February 21 2012
They spoke of evolution. They even spoke of a revolution. For me, simply, it was a mass cull. No Super Frank, no Michael Essien, no Ashley Cole. JT had already been ruled out for up to eight weeks due to his knee injury and will undergo surgery - his predicament however is another story.
For a game of such significance, AvB's decisions were simply scandalous and such decisions begs the question, IS AVB LOOKING TO BE SACKED?
Ramires and Meireles were drafted in as defensive midfielders and Jose Bosingwa, a right-footed right-back, switched across to the left.
Ten minutes later Cole came on as Bosingwa 'did' his hamstring.
Petr Cech was the busiest of the two goalkeepers in the opening stages as Napoli, backed by a cauldron of a crowd, looked to press home an early advantage and Cech made a couple of decent saves to deny Cavani and then Maggio.
But it was Chelsea who took the lead when Mata converted a mishit clearance from Napoli's skipper Cannavaro and slotted home to the right of the diving De Sanctis.
The goal stunned and silenced the partisan home support and for the first time the travelling Blues could be heard.
Chelsea's joy only lasted eleven minutes when the defensive midfield pairing of Meireles and Ramires allowed Lavezzi (Napoli's best player on the night) to turn and hit a curler from outside the box, which Cechie boy did well to get a touch, to equalise.
More defensive failings allowed Cavani in, right on half-time to chest in Napoli's 2nd at the far post.
The second-half continued in the same vain as the first.
End-to-end with both teams looking like they would score with every attack.
Chelsea though with all their possession and domination suffered dearly, when Liability Luiz, instead of clearing into Row Z, attempted a side flick clearance but the ball rebounded off Cavani who swept the ball across to the on rushing Lavezzi for him to score his 2nd of the night and Napoli's third.
The night could have got a lot worse for Chelsea as Napoli nearly scored a fourth, but Cole cleared off the line from a Maggio effort.
In fairness to AvB and Chelsea, the ball didn't quite run for the Blues in the most important areas, but having said that, Chelsea were a beaten side even before the first whistle blew.
Napoli: De Sanctis, Campagnaro, Cannavaro (c), Aronica, Maggio, Inler, Gargano, Zuniga, Hamsik (Pandev 81), Lavezzi (Dzemaili 73), Cavani
Goals: Lavezzi 37, 64, Cavani 45
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Bosingwa (Cole 10), Ramires, Meireles (Essien 69), Sturridge, Mata, Malouda (Lampard 69), Drogba
Goal: Mata 26
Booked: Meireles 40, Cahill 55
NEXT UP: Bolton (H), Saturday 25/2/12, K.O.3pm