Not actually sure what I felt about this one prior to the game. Having been a habitual Rams fan for the last two decades, I haven’t been to many cup games. Aside from the awful Blackburn defeat last season I think my last FA Cup game was in the late eighties. So, I was a bit out of the habit, looking forward to seeing us testing ourselves against one of the best teams in the country but not really expecting an upset. I was hoping it wasn’t going to distract us from our league campaign too.
The Witch was with me for this one, seven rows behind me (it really is about time the DCFC ticketing site allowed you to select individual seats, rather than giving you random ones, rant, rant..). Chelsea’s strong (and expensive) team selection was quite intinidating (they were obviously not going down the West Ham route of playing a bunch of kids) and the scarf waving thing before kick off worked well I thought.
The atmosphere overall was great actually, it’s been a while since I’ve been in a full Pride Park (sorry, iPro..) and I think it really must have pushed the team on. The Chelsea fans played their part too (especially with that bouncing up and down thing they did..). It was a tad strange seeing no Derby fans in the South Stand.
I have to say I think we aquitted ourselves well, given the quality of the opposition. We defended well in the first half, apart from a few long range shots from Oscar. Oh and the chance that Eto’o squandered. Not sure he’s up to playing in a top Premier League side.
There was a lot of talk about Hughes before the game. How would he play against Premier Leagur players? Apart from a couple of flashes of brilliance in each half, Hughes was chasing shadows until the last ten minutes and he uncharacteristically got booked for one reckless scything down of John Obi Mikel. This will have been a useful learning experience for him, let’s hope one of those lessons is that he needs to have another season or two with us rather than going into a Premier League’s team’s reserve side.
Hendrick had an up and down game, made some good forceful runs on occasion but also frequently let the game pass him by. Certainly not back to the form he had last season but hopefully that’ll come. Again, this will be a good experience for him.
Forsyth was immense, defensively solid throughout but dangerous going foward too, especially when he knocked in another of his specialist driven low crosses for Wardy in the first half. Perhaps he can put that left foot to use at free kicks and corners. Worth a try, given the standard of Wardy’s set pieces this season.
Bucko was an absolute rock throughout the game and Keane was also very sound next to him, winning every single header and bringing the ball out well. Apart from the reckless dash forward in the first half when he quickly lost possession and left a gaping hole at the back. I’m sure McClaren will have a quiet word with him about that.
Chelsea’s first goal was tremendous, the wastefully conceded free kick viciously whipped in by Willian and headed in superbly by Mikel. If only we had some one who could take a set piece like that..
As for the second, yes, Oscar’s shot was hit hard and swerved a bit but Grant should have done better with it. I wondered at the time “How did that go in?”. To be fair, Grant did redeem himself with a save against Torres late on.
McClaren again made good use of his substitutions and took risks but I suppose we had nothing to lose. Bennett, Bailey, Sammon all made good contributions when they came on. It was particularly good to seem James Bailey back, perhaps he’s an option in the holding role?
Chelsea? I actually quite like them and think Mourinho is a breath of fresh air. I’m pretty confident he’ll have a few words with Ramires for his “acrobatic swimming pool jump” in the second half. Anyway, good luck to Chelsea for the rest of the season and, as for us, our most important game of the season so far is coming up on Friday. Leicester at the King Prawn Stadium. I’ll be there.