The Guardian, David Hytner: “Joe Cole had dreamed of this moment for eight long months. From time to time during the arduous rehabilitation from his cruciate knee ligament injury, the Chelsea midfielder closed his eyes and heard the roar of the Stamford Bridge crowd and imagined the thrill of a return to first-team football. When the long overdue feelings returned, he could also celebrate his part in what proved to be the winning goal.”
Daily Telegraph, Jason Burt: “The Chelsea supporters sang about celery, Joe Cole had talked about playing in the sausage roll but Queens Park Rangers were, ultimately, unable to provide much food for thought for Carlo Ancelotti – a gourmet himself of course – as his team eased into the next round of the Carling Cup. It’s eight wins from eight for the Italian and 23 matches unbeaten – equalling the club record – for Chelsea.”
The Times, Russell Kempson: “It may have represented little more than a duel for local bragging rights but Chelsea, the Barclays Premier League leaders, were forced to take it seriously by a resolute Queens Park Rangers at Stamford Bridge last night. Only after the second-half introductions of Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry, the England stalwarts, did they earn safe passage into the fourth round.”
The Independent, Sam Wallace: “Eight months had passed since Joe Cole last played for Chelsea, but on his comeback last night he learnt that some things never change. Even in the Carling Cup, Carlo Ancelotti had to rely on the big guns to see Chelsea through.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “As in the FA Cup meeting between the clubs in January 2008, a single goal was enough for a narrow but deserved Chelsea win. The deciding moment came just after the break and it was scored by Salomon Kalou, a precise finish after he had been set on his way by Joe Cole.”
In Manchester Fergie has to deal with noisy neighbours who, being nouveau riche, are oblivious to the sedate ways of the local neighbourhood.
We also have nouveau riche neighbours but, as you drive past the house of QPR, you would be hard pressed to detect any outward signs of wealth. No mock Georgian mansion, Bentleys or diamond studded earrings in sight. This is all a little odd since our neighbours have two extremely wealthy occupants and one mega wealthy, in fact the wealthiest individual in the UK. The occupants are about to change however because Flavio Briatore may have to vacate his bedroom following his ban from Formula One. Here’s Flavio pictured with his wife; if you find it hard to see what she sees in him look closely and you can just see his wallet below the waterline.
Our neighbours QPR generally keep themselves to themselves although we did meet up last year in the FA Cup. Surprisingly our record against them is fairly even, we’ve met 47 times, Chelsea have won 17 games, QPR 13 and 17 have been drawn. But this is since football began; more recently QPR have won only one of the last 13 meetings – a 1-0 home victory in the Premier League in March 1995.
In summary we always looked like winning and QPR rarely posed a serious threat. We played like 11 individuals who hadn’t played together before. It wasn’t a great spectacle but it was an outstanding success because:
- We won and we all like to maintain an interest in this competition.
- Some youngsters were given their opportunity. Fabio Borini had a test drive round the car park last weekend but this was his first 90 stint up the motorway.
- Our recuperating injured were given the chance to start building match fitness.
- Some fringe players were given a full game.
- Generally the big guns were saved for the weekend.
So congratulations to Carlo Ancelotti for having the courage to field this team.
One area where our performance was better last night was the atmosphere. For some reason early games in this competition are never too popular with the regulars so not only did we have new faces on the field of play but around me I couldn’t see one familiar face. Of course I’ve earned my eight loyalty points by attending last night so come next May, when we start scrambling for our Champions League final tickets, I will be first in line for the allocation. The punters who bought the regulars’ seats have better voices and stood up to sing throughout. There has to be a correlation between acquired wealth (hence the means to buy a season ticket) and the ability to sing. I would have thought this worthy of some research by a group of university students.
- Hilario – 6/10 – didn’t cause me to panic
- Ferreira – 6/10 – had a good run out – doesn’t give us the width or pace now needed as part of the diamond so unlikely to ever break into the team for an important game
- Hutchinson – 6/10 – looked competent. Will he progress quicker than Mancienne?
- Ivanovic – 6/10 – bit clumsy at times
- Zhirkov – 5/10 – didn’t show us anything but we can only judge him when he gets fit
- Mikel – 4/10 – I’ve got to be honest and confess I’m rapidly going off Mikel. As one of the senior players it was his chance to take control and show he’s a cut above QPR. Loads of misplaced passes, lethargic runs and short balls. With Joe Cole on his way back and Deco looking good this season I think Mikel is going to struggle to make the team in the important games
- Belletti – 6/10 – more workmanlike than Brazilian. One great free kick in the first half and a mazy run in the second
- Malouda – 5/10 – as one of the seniors he should have looked better
- J. Cole – 6/10 – typical Joe Cole performance. Looked lean and a couple more run outs should see him challenging
- Kalou – 6/10 – first few minutes he looked quite sharp but overall a typical Kalou performance. He did take his goal well so maybe playing QPR he’s managed to find his level?
- Borini – 6/10 – enthusiastic and hard working. He’s only 17 and not the tallest chap so this was an induction. Looked shocked a couple of times when defenders muscled him out of it but this is all part of the learning process
- Lampard (h/t) – 7/10 – at least he looked like he’s a cut above QPR
- A. Cole (68) – NA – not on long enough to rate
- Terry (77) – NA – not on long enough to rate
No need to take out an injunction against QPR; these neighbours don’t cause us any trouble.