Chelsea vs. Napoli: Player Grades for the Blues' 3-1 Loss

Louis Hamwey@thecriterionmanAnalyst IIIFebruary 21, 2012

Chelsea vs. Napoli: Player Grades for the Blues' 3-1 Loss

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    Chelsea is now winless in their last five contests as their early lead in Naples was cancelled out by three unanswered Napoli goals.

    Juan Mata got the scoring underway with a calm finish from six yards out. Drogba played the ball over to Sturridge on the right of the box. His low cross was dealt with poorly by Napoli centre-back Paolo Cannavaro, who did nothing but deflect it behind him and into Mata’s path.

    Napoli would equalize within 10 minutes. Ezequlel Lavezzi found a pocket of space just outside of the Chelsea box, and his curling shot did just enough to beat Cech to his left-hand side.

    Edinson Cavani gave the home side the lead just before half. A ball crossed from the right of the box had the Chelsea defenders mesmerized as Cavani sneaked behind to put it away.

    Chelsea picked it up in the second half, but was undone by a clear moment of David Luiz stupidity. The Chelsea defender decided it better to play the ball than clear it with Cavani breathing down his neck. Cavani made him pay by stealing the ball and feeding it to Lavezzi for his second goal of the match.

    Chelsea now heads back to Stamford Bridge, where they will have to make up the deficit if they want to continue in Champions League and almost surely if Villas-Boas wants to keep his job.

Petr Cech: A-

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    The only reason this was not a five-goal game for the Italians was because Cech had his best night in goal on the season. His two stops early on set the tone and gave Chelsea a big lift when they went up 1-0.

    It has to be infuriating to be Cech. Nothing he can do can really help his team as they miss opportunity after opportunity, and are guarded by a defensive line that is the worst he has seen in his Chelsea years.

Jose Bosingwa: F

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    Jose Bosingwa made his best play of the season—coming up lame with a hamstring injury.

    In just 10 minutes of play, he dribbled out of bounds, got beat on defense and gave away the ball a handful of times. If he would have stayed in any longer, who knows how much worse it could have gotten.

David Luiz: F

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    For those out there who want to see Lucio reincarnated in Luiz, keep looking. He does not have the skill, the experience and, more than anything, lacks intelligence!

    Luiz needs to know that he has the most dangerous striker currently playing on his back and to just clear it out. Do not try to be a hero, because now you are the goat.

    Despicable display by a player who was really improving.

Gary Cahill: D

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    The only reason Cahill is not an F with the rest is because his mistakes did not lead to goals.

    That does not mean he wasn't full of them, though. Cahill was beat up by Cavani for 90 minutes.

    This game proved, more than anything, that the season is essentially over for Chelsea, as the second legs left in both of their competitions will be played without John Terry, the only capable defender they have.

Branislav Ivanovic: F

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    We all welcomed his arrival with open arms as he took his place on the right-hand side, but by the end, Ivanovic was probably wishing he had gone the way of Bosingwa.

    The worst game I can recall of his in a Chelsea uniform had him getting beat on nearly every single ball he defended. Ivanovic's worst moment came as he was caught watching on Cavani's goal.

Raul Meireles: F

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    I can live with the idea of Villas-Boas building for the future, but I cannot if that future in any way involves Raul Meireles.

    He has had some poor performances, but mostly through a lack of impact. Today was horrendous, as his impact was nothing but negative. 

    The first goal was directly his fault since he failed to close down on Lavezzi. The second was also his fault, as he backed off the crosser and gave him the time to pick out Cavani.

    It has to be some sort of Portuguese conspiracy that Meireles continues to play. If not, then Villas-Boas has to be the most blind manager I have ever known.

Ramires: F

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    Ramires has been one of the most consistent players on the team all season, but today he was atrocious. 

    His early give-away in the midfield almost led to the first goal. He had many more throughout that could have been costly as well.

    Ramires was not all there today, and it was obvious. He dribbled the ball into traffic, was a non-threat and his signature runs were nowhere to be seen. He must ply well for the team to perform.

Florent Malouda: D+

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    As usual, Malouda was absent from the match. He did not get on the ball enough, and when he did, it was mostly meaningless.

    He linked up a couple of times with Drogba, which briefly evoked memories of brighter days.

Juan Mata: C

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    I have said it before and I will say it again: Mata must be play well for the team to perform.

    Today, he was not the player Chelsea needed. 

    Mata's goal was well-taken and looked to be what energized the team. But after that, he fell asleep, by his standards.

    He had some good corners, but nothing in the open play that deserved recognition.

Daniel Sturridge: C-

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    Sturridge was Sturridge today—not the great player we at times praise him as and not quite the chump he can be.

    He had a fortunate assist on Mata's goal and was quick in the front to help create chances.

    However, that also goes along with some terrible dribbles and poor decisions.

Didier Drogba: C

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    Drogba got the nod over Torres today, and it mattered.

    From the very first whistle he was all over the field, causing a shaky back line to look vulnerable through pressure.

    He started the play that led to the goal with signature Drogba moves. He also played the ball off to teammates plenty of times and held the ball up so the midfield could join in.

    So he didn't get a goal, but Drogba was much more of a threat than anything Torres did in the past month.

    I know this will come under fire, but I don't care what any one says—Drogba proved he deserves to be the starting striker.

Ashley Cole (12th minute for Bosingwa): D

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    Injured or not, Cole was terrible today. He was beaten by Baggio it seems on every play of the first half.

    We are so used to him getting forward in the attack, but none of that was on display today.

Michael Essien (70th minute for Meireles): C

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    Really not much doing for the midfielder in his brief cameo. He did not really have the chance to make anything happen since he was pretty much brought in to clean up Meireles' mistakes.

    Not starting Essien was Villas-Boas' biggest mistake, and he should be held accountable for it.

Frank Lampard (70th minute for Malouda): C-

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    He was brought in to make something happen, and that he did not. Other than a shot on goal in the closing minutes, Lampard was pretty much out of the game.

    Should Villas-Boas have started him will remain a question that Villas-Boas himself may not even be around long enough to answer.