It was as if someone “up there” was making mischief on Saturday to make us further miss the comforting sight of Cech on the bench.
First there was an apparent injury to Courtois which led to extensive reporting that he would not play in the opening game of the season; then the Belgian was sent off with the majority of the second half to go.
I wonder if Abramovich maintained a benevolent grin on his face as the equalising penalty was scored?
Although I can’t blame the referee for sending the keeper off (most would have done the same), he had a poor game generally.
More worrying given that we are at the very beginning of the season, is that Costa is seemingly already being targeted for “special attention” in terms of getting nothing when fouled.
Opposition fans would claim this is an inevitable result of year’s “crimes” — but anyone who revisited said crimes with an ounce of fair mindedness would see that he was often innocent of what he was being accused of.
On Saturday, a blatant violent shove to the ground in a dangerous position, which should have warranted a free kick and yellow card, saw the referee wave play on. There was also more than a decent shout for a penalty and one does wonder if it had been anyone but Costa, would it have been given?
I’m going to take nothing away from Swansea. I thought they played really well and were giving us a game when still 11 v 11.
Ivanovic (as I feared) looked particularly vulnerable with Montero giving him a torrid time. Mourinho is known for loyalty to his old war horses, but I do wonder if, in this case, whether he has backed a lame horse.
The Serb has been a very loyal servant to the club and no one can question his commitment, but he plays in a physically demanding position. Time waits for no man and I do think he is past his prime.
And was Mourinho’s insistence on giving Ivanovic another season as a virtual untouchable the reason behind us losing Felipe Luis? If so, it might be an expensive error.
All that said, I’m not particularly perturbed by the display against Swansea. We took the game to them even when down to 10 men and I thought it was a pretty entertaining game of football.
Yes, there were some areas that needed improving — Hazard, as amazingly talented as he is, only really sparked to life in the final 20 minutes. We also need to increase the number of actual shots on goal, and our set-pieces need a lot of work — but Jose will know that.
He will also know that we have failed to strengthen significantly and that is what may ultimately cost us in the long run. Of course the transfer window is still open but ideally we should have wrapped up our business earlier; it’s always more difficult once the season starts and shortcomings become more evident.
Prices invariably take on stratospheric proportions as clubs like ours are effectively held to ransom.
On a brighter note, Oscar looked like a proper rest has done the world of good. He was alert and dangerous and it was a pity he was the sacrificial lamb when Courtois got his marching orders. I’d have perhaps taken Fabregas off.
Willian too has carried on his excellent form from the latter part of last season. Falcao is full of movement and looks pretty lively, though I hope that first goal comes quickly.
We saw, with Torres, how quickly a drought become a millstone around a player’s neck. But I have faith.
All in all, not the start we envisaged and it certainly gets no easier with City next, but it was always going to be harder this time.
We may bemoan that other clubs have strengthened more than us. But the fact is they had to — even to be on a level footing with us. So chin up Chelsea fans, we’re still the team to beat.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved