A brief look at a quiet week
Amidst the fallout of the Battle of Loftus Road, credit must go to those who turned up at Stamford Bridge on Thursday to vote on the club’s proposal to purchase the freehold of the ground with a view to, well, possibly moving but not too far away until after 2020, when the world outside West London may well be their lobster.
Our intrepid band of #saynocpo voters negotiated their way through the club’s own PR onslaught, from cringeworthy Buck and Gourlay interviews to sickly “It’s what Matthew (Harding) would have wanted” articles, caught the last / early train back from Liverpool, avoided the inevitable pitchfork and torch wielding “Burn the racist!” chanting angry mob to arrive at the grand hall and put an ‘X’ firmly in Roman’s box.
Part of me suspects a shrewder operator like Kenyon might have wrapped this particular matter up by now, but Roman’s band of Keystone Cops didn’t cover themselves in glory in their attempts to persuade the folk who threw down £100 notes in the club’s hour of need to say ‘yes’. It would seem that the general consensus is that most will agree if the club are a little more forthcoming about their plans, but expect this one to run on for a little while yet.
Oh yes, and that cautionary tale in not selling your soul for a nice shiny new ground was due at the Bridge at some relatively ungodly hour on Saturday. Despite TfL’s best efforts, I made it to the ground with time for a pint of weak and gassy Singha to spare. Bruce and Ron certainly couldn’t run a piss-up in that particular brewery. Oliver Reed would have struggled, in fact.
I am about as likely to commit any kind of detailed memory of this afternoon’s fiasco to a hard drive as I am to repeatedly slam my scrotum in a car door. It wasn’t quite Kanu, Winterburn or Silvinho but the general misery is magnified to the power of loads by the nagging, painful knowledge that this Arsenal outfit doesn’t have a fraction of the balls, gumption or backs-to-the-wall-and-fuck-you fight as the sides that used to regularly arrive at the Bridge and find new and amusing ways of humiliating us before Mourinho pitched up and made Wenger his bitch. To put things in some kind of Graham Taylor-ese, to those days I do not wish to return.
- We scored three goals.
- We finished the game with eleven men on the pitch (not so as you’d notice, mind).
- Andre Marriner couldn’t be accused of not letting the game flow.
- Entertaining for the neutral, I suppose.
- There really is never a dull moment supporting this team.
- The defence. Stunk like a tramp’s arse and was about as unpleasant to look at. See elsewhere for further comment.
- Watching us trying to retain possession in the second half was like watching a drunk trying to grapple with a bar of soap.
- When the opposition keeper openly admits he was lucky to stay on the pitch, you have to ask where the referee left his cards. Perhaps Chris Foy needed another set to replace his worn out pair?
- We conceded five at home in the league for the first time since 1989 (Liverpool, in case you were wondering).
- We have already conceded more goals in the league than we did in the whole of the 2004-5 season.
- Jim is no longer around to fix it.
An additional statistic for the sheer hell of it
Robin van Persie has scored twenty-eight goals in his last twenty-seven Premier League games. He cost less than three million pounds. Fernando Torres has scored – oh, forget it.
Player ratings in the style of Michael Fish and Roger Melly
A few early bright spells, with the odd dark cloud appearing, but there really is no storm on the way. Good evening, and… bollocks.
Man of the Match
Probably that van Persie bloke. Mata if we’re picking someone in blue.
A message to you, Andre
Look, we like you. We really want you to stay and succeed for many reasons, mainly for the fact that if you don’t we may as well give up and let Roman pick the team. We’re very happy that you harbour a philosophy of attacking football. But frankly, your defensive philosophy is utter cuntery personified and is going to cost you very dearly if you don’t wise up pretty quickly. Even at this early stage, the competition are generally knocking in goals for fun whilst we’re conceding them at a rate of knots and have an erratic strike force that is either suspended or looking less likely to score than a man wandering into a singles night with a “Syphilitic and Loving It” T-shirt on.
A game you could possibly distil into the easy soundbite that one side had a finisher and the other didn’t, if you couldn’t find any more words to describe the mish-mash of errors, pratfalls, poor passing, shoddy officiating, amateur finishing and general bleeeurgh nature of the game. Neither side could defend for toffee and are unlikely to be troubling the silverware end of the season on the basis of today’s outing.
The turf under AVB’s feet at Stamford Bridge may be a little safer today, but as any former Chelsea manager will tell him, pools of highly dangerous quicksand litter the surrounding area and far more experienced men with nice, shiny trophies under their belts have fallen foul of them. Tread carefully, Andre, tread carefully.
The press reports
The Sunday Telegraph, Duncan White: “Villas-Boas is trying to change the football philosophy of his team – and on this evidence it is clearly going to come at a cost. After the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, many critics described the Portuguese as naïve. That is a little patronising but he is certainly prepared to take risks as he tries to fast-track this team towards a stylish, high-tempo, front-foot approach. And those risks did not pay off.”
The Observer, Amy Lawrence : “For a man whose obsession with attacking football knows no bounds, it was a strange sight to see Arsène Wenger urging his players to put the brakes on when a red mass swarmed towards Petr Cech’s goal. The Arsenal manager did his best Basil Fawlty impression as his team’s instinctive way of protecting a 4-3 lead was to bomb forward in a buccaneering search for more.”
The Independent on Sunday, Rory Smith: “Wojciech Szczesny should have been dismissed – “I don’t know why I stayed on the pitch,” he tweeted – for felling Cole, and even Mata’s Exocet could not save the hosts. Terry slipped, Arsenal soared. First Van Persie beat Cech with skill and, in injury time, power. With his team-mates, the 28-year-old danced with his exultant fans, the scars of Old Trafford beginning to fade. Perhaps that will provide Terry with some solace. Perhaps not.”
The Official Chelsea FC Website: “When John Terry restored Chelsea’s lead just before half-time, Frank Lampard having opened the scoring early on, the second half looked full of promise, but a sloppy display after the interval resulted in the first home defeat under Andre Villas-Boas. Arsenal went into the lead with two goals shortly after the restart but Juan Mata then made it all to play for by scoring the goal of the game with 10 minutes remaining. However Robin van Persie registered a hat-trick with the final two goals, the first following Chelsea mistakes. It was great entertainment for any neutral as both teams played an open match, but Chelsea will not wish to be so vulnerable at the back again this season.”