Firstly let me apologise for the delay in these player ratings; however, they are being written under tragic circumstances. No-one likes to be awake before 7 am without their consent, much less a Uni student. Apologies if this comes through in my writing. But it presents me an extra hour in the day I wouldn’t otherwise have to write these up so, silver linings etc.
The time between the game and now hasn’t dulled the exhilerating feeling of experiencing last Monday’s SW6 derby either. A fairly open game where both sides, in stages, demonstrated their quality but I think it’s fair to say that we showed it more than them over the 90 and if it weren’t for a hugely dodgy penalty then we could have seen that reflected in the result.
Schwarzer – 6, againm another quiet game for Mark in goal! And that is huge testament to our defence. Thought his kicking could have been better but I can’t really remember him being forced into a real save or Chelsea bombarding him with crosses.
Hangeland – 7, another solid contribution from the lanky Norwegian. Blocks, solid marking, reliable as always when balls came into the box. Played a majestic ball down the left for Riise too.
Hughes – 7.5, I thought Hughes outshone Hangeland for the simple fact that he had the job (whether by choice or by demand) of looking after Torres, and the Spaniard barely had a kick. A few times he tried to peel off Hughes for the long diagonal but the defender covered him perfectly. Not to mention his vital tradmark interceptions from other incisive Chelsea passes. Also, it’s notable just how much Hughes has improved on the ball. We used to expect long balls down the channel; not any more, as he’s gathered a composure and confidence which enables the simple ball to be played effectively.
Kelly – 7.5, Kelly again continues his impressive vein of form. Kalou, despite being much parodied by the footballing world, can be fairly tricky on his day but his attacking contribution was nullified other than two fairly big moments; the first being the pen for a foul by Kelly which never was and the second a free header when he stole in between the centre halves but contrived to miss spectacuarly. Always willing to go forward too, Kelly was present in our offensive, as well as defensive, play.
Riise – 8.5, the most impressive aspect of our play was undoubtably the domination we had down our left hand side. The first half of our armoury on that flank was the full back Riise who had an absolute field day. Russ Goldman actually picked him out as a candidate for suprise performer of the match and that foresight turned out to be accurate as Riise surged forward with impressive resolve and quality. Pushing up so far as to break the Chelsea offside trap several times, firing in crosses too, but also defending well; my favourite Riise moment of the game was when he was injured and despite being way out of position chased back and performed a diving salmon leap to clear a pass out for a throw in. In a sense his defensive duties were helped by Ramires being played out wide, who despite possessing great athleticism isn’t a winger really at all. However, if Ramires was played there to neutralise Riise as an attacking threat then there was only one winner in that battle.
Murphy – 7, our captain was afforded extra space and freedom in the three man midfield and as usual he used it wisely. Spreading passes around for fun and knitting our defensive and offensive unit together neatly, along with snappy tackles and good defensive covering. Not sure why he came off early.
Diarra – 8, a masterclass in anticipation and interception. Diarra read the game beautifully from a defensive point of view and I lost count of the number of times he cut out Chelsea passes and broke up attacks with those interceptions and tackles, as well as covering runners from midfield. A couple of slack passes but his possession game was fairly sweet as we are beginning to expect from him; collecting the ball and moving it on swiftly and with intelligence.
Dembele – 7, a return to form of sorts. Dembele definately had more influence in the middle of the pitch than he had done in previous couple of games, perhaps aided with the relative staticness of Mikel and Lampard who Dembele can just drift pass effortlessly, and did. Joined attacks, but I am concerned with this apparent drop off in form after what initially appeared to be a masterstroke.
Frei – 8.5, part two of our left flank domination. Frei was exceptional against Chelsea last Monday. I cannot remember the last time I went to a game and expected something exciting to happen when a specific player recieved the ball. He tore Ivanovic to shreds, one of the premier right backs in the league. In a sense, he possibly should have done more with the opportunities he created for himself, but what a talent. My favourite thing about Frei is that he looks like he’s losing the ball every time he runs with it but it’s still totally under his control! (see: his run when he took on four Chelsea players and forced Cech into a save). He also suits Riise more than Kacaniklic. However I really would like to see him go down the outside, just once! Very impressive.
Duff – 7, not as dynamic as Frei but still had his part to play in the game. He covered Cole well, and when attacking was wise with the ball and didn’t lose it rashly, although we didn’t see him do too much damage to the defence. Nice corner taking though. We could have scored 3 in the 20 minutes he was taking them.
Dempsey – 8, you can’t stop this man. Even if he’s outnumbered with a defensive midfielder shielding balls into him he still played the forward role well, dropping off, turning at goal and doing damage (however it would have been interesting to see how we would have played with Pogrebnyak), playing a key role in our performance. And with his first, and only, solid attempt at goal, he scores. It took a deflection, that was obvious watching it live, which could get it taken away from him but let’s give it to him for now and marvel at the achievement of scoring 22 goals in a season.
Etuhu – 6.5, came on for Murphy and I was worried because I thought it’d disrupt our attacking patterns, and to be fair it did to an extent. However we needed him when Chelsea really pushed in the last few minutes and he did well.
Sa – N/A, nice to see Sa return after so long out but it will be interesting to see what happens to him come the end of the season. Did ok in his few minutes on the pitch and offered a bit of an outlet
Kacaniklic – N/A, replaced Frei for a few minutes. Little time to do anything really.