Awful awful awful. After games like thatthere’s just such a heavy feeling of disappointment, despite the performance of the team which I thought was very promising and Jol seems to have found something that clicks, starting with the second half against City. When you put a reserve side out at a team like Chelsea you’re always conscious that they generally have better players in their B team than you do in your A, so to play like we did, without fear more than anything, was really good to see. Anyway, a few players stuck out last night. Can anyone else not believe Frei’s 17?
Schwarzer – 7.5, made a wonderful wonderful save from Terry’s header and the save from Lampard’s penalty was also pretty good. His handling on a couple of occasions was again fantastic, as shots were fizzed in he made saves which he should have done but caught them instead of palming them into a crowded 6 yard box. Another good performance and after a few doubts he seems in top form now.
Grygera – 8, I have to admit to being a bit unsure about his signing. One of them ‘solid’ back ups where you can’t go wrong on a free but would be 3rd or 4th choice in both positions that he plays in, but his performance yesterday was certainly one that caught the eye. His composure on the ball and reading of the game was spot on, he was the ‘sweeper’ of the two centre backs. Didn’t have to do too much in the air which was interesting, I’m not sure how he’d fair in a full on physical battle with a striker such as Drogba (he didn’t really seem to come up too much against Lukaku one on one). But this guy could be an impressive surprise.
Senderos – 7, Senderos v Chelsea, brings back poor memories on his part from Arsenal games gone past but he did well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Senderos is a quality centre half and on top form is Champions League material. I hope, and I think he will, he flourishes at Fulham. One dodgy moment when he lunged in on Lukaku who skipped past him and would have been through on goal but Grygera covered well, and cut out a cross with his hand but I don’t think that was ever a penalty.
Kelly – 6.5, a performance that kinda didn’t stick out but quietly Kelly did well, getting forward very actively (is he Jol’s right back now?) and making one wonderful challenge on Malouda when he was set to score. Seemed to get beaten a few times.
Briggs – 7.5, literally gets better and better with every game. His pace is absolutely phenomenal, the strong touch to just fly past two Chelsea players for the Terry own goal attempt (what a fabulous save from Turnball by the way) sticks out, and his crossing is also very good, the ball in which led to Cech’s injury was a good one. He’s a very positive player, despite being at left back will always try and make something happen if he can in an attacking sense. His defensive responsibilities are improving too, he does have a habit of playing his way into trouble in the final third but kept it simple. His concentration too could be better as could his strength but that is being pretty critical and he covered his side well enough, while a feint or trick can beat him a bit too easily good luck to any player who tries to beat him for pace. This really is the season he makes his mark and Riise really does need to step up I feel to keep his place, Briggs is that good.
Baird – 7, the Northern Irish Finnan/Goma/Brevett/Murphy? The guy can cover 4 positions very very well and I’m so glad he stayed in the summer. This time he played centre midfield, covering deep alot of the time and picking the ball up from the defence. His range of passing, especially for someone who has played almost all their time in defence, is really impressive, several times he switched play out wide with an accurate long range ball, and of course being a defender his awareness is always going to be very good. It’s a bit like Busquets actually, although obviously not as good, but a player that you know can start off attacks and stop their opponents.
Gecov – 7.5, a bit like Sidwell in many ways and not just because of the hair. Gecov doesn’t seem to have the passing that Murphy does, which is why I’m always a bit unsure when people mention him as a replacement, but his all round game is pretty good. Not slow, certainly not a liability on the ball, solid, professional, good tackler, on the whole a box to box player like Sidwell. Infact I’d say our midfield game slowed down when Sidwell came on for him, perhaps that’s where people say Gecov is similar to Murphy, because of his awareness and ability to find a momentum saving pass very quickly. He has a nice signature touch too where he spins and rolls the ball under his foot to make space and I like how he moves around to find the ball to keep it moving. I thought he’d struggle at first to be honest but he fit in like he’d been here for years.
Kasami – 7, ARGH! He wasn’t unfortunate with the penalty, it was a shocking penalty, let’s not pretend anything else. Turnball dived early so Kasami had half the goal to stroke it into. But you can see why he took it, he can strike a ball well and he has a nice air of authority about him. I think that’s what I like most about him. He has a whole load of skill about him with a wicked cross with both feet but he also does not hide at all, he takes responsibility. For such a technically adept guy he’s physically a beast too. I really like the look of him. Would be nice if he took a chance soon though!
Frei – 7.5, OK, it’s very hard not to get carried away but on the other hand for an hour a 17 year old ran Chelsea ragged. I would have taken him off instead of Kasami personally, he looked absolutely exhausted, but his talent is there for everyone to see. I’m not calling him to be a first team player right now, I think that’d ruin him actually, but I like how Jol is giving him games here and there. I certainly wouldn’t have played him last night so not only is it good to see him get a couple of hours of game time but the trust that the manager has in him to play in a game of this importance, I think that says more than his performance to be honest.
Ruiz – 7, he missed a penalty and just like Kasami’s it was dreadful, but I won’t hold it against him. He is struggling I think to adapt to the English game instantly, I wouldn’t expect anything else though, and it was good for him to get the full 120 minutes despite him obviously strugging for fitness for the last 30 or 40 of them. He showed some of the talent that he has, the two exquisite balls for Sa (which should have both been goals) with the outside of his foot then the chip, the set up for Frei to win the penalty and one lovely deft touch when picking the ball out of a 20 foot drop to turn inbetween and away from two Chelsea players. The guy has talent that is for sure and we must be patient because when he finally plays to his potential we will have a real star.
Sa – 6.5, like Grygera a signing that can’t go wrong but you wouldn’t expect much from. Actually I say that but there was a stage in his career when he looked like he’d be the striker that Portugal’s been looking for, so we know he does have a fair bit of natural talent. In the game I thought his movement and desire to get behind the Chelsea defence was pretty good as was his link up play, but a couple of times his composure through on goal really let him down. The first when he was one on one, Cech was entirely in no mans land and Sa could have just curled the ball around him I thought, but instead he kept running and Alex tackled him. The second was even worse, instead of firing across goal to Kasami who was completely and utterly unmarked 4 yards out he fired into the side netting. Unfortunately those are the two moments which stick out most for me. However he did show signs of being a capable replacement for Zamora, and like Kasami I wouldn’t have taken him off.
Dembele – 6, another indefencible penalty. I didn’t think he’d score when he stepped up, a wonderful player who approaches everything so casually which is a great attribute to have but it can be detrimental too. I could see the logic in the substitution, against 10 men who are hard to break down someone to attract players and take them out of position, but unlike his performance on City on sunday which was awesome he didn’t create too much when he did make that space.
Zamora – 6, like last week against Twente our attack slowed down when he came on. Without a doubt one of our best players and we are a better team with him, but we play differently without him than we do with him, and when we are playing so well without Zamora do we necessarily have to put him on? It wasn’t until he came on that Chelsea started to come back into it again really. Not a criticism of Zamora at all though, more Jol.
Sidwell – 6, another one who sort of slowed the pace of our attacking game down. Would have liked to have seen him get forward a bit more and almost scored when he did, I think from another Briggs cross, but the volley was over. Not sure why he came on either because Gecov didn’t seem off the pace particuarly.