As the more observant amongst you may have noticed I've been a bit absentee recently. Again my deepest apologies, I've been juggling school, work, rugby, and 2 blogs, plus I've been horribly sick the past couple of days. Apparently my juggling is not stellar, but I will try to improve. Promise. Now that that's out of the way, let's have a little look at our challenge that came on Tuesday. If you missed it, I haven't been able to find full highlights yet, but here's the goal.
I must say I am incredibly proud of our boys, and I haven't said that in a long time. We played the best club in the league and we didn't roll over, we had a game plan and we stuck to it. We didn't pull a Bolton and stop playing after 60 minutes, and we actually stuck it to them. I'd even go so far as to say Chelsea were a little lucky to come away with all 3 points.
Granted Chelsea overall did look the better team, however Bolton did an excellent job at shutting them down. Instead of our usual "oh-no-they-have-the-ball-I'll-back-up-12-metres" style of defending, we actually shut them down and stopped them from playing their game. We only had 2 defensive mishaps, and one of the led to the goal. Compared with our catastrophic defending earlier in the season, we are superstars. And it showed, the fact that we only conceded 1 goal against a team that is used to 4 goal routs (including 2 against us) is something to be proud of.
We also didn't just try to defend the whole time, it wasn't a damage control exercise. While the attacks we launched weren't exactly beautiful displays of football, they were there and they were daring. Special mention goes to Jack Wilshere, who had an excellent game. He didn't get shut out as he usually does, and was pretty pivotal in almost all of the attacks. I'm also really pleased with the substitutions Owen Coyle made. At 82 minutes trailing by a goal, he took off 2 midfielders and put on 2 strikers, leaving us with 3 strikers on the field. Megson would never, ever, ever have done that. We're no longer a team who will settle, we want to WIN.
Onto some of the controversies of the game. There were 3 shouts for handball in the box, only one of which I've been able to see again. Right now it looks to me like the Droga infraction in the 1st half is the most convincing and probably should've been a penalty. I honestly can't speculate as to what would've happened if we had scored the penalty, perhaps it would've spurred Chelsea into a goal fest, but regardless I think we deserved a goal. Also regardless Lee Probart definitely should not holiday in Bolton, though whether or not anyone should holiday in Bolton is another issue entirely.
All in all this game was very uplifting. We played well, didn't roll over, and actually attacked. If we can survive this season, I think next season we will be rockin'. And that's the technical term.