Sunday 23rd October 2011
Kick off: 4.00pm
AVB rotated his squad once more, with five players returning to the line-up after midweek Champions League rests. Torres completed his suspension so Drogba returned in attack, and Terry resumed captaincy duties from Lampard, who was making his 500th Premier League appearance. Luiz kept his place having been rested last weekend, and Meireles continued in place of the injured Ramires.
Former Blue Shaun Wright-Phillips started for QPR on the left of a midfield four.
Luiz was at the centre of the action early on inside his own area, and this time for the wrong reasons when his nudge in the back of Helguson sent the Icelandic forward sprawling. The forward had needed no encouragement in going to ground, and referee Chris Foy deemed there enough contact from David Luiz to warrant a penalty, which Helguson duly side-footed home via the outstretched arm of Petr Cech to give QPR the lead.
With 30 minutes gone, QPR had more possession but not looking overly troubled by a Chelsea side struggling to move up a gear.
Bosingwa received his marching orders in the 33rd minute, as judged by the referee of pulling Wright-Phillips to the ground with the winger otherwise through on goal having outpaced the Chelsea full-back. Again there was contact, but how much was one and how much the other can be debated. Chelsea were down to 10 men before half time with a mountain to climb.
AVB immediately brought on Ivanovic for Sturridge, tucking Mata into a 4-3-1-1 formation, but the manager would need another drastic rethink in under 10 minutes as Drogba too saw red. Having lost possession inside the QPR half, the forward attempted to win the ball back, lunging in on Taarabt and winning the ball, but in doing so clattering the Moroccan with two feet.
AVB then put on Anelka for Mata, would now be the lone forward with Cole and Ivanovic having to operate as near wingers, a tactic that would leave the Blues heavily exposed to counter-attacks in the second half.
Just over a minute after the break, Chelsea were so close to a leveller. Meireles got forward down the right flank and crossed for Lampard, the lone man in the area, whose header was deflected inches wide of the far post. Within moments Ivanovic was crossing from a similar area, forcing the QPR keeper into a diving punch to deny Lampard a simple equaliser.
Chelsea, despite being two men down were looking far more dangerous than they had previously, attacking with speed and finding the space to do damage. A surge from Barton and Taarabt forced Mikel to bring the latter down on the edge of the box and earn a yellow card in the 50th minute.
Lampard and QPR’s Derry joined the Nigerian in the book shortly afterwards after a coming together where Lampard had voiced his displeasure at the latest in a long line of physical challenges from his opposing midfielder. Cech brilliantly cut out a low Derry cross with Wright-Phillips waiting to tap home, and then at the other end Lampard was manhandled inside the area by Hall. No foul, said Foy. The referee made the same call minutes later when Luiz was bear-hugged in the QPR box by Helguson.
Cole’s yellow card with 15 minutes to go, following others from Ivanovic, David Luiz and Meireles, brought Chelsea’s tally to six.
Anelka should have leveled, Ivanovic could do no more with his perfect cross, struck with the outside of his right boot, right on to the head of the Frenchman, but heading has never been Anelka’s strong point, and he sent his effort straight down Kenny’s throat.
From the ridiculous to the sublime, as Luiz raced forward, passed wide and continued his run, sending an overhead kick on target, only for it to bounce over off the heel of Lampard. The Blues were still knocking on the door inside the final 10 minutes. Malouda’s cross from the right was met by Cole’s header at the end of the first of five added minutes, but Kenny jumped on it before Lampard could get there.
In this gripping encounter that saw nine yellow cards, it was the home side who came out victorious, so it was to be that we lost our first game to the newly-promoted side since 2001 – 64 matches.
So it is a first defeat since Old Trafford, and after Manchester City’s demolition of United, we are five points off the top.
We play Arsenal next Saturday at home in the lunchtime kick off.
By Clare Smith
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