December is a very scary month. For a few seasons now, poor December performances have cost us heavily. Last season, we had three draws and two wins in December. I don’t think there has been a December where we had won all the league matches. May be, it’s a psychological thing. In a way, end of December marks the end of the first half of the league season. With Christmas and New Year around the corner, and in our case, the African Nations Cup too, this is not a month that we would play as we did in earlier months. This is a month where we just want to get over things and move on.
How did just manage to draw this match is a puzzle. Granted they opened the scoring but when Chelsea went 2-1up, it almost looked like there’s gonna be a massacre. We played like we were against a lower league opponent. Some of our attacking moves, Everton had no clue, leave alone answers. I’m sure sometime in the first half David Moyes must have thought of damage control than salvaging a point. I thought we’d end the match with a 4-1 score or something. When was the last time Drogba scored a brace and we didn’t win?
The manner in which we conceded all those three goals was appalling. There was some theme around it. Anyone with little knowledge of football would have observed that pattern. Top teams do have some weaknesses but you don’t go exhibiting in this grand fashion very often. Our set piece defending is now a very well documented weakness and expect teams to fully try to exploit that. While we score a brilliant goal at the other end, all that’s needed for the opponent, in the last minute of the game, is a dodgy free kick from 40 yards and they can be level. Sad.
I know we were also a bit unfortunate but it was evident that the misfortune was also a product of our lack of preparedness and planning (or its execution) towards set pieces. Petr Cech was livid after the third goal. I’ve never seen him react so wildly after a conceded goal. In fact, I was pretty happy to see him react like that. That needs to happen. I’m sure that after this match, the team will be forced to do more shifts in training for set piece defending. With an Italian manager, this is the least I had expected.
Nevertheless, let’s not be blind to the fact that we are playing great football. We played with such authority and a hint of arrogance that not many Evertonians would have thought they’d go home with a point. Two great finishes from Drogba and a very smart finish from Anelka. Especially, the first goal was a masterclass. Carvalho winning the ball from Saha and setting up the goal. Drogba’s finish was just exquisite. In the words of the commentator, ‘is there someone in better form in world football’?
Lampard’s form is turning into a worry. He is low in confidence and it shows. Everytime, he needs a million touches before he can do his next move. He is very unsure. That doesn’t work in premier league. He still played some brilliant passes but his rate of losing possession increases by every match. Something must happen. When I read that Tiger Woods is taking an indefinite break from golf, I was thinking how Lampard managed football alongside his break up. Tiger wants a break because he cannot concentrate on golf and not just to patch up with his family. In the last couple of years, Lampard broke up with his wife and lost his mother around the champions league semi final period. Still he’s managed to focus on football rather well. His current run of form has something to do with tactics or position or something fixable. I have a strong feeling that it’s not with Lampard alone.
Elsewhere, Aston Villa did the incredible by beating Man Utd at Old Trafford. Normally, as far as I can remember, Aston Villa at Old Trafford would end with a score 4-0 or 3-0 to Man Utd. Yesterday though, Aston Villa have managed to win at Old Trafford after 200 years. It almost feels like the last few seasons where Man Utd would drop points and Chelsea would fail to capitalise on it the next day. Now Aston Villa have beaten Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool. Most probably they’d beat Arsenal by half a dozen goals. The Villa resurgence is a very interesting twist to the already exciting league season this time. Anyway, that result makes the weekend a little better than it was. Now we are three points ahead of Man Utd. It’s Liverpool vs Arsenal tonight. Can they both lose?