Fulham came to defend at Stamford Bridge with a crowed midfield but they also created their share of goal-scoring opportunities. Fulham had only 5 shots on target in this game but they could have scored more than one goal.
In this edition of Pointing Fingers, we will look at two of Fulham's chances. The first is Orlando Sa's off-target header from inside the box. The second is the Clint Dempsey goal in the second half. Let's figure out where Chelsea's defense came short in these two scenarios.
|Picture 1.1 Senderos's Pass to Dembele|
This chance came from a Fulham build up that moved from their left to the right -- Frei to Dempsey, Dempsey to Murphy (center circle) and Murphy to Senderos. It was 14 minutes into the first half.
Chelsea are defending pretty deep -- Sturridge, Meireles, Romeu and Mata forming a bank of four right in front of the Chelsea defense. Torres and Lampard are further forward and they are not doing much pressing. This low defensive block invites Fulham center back Senderos to join the attack (which you will see again later). So, every Chelsea player is setting back and waiting for the Fulham attack, except Ashley Cole.
Cole seems to be totally out of tune with the rest of his teammates. He pushes up really high to chase his mark Bryan Ruiz who moves in centrally. His pressing would have been harmless if there wasn't another Fulham player taking Ruiz's usual place on the right wing. In this case, Dembele was there. Senderos slips a pass to the unmarked Dembele. Maybe it was Mata's duty to track Dembele's movement but the defensive set up tells me that Cole should have just stayed in his position at left back.
|Picture 1.2 Terry Comes Out Wide|
With Cole out of position, Terry is forced to come out to the wide position to close down Dembele. This creates a huge gap in the Chelsea box. Both Cole and Mata come back to help out Terry but they are both focused on the ball. Three vs one with no where to go, Dembele needs to find support. Either Mata or Cole should have been prepared to pick up other Fulham player but that was not the case.
|Picture 1.3 Kelly Crosses to Sa|
Dembele tortures Terry with trickery before leaving the ball to the right back Kelly who has came for support. Terry has to pick up Kelly who should have been closed down earlier by either Mata or Cole. Kelly beats Terry with speed and crosses. Here's where Terry's absence could have cost Chelsea dearly.
There are two Fulham players in the danger zone -- Sa and Ruiz. Luiz marks Ruiz and Bosingwa has to pick up the center forward Sa, unbalance match. If Terry were in the box, the Chelsea captain would have been marking Ruiz while Luiz takes on Sa, a better defensive balance. At any rate, Sa gets a free header ahead of Bosingwa. Only Lady Fortune prevented Chelsea from going a goal down.
|Picture 2.1 Senderos Bombs Forward|
After taking the lead in the second half, Chelsea, again, sit back and defend deep. This and Torres's slack tracking allow Senderos to carry the ball forward. The Fulham defender covers half of Chelsea side of the pitch before he is challenged by Romeu. Senderos plays a little one-two with Dembele and escapes Romeu. While all this is happening, the goal scorer Dempsey is moving centrally. First, he is marked by Meireles. Then, when Meireles moves closer to the action, Dempsey is left pretty much unmarked, so far in a relatively harmless position.
|Picture 2.2 Senderos Finds Ruiz|
Dembele's attempted pass is cleared but Senderos get his shiny head on the clearance and finds Ruiz on the right flank. At this moment, Dempsey is at the edge of the D and Lampard is the closest to the American.
|Picture 2.3 Ruiz Tricks Cole|
Cole, who got caught out in the Sa chance in the first half, is again at fault here. Ruiz fakes a left foot pass and cuts on to his right to leave Cole in the cold. As Ruiz beats Cole, Dempsey sneaks into the box. The American has to be commended for his clever movement: he slips behind Lampard unnoticed and he will step ahead of Luiz to finish off Ruiz's cross. But a little communication in the box would have gone a long way in defending this Fulham attack.
Jose Bosingwa has the view of every action in the box. He could warn both Lampard and Luiz about Dempsey's movement. And maybe he did and the others didn't hear him. Either way, an effective communication would have helped both Lampard and Luiz to be aware of the potential danger lurking behind them.
|Picture 2.4 Last Ditch Defending|
Even with all the defensive mistakes that have led up to this moment, when Ruiz's pass traveled across from the right, Chelsea came very close to taking it away from Dempsey's reach. Both Terry and Cech were but a few inches away from clearing the ball. As with the Adebayor goal against Tottenham, Cech's positioning was poor and could have prevented the goal if he were more forceful and determined with his attempted save. Of course, it is understandable with the history of his injury that he might be a little be hesitant in going into this kind of situation but we should note that this is costing Chelsea some valuable points.
Carefree, wherever you may be...