essien was a smart decision I felt by Carlo, but OTRNNG (Obi Trice, Real Name No Gimmiks) got the yank after 45 minutes and barely had a chance to get out of second-gear. Otherwise, Carlo elected to play the only remaining fit defender in the first team, one Paulo Ferreira, who typically indicates that we're about to concede a goal or three. Now, Paulo wasn't terrible. But he wasn't exactly the strong presence of Ivanovic, or even the quickness of Bosingwa. Still, he did get skinned on a couple of occasions. But, overall, it was a strong side picked (Anelka started on the bench in favor of Kalou) and one that clearly has the quality to win on most days.
Here's the quick and dirty synopsis of what happened:
- We had a ton of chances, and couldn't beat Howard.
- Frank, seriously, needs to work on his shooting. I counted at least four clean chances before his eventual goal that he could have knocked down another day.
- Everton equalized with one minute of time remaining in the second extra period.
- Anelka shanked a penalty. Ashley Cole whiffed a penalty. We lost.
Once again, we concede in the dying embers of another match. So. Many. Fucking. Times. This. Season. It's as if our collective brains click off after scoring, and we somehow forget that there's a match in progress. Typical to the script, Everton equalized and pushed this bullshit party to penalties. I'm avoiding saying anything particularly awful about Anelka or Ashley at the moment, but IN the moment, I was cursing their names with aplomb. But I'm glad I took the 24 hour break post-match to consider my thoughts on what has devolved into a hot mess.
We've got one trophy we can still win, and that seems like the most impossible of asks at the moment. Based on our current form? We clearly lack the ability to take on the Arsenal/MU/Barcelona/Madrid's of the world. Shit, we couldn't beat Everton this week. Yeah, it's gotten that bad. The bad news? It's been this way for months now and all of us at various points (myself included) have been tricked into thinking it was over long before this moment. We've all managed to trick our minds into believing that things weren't as bad as they seemed, or that a win was right around the corner. But we have to face facts and admit that, based on this latest display: we are playing some of the worst football this season, right now. Hell, Tottenham beat AC Milan this week. Do you think we have the stones to do that right now?
Carlo claims that only EBALJT and Bane are 'in-form' at the moment. How, you ask, this is possible from a team of professional footballers? I wish I had the words. I can understand three or four players being in a slump, but seriously, to have 9 of the 11 first-team players be 'in a funk' at the same time? Crisis, confirmed. Our downfall this time, as it has been many times this year, was our wastefulness around the box. Here's hoping Nando can find his shooting boots sharpish and start pegging back a few, or else.
I'd rather not discuss the penalty shootout at length, to be honest. It was gut-wrenching, as they all are. But it was made worse by the fact that I KNEW we were about to lose. It was like an extended execution- the only uncertain part was how long it would take to finish. Not upset with Ash for his miss, he hasn't been in a scoring form this year, I'm more shocked at how poor Nico's was. Regardless, it was just difficult to witness, and it only serves to fuel the fire of Carlo heading back to Italy to take the vacant Roma job.
IN the net, not outside...
For what it's worth, Carlo's continuing to say 'all the right things' in the press, insisting he has no intention of abandoning ship, and that he would only leave the club if the decision was handed down by Romes. He continues to insist that we're playing 'good' and that our latest showing was another example of bad luck. But we all know that thing's ain't right in the Kingdom, and it's clearly time for some decisive action and post-haste. On to the ratings.
Petr Cech - 6.5
Wasn't terrible, and we know that penalties are his achilles heel. Got skinned again on another free kick, this time by taking too long to build his defensive wall.
Paulo Ferreira - 6
What you'd expect, nothing more.
John Terry - 7
Strong in the air, challenged well. Made a few crunching tackles and got forward as possible. Did well to help out Paulo on a number of tricky occasions. Mistimed one challenge that could have led to a goal by Osman.
Branislav Ivanovic - 6.5
Similar to JT in his effectiveness, but I think we all prefer him on the right.
Ashley Cole - 6.5
Was back about his wits, getting up the pitch and helping in the attack. Defensively sound, handled his markings appropriately. Can't be faulted for the penalty miss (no one really can).
John Obi Mikel - 5
Didn't get a chance to do anything, really.
Ramires - 6.5
Ran well into challenges. Had a few forays into the attack.
Frank Lampard - 7.5 (MOTM)
At least he managed to create some chances, which is more than we can say about him over the last few weeks. Too many misses, however.
Kalou - 6
White Swan. Black Swan. Today was White Swan. Timid, confused, indecisive.
Drogba - 6
Didn't see anything in the form of dominance from him.
Malouda - 6.5
Created well off the left.
Anelka - 5.5
Wish he'd started the more I think about it.
Zhirkov - 5
Hooray the Russian's back! Something to cheer at least!
...no salient words of wisdom to close. No battle cry. At least not until the Copenhagen preview goes live.