League Cup Final review: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

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Match reports

The Times, Matt Dickinson: “John Terry was concussed, the rest of us were just stunned by a Carling Cup final yesterday that, if it is the last showpiece match at the Millennium Stadium, will not be quickly forgotten. While the Chelsea captain needed reviving, everyone else required calming down.”

The Independent, Glenn Moore: “The Carling Cup final … threatened to be overshadowed by something no one would desire, a serious injury. In the 57th minute John Terry swallowed his tongue and turned blue after being accidentally kicked in the throat by Abou Diaby attempting a header.”

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Arsenal, all feline grace and youthful ambition, were the better team, moving the ball around exquisitely at times, particularly when Theo Walcott swept them ahead. Chelsea, though, boasted the experience, the power and the expertise of three stalwart performers, Petr Cech, Ricardo Carvalho and Didier Drogba.”

The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “Adversity … is stimulating for Chelsea. Ricardo Carvalho, at fault for the opener though he was, epitomised that trait in his positioning and immaculate tackling. Against the fluently rampant Arsenal of the first half, the centre-back was destined for acclaim or notoriety. By the close the Chelsea supporters cherished him more than ever.”

Official Chelsea FC Website, Neil Barnett: “The final whistle went after 12 minutes of stoppage time. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea has now won five trophies in two-and-a-half years.”

The goals

11′ Walcott 0-1
20′ Drogba 1-1
84′ Drogba 2-1

The good

  1. Another trophy for Jose Mourinho. We didn’t play that well, Arsenal’s youngsters made us look ordinary at times, but Mourinho has instilled a winning mentality that, even after we went behind to a great Theo Walcott goal you felt we would still win. Or maybe that was just me? Mourinho has now won a trophy in all three of his seasons at Chelsea. But is it enough?
  2. Didier Drogba. Scored his 27th (definitely onside despite Sky and Arsene Wenger’s protestations to the contrary) and 28th goal of the season. What more do you need to know? Imperious in attack and defence and proved Philip Senderos’ nemesis once again.
  3. Ricardo Carvalho and Lassana Diarra. Carvalho was outstanding, particularly in the first half. An unsung hero. I continue to be impressed by Diarra – his composure and ball control belie his youth and relative inexperience. Chelsea need to tie him to a long-term deal as soon as possible.
  4. Petr Cech. Different class. We wouldn’t have won without him. Enough said.
  5. Arjen Robben. Replaced Claude Makelele at half time and made the difference. Supplied a perfect cross for Drogba to score the winner.
  6. The referee. Howard Webb had a pretty good game, even the decision to send off Emmanuel Adebayor was correct – the Togo international apparently hit Frank Lampard on the head twice. Emmanuel Eboue should also have been sent off for punching Wayne Bridge. Whether John Obi Mikel deserved to be sent off is a moot point; he committed a silly foul on Kolo Toure but was then attacked by the Ivorian.
  7. Arsenal and England physio Gary Lewin. He was the first to react to John Terry’s horrible head injury. Terry was seen hugging and thanking Lewin on his return from hospital.

The bad

  1. The sickening injury to John Terry. He was taken to hospital but quickly recovered and took part in the celebrations, which says it all really. Words fail me. Surely he will have to sit out a handful of games?
  2. Our first half performance. Arsenal played us off the park. All credit to Wenger and his so-called reserves, but you have to wonder why we were so poor. Michael Ballack started slowly (great pass for Drogba’s first) again and Terry didn’t look fully fit. We picked up in the second half and probably should have won it by a couple of goals – Lampard and Andriy Shevchenko were unfortunate to see their rasping shots hit the same part of Manuel Almunia’s crossbar.
  3. The melee in injury time. Nothing more than handbags really, although listening to that righteous buffoon Alan Green on Radio Five Live you would think that the players were committing grievous bodily harm on one another. Toure’s ridiculous reaction to Mikel’s foul sparked the incident.
  4. Cesc Fabregas. A very talented but wholly dislikeable player. Feigned an elbow in the face in an effort to get Robben sent off and played a key role in escalating the end of match fracas.
  5. Sky’s coverage. Never shy in hiding their dislike of Chelsea, yesterday’s coverage and commentary took that dislike to another level. Andy Gray excelled himself and you can only guess at the discomfort he suffers when having to express an “objective” view of yet another Drogba goal. The bloke is an arsehole.

Man of the Match

It has to go to Didier Drogba. But Petr Cech and Ricardo Carvalho deserve a swig or two from the Ivorian’s bottle of champagne.

Final thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed the game, it had everything you could ask for: great football, great drama, and a mass brawl, spoilt only by Sky’s coverage. Much is sure to be made of the scuffle at the end (as it will of the ultimately harmless act of lobbing celery at a deserving Fabregas), but that shouldn’t be allowed to detract from Mourinho’s achievement of winning his fourth major trophy with Chelsea on a day when he had everything to lose. Despite his record many still believe he’s now in the same unenviable position as Claudio Ranieri, in that he’s a “dead man walking” because Roman Abramovich wants him out. Only time will tell.

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