EFL Cup Round 2: Chelsea 3 Bristol Rovers 2
23rd August 2016 19:45
Away fan insult of the day: None. Again! I have to say I found the Rovers fans a giggle, and far from the pitchfork wielding, fire belching nutters I had been led to believe would descend on West London. So instead of an insult, here's a fun fact about insults. I asked a couple of chaps who bought a fanzine why they call themselves The Gas. They said it was because their club was near a gasworks. They then informed me that alternatively, Bristol's other team is near a sewage works, so they have dubbed them The Shit. They then gave a jolly rendition of how they sing "Shit-heeeeeeeads" at them. You can't really fault the logic, I suppose.
Round 2!? I hear you say. Yes, this is what happens when you are Chelsea and you fail at life for nine consecutive months. But it's done now so lets just enjoy the ride...
The others: Not a lot going on elsewhere since our last match, Super Sunday might have been overstating the potential entertainment value a bit. I thought the Sunderland/Boro derby was a good watch. However, I'm pretty sure I fell asleep during the West Ham/Bournemouth game and drooled on myself. Into the cup games today and there are distinct shouts of "it really is our year" coming from somewhere North West of here where it is still fashionable to scrunch you hair with moose and own Bros LPs. Elsewhere, hurrah for Gillingham and Northampton for knocking out higher league opposition and, from a selfish perspective, ensuring that we can't be the first Premier League team to exit the competition to an exalted chorus from the Daily Fail.
OUR GAME: There were was a more relaxing night planned for the likes of Kante, JT, Diego (I had thought that the West Country might be one corner of our fair isle that he hadn't yet offended, and that his absence would ensure the survival of this past tonight, but they booed him on the touchline). I have it on good authority that the in lieu of being able to write about him being evil on the pitch, the press will run a story on the back pages tomorrow detailing how he spent the whole match barbecuing puppy kebabs whilst tripping up old ladies out the back of the East Stand. Two days later they will run a tiny tiny tiny two line apology admitting that they made this up.
We began brightly, and quickly, and I think although Bristol were clearly not intimidated, it prevented them settling down. They made good opposition, growing into the game and were clearly (fans included, even the scamp who made it into our end) up for the occasion. At some point last season, when I think we played lower league opposition (possibly MK Dons?) their manager said afterwards that it was not so much the skill level that separated the teams, but how quickly top players think on the ball. This seemed to be the case tonight on our three goals, with the Bristol Rovers players finding we were three passes ahead before they had sussed out what was going on.
It was all I could do not to vomit in the second half, no, not because the performance was pretty bleak, but because the new pies being nuked behind us in the stand smell like school dinner shepherds pie. In my opinion, because this is my blog, after all, Begovic should have come for that ball prior to the penalty. He started to, and would have got there, but he bottled it. Now, I admit I was eating my dinner at the time, having starved myself to sell the fanzine (thank you Sam, benevolent god of chicken nuggets!) but I thought the Bristol Rovers player was looking for the penalty, which you would expect, and that we went right ahead and gave it to him. Not stonewall by any means watching it live, but you see them given. No real argument, providing that we get one of those later in the season!
Memo to Conte: Absolutely, unequivocally, BAN Matic from ever shooting. OK once, long, long ago, when London was still lit by gas lamp and people regarded photography as soul stealing witchcraft, one might have gone in; but he generally has the sense of direction you'd attribute to a blindfolded pigeon with one wing strapped to its side that has been on a bender with a bottle of Absinth. And it makes my heart sink when I see him swing his leg back instead of looking for the pass. Not quite as much as when I see Branna back off and leave a defensive clearance to CESC!!! (Rage) But, still, make it stop.
What we really wanted to see was a run out for some of our fringe players tonight, and we got that. So how did they fare? Those who have not been getting in the starting eleven were clearly out to impress the new manager (though, it seems this is still not enough of an incentive to get Fabregas to clear the first man when he takes a corner).
Moses: "Goalscorer for Chelsea." I bet those were words he never thought he would hear again. I think its great that it appears to have been a completely level playing field in terms of showing Conte what you can do, and he has certainly benefitted. (Watch him get loaned to Stoke now I have said that). It is a shame he hit that last shot like a bellend, because a brace would not have been unwarranted tonight. Still had legs to sprint at the end too, which was good to see. He's obviously not a first choice starter, but if Conte can manage that against Moses's expectations, he makes a great impact sub and a certainty for cup games. As for Ola Aina, steady enough, right? Without being mind-blowing? I recall one blazing run into the box and it was a shame he had to go off. Pedro was pretty anonymous, he appeared to be quite stroppy when he was subbed, but at that point he hadn't fashioned anything in an hour of football, so he had no reason to be. Loftus Cheek was the disappointing one for me. He went from trying too hard (and notably not passing when he should have done) to zoning out of the game altogether. My opinion of him stands, that he obviously has great ability but his concentration is wank at the moment, and he doesn't work hard enough off the ball. There is a whole lot of sauntering going on. He had some good moments tonight, namely his assist, but I doubt he has blown Conte away with that performance. Until 70 minutes I would have said that so far, Michy hasn't put a foot wrong, but as soon as that thought entered my head, he made two stupid passes to nobody. I remain massively impressed though. He seems to be in the right place at the right time, which beats us ranting about how nobody is in the box. Poor Chalobah, he spent so long waiting on the sideline, presumably for a point when the result was assured, when he would get his turn, but it didn't work out for him tonight. Hope it does soon though. It feels like I've seen him in everyone else's colour except ours! Incidentally, I've just googled Marco van Ginkel to see what has happened to him - and did you know, that his name isn't Marco? It is Wulfert Cornelius, which is so much better.
So: Here is a little stat for you. In our opening three games, our opposition have fashioned 8 shots on target against us. From these we have conceded 4 goals. This is shit. On the up side, we have already scored 7 goals, (it took us until mid-September to do that last season). I've also noted this progression:
Courtois punching when he should catch and catching when he should punch
Miserable JT Inexplicably bad though trying hard Cahill
Willian covering Branna who is away with fairies Dave working his arse off
Willian covering Matic Fabregas passing the ball to the other team and Willian trying to bale him out
Hazard limping Willian trying to do his own job Willian covering Pedro/Oscar
Chelsea August 2016
Courtois engaging his brain more
Happy JT Normal Cahill
Original Branna, not one abducted by aliens last year Dave still working his arse off
Kante Matic at least looking like he gives a crap
Fit Hazard Willian Rejuvenated Oscar
Let's hope we can go into the international break with another win...
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