Chelsea began the new year the same way we ended the old year, at least as far as our starting lineup was concerned, which saw just one enforced change: César Azpilicueta deputizing for the injured Reece James.
Unfortunately, the play itself was a bit less enterprising than against Bournemouth, though Forest defending with massed ranks (and the referee letting the teams get away with a fair amount) certainly had something to do with that as well. They let our two center backs have the ball uncontested and concentrated on closing down spaces in their defensive third — while looking for counters utilizing the blistering speed of Brennan Johnson.
That gameplan worked almost to perfection in the first half, but Kepa made a good save on Johnson’s one clear chance and Chelsea got a lucky bounce off Willy Boly’s heel, then the crossbar for Raheem Sterling’s goal.
Things changed drastically at half-time, and it was suddenly all Forest. Kepa made another stellar save before Gibbs-White smacked one off the crossbar and down — the bounce favoring Chelsea yet again. But our luck ran out at the hour-mark, as Forest converted on a corner that we failed to clear despite winning the first ball, former Spurs man Serge Aurier scoring his first for his new club.
Chelsea tried to change things with a triple sub, and while we did stem the Forest tide, we were unable to change the flow beyond that. Aubameyang did waste a great chance from a Ziyech cross, but otherwise Chelsea created little danger.
- Azpilicueta’s 495th appearance, moving beyond Petr Čech for sixth all-time!
- Chelsea sticking with the 4-2-3-1 throughout
- New year, same old terrible refereeing
- New year, same old homophobic chanting
- New year, same old frustrations
- 1 win from 7 in the league.
- Chelsea in eighth. Three points behind sixth place Liverpool.
- Next up: Manchester City at home on Thursday, then City again away in the FA Cup 3rd round on Sunday