Is it Asian Trophy or Asia Trophy? No matter, Chelsea have won it, with a 2-0 win over Aston Villa, who come in second in the tournament. Blackburn Rovers' 3-0 win over Kitchee saw them take third, while the rest of the world were surprised that they managed to play a cup tie against a team that ISN'T Villa. Josh McEachran kicked off the scoring for Chelsea, scoring after 34 seconds, while Fernando Torres put in the second just, once again, seconds after coming on.
I hate to say the scoreline flattered Villa, considering hey, we didn't score, but it really did. The Villa looked out of place, exhausted, even frightened by Chelsea -- odd, considering the last time the two teams met, the result was a 3-3 draw. Alex McLeish started off with Gabriel Agbonlahor up front, supported by Marc Albrighton, Stephen Ireland and Nathan Delfouneso. Stiliyan Petrov and Fabian Delph were just behind and the defense was as per usual. Shay Given, despite giving up a goal inside a minute, impressed instantly, fighting off a shot from Nicolas Anelka only to immediately beat away one from Florent Malouda. Unfortunately for Given, he fell down and couldn't scramble to his feet in time to make the third save, a looping ball from McEachran.The rest of the first half was, quite frankly, abysmal. Given managed a few great saves to keep the scoreline at 1-0 into the break, with the rest of the team looking like a squad that had never played together. Although, really, I'm not sure how often those attackers really have played together. But it was a friendly, and in friendlies, you work out the kinks -- in this case, realizing that Gabs, Darren Bent, and Emile Heskey work better up front (as weird as that statement might sound). It's still odd to watch Heskey on the left, or even switching positions. But adding Charles N'Zogbia and keeping Marc Albrighton on? Oh yes, please.
Sadly enough for the rabid fans of Fabian Delph -- of whom I know there are many -- he looked to be out of his depth today. I don't know if it's his many injuries or what, but he seemed afraid of the ball and actually fell over it twice, mostly in his haste to give it away. His pairing with Petrov didn't help, as once again, our lovely captain just looked tired. Yes, he can pass sideways and yes, he managed to put a shot near the goal (which is one more than normal, to be fair), but it's time to start letting go. I know I'm a Bazza fan-girl and perhaps my bias is coloring my opinions in this match, but when Barry Bannan came on, he was able to actually keep possession, keep the ball on the ground and make some decent passes. Nothing spectacular, but when your midfield looks entirely out of place for the first seventy minutes, it's actually significant.
Jean Makoun, too, made a huge difference in the match when introduced. He truly connects the defense and the attack, something that was sorely lacking throughout the match. Delph likely needs a bit more time to truly come into the first team, meaning that it's likely we'll see Makoun paired up with Cappy for the match against Fulham, as McLeish is unlikely to rock the boat so much that he'll leave Petrov out of the starting XI.
And the back line. Just earlier today, I thought perhaps our defense was fixed -- but after watching this match, I remain unconvinced about either Luke Young or Stephen Warnock. Warnock wants to get forward, fine, but in order to do so, he either needs to be able to track back much more convincingly, or the defensive midfield really needs to actually, you know, defend. Unfortunately, however, it's a near certainty that this is the defense we'll be fielding, so they've just got to figure out how to work together.
But overall, it was just a friendly. Just a way of experimenting, of trying things out. And as long as this isn't the team McLeish runs out in two weeks against Fulham, there's no reason to freak out right now.