Wednesday, 2 November 2011

UCL: Genk 1 Chelsea 1

Reminiscent of the good old days of 'It's A Knockout' when the Belgians were always crap, I couldn't have been more surprised by this result. Chelsea were poor and Andre Villas-Boas will have to answer further questions about his high line defence tactic. The result itself isn’t devastating in terms of the Champions League qualification stage but given the recent results in the Premier League, alarm bells are certainly starting to ring. Genk should have been the guaranteed three points from our final three Champions League group games. But the Belgians honestly deserved the draw – an impressive result for them.

Chelsea created the best chances in the first half and the lovely one-two between Ramires and Torres set up the Brazilian to score a neat opener. Arguably we should have put the game out of sight; Ramires could have had his second with a headed chance later in the half and Raul Meireles also struck the woodwork from long range. The Blues were also rightfully awarded a penalty for a Genk handball, which David Luiz promptly squandered. The 24-year-old didn’t seem to make up his mind up whether he was going for placement or power and after Genk keeper Koteles chose to dive the right way it proved to be a comfortable save. This has to raise eyebrows about the Chelsea attackers on the field as it took a centre-back to step up and take a penalty in the absence of Frank Lampard. Anelka missed a penalty in the Carling Cup last week, which might account for his lack of confidence - but where was Fernando Torres?

The second half saw a lacklustre performance - Genk took the game to Chelsea and deserved their goal. Villas-Boas reacted and threw on the attacking trio of Lampard, Sturridge and Mata. But it felt like a half where it just wasn’t quite going to happen, with Lampard failing to properly get hold of a tap-in from yards out after a decent cross from fellow substitute Daniel Sturridge. Genk then managed a last ditch goal-line clearance from a Malouda shot that nearly resulted in what would have been a very unfortunate own goal as the clearance deflected backwards. The inability to see games out and frustrated stuttering approach when going forward brings back bad memories of last season. Genk are probably a Championship team in the English equivalent and they didn’t score as much as they maybe could have, but the defensive problems were still glaringly obvious. Passes were chipped easily over the back line just as they were in Saturday’s game.

At the weekend we travel to Blackburn. At Ewood Park this season Arsenal have managed to lose and Wolves have managed to win, so it’s hardly a fortress of consistency, yet with this little bump in the road preceding the game it may be quite a challenge to go and claim full points.

Genk Koteles; Vanden Borre, Hyland, Nadson, Ngongca; Buffel (Ndabashinze 68), Tozser (c), Camus, De Bruyne; Vossen (Barda 86), Nwanganga (Limbombe 81)
Unused subs Sandomierski, Sarr, Durwael, Ofori-Appiah
Goals Vossen 60
Booked De Bruyne 75

Chelsea Cech (c); Bosingwa, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Cole; Ramires (Lampard 65), Romeu (Mata 76), Meireles; Anelka (Sturridge 65), Torres , Malouda
Unused subs Turnbull, Terry, McEachran, Kalou
Goals Ramires 25
Booked Meireles 90

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