Southampton 1 v 5 Chelsea - Official Match Report
Then there are other strikers who are more 'Fox in the Box' or 'Poacher' types. Chelsea don't seem to buy many of these, with maybe Kalou being the closest in recent memory (and Batman if you go back a little further, and Steve "Jock" Finnieston if you want to go back further still!). And you know what, I'm okay with that, as these are my least favourite types of strikers. Oh, don't get me wrong, every team could benefit from a Gary Lineker or a Paolo Rossi. And heck, how many games did Man Utd win on the back of Ruud van Nistelrooy's goals from less than 6 yards out? But I've always been more of a fan of someone who can dribble / beat defenders one on one, and who has a long range shot that can rip a hole in the back of the net, than of the poacher types. (So if anyone knows where to find the illegitimate love child of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Zola, please call the Chelsea hotline!)
All of which begs the question: what type of striker will Demba Ba turn out to be for the blues?
Today, against an admittedly weak Southampton team, he was Johnny on the Spot and picked up two poacher type goals. But I think there's more to him than that. Right now he's the new kid in school, and the playground is full of big kids with bigger reputations, so it's natural that he's going to feel a little overawed and keep things simple. But strikers are all about confidence. The more they have, the better they play. Just ask Torres*. (*Irony alert! Irony alert!) These two goals from Ba (especially the 2nd one) will go a long way to help him settle down. A few more in quick succession, especially against better opposition, and he'll start to believe he belongs here. And if and when that happens, he could go on a scoring spree and help us challenge for the title.
This 3rd round FA cup match was always going to be a cake walk. Key players for Southampton were rested by their manager, which meant it would be a long day at the office for the rest of them.
Not that it started out that way, because for the first 30 minutes I could've sworn we were back playing against QPR we were that bad! And the fact that we found ourselves 1 v 0 down on 22 minutes probably didn't surprise anyone. As usual though it took going behind to raise the Chelsea players from their ancient slumber, and on 35 minutes a terrific move between Moses, Hazard and Mata lead to Ba toe-pocking the ball in (for his first Chelsea goal), and then ten minutes later Moses fired into the far corner to put us in front just seconds before half time.
Still, that scoreline flattered us as we'd been pedestrian for much of the half.
Whatever Rafa said to the players at half time worked, as we came out a different team, and started playing at a much higher tempo. A tempo Southampton had no chance of matching. Goals from Ivanovic and Ba quickly put the game beyond doubt. Then came a rather fortuitous penalty that allowed Lamps to equal King Kerry's goal scoring record, and become the (joint) 2nd top Chelsea scorer, ever. Not bad for a midfielder! Lamps mouthed 'I love you!' to the crowd when the goal went in. And the feeling is most certainly mutual. (So give him a new contract already, Roman. RESPECT!)
The skinny from this game is that Ba scored two and will only get better with time. That without Mata we are largely rudderless in attack. That Luiz is the worst passer of the ball in the history of the game, and quite possibly a worse shot of a moving ball than even Mikel (yikes!). Which reinforces my thoughts that we should sell him to Barca in the summer. He's a nice guy, and not without ability, but he's far too error prone, and is only every one mistake away from costing us a goal. Yup, even in midfield. Dave is also continuing to underwhelm in both defence and attack, and seems to cross the ball like SWP or Gronk. Which is to say: straight into row Z! Also, it's worth noting that Hazard isn't anywhere near as effective as he was at the start of the season, because (between moments of magic) he is now largely anonymous. I'm suspecting this is due to tiredness mind you, as the lad's got more potential / skill of any Chelsea player since Robben. He just needs to work on his fitness and to learn how to impose himself more when the game isn't going his way.
Aside from all that, this was a solid, professional performance by Chelsea (at least for the last hour anyway). And the 1 v 5 scoreline was just about right.
I will leave you with a little factoid. Demba Ba scored his first Chelsea goal, 35 minutes into his first match. Ba cost 7.5 million pounds. Torres went 12 hours and 12 minutes before he finally scored on his 14th appearance for Chelsea. Torres cost 50 million pounds.
Please note that I'm not getting carried away here and saying Ba is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm fully aware (as he must be) that when we sign Falcao in the summer, Ba will again find himself down the pecking order (Torres will be gone by then), no matter how well he's been playing. But I will go on record and say that a strike force next season of Falcao, Ba, Lukaku and Piazon has the potential (and versatility) to SCORE A LOT OF GOALS.
Brian M Logan
PS: I've been a Chelsea fan my entire life. Literally, I have no memory of ever not being a Chelsea fan. My late sainted mum used to say that I was born with a football at my feet and a Chelsea scarf around my neck. And as any true Chelsea fan knows, you don't follow a 'second team' when you're a Chelsea fan. It's the blues for life, and to hell with the rest of them! Unless maybe you also follow your local team playing in the lower leagues, purely because they play down the road from you (I didn't).
Anyway, as a kid I captained every school football team I ever played for, and idolized the late (GREAT) Peter Osgood. In my own, modest way, I like to think I was a striker molded in the great man's image. So you can imagine how heart-broken I was in 1974 when Ossie was sold to second division Southampton! So much so that from '74 to '77 I adopted Southampton as my 'second team', just so I could cheer him on! And as such I vividly remember the 1976 FA Cup final where Osgood helped Southampton to victory against a much stronger Man Utd team. I remember the 99,000 strong crowd singing 'When the Saints go marching in' (at the old Wembley). I remember Clive 'The Book' Thomas, the greatest referee of his generation (and a proud Welshman!). I remember the roar of the crowd. The green of the grass. All of it. And, while I would've preferred Chelsea being there and lifting the trophy, I'm sure there wasn't a Chelsea fan alive who begrudged seeing a Southampton team with Osgood in it, beating Man Utd in the dying minutes of the match!
PPS: I had many replica Chelsea kits growing up (thanks, mum!). But unfortunately they've all been lost as time has passed on by. But, ironically, the one replica kit I still have (and don't ask me why I've still got this, when all the Chelsea ones have long since vanished), is the one Southampton replica shirt my mum bought me after Ossie moved down the south coast.
Ah, how cute (and tiny) it looks now!