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Di Matteo vents his anger as Chelsea stumble again

Sunday, 18 November 2012 - 12:54pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Roberto Di Matteo was at the centre of a stormy inquest after his side's fourth successive Premier League match without a win.

Roberto Di Matteo was at the centre of a stormy inquest after his side's fourth successive Premier League match without a win.

Several raised voices were heard coming from the Chelsea dressing room in the aftermath of this defeat and the BBC's Pat Murphy claimed via Twitter that Di Matteo himself had been overheard berating his players, shouting at them: "Call yourselves a Champions League winners' side and you can't beat them."

Di Matteo may have steered the club to that Champions League triumph but, like his predecessors, he seems unable to find a solution to Chelsea's annual winter wobble.

For the past five seasons, the heat gets cranked up when the weather turns colder and Di Matteo is now the latest incumbent to endure the seasonal malaise that ultimately forced the eventual dismissals of Andre Villas-Boas, Carlo Ancelotti and Luiz Felipe Scolari.

It was a miserable return to the Hawthorns for Di Matteo as Peter Odemwingie lifted West Bromwich Albion to within a point of their former manager's team on another absorbing afternoon in the Black Country.

After this latest win, Steve Clarke is running out of ways to dampen growing expectations. A record of six wins from seven home games has been bettered only by Manchester City.

Clarke spent nearly two decades as a player and coach at Stamford Bridge before opting to leave what he described as "the comfort zone" and this victory will only make life a little uneasier for Di Matteo.

Only three weeks ago he was top of the league after seven wins from the opening eight games but this mini-crisis only serves to increase the pressure. The abysmal performance of Fernando Torres will also be scrutinised, with the 50 million pounds striker virtually anonymous before he was put out of his misery midway through the second half.

It was almost an hour after the game before Di Matteo faced the press. He said: "We've been in this position before where November is a bad month for our club and it seems to be the same again.

"The pressure is always there, it doesn't help when you don't win games. We are disappointed with where we are in this moment and maybe it's time to have a look at it and changes things, like the set-up of the team and maybe sacrifice some attacking options to be more solid.

"It's a concern for us and for some unknown reason in November we have this dip. We've got two massive games coming up [Juventus and Manchester City] but we've got the players and experience.

"This is a ground where we found it difficult last season and this time again. Our defending was very poor today."

It does not promise to get any easier for Di Matteo, with a potentially pivotal trip to Turin in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

After losing most of his players to internationals in midweek, Di Matteo opted to rest Ashley Cole, Juan Mata, Ramires, Oscar and Branislav Ivanovic here but no matter the personnel Chelsea continue to display an alarming propensity to concede soft goals.

Shortly after Ryan Bertrand's shot was cleared off the line by Liam Ridgewell, the visitors were behind after 10 minutes, following further suspect defending from David Luiz. The Brazilian continues to polarise opinion and was at fault as he inexplicably lost Shane Long, who headed in James Morrison's cross at the far post.

It was a bittersweet moment for Long, whose grandmother died last week, and he lifted his shirt to reveal the words 'RIP Nan'. After the game he flew to Ireland to attend the funeral.

Rather against the run of play, Chelsea levelled six minutes before half-time when Cesar Azpilicueta's cross found Eden Hazard at the back post and his header beat Boaz Myhill after taking a cruel deflection off Billy Jones.

The momentum appeared to have shifted towards Chelsea and Daniel Sturridge tested Myhill three minutes into the second period but Albion regained the lead through Odemwingie.

Clarke will lose Odemwingie in January when he reports for the Africa Cup of Nations and the Nigerian underlined his importance once again by heading in Long's cross as Chelsea's defence dithered.

Di Matteo introduced Mata and Oscar just after the hour - with Torres replaced after another completely ineffectual afternoon - and Chelsea immediately became more threatening.

Claudio Yacob and Albion were both fortunate to escape punishment when the Argentine midfielder brought down Victor Moses in the area before Sturridge forced another save from Myhill after he was found by Mata's sublime chipped pass.

Myhill, who was signed at Albion by Di Matteo and was only playing due to Ben Foster's groin injury, excelled again to deny Sturridge and the Chelsea striker then wasted a glorious chance three minutes from time as Albion clung on for another deserved scalp on home turf.

Can they stay in the top four? Clarke is already proving adept with the straight bat.

"There is a feel-good factor here. Our job is to keep our feet on the ground but if the supporters want to dream they can," he said.

"The club is in a good moment but I don't want to look that far ahead. This was a great three points for us and there was a little bit of everything in it for us.

"I think it would be wrong to focus on the players Chelsea left out, my players should get all the credit."
 


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