Rich has identified a couple of the reasons why we were beaten at the Bridge on Saturday.
Florent Malouda is a very good footballer. That’s never been in doubt. But he has flattered to deceive since joining Chelsea. At the weekend, he, Anelka and Drogba tore us to pieces. Yet, the most frustrating thing about it all was that there was a nagging doubt at the back of my mind that it might have been avoided. We allowed the three of them (and John Mikel Obi, as Rich also points out) far too much time and space. It was akin to handing the hangman the rope.
Our statesque defending for the first goal was laughable. I know that none of the players grow up around the clubs they play for now so derbies such as this one are less of a tribal affair than they used to be, but the boys would – I hope – have been left in no doubt about how much this meant to the fans. The first minute should have been about using the ball carefully or crunching into a tackle when somebody broke free. Instead, Chelsea sauntered through to score with all the ease of a training ground warm up.
Malouda was allowed to linger at the back post for the second, too, but my conceded possession and the impetus far too easily from the throw in. The fact that we were caught far too high up the pitch, with both Konchesky and Demspey exposed for the third, must have even ruffled mild-mannered Roy’s feathers. In fact, the lack of cover for our overworked defence was an issue I could spot from the front row of the Shed all afternoon.
It might just have been the angle at which I was watching the action but I was mightily perturbed by the woeful nature of our crossing too. Time after time, crosses from decent positions failed to beat the first man or even threaten to find a white shirt. It was a waste of good ‘field position’ as the Americans would say. Indeed, I can only remember one chance coming from a cross: when Zamora headed Konchesky’s centre wide from close range.
As we have shown for much of this season, Fulham can compete against the top sides. Basic mistakes cost us that game. Let’s hope that they will not reappear against Aston Villa on Saturday.