How did you rate Chelsea's performance against Reading? We surveyed the readers after the game -- click through the jump to find the results.
|Petr Cech - GK
In the aftermath of the 2-0 win against Wigan Athletic, the main complaint about Petr Cech was to do with his distribution. Those same demons popped up here, but were overshadowed by a calamitous error in the first half to give Reading a 2-1 lead and put Chelsea in some very hot water.
Obviously, Cech's play on the Danny Guthrie goal was appalling. There's not much more to say about that. Normally, Cech has no problem with long shots -- I actually had Chelsea's goalkeeping from distance as the best in the Premier League last time I looked, which was two years ago. Anyway, it's best to consider this as a blip. A really, really embarrassing blip.
It's hard to know what getting 'caught out of position' really means anymore with this Chelsea team. With Juan Mata and Eden Hazard playing free roles, Cole was forced to roam up and down the pitch to provide some width on the left wing. It therefore came as zero surprise when he was exposed on a counterattack for Reading's first goal.
How much do you blame that on the player, and how much do you blame it on the system? It's hard to say. But Cole can't be expected to run a whole flank by himself, and after the goal he was much more cautious about getting forward, at which point he became fine defensively. That didn't stop Reading for targetting him specifically, however -- 49 percent of their attacks went down his side.
Oh, and he got an assist too. Although I'd rather he just score next time he's free in the box and has Fernando Torres in an offside position.
|Gary Cahill - CB
Scored a goal, at fault for a goal. I was hoping Cahill would start against Reading, because I thought that the David Luiz-Pavel Pogrebnyak matchup was tilted heavily in the Royal's favour, so it was especially annoying to see Cahill completely lose his man for the equaliser. Happily, he's admitted the mistake and did markedly better for the rest of the match, but gosh. That was a pretty bad one.
As for his goal, he did well to hit the shot hard and keep it low, but most of the credit on that one ought to go to Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici, who palmed the ball into the back of his own net. Those to events aside, Cahill was assured and competent, but a competent game plus a bad error and a lucky goal is not very good.
Don't let the goal fool you. Ivanovic was downright poor against Reading. While we expect him to be a strong defensive player who can contribute somewhat in the attack, the Serbian was awful defensively and was lucky that Brian McDermott was focused on hitting Ashley Cole's side instead.
Ivanovic, in fact, played so poorly that I was convinced he was injured until he turned on the jets on that last-minute counter that made it 4-2 Chelsea. Poor tackling, bad touches... not his best game. I'm not ready to hit the panic button yet but this is two not-good defensive performances in a row from Bran, and the two goals aren't quite enough to overshadow that.
Another day, another penalty goal, but it wasn't exactly a great performance by Frank Lampard. Gave the ball away too often in midfield and didn't provide much resistance when Reading really pushed us back in the first half.
There are complaints that he was 'out of position' too often as well, which don't make a whole lot of sense to me. For most of the game, Chelsea were pushing for a goal, and that means Lampard goes higher up the pitch. Yes, it leaves us open at the back, but it's a calculated tactical risk rather than an obvious mistake by a player. I mean, I wasn't impressed by him, but I'm not going to get on his case for attacking. We were losing to Reading at home.
Broke things up in the middle of the park and contributed to some nice attacking moves. However, he failed to slow the tempo down when Reading were in the ascendancy, and his lack of ability to control the midfield was deeply annoying for that twenty-minute spell when the visitors were bossing the game. Was fine otherwise, and even played a couple of useful passes going forward. Including a cross!
Was substituted for Danny Sturridge 68 minutes in as Roberto di Matteo went on the offensive.
|Juan Mata - LW
It's hard to figure out just where Juan Mata was playing. He interchanged very well with Eden Hazard, playing a touch deeper than usual in an effort to move play between the Lampard-Mikel pair and the more forward players. Although he might not have been as noisy as we'd like, it was still a relatively solid performance from Mata. Don't forget his contribution to the decisive goal -- it was Mata who picked out the pass for Cole through a crowded penalty area.
I'm still convinced he could do with some rest though.
Eden Hazard was impressive for ten minutes against Wigan on the weekend. He dominated for ninety in this match. Involved in three of the four Chelsea goals, the midfielder was a class act throughout. The sloppy mistakes that characterised his second half at the DW Stadium didn't show up. He contributed to the defence as well, working hard to win the ball back. Hazard controlled the game and played at pace. He's already the best footballer on the squad, two games into his Chelsea career.
One aspect he (and Mata, for that matter) needs to work on is his aim. Between the two creative players, they had nine shots and none went on goal.
Much has been made about Ramires' off night, and he certainly wasn't as involved as normal. But then again, he did have to take the Wigan game off because he was sick, and not being 100 percent would explain a lot about the way he looked on Wednesday.
And how did he look? Well, in general, he wasn't really too bad. His passing was ok (and yes, it was a very, very bad idea to shoot rather than pass to Fernando Torres) and he ended up with more shots on target than any other Chelsea player. His defensive work wasn't as strong as usual, but was adequate for a winger. If you see Ramires as a wide player, this was an off day. If you don't, it was a reason to put him back into central midfield.
Before he scored the winner, I was getting rather aggravated with Torres, who has a habit of sulking publicly when things don't go his way. He was good early on, then faded when teammates didn't pick out his runs, which he responded to by refusing to make them. This was quite annoying.
And then he scored (the winner, even!) and was lively again. Bit of a Jekyll and Hyde day from him, but at least he's broken his duck on the year.
|Oscar - RW/CM/LW
Ended up playing all over the place despite coming on as a substitute. First appeared for Ramires and played on the right wing, then dropped back into the pivot after Mikel was pulled off, then ended up on the left for the last five minutes. His passing and movement were incisive and intelligent. His defending was not -- once again he seemed nervous and ended up going into some very silly tackles, ended up with the most fouls on the team (four) despite only playing for half an hour. Needs some work, but lots of promise once again.
When Daniel Sturridge came on, the first thing he did was to give his critics ammunition by failing to pass to Juan Mata. That this came after the end of a run that only Sturridge could have pulled off didn't really matter -- he went for a shot when he should have passed, and that was bad.
What was good was the rest of his play. He linked intelligently with those around him, drove hard at the Reading defence when we needed a spark, and played an awesome cross-field volley pass on top of all that. I was pretty impressed with him overall.
Once again I find myself with nothing to say about Raul Meireles. Apparently he had a clearance.