Chelsea-Middlesbrough: Blues Avoid Devastating Defeat

Osahon AbbeCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2008

Chelsea proved once again to be contenders with a not-so-convincing victory over Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Ricardo Carvalho's first goal of the season, which came in the sixth minute, proved to be the winner for the Blues. Frank Lampard and Petr Cech were not fit to play and sat out this victory.

The first half saw Chelsea take control early and register a goal, but the second half proved to be otherwise. Middlesbrough was keen on answering back with a goal of their own.

Substitute and new signing Alfonso Alves pounced on an error by stand-in keeper Carlo Cudicini and hit a well placed curler just behind John Terry, but saw the post parry the ball back to the Chelsea keeper.

The home fans could breathe a little easy after that near encounter.

Chelsea continued to defend with, occasional flashes from Shaun Wright-Phillips and Salomon Kalou, but the Boro' keeper was up to the task and would be dearly missed by the Riverside fans if they fail to resign him in the summer.

The end of the game was marked with two strikes on goal from Boro which sent chills around Stamford Bridge. However, the fans were relieved to see those strikes bounce off the cross-bar.

Chelsea survived and moved back to second place over Arsenal, but are still five points behind the league leaders Manchester United.

Chelsea, now 79 games unbeaten at the Bridge, should be motivated by this streak. It's been about four years since the last loss at home. The fans show so much emotion every game played there, and this same favor is reciprocated by the players.

The Bridge faithful also raise their voices when they feel something wrong happens as in the case last week during the game against Arsenal.

I know how much the fans love ex-manager Mourinho but that was not a good idea chanting his name in a game of such magnitude. Avam Grant cannot be Jose Mourinho and the Bridge fans should cut him some slack; it's his first season in charge.

Sir Alex Ferguson says Chelsea holds the key to the championship. Well said Sir!

Arsenal faces Liverpool next week and Manchester United after that. With the Gunner's poor run over the last six games, their next two games will be critical to their title aspirations.

United also faces Chelsea at the formidable Bridge later in April.

Of each of the top three teams, Chelsea only has to face one of the top four teams whereas the other two face two apiece.

The one glitch in the script is the fact that Chelsea is supposed to play two games in three days to suit the media. This should not be upheld especially this late in the season.

The Champions League looks easy for the Blues on paper, but as seen over the years, total concentration is a neccessity for victory in football. Fenerbahce should not be overlooked by the team and starting lineups should not be a problem.

Play your best squad Mr. Grant!


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