When Gabriel Agbonlahor headed in an 85th minute winner against the Blues, I celebrated wildly as you do when you know you`ve probably just seen the winning goal in a local derby. However, my favourite win this season was away to Liverpool, because as much as I love a derby win I love a victory over any of the ‘Sky 4` even more.
We`re now two for two.
What was probably most pleasing about the victory was that Chelsea played well. Generally, if any of the top 4 don`t play well then there is always a danger that they could lose the game, but if they play well they normally win; Chelsea were good yesterday.
Thankfully, there was one area where they didn`t perform and that was defending set-pieces. Just after the half hour mark, Frank Lampard heading on an Ashley Young corner into the path of Richard Dunne, although that wasn`t the only generosity from Chelsea as Dunne was left to run into space by Carvalho. Early in the second half, four Chelsea defenders in the region of James Collins decided to go walkabouts while Collins stepped forward and powered home the winning goal.
Another pleasing aspect of this was this happened after a less than pleasing start. For one thing, the ref was ill! Steve Bennett had to pull out and the game was delayed for a few minutes. Incidentally, his replacement (Kevin Friend) was pretty poor but I suppose it was a difficult position to be in. His worst decision came ten minutes in, when Boswinga pulled down Gabby in the penalty area and everyone in the ground apart from the officials could see it was a penalty.
Five minutes later matters got worse, as Didier Drogba`s long range shot bounced over Brad Friedel and into the net. Friedel will be the first to admit he should have dealt with it better, but it did take a wicked bounce right in front of him and it was pretty much just one of those things. Over the course of the game, Friedel made a couple of good saves including clawing away a lovely chip from Deco not long after the opening goal.
The match was a thoroughly entertaining affair. Chelsea played very well, and so we had to be good to win – which we were. Both sides had chances, with Drogba and Anelka both going close for the visitors, and John Carew in particular had a good chance to put the game beyond Chelsea.
Much like the game at Villa Park last season, the winners couldn`t have moaned had the game ended up a draw but thankfully, as Chelsea did last season in their 1-0 win, we held on for a splendid 2-1 victory against the team that many fancy will win the league this season. If they don`t sort out their set-piece defending, then the trophy could be heading back to Old Trafford once more.
Finally, I would like to make one last mention on the ref; why didn`t he book Anelka for his challenge on MON? ;o)
Friedel – 6
Overall he probably deserved a 7 and I think the goal was not as much his fault as some will think, but he will still be disapointed.
Cuellar – 7
As always, he doesn’t offer lots going forward (one pass to Milner in particular was shocking) but defensively he was very solid.
Dunne – 8
I love this man! A no-nonsense leader. Drogba and Anelka both looked dangerous – Drogba in particular played very well – but Dunne and Collins did a great job of nullifying the threat as well as they could. Speaking of…
Collins – 8
Overall MOTM for me as he not only got the winning goal but also made two match-winning blocks. I have complained about him dropping too deep on occasion so far but there was none of that yesterday, and therefore his usual good performance became an excellent one.
Warnock – 7
Made a couple of great challenges and got forward well. At times he could be a bit more solid defensively but generally he played well and is looking more and more the part.
Milner – 8
Yet another player who made a match-winning challenge and he was everywhere. Getting back to defend, helping out in attack, played right midfield and then central midfield, he’s just a star!
Sidwell – 7
As always I seem to forget he’s playing sometimes. But he is effective enough at what he does, and our record with him in the team is amazing. Put himself about, really should have scored from a superb Gabby cross but was generally a pest to the excellent Chelsea midfield.
Petrov – 8
So very nearly MOTM. He won just about every challenge he went in for, he tried to create, and absolutely leads by example on the pitch. Great showing.
A Young – 7
He was wasteful on occasion – he seems a bit low on confidence – but his work rate was superb and ultimately, both of our goals came from his corners.
Agbonlahor – 7
He worked hard, was a danger through most the game and he put in a couple of fantastic crosses. When he went to the ‘inside-right’ position, he did his defensive duties too.
Carew – 7
He is still not at his best and really should have scored but much like the Man Citeh game, his work rate could not be questioned. John Terry will have had easier afternoons, put it that way.
Late sub for Carew, did his job just fine. A quick message to anyone reading that that was amongst the few people who booed him when he come on – you are a complete and utter idiot. Yes you have the right to voice your opinion but booing a Villa player is a disgrace.
Guzan, Shorey, Beye, Gardner, Delph, Reo-Coker.
MON – 8. I said we’d lose if we played 4-4-2 and I was strangely proven right and wrong! We were winning when we switched to a 4-3-3, and I believe that was the winning decision in the end. Took a bump for the cause too!