Birmingham Defeat of Chelsea Fits Classic Top v Bottom Stereotype

Birmingham City/Wigan Athletic Premiership 25.09.10 Photo: Tim Parker Fotosports International Ben Foster Birmingham City 2010/11 Photo via Newscom
Ben Foster was on top form to deny Chelsea

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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3 thoughts on “Birmingham Defeat of Chelsea Fits Classic Top v Bottom Stereotype”

  1. I feared we would be trounced this weekend by a chastened Chelsea side determined to demonstrate their championship mettle. I am ecstatic at the result, but can scarcely understand how it came about. McLeish described it as being like the Alamo. Brum played the whole second half like it was the last minute of the game such was the desperate nature of the defence. I thought bringing Hleb on for Zigic would improve things given Hleb’s technical ability to hold on to the ball and create space, but it actually seemed to make it worse. All that said it was a 110% performance from everyone on the Birmingham side. Foster was, as reported above, simply excellent. Carr and Ridgewell did a great job at the back and would get more credit if they weren’t overshadowed by Johnson and Dann who are so outstanding week in week out. Also the goal was simple but elegant. An inch perfect cross from Larson, a perfectly weighted knock down from Jerome and a well timed run and cool finish from Bowyer – made it look like they do it all the time!
    But overall, I think Chelsea have nothing to be ashamed of except for the result (a big ‘except’, I know). On any other day they would have won by 4 or 5 goals. It’s a strangely competitive league this year for sure…

  2. Writing off the Chelsea title chances already? Wasn’t it two weeks ago we we’re wondering if anyone could hope to challenge them for the title? I’ll take the middle road. They’ll be in the hunt for the title until the last couple of weeks of the season

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