FINAL WHISTLE THOUGHTS: FINISHING STRONGLY

Roberto Di Matteo felt his side were worthy of all three points despite a prolonged scare from an impressive Reading side at Stamford Bridge.

We took an early lead through a Frank Lampard penalty after Eden Hazard was fouled inside the box, but the Royals hit back quickly with two goals in five minutes to take an unlikely lead, only for the Blues to regroup in the second half as Gary Cahill equalised, Fernando Torres equalised and Branislav Ivanovic swept home a killer fourth in injury time.

On his side’s performance

‘I think we are very pleased with six points after two games. I was very happy with the team performance for long periods of the game. We lost our flow after Reading scored their equaliser and second goal, but apart from that, very good, and we finished very strongly again.

‘Keeping in mind that we’ve played a game more than other teams, for us it’s good we’ve won our two opening games. Wigan away and this game against a promoted team was a tough game, as you could see tonight, and credit to Reading.

‘The way we started the game was very enjoyable. Our crowd went a bit quiet when Reading equalised but again at the end they pushed us on and showed how good they are.

‘I don’t know if we will stay at the top but we are taking it game by game and will enjoy tonight’s victory. Then tomorrow morning we will think about the next game.’

On our third goal, which looked offside

‘I haven’t seen it yet. I looked straight away at the linesman and he didn’t look in any doubt, so I cannot comment.’

On defensive weaknesses

‘The second goal was just a mistake and the first was a great goal. The defender was close to him but he got the header and it was a great goal.

‘We were very offensive in the second half and lost our balance a bit but had to take the risk.

‘I would like to think we are defensively quite good, we had a clean sheet on the first day, reading did well tonight but we’ve scored six goals in two games. We have to try and be solid to win more games.’

On David Luiz’s fitness

‘We expect David Luiz to be available for Saturday, it’s a minor knee issue.’

On Eden Hazard, who once again showed his creativity

‘He certainly had an impact on our team, and with Juan Mata as well he linked up very well. He is finding his feet very quickly.’

Reading manager Brian McDermott was pleased by his side’s performance, and admitted he was upset that our third goal was allowed to stand.

‘We didn’t deserve to lose the game. I’m gutted, the linesman has got the decision wrong for the third goal. My gut feeling was it was offside at the time, and it was clearly offside which is disappointing. It’s unfortunate.’

MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA 4 READING 2

Summary
It needed late goals from Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic to seal victory and make it two wins out of two after Chelsea overcame a first-half wobble that gave Reading a lead at the interval.

As at Wigan, the football at times oozed promise for the season to come with Eden Hazard again impressing. It was another foul on the Belgian that allowed Frank Lampard to give his side an early lead from the penalty spot as Chelsea dominated, but two goals in four minutes from the newly promoted side, the second helped in by a Petr Cech error, knocked Roberto Di Matteo’s side of its stride.

The manager made some positive changes in the second half and it was another England player, Gary Cahill, who put his name on the scoresheet to level the game as time began to run short.

In the end it was two tap-ins that decided the day, the first after a short-passing move, the second after a counter-attack.

Chelsea v Reading


Team news
Ramires had recovered from the illness that kept him out at Wigan so Ryan Bertrand made way with Juan Mata moving to the left. Eden Hazard again played in a more central role. David Luiz had a knee injury so Gary Cahill came in.

Reading left out weekend goalscorer Adam Le Fronde and played Pavel Pogrebnyak on his own up front with Danny Guthrie in behind. Jem Karacan and Gareth McClearly came into midfield.


First half
It was Eden Hazard rather than Branislav Ivanovic who had a chance to score inside two minutes on this occasion (although the Serbian had attacked even earlier in this game) but played through by a well-weighted Mata pass, the new signing dragged a left-foot shot wide of the right-hand post.

Chelsea v Reading

A sharp-looking Chelsea continued to find ways through the middle of the Reading team and when Ramires raced ahead onto an Ivanovic ball, he opted to cut inside centre-back Kaspers Gorkss which meant a left-foot shot from the Brazilian. That was saved.

Reading couldn’t get the ball. On 12 minutes there was the first flash from Torres, nutmegging Karakan to find a way into the area but as he was poised to shoot, Gorkss managed a sliding block.

On 16 minutes Hazard won his second penalty in a Chelsea shirt, this time teasing Chris Gunter with close control until the right-back lunged in. There were no complaints when the whistle blew. Lampard drilled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner for his 188th Chelsea goal.

Pavel Pogrebnyak may have been scoring just his first for his new club six minutes later but it was the goal of the game. McCleary was allowed to cross from the Reading right and the tall Russian guided a header from distance over the top of Cech who had no chance, unlike four minutes later when the newly-promoted visitors took the lead.

Although our keeper got his body well behind Guthrie’s low free-kick, he failed to take the energy out of the ball and it bounced off him and in. From a totally dominant position, the Blues were 2-1 behind and suddenly character was as important as the crisp passing of the opening minutes. Mikel had to dispossess a Reading attack inside the Chelsea area as the Blues were stretched again.

Terry headed a Mata free-kick over as the home side tried to wrestle the initiative back and Mikel did well to attack a tight space down the flank and pick out Hazard, whose shot from distance was off-target. But Reading had renewed belief and Cahill cleared well as Pogrebnyak threatened to get on the end of another cross. Pearce was worryingly close to heading a free-kick into Cech’s net just before half time.

In stoppage time, Hazard floated a cross towards Torres who though well-marked reached it but headed disappointingly wide.


Second half
Before two minutes were played Ivanovic speared a first-time shot over after Hazard and Torres ran at the Reading rearguard, and there the attempts on goal ended for the next 10 minutes although Chelsea were monopolising possession once more.

Oscar came on for Ramires with 56 minutes gone, the first change of the game, followed closely by the first booking which went to Reading midfielder Karacan for chopping Mata in the centre-circle.

Oscar, playing the centre with Hazard now left and Mata right, drilled in a shot but it was tame.

On 66 minutes, the new Brazilian and Hazard, who continued to draw fouls and looked the man-most-likely, combined through the centre. Torres took possession wide and when his cross was cleared, it fell to Mata to shoot but there was a Reading block.

Mikel was sacrificed for Sturridge with a quarter of the game to play, the England striker playing wide on the right, but the equaliser came from a defender. Cahill spotted a space opening in front of him and fairly demanded the ball.

Taking aim, his shot was low, hard and swerving but Federici should still have made a more convincing effort at keeping it out. The Reading keeper has not started this Premier League campaign at all well following a howler on Saturday.

Mata and Sturridge both scooped shots over as the Blues searched for a winner and Mata then shot low but wide.

There were 10 minutes remaining when the pressure finally told. Mata was this time at the fulcrum of the attack, spreading his pass out to Cole who as Torres held his run in an attempt to stay level with the ball, centred low into the six-yard box where our no.9 tapped it home. His had been a patchy second-half performance, but his league scoring was underway for the season.

Chelsea v Reading

Reading tried valiantly to rescue a point in the closing stages and with seconds left had a free-kick deflected just wide. Goalkeeper Federici came up for it but as Chelsea won the ball, we found the right man in Hazard to carry it the length of the pitch and give Ivanovic the chance for his second goal of the season.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Cole; Mikel (Sturridge 67), Lampard; Ramires (Oscar 57), Hazard, Mata (Meireles 84); Torres.
Unused subs Turnbull, Bertrand, Essien, Romeu.
Scorers Lampard pen 18,Cahill 68, Torres 80, Ivanovic 90+5.

Reading (4-4-1-1): Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte; McCleary (Robson-Kanu 85), Karacan (Le Fondre 71), Leigertwood, McAnuff (c); Guthrie; Pogrebnyak (Hunt 77).
Unused subs Tabb, Mariappa, McCarthy, Cummings.
Scorers Pogrebnyak 24, Guthrie 28.
Booked Karacan 57, Pogrebnyak 64.

Referee Lee Mason
Crowd 41,733

See the game from midnight on Chelsea TV.

TEAM NEWS: CHELSEA V READING

There are two changes to the side that beat Wigan.

Gary Cahill comes in for injured David Luiz and Ramires returns from illness with Ryan Bertrand making way. Juan Mata is expected to move to the left. Oscar is again on the bench.

Reading too make two changes. Jem Karacan comes into midfield with Hal Robson-Kanu making way. Striker Adam Le Fondre is dropped with Garath McCleary added to the team.

Chelsea are expected to line up in the following 4-2-3-1 formation:

1 Petr Cech
2 Branislav Ivanovic
24 Gary Cahill
26 John Terry (c)
3 Ashley Cole
12 John Mikel Obi
8 Frank Lampard
7 Ramires
17 Eden Hazard
10 Juan Mata
9 Fernando Torres

Substitutes: 22 Ross Turnbull, 34 Ryan Bertrand, 5 Michael Essien, 6 Oriol Romeu, 16 Raul Meireles, 11 Oscar, 23 Daniel Sturridge.

Reading are expected to line up in the following 4-5-1 formation:

Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte; McAnuff (c), Guthrie, Karacan, Leigertwood, McCleary; Pogrebnyak.

Subs: Tabb, Mariappa, Robson-Kanu, Hunt, McCarthy, Cummings, Le Fondre.

The referee is Lee Mason.

Follow the game via our Live Matches from 7.15pm.

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V READING – PART TWO

TACTICAL BRIEF
Tonight may well bring home debuts for new boys Eden Hazard and Oscar (pictured above), as Stamford Bridge hails the conquering heroes of Munich for the first time.

Key Battles
Chelsea’s strike force will have looked avariciously at Stoke’s opening goal on Saturday and Aussie keeper Adam Federici’s howler that created it. Reading’s shirt sponsor, the posh foodstore Waitrose, certainly don’t do giveaways as generous as that.

On the evidence of Sunday at Wigan, last season’s problem of starting games sluggishly appears to have been addressed by Roberto Di Matteo and co. However, just six shots on the Latics’ goal (Chelsea’s lowest tally in the league since September 2007) suggests there is plenty of scope for improvement. This is surely a game to test the visiting keeper’s confidence at will.

The Blues exposed Wigan’s fashionable 3-4-3 formation down the flanks but Reading play a more rigid 4-4-2, with veteran Ian Harte, still a threat from set-plays, and young Chris Gunter their defence-first full-backs. A possibly decisive factor will be how well former Newcastle grafter Danny Guthrie and Mikele Leigertwood (pictured below left) in central midfield cope with the quick feet and vision of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, the Chelsea playmakers already linking well in the final third.

Leigertwood

Wigan were not without their chances on Sunday, with free headers amid the Chelsea defence that might well have proved costly. Reading’s new signing from Stuttgart, Pavel Pobgrebnyak, impressed early on loan at our neighbours Fulham earlier this year. The tall, burly Russian target man started with five goals in three games at Craven Cottage before tailing off, and it was Reading who took the summer gamble with hard cash instead.

Sqaud news
This game comes too early for Marko Marin, the Germany winger having missed much of pre-season through a hamstring injury.

Roberto Di Matteo does have leather-lunged midfielder Ramires back again after the illness that prevented him participating in the opening match victory over Wigan.

Former Chelsea schoolboy striker Jason Roberts is suspended for Reading, and central midfielder Jem Karacan is still doubtful because of a leg injury.

Another regular in their Championship-winning campaign, winger Jimmy Kébé, could return to make his first Barclays Premier League start since May 2008.

CHELSEA STATS
The Blues have won nine of our last 11 games at Stamford Bridge with the goalless draw against Tottenham and a defeat to Papiss Cissé and Newcastle.

Our home record last term was 12 wins, three draws and four defeats.

Chelsea’s defeat at QPR last season was our only reverse in the last 67 games against newly promoted teams in over 11 years. We have won 55 of those matches.

2012/13 Premier League scorers
Ivanovic 1, Lampard 1 (pen).

League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 4
A home defeat: 1

MILESTONES
John Terry is due to play his 550th game for the club tonight. He needs one goal to reach 50 in all competitions for the Blues

If selected, Florent Malouda will make his 150th Premier League appearance and Juan Mata his 50th start tonight in all competitions

READING STATS
Formed
1871

Major trophies
None

Reading’s minor honours include the Full Members Cup in 1988 and the 2005/06 and 2011/12 Football League Championship as well as several lower division championships.

This is the Royals’ first away game in the top flight for over four years since their 4-0 win at Pride Park against Derby County.

In winning the Championship last term Reading had the best defensive record, keeping 20 clean sheets and conceding 41 goals in 46 games but they scored the fewest goals of any team in the top five – 69.

Their away record was 13 wins, three draws and seven defeats.

Manager Brian McDermott
Days in charge 983
Played 136
Won 67
Drawn 37
Lost 32

Pts Pos Division Level
2002/03 79 4th Division One 2
2003/04 70 9th Division One 2
2004/05 70 7th Championship 2
2005/06 106 1st Championship 2
2006/07 55 8th Premier League 1
2007/08 36 18th Premier League 1
2008/09 77 4th Championship 2
2009/10 63 9th Championship 2
2010/11 77 5th Championship 2
2011/12 89 1st Championship 2
Jul 14 AFC Wimbledon (a) W 7-0
Jul 17 Ebbsfleet (a) W 3-2
Jul 21 Quarteirense (Vilamoura) D 1-1
Jul 24 Sheffield Wed (Vilamoura) L 0-2
Jul 27 Olhanense (Vilamoura) D 1-1
Aug 4 Bournemouth (a) D 2-2
Aug 7 Brighton (a) D 1-1
Aug 11 Crystal Palace (h) W 2-0

 

PMB

2011/12 league scorers
Le Fondre 1 (pen)

League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 6
An away defeat: 0

SUMMER MOVES
Reading
Ins Danny Guthrie (Newcastle, free), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Stuttgart, free), Pierce Sweeney (Bray, usdisclosed), Nicky Shorey (West Brom, free), Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest, £2.5m), Adrian Mariappa (Watford, £2.5m), Garath McCleary (Nottingham Forest, free), Stuart Taylor (Manchester City, free).
Outs Mathieu Manget (FC Sion, undisclosed), Tomasz Cywka (Barnsley, free), Michail Antonio (Sheffield Wednesday, undisclosed), Michael Hector (Shrewsbury, loan), Angus MacDonald (AFC Wimbledon, loan), Joseph Mills (Burnley, loan), Karl Sheppard (Accrington Stanley, loan), Gozie Ugwu (Yeovil, loan), Brian Howard (released), Andy Griffin (released), Jack Mills (released), Mikkel Andersen (Portsmouth, loan), Jordan Obita (Portsmouth, loan).

Chelsea
Ins
Eden Hazard (Lille, undisclosed), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen, undisclosed), Thorgan Hazard (Lens, undisclosed), Oscar (Internacional, undisclosed)
Outs Didier Drogba (out of contract, now Shanghai Shenhua), Salomon Kalou (out of contract, now Lille), José Bosingwa (out of contract, now QPR), Marko Mitrovic (released, now Brescia)), Rhys Taylor (released, now Southend), Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburg, loan), Thibaut Courtois (Atlético Madrid, loan), Ulises Davila (Sabadell, loan), Kevin De Bruyne (Werder Bremen, loan), Matej Delac (Vitória Guimaräes, loan), Rohan Ince (Yeovil, loan), Tomas Kalas (Vitesse Arnham, loan), Milan Lalkovic (Vitória Guimaräes, loan), Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse Arnham, loan), Ben Gordon (Birmingham, loan), Romulu Lukaku (West Brom, loan), Sam Walker (Bristol Rovers, loan), Sam Hutchinson (Nottingham Forest, loan), Conor Clifford (Portsmouth, loan), Josh McEachran (Middlesbrough, loan)

THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Lee Mason was the official against Blackburn in our last home game in May. He hasn’t refereed Reading for over two and a half years. Chelsea have won eight and drawn four of the 12 games he has officiated.

OTHERWISE ENGAGED
Jason Roberts is suspended for Reading after a red card at the end of last season.

TERRY: COMING HOME

The Blues will be hoping to make it two successive victories when Reading visit Stamford Bridge later tonight, our first home game since being crowned European champions, and John Terry knows from past experience the importance of getting off to a good start if we are to stand any chance of recapturing the Barclays Premier League title.

An impressive result away at Wigan Athletic on Sunday ensured a winning start to the new campaign, and the skipper, in line to make his 550th appearance for the club tonight, was delighted with the way we successfully navigated what has, in the past, been a difficult fixture.

‘I thought it was a great win. Usually we go up there around late December time, or it’s a night game in the pouring rain and the pitch has gone,’ he tells the official Chelsea website.

‘The key factor was that the pitch was in mint condition. We couldn’t have asked for a better start with the two early goals, the first one from Iva [Branislav Ivanovic], and then the second one Eden [Hazard] does well to win the penalty and Lamps [Frank Lampard] steps up to more or less kill the game.

‘You want to keep it tight then because if you let them back in, at 2-1 in front of their own fans, as they showed when we played them last season, they’re capable of pulling it back.’

The opening set of fixtures produced some surprising results, with the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur all losing, and Arsenal managing only a home draw.

Understandably, Terry is wary of reading too much into the first weekend, although he acknowledged that newly-promoted teams, such as tonight’s opponents, are more than capable of making life difficult for those sides expected to be challenging at the top of the table.

‘It was an interesting one, but I don’t think you can take too much from the first few weeks,’ says Terry, now in his ninth full season as Chelsea captain. ‘Looking at the Manchester City game, people will probably have expected them to turn Southampton over easily, but sometimes these teams come up and show a bit of something that surprises teams.

‘We saw that with Southampton and, in a way, it’s a good thing because it ensures we have our backs up and we’re ready for it.

‘We’re certainly not underestimating Reading. Being at home, we obviously want to come away with three points, but we realise it will be tough. Whether they come and play on the counter-attack, which they look to do quite a bit, or stay solid throughout, we’ll be ready for both approaches.

‘They will probably have looked at this game and thought if they can get a point they’ll be delighted. In the past, teams have come and sat back and made it difficult for us, but the new boys [Hazard and Oscar] looked sharp at the weekend and hopefully they can give us that new dimension.’

Starting the season strongly, as we know only too well, can often have a significant bearing on the destination of the Premier League trophy when the season reaches its climax.

The foundations for our back-to-back triumphs of 2005 and 2006, as well as our 2010 success, were laid early on in those respective seasons when we flew out of the blocks, making life very difficult for those sides in pursuit.

Last season we paid the price for a mixed set of results over the course of the first couple of months, and Terry admits that we can’t allow that to happen again, particularly given the levels of consistency shown by both Manchester City and Manchester United in recent times.

‘You definitely don’t want to fall behind, which is what happened last season,’ he explains. ‘Once you’ve fallen six or seven points behind, you can’t see the likes of Man City losing very often, and the same goes for United and Arsenal.

‘You look at the strength-in-depth of squads such as ours and the two Manchester clubs, we probably have the three biggest squads, and that could be a key factor.

‘Every year there’s always a surprise package, like Newcastle were last season, so it’s a tough start, but it would be nice to get nine points on the board before we play in Monaco.

‘With two home games in the space of four days, it’s so important we pick up maximum points.’