CITY 2 CHELSEA 2
Report by Eddie Blount
How times change! Not so very long ago any point against Chelsea, home or away, would have been heralded as at least a minor triumph, yet there was a distinct air of slight disappointment at the end of yesterday’s game that we had let two points slip rather than merely prevented a top four challenger from making any headway against us.
To be fair however Chelsea deserved to take something from the game and, although we had by far the better chances to win the game overall a draw seemed a reasonably fair result.
Chelsea throughout looked a little sharper and more mobile than City who in turn looked more determined and up for the battle. It made for a thrilling end to end contest so refreshing to see after the defensive attitude of many of the lesser sides in the premiership.
The biggest surprise was that we reached halftime with the score-line goalless! Chelsea had an early chance when Abraham just failed to connect with a brilliant cross from the right and Vardy should have scored when in on Caballero from close range but shot against the keeper’s legs when a deft chip was surely the better option as Caballero went down very quickly.
Inevitably VAR reared its increasingly ugly head and for an addition to the game intended to reduce controversy it is managing to do the reverse. There were several examples yesterday. Initially there was a long delay when Soyuncu and Abraham tangled in the box before VAR predictably ruled ‘no foul.’ Yet this took some two minutes! VAR only over rules if a clear and obvious mistake has been made and I cannot see that it takes two minutes to determine what is clear and obvious! It is not clear and obvious that VAR knows the meaning of clear and obvious.
Personally I am not sure that we need both words – if it’s clear it is by definition obvious; likewise if it is obvious it is clear. No wonder with such a limited command of the English language they have trouble defining the offside rule! The crowd greeted the first use of VAR with obscenities but amusingly changed tack when seeking a handball decision against Chelsea very late on.
VAR is a mess and is removing spontaneity from the game so that instead of celebrating goals fans have to wait for confirmation by which time the moment has long gone. Football is surely about emotional release and we are being psychologically damaged!
The surprise of the second half was not that four goals were scored – or perhaps I should say varred – but that they were all of relatively low quality in a match certainly not lacking on that score. Chelsea ominously took the lead with a shocker in every sense. We play a zonal defence to corners so how can an opponent, in this case Rudiger, head in unchallenged from within the six-yard box patrolled by five of our players?
We clearly missed the absent Ndidi which left us dangerously short of aerial power and thus vulnerable to the set-piece. Nearest to Rudiger were Choudhury and Chilwell neither of whom got off the ground and defended like passengers trying to get on to a crowded tube train.
Fortunately we had a stroke of luck which brought us level fairly quickly – nice move down the left, Barnes surging into the box and his shot looping off a defender and sailing unstoppably into the top corner!
It got better on 64 minutes when another left side surge resulted in a long over-hit ball which reached the far side of the penalty area with no one from either side in sight. Caballero decided to venture forth but wasn’t quite quick enough and City go there first working the ball to Tielemans who immediately crossed to the far post. Caballero arrived in goal just in time to see the ball smashed into the empty net by a somewhat resurgent Ben Chilwell. A Keystone Kops goal which should have won the game for City.
However Rudiger hadn’t quite finished his day to remember! A free kick from the right to the far post saw Chilwell and Rudiger in opposition with a predictable result, Rudiger’s powerful header sailing past Schmeichel. No wonder Chilwell jumped around enraged. This was a failure to learn on a grand scale and most decent parks teams would have been ashamed of such defensive inadequacy having been given a clear warning of what could occur.
City creditably put their woes behind them and carved out two wonderful chances to win the match. The first came when Perez set Vardy away down the right and his fantastic cross found Barnes eight yard out and dead centre. Somehow he screwed his shot just wide when it would have been easier to score. End product – and tackling – is Barnes Achilles heel as it is with so many young players!
Still the Gods gave us one final opportunity to win. A Maddison corner found Evans in the Barnes’ position and he managed to put the ball wide with no Chelsea player anywhere near him. No wonder he held his head in his hands! At that moment we all knew that our final chance had gone.
City: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Choudhury, Perez, Tielemans (Praet 80), Maddison, Barnes, Vardy (Iheanacho)
Chelsea: Caballero, James, Christensen, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Jorginho (Kovacic 74), Hudson-Odoi, Mount, Kante, Pedro (Willian 74), Abraham (Barkley 83)
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation