The most striking facet of today’s game at Stamford Bridge wasn’t the scoreline, the fact that Chelsea could afford to win 4-0 without Ballack (injured at the 37th minute), Essien or Drogba, or Deco’s assured performance or the fact that this Chelsea has a swagger that the the Chelsea of 04/05 and 05/06 had.
The most striking aspect was how poor Portsmouth were after going 3-0 down (never mind the shambles that got them to that stage), how little fight they showed and how easily Chelsea neutralised their midfield and choked off supply to Crouch and Defoe.
You hear managers say that even if they’re up against a tough team away from home the least they expect from their players is to put up a good fight – Pompey’s performance was embarrassingly timid.
Watching the second half, I had two questions running in my head:
Question #1: Why can’t two managers agree to end a match when it’s so obviously dead?
Answer: Because there’s too much money at stake – TV, tickets, etc – for anyone to contemplate cutting the product short. And more whimsically, if we’d ended the game early we’d have missed the beauty that was Deco’s goal.
Question #2: What does Deco bring to Chelsea?
Answer: The ability to control the game through possession and sharp passing when the usual attacking play isn’t working. Deco will give Chelsea an edge that they’ve lacked in certain games away from home in the last two seasons. And he gives them an ‘X’ factor and more goals from midfield.
Chelsea have got off to the perfect start and although they were hardly tested in this encounter they have shown some improvement from last season in terms of how well they can keep the ball. There’s still a long way to go this season and Chelsea will need to overcome much, much, much sterner opposition before they can reach their goals of winning titles this season.
Portsmouth? The lack of fight was pathetic, but they have time to improve on that and the away game at Stamford Bridge is hardly a winnable fixture for any club in Europe.