It's tough to know what to make of today's (Wednesday's) 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion. Chelsea started the match poorly and ended it even worse, giving us hope in the meantime before snatching it away with predictable precision.
On the one hand, it's more dropped points at the Bridge, more dropped points from winning positions (twice today, even!), more dropped points when the rest of the league above Chelsea continued to take points off of each other. Chelsea are now unbeaten in five, but have just one win from four. That's no way to make up any ground. The Blues could've closed to within 10 of 4th place, but now are faced with the task of making up 12 points in 17 matches. Another false dawn. Probably should just concentrate on avoiding relegation and maybe winning the FA Cup or the Champions League.
On the other hand, there were some decent individual performances out there. A slightly better referee (and Anthony Taylor certainly did not set the bar high at all), a bit more luck (inch-perfect shots from Gardner and McClean for the visitors' goals), and this is an easy three points. Claudio Yacob was sent off last time he came to the Bridge and the same should've happened today, changing the entire complexion of the match including Albion's spoiling tactics (good job not getting sent off, Diego) that hurried the match along to its farcical conclusion. Good or bad refereeing is a matter of perspective, largely, but inconsistent refereeing is inexcusable -- Yacob committed the same cynical, professional foul three times and was booked just for the first one.
Chelsea also scored two pretty decent goals, both from low crosses from the right flank. A fantastically shaped and perfectly placed skimmer from Branislav Ivanovic found a streaking Cesar Azpilicueta at the back stick in the 20th minute, a low and hard confusion-causer from Willian bounced in off Gareth McCauley's knee as he lunged desperately to prevent a tap-in from Kenedy in the 73rd. The combination of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas is often cited as the reason Chelsea won the title last season (and they had a couple nice moments today, too), but the low cross and the hard cutback were key features of our gameplan as well and it was lovely to see those pay off today.
Less lovely was the reversion to a lack of midfield control, even with John Obi Mikel in from the start. Warning bells were ringing early when the man so criminally overlooked for every Ballon d'Or since its inception was pulled out of position, was beaten to the ball at the halfway line, and allowed West Brom to pour forward not just down the wings but down the middle as well. An even more criminal turnover from Pedro just past the half-hour mark led to the visitors' first-half equalizer -- Craig Gardner was always guaranteed to score considering he arrived as an enforced first-half substitute (not the first time such divine intervention worked against us). James McClean's late equalizer five minutes from time, another seeing-eye shot low into the corner, was set up by a lucky bounce or two, but Chelsea's inability to clear the lines and exert some semblance of control was quite worrying. On current form, removing Cesc Fabregas from the fray for Nemanja Matic was a questionable decision -- Hiddink was clearly looking to close out the match, but perhaps a better choice would've been to add a midfielder (for, say, Oscar) rather than replace a position like-for-like. Further questions could be asked of the starting lineup as well, but in some fairness, it was exactly what we predicted and expected.
This is where there should be some sort of conclusion, but like I said, I have no idea what to make of this match. It wasn't good, and it really wasn't (that?) bad. Unlucky, inconsistent, infuriating, pointless. Well, one point. Which is quite terrible; usually we have issues at the Hawthorns but not at the Bridge.
But this season is this season, and this season is just... yeah.