Soccer Magazine

Heartbreak Hotel at the Liberty

By Stuartnoel @theballisround

There are few more disappointing things in life than conceding an injury time equaliser – well perhaps an injury time winner.  As a Lewes fan I have been used to seeing both this season, but Abi Davies hasn’t had the privilage…until the 93rd minute yesterday.

Heartbreak hotel at the Liberty
Heading into the game on the back of consecutive away defeats, Swansea City were hoping to return to winning ways when they welcomed Chelsea to The Liberty on Tuesday night.  Condemned to just a solitary defeat at home so far this season, Swansea should have had optimum confidence going into the fixture against Villas-Boas side.

Having made 10 changes for the weekends FA Cup tie at Bolton, Brendan Rodgers restored the side that started Swansea’s last league game at The Stadium of Light.

The visitors, without John Terry due to a knee injury, lined up with a centre back partnership of Luiz and Ivanovic. A highly perplexing decision given Chelsea’s recent signing of Gary Cahill, who had to settle for a place on the bench despite Villas-Boas stating that the Londoners would be a far greater force to be reckoned with, due to the recruitment of the English defender.

Despite conceding an injury time equaliser, Swansea City demonstrated their maturity on Tuesday as well as how much they have settled into the top flight since the sides last met in the reverse fixture four months ago.

The visitors got the game under way but as so often seen this season it was the Swans who settled the quicker, closing Chelsea down, dictating the pace and tempo of the game early on, they almost found themselves ahead within the opening 10 minutes. When Sigurdsson’s perfectly weighted free kick into the area fell for Danny Graham, however Ivanovic intercepted before Swansea’s leading goalscorer could get a touch.

Having seen very little of the ball in the opening exchanges, Chelsea came close to taking the lead when Sturridge found himself with time on the ball inside the area, his eventual shot fired marginally wide of the target.

With 15 minutes played, Swansea had a distinguished opportunity to take the lead. As Danny Graham fought to get on the end of a long ball forward, Petr Cech came out of his area committing himself to clearing, however his interception fell to Sigurdsson, who skipped past Cech only to see his effort blocked by Ivanovic. The ball then fell for Graham who’s shot was denied by David Luiz’ goal line clearance, Joe Allen met the clearance however Petr Cech recovered to finally clear the danger.

Sturridge and Bosingwa were proving a handful for Neil Taylor out wide and with the Welsh defender getting sucked infield on a number of occasions, the two Chelsea players found a lot of success down the right wing.

Swansea had commanded the majority of play in the first half and finally capitalised on their dominance 5 minutes from the interval when Scott Sinclair met Sigurdsson’s delivery into the box. The former Chelsea winger connected beautifully to guide his effort past Cech into the top corner.

With the Swans in total control at the interval, the only change made at half time was that of Nathan Dyer’s boots!

Chelsea came out of the blocks a completely different outfit after the interval, enforcing themselves on the game, pinning Swansea into their own half as Brendan Rodgers side began to sit deep and tried to absorb the relentless pressure being applied.

As was the case at The Stadium of Light, Angel Rangel failed to complete his defensive duties adequately on Tuesday night, allowing Chelsea to command play down the left flank, whilst Nathan Dyer was forced to sacrifice his threat pushing forward in order to provide cover for the Swansea right-back.

Villas-Boas soon opted for change, introducing one of the Premier League’s greatest players prior to the injury he sustained during pre-season – Michael Essien. The introduction of the Ghanaian international almost paid dividends instantly as the midfielder demonstrated his class with his first touch with a rifling effort that fired marginally over the cross bar.

The Swans were inviting Chelsea pressure, sitting back and not pushing out of their own half. They uncharacteristically conceded possession far too easily in the middle of the park, whilst they failed to substantially test Cech in the Chelsea goal.

Despite Danny Graham not receiving ample supply in the box, the striker’s phenomenally tireless work rate was once more, simply astounding. Constantly looking hungry and eager to pounce on Chelsea defenders to regain possession.

With the Blues staring at defeat, further misery and frustration was compiled on their evening when they were reduced to 10 men following a cynical challenge from Ashley Cole on Nathan Dyer, leaving referee Marriner no option other than to produce a second yellow for the English full back.

Chelsea had controlled play in the second period and snatched a point in the most disastrous of circumstances for the home side when Bosingwa’s effort took a decisive deflection off Neil Taylor to deceive Vorm and rescue a point for Villas-Boas side.

Based on their second half display, I feel Chelsea were worthy of a point, having applied an onslaught of pressure, allowing the Swans very little time in possession. However Swansea will feel aggrieved due to the timing and manner in which they conceded, with it taking a deflected strike to deny the Welsh side of their 6th home victory of the campaign.

Both of Swansea’s full backs got caught of position on numerous occasions on Tuesday, however, skipper Ashley Williams remained as colossal as ever to limit Chelsea’s threat. The Swansea captain made numerous vital interceptions, he read the game superbly and made many critical, perfectly timed challenges in order to keep Chelsea’s attack force at bay.

The performance of the match officials at The Liberty on Tuesday further reiterated the current standard and demonstrated as to why there has been so much intense speculation regarding their displays over recent months with their inconsistency prevalent once more.

The ill disciplined Chelsea side should have considered themselves fortunate to finish the game with 10 men on the pitch, as reckless challenges from Florent Malouda and David Luiz went unpunished.

Swansea have come a long way in such a short period of time.  Two or three years ago who would have believed that a draw against a team like Chelsea would have resulted in such disappointment.  In fact the odds on seeing such a game would have been huge with companies such as Coral betting.  It is worth remembering this so that if you are thinking of making some online bets and are unsure which bookmakers to use to make these bets, then why not come to coral betting and check out their odds!


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