Birmingham’s victory yesterday was one of the classic stereotypes of the Premier League, a unfancied side in the relegation places prior to kick off defeating the reigning champions by going ahead and defending that lead with their lives.
Playing a system that isolated their midfield and relied on the forward holding the ball up from the off, it was against the run of play that Birmingham took the lead after 17 minutes.
However Chelsea were made to look foolish as their defence remained statuesque as Cameron Jerome cushioned a header into the path of Lee Bowyer who coolly finished Petr Cech, in what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Going behind seemed to spur Chelsea into action and Didier Drogba should have scored once one on one with Ben Foster, but the England international made one of many great saves in the half. Chelsea swarmed the Birmingham half creating chances, with Drogba hitting the woodwork and Kalou spurning one or two golden opportunities.
Birmingham got to the half time break with their lead intact and this seemed to allow them to regroup and take stock of the fantastic position they had put themselves in and organise defensively.
The second half was an old school battle of attack versus defence, with Petr Cech cutting an isolated figure practically in the Birmingham half for the full 45 minutes, as the play continued ahead of him.
As the second half continued Birmingham rarely left their own half after the break as Chelsea continued to pile on the pressure, although clear cut chances were few and far between as the Birmingham back line continued to hold firm.
In the centre of defence Scott Dann and Roger Johnson showed the merits of strong committed defending, as they blocked, harried and frustrated the Chelsea forwards with inspired defensive performances.
At one point it seemed as if Ramires had broken through the defensive shackles bursting his way into the middle of the Birmingham penalty area only for Johnson to dispossess him with a perfectly executed last ditch tackle to break down another attack.
This spirit extended to the rest of the team who effectively formed a nine man defensive unit in the second half. They were able to repel every attack, frustrating Chelsea and heaping more misery on a weakened Chelsea side.
Despite the defensive performances of Roger Johnson and Scott Danns, Chelsea had twenty five shots on goal of which ten were on target. However Ben Foster did his part in keeping Chelsea at bay with a man of the match performance, making some fine saves including one or two which could be considered world class.
This was not a pretty game for Birmingham, players like Bowyer, Larsson, Hleb and Jerome can play attractive football, but this was not the time for fancy football. The defensive tactics worked and whilst on some days Chelsea would have scored three or four goals with the chances created, today defence overcame attack.
A fantastic result for Birmingham will most likely be overshadowed by the implosion that has occurred at Stamford Bridge in the week, but for Tottenham’s comeback against Arsenal then this result would undoubtedly been the result of the week.
With a tough December ahead, Manchester United, Arsenal and potentially a few others will be ecstatic to see Chelsea undoing all their good work at the beginning of the season and their injury list grow.
Will Chelsea regain their form of that I have no doubt, will Chelsea still be in the title race by that time, I am not so sure.
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