Despite the impressive scoreline, Chelsea were far from it in a home match that should have gone down as a more comfortable afternoon. Instead they relied on Samuel Eto’o cheating and Eden Hazard making the most of referee Anthony Taylor not seeing clearly or simply not knowing the rule book too well.
Despite getting a huge break from the referees, Jose Mourinho found himself sitting in the stands after getting sent off. It’s weird to think what he would be saying to them if the same thing that helped his team equalize in the first half happened to his own team.
In short, as Chelsea struggled against a very organized Cardiff team that also took an early lead, Samuel Eto’o decided that a goalkeeper bouncing the ball, which means he has possession of it and cannot be disturbed or stripped of the ball, means nothing to him. He stretched his leg, took the ball away from David Marshall and after his miss saw Eden Hazard score from a simple tap in.
Anthony Taylor joins a long list of referees, this season alone, that are making awful mistakes that seem to be very hard to explain. If the sport had a TV-assistant to correct referees and prevent injustice that robs matches from their legitimacy, we would be in a better place, but FAs prefer foolish illegal (in a football context, of course) to happen while they feel modern by allowing goal line technology to be installed.
Eden Hazard has somewhat of a comeback moment for him with two goals, even though there was no one except Samuel Eto’o, scoring his first goal of the season and the first striker-goal for Chelsea as well, that should have been pleased with his performance. The changing links in the attacking midfield help no one in terms of forming cohesion, and anytime Frank Lampard plays in the defensive midfield the team feels unbalanced, disjointed and sometimes like playing with one man less on defense, as Lampard has no business playing in that position. However, Chelsea might not have someone better.
Juan Mata was once again taken off before the big change, although neither Oscar or Fernando Torres, coming on as an attacking substitution for Ryan Bertrand, had anything to do with Chelsea coming away with the win.
Jose Mourinho getting sent off might have been the spark his players needed. Whether or not his quite fiery conversations on the touchline with the assistant referee were something intentional to try and get a reaction from his players remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt he’s adding fuel to the fire and adding pressure on himself, possibly enabling his own struggling players to do better from that point onward.
Chelsea continue to struggle at home and away, against weak and strong opposition. Maybe it’s a case of Mourinho still not finding the right lineup for him, but making constant changes isn’t helping anyone. Regardless of the questions that will arrive once he decides on benching one of his attacking midfielders for good, it would benefit everyone if he settled on a trio and made it quite clear what the hierarchy among them is.