When AVB says that this marginal 1-0 scoreline was a big win, you know he means it. Chelsea, having lost the last two league matches (QPR 1-0; Arsenal 3-5), were desperate to get back to winning ways. And though the scoreline is far from flattering, three points and a clean sheet goes a long way in Chelsea’s season.
With AVB recognising the defensive inabilities of David Luiz, the Brazilian was omitted completely from the squad. AVB rejected talk this week that Luiz might be better suited to a holding midfield role, deciding to omit him completely instead. In came Alex, and Branislav Ivanovic moved to right-back, taking the place of Jose Bosingwa. Torres was omitted – Daniel Sturridge took the helm instead, flanked by Mata and Malouda.
Chelsea were cut open very early on. Yakubu had a great chance to put the hosts in front, but all he could do was stab wide. Ashley Cole, who was trying to chase him, inadvertently collided with his own keeper. Petr Cech, who has a series of head injuries, was treated quickly. With a heavy nosebleed, Cech signalled for a substitution – but the man marched on, tissues and bandages around the nose, in scenes similar to Blackadder.
The first half failed to really get off after that. The odd chance for Sturridge apart, the promising start fizzed away in a slow first-half, which ended with seven minutes added time.
Torres came on in the second half, Malouda was off after taking a knock, so Sturridge went out wide again. Chelsea did get their noses in front however. Branislav Ivanovic curled in a sublime ball which Lampard had to get so low onto the ground he was practically lying on the turf. Think Ivanovic cross for Anelka at QPR, think Lampard’s header against Arsenal. Combine the two, you have a lead: 1-0.
Sturridge continued to push on, again having another penalty shout after a barge by Christopher Samba, but any chance of a penalty awarded was wiped away with a rather theatrical fall.
With minutes left on the clock, AVB did a Mourinho. Knowing the importance of a win, AVB took off silky Mata for a more defensive Meireles, in a hope to keep Blackburn at bay, as well as taking off Ramires for Romeu. Two very defensive moves, but before that they should have been another goal. Corner for Blackburn was accidentally headed goalwards by Ivanovic. Whilst Blackburn were still getting over it, Torres broke. He drove from his own box and unleashed Sturridge, perhaps not the best ball. Ashley Cole then in turn glided a fantastic ball to the Spaniard, who missed from three yards.
Chelsea’s fireworks failed to light up the sky in a dull performance, but AVB will not care one bit. And who can blame him.