Six for one declared, Chelsea annihilate sorry QPR – report
Monday, 30th Apr 2012 20:03 by Clive Whittingham
QPR’s survival hopes, goal difference and the remains of their pride were bludgeoned on Sunday by near neighbours and bitter rivals Chelsea who ran in six goals and could have scored many more besides.
As the leaden skies cleared over Stamford Bridge and 48 hours of rain finally gave way to a pale sunshine referee Howard Webb signalled to his fourth official that there would be three extra minutes to play at the end of the game. As he did so I felt a strange sensation in my hands.
I glanced down wondering whether 20 years of following Queens Park Rangers, drinking to excess and gorging on Cadbury’s chocolate buttons had finally triggered my first, long overdue, heart attack but was surprised to see that the tingling was actually coming from applause. I was applauding for the first time that day.
Down on the sodden green carpet that stretched out below me Shaun Derry had left the ground and committed to a tackle. He took the ball and felled the man, the Chelsea player laid out across the turf looking confused, Webb waved play on, QPR had the ball - it was wonderful. And it was unprecedented. It had taken Queens Park Rangers 90 minutes of a local derby with Chelsea to put a proper tackle in.
Of all the horrors that had gone before – the six goals, three of them to a Spanish striker who at Loftus Road earlier this season looked like a man who’d never played the game before, the smarmy fat bloke on the public address system, the mocking laughter from all around the away end, the mass early exit of two thirds of the away support – the moment that encapsulated QPR’s “performance” in this match best of all came shortly before half time.
Paulo Ferreira, very much Chelsea’s reserve right back pressed into action in a makeshift defence shorn of three international centre backs through injury but never remotely tested by an insipid and disinterested visiting team, had decided he was injured. He lay on his back on the ground, the standing water soaking into his shirt and his captain John Terry standing over him proffering medical advice from his vast banks of knowledge and intelligence. Chelsea played on, because they had the ball at the feet of Daniel Sturridge and QPR were looking rickety at the back again so a goal may have been in the offing. For once, more through luck than any judgement or ability, Rangers managed to keep them out and clear the ball out to the right flank where Jamie Mackie and Joey Barton had some space to work a rare attack.
But now Chelsea wanted the game stopped. Terry stood and signalled that Barton and Mackie should forget any notion of attacking and kick the ball into touch. And QPR did as they were told. Never mind that Chelsea weren’t concerned enough for Ferriera to kick the ball out themselves and had played on to try and score again. Never mind that in the first meeting between these two this season at Loftus Road Chelsea refused to return the ball to QPR after it had been kicked out for a player to be treated simply because they were losing, running out of time and a bit pissed off with it all. Never mind anything. Chelsea wanted the ball kicking out, so QPR kicked it out.
QPR – collectively and individually – were the footballing equivalent of a gimp to Chelsea’s dominatrix on Sunday. Bent over, legs spread, ready to do exactly as they were told. They were pathetic. Submissive, passive, pathetic. Pathetic. I was ashamed of them, and they should be ashamed of themselves.
Mitigation? Well despite the injury crisis at the heart of the Chelsea defence they still fielded a team of 11 full internationals assembled over many years at a cost of (according to Soccerbase) £195.1m. They are FA Cup finalists, Champions League finalists and a world away from QPR in every sense apart from geography. But that close proximity of clubs can be a great leveller, as we saw in October when Rangers secured an unlikely victory against them at Loftus Road. The atmosphere that day, and the intensity of the QPR team, caught Chelsea’s millionaires quite by surprise and by the time they’d remembered what this fixture was all about after a 15 year absence from Loftus Road they were a goal down with two players sent off.
Sadly the effect of that has been similar to walking into a sleeping bear’s cave and giving it a sharp rap across the nose with a pointy stick. Two subsequent matches have yielded an aggregate score of 7-1 in Chelsea’s favour.
QPR players like to tell supporters that they “understand the importance” of such occasions. They don’t. I have 12 goals scored by the other two Premiership teams in the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in two away matches this season that tell me they understand the importance of fuck all. Even ignoring the local derby element of this fixture, an increasingly nightmarish set of results elsewhere mean QPR need points quickly from a fast diminishing set of games but you’d never have guessed that here. They looked like a midtable team already on holiday. Even parking the bus with a flat back nine and playing for a 0-0 would have been better than this, it would have at least hinted at some sort of thought and planning for the game.
The guilty party here was, from back to front and right to left: Paddy Kenny, Nedum Onuoha, Anton Ferdinand, Clint Hill, Taye Taiwo, Joey Barton, Shaun Derry, Akos Buzsaky in for the poorly Samba Diakite, Jamie Mackie, Djibril Cisse replacing suspended Adel Taarabt and Bobby Zamora. I hate them. I hate that they went through the motions like this in this fixture. To lack ability in the face of such quality was forgivable, to lack intensity, organisation and any semblance of game plan was not. Forgiveness will be a long, long time coming for these players if, as now seems highly likely, they are to spend their summer fleeing the sinking ship because they think they’re too good and important to play the fixtures with Barnsley and Burnley next season that they are condemning us to.
Bobby Zamora, I’ve no doubt, will be the first in to see Phillip Beard with a summer transfer request. Across 95 minutes here he did less to affect this game than my mother, who has no interest in football whatsoever and is currently on holiday in the Dordogne region of France.
QPR started badly and quickly fell away from there. Shaun Derry - no doubt with words about concentration, focus, control, possession and keeping things tight early on fresh in his mind – received the ball from the kick off and quickly passed it straight to Daniel Sturridge who walked to the edge of the penalty area, tried and failed to pass to a team mate and then scored from 25 yards out instead. I’d say it was like shelling peas but I have, on occasions, found shelling peas trickier than this was.
So a bad start and, a minute into the game, a cross roads. Rangers have enjoyed success in recent home matches by absorbing pressure and counter attacking, but it’s not a tactic suited to chasing matches and it’s not something that has worked well for them away from home. Stick or twist? Fight or lie down? We didn’t have to wait long for an answer.
Djibril Cisse, playing in a wide left role he’d occupied to no affect whatsoever in the first half of this season at Lazio, tried two outlandish long range efforts that he miscued badly. Chelsea were much more clinical at the other end. As the time ticked into double figures a corner was headed out of Kenny’s hands by Taiwo as communications in defence failed totally and John Terry improvised a volley that Kenny did well to save. Within 30 seconds the QPR goalkeeper had to stretch every sinew to reach a clever lobbed effort from Frank Lampard and turn it behind for a corner.
Now QPR had just had a warning about set pieces and on a day when the pre-match handshakes had been cancelled because of the tension and impending legal case over John Terry’s alleged racist comments towards Anton Ferdinand one would have assumed that the one thing nobody in red and white quarters wanted would be for Captain Objectionable to score. One would have assumed wrong. If you thought he was poorly marked for the volleyed attempt you’d seen nothing yet. From Mata’s delivery he towered over Clint Hill and headed powerfully down into the ground and up into the net.
It wasn’t only a lack of commitment and intensity that did for Rangers here – it’s an English trait to place such importance on these things but not unfair in the context of this match where Rangers desperately needed to get something from a team of vastly superior players – the tactical set up of the team was shambolic. Zamora failed to engage Michael Essien at the base of the Chelsea midfield which meant the Ghanaian could either stand unchecked and spray passes around, or draw one of the three man QPR midfield towards him and then simply pop the ball into the space behind him. This could have been stopped with one instruction to Bobby Zamora after five minutes but continued for the entire match. Cisse was dreadfully ineffective in a wide area, Buzsaky a lightweight passenger and Rangers completely overrun by a team that spent all afternoon doing nothing other than the basics of the sport very, very well.
Basics. Ahhh the basics of football. So simple and yet so crucial. Staying in a straight line when executing an offside trap for instance. Designating one of the two available centre halves to mark the one centre forward in front of them perhaps. Nope, QPR did neither of those things. After 19 minutes Kalou and Mata combined to thread a neat ball into the penalty area and Fernando Torres, newly re-energised after midweek goal in Barcelona that brought the most disturbing noise I’ve ever heard in my life bubbling forth from the pit of Gary Neville’s ball bag, rounded Paddy Kenny and slipped in a third.
Communication. Not difficult. Talking. People talk to each other all the time. Five minutes later Paddy Kenny and Nedum Onuoha did their own thing under a routine chipped cross from Mata into the penalty area. With both on the ground Torres stifled a laugh as he rolled in his second and Chelsea’s fourth. He could have had a first half hat trick but fired wide at the back end of the half.
This stuff isn’t even hard. The quality of the opposition is no excuse for not issuing or listening to a simple cry of ‘keeper’s ball’. They teach kids this when they’re eight years old. For the love of all that’s holy in the world.
Chelsea didn’t so much have the scent of blood as have the stuff caked all over their hands. Against somebody else they may have taken pity and slackened off but after everything that has gone before this season that was hardly likely. They pressed on for more as the two mixed race gentlemen across the segregation divide from us stood and sang John Terry’s name. Strange world, strange sport.
Torres fired just wide a minute before the break and Mata drew a decent save from Kenny after being played in by Lampard. The attacking midfield three behind Torres were being allowed to do whatever they pleased by their QPR counterparts and Mata in particular was revelling in the opportunity. A weak shot over the bar by Nedum Onuoha, who once scored a famous goal on his ground in a Sunderland win, was really all the visitors had to show for their “efforts”.
Half time brought about a bizarre mix of entertainment. Two small boys, one looking a lot like Shaun Wright-Phillips, played cards for the world’s biggest trophy on the halfway line while former Chelsea player Kenny Swain was marched around the pitch and applauded by people who had no idea who he was. Swain won the European Cup, the crowd was informed by the world’s smarmiest tosser who’d been employed to introduce him, although the fact he did so with Aston Villa rather than the Blues was rather glossed over. He was marched around the pitch to bemused looks from people who must have presumed he was related to Gianfranco Zola in some way while Mr Smarmy showed a fundamental lack of appreciation for how an electronic microphone works by holding it up to capture their applause from 40 yards away.
Then, the second half. Now QPR have a bit of form for this coming back from four goals down at half time malarkey but there was to be no repeat of previous heroics against Port Vale and Newcastle on this occasion. The sides exchanged early chances; Mata should have scored when played through by Torres after good work from Cole but he shot weakly at Kenny, then Cech was required to make an eye catching save to divert Jamie Mackie’s long range shot around the post.
Just before the hour Mata, master puppeteer amidst the chaos of the QPR defence, fed Torres in the area who drew a nervous save from Paddy Kenny. But that QPR trait of not heeding previous warnings was back with a vengeance five minutes later when the two tormenters in chief combined in identical fashion and this time Torres made no mistake with a cool finish into the far corner.
Torres was so bad at Loftus Road in the FA Cup tie in January that I viewed him with a child-like fascination, almost as if he was a zoo animal. How could somebody once so magnificent turn so bad, so quickly for so little reason? Well, perhaps the old saying about form and class would have been a wise one to heed at the time. He looked decent enough here, embarrassing Clint Hill and Anton Ferdinand time and time again. Hs head was up, his work rate was noticeable, and he stayed between the goal posts in areas he could hurt QPR, rather than drifting off into the channels as he was doing earlier in the season. Perhaps that £50m will be well spent after all.
Mata had done enough, Roberto Di Matteo removed him and sent on French winger Florent Malouda. A short while late Portuguese midfielder Ramires, who’d scored a fine goal in the Barcelona success during the week, replaced Solomon Kalou. These were acts of mercy. I half expected the Chelsea players to be told to play the final half an hour with a plimsoll on their favoured foot just to even things up a bit more. Alas, Sturridge had a shot deflected wide as the pummelling continued.
Of course Ramires and Malouda are no slouches themselves, and ten minutes from time the former crossed for the latter, via a deflection, who had time to not only control and finish into the bottom corner but also, had he wished, to sit for an oil painting of the occasion.
QPR made some changes of their own as the half wore on. Armand Traore came onto the left flank instead of Akos Buzsaky, who’d been completely out of his depth all day, and moved Djibril Cisse up front. Shaun Wright-Phillips joined the fray later instead of Bobby Zamora, introducing himself to the action with a laugh and a joke to his former Chelsea team mates just to confirm further the discrepancy in attitudes towards this game between the QPR fans and players.
Cisse’s move to the centre was long overdue, and followed what appeared to be a full and frank exchange of views between him and Mark Hughes delivered across the pitch through the medium of shouting and gesturing. The Frenchman’s frustration at the course of events shone through when, after previously heading a presentable chance over the bar, he took advantage of a strong and purposeful run by Nedum Onuoha and smacked a low volley into the bottom corner for a consolation goal. His celebration was more befitting a late equaliser and betrayed his thoughts on proceedings.
Frustration too for Joey Barton who justifiably pointed to Howard Webb’s tolerance of a string of fouls from first Michael Essien and then Fernando Torres when he himself was then carded for a quick spate of offences but in actual fact can’t really argue at receiving the game’s only yellow card. His petulant stomp off down the field and refusal to adhere to the World Cup Final referee’s request to return and receive the booking was unnecessary and rather too Ashley Cole-like behaviour for my taste.
Events across the 90 minutes distracted attention away from the late appearance of young Chelsea defender Sam Hutchinson, who came on for the last nine minutes instead of Jose Bosingwa. For those not aware Hutchinson, a product of the Chelsea academy, had actually retired from the game in 2010 owing to a serious knee injury but has shown enough dedication and drive to recover his health and place in the squad at Stamford Bridge. To achieve not only that, but also a breakthrough into a first team notoriously ignorant of it academy prospects is worthy of respect even from QPR fans.
And that was that, full time. That was QPR’s offering in a game of colossal significance at the bottom of the Premier League, against bitter local rivals in front of 3,000 people who paid £55 each to support them. That was the best they could do.
Chelsea: Cech 6, Ferreira 7, Bosingwa 8 (Hutchinson 81, -), Terry 8, Cole 7, Mata 9 (Malouda 67, 7), Essien 8, Lampard 8, Sturridge 8, Torres 9, Kalou 8 (Ramires 73, 7)
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Romeu, Drogba, Meireles
Goals: Sturridge 1 (unassisted), Terry 13 (assisted Mata), Torres 19 (assisted Kalou), 25 (unassisted), 64 (assisted Mata), Malouda 80 (assisted Ramires)
QPR: Kenny 3, Onuoha 4, Ferdinand 3, Hill 2, Taiwo 2, Barton 4, Derry 2, Buzsaky 2 (Traore 66, 3), Mackie 4, Cisse 4, Zamora 2 (Wright-Phillips 78, -)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Gabbidon, Campbell, Young, Smith
Booked: Barton (repetitive fouling)
Goals: Cisse 84 (assisted Onuoha)
QPR Star Man – N/A
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire) 8 Another highly accomplished performance from the league’s best referee. My one criticism was that Michael Essien committed several fouls, one of them certainly yellow card worthy and after he’d already been warned, without receiving a booking and Fernando Torres also went through a period of over enthusiasm when his pursuit of a hat trick led to several fouls that also failed to draw a card. That’s fine if the rules are applied equally, but when Joey Barton niggled three times in quick succession he was booked. A minor quibble though on a fine afternoon of officiating.
Attendance: 41, 675 (3,000 QPR approx) About a third of the QPR fans stayed right through to the end and amused themselves by abusing Frank Lampard and celebrating pretend goals. Credit to everybody who attended, whether they stayed to the end or not, because paying £55 and getting that in return was savage amusement for a Sunday. The Chelsea fans were as you’d expect them to be given the circumstances.
Pictures – Action Images
Photo: Action Images
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