It’s good to win. Some of the recent defeats have knocked our morale and confidence so much that any win feels good. Feels so good. After the recent defeats against Inter and Citeh, we had to beat Stoke to show that our season is not crumbling. This was a quarterfinal and this was against a team that had already despatched Arsenal and Citeh. But I wouldn’t call this a great performance or even a performance that gave me confidence. We were clearly superior and helped ourselves by finishing a couple of chances. Certainly, we displayed a sense of clarity in all parts of the pitch.
Hilario managed to strike a goal kick beyond half way line. He made a good save at the near post. His goal was not disturbed even after numerous Delap throws. He was not confidence personified but compared to his performance in the last home game, he has improved 200%. Alex was pretty good, made some crucial blocks and some smart tackles but I don’t think he was truly tested. Nobody in the Stoke team had enough pace to bother Alex. I was very very impressed with Ferreira’s performance. You can say he wasn’t tested too but I thought he was very good in defence as well as offence.
Ivanovic is a real ‘Mr.Dependable’. I’ve become such a fan of this guy that I’d get a No.2 jersey. He’s a perfect Chelsea player – determined, passionate, has great attitude and more importantly, he gives you this sense of assurance. I love him. Do we realise that he has an awesome throw, that could be second only to Delap. May be he should work on it consciously and make that a potent weapon for Chelsea. The highlight of the match was John Terry’s goal celebration. I thought that was a cracking one. If he had spotted Capello anywhere near, he could have thrown the armband on the Italian’s face. It would have been nice drama, right?
I’m struggling how to assess Anelka’s performance. On one side, he played really well – worked hard, held the ball well, created chances for himself and others but on the other side, he should have got a hattrick. He should get better. We’ve got 10 matches left in the premier league. He should get back in scoring form pretty soon. It’s been some time since Drogba’s scored some of his kind of goals. Kalou was decent. It’s just that his goalmouth awareness doesn’t seem to improve.
Malouda was at his consistent best but it appeared that Malouda did not want to score a goal. He was clearly feeding to Drogba, Anelka and Lampard but didn’t get into scoring positions himself. It was a relief to seem him in the midfield instead of defence. Our midfield of Lampard, Mikel and Malouda was very assured. Mikel was flawless and that goal line clearance (and how responsibly he got there in the first place) was very crucial. Lampard’s back on scoring form. He should have had at least one more.
The Citeh result was very painful. I wanted that result to be the positive turnaround. Before that, I wanted to know how the players felt about the result. Surely, they’re not going to talk too much about it. But here I have a comment that I was looking for, from none other than John Terry:
I thought we played well, bounced back from a disappointing result and performance last week. We needed to show the fans how much that defeat [to Manchester City] hurt.
Our FA Cup semi final would be at Wembley (not at Villa Park as I had incorrectly mentioned before – thanks!) and hopefully we’ll get past Villa in April. We play West Ham at the Bridge next weekend. Three points is what we need. The key is to not even think about the Inter match. Let’s hammer the hammers. KTBFFH!