BEHIND THE MIC: CHELSEA V CARDIFF
On Monday Chelseafc.com catches up with the expert summariser from the club's radio partner, BBC London 94.9, for analysis of the weekend's game.
Former Blues favourite Clive Walker was the man who described Saturday's FA Cup progress and had the chance to assess some of this season's less-used players.
It was surprising having gone a goal up in the first few minutes, which is just what Chelsea wanted in the first few minutes and just what Cardiff didn't, that we didn't push home the advantage. Sometimes when you make a lot of changes and one or two of the fringe players come in, they are trying so hard to impress that they do the wrong things and the ball doesn't flow. Chelsea didn't have flow throughout the first half and as it wore on, I thought we got a bit complacent and felt that while we are 1-0 up we are going to win this anyway. That is not always the case in an FA Cup match and 6000 Cardiff City fans were roaring their players on. It wasn't surprising that Michael Chopra got a chance. He is a goalscorer, that is all he is, but give him a chance and he is likely to put it away. He had one chance a little earlier and didn't but this one he did and everybody stood around and waited for someone else to deal with the cross, which you can't do.
Carlo Ancelotti understandably wanted to keep players fresh and even if there was plenty of experience in defence, it meant there wasn't the continuity there. That could be seen with the Cardiff goal. Chopra made a run he has made all his career and was free to nod the ball in. Whether Hilario could have come for it I doubt because it was between the back four and the goalkeeper, and a defender has to deal with it on that occasion. It was a decent enough ball in and good balls in are very difficult to defend against. Chelsea got punished and rightly so because we had gone off the boil. Second half Chelsea showed how powerful we are even with some fringe players in the side.
It was a chance for Yury Zhirkov to impose himself in a game against a Championship side. He can't play exactly the same as Ashley Cole because Ashley is arguably the best left-back in the world but I wanted to see him play a little bit more in the style of Ashley. Up to half-time I was disappointed with Yury as an attacking full-back but second half he tried to push on and I expect that came from the manager at half-time. Riccy Carvalho would have pushed him on up that left-hand flank as well and at times we saw Riccy almost changing places with Yury in trying to get forward. It was an opportunity for him that he didn't quite take. We will have to see if that will take time and a bit more egging on that he can move another 10 or 15 yards forward and still have time to get back. He is good enough as an attacking full-back to do it. He is not going to replicate Ashley's playing style but we are going to need Yury and we are going to need Yury as an attacking full-back as well as a defender.
Daniel Sturridge looked lively, skilful and his turns and movement were pretty good. He is trying to learn as he goes along and we are seeing a Daniel Sturridge who is now listening to other players. When he first came I'm not sure he was listening to anybody. Now he has accepted the fact that this is a learning curve for him. He has had to sit back and take a look at himself and now he is looking like he can influence a game. Saturday was a game you could show back to him in future and say this was how you worked, this was your movement and this why the ball ended up at your feet in front of goal with no-one in your way apart from the goalkeeper. Those little bits of luck he got for his goal are due to the fact he kept going, he kept working, he kept moving and he tried to get involved. It wasn't outstanding but it was team play.
If you want a player who was outstanding on the day it was Didier Drogba. This was a game when he could have thought I've scored in the first couple of minutes, I'll sit back and if a chance comes I should score another one because I know I am too good for their back four. But he didn't sit back, he worked his socks off. He helped out in midfield at times, made some good challenges and he won headers defensively when at times we looked vulnerable there. He led the line as well and it was one those games when you look at it and say, 'He is a good players he is. He is top drawer.'
Paulo Ferreira got in some good crosses, especially for Salomon Kalou's goal when the scorer also did well. As many people have said, Kalou seems to be able to score difficult ones and miss easy ones but as long as he keeps coming on and scoring goals, he is the type of substitute we need.
Other teams are maybe looking at Frank Lampard and saying if you can stop him, you can stop Chelsea ticking in midfield. He is being very closely marked but they are finding that it doesn't essentially work. Frank is still scoring goals and at some stage he is going to dominate a really big game and we will see how good he really is again, because teams will say we have got to mark all the other midfield players as well.
Fans can phone-in about Chelsea v Cardiff on BBC London's Your Shout tonight from 7pm.