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Archive for February, 2011

Carlo Ancelotti went balls out with a front 3 of Anelka, Drogba and Torres with Anelka playing the trequartista role. We quickly found out this formation was not working out. Chelsea had trouble creating anything and they were severely lacking any sort of width. Ancelotti opted for a midfield of Lampard, Obi Mikel and Essien. None of those players have the pace or creativity to produce any kind of sideline to sideline play and deliver crosses into the box. Guys like Malouda and Kalou fit that role perfectly and their presence was clearly missing.

The game started like a typical Chelsea vs Liverpool encounter. Boring. 30 minutes in we finally saw some action – a dangerous cross into the box got past about 4 Chelsea defenders plus goalkeeper Petr Cech and fell right to Maxi Rodriguez who simply had to tap it into an empty net but he put a little too much air in it and the ball graciously hit the crossbar. Torres had a chance to bag a goal against his former team but Jaime Callagher arrived in the nick of time to deflect a strike that would have tested Reina.

In the 66th minute – a shock substitute occured – Fernando Torres was called to the bench and Solomon Kalou entered the fray. I understand the introduction of Kalou, however, Torres was not the correct person to make way. It should have been Anelka. Three minutes later, the defense broke down and allowed Raul Meireles to nonchalantly knock the ball into the back of the net. Now you are down 1-0 and you just subbed out your 50 million pound goal scorer who you just bought from the very team that just scored. In need of more attacking options, Ancelotti brings in Malouda and takes out Obi Mikel. Immediately Malouda darted through the Liverpool defense and provided a strike on goal that required cat-like reflexes from Reina to keep it out. Despite Chelsea’s efforts they were unable to equalize – however – Liverpool got away with a clear Lucas handball in the penalty box that should have been a yellow card + penalty shot. Even Lucas knew he was guilty but referee Andre Marriner went temporarily blind during that incident.

Day one of the Torres Experiment was a failure. There needs to be more pace, width and creativity in the lineup with Drogba and Torres. Anelka may need to come off the bench for a couple of games while Ancelotti plays with a lineup including Drogba, Torres and Malouda. Perhaps include Kalou in the same lineup and watch the sparks fly. The options are endless with the talent we now have at our disposal. It is just a matter of finding the perfect mix. However, offensive flow is not the only aspect Chelsea need to work on. The defense has been atrocious and is in serious need of attention. They look dazed and confused and completely lacking any confidence. Ancelotti needs to start figuring things out so he can attempt to salvage the season in the Champions League.

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Newcastle, having just sold their best player and leading goal scorer – Andy Carroll – saw themselves trailing to Arsenal 4-0 at halftime. Fans were leaving the stadium 10 minutes into the match. I’m not sure if anyone can blame them for that, it only took Arsenal 2 minutes into the match to score 2 goals. Within 47 seconds of kick-off Walcott made it 1-0, and about 1 minute later Djourou headed in the 2nd. Just 7 minutes later Robin Van Persie put home the 3rd.

The 2nd half was a completely different story. Five minutes in Abou Diaby gets himself sent off for reacting to a Joey Barton tackle by grabbing Barton by the neck and shoving his head towards the ground. As soon as Diaby got sent off, the crowd got back into the game and the Newcastle players looked reenergized. Joey Barton converted a penalty kick in the 69th minute, and the crowd went berserk and the Newcastle players had belief. Six minutes later Leon Best put home Newcastle’s 2nd and now the crowd was really roaring and everyone watching started to believe something special was unfolding before their very eyes. Newcastle continued to create chance after chance leaving fans and spectators alike on the edge of their seat.

In the 83rd minute Newcastle won their second penalty of the half and Joey Barton stepped up to the plate once again and bravely brought his club within 1 goal of completing one of the most epic comebacks in sports history. Merely five minutes later, in the 88th minute, Cheikh Tiote struck a one-time volley from just outside the penalty box, and the sweetest goal you will ever see completed the sweetest comeback you will ever see. Words could not explain the scene after that strike hit the back of the net.

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