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 I wonder how he'd do in a central position, either as a Ballack-type a-mid or a Jaime Moreno-type withdrawn forward.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. =)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Marcelo Gallardo to DC??

Well, it's been since November. Just wanted to check back in. I'm well, thanks for asking.

Here's my silly season contribution: is reporting that Marcelo Gallardo is headed Stateside the next few days to sign a contract with an MLS club rumored to be DC United after our pursuit of Veron was scuppered by La Brujita himself. This makes a lot of sense, especially when you consider the situation with Gomez. Last I checked, negotiations had stalled and rumors had started. I heard something about Gomez to Colorado. I laughed out loud, but in light of this rumor, I might be inclined to take it a little more seriously.


Dammit, Ives, with your intrepid reporting and substantiated information. And dammit, Red Bull-- wait, no, you can have him. I'm still holding out for Sheva.

While I'm checking in, shout outs to Ives for going independent (his blog is fantastic, nigh on orgasmical for we MLS junkies) and to MLS Rumors for stepping it up a notch. The MLS is truly inferior to the EPL in one very important publicity-getting arena: tabloids. Good to know MLSR is on top of things.

And shout out to Fullback, just cause.