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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
After a hard night at Roots Hall, Luis Felipe Scolari was in no mood to face the media. Perhaps he was locked in the dressing room with a blackboard, some chalk and a squad still struggling to understand the concept of zonal marking. Whatever the reason, it was Ray Wilkins who squeezed into the press room instead.

"We created a number of chances," said Wilkins, "and had it not been for the Southend boys defending valiantly we would have got back in the game much earlier."

Wilkins seemed to be doing everything on Wednesday night. When the fog covered the pitch and caused referee Chris Foy to call the game off, it was him, not Scolari, who was out with Southend boss Steve Tilson wondering what the problem was. Rumours whistled around pitchside, with suggestions that the Chelsea players were sat in their warm hotel causing particular amusement to the Southend players.

They weren't so amused when Chelsea started the game in a manner that suggested thet wanted it wrapped up before half-time. The Premier League side dominated the opening stages, creating countless chances, but wasting them all. Southend highlighted their defensive deficiencies with their first corner. The next one was headed in by Adam Barrett.

"It's always disappointing when a team loses a goal from set-pieces because you work so hard not to," said Wilkins. It's difficult to see where any of the work could have taken place though. John Terry and Alex never seemed to know where they should be standing or which bit of the pitch they should be marking. Every set-piece was characterised by clueless looks, shakes of the head and then absolute chaos as the ball was swirled in.

"We will try everything to get it right," promised Wilkins, "whether it be zonal, man-to-man or sticking a bus in front of the goal."

Of the lesser-spotted Didier Drogba, Wilkins was less clear, somehow expecting the assembled hacks to swallow the line that the Ivorian's absence was merely, "a selction policy of Felipe." He even claimed that he hadn't seen any problems between Drogba and his manager and he wouldn't have thought that there were any. If there were no problems, then why wasn't he in the squad? He's not injured, he's not fatigued and he's not a worse striker than Franco di Santo. Something smells fishy and it wasn't the Essex coastline.

For Southend, the party that began when they were drawn out of the hat opposite Chelsea, is finally over. In 180 minutes, they've caused the Champions League runners-up more trouble than most Premier League teams and they've earned themselves a tidy sum of cash in the process. But, after two battles with one of Europe's top teams, they return to League One action on Saturday against...erm... Stockport. Somehow, it's just not as exciting, is it?

SAFE HANDS -

Petr Cech's reflex save from Alex Revell in the 39th minute changed the entire course of the game. If he hadn't have stopped that, Southend would have been two goals to the good at the break and Chelsea would have torn themselves apart in the dressing room. Of all the signings that the Blues have made, Cech remains the most important.

ELECTRIC -

What is it about Salomon Kalou and weaker sides? The Ivorian frontman never wants to express himself in the Premier League, but put him in the African Nations or against a lower league side and suddenly he's the King of Dribble. A fine performance.

STRONG -

What can you say about Peter Clarke and Adam Barrett? They hurled themselves at everything that came near the Southend penalty area, blocked shots with every part of their body and ran themselves into the ground. They couldn't have done any more.

PUNTERS RANT -

With Southend at 11/1 for the win, there might have been some nervous faces in the bookies, but class told in the end. It could have been different with a little more luck and a little less Cech, but I very much doubt that anyone lost their shirt here.

MAN OF THE MATCH -

Anthony Grant was one of the many Chelsea youngsters to be dispensed with after years in the academy and he certainly had something to prove to his former employers. Grant was everywhere at once, tackling, blocking, running, always looking for the ball. Excellent stuff.


Crowd - 11,314
Yellow Cards - Mikel (Chelsea)
Red Cards - None
Southend - Steve Mildenhall 7, Peter Clarke 8, Andy Barrett 8, Anthony
Grant 8 (Simon Francis 6, 79th), Lee Barnard 7 (Dougie Freedman 6,
72nd), Alex Revell 7 (Kevin Betsy 6, 85th), Franck Moussa 7, Osei
Sankofa 8, Johnny Herd 8, Jean-Francois Christophe 7, Junior Stanislas
8
Chelsea -
Petr Cech 8, Ashley Cole 6, Frank Lampard 7, Joe Cole 7 (Franco di
Santo 6, 74th), John Obi Mikel 6 (Juliano Belletti 6, 45th), Michael
Ballack 6, Jose Bosingwa 7, Salomon Kalou 7, John Terry 7, Alex 6,
Nicolas Anelka 6
 
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