Belfast Telegraph

Neil Taylor's gift lifts misfiring Chelsea

By James Corrigan

Swansea City 1-1 Chelsea 1: Chelsea discovered what Arsenal and so many other Premier League teams already knew. Swansea City at home are a tough proposition who are anything but coy in taking it to their affluent visitors. Andre Villas-Boas can thank a huge deflection for sparing his side last night.

The points seemed lost when, in the second minute of injury time, Jose Bosingwa's cross was turned into the net by the home defender Neil Taylor. For their second half, Chelsea may have been deserving of a point, but it must be suspected Roman Abramovich thinks his richly assembled squad should be worthy of rather more than parity with Swansea.

The XI which Brendan Rodgers fielded last night cost £7.5m. That is roughly a seventh of what Chelsea paid for one man. Fernando Torres was not the only multi-millionaire who played well below his price tag here – Ashley Cole was having a bad night even before his late red card – but the Spaniard's latest round of blanks did highlight his continued inadequacy. The last Premier League team Torres scored against was Swansea – in September.

As if to ram home the point about value for money, Scott Sinclair was almost the home hero. Eighteen months ago, Chelsea happened to allow the 22-year-old to join Swansea for £1.5m. At least Sinclair had the good grace not to celebrate his fine volley. Indeed, he even raised his arm to apologise to the Chelsea support.

Despite the late equaliser, Arsenal and Newcastle can close the gap to three points tonight in this increasingly fraught race for fourth. John Terry's presence is plainly required. The captain, whose case will go to court this morning, was missing with a knee injury and Chelsea's defence was a mess.

Swansea carved enough opportunities to take the advantage before the 39th minute. But for Branislav Ivanovic's intervention in the eight minute, Danny Graham would have turned in Steven Caulker's flick down. The striker probably should have anyway.

Apart from a few Daniel Sturridge attempts, the first on 13 minutes which blazed past the post, Chelsea did not have much to show for their inconsiderable first-half efforts. Expectant cries did emerge from their dugout when Taylor flew in on Sturridge and the Welsh full-back was fortunate only to see yellow. Obviously a dismissal would have changed the entire tone of the game, but then Florent Malouda was later also to risk expulsion with a studs-up tackle on Leon Britton.

For the opening, Bosingwa tamely nodded out a Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick and from the edge of the area Sinclair showed the balance of a gymnast to swivel before producing a wonderfully arched shot into the top corner of the net.

Chelsea came out after the break in determined fashion, but Swansea soaked it up. Villas-Boas had seen enough of Oriol Romeu in the middle and his replacement, Michael Essien, almost made an immediate impact with a 35-yarder which flew narrowly over. Bosingwa also watched in despair as his own pile-driver met a similar fate.

As the chances evaporated so too did their cool. Cole rightly saw red for his second yellow, a dreadful foul on Nathan Dyer, and as he stormed to the dressing room their gloom seemed sealed. But then Bosingwa let fly and poor Taylor unwittingly did the rest.

Match Facts

Substitutes: Swansea Agustien 6 (Sigurdsson, 67), Moore (Sinclair ,77). Chelsea Essien 6 (Romeu, 65), Lukaku (Malouda, 80).

Booked: Swansea Taylor, Rangel. Chelsea Cole , Malouda, Meireles. Sent off: Chelsea Cole (86).

Man of the match Williams. Match rating 7/10. Possession: Swansea 42% Chelsea 58%.

Attempts on target: Swansea 5 Chelsea 10.

Referee A Marriner (West Midlands). Attendance 20,526.

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