“Or I’ll just end up walking… in the cold November Rain!!”
When Slash tunes his guitar, Rose pulls the microphone, andGuns N’ Roses start playing, even the Gods lend their ears. Such is the melody of “November Rain”. The progression of the chords, the beat of the drums, the depth of the song and the pain in the voice of Axl is a mesmerizing experience all together. But talk about it toChelsea fans. They go further than others in appreciating the depth of the song, and the pain that goes with it, being Chelsea fans.
November has been a cruel month for all those who have any affinity with Chelsea. It is a Pandora’s Box literally for the Blues!! Over the years, Chelsea have always managed to run their season in the ground in November itself. Like the 2012-13 season, having won 8 games of 10 in the league, the then European Champions couldn’t even manage a single win in 5 Premier League games during November, and never recovered from there.
November Pain – Chelsea’s League form in November has been woeful in the previous seasons.
|League position – October end||2||1||4||1|
|League position – November end||3||3||5||2|
This season from the start has been truly different. The Blues have looked magnificent on the pitch, sweeping aside all before them, topping the Champions League group with a game to spare, unbeaten so far with some extravagant football on display. Being favorites for the title is one thing, but when betting sites offer to pay the money to those who placed their bet on Chelsea for the League, with not even 1/3rd of the season over, it only gives you a picture of how Chelsea have played so far this season.
Conceding a late injury-time equalizer at Old Trafford was the worst possible way to enter November. A November, where we face West London rivals-QPR, a blood thirsty side-Liverpool, the West Brom side responsible for the last 2 managerial sackings at Chelsea and a Sunderland side being the only side to beat Mourinho’s Chelsea at Bridge in the League. It was like reading out straight from a script, something like a Game of Thrones’ punch line “November is coming”. So here’s a look at how we fared this November in the League:
Game1 – QPR (home)
When the leaders are playing a team anchored in the relegation zone, there’s no doubt which one would be favorites. The West London derby in recent history has been a pretty woeful fixture for the Blues. Coming into the game, Chelsea had managed to win only 1 game against QPR in the last 6 attempts. Diego Costa made his return after a couple of weeks on the sidelines due to hamstring issues, as Chelsea named the strongest starting XI, with only Filipe Luis replacing the suspended Azpilicueta.
It took over half an hour for Chelsea to take the lead. Costa linked up well with Fabregas, who skipped through 3 QPR players and found Oscar making his run from the right flank, with a perfect pass for the Brazilian to whip the ball in from 12 yards out. However, Oscar had other ideas, as he went for goal with an atrocious shot off the outside of his foot into the far corner from the acutest of angles. Chelsea took control of the game but again failed to make their efforts count. Willian left Jose fuming as he wasted a glorious chance to set up Hazard in the 54th minute by over hitting the pass. This came back to haunt Chelsea as QPR equalised in the 62nd minute through a wonderful back flick by the inform Charlie Austin from 8 yards out, to wrong foot Courtois and send the QPR fans behind the goals into celebration. QPR refused to sit back and pressed to take the lead with Chelsea, showing signs of panic.
However, Chelsea managed to find the winner in the 77th minute as Eden Hazard was fouled by Vargas inside the box, and Hazard converted from the spot kick. It was a hard fought victory for Chelsea, for the tangible 3 points as well as the intangible confidence which would come in handy.
Game2 – Liverpool (away)
The last time these two sides met, the world stopped turning for a moment. Chelsea came to Anfield, parked two buses, took all 3 points and broke Liverpool hearts as the title slipped away from the Reds. A lot has changed since then. Liverpool lost Luis Suarez, Chelsea shipped in Fabregas and Costa in order to maintain the record of Mourinho’s side winning the league in his 2nd season in charge.
The Game began in the worst possible way with a Liverpool goal in the 8th minute. Emre Can was offered a lot of space by the Chelsea players, and he made the most of it. 4 minutes later, Chelsea pulled one back, with Gary Cahill getting on the score sheet. From there Chelsea took charge of the game, not allowing Liverpool any breathing space. Matic bossed the midfield; Costa kept stretching their backline and the defence gave Courtois almost nothing to worry about.
In the77th minute, Azpilicueta showed his strength and resolve going forward as he marginally kept the ball in play and turned around Coutinho, shook him off and whipped in a shot from a narrow angle which was pushed away by Mignolet. The ball hit Alberto Moreno and fell kindly to Costa as he pounced on the opportunity and fired the ball in the net from 8 yards out to give Chelsea the Lead. The game ended with Chelsea again picking up all 3 points at Anfield.
Game3 – West Bromwich Albion (home)
West Bromwich Albion arrived at the Bridge looking to bounce back from a loss at home against Alan Pardew’s resurgent Magpies. They came into the came as the underdogs with some recent success against the Blues, looking to get the victory at the Bridge which was cruelly denied to them last year.
From the word go, Chelsea started firing with all cylinders. John Terry went close to opening the scoring in the 2nd minute of the game, with only a brilliant save from Ben Foster keeping the Blues at bay at the moment.
But soon enough, Chelsea opened the scoring with a brilliantly taken goal from their star striker Diego Costa. His composure to chest the ball and slot it in the net was an absolute joy to watch. Chelsea did not get complacent from there and kept pushing for the 2nd goal which came in the 25th minute from a corner. Fabregas spotted Hazard lurking unmarked in the box and passed the ball for Hazard to slot it in. Chelsea controlled the game, enjoying a mammoth 76% possession, mostly in West Brom’s half, but it was only due to the brilliance of Ben Foster and a little bit complacency from Chelsea, that the score was restricted to 2-0. With another 3 points in the bag, Chelsea looked set to have a perfect November.
Game4 – Sunderland (away)
This game, like the Liverpool game earlier, had vengeance written all over it. Last season the Black Cats looked certain to face the drop, only for them to hit a purple patch at the business end of the season, including a victory against Jose’s Chelsea at the Bridge in the League, not to mention their league cup victory over the Blues which ruined the Christmas party for the Chelsea players. Sunderland came in the game undefeated in 3, having drawn 7 games out of 12 in the league. Jose named his preferred starting XI for the 7th time this season.
Sunderland kicked off the game and by the early looks of it, it was clear what their game plan would be. Chelsea had to be patient to look for any spaces to break, passing the ball around from side to side. Willian almost gave his side the lead with a brilliantly taken shot from outside the box, only for Pantilimon to save it with his fingertips. Chelsea kept pressing for the goal which looked illusive all the way. In the 80th minute, Cesc Fabregas received the ball in the most ideal situation for him – 25 yards away from goal, right in the middle, nobody within 5 yards to challenge him. But the Spaniard looked left, and right, and couldn’t pick out a forward pass. Gus Poyet had drilled his players with the game plan and it was working. Lee Cattermole, John O’Shea, Connor Wickham were outstanding in their roles. Chelsea threw men forward, which allowed Sunderland to break forward on many occasions. Jose left the substitutions late going with a double change to bring Drogba and Remy on for Costa and Oscar.
Sunderland then turned on the heat as they started attacking with more intent. Adam Johnson came agonistically close on a couple of occasions late in the game which would have ended Chelsea’s unbeaten run. The game finished goalless and Chelsea were kept from scoring only for the first time this season. Having accumulated 65% of the possession of the ball, Chelsea controlled the game. Diego Costa got his 5th yellow card which means he would miss the Tottenham game up next.
So, 3 wins and a draw in the League, no substantial injuries, and Costa returning to full match fitness, it’s been a very pleasant November for the Blues. Unbeaten in 20 games, top of the league with an advantage of seven points over 2nd placed Southampton (not to forget winners of their Champions league group with a home game to spare, and progression to the quarter-final of the League Cup), Chelsea have finally gotten one over the old foe – November. Looks like it’s going to take some mettle and resolve for anyone to break this Chelsea side.
Edited By: Harshal Ahire