Monday, May 16, 2011

Taylor-made tie

Chelsea 2 - 2 Newcastle Utd

Goals by Steven Taylor and Spidermag from a Ryan Taylor free-kick ensured we finished the season unbeaten in three attempts by Chelsea.

Deprived of our first-choice central midfield pairing for yesterday's match at Stamford Bridge, I feared that we might be on the end of a real hiding from a team still chasing the league title. Thankfully, Shrek's penalty against Blackburn on Saturday ensured Taggart's men had secured the title 24 hours earlier, leaving Chelsea trophyless and demotivated for our Sunday lunchtime game.

With Mr T rested to prevent him picking up any further bookings this season, thereby seeking him suspended for the start of next, and Nolan recuperating from ankle surgery, Alan Pardew was forced to shuffle his pack. Shane Ferguson came in on the left wing, and with Ryan Taylor and ASBO in the centre, Peter Lovenkrands down the right and Spidermag pushed forward to support Big Lad our side definitely had a makeshift look about them.

That we were behind after a couple of minutes didn't bode well either. A Frank Lampard corner was flicked on by Fernando Torres for Branislav Ivanovic to get ahead of Sideshow Bob and head past Tim Krul. 1-0 down, I feared that rather than being listless, Chelea might end their home campaign rampantly.

That they didn't owed much to the hard work shown in midfield. After initially looking second best all over the park, Newcastle started to find some rhythm and when Peter Lovenkrands was taken down by John Terry's late tackle Ryan Taylor thought he might reprise his goalscoring feat from our Carling Cup tie back in September. His free-kick evaded the wall, but ricocheted off Spidermag's back into the bottom corner, with Petr Cech wrong-footed.

From there we matched the home side, for whom Torres continued to look toothless, and whose midfield trio couldn't get the better of ASBO and Taylor. Our captain for the day appeared to be relishing his battle with one of the men ahead of him in the England pecking order, with some tasty challenges flying around, particularly in the second half, with Lampard earning a caution for a particularly late challenge on our man.

With little difference between the two sides, the strength of Chelsea's bench compared to our own was impressive, Ancelotti choosing to throw on Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda and Michael Essien in a bid to win the game. Drogba in particular looked the most likely to break the deadlock with a number of penetrating crosses.

By contrast, Alan Pardew threw on Kazenga LuaLua, Nile Ranger and Sammy Ameobi (prompting chants of "two Ameobis, there's only two Ameobis" and in doing so becoming the first brothers to appear in the same first team for us since the Robledos back in the 1950s) for Ferguson, Lovenkrands and Spidermag.

Sure enough, it was Chelsea who nudged ahead, when Jose Enrique fouled Nicolas Anelka on the left hand side. From the resultant free-kick, Tim Krul came charging out of his box only to miss the cross and leave Alex with an easy header into an unguarded net from the back post. This was very much the worst of the Dutch keeper, with several earlier saves and smart clearances (including a fine header) demonstrating his willingness to act as an auxiliary sweeper when called upon. Sadly though, his judgment isn't always perfect, and in this case his error let Chelsea take an undeserved lead.

However, as in the Carling Cup match, Newcastle kept going to the end, and in the final minute LuaLua forced a corner which Ryan Taylor swung in and Ranger headed back across goal before the unmarked Steven Taylor (Malouda having gone AWOL) headed firmly past Cech to notch his second goal in as many games and secure a deserved equaliser.

A Chelsea fan's view: Chelsea Football Club Blog

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

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Blogger Ben said...

Sideshow Bob and Jose Enrique were both immense, and Spidermag did well in an unfamiliar role - but the star of the show for me was Ferguson. Taken together with LuaLua and Ameobi Jr, it was a glimpse into a potential future. The three of them terrified Chelsea's elder statesmen with their pace - I actually thought our three substitutions were more effective than their big names.

7:26 p.m.  
Anonymous PJ said...

Have been reading your posts for the last 4-5months (and went back & read many from the last 5-6 yrs) & like the regularity / content. Have been a Newcastle supporter since 95-96 (when we threw away the 15 pt. lead, btw - am from India) due to the attacking nature of play of our team in those days (not to mention the no. of 4-3's v/s liv/leeds!).
Agree with Ben above on Ferguson tho' I'd like to see him against a more motivated team. These last few matches we should have started with Ranger to see if he could go the Rocky way ...

10:12 a.m.  
Anonymous PJ said...

Am also puzzled as to how (if we are looking for good quality bargain deals) we tend to miss out on potential value-for money deals like Pennant & Saviola (who I hear is again being offered up for $2m this time by Benfica). Shouldn't we be hovering like vultures over the better players of the clubs going down (who the top6 wouldn't look at) like DJ Campbell, Vaughan, Rodallega, V.Moses, Noble as well as at those who lost the playoffs (Bellamy, McNaughton, Bothroyd, Moussi, Earnshaw, N.Tyson) & Leeds (Gradel, Schmeichel jr, Becchio, Snodgrass)? All I hear is Carlton Cole for 9mil from a relegated club (even we didn't get that kind of money for any player 'cept Martins)!

10:27 a.m.  
Blogger Ben said...

Well, I think we've improved recently in slyly picking up players on the cheap - Gosling, for instance (though we've not yet seen the benefits of that...). We should definitely have our eye on those at the bottom of the Premier League and top of the Championship (West Ham alone have loads of suitable targets - Parker, Ba, Hitzlsperger, Upson) but everyone else will be doing the same! Of the Championship players you've named, I'm not sure any would be an improvement on what we've got except maybe Snodgrass and Gradel, though.

12:58 p.m.  
Anonymous PJ said...

Toite apart I don't see how good we've been at it (& any club gets 1-2 right out of 6 bargain buys). What we have been good at is home grown talent. NU had the highest no. of Eng(16) & 2nd highest no. of home-grown players in their squad of 25@start of season. Even in loan deals we react slowly while other clubs get the likes of Sturridge, Cleverly etc. Gosling/ Ireland tend to remind me of Owen's time at the club (so far). i didn't mention Ba/Upson/Parker coz' i had mentioned players the top6 wouldn't look at. While the spanish transfer mkt is inflated (& Germans seem to be going that way too), Italian mkt seems a better bet pick up defenders

2:10 p.m.  
Blogger Ben said...

Parker might go to a top six club, but doubt the same could be said of Upson or Ba.

In international terms, our scouting seems to be focused on the French and Dutch leagues - better value for money, in all likelihood, plus we've been stung by buying from Spain and Italy in the past.

12:04 a.m.  

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