Chelsea 3 - West Bromwich Albion 0
I doubt that Pardew really expected us to get any points tonight, the real game is Huddersfield at home. I honestly feel we'll struggle to get many more points this season. We are a half decent Championship team and it showed tonight.
Sturridge going off was a blow in only the 3rd minute. Then we get a great chance to open the scoring and Rodriguez snatches at it, Rondon had a headed effort and all in all we started well and looked comfortable. Hazard is a great little player and he began to turn the screw, his first goal was incisive and we started to lose our way. Brunt made some sloppy mistakes giving the ball away stupidly which is unlike him, he was rightly substituted later for Burke. Philips brings nothing to the team and doesn't seem to like any serious physical contact, is he worried about getting injured? We got to half time only one nil down and I still had hope.
Unfortunately Chelsea had got there mojo back with quick forward passing something we can never do! The second went in and it was all over. Rondon missed another good chance and Evans went close with a header. You can't fault the effort but we do not have the quality. Barry is finished as a Premiership player, we need a massive sort out come the summer. The third went in and relegation seems to be on the doorstep.
Disappointed and gutted for the players but we live to fight another day after all it is only a game !?!?!?!??!?
Up against a Chelsea team recently humiliated by two mediocre sides, we had an outside chance of getting something from this game, but despite a bright start and some decent passages of play, the result was all too familiar. J-Rod squandered a great opportunity in the first to put us one up and then Rondon and Evans missed great chances at 1-0. But once it became 2-0 it was game over. Hazard was unplayable and always seems to move up a gear against us.
So what now? Cast adrift at the bottom, the period of denial ("we have too many experienced players to go down") has long since passed. We are now in the 'desperation phase' (throw everybody forward - "We might as well lose five nothing having a go as one nothing"). The final phase, resignation ("let's work on our resumes lads"), is still a few games away. Of course there are 33 points to play for, but for a team that has only won three league games in 12 months, how much does anyone around the team truly believe we have it in us to win six or seven games? We switched managers, without getting the boost, although nobody can deny we are much easier on the eye now than under Pulis. We got a class striker in during the window, but Sturridge lasted all of one minute and may be out for weeks. It ain't looking good. Those 18 points lost from winning positions are really hurting now.
Foster pulled off some great saves and Hegazi and Evans had solid games again. Phillips put in some dangerous crosses. Burke had a full second half to show what he's got, but except for one strong run and cross, was largely anonymous. Four wins out of the next six?? It's desperation time.
I wont repeat the points already made.
I thought Pardew was too cavalier again. He can't be that good at poker - banging on in his early press conferences about how we have to play two up front in every game. Does he regret that now?
I think most Albion fans would accept going 4-5-1 away at Chelsea or Man City and, in fact, at most away games provided there is pace and width in the team.
We did start well, it was a blow to lose Sturridge (although I think all of the evidence suggests that he should be a player we introduce with 25 to go and not start with because he is made of glass but his pace and movement against tiring defenders can hurt teams), and we did blow chances.
But overall Chelsea always had other gears and in centre midfield they were too quick and clever for us. We left gaps all over the place for them to play in.
We were in the game at half time but I'm not sure matching up like-for-like against a side who play that system all the time and won the league doing it with better players was a wise move. Again we missed 2 really good chances and it cost us although the way we set up I think Chelsea might have pushed on and hurt us more.
I also thought we looked disorganised and ill-disciplined. Our corners were OK but our free kicks were absolutely terrible - we had many chances to get up the pitch with them but the delivery, approach and intent were rubbish, We might as well let Foster take them.
The absence of Field on the bench or in the team is a real bugbear of mine - our results with him in and around the team (played in the right position) are better than without and we're also holding back his development.
But it's academic really. We are short on confidence, quality and luck within games, with injuries and with decisions and fixtures. Pardew hasn't been great but the rot started long before. It doesn't sound like Chadli or Morrison are any where near returning and I don't think there is enough in the squad to win anything like the number of games we need to without them.
I don't think anyone really thought we would get anything from Chelsea away so no real surprise at the result. We started well enough and if the penalty shout had been given or if we'd have taken the easy chance early on it could have been a different story but those are the fine margins that haven't gone our way all season.
I don't think we are the worst team in the league but we can't score a goal. The football we're playing is miles better in my opinion but injuries and terrible recruiting have left us massively lacking in attacking options. Pulis had half a dozen transfer windows and we still haven't got a player in the club capable of scoring double figures.
I must also mention the Brunt / Burke substitution. It meant we played the second half with ten men. Leko or Field are both miles better than Burke. He was completely overawed, like having someone from the under 15s on the pitch. There might be a player in there somewhere but his effort and body language is shocking. Brunt wasn't at his best but he was still miles more effective.
Anyway all we can do is win the FA Cup and hope for a miracle to keep us up. COYB
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