STAND-INS STAND UP

Posted on: Mon 22 Aug 2011

There were heroes at either end of the pitch on Saturday, as Hilario and Florent Malouda each played their part in our turnaround against West Brom at Stamford Bridge.

We fell behind in the fourth minute to a Shane Long goal, and the scoreline could have been worse were it not for some sharp goalkeeping from replacement goalkeeper Hilario. Manager Andre Villas-Boas decided things needed to change during a poor first-half showing, and introduced matchwinner Malouda just after the half-hour mark, the Frenchman firing the winning goal with eight minutes remaining after his compatriot Nicolas Anelka had drawn the scores level early in the second half.

'I'm very happy with the result, it's been a very difficult home game for us but the most important thing at the beginning of the season is getting points and we're very happy,' Malouda said afterwards.

'We had to change something in the first half, we didn't start well. I don't know if it was the system, there isn't one explanation, but the manager decided to put me in and we tried to create chances, to bring in more crosses and that's it. I'd say that we lost the first half, that's the way we saw it, and we had to win the second half.'

Chelsea v WBA

'Sometimes it's good to have the half-time break and you can speak about the first half and how to improve from the mistakes and that's what happened,' Hilario added. 'We didn't play to our principles in the first half and that was the biggest problem.

'The manager went straight to the points we were not good at and the players took that idea to ourselves and made things better. We did well in the second half and gave a good show.

'It is never good to concede a goal but when you concede in the fourth minute of the game, you feel it is still possible, because you have almost another 90 minutes to play and win the game, so it's not so bad to concede early in the game.'

An improved second-half showing saw us turn defeat into victory and earn a first league win of the campaign. Malouda believes it was a bold move from Villas-Boas to make changes so early, and it goes to show the players must be on their toes with the new man in charge.

'We started very slowly and had to change that. The moment we could change our pace in the game and take more risks we were more dangerous and created chances, and that's when we scored,' said the 31-year-old.

'The manager is trying to put the best team in to start and win the games. We all understand that, there is competition and he is happy to have so many options. We are part of the squad, we know the rules and we know we have to do our best for the club, and at the end of the season I think if we can win trophies everybody will be happy.

'It has always been clear there is a lot of competition in the squad, everyone is under pressure and the manager has made substitutions and we're very happy that it worked. There is nothing new, and I think it will be like this until the end of the season.'

If results, and excitement levels, are maintained, then nobody will have any complaints.