Sunday, April 22, 2007

No way Jose

Newcastle Utd 0 - 0 Chelsea

A fourth successive home game without bulging the net, but at least we can take real satisfaction from a superlative defensive display which denied title-chasing Chelsea the win they needed to put pressure on Man Utd. Indeed, with a little more self-belief we could well have won ourselves.

For a multi-million pound side desperate for points, Chelsea showed a curious lack of urgency and quality in a first period over which we exerted a quiet domination. Steve Harper could have got his deckchair and knotted hanky out, so little action did he see. What half-chances there were fell to players in black and white shirts. Kieron Dyer and Obafemi Martins both fired wide of Petr Cech's goal, while James Milner, lining up on the left of midfield in Damien Duff's absence, set about giving £13m Portuguese right back Paulo Ferreira a torrid time.

Steven Taylor was imperious at the back, and together with Titus Bramble managed to shackle the ever-dangerous bullying powerhouse that is Didier Drogba. An equally fascinating head-to-head took shape between John Terry and Antoine Sibierski, our Frenchman determined to prevent the Chelsea skipper from getting on the end of free-kicks and corners delivered by Frank Lampard into our area.

If Sibierski was perhaps rather fortunate to get away with his part in a couple of those tussles, Stephen Carr was even more fortunate that referee Mark Halsey didn't see Salomon Kalou's cross strike his outstretched arm - predictably enough leading Jose Mourinho to wheel out the persecution complex and conspiracy theories in his post-match interview.

After the break, a reinvigorated Chelsea soon served notice of their rediscovered attacking intent, Lampard blasting over from a good position and Drogba too finding the fans behind the goal. But - to our immense credit - we refused to buckle, steadfastly resisting all attempts to wrest control of the game from our grasp and continuing to cause the Londoners' defence problems.

The busy Dyer latched onto skipper-for-the-day Nicky Butt's slide-rule pass (albeit from an offside position) but saw his dinked shot from close range superbly smothered by Cech, and from the subsequent corner Martins escaped the attentions of the daydreaming Ferreira only to plant his header high and wide. Sibierski too was off-target with a header from a deep curling Milner cross, but we were living dangerously at the other end when a scrambled effort from Kalou rolled past Harper but was calmly collected by Butt before it crossed the line.

Mourinho threw on Andriy Shevchenko on 75 minutes, and Glenn Roeder responded by replacing the tiring Sibierski with local lad Andy Carroll - and Carroll it was who nearly helped us grab the victory. Slipped in on the right side of the area by a neat pass from Emre, he drove the ball square but unfortunately couldn't pick out Martins. There was still time for another lucky escape at the other end, flouncing turf-tumbling substitute Joe Cole diverting a Ferreira cross inches wide of Harper's far post - but that would have been far more than the visitors deserved.

Just a shame to know that the result will have pleased Fergie and Man Utd fans the world over...

Chelsea fans' views: Chelsea Blog

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


Post a Comment

<< Home