Chelsea edge towards the catastrophe of failing to qualify for the competition next season. Clint Dempsey who scored the goal, 8 minutes from time, that denied Chelsea two precious points and left them in sixth place with five matches of the season left. This was a chance to make up three points on Tottenham, but instead they go into the final furlong two points behind their old London rivals and Newcastle United, too. Chelsea just needed to win by 2 goals to climb above Tottenham, who had lost to Norwich City, so taking the team from Stamford Bridge into the top four for the first time since February 11.
Roberto Di Matteo bemoaned his team’s inability to finish off Fulham with a goal in the second half to add to Frank Lampard’s penalty just before the break. But its becoming a tendency to concede goals late in games. (Wigan equalised late on Saturday and Chelsea still rescued the win) But when Dempsey headed in Fulham’s goal on 82 minutes last night there was to be no comeback.
“We’ve played some great stuff. Even though it’s only a draw, that’s one of our best performances this season, I think.” -Murphy
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They had looked on course when Frank Lampard converted a penalty at the end of the first half; it initially appeared to have been awarded by MarkClattenburg for Danny Murphy’s challenge on Salomon Kalou, although Murphy claimed that the referee told
him it was for a foul by Stephen Kelly. When Lampard stroked in his 150th Premier League goal, a remarkable record for a midfielder, Chelsea threatened to go on and overtake Spurs but Fulham, their players and fans, refused to go quietly, and Dempsey brought them just reward. It was another frustrating night for Fernando Torres, who ended on the right wing, although there was some assured display from Ryan Bertrand at left-back. Until Kalou was fouled, gifting Lampard his penalty chance on the cusp of half-time, Fulham had been in the ascendancy, their quicksilver movement troubling John Terry and Gary Cahill. Fulham had been set up well by MartinJol.
The second half was another tight affair with neither team creating chances until the final ten minutes, with two games in two days seeming to have drained both sides of energy despite the changes in the line-ups. Aaron Hughes thought he had scored with a header only to be denied by Cech, but from the resulting corner Clint Dempsey scored his 16th league goal of the season. In 2012, he has hit the net 10 times a tally matched only by Newcastle’s new boy- Papiss Cisse.
Asked how it felt to reach another milestone, Lampard said: “Not too good at the minute. It feels like a little bit of a loss.” The 33-year-old, who has scored more than one landmark goal this season, added: “They’ll be nice when I look back and I’m an old man.
But I just can’t enjoy them after we didn’t get the three points”. Lampard’s first goal in the Premier League was against Brighton in 1995, when he was playing for Swansea on loan from West Ham. He scored 24 goals for the Hammers in 148 appearances, before moving to Chelsea in 2001. He has 126 goals for the Blues in 372 appearances.
Monday night’s result was just a rare setback under caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham and the upcoming Champions League semi against Barcelona.
“It’s been a problem all season and we didn’t create enough chances today to kill the game.” -De Matteo
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS (IN HD):
THINGS WE LEARNED:
1. Ramires Seems to Have Lost His Touch
Roberto Di Matteo has changed things up a bit for the Brazilian, favoring him on the right wing alongside the striker. The reason for the move originally was to help give some defensive support to that flank, which has been cut up all season. But it has become quite obvious that the defensive responsibilities are not being matched by providing in the attack. Still an excellent workhorse, he gets ahead of himself far too often on dribbles, pushing the ball to nowhere and losing possession in the midfield. To add to that, a Chelsea offense that has had trouble scoring all season is now playing one of the team’s worst finishers in an advanced position. The role he is playing in may be the reason he has become irrelevant, but either way, he has really fallen off his game.
2. The Schedule Is Going to Crush Chelsea
Chelsea played their 2nd match in 3 days, but this is nothing unheard of. Fulham were under similar restrictions, as were many of the teams who played today. However, none of them have to worry too much about their future matchups. Never have I seen a team that has faced this stiff of competition in such a short window with so many things on the line. A loss in any match effectively eliminates Chelsea from the goal they are hoping to achieve in that competition. This rotation is necessary to avoid injury, but also ruins the chances for the team to build momentum and consistency moving forward, two things they desperately need. With their next game Sunday, Di Matteo will surely give everyone a break heading into this stretch, but he must also guard against complacency. It is quite a difficult position for any manager to be in, let alone an interim one.
- Here We Come Barcelona…..Its Chelsea 2 Benfica 1 (agg 3-1) (chelseanewsletter.wordpress.com)
- Betting Tips Fulham vs Chelsea – Chelsea to Edge West London Derby? (thatsagoal.com)
- A Dramatic Win….Its Chelsea 2 Wigan 1 (chelseanewsletter.wordpress.com)
- Clint Dempsey Rumors: 4 Reasons the Fulham Star Should Stay at Craven Cottage (bleacherreport.com)
- Dempsey in no rush to decide Fulham future (goal.com)