Andre Villa Boas described Stoke’s Britannia Stadium as “One of the most difficult places to visit in the Premier League” and was seemingly content with a point but disappointed his Chelsea side couldn’t find a winner.
Chelsea were thwarted by a dogged Stoke City defensive display, especially the heroics of Stoke City’s Bosnian goalkeeper; Asmir Begovic, who guarded his goal admirably throughout the game, and gained his 3rd straight clean sheet so far this season. Chances from Nicolas Anelka, Fernando Torres, Jon Obi Mikel Salomon Kalou all brought out the best in Begovic who I believed was the Man of the match in this season curtain raiser.
Stoke’s back line coped well with Chelsea’s multi million pound front line with Jonathan Woodgate playing the whole 90 minutes at the heart of the defence. Woodgate could be the shrewest signing of the summer and has already played more games than he has in the last three seasons. He had looked to have settled very quickly into life at the Britannia Stadium.
Andre Villa Boas did voice his concerns about ”the amount of pushing and grabbing in the box was out of this world.”
This comment has somewhat disappointed me as it looks like AVB has already picked up the blinkered views of other top managers as he only see’s opponents players in the wrong.
Yes, there was a lot of pushing and shoving in the box by Stoke players, but it was as much Villa Boas’ men as it was Tony Pulis’. When you have the likes of Ashley Cole and John Terry hugging attacking players to block their runs, you can’t really moan when players give as good as they get.
Stoke must be delighted with a point and can somewhat count there selves lucky as Chelsea should have at least been awarded one penalty as both Lampard and Torres were brought down in the box, but Ref Mark Halsey turned down the shouts.
As the shouts were turned down another factor that disappointed me was that Chelsea’s mentality hasn’t seem to have changed under the new regime. The players still seem to believe they referee the game, especially one England Captain; John Terry.
John Terry’s attitude and respect to the official’s is dreadful and this needs to be sorted as soon as possible. I would love referee’s to just dish out more cards for dissent and stamp there authorities on games over the bigger clubs. Maybe sending off a high profile player such as John Terry may see changes in players attitudes.
Chelsea’s style of play didn’t really seem any different under AVB, as they lined up in their familar 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation. I do believe Chelsea will play more expansive at Home and no doubt will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
A special mention to John Obi Mikel, who decided to play (and well at that) even though he knew about his father’s situation.