Blues drop two points to draw 1-1 after taking lead against lowly Forest at the City Ground
By Paul Lagan at City Ground
Nottingham Forest 1 v Chelsea 1
Will the real Chelsea please stand up?
In the first half, the west Londoners were precise in their passing, confident that their build-up play would reap dividends - it did as Nottingham Forest were by and large outclassed while only conceding a single goal - a volley from Raheem Sterling.
The second half saw an almost repeat of the performance put in against Bournemouth at the Bridge last week. Luckily for the Blues they were 2-0 up at that time.
At the City Ground, they conceded an early second half goal and retreated into their shells and looked set to blow the whole three points.
Intervention by head coach Graham Potter by the use of his substitutes stemmed the tide and a semblance of control was restored, but not enough to nab a winner although substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did have a good chance.
A point a piece was the cliched ‘deserved’ result, but the home side couldn’t believe their luck to have taken a point, while the away support will be worried about the possibility of drifting into mid-table obstrurity - unthinkable just a year ago.
While both sides were lively in the opening exchanges, neither carved out a serious chance on goal, until the 10th minute when a quick break from the home side saw Brennan Johnson break free.
He raced into the Chelsea penalty area, and left fly with a smart left-footer.
Thankfully for the visitors, Kepa kept his cool, and made a double block to prevent the Blues going a goal down.
Thiago Silva was on hand, or should that on feet to block in-running Morgan Gibbs-White’s goal-bound effort on 15 minutes as Forest went for the jugular.
Then incredibly Chelsea took the lead.
A regulation left byline cross into the Forest box by Christian Pulisic saw the ball inadvertently flick off the boot of Willy Boly. The ball looped onto the crossbar, where Raheem Sterling was waiting, surprised as the rest of the players and crowd and smashed home a volley from close range.
The rest of the half saw a shocked Forest hold their final third as best as possible as the Blues tried to find an open space behind.
At the start of the second half, Forest showed greater desire to take a chance and it fell invitenly to Johnson again, this time on the left as he outpaced Marc Curcuella. But as Silva came to block the square pass, it forced the winger to try a shot - he did and Kepa was equal to it and parried the danger away.
Another brilliant attack by Forest on 55 minutes saw Gibbs-White, on the edge of the Chelsea area thump a venomous right-footed half volley which smacked the crossbar but failed to go over the goal line.
With the pressure piling up on the west Londoners, Potter decided to make a change - on came Mateo Kovacic and off went largely ineffectual Denis Zakaria on 61 minutes.
But it had no effect as the home side, from a corner on 63 minutes saw the ball drop to the boot of ex-Spurs defender Serge Aurier.
He chested the ball down and volleyed home like a top striker to level the score.
Potter then opted on more subs, Hakim Ziyech, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Connor Gallagher entered the fray on 70 minutes at the expense of Jorginho, Sterling, and Mason Mount.
It stemed the tide and the Blues should have scored with 10 minutes on the clock. A regulation inward swinging cross by Ziyech, on the right saw the ball drop for Aubameyang at the far post. But the ex-Arsenal striker missed his cue and the ball.
Potter’s next replacement saw Carney Chukwuemeka on for Pulisic with four minutes remaining.
Did he have an touch, did it matter? No, and the game drifted to a 1-1 draw.
Teams: Chelsea, Kepa, Jorginho, Silva, Pulisic, Sterling, Mount, Zakaria, Koulibaly, Azpilicueta, Havertz, Cucurella
Subs: Bettinelli, Kovacic, Aubameyang, Chalobah, Ziyech , Gallagher, Chukwuemeka, Hutchinson, Hall
Forest: Henderson, Wprrall, Mngala, Awoniyi, Gibbs-White, Johnson, Yates, Freulier, Aurier, Boly, Lodi
Subs, Hennessey, Cook, Williams, Colback, O’Brien, Toffolo, Sturridge, Dennis, McKenna
Referee: Peter Banks