A Dark Cold Monday Night at Craven Cottage

February 14, 2011 — by Cunning Linguist

[Editor’s note: We’ve been soliciting commentary from our resident Chelsea fan via back-channel communications over the course of the season–here is his writeup of the scoreless draw between the Blues and Fulham.]

Watching the Monday game in the EPL. On a dark cold night, very little shine on offer to dispel the gloom. 45 mins in, this is dreadful stuff. The only bright point is that Duff, Sidwell and Sparky are former blues.

Dempey the Tex vs. Čech the Czech

The second half saw Chelsea establish complete and utter domination in the midfield and dictate ball movement with relative ease. By my count Fulham had less than 4 credible attacking forays; in fact, the second half was mostly played in Fulham’s half with about 8 men in the box. Chelsea attacked from all angles but found it extremely difficult to break Fulham down. If Fulham’s resolute defending weren’t sufficient, Chelsea contrived to muck up every opportunity that came their way, and there were quite a few opportunities for Chelsea.

Chelsea were too much for Fulham in the second. In one of two errors for Luiz, Tex was able to win a very soft penalty. Tex then missed his gift-penalty to hand Chelsea a point when they should’ve gone home to face Everton in the FA Cup replay and ManU in the EPL fresh from another loss. Chelsea really should’ve won this game; the ease and abundance of goals from early on in the season have completely disappeared. I do believe the rot is in at the Bridge.

Torres doesn’t look like he’s worth 5mm quid; yeah, yeah two weeks and all that but that’s nonsense. He looks a bit slow. If Tiger apologized for spitting on the course, I wonder what El Niño will have to do for dropping his second consecutive turd on the pitch. Four missed opportunities in what should’ve been a large margin of victory for Chelsea.

Essien had a dreadful game and so far has had a largely anonymous and indifferent season. Injuries must’ve taken their toll. Malouda and Essien seem to have had far more luck passing the ball to Fulham. Lampard is also lacking match fitness and his passing was not crisp in the final third. I can’t even begin to break Ramires down; he’s incredibly frustrating in his bipolar footballing.

Chelsea look a team devoid of any creativity going forward. There’s absolutely no width to the attack; nifty passing but it all comes to a middle crowded with defenders watching tape come true. Why aren’t people talking about the lack of wing play from wingers as opposed to wingbacks? I’ll take flak for this but I really think Anelka’s a gem; a striker playing an attacking midfielder’s role quite well, while not sulking loud enough for the public to hear. Anelka gets pulled off for Kalou, who’s getting better, but his progress is too slow. It was very curious of uncle Carlo to play Anelka in the withdrawn/winger role and then replace him with a true winger in Kalou. Even more curious to replace Torres with Drogba; Drogba and Anelka formed a good partnership early on and in the crunch weren’t even on the pitch together. On the bright side, Luiz looks like a great buy; good defending and going forward.

On the Fulham side, not much to analyse since they spent most of their time in their own half. Dembele looks great even lacking full match fitness; he seems to be playing an Anelka role despite being a striker. Tex has some great skills but seems to really lack football sense. Hangeland and Hughes look fantastic; together, they’ve played almost every EPL game for Fulham. For all the Flamini critics, I’d point to Gudjohnsen’s (former Blue) two-footed lunge on Ramires. On a separate note, how on earth does Fulham only have a 26,000 seater capacity? I’d guess a shopkeeper from London isn’t the same as an oil man from the Middle East….

EPL over for Chelsea, top four finish not looking great.