MOURINHO’S HALF TIME SWITCH INSPIRES VICTORY
A touch of Mourinho genius saw Chelsea come away from the Madejksi Stadium with all three points, an outstanding second half performance far eclipsing the lethargic play of the first.
Paulo Ferreira was recalled to the team at right back in place of Glen Johnson, the other two changes seeing Steve Sidwell replace the injured Essien in midfield and Drogba come in for debutant goal scorer Pizarro up front. Reading had the now infamous Hunt playing wide left, with former Chelsea defender Michael Duberry starting at centre half.
Chelsea, in their dazzling new “electricity yellow” away kit, had the better of the opening proceedings, Drogba looking dangerous, as well as Shaun Wright-Phillips, coming off his starring performance in the season opener.
However, on 28 minutes, Duberry was forced off with an injury, that unwittingly became the catalyst to the opening goal of the match. Nicky Shorey’s long free kick forward proved a big enough temptation to draw Čech off his line, although his path was blocked by two Chelsea players. As a result, the Chelsea ‘keeper failed to get a touch on the ball, which dropped for Duberry’s replacement, Andre Bikey, to score with his first touch. For the second game in succession, Chelsea conceded the opener.
Ricardo Carvalho was forced off with a thigh injury moments after the goal, with Glen Johnson his replacement, playing left centre back alongside Tal Ben-Haim. John Oster it the post from a Stephen Hunt cross, as Chelsea’s defence went to water. In attack, the Blues were struggling to string the passes together and at half time the advantage was with the home side.
Mourinho worked his magic at half time, replacing Paulo Ferreira with Claudio Pizarro and Steve Sidwell with John Obi Mikel. Wright-Phillips moved to right back, and Kalou wide right of what was effectively a front four, with Drogba the target man, Pizarro in a free role and Malouda on the left.
Within two minutes, Chelsea were level. Pizarro firstly and Drogba secondly flicked the long ball on. Stand in captain Frank Lampard took a touch on his head before helping the ball on beyond Marcus Hahnemann in the Reading goal. Less than five minutes of the second half had been played, before Chelsea made it 2-1. Wright-Phillips had bombed forward from right back, before playing the ball inside to Didier Drogba. The reigning Golden Boot winner curled a beautiful finish past the despairing dive of Hahnemann to give Chelsea the lead. The Blues had started the second half in spectacular fashion.
Claudio Pizarro, playing in “the hole” behind Drogba, put in another impressive performance for his new club, whilst Lampard and Mikel bossed the game from the centre of midfield, Mikel playing it simple and holding it all together, Lampard’s audacious 40 yard passes and cute dinks forward all finding the target. Wright-Phillips was a good shout for man of the match again, adding attacking energy to the right back position, but proving no slouch in defence.
Lampard made a great tackle in the penalty box late on to keep the result safe, an air swing from Stephen Hunt sending the Chelsea fans home as happy as can be.
After two games and a resurgence in “sexy football” from Chelsea, optimism is rife within the squad, management and amongst the fans. With a huge trip to Anfield awaiting us and our slick attack providing entertainment galore, plus United’s Rooney injury and lack of form early on, Stamford Bridge is certainly buzzing as we aim to take back the Premiership trophy.