In better, steadier days, we would’ve called this a perfunctory, perhaps even straightforward 1-0 Chelsea win. Maybe a bit nervous at the end, especially in stoppage time, but otherwise we largely maintained control, created enough chances to get a goal, and locked things down at the back to collect a clean sheet with a couple excellent saves from a goalkeeper with Petr in his name.
Those were the days we thought would never end, but end they have. So now instead it was another 90 minutes full of frustrations, of questionable decision-making, of inert movement and passing patterns, of half-applied efforts, and of disappointment about things not being like they were for the past two decades.
Still, a win’s a win and it’s now six wins in a row at home in all competitions, our best run of results at the Bridge since Project Restart. We haven’t won seven in a row since the heady days of Antonio Conte and our last Premier League title.
And as Mauricio Pochettino revealed in his post-match press conference, there was some sort of mystery distraction as well just prior to kick-off that affected the troops, though he declined to specify what exactly that distraction was, which leaves plenty of room for unnecessary speculation — and makes his revelation seem as much an excuse as an actual reason.
Frank Lampard and Todd Boehly at the Bridge pic.twitter.com/4AftcBvmfT— CFC-Blues (@CFCBlues_com) January 13, 2024
Whatever it was — and maybe the weird (promotional?) scene unfolding in front of the press box is a clue, or perhaps Frank Lampard’s presence in the owner’s box, or perhaps something to do with Mykhailo Mudryk being glued to the bench (I believe that covers the three main rumors) — Chelsea’s first-half performance was rather flat (though hardly for the first time) and while the second half was better, we still only managed about 30 minutes of good play, even by Poch’s generally optimistic assessments.
“The first half wasn’t the first half that we planned. Something happened before the game that I cannot explain. I think that effect the team a little bit. We started the second half really good. I think we played really good football for 30 minutes and should score another goal or one or two and kill the game.”
“[It was] nothing big. Small details that sometimes effect the team. You need to know that something affected the performance in my opinion but it’s not important for you or our fans to know, sorry.”
Well why did you bring it up then, if it was nothing big?
These lads have also spent time brushing their teeth. https://t.co/G9CB65cdNK— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) January 13, 2024
In any case, speaking of Antonio Conte, let us do some learning through suffering.
“When the game is open like this and you don’t kill the game, always in the last minutes we concede a few actions, set pieces and wide free kicks and they have good potential in these situations. We defended well and I think it was good for us to suffer a bit at the end. I think this type of game will make us grow and to build confidence in the way we are working.
“[I’m] very happy with the first 30 minutes of the second half and I think that is the way we need to play with more freedom and we performed and linked very well. Then it was good to see this young team defend the last 15 minutes in the way we did, fighting and doing everything to try and get the result.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Football.London
We have ten days to recover some fitness and get over whatever may or may not have affected things. A comeback must be had against Middlesbrough on the 23rd.