Cardiff City vs. Chelsea: 5 Things We Learned
Goals from Andre Schurrle and Fernando Torres—the latter possibly in his last appearance for the club—secured three points and cemented third place in the Premier League for the Blues.
And with the summer now upon us, it looks like all-change at Chelsea. But what did we learn from Cardiff City 1-2 Chelsea?
Fernando Torres Has Scored His Last Goal for Chelsea
Three and a half years, and it never looked comfortable for either party.
Today, at the Cardiff City Stadium, is where is most probably ended—with Fernando Torres' final appearance, and goal, for Chelsea.
The Spaniard controlled the ball well, took a step and slotted it home.
Then he turned, refused to celebrate and rebuffed the adulation of teammates.
It looked like the actions of a man who knew the end had arrived.
There were no bad feelings, as at full time he went to show his appreciation to the visiting fans—who have largely stuck by him through thick and (very) thin.
But a five-goal-a-season striker—that was his final Premier League tally—is not what Chelsea need. And he looks certain to head for pastures new this summer.
Ashley Cole Can Stay Forever, as Far as the Fans Are Concerned
Playing the last game of his present contract, perhaps of his Chelsea career, Ashley Cole was given the honour of the captain's armband.
He led the team with character, more in the second half than the first, and was at the front of the huddle of players who applauded those who had made the trip on full time.
His reward was the voicing loud and clear of the fans' opinion: “Ashley Cole—we want you to stay.”
Whether the fans get their wish is yet to be seen.
Cole's tears last week after the 0-0 draw with Norwich suggest he knows differently.
Either way, Cole has, over the last eight years, earned himself a reputation as one of Chelsea's greatest and most garlanded players of all time, and he will not be forgotten for a very long time.
The Brazilians Are Halfway to Rio
Oscar was a surprise inclusion in this side, especially given recent comments from his manager about his mindset.
Jose Mourinho has suggested the Brazilian was saving himself for his home nation's hosting of the World Cup this summer (as reported by Tom Dutton of the Evening Standard).
He was the only one of Chelsea's Brazilians starting today—Ramires being suspended, David Luiz on the bench and Willian nowhere to be seen.
He was far from the only player to put in a casual, indifferent first half, but he was one of the most noticeable.
On the final whistle he was one of the few to ignore the call of the fans and march straight down the tunnel.
Perhaps Mourinho is right, and he will have a great summer with his country. He needs to have a more consistent winter with his club when he returns.
This Was Chelsea's Season in Microcosm
Losing to the team doomed to relegation and ultimately adrift at the very bottom of the league, Chelsea's day in Cardiff had all the hallmarks of so many other days.
That they turned this around in the end was less the issue than the fact they huffed and puffed so much in order to do it, and that so many looked so nonplussed about it.
The number of poor results against teams in the lower reaches of the final league table tells the story of where Chelsea's season went wrong.
An inability to break down sides that decide to defend is a pretty basic issue and one which arises from having too few real quality options up front.
Chelsea's final position of third in the league was largely based on fantastic results against their fellow challengers in the top six.
That form needs to be replicated at all levels of the league if they are to dislodge Manchester City's crown next May.
This Is Where the Transition Both Starts and Finishes
Chelsea's much-heralded season of "transition" hasn't been too bad, as it happens.
Third in the league, Champions League semi-finalists and some real moments of greatness (the double over champions Manchester City and the 6-0 win over Arsenal).
That on-pitch transition period is now over—the expectation will be for the Blues to hit the ground running from the very first game of the new campaign, and few further allowances will be made.
Now is when the off-pitch transition begins.
Several of those playing today are likely to be out of Jose Mourinho's future plans.
That probably includes as many as six of the matchday squad named by the Chelsea manager: Mark Schwarzer, Ashley Cole, Fernando Torres, John Mikel Obi, David Luiz and Demba Ba.
Chelsea will emerge from the cocoon of the closed season looking very different in August.