CHELSEA SCORED FOUR goals against Aston Villa but I found the opening goal by Daniel Sturridge most interesting. The build-up to the goal was filled with twists and turns like a dramatic play. There was the initial attempt, which of course failed (as a rule, the good guy never wins on their first try. EVER!). Then, a fortunate second chance presented itself, setting the stage for redemption. Some characters were quiet heroes while others got the glory without quite deserving it. Let's take a close look at how the plot unfolded.
Act I: The Initial Attack
|Picture 1. The Initial Attack|
[7:38] Mikel wins header; the ball lands at Mata's feet.
[7:39] Mata passes to Lampard.
[7:41] Lampard pushes forward with Kalou and Sturridge in support from the wings.
The initial attack began when Mikel got his head on a long ball forward from Shay Given. It was a good defensive header but it also sparked an immediate counter attack as the ball fell for Mata, who quickly laid it into the path of Lampard. Chelsea had Torres leading the attack; Lampard was welcomed by a wide open space in front of the Villa defense; Kalou and Sturridge sped down the wings. A counter attack was well and truly on!
Act II: The Setback
|Picture 2. Torres Runs into Traffic|
[7:42] Lampard passes to Torres.
[7:45] Torres dribbles towards the center.
[7:47] Ireland clears the ball.
When Ireland caught up with Lampard, the Chelsea midfielder passed the ball to Torres and continued his forward run down the center. Torres had Kalou wide open on the left flank but the Spaniard decided to dribble toward the center which was already crowded with Villa defenders. This was a bad choice. A better decision would have been to do what Lampard has just done -- pass the ball to wide area and run towards the center to attack the across/pass. As it was, Ireland stepped up and cleared the ball off of Torres. The attack was short-lived. The setback is complete.
Act III: The Second Chance
|Picture 3. Mikel Restarts the Attack|
[7:50] Mikel heads the ball to Cole.
[7:52] Cole heads the ball back to Mikel.
[7:54] Mikel turns.
[7:55] Mikel passes forward to Mata.
Ireland's clearance went straight to Mikel who played a little aerial one-two with Cole to escape the pressure from Agbonlahor. Then, Mikel did his textbook 180-degree-turn to shake off Ireland before passing the ball forward to Mata. For the second time, Mikel started a Chelsea attack by winning the ball and distributing it to Mata. By the time Sturridge smashes the ball into the net in a few seconds, we have all but forgotten how the attack has started and who has started it.
Act IV: Going Wide
|Picture 4. Kalou Crosses|
[7:58] Mata passes to Kalou.
[8:00] Kalou dribbles towards the center as Mata and Cole runs forward.
[8:02] Kalou crosses.
Kalou was once again wide open on the left flank and Mata obligingly passed to the Ivorian. As Kalou received the ball by the touchline, Cole and Mata pushed forward aggressively. This was important because they dragged two Villa defenders along with them, which meant that Kalou now had only one Villa defender in front of him. The Ivorian cut inside and put in an inviting cross into the box.
Act V: The Redemption
|Picture 5. Sturridge Scores|
[8:04] Torres taps the ball to Mata.
[8:05] Mata passes to Torres.
[8:06] Torres' shot is blocked.
[8:07] Sturridge scores.
The initial attack broke down because of a bad decision from Torres. But the Spaniard made up for his mistake big time by attacking Kalou's cross ahead of Villa's Collins. It was a real display of his striker instinct. His touch set up Mata who laid the ball back to center for Torres to finish. Only a solid block from Warnock prevented a slightly earlier end to Torres' league goal drought. The loose ball fell right in front of Sturridge, who had not even touched the ball in this build-up. The youngster scored his 12th goal of the season. Sometimes, life gives you a gift even if you have not put much effort to get it. C'est la vie!
Carefree, wherever you may be...