|Roberto Di Matteo: Perfect Start
Roberto Di Matteo’s men were able to maintain their perfect start in the Premier League with a 4-2 win over newly-promoted side Reading. Goals from Gary Cahill, Fernando Torres & Branislav Ivanovic were enough to seal the victory after goals from Pavel Pogrebnyak & Danny Guthrie cancelled out Frank Lampard’s 18th minute penalty.
Chelsea started the game strongly, & Hazard’s trickery proved to be too much for the Reading defence to handle as he was fouled inside the area in the 16th minute. Lampard comfortably netted his 2nd goal of the season, & it looked like it would be a long day in the office for Reading. But it was not to be. 6 minutes later, Pavel Pogrebnyak headed powerfully from a Gareth McLeary cross to give Reading an equalizer. However, the worst was yet to come. 4 minutes later, Petr Cech was unable to stop a low Guthrie free-kick & was only able to watch it bounce off his body & go into the net. Reading ended the first-half with a shock lead.
Chelsea began the second-half in search of an equalizer, & Di Matteo made an attacking substitution, bringing on Daniel Sturridge for Jon Obi Mikel. In the 69th minute, Gary Cahill unleashed a low, swerving shot that Reading goalkeeper Federici was unable to hold on to, & Chelsea had equalized. This led to a flurry of Chelsea attacks, & Chelsea took the lead in the 80th minute, Fernando Torres with a tap-in goal after Ashley Cole’s pass from inside the area. It was now Reading’s turn to attack, & they came close on a few occasions. But when goalkeeper Federici came up for a Reading free-kick & they lost the ball, Torres laid the ball for Hazard, who ran the length of the pitch & set up Ivanovic for his second goal of the season, sealing the 3 points in the process.
Roberto Di Matteo was clearly pleased with the result & the teams performance in general. “I think we are very pleased with six points after two games. I was very happy with the team performance for long periods of the game. We lost our flow after Reading scored their equaliser and second goal, but apart from that, very good, and we finished very strongly again.”
He did concede that the team can be a bit more solid in defence. “We were very offensive in the second half and lost our balance a bit but had to take the risk.
‘I would like to think we are defensively quite good, we had a clean sheet on the first day, reading did well tonight but we’ve scored six goals in two games. We have to try and be solid to win more games.”
New boy Eden Hazard once again impressed for Chelsea, & Di Matteo was happy with the Belgian’s performance. “He (Hazard) certainly had an impact on our team, and with Juan Mata as well he linked up very well. He is finding his feet very quickly.”
The scoreline flatters to deceive, as the win was anything but comfortable. But a win is a win, & the fact of the matter is Chelsea have now taken 6 points from 2 games. While it’s true that the defence looked shaky on occasion & that the attack also looked a bit tame at times, Chelsea are still very much a side in transition. To expect attacking football in a span of 2 months, however strong the team may look on paper, is foolish. Andre Villas-Boas made the mistake of thinking he could transform Chelsea into an attacking unit overnight, & look what happened. Poor guy landed up at Spurs! Di Matteo is fully aware of the challenge ahead of him. He has to transform Chelsea into a side that plays attacking football, while at the same time ensuring that results don’t suffer due to this transformation. It’s a tough job, but it has been done before. The start of Jose Mourinho’s reign at Chelsea was characterized by 1-0 wins that weren’t easy on the eye, but which got the job done. Later on, he was able to transform the side into a fluid attacking unit. If Di Matteo can do the same (and let me make it very clear that I have full faith in Robbie), he may soon be known as Chelsea’s “Only One”.