Chelsea Celebrate After Beating Fulham
It took 120 minutes and penalties to find a winner between Chelsea and Fulham in the Carling Cup third round. This match can't be described in any way other than astonishing. Goalless draws aren't always the most interesting of matches, but this must rank among the amazing games of the year.
A missed penalty, a red card and an unbelievable number of missed chances lifted fans off their seats for 120 minutes. The penalty shoot-out was perhaps a fair ending to a rather even contest and Chelsea prevailed.
There were some problems for Chelsea that were exposed in this game and Andre Villas-Boas will want to focus on the negatives from the performance.
However, there was an even greater number of positives to take away from this game, ones that will certainly be spotted many more times this season.
Here's a list of five positives that Chelsea should take from the Carling Cup match against Fulham.
At times against against Fulham, Luiz was certainly guilty of carelessness. However, the Brazilian had an overall sold 120 minutes and his great attacking play will make fans delighted.
At various times on Wednesday, David Luiz dribbled the ball far up the field from defense. Chelsea fans are already aware of the center back's attacking strength, but his performance against Fulham reached new heights.
If the 24-year-old can keep his defense steady while also helping out in attack, he will be on Andre Villas-Boas starting 11 on a regular basis.
Romelu Lukaku didn't have the best of debuts in the match against Fulham, but the Belgian striker displayed great physical strength. It was evident that the teenager wasn't at his best and had trouble playing the necessary pass when in possession.
Chelsea may still feel that they have found the perfect replacement for Didier Drogba. Lukaku will certainly need time to adapt to the EPL, but once he does could be a superb striker.
With Ashley Cole now 30 years old, it's a good idea for Chelsea to line up a long-term replacement in the left back position. Cole isn't showing too many signs of slowing down and remains one of the best attacking fullbacks in the world.
Still, the Englishman will be retiring (or moving to a smaller club) in the next few years and Chelsea need to start planning for the future. I don't think they will have to look very far as they have Ryan Bertrand. The 20-year-old played well against Fulham, with Cole-like attacking play and smart defense.
Bertrand will have a hard time breaking into the Chelsea main squad any time soon but will be a great back-up for Cole this season.
Debutant Oriol Romeu and Chelsea youth academy graduate Josh McEachran put in impressive displays on Wednesday. The pair, with Florent Malouda, controlled the midfield superbly and were involved in most Blue attacks.
McEachran was unlucky not to have scored when Sturridge, in an offsides position, touched the ball on its way in. The red card to Alex made Andre Villas-Boas take McEachran out to bring in John Terry. You could see by the reception that the young Englishman received that he had put in a good performance.
Oriol Romeu, on the other hand, played the full 120 minutes in the center defensive midfield position. This was his first start since his summer move from Barcelona's B team and he certainly impressed. The Spaniard did more work defensively than on the attack but was good with his ball distribution.
Romeu and McEachran are certainly one's for the future, but it's great for Villas-Boas to know that he has energetic midfielders on his bench.
At various times in the first half the camera focused on the Chelsea bench, where John Terry and Frank Lampard were shown laughing. They were certainly not expecting what would come in the next hours.
Both Terry and Lampard came off the bench fairly early in the match (52th and 44th minute respectively), after a red card to Alex and an injury to Sturridge made Andre Villas-Boas rely on his two experienced Englishmen.
Lampard had a poor game against Manchester United on Sunday but played very well against Fulham. He made a string of super sliding tackles and created many opportunities going forward.
The 33-year-old will find it increasingly harder to start most games for Chelsea, but Lampard will certainly keep fighting for that starting 11 spot.