Defending champions Chelsea held to dramatic 2-2 draw against Swansea
The defending champions were held to a draw by Swansea City in a dramatic start to their 2015/16 season. Playing at Stamford Bridge, the Blues went ahead twice to lose the lead both times and had their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois sent off close to the hour mark as Swansea made the score 2-2 from the spot.
The draw gave Swansea their first ever point at Stamford Bridge, however, they still haven’t beaten Chelsea in the 9 times the two teams have faced each other. The away side though knocked the breath out of the Blues as they repeatedly caught Chelsea’s defence napping. The West London side managed 3 shots on target on the night, only one of which found the back of the net, the other being an own goal by Frederico Fernandez.
The biggest thorn in Chelsea’s side almost literally was Jefferson Montero. The Ecuadorian made a mockery out of Branislav Ivanovic’s defending as he repeatedly beat the Serb to either run past him or deliver dangerous balls into the box. While Chelsea dominated large parts of the first half, Swansea held their own and mounted quite a challenge to Jose Mourinho’s men.
The title holders landed the first blow as Oscar scored from a direct freekick but not before Swansea had a few good chances of their own. Bafetimbi Gomis kept getting the better of Chelsea’s offside trap. given that the Blues were playing a higher line than usual, Gomis found himself one-on-one with Courtois and he hesitated long enough for john Terry to me in with a challenge and have the rebound be cleared by Gary Cahill.
Swansea who had been targeting Chelsea’s right side where Montero was pace was wreaking havoc for the Chelsea defence whipped in a cross that Gomis met with venom but Courtois was equal to it. The rebound fell to Andre Ayew, who turned in a shot from close range after Cahill blocked Ayew’s first attempt. The Ghanaian showed incredible composure to make sure the ball ended in the back of the net
It took Chelsea 92 seconds to regain the lead as Willian’s shot was deflected and looped into the net. The sides went in at half-time with Chelsea leading the game 2-1 and looking in control , although Swansea looked quite a threat to reckon with.
The blow came for Chelsea in the second half when Bafetimbi Gomis – running onto a lobbed pass by Jonjo Shelvey – was played onside by Willian and brought down by Courtois who as the last man and by that virtue was awarded a straight red card. The defending champions now faced nearly 40 minutes with a man short and Gomis standing over a penalty. The Frenchman sent Begovic the wrong way as he equalised for the Swans.
What followed was madness, both Swansea and Chelsea had their chances, though the Welsh side had the better ones. Gomis once again hit the back of the net but was correctly ruled offside on that occasion. Despite both teams’ efforts to get a win out of their opening EPL fixtures, both sides had to settle for a draw.
While one could argue that a draw playing with 10 men for over 30 minutes is a positive result, for Chelsea playing at home it isn’t the best start to their title defence. The signs are there for Chelsea going forward that they have the verve to trouble opponents. Oscar in particular seems to have taken his game to a new level.
Another Brazilian Willian showed that he has more to his game than just running. Even Diego Costa looked like his hamstring was made of steel. But almost unbelievably, it is in defence that Chelsea need to address their issues if they are to mount a serious title defence.
Perhaps a bigger worry for Mourinho will be that his first choice keeper will be unavailable for his next game which is away against Manchester City. It now looks a tougher task despite a stable back-up goalkeeper in the shape of Asmir Begovic.
Swansea will take a lot of positives from the game. Garry Monk might feel that they should have got a win but the performance that his side put in will please him. After all, getting a point against Chelsea especially in their own backyard is no small feat.