Chelsea come from behind to move to within a point of the top four

Chelsea staged a remarkable late revival to snatch a controversial victory at relegation-threatened Cardiff City via Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s last-minute header and helped ease the intensifying pressure on boss Maurizio Sarri.

Whilst the Blues controlled the possession, the actual performance was slow and very hard to watch. Laborious is a perfect way to describe it.

After being comfortably held by a well-disciplined Cardiff defence during a goalless first half, the hosts took the lead less than a minute into the second period thanks to Victor Camarasa’s delicate curling volley.

With the travelling support showing their frustration and venting their anger at Sarri on multiple occasions, all hope for taking something back home from Wales looked to be lost.

That was until the 84th minute when Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross to Azpilicueta – who was clearly a foot offside – but allowed to head in from close range, much to the rage of the Cardiff crowd.

Photo Source: @ChelseaFC

Despite the equaliser from the captain, a draw would still not have been much use to Chelsea’s hopes of a top-four finish, and they got their full (though unjustly) reprieve when Willian swung an injury-time cross to the back post, where substitute Loftus-Cheek headed in powerfully to spark celebrations in the away end – and a huge sigh of relief from Sarri.

Chelsea’s last-minute comeback victory is a major reprieve for their hopes of securing Champions League football next season, keeping them within a point of Manchester United in fourth place, with them facing Brighton at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.

Let’s be honest though… we didn’t deserve to win today. As simple as that.

Match Statistics

Possession (%) – Cardiff 29%, Chelsea 71%
Shots – Cardiff 8, Chelsea 21
Shots on Target – Cardiff 3, Chelsea 3
Corners – Cardiff 2, Chelsea 7
Fouls – Cardiff 8, Chelsea 14
Offsides – Cardiff 2, Chelsea 1
Yellow/Red Cards – Cardiff 2/0, Chelsea 3/0

(Bonus Stat) 2 – Chelsea has only come from behind to win on two occasions in the Premier League this season. Both of those victories have come against Cardiff.

Post-Match Thoughts

• Loftus-Cheek has saved Sarri’s job. Literally.
• We won, but Sarri cannot be defended today.
• Awful.
• Embarrassing.
• Shambolic.
• RLC/Hazard/Giroud tried, the rest (outfield players) were useless.
• 90% of the squad NEED TO BE SOLD.

Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings

Starting XI
Kepa – 6, Can’t be blamed for today’s awful team performance.
Azpilicueta – 5, His equaliser does not hide his poor outing today and once again showed he’s not the Azpilicueta of previous seasons. Time for a new RB for me. Someone called Reece perhaps? Booked.
Rudiger – 4, No amount of #Hustle can be used to defend his horrendous outing. Lucky to not be sent-off too. Booked.
David Luiz – 4, The Luiz of old. Unreliable, forgot how to actually tackle and his passing was average at best. I hope the transfer ban is frozen/thrown out as handing him a contract extension is simply inexcusable.
Alonso – 3, Horrendous. I’ll leave it there.
Barkley – 6, Hard-working as always and showed that he wanted to take the game by the scruff of its neck. But the players around let him down, badly.
Jorginho – 4, Bad day at the office for the Italian. Booked.
Kovačić – 4, Usually Mateo is technically sound but today he was all over the place. Very poor.
Pedro – 4, A shadow of his former self.
Higuain – 4, This performance was the last chance for me to justify him being our starting centre-forward for the rest of the season. Send him back to Juventus.
Willian – 3, Ctrl-C Alonso rating/comments, Ctrl-V, just change the name of the player.

Substitutions
Hazard (53′ for Pedro) – 7, He is simply on another level (if not two) compared to the rest of the current squad. Saying that his contribution was night and day better to everyone else is a huge understatement.
Loftus-Cheek (64′ for Jorginho) – 7, MOTM. Has to start from now on (back issues permitting). Simply HAS to.
Giroud (77′ for Higuain) – 7, Needs to become our main centre-forward for the rest of the season. Not even a debate in my eyes.

Manager
Maurizio Sarri – 5, Bizarre choices in the starting line-up. Continuing to not pick players on merit or for simply being ‘better’ is beyond frustration now as well. Loftus-Cheek’s winner has saved him from being unemployed tomorrow morning. Seriously.

Terry Sazio

 

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