Chelsea survived a scare against League Two Shrewsbury to take up a place in the last eight of the League Cup. Didier Drogba opened the scoring in the second half for the Blues, but Andy Mangan equalised after a mistake from John Obi Mikel before Jermaine Grandison turned in Willian’s cross in to his own net to gift Chelsea victory.
The Blues started off with a much-changed side, making no fewer than seven changes. Gary Cahill, Filipe Luis, Oscar and Didier Drogba kept their places from Sunday, while the fringe players who came in where blasted by Jose Mourinho after the game. Three youngsters, Nathan Ake, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen were given the nod, along with a few fringe players who needed minutes on the pitch.
The changes showed on the side, with Chelsea looking a little disjointed at the back. Shrewsbury had the best of the early play, forcing chances from a corner. The first half was largely without incident, with Mohammed Salah busy down the right hand side but he was unable to trouble the League Two side’s defence.
Chelsea were brighter just after the second half, with Mohammed Salah teeing the ball up for Didier Drogba, who lashed the ball into the net. It was a lead the Blues barely deserved, but one you expected them to hold on to, given the stature of the opposition and the slip up at the weekend. But, the Blues where unable to hold on, and a goal for the home side with just over 10 minutes to play looked like it could embarrass the Premier League leaders.
A corner swung into the Chelsea box came straight to John Obi Mikel, but the Nigerian’s attempt to control the ball saw it drop to Mangan, who hit the ball home, sending the Shrewsbury faithful wild. After that, Mikel was hauled off by Mourinho just a few minutes later for Nemanja Matic, the manager clearly wasn’t impressed with Mikel’s performance.
Chelsea looked to be heading for a draw and the awkward proposition of extra time, but Willian, who replaced Salah, sent in a cross towards Drogba, though Grandison got the final touch on it and sent the ball into his own net. That was enough to see the Blues through, but it was far from an impressive performance. After the game, Jose Mourinho let his players know that they’ll have to do more to force their way into his team.
“I expect people that have not been playing a lot to raise their level and create problems,” Mourinho said. “I love problems of choice, but it’s easy to choose my team for Saturday.
“I was worried when they equalised [through Andy Mangan] but we go through and Didier played a massive part in that,” added Mourinho. “Hopefully he will be good for the weekend but we will have to see because right now his character is stronger than his body.”
LCN Man of the Match: Filipe Luis