Saturday, January 26, 2008

Match Recap: Chelsea 2-1 Wigan, FA Cup

With this win, Cup holders Chelsea are through to the final to play either Sheffield Utd or Manchester City.

Today's Chelsea was a decent side and the result was always to be, but due to the injury crisis and ACN absences it is now painfully evident where Chelsea's weaknesses are and a good possession side will be able to exploit them with ease. A matchup in the final with Man City could prove be one of the most thrilling of the season.


Chelsea ratings (out of 10):

Cech - 7
Stopped all but the most spectacular of chances. Looks like his dependable old self again.

Bridge - 4
Got upfield well but wasn't communicating well with either Cole or Carvalho. Ivanovic might be making his debut quickly.

Alex - 6
He's no Terry but he'll do. Did his level best to organize the back line and showed good anticipation by stepping up and quelling some potentially dangerous buildups around midfield.

Carvalho - 6
Between him and Alex I feel confident in our center defense. They can be relied upon.

Belletti - 4
Guilty of slow thinking and too many touches. Nearly the victim of his own mistakes on more than one occasion. Not an inspiring performance.

J. Cole - 7
Very troublesome on the wing. His bursts of flair and creativity are very encouraging. Cole's performances on the pitch might prove to be decisive throughout the coming weeks.

Makelele - 5
I can't tell whether he's off form or just slowly losing his game as time goes on, but either way, a below-average Makelele is still a crucial presence for Chelsea on the pitch. He could work a bit better with Carvalho and Alex.

Sidwell - 4
I'm not comfortable with any midfield lineup involving Sidwell. He just doesn't have the vision and awareness you'd like to see out of a player in his role. Damningly, he failed to pressure the service which led to Sibierski's wondergoal.

Wright-Philips - 6
You definitely want him on the pitch, but I feel he's underperforming. Scored the winning goal but could have made the Chelsea bench a bit more comfortable earlier on if he wasn't so wasteful with his touches in the final third.

Malouda - 5
Anelka's immense presence up top effectively forced Malouda out of the game. He wanted to relegate himself to the wings but found Cole and SWP there already. Isn't a true winger and therefore couldn't find his place in the game. I wonder how he'd do in a central position, either as a Ballack-type a-mid or a Jaime Moreno-type withdrawn forward. I also wonder how J. Cole would do in those roles, for that matter.

Anelka - 8 (MotM)
Grabbed his first goal and first assist in only his second appearance for the club. Consistently broke Wigan's back four and was a constant threat the entire game. Anelka looks well to me, playing with a style and presence very similar to Drogba's. In that sense I can't help but feel I'm witnessing the work of Drogba's replacement. If he preserves this kind of form throughout the coming weeks, he might just become Chelsea's #1.

Ferreira - 4
Didn't have much time to make a positive impact but committed several poor touches which almost cost us.

Pizzaro - NA



- Wigan's pitch looks awful, though I do seem to recall a certain pitch at a certain Bridge against Barcelona in the 05-06 Champion's league which looked awfully similar.

- As far as I can tell, Anelka has been onside every time they've called him off. He has sublime timing.

- Wigan's real chances have all come from the wings just outside the final third-- Wright-Philips and Cole aren't connecting well enough with Belletti and Bridge. Fortunately Wigan hasn't had good service and Heskey doesn't have the physical presence to deal with Alex.

- Malouda is useless. I wonder what a young, hungry gun like Sinclair wouldn't do to open up Wigan's back line for Anelka.

- Chelsea seems to have no intention of working through the center of the pitch. Makelele is busy at the back and Sidwell seems incapable of being the two-way conduit. So then who? I can't help but imagine what Michael Bradley would be doing that Sidwell isn't.

Enjoy. =)

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