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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Too bad, Chelsea

Chelsea's defensive problems gave Jose Mourinho a headache. His team dropped two Premiership points after being held at home against Reading.

It's important to say that in the absence of influential captain John Terry - who is sidelined with a back injury and could now require surgery - Chelsea have conceded six goals in their past three league games.

Maybe it is strange, but late winners against Everton and Wigan Athletic rescued 3-2 wins. Despite that, yesterday their luck deserted them as Michael Essien scored a comical own goal five minutes from time.

Striker Dider Drogba's 11th and 12th league goals of the season had looked like hoisting Chelsea ahead of leaders Manchester United for two hours but United are now four points clear after seeing off Wigan.

Now Mourinho, chasing a hat-trick of Premiership titles, said Terry's continuing back problem was becoming a concern. "I really have no idea when John Terry will be back, nobody has told me if he is going for surgery, if it will be three days, three weeks or three months," the coach said.

"The real big problem is when you lose more than one crucial player ... to lose Petr Cech and John is a huge problem for us. Normally Chelsea in three consecutive matches have three clean sheets but in the last three we have let in six goals."

It's fair to say that after a scrappy opening 35 minutes, the popular Drogba broke the deadlock when he muscled through to head in Frank Lampard's corner, but Reading were never out the game and it was no surprise when Leroy Lita stooped to head in Glen Little's 67th-minute cross.

In fact, Drogba restored Chelsea's lead five minutes later, powering in another header from a cross delivered by substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips. Again, though, Reading hit back. Kevin Doyle's low cross on 85 minutes was cleared by Ashley Cole straight into Essien and the ball flew past the helpless keeper Henrique Hilario.

Chelsea: Hilario, Geremi (A Cole 70), Paulo Ferreira, Carvalho, Bridge (Mikel 70),Kalou, Essien, Ballack, Lampard, Shevchenko (Wright-Phillips 58), Drogba. Subs not used: Hedman, Diarra.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Shorey, Little, Sidwell, Harper, Gunnarsson, Doyle,Lita. Subs not used: Federici, Hunt, Oster, Sodje, Ki-Hyeon.

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