There are a great amount of plusses to take from Sunday, looking at Monday morning's press they are uninspired by Chelsea.
Looking at our opposition for the title however, none seemed to have to fight like Chelsea did , I have always praised our ability for a scrap. We may have the largest wage bill in the league, but that doesn't come with a lack of want from our 11.
Man United have the ability to pop up and score late goals - not a matter of fluke, but fitness and desire, whilst Liverpool have striking quality. Man City are an unknown entity once again, I don't think they have the right manager in place, and Arsenal similar to what they were last season but worse. Predictability, passing, pace.... no Fabregas, no Clichy and probably no Nasri.
Defensively, on Sunday, I thought we were supreme. Alex and Terry were absolute rocks at the back. Nothing went awry in situations where it was as if Stoke had cannon shooting footballs 80-feet in the air in the general direction of Kenwyne Jones' feet/head/body.
Put Arsenal, United or Liverpool in that situation and I think they would have struggled. Stoke were geed up, simple as. They knew they could make the best of starts to their season by getting something against Chelsea.
AVB commented on their physicality, I think it should be embraced. I always take pride in the way that Chelsea don't take a bullying from the stronger sides, Terry epitomises that. Whilst Stoke are the epitome of resilience, there is not too much face lost in the dropped two points.
There wasn't anything clever about their play, but I am a great advocate of football being played well does not necessarily mean overhead kicks, stepovers and intricate passing. Stoke play football well in the sense that they have an overawing power as a unit - meaty defending, strong attackers - and an ability to supply the ball from anywhere within their attacking half, whether by throw or set-piece.
So on that note Chelsea should be heavily praised.
Some useless hack at The Times deemed Ashley Cole's performance as a five-out-of-ten, which is an insult. He was superb defensively and gutsy going forward. The same can be said for, wait for it, Jose Bosingwa. Who undoubtedly put in his best performance for Chelsea to date.
There was none of his usual dallying, and as a striking threat - which commentators are so quick to remind us he has bundles of - was very useful indeed.
Mikel is often on the end of my criticism. His performance yesterday was assured, his passing better and his shot phenomenal. Add to the fact that his personal issues with his kidnapped father and he comes in for some heavy praise indeed.
Man-of-the-match Fernando Torres put in a performance that showed some much endeavour and effort that he truly put his accompanying "wingers" to shame. His work rate was fantastic and the fact that he is being so heavily lauded in the press today is a relief all round. I think as a fan you want to see your players do well so you avoid the stick that comes with it, the comments on Torres at my work today felt like a compliment to me!
Torres will forever, well until he becomes prolific, be dissected by spectators and the media alike. You get what you deserve in football and if you work hard enough will get just rewards. He wasn't effortless last season, but yesterday seemed to have regained his edge. He has a point to prove, what better way to do it than to start notching up some goals.
I have touched upon the so-called wingers we adopted, I think I will put in as much effort writing about them as they did in the match. Malouda has turned from a world beater into a self server. So many times you will see him run, players get into positions of value and he will either take one more touch or shoot from range. He needs to sort his act out, I commented yesterday during the game on twitter that he is making himself extremely replaceable.
Kalou is a constant source of frustration for me, I cannot see the value in him starting for us. Yesterday is possibly an exception, he provides a pacier option when compared to Anelka. But he just can't put that pace to good use. He is a good sub, without question. But as a starter, can't cut it.
Anybody of differing opinion I ask you to watch him closely. Yesterday when Kalou gets the ball he will often make a pass, but not the easy, short and direct option. He will make a pass into space where the receiver will have to work their socks off in order to get it. The point in being part of a team like Chelsea is passing should be a straight forward almost telepathic experience. Kalou's telepathy is well off, so much so it seemed he was tuning into Stoke rather than Chelsea.
Sturridge, once his three match ban is up, would make a worthier contender for that role. His prowess in front of goal betters that of Kalou, and yesterday there was sign that Torres isn't restricted to the central role - freeing up the "wingers" to get central and attack.
I've already said I was disappointed with the one point. It is worth remembering that was the same total we took from Stoke away last season, and as you may have read it is a "fortress" - although as somebody kindly pointed out yesterday "since when did it turn into the Camp Nou". A point we should take on board, to be Champions you have to win the tough games as well, I think we have it in our locker.
What we do need in our locker though is an extra something special, we are lacking the killer pass at the moment. You will never score goals without providing for the attack, something Stoke could do yesterday - albeit in a Drogba-on-the-pitch kind of way. We can't forever rely on our classier version of hit and hope, something's got to give. Hopefully it is one Russians' purse strings, and within the next 16 days.
Thirty seven matches left to go. Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!
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