The Taming of the Shrews
The Capital one cup is famous for throwing up shock results and Shrewsbury Town would have been hoping for the same when the minnows welcomed Premier League leaders Chelsea to The Greenhous Meadow Stadium.
Didier Drogba’s chargers, however, pulled through against the battling League Two outfit who made the most of their time in the limelight; winning 2-1 thanks to a late own goal by Jermaine Grandison.
Mario Balotelli would have struggled in this game, not necessarily due to the home side’s resilience but because their players were asked not to swap shirts with Chelsea at half time as they cannot afford to buy new ones.
Shrewsbury have been on a great run of form lately and currently sit in fourth in the English fourth tier. Manager Micky Mellon would have been forgiven for any optimism after seeing his side score 23 goals in 15 league outings this season with three in-form attackers – Andrew Mangan, James Collins and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.
On the other hand, Chelsea were going into the match on the back of a hard-fought draw at Old Trafford 48 hours earlier. As a result, Jose Mourinho was forced to play a weakened team but still managed to retain four players from the team that started against Manchester United.
The first half was very much an end-to-end affair which was evident by the fact that after five minutes there had already been five corners taken, three of those in favour of the home side. Neither team was able to break the deadlock and it remained all square at the interval.
Shortly after resumption Chelsea showed why they are sitting at the top of the best league in the world. A great bit of play in midfield allowed Egyptian Mohamed Salah to setup Ivorian Drogba who netted goal number 160 for the Blues.
The previous meeting between the two sides ended in a 4-0 win for Chelsea in 2003, witnessed by Shrewsbury’s then rising star in Joe Hart. However, The Shrews had no interest in a repeat and substitute Mangan popped up in the box to smash home an equaliser shortly after coming on.
Mourinho could smell an upset so the manager brought on regular first team talents Willian and Nemanja Matic. The Brazilian, Willian was in on the act immediately and sent a cross into the box which left defender Grandison in two minds before he nodded past his own keeper to make it 1-2 in favour of Chelsea.
The visitors continued to toil under the constant pressure from Shrewsbury so Eden Hazard was brought on to help the side see out the final minutes. Mellon will undoubtedly be upset that his team failed to capitalise on a weakened Chelsea line-up but buoyed in the pursuit of promotion to League One after such a respectable performance.