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Turnbull blunder gives Blues the Ajax in Amsterdam

Chelsea 1-3 Ajax 2010

Written by Joe Carroll.

A Chelsea side made up largely of youth players could not do enough to prevent defeat at the hands of Dutch giants Ajax yesterday, succumbing to a 3-1 loss.

Chelsea fielded a less than understrength side at the Amsterdam ArenA with the likes of Ross Turnbull, Daniel Sturridge and Patrick van Aanholt all getting a run out.  Whilst coach Carlo Ancelotti did start two senior players in John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien, defeat could not be helped against a near full strength Ajax side who are just one week away from beginning their Champions League campaign.

The fresh looking Chelsea side were up against it early on in this game and fell behind after 6 minutes to the delight of the home crowd and to the dismay of Chelsea’s Dutch born defender Jeffrey Bruma.  A Christian Eriksen cross met the young Bruma’s head and deflected past ‘keeper Turnbull- not the start the 19 year old would have been planning on the return to his homeland.

Chelsea responded in a positive manner though, and their passing and quick movement was undone only by their own below par finishing.  Better to clear the clutter from their scoring boots in these meaningless friendly games than in the Premier League curtain raiser on 14th of August.  Chelsea’s persistence paid off however when on 25 minutes an old head had a hand in setting up young striker Sturridge for the equaliser.

Mikel found Franco di Santo who did well to evade the challenges of the Ajax rearguard.  The Argentinian managed to get the ball to Strurridge who fired home with a first time effort, beating Holland’s World Cup ‘keeper Maarten Stekelenburg.  What should have given the tourists the confidence and adventure to go on and further take this game to Ajax in fact had the adverse effect.

Chelsea were level for no more than a minute after a calamitous moment from ‘keeper Turnbull ensured that the hard work undertaken by his team mates was undone instantly.  Ancelotti will be disappointed that it took nothing more than an Ajax goal kick to undo the Blues; Turnbull, sliding to collect Stekelenburg’s punt let the ball squeeze underneath him giving Siem de Jong the simplest of tap ins.

The unfortunate incident meant the Blues went in at half time a goal behind in a game in which they could easily have been winning.  Inevitably, boss Ancelotti made three changes at half time, one of those bringing a days end to that of ‘keeper Turnbull who will prefer to forget this game sooner rather than later.  Hilario replaced the young stopper whilst Scott Sinclair and Nathaniel Chalobah entered the fray for Billy Clifford and Josh McEachran respectively.

Sadly the second half passed largely without incident, the only one of notability among a barrage of substitutions from both sides being Ajax’s third and final goal.  The young Chelsea defence had so far stood up to the challenge of Martin Jol’s side, with Rohan Ince particularly impressing.  However they were undone late on when Ajax substitutes Hyun Jun Suk and Daley Blind combined to put the result beyond any doubt, the former tucking away a Blind cross at the back post.

Of course at this stage of pre season the result is not in anyway paramount and it is suspected that Ancelotti won’t be too displeased with the way things went in Amsterdam.  The encounter with last season’s Eredivisie runners up gave youth the opportunity to show the Italian what talent he has at his disposal should his senior players go missing this season.  The likes of Sturridge, Ince and di Santo will have done themselves no harm in their attempt to force themselves into the plans of their coach.

By the same token it was encouraging to see long term absentees Mikel and Essien come through the match unscathed, and Blues fans alike will hope they are used in a similar fashion in Chelsea’s upcoming friendly fixtures to ensure that they are fit and fighting for the Premier League kick off.

Whilst it was a shame the Blues could not keep their winning ways intact after their last outing at Crystal Palace, the game in Amsterdam was a necessary and important step towards a fit, healthy and injury free squad that will soon be boosted by the return of it’s World Cup stars.  Lets just hope those blunders are ironed out in the auditions before the show begins at the Bridge on August 14th.

Team Line Ups

Chelsea: Turnbull (Hilario), B. Clifford (Chalobah), Bruma, Bertrand, van Aanholt (Ince), Mikel (C. Clifford), Essien (Cork), Matic, McEachran (Sinclair), Sturridge, di Santo (Lalkovic)

Ajax: Stekelenburg, Oleguer (Blind), Alderweireld, Vertonghen (capt), Anita (Emanuelson), Enoh (Bonevacia), Lindgren, Sarpong, Eriksen (De Zeeuw), Zeegelaar, De Jong

What did you make of Chelsea’s defeat in Amsterdam?…How important was Michael Essien’s return to the Chelsea fold?…What are of the team do you think needs strengthening?…please leave your comments below…

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