Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Chelsea – States of Mata and Energy

The prologue

It never ever, ever gets boring beating Spurs. But for me there’s an even bigger joy in beating them at White Hart Lane. Even more so than the bigger test a few weeks back at The Emirates. Maybe there’s not the rivalry between us and Arsenal like there is Spurs… after all for many years Arsenal kicked sand in both our faces fairly regularly until our own blue revolution came about. But for some inexplicable reason we have basically ruled the roost over Tottenham for what seems like decades now. Aside from the odd blip here and there, the upper hand has always been in the hands of the Blues. Last year of course we had three fixtures against Spurs, a nerve shredding 1-1 at Three Point Lane (title now re-instated), an unbelievably wrist slitting dull 0-0 at Stamford Bridge and of course a 5-1 dismantling of them at Wembley on the way to our first trophy of a spectacular season.

Thus far our season has been very good. Nineteen points from 21 with QPR being the only slight stain on what in anyone’s eyes is a very good start to the season. Of course the critics have been out saying we haven’t really played anyone of note as yet, but the convincing and deserved win against Arsenal has to some extent quelled those dissident voices. So, yesterday we were faced with another big test. Spurs, so obviously riled by their collapse last season and failure to qualify for the Champions League (not our fault, they collapsed themselves after the Harry/Fabio debacle) and now headed up by the Marmite character of Andre Villas Boas. I say Marmite because I never really hated him. I thought he was brave to try and shift the focus of the team away from the Mourinho spine and I have no axe to grind with anyone who tries his or her best but ultimately falls short. My own view seems to contrast with a sizeable section of our fans that now see him as some sort of Rafa Benitez icon of hatred.

Anyway, before I digress too much, the team announcements came with a raised eyebrow or two. Lampard only on the bench although one feels that may have been related to the injury that caused his absence from the England squad for the latest round of narcoleptic contests for the right to be humiliated in Brazil in 2014. I’m unsure why he’s even available for selection as I rate his chances of going to that competition on a par with my chances of Jennifer Aniston head hunting me for her next husband. So we lined up the lightweights of Oscar, Hazard, Mata, Ramires sitting behind Torres, Mikel tucking in behind them and a back four of Cahill, Luiz (a combination that I like very much) with Cole and Ivan in the left- and right-back positions. I believe the tactics bores would call this 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 or some other equally eye glazing load of bollocks. From the Spuds angle the lack of Dembele was good news but possibly even more so was the absence of Galen. Sorry… Bale. His partner had gone into labour for their first child and quite correctly he decided that was his priority. Quite right too. Although the ensuing conversation in the Sky studio went down the inevitable ‘wouldn’t happen in my day’ route from Hoddle and the apparently veteran of the old days Jamie Redknapp. Seriously out of step with today’s society which for Hoddle I may just about accept but for Redknapp just smacks of clichéd bollocks talk.

Oh and no mention of JT, racism, Ferdinand, Kick It Out or any other over hyped arse gravy lynch mob mentality talk on here. The subject is dead. It is an ex-subject. It has ceased to exist. It has shuffled off this mortal coil.

So, nerves set to a Spinal Tap setting of 11 and away we go…

And so to the game…

Thanks to my shiny iPad and an app called Bamboo Paper I can now write my notes as the game goes on. This is good and perhaps someone could invent an ink-based implement for writing this onto a suitable parchment. It’s the future I tell you! So, let’s start with what I will describe as a touch of CLASS from our ex-project manager, AVB. He went to our bench and shook hands, hugged and warmly greeted everyone there, including Lampard. There seemed to be genuine warmth there and I for one think this shows football in a far better light but yet receives little focus from the Fleet Street attack dogs. Nice touch, AVB. As the first half progressed it was dawning on me that we looked… well… bloody good actually. No slow lethargic start, plenty of energy, pace and ambition. Our passing looked very slick, our ball play very confident. The ball was like a close friend and we seemed to be enjoying its company. Have things changed that quickly? After 17 minutes of looking the better team came the first goal – an absolute belter from Cahill. In fact as a centre-back I’d argue he has no right to be able to finish like that, but he connected with Gallas’s clearance as cleanly as Ian Poulter connects with his drive. Did it take a slight deflection  Seriously, who cares? We were a goal up and at this point looking good to extend that lead. Cahill for me is the future Chelsea captain and England captain. One can only wonder at the wisdom of Wenger baulking at the £7m bargain bucket price for Cahill.

Spurs weren’t bad though and it’s easy to see AVB plans starting to take shape. Yes, the goal knocked them from their stride a bit but they also provided a few chances notably from the impressive Sigurdsson, although Cech was also forced into a dodgy parry from a Dempsey shot. Dempsey looks a little overwhelmed in this Spurs side and I can’t help but think Adebayor might have been a bigger threat. As the half progressed there was good holding of the ball from Torres, who looks more and more of an Anelka type player  who links the play beautifully with the nimble nippy threesome of Oscar, Mata and Hazard, whilst the impressive Mikel/Ramires partnership starts to bring the best from both players. Mikel in  particular is shoving the critics words back down their throats. But don’t take my word for it… watch this piece of wizardry.

On 37 minutes, the mighty Mata had a great chance to put Spurs to the sword only to see Friedel make a good save and then to blast the rebound over the bar. I think that might have killed Spurs had it gone in. Spurs had another chance from Dempsey and Cech also showed some more dodgy parrying techniques but as half time approached there were no major alarms and for once we could look forward to a second half of building on the superiority of the first.

But of course that isn’t our way is it? Ninety seconds into the second half and of all people Gallas scores a very soft goal. I will now apply a staple maxim of Hansenology here. But for the first time in the game the defending from us was very poor. Cech was pretty much given no chance as all our defenders ended up marking some zones with no actual players in them. A fundamental flaw of zonal marking there perhaps. And so, cue the inevitable 10 minute spell of rattled Chelsea. Unable to pass, unable to retain the ball, unable to create any chances and generally just unable.  Within seven minutes we were unable to stop Defoe from latching onto a misplaced Lennon shot and rifling the ball into our net. However much you dislike Defoe, one can only say the man knows how to score goals. No real issues or Hansenology needed here. It was a good well taken goal albeit from a slight bit of fortune from Lennon.

Now we would see what new Chelsea were made of. For another seven or eight minutes we were still sleepy, rattled and disorientated. We needed an Ali/Cooper moment where we could get our gloves changed whilst we regrouped. It took a while but we gradually came back and on 65 minutes the marvellous Mata (surely his new wrestling name?) latched onto a loose ball outside the box from a fast upfield break to slot home a very cool equalizer. Game well and truly back on. Spirits were high again and within three minutes a fantastic defence splitting pass from Hazard found Mata unmarked for an even more coolly slotted home third goal. All through the game and even in our sleepy bits the midfield looked energized and pacey. This might be lightweight physically but boy is it nimble. The remaining 25 minutes were hard fought on both sides. Spurs had the full passion of the derby atmosphere coursing through them even if their fans did retreat into an anxious semi-silence. In the dying embers of the game on came Lamps and Sturridge (a welcome return for another Marmite character). Studge has a good record at Three Point Lane and in the first minute of added time this was enhanced with a simple tap in after some inspired perseverance from Mata taking the ball from the churlish Walker

Spurs 2 – Chelsea 4. I’ll repeat that sweetest of sweet sentences. Spurs 2 – Chelsea 4. I could write a song containing just those lyrics. It’s such a joyous sound.

The good (yes it’s back by unpopular demand…)

  • Young Oscar – calm, stylish, impressive.
  • Hazard – ditto.
  • Mata – ditto.
  • Ramires – ditto.
  • Mikel – ditto.
  • Luiz… well you get the picture… the whole team – ditto.
  • Norwich – well done.

The bad (can’t have one without the other)

  • Some dodgy parrying from Cech countered by two wonder saves from Defoe and Walker. But at times he made the ball look as if it was made of Dove soap covered in WD-40.
  • Citeh winning with 10 men and United clobbering Stoke.

The ugly (look it’s all three or nothing right?)

  • Totally unrelated to this game but the arsehole who attacked Chris Kirkland has shown the ugly side of the game proving that physical violence is always worse than name-calling.

No player ratings because to do so would be churlish in the light of a very good and I mean a VERY good all round display which has even had the press drooling a little.

The epilogue

One odd thing is the difference in how Robbie seems to be doing similar things to AVB but without the chaos and disruption in form. Players like Lampard and JT get dropped with regularity and yet barely a word of dissent leaks out. Man management anyone?

So, 22 points from a possible 24. Come on be real, did anyone really think we’d get that start? Of course we have the Shakhtar test on Tuesday but bigger than that we have Manchester United next week, although thankfully spared of any JT/Rio handshakegate sideshow. Although one can’t help wondering how Ash and Rio will react. If Ash goes for the handshake and Rio rejects it then what will the media do? I will watch with interest as will no doubt a lot of people.

This Chelsea side, although still fledgling and with additions to come no doubt does look a step towards the prettier flair-based side so yearned for by Roman if the media are to be believed. I hope it continues and in doing so we can bring success to the club and at last step out of the shadow of the Mourinho era which so patently still haunts so many corners of the club. Robbie is quietly revolutionizing us with little fuss, and a huge amount of dignity. His handling of recent issues has been nothing short of superb. If he stays then I can see the story being one of success and quiet dignified glory.

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!

The press reports

The Independent on Sunday, Steve Tongue: “It will soon become time to ask who can stop Chelsea. If it is to be Manchester United, then next Sunday at Stamford Bridge is when Sir Alex Ferguson’s team have to prove it. The talk has been that the European champions had not met any serious opposition, yet raiding parties to north London have now returned with a full complement of points from Arsenal and Tottenham.”

The Observer, Daniel Taylor: “André Villas-Boas can testify firsthand now about the improvement in this Chelsea team since he was ushered from the club. There is a steel about Roberto Di Matteo’s side that was not always evident during his predecessor’s reign and it meant an ordeal for the well-dressed man shaking his head and rubbing his hands through his hair in the home dugout. “André, André, what’s the score?” the Chelsea fans sang, and the man in question looked at his shoes and pretended not to hear.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Jason Burt: “So much talk had been of the individual in the run-up to this encounter – that individual being Tottenham’s head coach Andre Villas-Boas – that it was probably appropriate that there was another sole factor that proved decisive: individual brilliance.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “The Blues won at White Hart Lane in the league for the first time since 2005 and remained top of the Premier League pile in the process.”

The goals

17′ Cahill 0-1
47′ Gallas 1-1
54′ Defoe 2-1
66′ Mata 2-2
69′ Mata 2-3
90+1′ Sturridge 2-4
Match of the Day highlights

There are 25 comments

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  1. Blueboydave

    A splendid summary of an enjoyable afternoon, TG.

    Made all the more so by the inevitable wobble early in the 2nd half, when it seemed whatever pundit it was who pointed out that Chelsea under AVB last year started to fall apart after the October international break might be about to see the start of this season’s equivalent.

    While basking in the pleasure of our fine start to the season I can’t help also recalling that Carlo’s second season and even Big Phil’s brief spell in the hot seat both started very well too and then crumbled around about November-time. 

    Sigh, we can always find the cloud as easily as the silver lining, can’t we?

    Heartily endorse your thoughts on the relative seriousness of name calling and physical violence too. On which, good to read today in Victoria Coren’s column in The Observer that Rowan Atkinson is apparently running a campaign to get Section 5 of the Public Order Act repealed – the one that criminalises abusive or insulting words within ear or eye-shot of anyone likely to be offended.

    Hope you’ll indulge me one last thought on JT/racism debacle: ironic that the Observer, the paper that runs a whole Said and Done column on contradictory statements/ actions of others has in today’s hard copy:

    page 38 – a leader column that inter alia again castigates Chelsea for not removing the captaincy from JT [ and by implication sacking him as they called for last week] – “no other public or private institution would get away with this craven response if a senior member of their staff behaved as Terry did” they fulminate in full-on Daily Wail-style rant.

    page 39 – literally, 30 mms. away on the opposite page, Andrew Rawnsley’s column sympathises with Andrew Mitchell, the Chief Whip who swore at the Downing Street cops and has now resigned, and agrees with  the views of a Tory colleague – “should someone have a 30-year career destroyed because of a 7-second outburst?”  “A reasonable question”, Rawnsley concludes.

  2. Benjami

    The whole JT thing and Kick It Out is so silly, they could stop 99.9% of it by putting mics on the ref and his assistants and then stating that any player who swears or says anything insulting/racist to another player is booked. Really, why don’t they?

    Great result, Hazard, Mata, and Oscar continue to improve and impress. Mikel and Ramires are forming a strong defensive partnership which can provide the foundations for our counter-attacks, we have an excellent balance at the moment.

    Unfortunately I still don’t think we are strong enough to win the league with Torres up front, would like to see Sturridge get a few games up front on his own and see how he does. Was interesting that it was him that made it into the 6 yard box for the 4th goal. Watch Torres when Mata tackles Walker, he should have been busting his gut to get to the far post before Sturridge, but he just strolls along at the back.

    MOTD also cut a moment when Torres breaks free and then does his usual panic that he is in front of goal and fall over 😛 At least Sturridge would have got his shot away and tested the keeper.

  3. mark_25

    Excellent job Tony.

    Aside from the ten minutes after half-time I thought our play was spectacular with spectacular goals.  If Torres could start to convert a higher percentage of his chances we’d be invincible.

    Do you think the transition is complete?  Unlike most managers, i.e. Brendan Rogers, who state that it’s a three year project, Rome wasn’t built in a day and there are no quick fixes bla bla, Robbie seems to have organised our transformation from long ball powerplay to pass and move in a few weeks.

    Not everyone feels the same about the modern man being present at the birth.  This poor chap clearly has a miserable life compounded by supporting Spurs –

    And Spurs seems to have fallen into the same trap as their equally useless neighbours.  Like the Arse, who have their trophies list adorning the middle tier which hasn’t been updated for 7 years (and counting), Spurs have “To Do Is To Dare” emblazoned all around the ground.  I can only assume that they haven’t dared much since 1961.

    • GrocerJack

      Thanks Mark. To be honest I have understated the superiority we showed at times but I was trying to give AVB and Spurs some worthy credit for making a game of it. In answer to the ‘is the transformation complete’ question my guess is not quite. I still think January may see an addition or two and perhaps a couple leaving. We may have ‘stumbled’ on RDM but at the moment I like his pragmatic approach to different opponents. I also like the fact that he seems to know Chelsea and its fan culture – he gets it, whatever ‘it’ is. He has behaved with dignity and class at all times and this means we will win more hearts to our club. Even the massed attack dogs of the media seem to like him.

      @BBD – I hope Rowan Atkinson succeeds. Our growing culture of people acting like 5 year olds over perceived or even real insults is ridiculous

  4. Vik

    “Robbie is quietly revolutionizing us with little fuss, and a huge amount of dignity. His handing of recent issues has been nothing short of superb. If he stays then I can see the story being one of success and quiet dignified glory.” 

    Could not agree more.  This team is truly being built in his image.  Calm, composed winners with a dash of the aesthetics from the Matteoan school of thought. 

  5. Biggs

    but, what a ball from hazard to mata for the 3rd goal. i am still creaming my pants when i watch it. and all 3 of them – mata, mikel and hazard know before mata’s pass to mikel how this is going to be played. this guys know football and that is why they are becoming a team so quickly, RDM’s governing notwithstanding. 

  6. Ryan

    Great review Tony. Couldn’t agree more about beating Spurs I was literally trembling with the mixture of adrenaline and excitement Saturday.

    Agree on AVB too. His comments about the way the club is run when he took over at Spurs won’t have endeared him to CFC fans but I genuinely wanted him to succeed at Chelsea and felt for him when it was reported that he was in tears when he was sacked and had basically been spending every day and night at Cobham trying to get things right. He was tactically inept at times and showed his inexperience in man-management but that was probably the fault of whoever appointed a 34 year old to one of the most highly pressurized jobs in football.

    Re:Robbie, the bloke is our Pep Guardiola. A person who has our club ingrained in his soul, understands the fans, doesn’t want to try to control every aspect of things (see JT internal disciplinary action) and, don’t forget, is proving to be the most talented young(ish) manager in world football.
    On top of all that he is inextricably linked to my best ever CFC day (possibly and for personal reasons only equalled, not surpassed by our triumph in Munich). That day at Wembley against Middlesborough was just perfect made all the more special by his almost immediate wonder-goal and was, in my mind, the moment we began to move from being long-term trophyless also-rans to one of the biggest teams in Europe. That felt like the point in time when things actually started to go right rather than going wrong with depressing regularity.

    I’ll say it again all the fuss around JT/Ash/Bertrand(unfairly) just seems to be bonding this team and creating Jose’s/Fergie’s famous siege mentality. The most impressive thing I took from yesterday was not individual brilliant performances as AVB suggested but the fact we wanted it more than Spurs. Going from 0-1 up to 2-1 down at WHL is enough to finish most teams off as the home support can get right on top when they’re winning but even without JT, Drogba and Lampard we dug in and wrested control of the game back from Spurs and ran out fairly comfortable winners. If we are going to sign Falcao in January we will be truly formidable. I’ve watched him a lot this year and the way he puts himself about and singlehandedly terrorizes defences is frightening. He’s also like a magnet for the ball in front of goal. The way things are going I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Roman splash the £46million required to put some finishing touches to a potentially lethal squad. I’d also like to see us keep Ashley Cole. Two or three year contract while Bertrand begins to take over and roles are reversed would be fine.

    That’s all. Again great review Tony. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

  7. Petew

    Interesting that Spurs fans are still very much unsold on AVB.

    A lot of people are making the point that RDM is now doing what AVB didn’t, but one of the many problems with AVB is that he was trying to drop good players without having anything decent lined up in replacement. RDM is blessed with a stronger squad. AVB’s squad was good, but only if he used the players properly and picked the best ones, which he frequently failed to do. I’m sure he’ll learn but I have little sympathy or fondness for him as he got right up my nose and was easily the worst manager of the Roman Abramovich era. 

    As for Saturday – fantastic.Great to see the way Mata has responded to the challenge of Hazard and oscar by revelling in the space. Also, the lack vf Lampard gives him more license to roam. I said it at the time, but he is the most important signing the clyub has made since Zola, Maybe even since Gullit. He is the fulcrum of a complete change in style and emphasis.

    Finally, Rio and his latest tantrum. MArtin Samuel puts it well; – what do you actually want? More punishment? Why? What good will that do? I actually feel a little sorry for Rio getting fined over the t-shirt, but he really is  a dick for defying his boss without talking to him first. I imagine after the racist tweets and the non-handshakes, Fergie has had enough. The man is not sentimental, and you can only get away with that sort of behaviour when you are an asset to his team. 

    Still, all good publicity for when Rio’s inevitable book comes up – now that is when things could get REALLY nasty…

    • Blueboydave

      “AVB was easily the worst manager of the Roman Abramovich era”.

      Wot, even worse than Uncle Avram?

      At least AVB tried to do something different, unlike Uncle Avram who droned on endlessly about how much better we were playing under him ,while having no discernible influence on the team.

      Surely, a much bigger charlatan?

  8. Petew

    AVB was worse. Avram at least had the nous to realise that, for all the BS he spouted, the best thing he could do was nothing at all. 

    He was smart enough to comprehend that the team had guts and brains and a winning mentality, and he repaired the faultlines left by JM’s departure. 

    Admittedly, he won jackshit but at least he didn’t wilfully sabotage a successful formation and destroy a hard-won attitude without having the slightest idea of what he was going to replace it with. 

    I couldn’t stand Avram. But that’s how bad Villa-Boas was. 

  9. Petew

    For the record, my CFC managers under RA list would run thusly. Will decide where Di Matteo fits in after he gets sacked. The caveat is that I would be delighted if none of the bottom four ever went near my club again.


    • Blueboydave

      Each to his own opinion, and I certainly don’t want to get into a “worst manager” list argument.

      I guess I have more sympathy for AVB as I see him as too young and naive to grasp the dynamics of the club. Despite his previous spell with us he thought he’d be backed by the board and owner to implement the changes in style of play he’d been brought in to make.

      I remember first realising he was out of his depth at a pre-match press conference early on in the slide when he said he didn’t think the owner had payed all those zillions of euros in compensation to Porto to get him, only then not to back him the first time things got tough.

    • GrocerJack

      I can’t resist a list!

      So apropos of nothing………here’s mine from the RA era


      Although the gap between Scolari and Grant would be huge. Grant was a con man who wheedled his way into the club on false pretences as his subsequent spells at West Ham and Portsmouth showed. If I had to place RDM right now it would be beneath Mourinho and above Hiddink based purely on the job he did to end last season and the start to this season. Although I nliked Ancelotti as a person for me he didn’t have the drive to really stamp his mark on the team and for me his white flag approach to the Wilkins sacking will always knock him down my list.

  10. SweetDairyAir

    I too agree with other posters who have more sympathy for AVB. I liked him at the time, and still like him. His man management skills could have been better, but like others have mentioned, he did at least try to change things. I believe he was promised more than he got, and the squad he had to work with was probably meant to be more like the one RDM has now, so anything he wanted to change probably couldn’t have been done. In retrospect he should have tried to keep things more the same, like the team that went on to win the Champions League, but he was brought in with an eye on revamping things.

    If people remember the end of Carlo’s reign, I think Roman’s main criticism was probably that these players looked like they were running on empty, and things needed to be changed. Carlo didn’t look like the man to do that, especially with the way we were unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League two years in a row in such a disappointing manner. (By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was Mancini’s undoing in the next few years, even if he keeps doing well in the league. He doesn’t have a good record at all in Europe.) Anyway it turns out our players did have one more year in them, but even with winning the biggest competition of all, they could barely muster a good performance in the league all year. Roman didn’t appear to be too far off in his estimation, and AVB seemed like the best candidate at the time to bring about an overhaul. AVB did have an eye for some good players, bringing in Mata, Cahill, Romeu and Courtois (the latter two of which I hope will become very good players in a few years time), but the difference between that and the number and quality of player-change this year is a whole different level.

    Tottenham have lower expectations than us, so I think that’s a more suitable club for him for now. There have been some good signings there this year, and they do appear to be improving their play in the first few games. He can more slowly shape the team in his image without having the massive pressure of improving upon Carlo’s outgoing results of finishing second in the league and getting further than the quarter finals of the Champions League, whilst at the same time overhauling the squad with more mediocre players than he was expecting. I do expect fourth place to be a tight contest between Arsenal and Tottenham this year, and depending on how that goes, and if they make some further decent signings, they’ll improve again. If he is able to crack the top four and win a domestic cup, I wouldn’t be surprised if big clubs in Italy come sniffing. And if he does well over there, like I’ve mentioned before, don’t be surprised if Roman starts cosying up to him like he has been with Jose over the past few years, buying him a fancy car for his birthday, shmoozing him at various shindigs etc.

    But none of that really matters because fourth place is irrelevant to us! Let’s hope our form keeps up because I cannot wait to play Man Utd next week. Unlike the useless pundits on MOTD, I think they have been incredibly average, and teams need to stop being scared of them. I want to play them off the park, put them in their place, and show that transition when done correctly doesn’t need to take years and years (Arsenal!), and you especially cannot afford to play the likes of Scholes and Giggs and expect to win titles. We need to turn up and show the rest of the league that when you play Man Utd, their increasingly poor central midfield and defence can be got at. Maybe they’ll lose their aura of invincibility, and maybe, just maybe, a Sam Allardyce team won’t roll over for once against the almighty Sir Alex! Let’s hope other teams take note and don’t give up before they turn up. Let’s hope Carrick, Welbeck and Cleverley are shown to be the distinctly average players that they are. Let’s kick their arses!

  11. bluebayou

    A nice read that, TG.

    Tend to agree with you that some of the dislike for AVB seems over the top at times. By that, I mean people seem to feel the need to be personal rather than just talking about football. He did make mistakes, it seems his management of a particular group of players caused problems, but good luck to him. We should be big enough to move on.

    The progress of the team is really encouraging. So good has the start been that I think we are now travelling at the sort of speed that is traditional in a Chelsea train wreck. With November looming, I am starting to get nervous. This serene progress can’t continue can it?

    Let’s hope that if there are any reverses, a bit of patience will be in evidence around the place. It will be interesting to see how Ferguson approaches Sunday. Will he arrive concerned to put the shackles on Chelsea or will he feel that an attacking set up will cause us a problem? It will be an early indicator of how we are perceived in terms of the balance of the team.

    Back to Saturday, some of the goals being scored are really uplifting. I’m with Biggs, the third goal was just superb. The movement and understanding seems to be building nicely. However both Tottenham and Arsenal were playing at home and essentially played their own footballing game against us, which given current form allowed Hazard, Mata, Oscar et al the room to play. That wont always be the case.

    I don’t think we can ignore the fact that Spurs did have Bale and Dembele missing, amongst others (as ‘Arry pointed out on MOTD), but the key is that Chelsea took advantage of that and came away with 3 points, which is really all you can do.

    And Pete, I would put Ranieri above Grant as in my view he did make progress with the team from when he took over and before the RA cash arrived.

  12. Der_Kaiser

    A good result and very pleasant to get back to winning ways up at WHL – been a while since we came home with the bacon from there (so to speak).

    Impressive performance bar the first 10 mins of the second half.  The Creative Herberts are really starting to look the part and winning up there with just Cech present from the old ‘spine’ is excellent work; early days caveat, but 2 big London derbies away from home and 6 points before Halloween is tremendous.  Robbie is, so far, proving cooler than a roomful of cucumbers – big tests for him this coming week, but he’s looking confident in his side and his own abilities now which is great to see.

    Four penneth re the manager debate; AVB – well, he’s just a bit a of charisma-free technocrat who followed a series of mostly likeable and generally successful managers but managed to go about things in completely the wrong way.  Didn’t learn from his mistakes and used the resources he had at his disposal very poorly.  But in the context of the Roman era, he’s only going to be a bit of an odd footnote in the grand scheme of things (albeit an expensive one).

    Oddly, for me – ’cause I couldn’t stand the bloke at the time and as a person still don’t – but the prism of time and distance is putting Grant’s brief tenure in a better light.  Didn’t like the way he got the job and some of his ramblings about better football when, as Pete says, he really changed nothing (apart from making the defence a bit leakier), but there is part of me that now that simply can’t help admire the chutzpah of the bloke.

    Seriously – getting the job he did with the experience he had at the time; it shows a massive pair of stones to take it on.  It’s like George Entwhistle getting the old heave-ho from the BBC for fumbling the Savile ball (ahem) and the board getting on the ‘phone and asking me to step into the hotseat.

    Granted (see what I did there?) he’s not the most likeable man, but as history illustrates, he didn’t cause the catastrophic damage we assumed he would and nearly pulled off a miracle which he’d never have been credited with anyway (it would have been viewed in the way that Frank LeBouef’s ‘I won the World Cup’ catchphrase is), so slightly grudging kudos for having such a sizeable pair on him and nearly pulling it off.

  13. mark_25

    Ceefax service to end after 38 years on BBC

    I used to love waiting for page 2/54 to come around to view the tables, seeing as I always joined it at 3/54.  It was an amazing technological leap compared to buying the Saturday edition of the Evening Standard.

    This Internet is just too immediate.

    • Benjami

      Aye we do seem to lack that sharp point at the front when we play with Torres, we will suffer the same problem with Sturridge I think (though he deserves a chance there, to prove it)

      Shakhtar have been excellent, definitely deserve the win. Good news is, currently, Juventus are losing, and hopefully this will spur a massive reaction in training over the next few days and we will see a response on Sunday.

      1-1 sigh ;p

  14. mark_25

    Let’s not panic but think back to how we dug ourselves out last season.

    Oscar lost the ball a bit too often, Hazard was half-heartedd and Torres, let’s face up to reality, ‘aint ever going to make it.

    But Nordsjaelland may have just saved our bacon (not their bacon even though their Danish).

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