Match Report: Chelsea v Reading

linesman: too distracted by the alice band to notice he was offside.

The long awaited home match for Chelsea has finally come and gone. Season ticket holders come in with such joy, such excitement to see old faces – and then within the first five minutes of kick-off realise they don’t like a soul around them. The price one has to pay to watch their home club.

Luckily for those making the trek to Stamford Bridge, they were treated to a good first twenty minutes of actual football – passing and everything! It kept the home support in good voice as they continued to sing ‘Champions of Europe – we know what we are.’ And then remembered they were playing Reading.

And not unlike Sunday’s fixture at Wigan, the Champions seemed to have that post European hangover that, let’s be honest, who amongst us hasn’t had. Some of us may have that feeling right now and has nothing to do with continued abuse of gin. Nothing at all.

To be fair, there’s a few new faces who are not only finding their way within the team, but within the league altogether. And in Oscar’s case, new to the language. Thankfully for all of us, RDM has had the forethought to appoint resident chap, Paulo Ferreira, as Oscar’s translator rather than David Luiz. Luiz is capable of many things, but passing on coherent tactical messages won’t be one of them.

You’d think with the threat that at any moment, you could be replaced by Raul Meireles would have the midfield looking lively, And often they were – but there were large parts of the night’s affair that were looking dire for the European Champions. Even Petr Cech was having a questionable night in terms of distribution, as he often struggled to pick out a pass. Unless of course he’s taken this twelfth man bollocks a stride too far and thinks knocking it into the east stand counts. Pete, it doesn’t. I know all the replica shirts in the stands make it all a little confusing. 

Before the match, RDM had made claims likening Eden Hazard to Gianfranco Zola. It’s far too early to tell whether he’ll be able to come close to filling Zola’s boots. But as he’s taken on the number 17 shirt, I can confidently claim he looks far better than Bosingwa – even if for the simple fact that in terms of eyebrows – he’s got two. Hazard’s also been fouled more in two games possibly than the entire club combined last season. Oscar has the more daunting task of filling the shirt of Didier Drogba. He’ll have to grow about eight inches and 3 stone to come close.

The winning goal was scored by none other than Fernando Torres who now has two goals in three matches. Was the goal offside? Sure. But top tip to Reading, play until the whistle goes – don’t assume the linesman knows what he’s doing. More often than not, they don’t. Another top tip for Reading, if you’re going to send Adam Federici into the box to try and score – you might want to make sure he’s going to get back to his net if Chelsea happens to counter attack – which is exactly what they did. Federici: you weren’t in a foot race with Usain Bolt, if Branislav Ivanovic is going to outrun you, you deserve to lose.

The match, of course, did not go by without random stadium hijinks. Although, no pitch invaders just yet, there were some problems upstairs. If there was a scramble in the box and a goal was scored – one could be forgiven for getting the goal scorer wrong. But when Frank Lampard takes, and scores, a penalty – something he’s done about 42 times for the club, it’s hard to not know who the goal scorer was. That took some effort for whoever was on the Stamford Bridge screens last night as they proudly put up John Terry as Chelsea’s the goal scorer. Either the man in charge had nipped into some of my gin or he was referring to a wholly different type of game.

To make up for such an embarrassing gaff, they tried to take the attention away from them – and the match by telling the Reading supporters to sit down as they were bothering their own fans. And then letting the entire stadium that someone had lost their phone. I’m as big a phone addict as any, but I’m not sure it was entirely necessary to tell 41,000 supporters that someone had lost their phone in the middle of the first half. Probably something that could have been saved for half time.  

Chelsea should count themselves lucky, as Reading could have easily come away with a point last night. However, it’s not always how you play the game – but who ends up with the points at the end of ninety minutes. And if watching United play poorly and win these past few years, if cliched papers are anything to go by, that’s a sign of champions – forget the whole playing well and winning bollocks. 

Chelsea take on Newcastle at the Bridge this Saturday at 5.30, while Reading head to the Stadium of Light where Martin O’Neill is in the midst of trying to sign 143 different players. Will he manage to sneak a couple in before the weekend to try and contain Pavel Pogrebnyak? Will Chelsea be bringing Victor Moses to London? 

Roll on the weekend 

Chelsea 4
Goals: Lampard (pen) 18, Cahill 69, Torres 81, Ivanovic 90+5

Reading 2
Goals: Pogrebnyak 25, Guthrie 29

Bookings: Karacan, Pogrebniak 

Referee: Lee Mason

Attendance: 41,733


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