Brdige Banter: Chelsea must sharpen up for cup
Chelsea managed four points out of six over Easter and, towards the end of Monday night’s west London derby, looked like they could do with a holiday.
But there’s no time to relax as Sunday evening’s Wembley date with Spurs looms.
Even a flurry of late substitutions at Craven Cottage couldn’t revive the flagging strength levels, and when Fulham levelled with eight minutes remaining, it was the least they deserved.
The Blues began the weekend with a fortunate home win against Wigan; fortunate because both Chelsea’s goals in the 2-1 win appeared offside.
Worryingly, the players seemed distracted and lacking in zip, rather than eagerly building up to an FA Cup semi and two games against Barcelona.
The first half was so boring the crowd began cheering a pigeon, which decided to prowl, undisturbed, around the Wigan six-yard box.
Roman Abramovich was missing from his usual seat. By the interval, many in the 40,651-strong crowd wished they were too.
‘Here for the pigeon, you’re only here for the pigeon,’ sang the Chelsea choir, with the biggest cheer reserved for the bird taking flight during a rare penalty-box flurry and landing near the corner flag, where it strutted proudly about, enjoying the acclaim as it pecked at the Stamford Bridge turf.
Branislav Ivanovic scored first, with Juan Mata’s late winner cancelling out Wigan’s equaliser.
At the Cottage on Monday night, the recent hosepipe ban was marked with a continuous downpour.
Frank Lampard’s penalty at the end of 45 minutes looked to have settled it. Chelsea clung on, rather than pressing Fulham in the second half, and only showed signs of wanting another goal after the Whites had equalised through Clint Dempsey.
Bringing Didier Drogba on in the dying minutes proved a final futile attempt to regain the advantage.
Chelsea have a week to top up their energy levels. The only consolation is that Tottenham seem to be suffering similar fatigue.