Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Swansea 1 Chelsea 1

It is only a 90 minute snapshot of a 38-game Premier League season but, on this evidence, Roman Abramovich selected the wrong Jose Mourinho protégé.

Yes, Chelsea might have snatched a fortuitous deflected equaliser but the dominant theme of another hugely impressive evening at the Liberty Stadium was Swansea’s expansive passing play.

Brendan Rodgers, Chelsea’s former reserve team manager, continues to extract considerably more flair from Swansea that Andre Villas-Boas is coaxing from the supposed superstars of Stamford Bridge.

Yet as much as it was a tale of two managers on the touchline, this was also a story of two strikers. Scott Sinclair, who made just one league start in three frustrating years at Stamford Bridge, scored for Swansea City while a 1,000th minute has now elapsed since Fernando Torres registered his last Chelsea goal.

The first slight surprise was in the teamsheet, with Gary Cahill being made to wait for his debut even in the absence of John Terry due to a knee injury.

Villas-Boas instead opted to rearrange his defence, partnering Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz in the centre while Jose Bosingwa started at right-back.

Indeed, with a calf injury and the African Cup of Nations ruling out Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba respectively, there was a distinctly unfamiliar core to the Chelsea team.

They certainly looked disjointed in the opening exchanges as Swansea, still flushed from outplaying Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium earlier in the month, initially dominated both chances and possession.

Danny Graham and Nathan Dyer were causing a particular problem to the left side of Chelsea’s defence as both Luiz and Ashley Cole regularly wondered forward with insufficient care.

The first clear chance, though, was from a set piece. Sinclair’s accurate delivery was met by Steven Caulker but, despite falling invitingly for Graham, the shot was skewed wide.

Further difficulty was caused with another direct ball into the heart of Chelsea’s defence.

Angel Rangel had launched a clearance from the right and, with Ivanovic failing to deal with the danger, Petr Cech hastily left his goal. Cech duly missed the ball, leaving Gylfi Sigurdsson only needing to lift his attempted finish above Ivanovic.

His shot, though, was low and cleared off the line by Ivanovic, with Luiz then scampering back to make a similar goal-saving block from Graham’s follow-up.

Joe Allen then had Swansea’s third clear sight of goal from the same passage of play but Cech had recovered sufficiently to make the save.

The touchline frustration from Rodgers was visible and there was a brief flurry of Chelsea pressure. Torres’ movement, though, was limited and it was Daniel Sturridge who provided the most persistent threat.

He cut inside Neil Taylor to force a good low save from Michel Vorm, while Oriel Romeu and Juan Mata also spurned half-chances.

Swansea’s exceptional pressing, however, left Chelsea struggling to establish any rhythm and they took a deserved lead in the 39th minute.

Mata had needlessly conceded a foul deep inside his own half and, from another set-piece, Chelsea’s obvious defensive weaknesses were exposed.

Sigurdsson’s free kick landed on the edge of the six-yard box, with Bosingwa unable to clear even the penalty area with his defensive header.

Sinclair had drifted into space and brilliantly punished the mistake, hooking his finish over Cech and into the corner of the goal.

His previous association with Chelsea meant that the celebration was muted but the internal sense of elation would have been considerable.

Without Terry, Drogba and Lampard in the squad, the Chelsea dressing-room was short of obvious leaders but they emerged for the second-half with rather more purpose.

Luiz, while unpredictable defensively, was frequently stepping out to offer an extra man in midfield and provide some variety to Chelsea’s attacks.

Yet while Mata, Bosingwa, Sturridge and Michael Essien all provided fleeting moments of quality, there was often a gaping hole in the centre of Chelsea’s attack that Torres could reasonably have been expected to fill.

It appeared that Chelsea misery had been compounded in the 85th minute when Ashley Cole was dismissed for a second bookable offence, but Bosingwa was to rescue a point for Chelsea in the final minute with a low drive that deflected off Neil Taylor and beyond Vorm.

With such an imbalance in the cost of the two teams, Chelsea’s recruitment will again come under scrutiny.

The club have certainly been rather more frugal in this January transfer window, even if Tuesday’s £1.5 million signing of Nottingham Forest forward Patrick Bamford took their total spend this month beyond £15 million.

The dilemma facing Villas-Boas, though, is clear. Does he now revert to that tried and tested core who were unavailable here or does he accelerate the process of change?

It would take a courageous manager to follow that latter course but, as Rodgers is showing, fortune really can favour the brave.

Tags: ,

Related Posts

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.