Fortunately for me, the second half was a lot more exciting. Di Matteo obviously had a few words for his underperforming charges. For the first 25 minutes of the half you’d be forgiven for asking if Birmingham had any attackers on the field, such was Chelsea’s dominance. In that time, the lively Mata had given Chelsea the lead with a scrappy goal in the Birmingham six-yard box. A few minutes later, Raul Meireles unleashed an unstoppable effort into the top-corner from about 20 yards out. I take issue at the arrogance of his celebration though. The way he turned around and walked away like it was the easiest thing in the world, where were those ‘easy’ goals for your former boss?
Shortly after Chelsea were awarded a penalty and were really threatening to run away with it. The penalty awarded after a good turn by Torres, a one two with his teammate and a reckless tackle from behind by the Birmingham left back. Mata, who had a penalty saved in the first game at Stamford bridge stepped up to right that wrong. He stood over the ball, with the game surely over if he scored, and practically stroked the ball straight to the Birmingham keeper.
Finally, Birmingham woke up for the second half and started to attack with more potency. Chris Burke was causing inexperienced left back, Ryan Bertrand, problems and the introduction of Marlon King gave Birmingham another dimension up front. Birmingham’s first real chance of the half came to King, where he was put through and was just lining up his shot from just inside the box when Gary Cahill made a desperate, last ditch tackle to stop him getting the shot away.
Chelsea had yet another chance to put the game to bed after some good work by Torres on the right. He delivered a dangerous ball into the box, laid the chance on a plate all of four yards out for Daniel Sturridge, who must’ve taken his eye off the ball at the last minute because the contact he made didn’t even send the ball towards the goal. I believe that the problem with Sturridge is that he believes he has scored before he has actually taken the shot and so loses focus and ends up looking a fool. When he is on it though, he is a quality striker and I’m looking forward to him in an England shirt.
The final 15 minutes of the game were all about Birmingham. Their attackers had come alive and they were probing away trying to get a goal but just couldn’t find the end product. Around the 80 minute mark, Jordan Mutch had a great opportunity to get a goal back but blazed over the bar. You sensed that would be it for the Championship side. It did indeed finish 2-0 after a valiant effort from Birmhingham.
Birmingham Star Man: Pablo IbaÃ±ez
This could have gone to any of the back four for Birmingham. There’s also an argument for Gomis in midfield, who played the anchor role to perfection, breaking up Chelsea attacks and sending Birmingham’s attackers on their way. However, it seemed that any last ditch tackle made seemed to be followed by the phrase ‘What an important tackle from IbaÃ±ez,’ so he gets my star man award.
Chelsea Man: Juan Mata
I haven’t written star as it would be ludicrous to say any of the Chelsea players starred in their win. Their best player was Juan Mata though, he was always lively and always running, creating chances and scored but he missed a few gilt edged opportunities including a penalty. He was nowhere near his mercurial best but was head and shoulders above any other Chelsea player. Considering every single one of their players had a point to prove it was a truly embarrassing team performance.
Referee Performance: 9/10
Referee Anthony Taylor had an excellent game. He made the correct calls, wasn’t card happy and didn’t bow to the pressure from Chelsea players to send Zigic off. He also gets serious man points for stepping in front of Zigic while he was on the war path after being kicked in the head.
Pleb of the Match Award: David Luiz
It was a tough call between Fernando Torres and David Luiz. Torres avoided this award after his improvement in the second half. He was shocking in the first, constantly losing possession. His complaining at being booked after a tackle from behind where he made no contact with the ball as well as his apparent disgust if anybody has the audacity to touch him makes me want to batter him.
David Luiz, however, is a liability. There was no need to kick out for the ball when he knew Zigic’s head was in the way. Chelsea also had a free kick in their own half which Petr Cech ran 30 yards out to take and just as he arrived, it looked for all the world that Luiz was going to take the free kick on Cech’s arrival but was dissuaded by the goalkeeper. Then towards the end, after a tame header on goal by Zigic, which the goalie would have collected had it not been for Luiz steaming in to boot it out for a corner.
It took all the will in the world not to leave my armchair at the end of the first half and put in a dvd instead, I’m glad I didn’t as the second half was rather enjoyable. I hope you’ve enjoyed what you have read but if not, hey ho, life goes on.