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About spadefx

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    On the Bench

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  1. I'm gonna bite. Top 4, two finals, massive change in playing style. Absolutely a work in progress, there's been mistakes and there's been ups and downs in progress, but considering the squad we have and where we were last year, this has been a decent season. I'm maybe in the minority but I think he's had a promising start, and I'm looking forward to next season. Maybe just on a semi-final win high? I'm happy.
  2. We're in a European final, celebrate a little! Frankfurt are no pushovers. I can agree there weren't any 'stellar' performances, and plenty of individual mistakes, but that team performance just won us a semi final. Every one of them deserves credit.
  3. Absolutely buzzing, bring on the final! We really never do it the easy way! Really tough night, a lot of leggy performances and not a great deal of alternatives on the bench. Just about did enough defensively to avoid a 2nd away goal which would've ended it. Luiz and Zappa with two excellent clearances to keep us in it. Wasn't a fan of the booing for the Loftus Cheek substitution, Barkley did well and it was clearly an injury related swap. Jorginho MOTM again for me, most of our better play came through him, covered a lot of gaps defensively, and took such a calm penalty when the pressure was on. Wasn't our best football, probably deserved it over the two legs but Frankfurt certainly made us work for it. Lets hope we can wrap up a difficult, but progressive season with a Europa League win!
  4. I think he's been much more aggressive in recent matches, don't know whether this is his own doing or Sarri's instructing him to press higher/harder. Regardless, it's working. He's beginning to show signs of why Sarri trusts him to lead this midfield and dictate our tempo. Looking a man with a winning desire, and its rubbing off on the team around, collectively we pressed and harried Frankfurt and Watford very well (albeit much better in both 2nd halves). Long may it continue, he's a class act on this form.
  5. Superb second half. Commited men forward, took risks and it ultimately paid off. Midfield trio again very impressive. Loftus Cheek looks unstoppable when he turns and drives forward, Jorginho kept the intensity up with some excellent quick forward passing, and Kovacic too was constantly pressing and quickly moving possession forward. Pleased for Higuain too, wasn't a great performance from him but a quality goal. Giroud could've had a brace too, unfortunate as you can see the effort and desire there. Needed a win, got a win, job done with a couple goals to spare. And a nice touch with the Cahill substitution, happy we were in a position to give him a (presumably) farewell at home. Roll on Thursday, next must-win game.
  6. Decent half, but there's not enough movement at the box, Higuain again the biggest culprit. Probably should've had a pen for the Luiz hauldown, but we've rode our luck a little too. The midfield three are doing well, but we're going to need one of them, or the full backs, to take the risk and try to break the line. Would like to see Giroud and one of Barkley/Willian introduced early in the half, fresh legs and some more attacking intent. Massive 45 minutes coming up, nervous and hopeful.
  7. It's a decent draw, don't think anyone expected us put the tie to bed tonight and it should prevent any complacency going into the home leg. Could've scored more, could've had a few more decisions our way, but then so could they. Think the midfield trio in particular did a great job. And an important one for me was that Christensen settled into it 2nd half, need him to settle into that role alongside Luiz given they'll likely now play every game for the rest of the season. Half time, any win sees us into the final and we'll be playing at home. Like top 4 it's there for us if we deliver, crunch time now. Looking forward to hopefully seeing us deliver a strong finish to the season.
  8. Last 15 minutes were much better after a really sluggish start. I think Willian and Pedro playing a bit closer to our midfield helped, a lot of players looked very isolated in the opening 30. Frankfurt have pressed well, fouled when they needed to and got away with a few too, mind you Christensen's very lucky to still be on the pitch so I guess both sides have benefited from some questionable calls. Great header from their forward for the goal but Luiz needed to be closer. Keep up the intensity of the end of that half and there's more chances in this for us. Jorginho slowly gained control of the pace of the match, Kante and Loftus Cheek are finding more pockets to drive into, and the front 3 are starting to threaten (fine finish from Pedro). Looks like the goal at least woke us up! Fingers crossed for a strong second half display.
  9. Wasn't exactly the most convincing 2nd half, but it's ultimately two difficult wins against a really decent side (which I think has been a bit overlooked), without our strongest XI in either fixture. We're into the semi final, achieved everything we could've in this competiton so far, and it should be a great tie with Frankfurt. Looking forward to the matches.
  10. Looking forward to this one. Would quite like to see Hazard, Giroud and Hudson Odoi lead the line for this but I reckon Willian will start ahead of one of the latter two depending on the system Sarri wants to play. However we lineup we'll have a lot more opportunity to break and counter than we have in recent weeks against packed defences. Plays in our favour. Always fancy us as "underdogs", plus we have a knack of upsetting title runs. Roll on Sunday!
  11. Pleased for Alonso, well taken header and a forward run with intent when we needed it. Very poor first half from him but hopefully that's a confidence boost for future appearances. Would much prefer Emerson for the Liverpool game though. Thought Willian for his creativity and Jorginho for his marshalling stood out over the 90, but it was a very forgettable team performance against a really fired up Czech side. Such a quality difference in Loftus Cheek and Hazard in particular over Barkley and Pedro too. Probably Pedro's worst game in a Chelsea shirt, their left back gave him nothing. Anyway, another important win, the away goal's always significant and hopefully we can push on with this lead in the home leg and get to the semi final. Big weekend ahead, no rest really but confidence should be good and we're starting to pick up big results, absolutely capable of taking points from Anfield regardless of their form. And for that small group of racist "fans" filmed, hope they're promptly banned by the club. No place at any football club for people like that, the sooner that message sinks in the better.
  12. To be fair to Slavia Prague, they've pressed us very effectively. Traore in their midfield has won everything loose in the middle. It genuinely looks like it's been a surprise to our players how good they've been, which surely shouldn't be the case. On the negative side Alonso's been awful, Pedro and Giroud haven't been able to hold a ball, and (despite a generally good work rate) our midfield trio can't find a pass forward. Need to see more from Willian too, he's been our only attacking threat so far but he's flitting in and out of the game. Unlucky with his trademark snap and curl shot. We miss Kante's tenacity, Luiz's vision and Hazard's magic, but there's enough quality on the pitch to get an important away win here. Need the "fringe" players to step up second half, this lineup's a lot better than that first half performance.
  13. Someone needs to have a word with Alonso. He's started horribly and his head's down. Its 0-0, get over the mistakes and get up to the pace of this match.
  14. Thought Sarri handled the Drinkwater questions very well. Journos super keen for a "not good enough" soundbite and he kept it very respectful.
  15. To be fair to him, its games like these I'm usually wondering why he's even needed, given the opposition don't press him. Hasn't looked like he's made good use of the time and space he's been given really, but tonight he drove forward and influenced our attacks a lot more.

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