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Posted by Phil Lythell on 03/18/2012

I would like to apologise for the lack of posts since Wednesday’s epic 4-1 victory over Napoli but I have spent the last few days basking in the residual glow that such a night brings. I've seen more than a few re-runs of the match and it gets better and better with every viewing.

But far from just basking in the glory, watching the match on video has also managed to answer a few questions that I had asked my companions as we walked incredulous out of Stamford Bridge such as what on earth was Branislav Ivanovic doing deep in the opposition’s penalty area in the 115th minute of such a gruelling match?

The indomitable Serb had been a colossus all game with his surges down the right flank with the ball at his feet and his relentless overlapping runs characterising Chelsea’s spirit in the second half of the match. Having been switched to centre-back in extra time, just how did he have the energy to be in the right place at the right time? The answer, or course, is that he had stayed forward following a set-piece but in the maelstrom of celebration and disbelief that ensued after his sumptuous strike it was all too easy to lose track of events.

Ivanovic was my choice for man of the match but only by a whisker from Didier Drogba who was back to his marauding best against the Italians. His header for the opening goal came after the Blues were chasing shadows for the opening quarter and his athleticism and accuracy was the catalyst for both him and his team-mates to raise their game considerably. Even though he has been accused at times of not showing the required hunger on the field, there is no doubting that the big man is one for the big occasion.

Drogba almost always produces when it matters and he showcased his very best virtues on the night with his physicality totally dominating the Napoli defence. Unfortunately, it also highlighted a less attractive side of his on-field persona when he made the most, to say the very least, of Salvatore Aronica’s flailing arm to ‘win’ a free kick despite contact being minimal at most. However, while the moralists will undoubtedly rush to condemn Drogba’s actions – and rightly so – as a fickle Chelsea supporter in awe of the rest of the Ivorian’s performance that night, I’m finding it impossible to join the crusade with any conviction.

An admirable mention should also go to David Luiz who had his best game in a Chelsea shirt by some distance. I confess to being very concerned on hearing that the Brazilian had been given the nod ahead of Gary Cahill but he assuaged any doubts with a commanding, error-free display that will hopefully be the first of many in a Blue shirt.

With our veterans – and unpredictable defenders - showing a new lease of life in the post-Andre Villas-Boas era in the Champions League it was just as pleasing to see a much changed team keep the feel-good factor coursing through the veins with a highly enjoyable 5-2 win over Leicester City in the FA Cup this afternoon. The opposition may hail from a lower division but it was still good to see a cutting edge on show for the second time in five days and the headlines will surely all acclaim Fernando Torres who was exceptional throughout. His incisive approach work should have set up an opening goal for Juan Mata who saw a shot blocked but his endeavour was eventually rewarded when Salomon Kalou coolly slotted home the second of the day courtesy of the striker’s surge and pass. A couple of chances did come and go for the Spaniard but he eventually got on the scoresheet in the second half after being teed up by Raul Meireles. His body language looked far better than it has done in recent weeks, perhaps sensing that here was an opportunity to put his woes behind him. Torres confirmed his return to form by bagging a second with a neat header and showed admirable awareness and selflessness when he opted to play in Meireles for the team’s fifth goal rather than attempt to complete the hat-trick that he fully deserved.

Robert Di Matteo now has four wins from his four games in charge but, if anything, the job is now about to get even tougher. Manchester City are next on the list and will accept nothing other than victory having seen themselves slip four points behind Manchester United. City’s form has been below par in the last fortnight with their Europa League exit at the hands of Sporting Lisbon coming hot on the heels of being not only beaten but thoroughly outplayed by Swansea City last weekend. City are a wounded animal and Chelsea can be assured of a reaction at the Etihad Stadium but it is not inconceivable that the contrasting fortunes of the two clubs could continue on Wednesday night especially with the Blues bursting with a rediscovered confidence borne out of their European exertions. Injured captain Vincent Kompany has been sorely missed by City and if Drogba can replicate his Napoli form then the hapless Stefan Savic - who has been standing in for Kompany - could be forgiven for having a few sleepless nights ahead of the match.


Despite the euphoria surrounding the club at present, there has been a very sobering episode in English football this weekend regarding Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba and the horrifying events at White Hart Lane on Saturday. I am certain that I speak on behalf of all Chelsea fans by saying that we wish Fabrice Muamba and his family all the very best as he battles for his life in intensive care. It is horrendous when anyone suffers a cardiac arrest but it is all the more tragic when it happens to somebody aged just 23 years old with their whole life ahead of them.

Get well soon, Fabrice.


Posted by Christian Holm on 03/18/2012

Hey Phil- from another massive Blues fan just wanted to let you know I thoroughly enjoyed your article and agreed with almost every point you made. Excited to see if Torres will get a start vs either Man City or Tottenham ahead of our match vs Benfica to see if he might have a chance at playing vs them based upon his performances. Either way lots of very exciting futbol upcoming and I'm hoping the string of positive results continues as we get back to the Chelsea of old.


Posted by AU on 03/18/2012

God's speed in your recovery Muamba. At moments like this, the games that we play and enjoy are shown to be truly secondary in face of the fragility of life itself. God's speed young man, God's speed, to you, your family and friends.

Posted by Anuvrat on 03/18/2012

RDM now has the happy problem of choosing between his two strikers - Drogba who was majestic against Napoli and Torres who seems to be returning to his best. Sadly, AVB never had this luxury.

Posted by Hairy on 03/18/2012

Hmm! Interesting article, Must say I'm glad Torres did scored today, He's being given a lot of late, I'll like to follow you on twitter..

Posted by samwalker on 03/18/2012

Luvly display from torres!we need to warn sturridge of being too selfish,he's a gr8 lad buh you don't excel when decide to play alone against 11 men,we should bench him against city and play a 4-1-3-2,with a defence consisting of iva,luiz,JT,cole.our blocking 4 should be essien,lampard,mata and ramires in the middle of the park and torres,drogba forward sure it will work the strength and defence tormenting ways of drogba with the flair and pace of torres,what do you think man?

Posted by Weezy on 03/19/2012

I think torres is a great player, and will still score against mcity, i realy luv this player even not scoring.

Posted by Sean on 03/19/2012

A 4-2-3-1 formation yesterday against Leicester was a very attacking and I wasn't surprise to see such a huge scoreline. I think so far the best chelsea line up is Cech-Ivanovic-Cahill-Terry-Cole as back four, Essien-Ramires as 2 holding midfielders, lampard as a box-to-box midfielder, and mata-drogba-torres as the front 3.

Posted by Abdullah on 03/19/2012

I agree with samwalker - now that Torres has scored I think RDM HAS to play Torres and Drogba in tandem.

I would love to see both of them tearing defences apart as we all know they can. On a sombre note, get well soon Muamba - life is scary but lets hope you're on the winning side of this battle.

Posted by 'damie on 03/19/2012

Nice piece, couldnt agree with you more, but one thing was missing; STURIDGE SHEER STUPIDITY, KNOWN AS SÊLFISH PLAY.
The lad needs some serious talk.

Posted by aLVin9800 on 03/19/2012

Perhaps, it was Torres' best game against Leicester City, albeit the fact that he played well in other games and was unlucky not to score, in particular, the scissor kick that hit the cross bar in the game against Sunderland. The brace he scored was good for his confidence.

When interviewed by Men Fitness UK Magazine recently, Torres admitted that his poor form in Chelsea was a concern and he works hard on it. He lamented that he continued to believe in accuracy rather than sheer power, when scoring. He admitted that he was not good on long range efforts, something that he don't do it often and he is working on it.

Di Matteo correctly pointed out that Torres is very hard working and committed in training and his hard work will definitely result in goals. I concur with other bloggers, Sturridge is useless, evident again in the Leicester City's game when he could easily tee up for Torres on two occasions, but instead squandered it in the near post. A absolute selfish 'rubbish'.

Posted by Eze festus on 03/19/2012

I lve that lad torres.his performance has been good,and i beleive that he will continue were he stoped againt man-city.up chelsea,blues 4 life

Posted by siewp on 03/19/2012

Torres and Drogba for Forwards

Posted by Chidozie on 03/19/2012

It's wonderful to have Torres and Kalou score after a long time. Let's hope the honeymoon continues.

Posted by echezona pascal on 03/19/2012

First of all,i would love to have Muamba back on the pitch alive.I pray for his quick recovery.
A die hard Chelsea fan i am.I have questions for Chelsea fooball club players...Why did they refuse to play for Boas? Yes why did they let the young man down.May be it was Villa's fault,maybe it wasnt.
Did we buy a new player for DI Mateo? Hell no!It is the same set of young men that went low for W.brom and rose against deadly Napoli! I need answers

Posted by collins on 03/19/2012

sturridge is so selfish,such a child,well done torres

Posted by Fat Frank Fan on 03/19/2012

In response to "echezona pascal", you raise a great question. But I'll take it further and say, it was the same players under Jose, Ancelotti, Hiddink etc. AVB was a bad coach - talking bad about his players in front of camera, sending Alex and Anelka to reserves and after they're leaving, refusing them to attend Christmas party? What petty mindedness. When that happens (along with ridiculous 'high line' defense that doesn't work in Prem - or anywhere for goodness sake), not a surprise players won't put their all on line for you. CFC has had great coaches (Vialli, Jose, Carletto), good coaches (Hoddle, Ranieri) and some not very good ones (Gullit, Scolari). But at least Scolari just had bad tactics, wasn't a player-knifer. AVB has def sealed himself as the worst ever. Thank God he's gone!

Posted by ben on 03/19/2012

Sturridge, is just a fool. He still plays a child's football. He needs to be benched. Football is suppose to be a team play not a one man's game. Torres, is just so wonderful, sturridge needs to learn from him. God bless El Nino and more goals to his boot. God bless Chelsea.

Posted by chukwudi elohimlogoc on 03/19/2012

de matteo is d men.he need time 2 build CFC 2 standered.sturrige is a selfish player.almight GoD heal muanba 4 me amen,we d pride of england,up chelsea.

Posted by nonny on 03/19/2012

Hi fellow chelsea fans. How come our own Sturridge has suddenly become a fool. Let's all remember that he was seriously covering up for Torres during his goal drought. I strongly believe a little confidence booster from the coach will set his game right. No one should criticise sturridge coz Torres is beginning to find his rhythm..

Posted by Sammy on 03/19/2012

I really do agree with you about the new found enthusiasm in the team. I would also like to commend the coach for giving the team more confidence by not sticking to only one set of players but changing the starting eleven. This will help team unity and individual confidence. Still there is one player in the team that still need a good tongue lashing. "Sturridge", he needs to be sent to the reserves to learn the rudiments of team play. The team needs goals not misses by Daniel, when other players are in a better position why not give the ball to them. Look at classy forwards like Ronaldo Delima, Henry, Eto et al. They don't play to score the goals alone but they play for the team to score goals and win. By not making use of good runs it affects the entire team, such runs are better concluded by a goal for the team, not a miss by Sturridge. The best player in a scoring position should be seeked out at all time. He should remember their are 10 other players wearing the same jersey color.

Posted by George on 03/19/2012

I especially liked that you mentioned Ivanovic. We often forget to appreciate him. When the team was suffering from a lack of morale under AVB, he was one of the few that was playing his heart out for the team. And this is not the first time he scored a key goal for Chelsea;in years past I remember games where he came through with a game winning goal (CL vs. Liverpool was one).

Posted by AVB's Rugged Man Beard on 03/19/2012

Would just like to point out these recent wins are merely papering over the cracks. 2 of the wins against Championship teams, 1 against 10-man Stoke, hardly lighting it up.

Napoli win will be more damaging than positive, this team isn't going to win the Champions League so it just adds to the congested fixture list.

Have fun in the Europa League next season, not sure those trips to Besiktas & Wisla Krakow will be as exciting.

Posted by JoeBlack from Naija on 03/19/2012

Fellow Chelsea fans, I sincerely appreciate all your effort in making Chelsea a greater club.With our support and full commitment from the players I sincerely believe that our great club will be as dreadful as ever before.NB:UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL.My blood is blue!

Posted by aimi on 03/20/2012

STURIDGE in "TOO GOOD" for Chelsea. sell that guy to other team. Spend for other players who can play as "TEAM"

Posted by EG cfc malaysia on 03/20/2012

i luv the way RDM transf0rm our team... i h0pe dr0gba & nand0 play 2gather fr0m n0w 0n... just use sturidge as supersub...he is young & selfish player...h0pefully RDM is our permanent manager... i beleive we can finish t0p 4 & win 1 or 2(i h0pe s0) silverware this sas0n... KTBFFH~~~~

Posted by Puru on 03/20/2012

Honestly, this thought has been lingering about in my mind for a quiet sometime. Why don't both Torres and Drogba start? Torres has hit the score sheet, Drogba is in form, why not try this? They showed against Napoli, they CAN play together.

Posted by blueangel on 03/20/2012

which coach in the right mind would use Bosingwa instead of Ivanovic except AVB?
Well... was he in the right mind?

Posted by GEORGE MELLIYO on 03/20/2012

My fellow bluz,we've been underated for a long time this season but alwayz we dont lose our faith cause we know what we want for the past four games under RDM and especially for the performance we displayed against Napoli i think we can beat anybody,but please Di Matteo dont keep quite to Sturidge he's extremely selfish and he dont deserve to start ahead of Torres.My heart is blue.

Posted by Raghav on 03/20/2012

Lay off sturridge man - he is still a young kid - he will come good. Just give him some time. Selfishness is something that can be worked on. The kind of pace, ability and confidence that the kid has is amazing!

Posted by neil fredrerick on 03/20/2012

europa league? u dont know ya ftball.chelsea and arsenal will progress,and spurs will miss out.and if napoli wasnt a good comeback for any team in europe,then you are thinking of a different sport.and also Raghav if you think sturridges' downright selfishness is acceptable,then i hope your happy when it costs us dearly,it just about knocked us out of the champs league in the first leg.Being 2-0 up wouldve just about finished the tie,but not the first or last time he will try and self gratify,rather than think of his team-mates,and more importantly the people he represents, (us).I know im surely losing patience with it.The only way it can be taught is to bench him,so he has time to think and realise his mistakes,and if it means being sent out on loan again,so be it. KTBFFH

Posted by antony on 03/20/2012

Yap AVB was not good 4 chelsea

Posted by sooperChelski on 03/20/2012

Its been a good run so far.. and like the article says its only getting tougher from here on in. I like the energy and gusto put in by the boys in recent performances., for some reason they played lifeless under AVB. Congrats to Torres for bagging his brace, and Happy Birthday to Fernando today. Sturridge is a great player.. im disliking how so many people here have commented badly about him to the point one said they want him sold? Lets not forget he was one of the few sparks of our season at a point where torres and drogba were both misfiring. Yes he is a little selfish, but hes a young lad with a boat-load of confidence .. he just needs to make correct decisions instead of taking it all on his own all the time. The gloom around Chelsea has been lifted ... lets finish this season up strong!!
On a side note .. Get well Soon F. Muamba!


Posted by qudus on 03/20/2012

okay forgive him oooooooooooooooooo

Posted by sammy on 03/20/2012

i love chesea and i will support chelsea my club all time in good or bad.

Posted by sammy on 03/20/2012

champions League cup belong to us cos i believe in my club.
good luck my loven chelsea

Posted by wale on 03/20/2012

Its so surprising that majority apportion blame on sturridge. But come to think of it, if he had made good of the chance he had, nobody will complain.Dannie is a gr8 guy, we need to support he more.

Posted by Red Devil fan on 03/21/2012

I'm not a Blues fan, but for the sake of this whole season that is under-performing from the big sides, I would love to have Chelsea firing on all cylinders soon bcos that way, they will show that quality doesn't come and go within a day (figure of speech) and that they will give this whole season an uplifting dramatic feel (not as dramatic as last season). we all wanna see the good english football where the fight and fire is strong in the players' bellies so that a win is fully deserving.. and finally, that they will beat Man City and allow Man United to canter to the title...

Posted by Lawrence Iwobi on 03/21/2012

Happy to hear of Muamba's improvement. Sturidge, no doubt is a good player but being over selfish and arrogant cant help him. Great players are those who always play 4 the team. For me Sturidge plays very childish game and needs to be introduced when games are perfectly won. Drogba and Torres should be started against M City.

Posted by joel on 03/21/2012

Up cheasea blue 4lif,we hav to forgive him (sturidge)for his selfish play against leciester last weekend and to luk forwd on how to beat man cty,iwant Drogba and torres in the front.ilov torres and I wish him more goals.

Posted by tezza the aussie on 03/22/2012

chelsea boy for 43 years.torres will score hatrick before end of season.

Posted by echezona pascal Joey on 06/05/2012

What is Roman the Chelsea boss waiting for in signing Di Mateo for the coming challenges? Guadiola? Jesus H.Christ,Pep is going to disorganize the club.First,he is not vasatile with tactics.Every body can easily read what Pepe is going to do on the pitch....90mins attack which is rubbish.He cant do that in England.If he did,he wont be shocked if Stoke or Swansea paint him with goals @ Stamford Bridge.I have seen Ancellotti do that before and i hope Sunderland will never forget the 3-0 bashing of Chelsea @ the bridge.
Secondary,Messi must be there if Guadiola need to come.
Thirdly,how can you hire a man who you knocked out when he needed the Champions league badly...I dont think that neither Messi nor Pep would show love to Chelsea.

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Phil Lythell Phil Lythell is a Chelsea season ticket holder and lifelong Blues supporter stretching back to the sepia-tinted days of Kerry Dixon and Pat Nevin. Author of Chelsea-centric blog, Phil has spent his entire life living within a 20 minute walk of Stamford Bridge which has cost him a fortune but has also kept him from those interminable queues outside Fulham Broadway Station giving him more time in the pub to discuss the latest glorious/calamitous/insipid match.

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