Jose Mourinho branded Arsene Wenger a “specialist in failure” on Friday, seated in the press room at Cobham. If Mourinho had managed a win here, he would have completed a hat-trick over Manuel Pellegrini, who could then have been branded a specialist in succumbing to Jose’s managerial prowess and mind games, having already been defeated on seven occasions. However, with the war of words in the press rooms heating up, Pellegrini, aided by a lethargic Chelsea performance, conducted his talking on the pitch to secure only his second career victory over Mourinho in nine attempts.
Chelsea one, Stoke nil is a score-line which refuses to tell the full story. You would be forgiven for assuming it was a close, tight encounter, but that was not the case. The narrow score-line came as a consequence of our profusion in front of goal as we squandered many promising openings. However, a touch of class from Oscar, who scored a spectacular free-kick and produced a commendable all-round display, was enough to book a fifth round tie with Manchester City as our love affair with the FA Cup continued.
We have been crowned FA Cup champions four times in the last seven editions of the world’s greatest cup competition. In total, we have lifted the planet’s oldest existing football competition eight times, two behind Arsenal with 10 triumphs and three behind Manchester United with 11, despite having absurdly not won the cup in the last 10 years, 11 now after their disappointing defeat to Swansea on Sunday. It is fair to say Wembley has become something of our second home as we always seem to go far in the cup. Another potential Wembley date began at the iPro Stadium with a convincing two goal victory over Premier League promotion hopefuls Derby County to progress into the fourth round.
It is perhaps only the TEFL teachers and students of language amongst us who could glean any scintilla of satisfaction from Sunday’s events.
I have little experience of teaching English as a foreign language. One college summer holiday teaching Spanish youths, having unwittingly stumbled into the employ of Opus Dei, (oh strange days indeed), followed by being on the cusp of heading to Turin as a TEFL teacher a few years later.
Last time we caught sight of Manchesterford United in the league, we were unbeaten and four points ahead of them. At the end of an ugly afternoon we still had a point in hand, but since then they’ve disappeared over the horizon with a turn of speed that suggests their collective arse was on fire.
The Guardian, Daniel Taylor: “It will probably register as the most satisfying result of Rafael Benítez’s short and difficult time in office and not just because it was possibly the first time he was spared the condemnation of Chelsea’s supporters. His team can look forward to an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City and, after all the personal indignities Benítez has suffered, he will probably not care too much that it was such a scruffy game to get them to Wembley.”
A Sunday Soujourn in Salford, South Louisiana and err, Romford
There is a theme running through so many cinematic genres; the cop thriller, the horror movie, the spy movie, to quote just three examples, where the “baddie” finally has the hero within his grasp and ultimate victory beckons. And yet the evil genius, who in some cases has built whole empires of evil, who has meticulously planned some astonishing, evil feat of criminal activity or worse still a series of evil, horrifying, toe curling, sadistic murders, all of which are typified by an evil attention to the smallest detail and subtleties of timing, somehow feels the need to pause and soliloquise about their motives, their hatred for the hero, the reasons for their maladjusted behaviour, their dysfunctional relationship with their mother, you name it, you’ve all watched ‘em. They just have to ramble on. And in that pause, that hesitation, that unfathomable and uncharacteristic hiatus between opportunity and action, all is lost.
Disillusionment and apathy abound. There is a distinct lack of vision, plan or grand scheme at the club. We are simply going through the motions, and we are no longer doing it in style. This draining feeling of jadedness is, of course, nothing new. We’ve been here before. But when disillusionment has reached critical mass – a breaking point – fortunes usually changed for the better. Sure, back to back victories have papered over the cracks and carefully disguised mafia-like inner workings, but we should be putting four past Wigan at home and dispatching Sparta Prague in the round of 32 of Europe’s Coca-Cola league with relative ease.
I woke gently at 8:30am to a warm, sunny Sunday morning in Britain after the big freeze of the previous few weeks. A day when Britain decides to finally step out of the house en masse to descend upon shopping malls, supermarkets and Sunday markets to the collective sighs of relief from retail giants and minnows facing the ugly prospect of a triple-dip recession as a pre-cursor to the inevitable coalition government cries of it’s a quadruple/quintuple dip recession. All of course caused by the endlessly bleated excuse of ‘the previous mob left us with a huge deficit’ which we all contributed to by just trying to better ourselves.
The Harder They Come, The Harder They Fall
It is difficult to credit now, but there was a time when Chelsea winning the FA Cup was deemed so unlikely, it provided the comic material for a popular song written circa 1933. “On the Day That Chelsea Went and Won the Cup” (sung by Norman Long) describes ever more unlikely scenarios coming true purely because the world has been stood on its head by Chelsea winning the FA Cup. The fact that Chelsea were a team who’d spent most of their life in the top division and should have been well capable of winning such an important trophy only made the song more pointed.
I will start by saying that my views are invariably coloured by having grown up in Tottenham and being related to a number of Spurs fans as well as counting some among my closest friends. These days I rarely take the deep joy that is afforded most Chelsea fans when we discomfit them. Like an Aintree vet, destroying Spurs is something I see as necessary but unpalatable, so this report may be too restrained for some tastes. (And it’s interesting to note how the term “destroy”, which was once the standard way of referring to putting down injured race horses seems to be disappearing from the racing lexicon. Not good for the marketing I presume.)
I haven’t seen us play better this season than we did on Wednesday night against Napoli. Second half every single player did well – even Malouda and Bosingwa. For me, however, the match was really won by Drogba. He was back to his infuriating best: one moment monstering their central defenders, the next scoring with a diving header, and the next falling down clutching his face looking for free kicks. To win 4-1 against a very good Napoli side and to play for two hours with that intensity makes me proud to be a Chelsea fan.
chelseaoffside: Chelsea XI v. Birmingham: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Bertrand, Mikel, Ramires, Meireles, Kalou, Torres, Mata.
chelseaoffside: Chelsea bench v. Birmingham: Hilario, Terry, Essien, Lampard, Drogba, Lukaku, Sturridge.
ChelseaChadder: Surprised to see John Terry on the bench for today’s game. I thought he was out for a month.
(title borrowed from The Low Anthem)
Here at Chelsea FC Blog, with our ear ever pressed to the bedroom wall, the better to hear what the lusting youth of the zeitgeist may be getting up to with our rumbustious neighbour of fate, we have been poking around in those nether regions where our sense of the rational gives way to ridiculously inexplicable emotion, with a survey of fans’ particular rituals and superstitions. Our enquiry into whether statistics, strategy, diet, preparation can really be countered by wearing a pair of 15 year old “lucky blue pants” has mirrored the clash of science and religion that has erupted in the courts, media and legislature of this land.
Do you ever have that feeling of guilt even though you know you’ve done nothing wrong?
You know the sort of thing. You’re walking through the ‘Nothing to Declare’ channel at the airport and, even though you’ve got nothing incriminating in your suitcase aside from dirty underwear, a Sooty hand puppet and a copy of Jimmy, the autobiography of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, you can’t help looking furtive and making yourself a prime candidate for ‘Step this way, sir’. A guilty conscience is ingrained in our psyche I guess.
So even though I lay claim to not having a racist bone in my body and have for years lived and worked in harmony with a variety of creeds and cultures, I couldn’t help but feel on edge that today, of all days, I would suffer some mental aberration or seizure that would make me involuntarily utter some hideous racist outburst in the presence of police head-cams, TV cameras and thousands of fans who have been encouraged to spill the beans on their fellow man. Fortunately the day passed without incident and I remain a free man and in possession of my season ticket.
My last visit to Loftus Road was in 1970 when we won 4-2 on the route to Wembley. I was fortunate enough to go to every tie of that success, excluding the replays. Extrapolating forward my next visit to QPR is scheduled for 2054 and I’m hoping by then that a) the ground has been demolished because it was a dump 42 years ago and it’s got worse since and b) I’ve received a long service medal.
The first half
chelseafc: The game is underway. Portsmouth kick-off. Chelsea attacking the Shed End.
BluesChronicle: Early chance to Pompey: Kitson shoots across goal. Both ends of the ground on their feet and singing.