They say football is a game of two halves and that was the case today, that was clearly evident after Chelsea’s woeful first-half performance when they found themselves a goal down. It all changed in the second-half when they managed to score twice and give Andre Villas Boas his first victory as Blues’ boss.
Chelsea looked sloppy in the first few minutes and were made to pay as early as the 5th minute when West Brom’s new recruit Shane Long managed to outmuscle Alex and hit the back of the net with a cool finish – Even Cech couldn’t have done any better, the shock was clear to everyone as Stamford Bridge suddenly went quiet.
Things were going to plan for West Brom as they defended deep and relied heavily on counter-attacks. The closest Chelsea came were with two shots, one from Kalou and another from Torres, both of which went high and wide and added to Chelsea’s misery.
Albion looked close to doubling the lead through a brilliant counter-attack when Long flew past Terry and Alex but somehow failed to find Tchoyi leaving the score at 1-0.
After 35 minutes of stale and sloppy play, AVB made a brave decision and replaced Kalou with Malouda who instantly added more pace to Chelsea’s game.
Nearing the end of the first half, Anelka, and most of the Shed End appealed for what looked like a blatant penalty, only for it to be turned down by the referee after Anelka seemed to be fouled inside the box by Foster. Replays looked like that Foster got Anelka and none of the ball. Another poor refereeing decision, so early in the season.
The first half drama was far from over as Chelsea came close to scoring in extra time at the end of the first half after a foul on Torres just outside the box, which resulted in an Alex free kick that hit a deflection, only for Foster save.
Andre Villas Boas’ team talk after a shocking first half probably made all the difference, Chelsea looked an altogether different side and played with more pace and were determined to get the three points for their new boss.
The first breakthrough came in the 53rd minute when Lampard’s pass was efficiently intercepted by Anelka who found the back of the net with a trademark finish from a tight angle – his first Premier League goal since February.
Chelsea continued to pile on pressure and West Brom were resilient to the wave of attacks after Anelka’s goal. Apart from one instance where Tchoyi’s shot forced a heroic save from stand-in keeper Hilario, Chelsea completely dominating the proceedings.
The Stamford Bridge faithful had to wait until the 83rd minute when Bosingwa ran past two defenders when provided provide a brilliant, yet lethal low cross which resulted a simple finish from Malouda. This gave AVB and Chelsea their first league win of the season.
The Blues managed to grab the three points in spite of a dreary first half performance, and as the saying goes, things can only get better for Chelsea as the season goes on.
by Abhishek Easwaran