Last night saw my first trip to the Bridge this season and I was really looking forward to seeing a great match.
Some of the football we have played this season has made me think we are finally going to start playing ‘sexy’ football like we did in the 90’s.
Whilst winning is the primary aim of any team you should be able to win by playing exciting football too. When you pay your money you want to see skill and flare and not teams painfully grinding out 1 – 0 wins every week.
Last night saw Drogba’s first start of the season after recovering from a slight ankle injury. I found him painful to watch, everything about his performance last night showed he wasn’t the player who previously graced the Stamford Bridge pitch.
My biggest fear when he came back as a player was that he would have a bad season. For a player achieving what he did with the club, his final act in the blue shirt should have been the penalty in Munich. You can’t exceed that the moment was written in the stars for him.
But I don’t want to be negative about it, he had a bad night, he shouldn’t have started the match but that doesn’t mean he’s gone forever.
The team performance last night wasn’t great. I’m not sure any one player stood out for me and one goal was never going to be enough.
The way Schalke ripped us open from our own mistakes proved that we are still defensively weak, we don’t maintain our concentration 100% for 90 odd minutes and end up giving away silly goals.
In the first half Draxler ripped us open and luckily after rounding a number of players ended up scuffing his shot. So in the second half when Fabregas lost possession going down easily to claim a foul, the defence was too slow to react and it didn’t surprise me to see the ball in the net.
It felt like Mourinho’s tactics were to get one goal and sit back but one goal will always make you vulnerable and in the Champions League the away goals can come back to cause problems later in the group.
It doesn’t matter who manages us and what players we have we seem to have this in-built desire to make things as hard as possible for ourselves. We have never been clinical at killing matches off and taking our chances. We show glimpses of that clinical nature and when we do we are unstoppable, we just don’t seem to be consistent with it.
I was surprised by the substitutions last night. For me Oscar was never going to have a big impact against a physical side like Schalke and Schurrle was the better option. The night was littered with niggling fouls so you need players with a stronger presence.
I would also have brought Costa and Remy on sooner as it was obvious that Drogba was not going to get a goal last night, he had many chances and it just wasn’t there for him.
I was surprised by the time-wasting of Schalke once they scored their goal. They obviously came to play for a draw but the amount of time-wasting was ridiculous and the referee should have been more proactive to stop it. He did book one player for taking too long on a throw in only for them to waste more time. A free kick almost took a minute of mucking about which is ridiculous. I’m not a fan of time-wasting, I believe you should play to the time you have and go for your chances rather than just sitting back and defending.
We did create chances which is something to take away from the game but we need to be more clinical. Schalke cleared the ball off the line twice in the second half when the goalkeeper was beaten which was pure luck for them. But our shooting and corners needed work.
I don’t really understand how they find it so hard to deliver attackable corners it is something that gets practised endlessly in training but in matches we don’t seem to be able to deliver a decent corner with any consistency.
But a 1 – 1 result at home is not the worst in the Champions League. On paper Schalke should be the toughest opponent in our group and we can still get a result against them in the return leg if we up our concentration levels and play a more attacking side.
The atmosphere in the ground was better than I’ve heard for a while. The west stand is normally quiet from my experience but last night there was a few songs going round. The Matthew Harding as always were in fine voice. I’m in there next Wednesday so I’ll be joining in with the noise!