Chelsea took a huge step towards winning this years Premiership Title with this away win. Although as has been the norm over the past few weeks The Blues made it a lot harder than it should have been. Gone is the free scoring side with the Rock Solid defense from the first half of the season. In its place an error strewn back line, requiring its fans to watch games through squinting eyes, in classic horror movie style.
It’s not difficult to point to areas where we have gone off the boil. Although I think the main root of the problem lies in the heart of our midfield.
Nemanja Matic, since his ban and subsequent ankle injury during the Capitol One Cup celebration has really struggled to regain his form. He was unbreachable until that point. He gave Fabregas the space and time to operate freely as Cesc knew the safety net was below him. Matic also broke up most attacks against us before they had a chance to get to our back four. This looks to have flattered to deceive as far as our defense is concerned.
Mourinho tried to remedy this drop in our Serbian’s form by bringing in Ramires to strengthen the situation. Although this move threw the balance of our fulcrum out, and we have struggled since then.
Ivanovich, Terry and Cahill have all had their fair share of poor games of late. Azpilicueta lost his place today due to his recent form. It’s all about confidence, one minute you have it, then its gone.
Chelsea were off to the races early and looked like they were going to make this their first stroll in the park in quite some time. Superb strikes by both Eden Hazard and Diego Costa saw the away side open up a 2 goal advantage with 10 minutes of the kick off. They were dominating the game in all aspects.
But a disastrous 2 minute spell in the middle of the first half saw Chelsea fall asleep. Hull scored twice, to completely change the dynamic of the tie.
Our defense, including Courtois were at sixes and sevens. The first goal saw Ahmed Elmohamady sneak in between our back line to reach a cross first. The second goal was straight out of a Laurel and Hardy movie, with Courtois playing the lead. He decided to try to play out of a tight situation only to make a pigs ear of it, leading to a tap in to an empty net for Hernandez. Whoops. Suddenly all the doubts from recent sub par performances returned and our back line looked very nervous indeed.
Half time couldn’t have come sooner. Jose Mourinho had a furious scowl on his face. He showed his disdain by remaining in the dug out for the entire first half, not venturing once into his techinical area. My guess is he waited till the dressing room at the break to vent his anger properly. It worked.
Chelsea returned for the second half to regain control of the game. Jose acknowledged this change in the games balance, when on 60 minutes he made his usual attacking substitution. Oscar coming on for Willian. This pushed Fabregas slightly further forward as Ramires sat with Matic in the middle.
The Oscar, Hazard, Fabregas unit started to stretch the left side of Hull’s defensive unit. It felt as if we would score at some point.
On 63 minutes we saw the good side of Courtois. An incredible triple save to deny the home side an against the run of play go ahead goal.
On 74 , Lioc Remy replaced a hamstrung Diego Costa. Two minutes later the seldom used Frenchman had restored Chelsea’s advantage firing from close range to beat a slightly at fault McGregor. Huge relief could be felt from the Blues fans.
In what seemed like the longest 15 minutes in history, Chelsea managed to control the rest of the game , retaining most of the procession and giving Hull little chance to equalize.
The fact that Chelsea managed to navigate this away game to earn the three points, I think actually spells the end of any hopes the chasing pack may have had for a complete meltdown. I’d stop taking bets against us at this stage.