One thing can save Chelsea… Eden Hazard
Chelsea just capitulated to Leicester City, 2-0 at King Power Stadium, and I am left frustrated. Capitulated might be a harsh assessment of a two goal away defeat to a quality side, but my faith has wavered and my patience abruptly expired. So much so that the title of this post senselessly invokes the hallowed name of a club legend, which requires a legend of the fantastical variety, since it is the 2018/19 vintage Hazard (that of the slaloming solo run through the majority of the West Ham outfield) that could rescue the Blues from their current predicament. And a time-traveled Hazard is not walking through that door. I know because I've been to Stamford Bridge, and, like HD flat screens, the changing room lacks a time machine.
At 73', I broke protocol and checked the final scoreline (a cheat afforded by a TiVo and my proclivity to pause the match to message my footie friends some time-shifted, match commentary). This is a heresy of broadcast spectatorship, and I should be rebuked, but, frustration trumping faith, I already knew the final. True, Chelsea rescued a draw from a three goal deficit at the Hawthorns earlier in this campaign, but Leicester had proven, in both this match and the table, to be an entirely different baggie of beans. I would have been truly happy to have been proven wrong, but, alas, I was sorrowfully right. 2-0 at the half. 2-0 at, roughly, the hour mark, when the requisite offensive-minded substitutions were made (£72m of summer signings off, £81m of summer signings on). 2-0 when I cheated. And 2-0 when the match ended, which I've yet to see with mine own eyes.
The two Leicester goals, and their context, offer a window into the vexing of my Chelsea-supporting soul. The 6' Ndidi goal benefited from a well-drilled short corner that opened up the Chelsea defense to not one but two(!!) unchallenged attempts from in or near the 18-yard box.
Let us ignore the fact that the only player in position to block Ndidi's attempt was his colleague, Jonny Evans, who deftly ducked as the solidly struck ball lasered towards his head.
|Darn it Jonny! Take one for the (other) team.|
Breaking Down the Corner that Broke the Chelsea Defense
|This looks harmless|
Madison received the short corner from Albrighton, who jogged towards his pass and away from goal, as if to go beyond Madison to make himself available for a further retreating pass, only he abruptly changed direction and sprinted goalwards on a diagonal.
|Uh-oh… unexpected running!|
The Chelsea defense was left aghast, Madison passed to the advancing and poorly marked Albrighton, and the underbelly of the Chelsea box was laid bare… by a short corner! I am embarrassed by merely writing that.
Perhaps five defenders marking two opponents (besides a keeper who brings both legs and arms to the defensive fold) is an imbalance that foreshadowed the coming debacle.
I am not certain that this set piece qualifies as creative or inventive, but all should agree that this was an idea. Someone thought of it, someone communicated it, sufficiently enough for the players to be aware of the idea during the match. These are the trappings of a plan.
This suggests that having an idea that is vocalized, perhaps drilled, is nice. It is something that might produce something good. For further proof by way of a counterexample, we need look no further than the 40th minute.
Making the Impossible… Impossible
|Measure twice, kick once|
|The ball is moving very fast. Thankfully, no supporters were injured.|