A 2-1 defeat was not the worst outcome for Chelsea and no-one knows better than Jose Mourinho himself.
The 2004/05 season showed Mourinho beginning to build his empire in London, signing key players Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira as he created his vision of a footballing dynasty. Mourinho ensured fans that Champions League glory was well within reach, although many doubted his credentials after the Blues crashed to a 2-1 defeat in their first leg away game to Barcelona. However a return leg at the Bridge saw Chelsea conjure an impressive comeback, enthralling fans and neutrals to deny any further progress for the Spanish giants in a 4-2 victory. Five years on and Chelsea crash to a 2-1 defeat as goals from Diego Milito and Esteban Cambiasso delight ironically their ex-Chelsea manager Mourinho. Despite holding the first leg advantage, just as Barcelona did in 2005, this game is by no means over. Both sides created chances in an evenly matched affair, Frank Lampard and Samuel Eto’o both failing to capitalise on their respective opportunities. Didier Drogba crashed a signature free-kick onto the underside of Julio Cesar’s crossbar and Salomon Kalou was denied a penalty when he appeared to be clipped as he homed in on goal.
A valiant display was not however credited with a result, but many positives can be drawn from the performance as the Blues were arguably the more threatening of the two sides. The game on the whole was played in the Milan half, so heading into the return fixture may seemingly put Chelsea at a goal disadvantage but their form at the Bridge has been resolute of late. A poor start from the Blues saw media culprit John Terry at fault for guiding Milito onto his favoured right foot to seamlessly power past Petr Cech at his near post. Within three minutes of kick off, Chelsea’s away day defensive frailties were uncovered by a relatively harmless ball to the Argentine striker. It wasn’t all doom and gloom defensively, as for the majority of the game a make-shift defence performed exceptionally well. Branislav Ivanovic in particular is a key performer as he begins to adapt to life as a wing-back, encompasses the attacking intent seen by his injured colleague Jose Bosingwa. Chelsea do lack width without Ashley Cole and Ivanovic and this issue will need to be addressed in the home leg. A tough Premier League clash arrives on the backlash of the Milan defeat as Manchester City travel south to the Bridge.
Manchester City’s prolonged stay in London was cut short last night after the expected Chelsea FA Cup opponents were knocked out by Stoke in extra time. The Citizens last Premier League clash saw them frustrate fans and neutrals of the game after questionably applying a ‘settle for a draw’ policy against fellow top four challengers Liverpool. The cash prized side have a number of ex-Blues in their ranks, but it will not be the return of Shaun Wright-Phillips on the lips of the Blue faithful but more that of Wayne Bridge. The English left-back recently withdrew from International duty to avoid confronting John Terry after their well publicized love fiasco. Bridge’s performances are yet to reflect the off the field battles he faces, whereas Terry has now accumulated a number of uncharacteristic mistakes in the Blue back-line, his latest allowing Milito to comfortably smash past a rooted Cech. With both on the field it is probable their football may take a back-seat and with distractions high, Terry must keep focused in order to avoid costing his sides title credentials a fatal blow. Further slip-ups from the skipper could see not only his International future in doubt but questions to arise over his club career.
With an unfocused centre-back two missing full-backs and now an injured goalkeeper, Chelsea’s make-shift defence will need to deal with the dual threat of Emmanuel Adebayor and a returning Carlos Tevez this weekend. An important game against City could see Chelsea extend their lead to four points, potentially crucial in the hunt for the title with just 10 games remaining.
Watch all Chelsea matches live on your computer – click here