Villas-Boas forced on the defensive
Swansea City 1(Sinclair, 39)Chelsea 1 (Taylor, og 90)
Chelsea discovered what Arsenal, Tottenham and so many other Premier League teams already knew. Swansea City at home are a mighty proposition who are anything but coy in taking it to their affluent visitors. Andre Villas-Boas can thank a huge deflection in injury time for sparing him last night.
The points appeared lost when, in the 93rd minute, Jose Bosingwa's cross – "a nothing ball" as Brendan Rodgers called it – was turned into the net by the home defender Neil Taylor. Despite their outrageous luck, Chelsea may have been deserving of a point, but it must be suspected Roman Abramovich thinks his richly assembled squad should be worthy of rather more.
The XI which Rodgers fielded last night cost £7.5m. That's roughly a sixth of what Chelsea paid for one man. Fernando Torres was not the only multi-millionaire who played below his price tag here – Ashley Cole was having a bad night even before his late red card – but the Spaniard's latest round of blanks did highlight his continued inadequacy. The last Premier League team Torres scored against was Swansea – in September. It is now more than 1,000 minutes since he scored in any competition.
As if to ram home the point about value for money, Scott Sinclair was almost the home hero. Eighteen months ago, Chelsea happened to allow the 22-year-old to join Swansea for £1.5m. At least Sinclair had the good grace not to celebrate his fine volley. "It was great skill," said Rodgers, himself a former Stamford Bridge employee. "Scott is a terrific talent who just needed a platform. Like many Chelsea youngsters."
Arsenal and Newcastle can close the gap to three points tonight in what now appears a race for fourth place, although Villas-Boas refused to concede the title. But with 12 points separating them from Manchester City, the Portuguese's sights are set on Tottenham, in third. "Seven points is nothing," he said. It is if the Chelsea defence makes a habit of playing this poorly.
The absence of John Terry – the captain whose racism case goes to court this morning was missing with a knee injury – was keenly felt, but it was strange Villas-Boas opted not to play £7m capture Gary Cahill. Villas-Boas explained the England international was on the bench because of the "solidarity" his side had shown in their recent run. His loyalty was misplaced.
"We gave Swansea the initiative in the first half," he said, "but we were very confident in the second half." One could not argue with him on his initial claim. Swansea's reward for their exquisite movement and passing precision came in the 39th minute. Bosingwa tamely nodded out a Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick and from the edge of the area Sinclair showed the balance of a gymnast to swivel before producing a wonderfully arched volley into the top corner.
Villas-Boas's analysis of Chelsea's response was true in the sense that they stopped Swansea's monopolisation of possession, but even though they were pressing forward they created very little, with Ashley Williams supreme leading the Swansea back four. "They defended very well," agreed Villas-Boas.
Michael Essien and Boswinga both came close with spectacular efforts and when Cole upended Nathan Dyer in the 84th minute and was dismissed for a second yellow – a transgression which means he misses the weekend confrontation with United – the Blues' gloom seemed set. Then Bosingwa let fly and poor Taylor unwittingly did the rest.
Substitutes: Swansea Agustien 6 (Sigurdsson, 67), Moore (Sinclair ,77). Chelsea Essien 6 (Romeu, 65), Lukaku (Malouda, 80).
Booked: Swansea Taylor, Rangel. Chelsea Cole , Malouda, Meireles. Sent off: Chelsea Cole (86).
Man of the match Williams. Match rating 7/10. Possession: Swansea 42% Chelsea 58%.
Attempts on target: Swansea 5 Chelsea 10.
Referee A Marriner (West Midlands). Attendance 20,526.
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