Match Review: Chelsea vs. Peterbrough United #CHEPET
FA Cup Third Round Proper
Stamford Bridge | January 8th 2017
The FA cup commenced for Chelsea on Saturday as they took on league one side Peterborough United FC at Stamford Bridge. It was a chance to use players who haven’t featured regularly for Antonio Conte’s first team premier league squad and also to give the some of the Chelsea youth contingent valuable minutes under their belt. Making 9 changes from the team that lost 2-0 mid-week, Antonio Conte set up shop with a 3-4-3 look; Asmir Begovic started in goal and defending him was the back three of Zouma, Terry and Cahill. In midfield Ivanovic played RWB with Cha-lobah and Fabregas in central midfield and Pedro in LWB spot. In attack Ruben Loftus-Cheek came in for Eden Hazardo on the right while Willian supplemented CF Mitchy Batshuayi on the left.
Peterborough United are famed for their ball playing style in the league one division and as promised by head coach Grant McCann they did not sit back and defend but engaged the blues in open play, fancying their chances. Chelsea started the game off the stronger team and could have gone ahead in the 5th minute but for a smart save by goalkeeper Luke McGee on Gary Cahill’s smart flick following a corner from Willian. Peterborough were rewarded for their bravery with chances and in the 7th minute came very close to grabbing the lead. Marcus Maddison’s cross sailed over Chelsea’s defenders in a manner than painfully resembled the goals conceded against Tottenham in mid week. However Lee Angol failed to attack the ball with conviction and it fell harmlessly to the grateful arms of Asmir Begovic.
Chelsea’s dominance continued however, with a slew off chances coming Chelsea’s way, one in particular nearly saw John Terry get on the score sheet following a volley from a corner routine. His effort was straight at McGee. Peterborough replied with a corner of their own, this time Ta-fazolli meeting the ball in the box for a free header, only to put the ball wide of the Chelsea goal. The showing so far would have been encouraging to the travelling supporters. Chelsea’s break-through eventually came in the 18th minute; Loftus-Cheek and Willian had begun to terrorize Peterborough’s defence with increasing intensity and it was the latter whose pull back was met by Fabregas who fired into the body of a Peterborough defender. The ball rebounded to the feet of Chalobah and after bringing it under his spell, the youngster rifled a shot on target but it was met by the athletic McGee in goal. McGee’s diving clearance went only as far as Pedro and the man in resurgent form as LWB cut into his right and fired into the top corner of the net to give Chelsea the lead.
Chelsea’s dominance continued and by now Peterborough were being totally outplayed. Few chances fell for Batshuayi to double Chelsea’s advantage but the blues came closest in the 32nd minute when the immaculate Willian made light work of his markers, turning into space and combining intelligently with the run of Loftus-Cheek. The Chelsea man placed his shot low and hard but it was saved by McGee only to rebound back to Loftus-Cheek’s feet. Loftus-Cheek then passed the ball to Pedro and in a similar cutting move that led to his first goal, the spaniard came in on his right and barley a couple feet away from goal, he blasted it into the upright much to the surprise of the entire stadium and it remained 1-0. Nevertheless after a few more chances, the second goal was to come; Willian again, started the move by releasing the overlapping Branislav Ivanovic. Left unmarked with acres of space the RWB found Loftus-Cheek in the box who then brought controlled the ball to set up Mitchy Batshuayi who volleyed his shot into the ground and past McGee.
Chelsea began the second half the way they finished the first. In the 47 minute, Fabregas won the ball deep in opposition territory and immediately released the ball to Batshuayi. Peterborough were outnumbered in defence and an inviting run from Loftus-Cheek was met by a through ball to his feet from Batshuayi and left him through on goal. Loftus-Cheek tried to side foot hit shot round McGee but unfortunately his effort was just wide off goal and the lead remained at 2. A few moments later, Fabregas picked the ball up in midfield and split Peterborough’s defence with an incisive pass to meet the run of Pedro. The spaniard was met by Willian who received the ball, cut in on his right and from the edge of the box let loose and unstoppable shot to the bot-tom right corner to add the third goal for Chelsea. Peterborough were down and out. Chelsea were cutting through Peterborough defence with ease and could have added a fourth through Chalobah following a lovely combination play of Chalobah-Batshuayi-Willian and back to Cha-lobah within the opposition’s box only for the midfielders final shot to be just wide of goal.
Chelsea’s dominance continued and it looked done and dusted until the 66th minute when Chel-sea lost the ball in an attacking situation and released the counter attack with most of Chelsea’s midfield caught upfield. Forrester took advantage of the situation and played an incisive ball to Angol which Zouma was unable to intercept. Angol was left isolated with John Terry and with the youngster beating John Terry for pace, Chelsea’s veteran brought him down and was ad-judged by the referee to have denied a clear goal scoring opportunity. The Chelsea captain was shown a red card and so putting a sour feel on his return to action as well as Chelsea’s dominant performance on the day. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was the one to make way to adjust for Terry’s sending off and the youngster would have been disappointed given his excellent display and lack of any goal to show for it. Azpilicueta came in and slotted at right full back leaving Zouma in the middle and Ivanovic moving to the left of defence.
Good turned to better for the travelling team when in the 70th minute they pulled one goal back. Forrester and Michael Smith combined to evade Pedro and set Smith running into the left side of Chelsea’s defence. Smith then pulled the ball into Chelsea box behind Zouma but just in the right place for Tom Nicholls who tapped in from close range. Suddenly with 20 minutes to go the game seemed far from over. Antonio Conte responded by bringing in Kante for Willian. Chelsea however did not have to wait too long to put the game beyond doubt as in the 75th minute Ola Aina passed the ball to Pedro at the edge of Peterborough’s box who then passed it to Batshuayi; after trying to create space for a shot of his own the Chelsea striker eventually returned the ball to the feet of Pedro who struck it first time and found the bottom right corner of McGee’s goal brilliant to put the game beyond doubt. Chelsea again resumed dominance of the game and even created chances to add a 5th but McGee yet again thwarted a good effort from Mitchy Batshuayi. And so It ended 4-1 to Chelsea.
Chelsea responded well to their loss in mid-week and all seems well in the camp, Costa and Conte were even captured sharing a joke on the touchline. Zouma looked solid on his return and played all 90 minutes although there were some moments that betrayed his lack of match fitness, which is to be expected after being out for 11 months with an injury. The only unfortunate thing for Chelsea in this game was John Terry’s red card and lingering signs that Chelsea still have some trouble dealing with deep crosses into the box. The youth impressed as well, Ola Aina sub-bing in at RWB, Loftus-Cheek slotting in for Eden Hazard and Nathaniel Chalobah at central midfield but it was Loftus-Cheek who impressed me the most at times being unplayable and just too much physically for the Peterborough defenders. His deft touches, runs and combinations left me thinking it was Eden Hazard on the pitch on several occasions, it is now clear why Antonio Conte trusts him. Mitchy Batshuayi cut a frustrated figure all game, even after scoring his goal. He was a bit nervous in front of goal as well as greedy with the ball in those areas leaving much to speculate about his situation at Chelsea given the swirling rumours of Chelsea signing another back up striker. Perhaps though, and hopefully, it is just a striker hungry for more minutes and nothing more. Finally it is interesting to see Conte use Pedro at LWB, he played that position for the final few minutes against Tottenham and it was his best contribution on that dismal outing but it looked more a temporary game change that a serious consideration for that role. His efforts today may tempt Conte to use him further in that role as he was utterly authoritative on the left flank - albeit against a league one side.
The Premier League returns this weekend and Chelsea will take on Leicester City for the second time this season. Until then #KTBFFH where ever you are and check in with the podcast team as anticipation builds up for our next tough test.