Blues Swamp Bees
Chelsea ran ragged at Stamford Bridge to emphatically route Championship side Brentford, 4-0. Willian started the scoring deluge for the Blues with a wonderful free kick aimed towards the upper right corner in the 13th minute. Pedro would double Chelsea’s advantage at the 2oth one of their devastating counterattacks. Branislav Ivanovic possibly put in a stamp on his Chelsea career as he padded on Chelsea’s advantage on the 69th minute with another lightning counterattack. Michy Batshuayi managed to get himself into the score sheet late in the 81st minute after converting a penalty.
Antonio Conte has opted to rotate his squad for this FA Cup tie. Asmir Begovic gets a chance to wear his gloves with the trio of Kurt Zouma, John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta posing as the shield in front of him. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathan Ake man the flanks with Cesc Fabregas and Nathaniel Chalobah patrol central midfield while Pedro, Willian and Michy Batshuayi gets the nod for the attacking three for a 3-4-3
Willian hasn’t been able to showcase his free kick delivery for much of this season but he manages to remind the crowd of that sliver of form that fueled his Player of the Year form last year. With the visitors conceding a free kick on the right central side, Willian took charge over the free kick which Cesc Fabregas was mulling over as well. The Brazilian took two steps and then executes a perfectly struck free kick which he bent around the wall and left Brentford keeper Daniel Bentley powerless to stop the strike as it arched back towards goal.
Chelsea was threatening throughout the early stages of the match and almost got their old captain a moment of glory himself. With the visitors conceding a corner, the Blues decided to play it short which eventually reached Fabregas down the right. The Spanish magician spots John Terry making a foray towards the penalty area and squares it to the former England international. Unfotunately, his side-footed shot lacked precision and he ends up missing the target.
Though the Blues have been the dominant team during the half, Brentford has been allowed some space to invade their midfield but this usually comes with a hefty amount of risk. during the 20th minute, this risk did not pay off as Chelsea remained possession of the ball while the Brentford defense was left stranded. Willian gets the pass in the middle of the pitch and immediately relseases Michy Batshuayi, The Belgian upstart then examined his options and looked to release Ruben Loftus-Cheek down the middle. But Loftus-Cheek merely served as a decoy and left the ball to roll towards Pedro, who was coming from a deeper position from the right. The former Barcelona man easily slots the ball past Bentley’s legs to pile on the hurt for the visitors.
Brenford stopped the hemorrhage of goals for the time being with some rather fortunate defending. Coming from corner, John Terry managed to elevate himself above Andreas Bjelland to head the ball back to the center of the penalty area. Batshuayi was waiting on a rather dangerous position unmarked to head the ball to goal but as he struck it, Kurt Zouma came flying in, blocking his headed attempt. The Belgian got a second crack at goal as the ball fortuitously bounced towards his path. But some excellent defending from Bentley who initially blocked the ball with his leg before further curbing its momentum with his forearm proved enough to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
Brentford’s best chance early in the second half when Lasse Vibe has the Chelsea goal at his mercy. Ryan Woods delivered a delicious cross from the right that Vibe was able to out-muscle Cesar Azpilicueta. Having gained position deep in the penalty area, the Danish forward hesitated for a second as he saw Asmir Begovic come out of his line to snuff out the danger. Vibe attempted to dribble past the Bosnian goalkeeper but Begovic got enough of the ball to dispossess him.
A superb move from Nico Yennaris got the Chelsea defense bamboozled for a bit and almost earned the visitors a lifeline back into the match. With Ryan Woods dictating play for the visitors without any man coverage, he easily spotted Yennaris deep into the penalty area. The former Arsenal man then deftly controls with his foot and proceeds to spin past the Blues defensive sandwich of John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta to leave Begovic exposed at goal. But the Bosnian keeper displayed decisiveness in lounging to a sliding challenge which effectively impeded the shot without taking out the man.
Branislav Ivanovic got one more stake at glory before his possibly ties up his Chelsea career. The Serbian did well to intercept a pass deep in their midfield to initiate a furious counter with Pedro. The Spanish international took the duties of dribbling the ball before releasing Ivanovic to the right who has his after burners equipped for this chance. He then shoots towards the near post which Bentley failed to anticipate.
The Serbian defender managed to further contribute to the cause by earning the Blues a penalty in the 81st minute. The luckless Michy Batshuayi stepped up on the spot to take the kick and proceeds to send the keeper the wrong way to finally earn a deserved goal.
Chelsea are through to the fifth round of the FA Cup after continuing the streak of defeating Brentford for the past 78 years, The opponents looked thoroughly outclassed and the margin of victory galvanized this notion. Chelsea will head to Anfield for an all important EPL fixture at midweek.