Chelsea vs. Everton: Torres, Lampard and Player Grades for the Blues
Chelsea suffered yet another setback Saturday in their quest to retain a Champions League spot, as they were unable to get the better of Everton at Goodison Park. An early goal by Pienaar and another late by Stracqualursi were the difference in the 2-0 win.
Everton were lucky to find themselves in front early on as Steven Pienaar latched on to a lucky deflection. A throw-in in the Chelsea half ricocheted in to the box, and all Pienaar had to do was beat Cech—and did so with ease.
Though Chelsea enjoyed possession, chances were few and far between. Both Sturridge and Lampard missed shots from the top of the box after similar build up play down the right side. The half ended with a Toffee lead and largely a dull affair.
The second half opened the way the first closed, with Chelsea dominating possession. However, neither side would be able to inspire much.
That changed in the 71st minute when Phil Neville’s challenge on Ashley Cole had the ball finding Donovan’s feet. The American played it to Denis Stracqualursi for the second goal.
As a fan, I believe this represents the low point in my following of the club. Villas-Boas is on a razor's edge, as his decisions both before and during the game have brought the club to the lowest point they have been in well over a decade.
Petr Cech: C-
A poor game for the keeper. He was not called on to make many saves in the match, but was very uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball. He was fortunate to not give up an easy tally as he passed the ball directly to Donovan’s feet.
Could not blame him much for the goal, but him not being at his best is more analogous to the struggles of the team as a whole than anything.
Ashley Cole: D+
He got forward a few times, but not enough to make a real impact. When he gets going in the forward half the entire offence looks better, which was apparent as the game went on. But if that’s the case, then he needs to take it upon himself to make sure he is there.
His pivotal move would come in the 72nd minute, as he failed to win a 50/50 chance that led to the second goal. At this stage in Chelsea’s campaign, they cannot afford to give up anything, and though it was his only mistake on defense, it is what will define his match.
David Luiz: C-
For the second game in a row, Luiz looked confident in the back. Again missing Terry, you thought Chelsea’s defense would suffer. There were holes at times in the back line, but bound to happen as they went down early and were always chasing.
However, as usual, Luiz is unable to play an entire 90 minutes of good ball. His defense against Donovan on the second goal was horrendous, as the American easily navigated around him. Until he proves that he can play well for a full match he will never have the faith of the fans.
Branislav Ivanovic: C
A decent enough game, as he returns back to the center of the defense. Villas-Boas made an interesting decision to start him in the center over Cahill, and eyebrows were certainly raised because of it.
You wouldn’t say that Ivanovic had a perfect outing, but did enough to keep Everton’s threats at bay. However, he was riding a fine line, as you could see his frustrations growing and his play become more reckless.
Jose Bosingwa: C-
Not to blame for any of the goals, his decent performance will be marred by terrible overall team play, yet again.
Raul Meireles: D
Nothing going on for the Portuguese player. He was absent for most of the match, not playing balls into threatening positions and not a force on the defensive side.
For whatever reason, Villas-Boas is treating him like his child, making him the center of play. But it seems about time this nepotism is changed. Come on Villas-Boas, figure it out!
Michael Essien: C
Still getting back to form, the midfielder is improving every game.
However, right now it seems his biggest issue is learning how to play in this idiotic system. I feel for Essien. It is quite obvious that he does not know his role. And despite being the only one to create out of the midfield, the “genius” decided it best to take him off.
Frank Lampard: C-
Coming off the injury, I was surprised to see him playing a full 90 minutes. He had some OK play throughout the game, but never stepped up big when they really needed him to.
The shot he missed from the top of the box was uncharacteristic and costly in the end.
Juan Mata: B-
Another game in which Mata was the only bright spot on the Chelsea attack. He is the only player that can play in this system and therefore the only one who looks good.
He was all over, trying to get the ball and make something happen, but in the end no goals for the team means no glory for the winger.
His substitution was by far the most egregious move the coach has made all season.
Daniel Sturridge: D
Same old, same old from him. Had some good moments, but mostly nothing. Not much more to say about this kid that has not already been said.
Fernando Torres: F
This may be the last time we hear his name. The grand experiment is now over and I think I speak for everyone when I say, welcome back Drogba!
Florent Malouda (69th Minute for Essien): C
What do you expect him to do? He does not fit into this system, yet Villas-Boas keeps throwing him out there to be embarrassed.
Ryan Bertrand (77th Minute for Cole): N/A
Only notable because the injury to Cole forced him out. Not a good sign if they lose the left-back for any extended period of time.
Romelu Lukaku (78th Minute for Mata): N/A
In the ten minutes he was on, he had a better chance than Torres. Just saying…