Chelsea got off to a bit of a slow start today, but as the game wore on there was very little in the way of resistance from a Southampton side playing at home. We'll be through to the next round of the FA Cup, which is scheduled for the weekend of January 26, 2013. We'll have the results of the draw for you after the 3rd round games are complete, but for now, here are few thoughts on today's performance:
- Where else would we start? Considering he's barely worked with his new teammates, Demba Ba had a very solid debut. He was constantly on the shoulder of the last man back, and made runs inside the 18-yard box. It almost looked as if our attacking band had no idea what to do with a player making actual center forward runs, but once they had seen it for 30 minutes or so things really started to click.
- I'm still dumbfounded by our idiotic rotation over the last few weeks. To have the lineup we did against QPR and then a basically full strength squad in a cup game is absolutely asinine squad management. Anyone else think we could have backed off a bit today and strengthened midweek instead?
- Speaking of stupid rotation, why exactly did Hazard play 90 minutes with Victor Moses coming off early? One of those two is leaving for the African Cup of Nations and doesn't have another game until January 21, and the other has four more potential contests before that on kicks off. There was only one outfield player that should have been playing 90 minutes today unless injured, and he was one of the three taken off early. Well done Rafa.
- Those of you not watching on Fox Soccer Channel lucked out. When the FSC commentators described the FA Cup as "easily the greatest cup competition in the world", I almost vomited. Have you heard of the Champions League guys? You have the rights...
- Ross Turnbull looked good today. I think if he ever got a regular run of games, most would find that he's an adequate Permier League caliber keeper.
- I hope a certain someone was watching Ba's movement closely. Even had he not touched the ball once today, the threat of him doing so certainly created acres of space for his talented teammates as the game wore on. Torres' tends to do very well when he just shoots on the first touch, if he only moved like Ba regularly, he'd already have 30 goals this year.
- It was great to see Jack Cork playing for a Premier League club. For as many people as we hear criticizing the Chelsea academy, they've been producing quite a few Premier League quality players over the last several seasons. The investment in Cobham is starting to show, as it's about the time we'd expect to see players of top level quality coming out of the training center that opened in 2007.
In other FA Cup action this morning, Romelu Lukaku started for WBA, meaning he'd now be cup tied if he was recalled to Chelsea FC. I think this should pour plenty of cold water over the idea that Chelsea might be considering recalling the Belgian monster. Nathaniel Chalobah also played for Watford today, shortly after extending his loan for the remainder of the season. Josh McEachran, however, was not in Boro's 18-man squad. That likely means little, but it's certainly worth noting anyway.