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Ben-Haim blunder signals new Blues beginning


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Portsmouth 0-1 Chelsea

Ben-Haim blunder signals new Blues beginning

17th Jul 2011, In Match Reports, by Alex Hinsley

Fernando-Torres-Copenhagen.jpgIn a game characterised as a typical pre-season friendly between two teams more concerned about gaining full fitness than playing exhilarating football, it is perhaps no surprise that such a horrendous error – namely ex-Chelsea defender Tal Ben-Haim's comical own goal – would settle this contest in the south of England.

Unfortunately, the game did not do justice to the wonderful atmosphere inside the minuscule amphitheatre that is Fratton Park. A near-full capacity home crowd was in fine voice; the Pompey faithful evidently missing their football after a gruelling first season back in English football's second tier.

Chelsea's equally-vociferous backing of more than 3,000 travelling supporters were at least treated to a winning start to the new regime under Andre Villas-Boas – but this should not be seen as the precedent to anything. José Mourinho's first game in charge of Chelsea was an uninspiring 1-1 draw with lowly Oxford, whilst Villas-Boas' predecessor Carlo Ancelotti saw his side just about dispatch a resolute Seattle Sounders side as part of our 2009 tour of America.

With that in mind, the only thing that can be taken from this is the composed performance of Yossi Benayoun; recently returned from injury, and a host of Chelsea youngsters including 16-year-old Nathaniel Chalobah impressing having been given a rare taste of first-team football. Josh McEachran and José Bosingwa also impressed for the Blues, who donned their new home kit as Portsmouth opted to showcase their slick new away jersey in front of their home supporters.

There were a number of similarities and differences between this match and Chelsea's last game against the South Coast team; the 2010 FA Cup final. On that wonderful May afternoon under the Wembley arch, a magnificent Didier Drogba free-kick and a sublime penalty save by Petr Cech helped the Blues to their maiden Double on a day where both teams gave everything in an exhilarating contest which belied a final score of 1-0 in Chelsea's favour.

This time around, however, Ben-Haim's howler and Henrique Hilario's penalty-saving heroics were the only memorable moments to arise from a relatively dull encounter. As is the norm with pre-season matches, the intensity was outdone by the passionate support of both sides – though it is a shame that such a brilliant turn-out for a friendly match was not rewarded by more moments of quality.

Besides the own goal and Hilario's excellent low save to deny Luke Varney from the penalty spot, the only other real goalmouth action saw Fernando Torres head wide from a Yury Zhirkov corner, whilst at the other end, Hilario did well to smother a sweetly-struck free-kick by Hermann Hreiðarsson.

The goal itself had shades of Jon-Arne Riise's ridiculous own goal at Anfield in 2008 – Fernando Torres' delivery from out wide took a slight deflection and Ben-Haim failed to adjust correctly; sending the ball careering into the roof of the net. One may argue that was the Israeli's first significant contribution to the Chelsea cause – other than giving Petr Cech a mouthful of studs and a gruesome scar on his chin in a training ground incident.

On occasions, Chelsea played some nice football – particularly during the second half, with the composure and creativity of Joshua McEachran being complimented by the tenacity of Yossi Benayoun and his trademark inventiveness in the midfield. In fact, the duo were at the heart of anything good created by Chelsea, and though both Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba had a number of long-range efforts out of anger, the only time Chelsea came close to adding to their lead was when Benayoun or McEachran stepped to the fore.

A nice bonus came through the form of José Bosingwa – a long-term absentee through injury, missing most of the 2009/10 season and a hearty chunk of last term as well – the Portuguese was enjoying a splendid second half performance. Though at fault for one glaring error borne through a communication break-down between goalkeeper and defender, his performance promised a return to the consistency of the rampaging full-back of old.

Portsmouth gave a good account of themselves and but for Hilario's splendid penalty save, they would have had a frankly deserved share of the spoils. The spot-kick incident itself was dubious – Hilario guilty of tripping Varney in the box, though in fairness contact was minimal. Refereeing inconsistency ensures that far more aggressive challenges in the box will go unpunished this term, but any aggrieved Chelsea fan will have seen justice done with Hilario expertly tipping the ball around the post.

Yet it would not be a Hilario performance without a heart-in-the-mouth moment or two; and on top of his mix-up with Bosingwa, he had earlier seen Nathaniel Chalobah come to his rescue when the duo found themselves in a similar muddle. Besides those two moments, Hilario was his usual calm self between the sticks. Nothing out of ordinary there, then!

In a game defined by one moment of madness and another of miserly goalkeeping, Villas-Boas can at least take a small handful of positives with him on the Asia tour – besides Petr Cech's slight knock and long-term absentee Michael Essien, Chelsea retain a relatively clean bill of health as well as a second clean-sheet in as many games. Impressive performances by the youngsters will ensure that Bertrand, McEachran et al continue to see their stock rise amongst the Blues faithful, perhaps heralding a promising future for this club under Villas-Boas' tenure.

The Asia tour, which includes games against Malaysia, Thailand, Kitchee FC and either Aston Villa or Blackburn – and a friendly at Ibrox with Rangers – will give the management team more clues about what this team can do the direction that needs to be taken. Needless to say, don't take anything too seriously from this match – it literally was just a formal kick-about.

____________________________________________

Portsmouth (4-3-3): Henderson (Ashdown 46); Ben-Haim, Halford (Pearce 50), Rocha (Williams 63), Hreidarsson (Magri 69); Norris, Mokoena ©, Mullins; Ward, Kitson (Stockford 80), Varney.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Turnbull (Hilario 46); Ferreira (Bosingwa 46), Kalas (Chalobah 46), Ivanovic (Terry 46), Cole (van Aanholt 46) (Bertrand 71); B Clifford (Benayoun 46), Mikel (Lampard 46), Zhirkov (McEachran 46); Sturridge (Anelka 46), Torres (Drogba 46), Malouda (Kalou 46).

The TalkChelsea 'star man' was Yossi Benayoun for his superb second-half performance – hopefully heralding the first of many equally-composed performances in the foreseeable future!

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The goal itself had shades of Jon-Arne Riise's ridiculous own goal at Anfield in 2008 – Fernando Torres' delivery from out wide took a slight deflection and Ben-Haim failed to adjust correctly; sending the ball careering into the roof of the net. One may argue that was the Israeli's first significant contribution to the Chelsea cause – other than giving Petr Cech a mouthful of studs and a gruesome scar on his chin in a training ground incident.

Best part of that report :lol:

Nice work.

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I was beginning to think I was alone in thinking Bos had a decent game especially in attack. Did not think Josh had a particularly good 45minutes.

He is certainly not suited to the holding role. Like everyone the big bonus was the performance of Yossi and also Danny.Overall a lot of things

need improving before the season starts

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Best part of that report :lol:

Nice work.

That's my favourite part too :lol:

Thanks for reading everyone, its much appreciated. All criticisms welcomed as well!

I was beginning to think I was alone in thinking Bos had a decent game especially in attack. Did not think Josh had a particularly good 45minutes.

He is certainly not suited to the holding role. Like everyone the big bonus was the performance of Yossi and also Danny.Overall a lot of things

need improving before the season starts

Josh gave the ball away a lot, however he seemed a lot more comfortable than most others.

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Disclosure . That was the last game in one word. In those 90 minutes were painfully obvious all mistakes our board "It's the players who wins you games and manager who loses them" have made.

Huge wages, managers mary-go-round, insane transfer fees for some players ( who don't even fit into our style of play) and poor scouting , among others, will have impact on our team and game, no matter who the manager is. We are in a big mess. We desperately need new players ( creative midfielder who can assist and two wingers are must, maybe even attacking midfielder) but at the same time no one seems willing to spent that much.

I was never happy when AVB came to CFC .The same way I wasn't happy when Torres had come. In these circumstances, both are doomed to failure.

We lack creativity, we don't provide enough service for strikers like Torres( or Kezman, Crespo, Mutu, Shevchenko ). Not as much as they used to have before. Without good service they feel enormous pressure every time they get a chance, which leads to error . And so they lose confidence and become flops.

AVB is great young manager whose success is based on an excellent tactical skills and man-managment. But right now, we don't have players who will carry out his tactical ideas. Not all of them, anyway.

And man-managment .How will he cope with the most influental players ? Put them on the bench ? With their wages? And replace them with who?

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