Chelsea were decidedly unimpressive against Reading yesterday, despite Carlo Ancelotti fielding an extremely strong line-up, and were lucky in the end to escape with a draw.
The team were told to use the new diamond formation to continually attack, and they certainly did that, but a resilient Reading defence were quite capable of keeping Drogba and Anelka at bay, and they shocked the visiting fans by taking a two-goal lead in the run-up to half-time. Jimme Kebe opened the scoring when he fell upon a rebound from Cech and cooly dodged around him to slide it into the net.
Then both Terry and Carvalho failed to deal with Shane Long and all three ended in a heap just outside the penalty area, and Scott Davis steered the dead-ball past Cech to make it an unlikely 2-0 lead at the break.
The second half began with an even more attacking formation for Chelsea, with Bosingwa, Alex and Malouda replacing Ivanovic, Carvalho and Deco, and 15 minutes later Drogba and Anelka were replaced by Kalou and Sturridge, but despite all the action coming at Reading’s end, Chelsea were still up against a brick wall.
Chelsea’s pressure finally paid off with just one minute to go, when Kalou dodged through the usually solid Reading defence to get what looked like just a consolation goal, but the Blues got lucky in almost straight away.
Malouda curled a free-kick in from the right and, although there were lots of Blue shirts in the box, Reading’s Pearce got his head to the ball and it flew past Frederici into the net for a very unlikely equaliser.
Ancelotti praised both Readings resilience and Chelsea’s never-say-die spirit. He said: “To begin with we found it difficult to play because the game was slow and very close and the Reading defence did some good work. We didn’t find the right space to attack.
“This is one aspect which is down to the other team, Reading played very well in the first half, very good defensively but were very quick on attack and this was difficult.
“But we came back. I have seen in these friendly matches some very good quality in the team and we have faith we’ll do well this season.”
Ancelotti very narrowly avoided his first defeat, and unless the strikers start taking advantage of the thousands of chances that were created, Chelsea will struggle next week against United.
It may be entertaining to watch, but we still need to see an end result. It is going to be even harder to get past the opposing defence next week, and we will need to tighten up the defence to deal with any quick breaks.
I must say i am not very encouraged by this performance.