Chelsea recorded a decisive win at St. Andrew's, beating Birmingham City 2-0.
The visiting Blues easily could've tallied four or five goals, but they settled for two. It wasn't their greatest performance, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.
It was a dull match from start to finish, but Chelsea persevered and advanced to the FA Cup quarterfinals with this win.
Chelsea learned a lot about themselves in this match, and they have some lessons they can move forward with. I have compiled a list of my reactions to the match, focusing on Chelsea.
As always, feel free to let me know what you think.
For some reason, Andre Villas-Boas insisted on playing Ramires in a holding midfield role.
Ramires took it in stride and continued to work, even though he was out of position. Luckily, Roberto Di Matteo figured out the problem, and he had Ramires pushing forward on the outside.
That decision was great for Chelsea's attack.
Ramires created some quality chances, and his determined run in the 54th minute set up the first goal of the night. Not many players would make that aggressive run, but Ramires did, and it led to a Chelsea goal.
As long as Ramires is in the attack, Chelsea will continue to get nitty-gritty goals. If the Blues can do that, they will start winning on a regular basis.
Even though I cringe every time one of these guys make a tackle in the box, this could be a legitimate pairing for the future.
Gary Cahill is a calming presence in the back. He never seems to flustered, even though some of his challenges are slightly reckless.
He distributes the ball well, and he sees the whole field. He doesn't force the ball forward, which usually results in him making the right, simple play.
David Luiz, on the other hand, is all over the pitch. He chases the ball around like a little kid. He wants to make every tackle and every run, which isn't necessarily a bad mindset.
However, he will need to learn how to control that passion. Luiz has made great strides at Chelsea in the last year, but he's not yet the finished product. He has all the athleticism and desire it takes to be a great centre-back. Now he just needs the tactical mindset.
With these two in back, Chelsea will always have a chance of holding a clean sheet.
Maybe it was the new manager, the must-win situation or the frustration with losing. Regardless, Chelsea finally played with some passion.
In the first five minutes, Chelsea players were all over the pitch. They were hustling after 50-50 balls. They were tackling aggressively. They were playing direct while putting pressure on the defenders.
Basically, Chelsea were doing everything it takes to win tough games. As a result, Chelsea won a tough game away from home.
The game slowed down a bit, but Chelsea seemed to have that passion for 90 minutes. If Chelsea can continue to play with that type of heart, they will be in great shape.
Yes, Fernando Torres had a horrible miss in the first half, and he did have a few careless giveaways. However, he looked pretty dangerous against Birmingham City.
Torres was fouled on his way to the goal, earning a penalty. Even though I think he should've taken it, Juan Mata stepped up to the spot, only to take a poor shot.
Then, Torres had a beautiful cross to a wide-open Daniel Sturridge, only to have Sturridge lose the ball underneath his feet.
With his play, Torres set up the third goal twice, and his teammates let him down.
In the grand scheme of things, those misses don't matter. Chelsea won handily, and they didn't need those goals. There is a bigger takeaway from those chances: Torres looked dangerous.
He's miles away from his old self, but Chelsea don't need El Nino to be his old self. They simply need him to create and convert quality chances. If he does that, Chelsea will start to score goals in bunches.
I liked Andre Villas-Boas, but maybe he was the problem at Chelsea.
Under Villas-Boas, the side always looked flat. They would come out of the tunnel looking disinterested and lost, which turned into poor results.
Chelsea played aggressively and energetically on Tuesday. I'm not sure if Roberto Di Matteo had a great pregame and halftime speech or if it was random.
Either way, Chelsea looked committed for the first time in a long while.
The side still was a little too slow, and they still didn't have width consistently. However, they seemed to care.
If Villas-Boas couldn't get the side to care and the team cares now, maybe it's better for Chelsea that he is gone.