After the Boxing Day victory against Aston Villa it was back to action for the players today. Jose Mourinho had stated that it wasn’t really fair on any team, let alone Chelsea, to play two games in two days, but this is the English tradition and without any winter breaks like the continent it was always going to be a tough period for us especially with our recent Christmas fixtures and results in past years not being too conducive to us. The team travelled to Portsmouth with an 18-man squad, Ricardo Carvalho was still injured but William Gallas was included in the squad after he twisted his ankle against Villa and was expected to play. Last season we travelled to Fratton Park in February and had won 0-2 thanks to goals by Scottie Parker and Hernan Crespo, a repeat score line today would have been excellent considering Man Utd had lost at Pompey 2-0 and Arsenal had only managed to scrape a 0-1 victory there this season.
Jose Mourinho made three changes to the team that beat Villa. In came Glen Johnson at right back, Paulo Ferreira was moved to left back thus displacing Wayne Bridge who was on the bench. Bridge, the former Southampton player was given a lot of abuse by the Pompey fans last season when we played at Fratton Park, so maybe Jose left him out due to this factor, it may of also helped keep the home fans a little quieter. Alexey Smertin came in at the expense of Tiago. Smertin who was on loan at Pompey last season, got a terrific reception from the Portsmouth fans today when he took to the pitch and when he was substituted in the 73rd minute for Joe Cole. Last but not least, Didier Drogba started in place of Eidur Gudjohnsen. It was Drogba who had Chelsea’s first effort at goal this afternoon when he had a shot from the edge of the Portsmouth area well saved by Shaka Hislop. However, in the first half Chelsea looked out of sorts, Portsmouth had a magnificent effort on the 20th minute when former QPR player Nigel Quashie hit a dipping and swerving shot on target that Petr Cech dived for and tipped over, the shot might have been magnificent but the save was probably better. Cech and the Chelsea defence had only conceded eight goals in the Premiership this season and Cech wasn’t about to make it nine.
At half time the score remained 0-0 Jose didn’t make any changes as the team came out trying to extend the five-point lead over Arsenal to eight points. Pompey controlled the game however a counter attack lead to a Drogba rocket shot that Hislop saved and De Zeeuw cleared. Eidur Gudjohnsen came on for Didier Drogba in the 58th minute; a few minutes later he had a chance to put us 0-1 up. With his back to goal he turned and shot but his effort sailed over the bar. Just as time was nearing the end the breakthrough happened. Frank Lampard squared the ball to Arjen Robben, he hit a low left foot shot that took a deflection off of Taylor and went past Hislop, it was hard fought but we were on our way to victory. Robben then ran to the away supporters in celebration taking his shirt off and getting his fourth booking of the season. One more booking and he’ll be suspended for a game, however the celebration was well worth it! We completed the 0-2 victory in the last minute of the game, Joe Cole a substitute for Alexy Smertin banged in a 20-yard shot that gave us all three points.
With Arsenal playing tomorrow night it puts us eight points clear at present, the games are gradually being eaten up and we’re still very much top of the pile. Everton lost 2-0 at Charlton which puts us nine points clear of them, with Manchester United playing this evening the Christmas period is one where as a Chelsea fan we’re very much enjoying. The next game for Chelsea is at Anfield against Liverpool on New Years Day, a victory there and we could be in for a very Happy Blue Year!
Portsmouth: Hislop, Griffin, Primus, De Zeeuw, Taylor, Stone (Cisse 76), Quashie (Berkovic 83), Faye, O’Neil, Kamara (Fuller 65) Yakubu. Subs Not Used: Berger, Ashdown
Chelsea: Cech, Ferreira, Gallas, Terry, Johnson, Makelele, Lampard, Smertin (Cole 73), Duff, Robben (Geremi 81), Drogba (Gudjohnsen 58) Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Bridge.
Referee: A. Wiley