An unsuprising end result, but perhaps a surprising level of commitment and passion shown by both the players and the fans given recent reports of a divided dressing room and stories that fans were turning up en masse to signal the end of the Pearce reign.
Again, for the first twenty minutes of the game (much like Blackburn) we had the equal of the game and perhaps looked more likely to go in front, but a rash challenge from Micah Richards on Solomon Kalou saw Lampard put Chelsea ahead and rarely did we look as if we could then get anything from the game.
There was plenty of effort, spirit and endeavour shown but it still remains that the first shot on target was Samaras's effort in injury time. Chelsea have taken a lot of stick in the papers today for their 'dour' approach but for me it was more a case of them getting their noses in front and then doing just enough to take the points.
I always felt they had (particularly upfront) more pace at their disposal, created more space and were more incisive than we were, although the effort can't be faulted and I though decent performances were shown by Distin, Dunne, Ball, Barton and Mpenza, whilst I liked the composure that Isaksson brought to the side.
However, there was still too many wayward passes and examples of poor control for us to have really threatened a Chelsea side who weren't at their best. Still, there were flashes of cohesion and creativity and it was pleasing to see the crowd getting behind the team (although not Pearce directly).
What will be more of an indicator if the players are behind Pearce and pulling for the cause is how they perform against Middlesbrough on Saturday, against a team who will have their eyes fixed on Monday's FA Cup replay against United. With a two week break following the game, any decision on Pearce (at least until the end of the season) would surely be made following the game.
If we are going to grab three vital points and earn a reprieve for Pearce, it will surely be then.
Man of the match:
Michael Ball played well again on the left (and has surely done enough to earn a longer deal), but I thought Richard Dunne shaded it. Drogba is top quality and Dunne kept the shackles on for the most part.
“People say our heads are down. But the players were
very buoyant before the game, and I don’t think you could put on a performance
like that if there were splits in the camp.
“We are under the microscope and
I am under the microscope. The one thing that will alleviate it is if we win a
game sooner rather than later.
“There are eight teams who could get
relegated, and we are in the mix. We have some tough games in the run-in but
make no mistake, the other teams have as well.
“We gave as good as we got
against Chelsea, and I have to harness this endeavour.” - Stuart Pearce
Guardian live blog