Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea – Newspaper Reaction, Goal Videos, Match Report, Player Ratings

Newspaper reports

The Guardian, Kevin McCarra : “Results transform attitudes, and Arsenal had waited a while for this sort of alchemy. They presented themselves with a 3-0 lead here after opening the scoring on the verge of the interval. A first victory over Chelsea in 25 months was all but inevitable even then, since Carlo Ancelotti has a Chelsea team in decline. Their response with a goal was a last spark of pride in a squad that looked almost burnt out. Even so, their opponents still needed to think long and hard about a test they passed well enough to suggest that Chelsea may still compete hard for the title.”

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “This was an astonishing result that will imbue Arsenal with such confidence, taking them second in the Premier League, while intensifying the inquests bedevilling Chelsea. This was a game defined by an extraordinary 10 minutes either side of half-time when Arsenal scored through Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and the outstanding Theo Walcott. Branislav Ivanovic’s header briefly gave Chelsea hope but it proved only a consolation.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “At this time of year one imagines that Roman Abramovich’s yacht is moored somewhere warm, quiet and expensive, far away from the bone-chilling cold of a Premier League Christmas programme. But no matter how remote, Chelsea’s owner is never too far away to eject his managers from Stamford Bridge should he deem it necessary. Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant and Luiz Felipe Scolari have all been jettisoned without warning or explanation from the Russian billionaire and this morning, the club waits with trepidation to see whether Ancelotti will go the same way.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “Three goals conceded in a 10-minute spell either side of the half-time interval consigned Chelsea to our fifth league defeat of the season.”

The goals

44′ Song 1-0
51′ Fabregas 2-0
53′ Walcott 3-0
57′ Ivanovic 3-1

The preamble

So we’re back then.

I thought I heard a slight cheer from a couple of you at the back there but overall there seems to be a strange calm about the place as we prepare ourselves for the final run towards the line in May. Maybe that low-key mood can be explained by Christmas and all of its accoutrements or perhaps the snow and our cancelled clash with United have contributed to the tumbleweed atmosphere around the club lately but there does appear to be a strange air about the place.

This football vacuum has given me the opportunity to reflect on the past year and the incredible events of the past two months when the whole world appeared to forget that Carlo had steered a tired and old looking group of players, in a new country with virtually no money spent on the squad to a record, goal-scoring Double in his first season. The press’s reaction to a blip and the scandalous omission of Carlo and the lads at the BBC award show last week wasn’t that big of a surprise but what did shock me was the odd sense of longing I felt whilst watching Spurs last night. Watching Harry and his verging on suicidal tactics brush Villa aside at Villa Park, with only 10 men for large stretches of the game, I was reminded of those naïve days under Claudio when everything seemed a little more enjoyable. There was less pressure, less expectation and just more joy when watching Chelsea in those days (for this intro, I’m talking about that 2002-4 spell and am conveniently forgetting the looming spectre of bankruptcy and the constant talk of Sven when Roman arrived. But apart from those extremely minor caveats, it all makes sense) and watching Spurs, not just last night but for the past few months, I did feel a little sad that we’d never return to those carefree, untroubled days.

You may wonder why I’m complaining about not being a club chasing fourth place every year when at present, we’re always in contention for the biggest two prizes in club football and have an owner who has bought us some of the best players in the world and built the best training ground and academy complex in the country. The reason I’m a little depressed when it comes to Chelsea at the moment is that when you’ve experienced year after year of the crazy, Chelsea circus slightly tainting each trophy winning season, a wave of cynicism, pessimism and outlandishly high expectation begins to overwhelm you. That’s why when we draw three games or lose twice in a row, what would constitute an inevitable mid-season blip at other clubs is portrayed as a crisis at Chelsea. The press and fans (including myself as I know I’m as guilty as the others) expect to win every game and every trophy and anything other than complete footballing domination will draw scathing criticism from the masses.

And that’s why I felt a sense of longing last night. Seeing ‘Arry go all-out attack with a 4-1-5 formation at Villa Park with Bale, Modric, Lennon, Van der Vaart and Defoe all storming forward brought back memories of Claudio spraying Roman’s money around on endless numbers of attacking players as we innocently chased the title. There were numerous cock-ups in Claudio’s mad final season (Monaco away immediately springs to mind) and even though the majority of opposition fans mocked us for even trying to win trophies with that side – as many of us are now when Harry talks of winning the big one with Spurs – that joyous, underdog spirit seemed a lot more enjoyable than the cynical world we live in now. As we saw last season, Chelsea are expected to win the title and when they do, a weird anti-climactic feeling washes over the club because we only achieved what was expected of us. So we can’t really win can we?

These may appear to be vulgar and pointless complaints from a fan of one of the richest and best clubs in the world and certainly brings to mind a famous Chandler quote (hopefully this won’t need explaining later on):

“Oh, I know, this must be so hard. Oh no, two women love me. They’re both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet is too small for my fifties and my diamond shoes are too tight.”

But watching Chelsea lately just doesn’t seem as entertaining as it once was. I’m sure this is just a short-term malaise brought on by endless weekends of not being able to watch Match of the Day or read the sports pages thanks to our dismal performances and I’m entirely confident that a win against Arsenal will cure all of these problems but when you watch the attacking football of sides like Spurs and Barca (before you guys laugh, I do realise that Spurs aren’t as good as Barca), you wonder why we put on such uninspiring and turgid shit. Our football at the moment is dire and if you’re going to lose, you might as well go down fighting because at the moment we look pathetic. Today’s game would go a long way to telling me what type of side we are because in the past we’ve always fought back when faced with a challenge. Arsenal away is definitely a tough game but with two weeks to prepare for this game, the fitness, tactics, focus, passion and desire had to be right. There were no more excuses as we had all of the big players back and all of them were saying that tonight was a must win game. They all declared the Spurs game as “the end of their bad moment” and that tonight would see a return to the real Chelsea. That was certainly a dangerous statement but Arsenal away is one of our favourite games of the season, so what could possibly go wrong?


The team

Cech, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Essien, Mikel, Lampard, Kalou, Drogba, Malouda.

Subs: Turnbull, Ramires, Bosingwa, Van Aanholt, Bruma, Kakuta, McEachran.

Injuries meant that Anelka and Sturridge were both unavailable so our bench not only looked thin but rather defensive. Not a problem in itself if we got the first goal but if we went 1-0 down, that would probably be game over.

The match

Before I start, I’d like to say that I’m going to try to be as fair, calm and controlled as possible. The venting can come later but for now, let’s just look at the facts.

Personally, I thought the first 44 minutes were pretty impressive for us. Confidence still looked a little fragile and despite choosing the inevitably partisan Alan Smith on commentary, I thought the two commentators were spot on when they said that we looked “anxious and nervous on the ball after experiencing their worse run in a decade but that the first half was very even indeed.” And just for the record, I do like this pairing on Sky compared to the hyperbolic bullshit usually served up by Gray and Tyler.

And that was about right. Arsenal did boss possession by the mightily impressive margin of two whole percentage points but we were looking solid and compact. The first fifteen minutes did see us push a bit too high up the pitch, leaving Walcott and Van Persie plenty of room to scamper in behind but a nice tactical tweak from Carlo saw us sit a little deeper and easily repel all that Arsenal could throw at us. That makes it sound like a barrage but in truth Arsenal weren’t doing much apart from passing endlessly from side to side and then crossing it straight onto JT’s head.

So we were looking good defensively with JT and Ivanovic displaying plenty of class at the back and Cech putting in yet another immaculate performance between the sticks. But something wasn’t quite right ahead of them. At 0-0 the tactics were working because Carlo obviously wanted to keep it tight for 45 minutes and then try to nick a goal in the second half. But for that to work you need your midfield and attack to keep hold of the ball to try and relieve some of the pressure on the back four. But our attacking players seemed incapable of grasping that incredibly advanced tactic of passing to a fucking blue shirt. The pattern of play seemed to either consist of Cech lumping it to Didier, which resulted in the depressing side of fuck all in terms of chances, or JT and Branner playing four or five one-twos at the back before feeding Mikel who would smash the ball out of play with a ridiculous Hollywood pass (more on his dismal performance later).

But we were doing OK. Arsenal weren’t doing much although Nasri did pose a constant threat to Paulo at right-back and we gradually began to grow into the game. Lamps was getting more involved and we did have a few chances on the counter as Didier pulled a long range effort from Lamps’ through ball wide of the far post and then the witless Kalou wasted a dangerous breakaway with an incredible display of incompetency as he fired a ball behind four men waiting in the box and straight out of play on the other side of the pitch. Tonight really was a depressing nadir in terms of this kids’ shit performances but you’ll have to wait for the second half for more examples of his inability to complete even the simplest task on a football pitch.

The worst culprit though in this first half was Malouda. In recent weeks he’s been terrible but tonight his performance was verging on disgraceful. He was complaining and diving from the first minute, failed to show one iota of passion or commitment and insisted on taking three or four touches before he gave it away pathetically. More on this joker later.

However, the alarming lack of creativity could be excused at this point because it was still 0-0. As I said earlier, the first goal was always going to decide this game and considering the bench we had picked, 0-0 at half-time was pretty good going. Except we then decided to do something stupid. We had repelled every tippy-tappy attack they had put together up to the 44th minute but then yet another brain freeze from the worryingly poor Mikel allowed Wilshere to poke the ball through to Song who easily swept the ball home for 1-0 at the break.

So yet another deficit to make up. Personally, I immediately called it as a defeat but hopefully I would be proved wrong.

Carlo did the right thing by hooking Mikel for the second game in a row at half-time (no chance he’ll play against Bolton) for the energy and aggression of Ramires and we began this half brilliantly.

Except we didn’t. If you wanted to create a scene to encapsulate our abysmal recent performances, then the kick-off kind of summed it all up. After a rousing pep talk at the break, what we needed was a high tempo, confident start. To then see Kalou roll the ball to Didier at the restart, who then gave it straight to the onrushing Fabregas instead of any of the other nine Chelsea players in our half kind of summed it all up really.

And from there on in, everything went wrong. Firstly, lady luck deserted us yet again as some brilliant JT, Branners and Essien closing down was rewarded with the unluckiest of ricochets straight to Walcott who would have been offside had an Arsenal player played the pass. He squared the ball to Cesc who rolled the ball into the empty net for 2-0.

That was most definitely game over and now I just hoped we wouldn’t disgrace ourselves. Except, Malouda then proceeded to do just that. Branners and JT had been playing more keep ball at the back and decided to take the drastic step of passing forwards to the unmarked Malouda in the centre circle. Instead of laying it off to JT, Branners, Essien, Paulo, Cech or Ash he decided to take a touch, then another touch and then another as Cesc walked up to him, nicked the ball off him, slipped in Theo who then drilled the ball home for 3-0. The worst thing was Malouda’s reaction. Despite the goal being virtually unstoppable once Cesc got the ball, at least the back four tried their hardest to chase him down. “What did Malouda do?” you may ask. Well he stood motionless in the centre-circle. His laziness has been tolerated lately due to a lack of options but tonight even Carlo saw that enough was enough. He’s been in terrible form lately and immediately we went 3-0 down he hooked him for Kakuta.

Some may blame Carlo at this stage but even if I wasn’t a fan of Carlo, I would be able to objectively see that tonight he did all he could to get us a positive result. His first-half tactics were spot on because defending deep, staying compact and playing on the break has worked for the past five wins against Arsenal so why not try it again? And when we went 2-0 down he had already switched us to a 4-4-2 to get us back into the game. Bringing on Ramires, Kakuta and Bosingwa were all logical switches and as soon as Kakuta won the free-kick which led to Branners getting a goal back, Carlo immediately switched to a diamond to try and throw Arsenal. He made positive tactical changes and did as much as possible to overcome the injuries to Sturridge and Nico and the general shitness of Kalou, Malouda and Mikel to try and get us back into the game.

The only things which I have disagreed with Carlo are his loyalty to the old guard and his relaxed attitude. At the start of this blip he said that the players who won him the Double deserve another chance to show they can still do it – despite the evidence that a load of these OAP’s legs have gone – but two months and what feels like hundreds of dropped points later he refuses to drop those who have no right to be starting a game for us. Didier and Ramires have both responded well to getting benched so why does he continue to allow Mikel, Malouda and Kalou to feel irreplaceable when he has Kakuta, Sturridge and Josh waiting for a chance? Looking at the table now, the title looks to be gone so if we’re going to go down we might as well go down with a few of the kids fighting for their places. Any Chelsea fan could see that tonight Mikel, Malouda and Kalou offered nothing to deserve a regular starting place so why do they keep getting picked ahead of the kids? Loyalty can still play a part in team selection but in terms of form and effort, the kids do deserve a chance.

As for his relaxed attitude, well, all I can say is that I’d like to see a bit of anger and fight from him. We’re dropping points every week and his constant optimism and laissez-faire attitude to this crisis (and it is a fucking crisis, isn’t it?) is starting to piss me off now. Show some fucking balls and say what you really think Carlo. If you believe that this squad isn’t good enough then fucking say it. If you need some new players then say it. I don’t care if it upsets some in the squad because some of us fans think things down at Cobham are a little too comfortable at present. After watching yet another pathetic and uninspiring defeat, one does begin to wonder whether these players even care. All the laughing and joking with their mates in the tunnel doesn’t go down too well as the fans pay to watch this dross week after week and even if we aren’t good enough to win anything this year, the least we expect is some passion when they step onto the pitch.

The rest of the game petered out as Arsenal decided to shut up shop and sit back for the 3-1 win. The only other things of note to occur in the final half an hour were more examples of Kalou’s stupidity and some brilliant defending and storming runs forward by Branner. The good news is that Branners was fighting to get us back into the game right up to the final whistle with some stunning last ditch challenges but the bad news is that Kalou constantly fucked up our attempts to get another goal by failing to understand the offside rule. His inability to control the ball or cross to a blue shirt was expected tonight but the number of times he stood offside, like an idiot who thought he was playing for Arsenal instead of Chelsea really was baffling.

And that was about that. Yet another defeat and yet another awful performance. Oh well, there’s always the Champions League to win instead. I mean, it’s not as if there’s any great teams left in that, are there? Oh…

The good

  • Branners – Fucking world class. The highlight of the night was his barnstorming run forward past three Arsenal challenges, right up to the edge of their box. It could have got us another goal back had the arrogant, selfish and ineffective Drogba not insisted on stealing the ball off him and ruining the move. If we had 10 players showing the same commitment as Branners, then we’d be unstoppable.
  • JT – A near perfect defensive display. Still conceded three times but without JT we’d have conceded six.
  • Cech – I thought he was great. Claimed every single cross with ease and distributed quickly. His penchant for punting the ball up the park couldn’t be avoided due to the lack of movement ahead of him.

The bad

  • Mikel – Sloppy passing, sloppy concentration and yet more sloppy marking. He’s regressed since his blistering early season form and deserves to be dropped.
  • Bosingwa – He’s brought on to provide an attacking outlet down the right but he seems incapable of crossing a ball past the first man and his habit of mindlessly shooting from 40 yards out instead of passing to a teammate visibly pissed off a few of our players.

The awful

  • Malouda – Fucking abysmal. Showed no fight, passion, skill, pace, touch, technique or any positive attitude you could think of. Sometimes you just have to accept that a player is too slow to be a winger but his biggest problem isn’t his lack of pace. It’s his attitude. He’s lazy and doesn’t care and that is simply unacceptable at this club.
  • Kalou – I’ve finally worked out why he’s so inconsistent and so awful. Get ready for it… Salomon Kalou is just bloody stupid. He’s a stupid footballer who doesn’t have a footballing brain. That is the only explanation for his embarrassing decision making in the final third, his inability to understand the offside rule and his decision to let Arsenal have a goal kick instead of putting in some effort to give away a throw near their corner flag when we were chasing the game and they were looking for any opportunity to time waste. Small things like that just piss me off because if footballers were intelligent as well as fit and skilful then they would get so much further in the game. Kalou needs to spend some time studying the game (just watch the Chelsea TV special with Zola, Nevin and Lamps who all talk about how their obsession with learning more about the game whether through coaching manuals, DVDs/videos or simply watching as much football as possible, made them into much better players) because at present he just plays like an idiot.
  • Our football – We created nothing from open play. It’s not just a lack of confidence that is costing us points but crucially a lack of pace and creativity. Our midfield is one-paced and reliant on power instead of craft to get a goal and when a side smothers our midfield we don’t have a Modric, Nasri or David Silva to get us out of trouble. We look old, slow and one-dimensional and the need for investment in midfield and attack should come before any purchase at the back. Malouda recently blamed our recent defeats on “a poor defence” but he should look at himself and his French speaking mates up front to see where our real problems lie.

Player ratings

  • Cech – 8/10 – Calm and assured.
  • Paulo – 6/10 – Too slow and too cautious to get us a goal when we really need one.
  • Branners – 9/10 – Incredible performance. Give him a pay rise and new contract Roman. Future Captain perhaps?
  • JT – 8.5/10 – World class defending but let down by those in front of him.
  • Ash – 6/10 – Subdued.
  • Mikel – 1/10 – Awful. He seems to have forgotten that his role as a deep lying playmaker is to set up our attacking moves. Long balls to the opposition don’t count Mr. Mikel.
  • Essien – 7/10 – First half he was terrible but his second half fight back was great to see. Maybe it was the anger or embarrassment he felt at being 3-0 down but we saw glimpses of the unstoppable Essien we know and love.
  • Lamps – 6/10 – Didn’t do much but when he got the ball his class shone through.
  • Kalou – 0/10 – A moronic and clueless performance. The first class on Tuesday morning should involve some DVDs on how to stay onside.
  • Malouda – 0/10 – A disgraceful performance full of complaining, diving and terrible passing. He needs to spend some time on the bench.
  • Didier – 6/10 – Not too bad but he needs to improve his technique to compensate for his drastic lack of pace. I ask again whether it’s wise to base a whole club’s footballing philosophy around a 33 year old who is clearly on the wane?
  • Ramires (sub) – 7/10 – Quite good. If only he knew how to shoot.
  • Kakuta (sub) – 7.5/10 – Pretty impressive. His pace, touch and technique were way beyond the dross Kalou and Malouda served up.
  • Bosingwa (sub) – 4/10 – Can’t defend. And since his return from injury he can’t attack either. He’s become a liability.
  • Carlo – 7/10 – Did as much as he could but he needs to ask for some investment. At this rate he’s going to get sacked anyway so he might as well admit to the fans that despite asking for Neymar, Schweinsteiger, Pato and David Luiz, Roman’s cost-cutting and idiotic decision to promote that fraud Emenalo has ruined things. Go on Carlo, just speak the fucking truth.

Man of the Match

It has to be Branners. He was bloody brilliant tonight.

The conclusion

So how about that then? How do we sum up yet another horrific showing?

My view is clear and what I watch every week just reaffirms my view that this team is past it. Why don’t we just fucking admit what is clear to all of us? There’s nothing wrong with admitting that this team has reached its sell-by-date because every side has to come to an end at some point. Without investment, every side will run out of steam at some point so why don’t Carlo and the club do something about it?

What really annoys me though is the blindly, stupid responses of those at the club who refuse to acknowledge that there are serious problems with this team. The terrible attitude of some of the old guard has overtaken the lack of pace and creativity as our biggest problem because they feel untouchable when the kids are constantly being ignored. The pathetic reaction of some to each defeat also doesn’t help. Dropping points at Spurs was explained away by Spurs getting lucky with a last minute penalty save. Dropped points in Marseille were explained away by it being a dead rubber. The Birmingham defeat was explained away by Foster’s heroics. The Sunderland defeat was explained away by it being a random off day. Every shit performance is explained away by some as it being a blip and that one good result will bring back the confidence levels which they believe are the cause of our terrible form. But that is a pitiful response to our problems in my opinion. At present we’re displaying relegation form and some people need to realise that this isn’t just a blip. The table doesn’t lie; we are a distant fourth and will be nine points behind when United win their game in hand so Roman needs to realise that if he doesn’t buy some quality reinforcements, we’re fucked.

A few weeks ago I was laughed at for being too pessimistic when I predicted that we’d be 5th by 2011. But if we lose against Bolton this week we’ll be 6th and Carlo will be sacked. I really didn’t want to be right and I don’t want Carlo to go but if we’re honest Spurs look to be the 4th best side in the country, not us.

Nighty night. Don’t let these embarrassing performances bite.

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There are 112 comments

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  1. The_SRG

    It is sad to say, but Carlo will be the first major change to occur if results don’t improve immediately. He’s a fantastic coach, but for some reason he can’t the squad to play with any resemblance of passion. If he goes, I cannot think of a single available manager to replace him that has near his quality.

    It’s been a sad few months, but not that surprising seeing age and quality of our squad. Good times couldn’t last forever, we need reinforcements now, not excuses.

    If no one is signed in January I would not be surprised, it would only affirm the fact that Roman doesn’t care about the club as much as he once did. We need multiple players in attack to offer more options and give Carlo the ability to stop using Kalou and Malouda every match.

    It’s a sad day at the club and the worst part is I don’t see anything changing in the near future.

  2. Gene

    Ouch mate, stings like a bee but the hard truth. I agree, bench Malouda, bench Mikel, and for fucks sake, bench Kalou…

    I don’t want to see Carlo go either. He doesn’t deserved to be sacked. But Chelsea isn’t a democracy, heck it ain’t even a Republic. It’s a dictatorship.

    What now?

  3. Cunningplan

    The questions are relatively simple, but the answers perhaps a bit more difficult.

    What’s happened to our defence?

    What’s happened to our attack?

    And perhaps a little more worringly, has Carlo lost the dressing room?

    I know Xmas is a time for giving, but we can’t go gifting goals like the second and third to any team, let alone Arsenal.
    I think it’s safe to say, and predict, if we don’t beat Bolton, then the title defence is effectively over, and we’re in a scrap for 4th.

    The plus side is…. we could well go on to win the CL with this type of form, Liverpool and 2005 anyone?

  4. MachchanHongKong

    Right call. More laziness from Malouda et al. The question is why? I wonder whether the parsimonious regime instilled by Gourlay was what started it all. Penny-wise and pound-foolish… doing away with various bonuses takes away a significant but still a small variable % of what is a already a ginormous fixed wage bill but the message it sends does more damage; makes the likes of Malouda lazier still. I am not doubting that we need to learn to be financially self-sufficient but you have to find smarter ways than the Kalou-less thinking our purse-string-controllers seem to be making. We might have just about given up the Premiership but here’s hoping that some sense prevails before the CL rolls on again.

  5. Prodicky

    Sack this Italian clown wearing an Italian suit.I think hes rode on too much on luck,He came here without Wilkins, and he will go to Italy without Wilkins,this Wilkins shit is pure hog wash and Carlo should stop hiding behind the curtains. in AC Milan Wilkins wasn’t there.i have watched this Italian clown an realized he is just as clueless as his raised eyebrow.Why do away with the likes of Deco Ballack Joecole Belleti Carvalho, their experience was invaluable and they could weigh in with match winning goals ,now we are left with unproved untested hogs who cannot even make the slightest difference in a game.this Italian clown literary drove the last nail in his coffin and we all saw it coming . The premier league is still less competitive it is us who have retrogressed.

  6. Anonymous

    Well said Habs, nice and controlled with a lovely seething undercurrent of anger. I think it’s gone past a blip and am struggling to think of any other time Man iutd or Arsenal have ever gone on such a run. One or two defeats, yes….a run of 2 or 3 draws, yes, but a combined run like we’ve had ……I don’t think it’s ever happened to either, of course happy for any anoraks to prove me wrong.

    We lost the 06/07 title under Avram Grant because of too many home draws, and Guus salvaged an FA Cup after Scolari’s poor run of form,which was nowhere near as dismal as this. As Drogba once said…… ‘Something is broken within Chelsea’

    I think the Ray thing is merely a single factor in the form, maybe the straw that broke the camels back. We’d seen plenty of arrogant sloppy play prior to the Anfield game, and saw enough within that game to prove that complacency had taken root and some of the hunger had gone. Maybe the players believed all the hype about strolling through the season unbeaten. If they did then they’re even stupider than I thought. The promotion of Clement and Emenalo was an insult to Ancelotti and to the players and herein lies the problem. No-one takes Emenalo seriously and probably never will. Clement may have promise but is way out of his deopth as the number 2.

    I still think it will need a respected player or coach to fill this role, to act as the bridge, to correct the players, the be friend and foe and make sure the coach’s ideas translate correctly.

    For me this is Zola, but maybe Wise could do the trick as well. Either way something that wasn’t broken was fixed, in the sense that it was made worse and the combination of Wilkins going, along with injuries (no longer an excuse) might have been the catalyst for this crisis, but now we seemingly have no way of getting out of it.

    I can’t see us beating a very capable, combative and hard working Bolton side, who if they beat us will go above us in the table. We can’t say it’s undeserved.

    And again, I’m not after the managers head, but if he isn’t man enough to admit he needs better support, and needs his own ‘team’ behind him then he should just walk away now. Leaders in all aspects of different sectors do things differently, they break the rules, they try new things and fail, but the next time they just fail better. If Ancelotti is anything like a leader then he needs to be brave and drop some big names and try some new players and tactics, after all we haven’t got an awful lot to lose right now.

  7. Anonymous

    The one thing is for sure this is an end of our aged (not ageing) squad! We have to go shopping, big time, before our team starts to look like of pensioners and grandsons.

  8. Joh

    Great report … However in the 1st 44 mins we did not have a single shot on goal. Malouda can go fuck himself with his quote that “it’s our defense that has let us down”. What a twat.

    The real debate should not be this game, nor this bad run of form, but what is our squad going to be in 2 seasons from now. I have been screaming for ages that with the new squad rules in place, CFC would be the most affected and needed the most investment to overcome it. We are now fucked in terms of strengthening the squad as we can only buy HG players unless we sell a current squad player.

    2nd issue is CA. This guy is obviously a great coach, but I think he needs some balls. He constantly spouts the company line of “I don’t need more players, my squad is good enough to challenge for the EPL, FA and CL.” Now this is fair enough if you look at our stunning start to the season, but clearly it is not the case as we enter what is possibly the worst run of form for any top 4 team … EVER??? So if CA does want re-enforcements then come out and say it!! (I do recognize that Rafa did this at inte rand look what happend to him) If he really thinks he can win shit with what we have, then he’s made his bed and has been found wanting.

    However for me the saddest part of the evening against Arse was how poor Kakuta was. I am not saying he was awful, but this punk held us at gunpoint till we gave him a 5 year contract worth 40,000 per week!! Are you serious? He’s ok … but if he is our shining light coming from our academy then I worry. Why can’t we ever get good young players like Rooney, Nani, Ronaldo, Nasri, Fabregas, Bale, Lennon, Rodwell, Wilshere etc.

    instead we get cocky french Gael, a good (but maybe lightweight Josh) Borini who seems frozen out and Bruma whom our coach has no confidence. Seriously – we talk about blooding youngsters but do any of us believe that in 2 seasons from now that Kakua, Sturrdige, Bruma, Van Arnholt will be 1st teamers? If so – then it will certainly be like the Claudio days, when we are the underdogs and our expectaions are much lower. God I hate the thought of spurs finishing above us with none of the money we have.

    come on Roman – get back into football or please sell us to some rich arabs.

  9. Anonymous

    Superb stuff Habs, encapsulates my thoughts exactly.

    It’s time for revolution at the Bridge. No win tomorrow and we’re completely stuffed this season. And the problem therein is that potential targets won’t be interested in joining. No, it’s time for the kids to be given a proper chance now. Josh played the Mikel role in the CL games so put him there. Kakuta in one of the attacking roles and Bruma in the middle with Branko out at RB. That’s what we need.

  10. PeteW

    ‘God I hate the thought of spurs finishing above us with none of the money we have.’

    Spurs have massively outspent us in recent seasons, as have Liverpool and, obviously, City.

  11. PeteW

    Good piece Habs, agree with most of this. Do think our confidence is shot and we are nowhere near as bad as results suggest.

    The Man United postponement has done us few favours. I fancy us to have got something from that coming hot on the heels of the Spurs game (who, remember, we thoroughly outplayed and should have beaten) while Arsenal was always going to be tougher if only because we are nearly always shit on Boxing Day. (Too many exhausted parents in the team, a problem the pre-pubescent virgins of Arsenal have yet to experience.)

    The good news is I am going tomorrow night and the last game I went to was our last victory, v Fulham. The run is over…

    But I’ve said from the start that Carlo has managed this badly and still think that’s the case. Blood the kids, see for sure what they are capable of and then worry about what we need to do to strengthen in the summer.

  12. FanSinceTheSixties

    It’s usual at year end for various award ceremonies so I’m making nominations for last night’s rubbish award.

    There was us – nuff said.

    Them – worse than us, and without the third nominee they’d have taken a pounding.

    The ref – first half played like a training session where they were supposed to be the team in possession. Every time we won the ball he just blew up and gave it back to them, how shit they were shows by the closeness of our possession stats despite him.
    Once they’d got their goal he went back to being a ref but the damage was done and we had decided to hand them a couple more goals anyway.

    But the award must go to: Their supporters.

    That they can still be bothered to boo Ashley shows what crap football they really play. It’s the sort of thing that bottom half teams do to pass the time because their teams shite and not worth watching.

    I was in a pub full of Arses who were ooing and ahing every time their blokes even looked at the ball. It was like being at a kiddies firework display, pathetic.

  13. Anonymous

    Great report Habs.

    Mikel was useless. At the beginning of the season I thought he might be our player of the year but he’s now playing his worst ever. Kalou only has a single brain cell, all the more galling to see him interviewed at home in his mansion on Chelsea TV. And Malouda, having resurrected his reputation over the last two seasons, is now an archetypal Frenchman, ready to surrender when the going gets tough. Please can people stop going on about age. Malouda and Mikel are only 2 months older than 2 months ago, they’re both still young. Their transformation from great to gross has nothing to do with age.

    As for Carlo I think he’s a decent manager but he might have to be sacked. If he’s lost the dressing room he may not be able to regain respect and control. I guess it must be Wilkinsgate. Wilkins is a bit like your appendix. No one is too sure what is does or why it’s there and if it’s removed, in a clean and safe surgical environment, you’ll be fine in a couple of days. However yank it out brutally with your bare hands and the patient might never recover.

    Finally please can people stop talking about blooding the youngsters, particularly Josh. I’ve not been as excited about a fresh talent as Josh since seeing a young Butch Wilkins make his debut but … Josh is just a boy, still scrawny and only fit for cameos. It’s like getting a few flames going in the back garden and then deciding to chuck all the leaves on in one go. The fire will go out. Josh needs nurturing and developing, not burying in an underperforming team of over inflated egos.

  14. Anonymous

    Not sure what depressed me most yesterday:

    Goal No.1 – as yet another team walked the ball through the middle of our defence with ease to score;

    Goal Nos. 2 &3 – panto comedy blunders to gift the game – surely at this time of year above all someone could have shouted “he’s behind you!” to Malouda;

    How short-lived our mini revival around the time of our goal was as we quickly ran out of inspiration and energy again;

    The realisation that the throw-away “joke” I made on here when ticket sales before the Zilina home game were a bit slow about it possibly being the last time we’d get to see us win this side of Xmas has come true.

    Still New Year is a time for looking for positives so:

    1) Uncle Avram’s mighty win against Fulham at the week-end has surely postponed his sacking for a few more weeks so he won’t be ringing his old mate Roman to offer his services in our hour of need just yet;

    2) Having just ventured outside this morning I can confirm that the temperature has risen significantly in SW London for the second day in a row meaning tomorrow’s game should not be the bum-freezing experience I was dreading, though I can’t promise any relief from the psychological blizzards of recent weeks.

  15. PeteW

    ‘Finally please can people stop talking about blooding the youngsters, particularly Josh. I’ve not been as excited about a fresh talent as Josh since seeing a young Butch Wilkins make his debut but … Josh is just a boy, still scrawny and only fit for cameos. It’s like getting a few flames going in the back garden and then deciding to chuck all the leaves on in one go. The fire will go out. Josh needs nurturing and developing, not burying in an underperforming team of over inflated egos.’

    I kind of agree and have said in the past that Carlo missed his chance, and made his first big mistake, when he refused to play Bruma against Sunderland, but given how inept the older players have been I think we have to give some of the youth a try.

    A bit of pep and lack of fear is exactly what we are missing and, if used wisely, could have dug us out this hole a lot earler. Do we really want to see Malouda and Ferreira and Drogba labouring away again tomorrow night?

    I’m not suggesting a spirit of 77 sink or swim attitude, but remember when we went up to Old Trafford at the beginning of the 90s, dropped the underperforming oldies, threw in Le Saux, Stuart and Matthew and kickstarted a run that briefly brought a bit of life back into the club? The alternative is more of what we’ve had for two months and keep our fingers crossed for a sudden change of form or a massive slice of luck, because the squad isn’t big enough for anything else.

  16. FanSinceTheSixties

    Disagree with some of the negativity about Flo.

    I know he’s a bit French which makes life difficult for him, but he started quite well last night and suffered more than most at the ref’s whistling. I recall one time when he skipped past a couple of wild tackles only to get a foul awarded against him, for what I don’t know. After that he did seem to give up, though.

    Was it also a game too soon for Frank? After such a long time out a second half entry might have been better.

    Ramires’ energy is wasted when he doesn’t get the full 90 mins.

    We sorely missed Nico and am I alone in thinking that Yury would be a big help now – another injury I think.

    Plus, if the youngsters are good enough to play when we go behind, then why not put them on before we concede?

  17. Joh

    Although Mikel has had a bad few games, he is a very talented player, has youth on his side and perhaps is being played in a postion that does not suit him. He must be kept in the squad.

    Kalou of course is crap … but we can’t get rid if him without replacing him with a another player that can run at defences and has pace. We are a very slow team.

    Malouda, Ash, Nico, Bosingwa, Drogs, Lamps, Yossi, JT and Alex (Cech as well but for his postion this is not such a concern) are all over or pushing 30. They are our spine and most influential players. Clearly this age issue must be addressed.

    • Brian MPgtipsmays

      cannot agree with you about Mikel .Just don’t rate the guy and never have even when others were raving about him earlier in the season on the basis of a couple of 30yard passes which led to goals.He is one paced,slows the game down ,cannot turn, is easily bypassed(viz Sunderland’s first goal and Arsenal’s’,first last night.) and lacks any deftness in his passing..And as for him being played in a position that doesn’t suit him don’t tell me he should be playing any further forward because everone knows how poor his shooting is.

  18. Anonymous

    Hot off the rumour press, but apparently there is an emergency board meeting scheduled for AFTER tomorrows game,

    Is than the noise of an axe sharpener I hear…….

    • Cunningplan

      The trouble is with the possible deporting of Carlo back to Italy, who do we get? Surely even Chelsea are not mad enough to promote KE, or even worse, hire a certain unemployed Spanish waiter.

      • Anonymous

        Given Roman’s history on these matters I fear we can rule nothing out, simply cross everything/pray to the gods of your choice and hope he’s learned from past mistakes.

      • Anonymous

        I’ve also been thinking the same thing.

        The one positive to come from any change in manager is that this shock tactic usually changes the atmosphere and form at the club and we should see some more positive results. Although one only has to look to the disaster at Villa Park to see what happens when a new arrival doesn’t quite work out. But even if we were to bring in someone new, who would it be?

        Looking around the leagues, these are the first names I could think of:

        Rafa – Free and available but he’s a lunatic who seems to enjoy picking a fight with rich owners and upsetting the club’s big players. So no then.

        Moyes – I quite like him. Has bought well and seems to specialise in producing a great spirit amongst the players. But he’s never had that much money to spend and we could see a disaster in the transfer market. He would also struggle to attract big foreign names and I fear that he would be out of his depth in the Champions League.

        Roberto di matteo – Doing great things at West Brom but anyone who thinks that Eddie Newton is a great assistant isn’t ready for Chelsea.

        Pep – The best young manager in the world? Possibly. He has created an incredible football team, quite likes mind games and isn’t afraid to stand up to famous owners/Presidents. Roman also likes him but his record in the transfer market is a bit dodgy (€85m spent on Zlatan and Chygrynskyi is awful stuff). Oh and we shouldn’t forget our biggest problem with Pep…there’s no way we can get him in January.

        Jose – The world’s best manager but there’s no chance he’d come back.

        Klinsmann/Bilic/Van Basten – Usual names who are linked with any available job but they’re all average and should not be anywhere near Cobham.

        And then my personal favourite:

        Andre Villas Boas – You won’t be surprised to know that he’s already being called the mini-Mourinho and this guy is quickly making a name for himself as one of the best young managers in Europe. A great man-manager who is still obsessed with opposition scouting, if we had to bring in someone new, this should be the guy for us. Just read these if you won’t to know more about him:–Andre-Villas-Boas-Jose-Mourinho-Mark-II-steering-Porto-unbeaten-start.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

        But what shouldn’t be forgotten is that any new manager would need to be bought out from their present club and have money spent on new players and coaches. If Roman is willing to that for any of the above then why doesn’t he just back Carlo with the cash? It seems obvious that Carlo needs some money but I fear that one more poor result against Bolton will be the end for this world class manager who has won everything there is to win in Europe and was Roman’s personal choice a few years back.

        • Joh

          I think Jose would come back to us … I just can’t see Roman admitting he made a mistake.

          I do agree that Boas is a top manager and I would welcome him above all others (except TSO) if we sack CA. After Boas – I would take a punt on Di Matteo for 1/2 a season – if he doesn’t cut the mustard then we can replace him in the summer.

          However – there’s no point bringing in a new manager if no funds will be made available.

          As for the Mikel discussion – I agree he is slow and his long range passing is not great. However he holds the ball very well, is strong and very technical. He was voted player of the tournament at the under 21 WC where he played an AM role. Strong in the air and in tackles. He has been at fault for some goals recently but for his age he is very mature on the ball and will only get better. To sell him would be a great mistake I think. Useful squad if not 1st team player.

  19. Ososdeoro

    Let’s start by looking at who we unqualifiedly enjoy seeing on the starting roster — the sort of player that makes you happy by his mere presence due to his effort, skill, speed and smarts: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Lampard, Drogba and Terry. For me, Alex and Benayoun do that as well, but they’re in no condition now to help. So, we’ve got six players out of 11 we all like seeing out there. Maybe seven if you include Essien, but he just hasn’t been as good this year.

    There are other players I don’t MIND seeing in the lineup, who I know are still learning or are decent backups: McEachran, Ferreira, Ramires (and amongst the injured, Zhirkov). The rest either induce a big cringe or are grossly inexperienced.

    But since this is Chelsea, shouldn’t there be more than seven players we unreservedly like to see playing out there?

    And that brings us to the other issues. Look at the f**king schedule! It’s insanity to suggest that among those seven, that they’re not going to get hurt or worn down anymore. Hell, Wenger wouldn’t even play Chamakh yesterday because of fatigue (and he’s 26!!!!). Either players must be added or the torpedoes must be damned and the kids who need the experience and have the desire to make an effort must be given the chance to play. If we’re really lucky, it will inspire the highly paid deadwood on the team to compete for their jobs. But with this schedule, it’s ridiculous to grind down the old guys. This is a game of attrition and depth, and Chelsea as an organization just isn’t playing the game.

    Ancelotti has shown that he can handle established professionals very well. But those guys have gotten hurt, and now CA has to deal with subs and youngsters. So far we haven’t seen much from him on that front. I think he’s a wonderful manager, but does he have that fearless mentality that is required to inspire the subs and youngsters to play above their ability? I don’t think so. I think if he trots out Malouda and MIkel out there and they don’t do well, then they are to blame. But if Bruma and Borini (just as an example) get to play and they screw up as badly as the former two do, then Ancelotti gets the blame. One wonders if Holloway or Roberto D would give one crap about that.

  20. Austin Solari

    I have a terrible feeling that unless we win and do it well tomorrow night, we are going to be looking for a new man at the helm. Come back, Guus????

  21. FanSinceTheSixties

    Maybe that meeting is about how much dosh to spend next week…

    I heard that Wolfsburg have dropped their valuation of Dzeko from 50 to 30m Euros, but Juve seem to be first in line and I’m not sure about any political baggage either.

  22. Anonymous

    5th in the league. In the worst form of all Prem teams thanks to Fulhams win today.

    Fuck you very much Chels for a great Xmas. Why not bend over, lube up and let Bolton roger us tomorrow night just to compound the misery.

    Still, I suppose it must pain Liverpool fans almost as much as us. They’re in marginally better form but that infamous 19 titles is about to be eclipsed by Man U.

  23. Anonymous

    The realisation has just hit me that our rearranged home game against United will probably bear witness to us performing a guard of honour for them winning the title.

    That won’t hurt at all.

    • Cunningplan

      I wouldn’t be so sure Fiftee, the league is proving to be quite a surprise, and Utd were hardly convincing last night.
      I just feel the longer this unbeaten run of theirs goes on, it just might be an advantage to others, with the pressure and hype each game brings.
      They can remain unbeaten, but I fee there are going to be a lot of draws in there, which may well hurt them.

  24. Anonymous


    Shirley you imply we were ever in with a chance? Can’t see an unproven at the very top level striker being a risk we’d take.

    Needs to be a Pato, Aguero type that we recruit. I read last night we have a ‘90% chance’ of signing Kaka at the end of June. If he leaves Real. I think that’d be worth pursuing, a natural Lamps-type player. Yes we need a striker or three, but replacing Lamps would be my priority. But then we need a proper right back as well…..

    Home draw tonight. 2-2.

    • Joh

      Buy an ageing (29) injury prone playmaker is not what we need. It will just be another Deco/ shevchenko debacle.

      We needed to go for an Ozil … young talented and hungry. Please lets not buy anymore “stars” that are on their decline as opposed to younger players yet to fulfil their full potential.

      If we draw or lose tonight then surely CA will be sacked? Is it just me or is the possibility of not qualifying for the CL next season a reality for us? How things change …

  25. Polo246

    Dude, what an awesome post man. You absolutely summed up everything I was thinking in a single post. I don’t think I’ve got anything to add. I don’t really want to go into the politics of you know, the Wilkins sacking, and us buying players and all. Because we have absolutely no control over those things. And thinking about it just frustrates me. I’m just thinking you know, it has to end somewhere right? I’m just praying for a decent performance against Bolton, and you know a win. I mean, I just want to see us winning matches again man!

  26. Anonymous

    Random, bizarre optimism alert.

    Change of heart in Chez Fiftee. 6 points from our next two games are my latest prediction. Just seen that Kalou’s on the bench tonight. No Mikel.

    We now have a chance chaps…..

  27. Anonymous

    We play like we are jinxed. It looks like we are never going to score. We don’t even do anything that might create chance or half chance. I truly it’s all going to change soon.

  28. Cunningplan

    That was more like it, my brief summary, Bolton run themselves ragged in the first half, and knackered themselves for the second. And oh boy, was Ramires good tonight.

  29. Anonymous

    So we got there in the end but my god it was bad at some points.

    The last twenty minutes were quite good, although still nothing like the real Chelsea, and Ramires and the back 4 were great, as was Essien but for large parts we still looked nothing like title contenders.

    However a win is a win and even though I’m a little annoyed that we got out of jail after we again ignored the kids, 3 points were all that was required. But Bosingwa’s suicidal defending, Didier’s inability to pass to a blue shirt and the shocking lack of chances we created were all still visible on a nervy and pretty poor night.

    • Ososdeoro

      Baby steps – at least stability in the midfield has been achieved and now we don’t lose the ball until the clowns in front get it.

  30. Anonymous

    So my late optimism was well founded. We’re still in a crisis / blip though. That is a given.

    And the super-mega-amazing Arsenal title challenge suffers a set back after, umm, one match. And Woys Liverpool are behind against bottom of the league Wolves.

    Things could be a whole lot worse. But, conversely, a whole lot better still. A win on Sky Sunday is a must.

  31. Cunningplan

    And I will add, that it looks as if Pete is now going to have to go to the remaining home games, he’s become our lucky mascot.

  32. Anonymous

    Shocking first half, totally devoid of ideas.

    Better second half. Not great but better.

    Hopefully all the Ramires doubters are now having second thoughts. He’s a gutsy little bugger.

  33. Anonymous

    Watching MOTD. Here’s one from left-field for you. Charles N’Zogbia.

    Sure, minor discipline issues are part and parcel of his game, but he’s quick, direct and scores a few goals. Shouldn’t cost the Earth coming from Wigan, and another attacker is needed to give the current forwards a massive toe-punt up the jacksie to buck their ideas – and form – up.

    • Jack

      Said the same when I was liveblogging the match today. I’m not exactly sold on the idea, but we could definitely do a whole hell of a lot worse than taking a punt on N’Zogbia.

  34. Anonymous

    Still watching MOTD. A few things of note :

    Firstly, how asleep can one professional footballer remain during a game? Maybe selective editing but hopefully someone who was there can answer : What the fuck is Bosingwa doing?

    Secondly, after all the World class wingers that he’s faced this season, was Ashley Cole really given his most torrid time of the season by Sam Ricketts?

    Thirdly, Drogs was probably offside. But I don’t care.

    The kids need to play more though.

    • Anonymous

      All you need to know after I watched the whole game is that Bosingwa is too casual, lazy and careless to be a good right back at Chelsea anymore. Tonight he caused heart attacks every time he got the ball in our half and Ivanovic’s shift to centre-back seems to be the cause of many of our defensive problems lately. Branners at right back and a strong centre back to be bought in January should solve that little problem.

      But never fear, Alan Shearer just tipped us for the title. And as Spurs are on can I ask if Bale is available in January?

  35. Anonymous

    Dreadfully disjointed, hesitant, nervy. Despite some good-to-excellent individual performances — Ramires looks like he’s figured out English football, which is good going by this stage in the season, and Branners and JT and Petr were terrific as they’ve been almost all season — it never added up to anything; they all looked like they were playing on different teams. Lots of effort even from those who played horribly (Malouda, Bosingwa, Drogs) but the ball just won’t do what they want it to and there’s no cohesion.

    It was extraordinary how that one Iniesta-like pass from Frank changed the whole game though. That seemed to be all it took for everyone (including the crowd) to remember that oh yes, we are actually better than Bolton. Up until then, in all seriousness, we looked like a lower mid-table side puffing through an awkward home tie against combative but limited visitors (c.f. the ‘Poo).

  36. The_SRG

    It wasn’t pretty today, but it’s a result which is more than we could say over the last few months. Lamps was tired by the 60th but he’s getting match time so he’ll be back to him full self soon enough.

    First half wasn’t pretty, no chances created and little to be excited about. Limetreebower is exactly right about the beauty of a through ball from SFL to Drogs. That seemed to wake the whole team up and we started pressing Bolton and got the result.

    Terry was good, Branners not so much. Was overpowered by Kevin Davies way too often and looked out of position quite a bit. But Ramires undoubtedly put in the best match of his short Chelsea career. He had energy, was putting in tackles and making some good runs forward. He isn’t the strongest player we got but he’s quick and once he gets going he makes things happen. Happy to see him improving and if he keeps this up he will be in the starting XI quite a bit with the form Mikel has been showing.

    Still, we need to make signings in January to just get some depth on the bench. A center back is a must, we need someone to pair with Terry so Ivanovic can go back to right back where he looks much more comfortable and about a million times more effective the f*cking Boswinga. And another attacker is needed to freshen things up, someone with some pace who can get at defenders and put a ball into the box. It seems unlikely that we will buy, but it’s worth dreaming I guess.

  37. Cunningplan

    I have to say guys I’m a little disappointed with some of the negative comments on here. Surely regardless of performance, the important thing was a win, and three points to restore some self belief and confidence for the players. We battered Birmingham not so long ago, and still lost, so a poorish performance and 3 points does it for me.
    Yes I know we didn’t play breathtaking football, but I don’t think anyone expected that, yes a nervy first half, but a lot better second, and a very good final 20 mins.

    Arse fans must be pulling the hair out, when they can’t close out a game against 10 men (yet again) to gain the three points, their defending is even more keystone kop than ours. So we’re still in the mix only 4 points adrift (which might be seven) so all’s not lost yet, another 3 points on Sunday against a poor Villa team will do nicely, even if the goal comes from a deflection off a low flying pigeon.

    And lets all bow our heads for a minutes silence for yet another nail in the coffin of the mighty Liverpool, and yes Joe Cole is getting worse.

  38. PeteW

    Terrible first half, but vast improvement when the confidence returned. There’s still something not right – not a huge fan of body language-spotting, but Malouda and Anelka don’t look happy at all – but some good football in spells and a clean sheet!
    Terry and Cech have been near faultless throughout the run, but Ramires was also excellent – the sort of performance we expect but rarely actually get from Essien.
    Great to see Lampard back.
    I know that Ivan is the sort of anti-Kalou can do no wrong for some people, but I think he’s looked poor at centre back and s struggled again yesterday Alex is missed. All the same, I’m worried who will play next to Terry on Sunday now Ivan is suspended. Bruma, Essien? Please god not bloody Ferreira (who should be at RB, Boswinga is going to take a while to recover from a year out).
    So good to get a win though, and actually a really enjoyable second half all things considered.

  39. PeteW

    I’ve always liked N’Zogbia but he is moody and inconsistent according to Newcastle/Wigan fans I know.
    We do need a forward/winger though to replace the massively missed Benayoun.
    I hate to make predictions, but was confident even on Monday that Arsenal won’t win the league. Their flaws are manifest and inexcusable.
    Tempted to put something on City though. They’re really looking the part. United will falter, we will improve, Arsenal will flatter and finally flop.
    Horrible thought that we could qualify for Europa League. Think I’d rather finish 7th then suffer that ignominy of death by pointlessness.

  40. Der_Kaiser

    So that’s what 3 points and a clean sheet feels like – been a while…

    If you had to put our recent problems down as a series of percentages, I’d say it’s around 15% lack of Frank, 20% ‘underlying issues’ (Ray, mood in the camp) and 65% confidence. All entirely subjective, of course.

    Appreciate we all react differently as fans, but I never really bought into the doomsday scenario espoused by many on here and elsewhere; a series of injuries (and illness), some stubborn selections by the boss (and I think you have to take his ‘bad’ stubborn streak with the ‘good’, as it were) and a less experienced squad – still think Carlo has ‘trust’ issues with the kids which needs to be resolved – combined fairly effectively to give us a rotten 6 weeks or so. Is everything ‘right’ now? Of course not, but any underlying problems are much easier to deal with when you’re winning; simplistic, but largely true, I feel.

    You only had to look at the effect a couple of decent passages of play, the odd well-picked pass and ultimately the goal had on the team; not perfect yet – too ponderous and hesitant; the number of times Malouda should have released the ball last night and didn’t, especially first half was infuriating, but the confidence boost was glaringly obvious – get another win under our belt on Sunday and things will look brighter still. Just no Paulo at centre half, please…

    This season is far from over; retaining the title will be much harder now and if you were laying your cash down, the blue and red sides of Manchester look a better bet than us right now; the former’s chances rest on any number of things, including what happens if they throw yet more gazillions at Dzeko – let’s hope he has that mid-season Asprilla effect – and for all the ‘unbeaten’ plaudits, United just don’t convince at all. Top of the league with one away win all season is not the stuff of champions. We might be down, but we’re certainly not out just yet.

    Arsenal – well, you have to laugh… our manager might have caused us the odd sleepless night of late, but any Gooner spouting the ‘Arsene knows…’ mantra after the changes he made last night to the team that beat us needs as much help as Wenger himself.

  41. Anonymous

    That was almost as literal a game of two halves as I can remember. Bolton were quite fiery and were into us big time during that first half without creating anything to dangerous themselves. We, on the other hand, looked a bit scared and tense during the first half. What the Good Lord Kaiser says makes sense, the lack of confidence in trying anything new was highly visible, and when we chatted at half time we agreed in general that things looked far from right.

    Second half though we did look better, like an F1 engine that’s suffered some serious damage and needs rebuilding……gradually you refit the pieces and the first few tries end up in a smoking spluttering mess , but you add the final pices and then it’s all about re-tuning so that everything works in synch. What we saw last night were the beginnings of the end of the smoking, misfiring engine with some signs of clear synchronised running.

    Someone described Franks pass to Drogba as Iniesta like, and that one moment alone got the drowd onto their feet. That for me was the first visible sign the engine was almost running to it’s high standards. After that the second half was the polar opposite of the first, with us dominating, Bolton getting some decent half chances. How Ivan put his header over the bar is a mystery to me.

    On final word here……..there’s been a lot of slagging off of Ramires here and elsewhere, but last night he was superb and if I were doing the report then he would have been MoTM for me. So credit where it’s due for a young man still finding his way in English football.

    And to echo the good Lord Kaiser, thats what 3 points and a clean sheet feels like then? It’s like my old favourite coat has just been found and handed back to me……

    • Anonymous

      Agree, that sublime pass from Lampard seemed to unlock the team and crowd from the utter dross that the first half had consisted of – possibly for the first time ever I thought MOTDs 3 and a half minutes of highlights of the first half was far more than it deserved.

      I’m with JD too. This season’s EPL seems to be turning into a repeat of last year with all the the sides involved turning in mediocre performances regularly and all trying very hard to throw it away. Bizarrely, we might stagger on and still win it again if we get some better luck with injuries for rest of the season.

    • Anonymous

      Yep, I found drogba’s desire to do everything bloody annoying as well. Especially when it results in that dire first half effort that he just sent onto Row Z of West stand

  42. Anonymous

    There is an alleged ‘insider’ who sits near me I discovered last night, but isn’t there always loads at the ground professing to insider knowledge? Anyway he said that CA, Clement and Emenalo all get on incredibly well, and the players like Emenalo and Clement as well – I did point out that this didn’t seem to tranlsate to the body language on the bench and he didn’t seem to know how to answer this.

    Some other interesting things though he did say……..Wilkinsgate was as a result of the Inter Milan game, but RA had let it seethe away before deciding Rays fate. Allegedly Gourlay or Buck did try to defend Ray. Lastly, RA i no longer willing to fund constant mega-buck purchases. Mainly this is down to Shevchencko and the sharp reality lesson he got from that, along with others he feels duped about (SWP mentioned). As far as RA is concerned he has put everything into place for complete self sufficiency across the club, including coaching staff. Which to be fair does seem the way now. I’m OK with this although it does smack of Wengerism – so we might need to prepare for times of limited success.

    Lastly, the one thing RA knows is insufficient is the match day revenue and the current thoughts are allegedly along another 20k capacity PLUS he’s also allegedly keen on a ground share with………….QPR, who hevae also decided a new ground is needed especially if, as expected, they get promotiion this year.


    • Anonymous

      On TalkSh*t last night it was mentioned that RA has bought a new property in Knightsbridge for £150m and the largest privately owned yacht/ship/boat on which he’s holding a New years party with the music perform by the Black Eyed Peas. This is encouraging because at least RA is out of his personal recession and has money in his pocket if he chooses to spend it on us.

      • Anonymous

        I also heard somewhere that his personal fortune has started to rise from it’s paltry low of £10bn to somewhere approaching £14bn.

        Even Putin would have trouble denting that with making him fund the odd stadium.

    • FanSinceTheSixties

      Not sure about the ground share although it works well enough in other countries.

      We’d still be left with the question of where to put a 60,000 stadium. Having flown over the Emirates and seen just how much real estate it takes up, it’s quite an issue. Is Earls Court still available?

      Another positive about last night was the attendance – a fairly full house against Bolton, midweek in the depths of December with a team in crisis!

      Not too shabby I’d say, lots of real support there so maybe another 10 or 20k would be sustainable.

      But I’m sure we could do more with SB: build footbridges or tunnels to disperse the crowd out from the North of the ground or something. If the neighbours complain then it’d be cheaper to buy an adjacent street which we could always sell back when the market improves.

      • Anonymous

        The issue is with the council though, and the lack of support for the other options – people dont want football fans walking down their streets, especially in well off areas.

        I’m only going by rumour but it was intersting stuff and the guy did seem to be sensible and not an obvious bullshitter. The attraction of the share must also include the shared purchase and developmnt costs. Ecclestone is the majority shareholder at QPR I believe, and the Mittals also seem pretty esconced as well so perhaps te dual investments from both parties would be financially appealing, especially when one loos at how much RA would recoup from where SB currently sits.

        At Pete – love that Transfer League – have tweeted and credited you.

  43. FanSinceTheSixties

    Unusually unanimous opinions here and I hope the team are as united on Sunday.

    Welcome back Frank – what a difference a pass makes.

    Hard to credit that it’s taken so long for us to play a properly weighted ball. Everyone responded. Essien stayed on his feet and even Bos made some telling tackles.

    We struggled in first half and seemed really worried about getting to the break without conceding, but we did and then the second was so much better.

    All the talk from the camp is that the team know it ain’t over until it’s over and we need more results so no false dawns we hope.

    With Branislav out we should see what lessons Carlo has learned about our central defenders, surely AV at home is a game to put some faith in our youngsters.

    There used to be a saying about policemen getting younger, which is maybe the situation that Carlo’s in right now, and the kids just look too young for him to ‘risk’, but trust us Carlo, the kids aren’t really getting younger, we’re all just maturing gracefully.


    No, I didn’t think we would go in for Dzeko, but we are still inside the Christmas 12 day thingy, so nothing wrong with a bit of Santa prompting.

    It’s weird that RA was apparently tempted by a fading FT during the summer (at how much more £’s), yet a rising 24 year old goalscorer doesn’t appeal.

    • FanSinceTheSixties

      That’s interesting reading and if you factor in how many we’ve let go on freebies (too old or wages too high, to sell in the current economic climate) then we were quite close to breaking even.

    • Joh

      I stand corrected.

      If this info is actually correct then Chelsea being the 10th biggest net spender in the last 5 years is bloody impressive given how many titles we have one in that time.

    • Anonymous

      I can see from the error correction page correspondence that lots of transfer freaks have been poring over the data on this site including several Chelsea ones, leading to the current figures shown.

      I’ve always thought we’ve been crap at getting any kind of decent fee for players we’ve sold in recent years apart from Bridge and SWP to Citeh [and even the latter was a whacking net loss, of course]. I’m therefore astounded to read that we may actually have got £5m each for the Pizzaman, Sidwell and Ben-Haim when we sold them – and £7m out of Madrid for Riccy.

      Can these figures really be true?

  44. Joh

    I didn’t see the game … but really glad to hear that Ramires had a good game. I hope its not a one-off. I still think 17 million euro’s is way to much for him though especially when compared to Van der Vart for 8 million.

    Also – a win against bolton should not paper over the cracks of our ageing squad and investment is in dire need.

  45. Marco

    Belated thanks to Habs for his excellent report on the Arsenal game. I decided not to watch it for superstitious reasons (which seem justified in hindsight – another good example, perhaps, of irrational thinking from a Chelsea fan). His report could have applied, equally, to any of our recent piss-poor performances against other sides. In particular the alarming slump in performance of Mikel, Malouda, Bosingwa, Kalou and Drogba.

    Thanks, also, to all of you who contributed with first-hand reports on the Bolton game. I did get to see the second-half and was strangely encouraged by the play – similar to the second-half against Spurts – through which we took control and, eventually, edged out the 1-0 – and could have won 2 or 3-0. Let’s hope Carlo can find a way to get them playing like that for 90 minutes instead of 45. If he can work on that over the next few days I might even decide to watch the game against Aston Villa.

    I will be even more encouraged if he leaves out Mikel, Kalou and Bosingwa on Sunday, keeps Ramires, and brings in Bruma for Ivan, with Ferreira at right back. Thought Essien did enough to justify another selection while, with a goal in him, Malouda could start playing next time like a French international rather than a try-out for Hull City.

    Apropos ‘insider’ comments on what is actually going on inside the cloistered halls at Cobham I was pointed to a a report by a mate of mine which describes that the reason Wilkins was sacked dates back to an encounter at a social function between Wilkin’s wife, Jackie, and Gourlay’s wife, in which she (allegedly) told her about Gourlay’s Ugandan activities.

  46. Anonymous

    Hope the stories about our bid for David Luiz are a little wide of the mark. Yes we need defensive reinforcements asap, but we need someone to move into the team as seamlessly as possible.

    If we’re talking the reputed £17m that was offered, then the Guardians alternatives of Cahill or Jagielka would be much better IMO.

  47. PeteW

    Opta team of 2010 is in based on stats and Chelsea have four representatives: Ashley, Lampard, Terry and…. wait for it… Kaloooooooooooooou.

    Suck THAT up… and have a great New Year’s Eve.

  48. Anonymous


  49. Ringo

    Happy New Year all!

    It’s only 6pm here ,but that’s new year as far as i’m concerned.

    And thank you to the writers and all the commenters on here for making this such a great blog.

  50. Anonymous

    Optimism revision v1.5

    Just seen we have Wolves on Wednesday. If we stumble past Villa on Sunday, we’re on for 9 points from 9. Wolves may have beaten Liverpool but theyre still shite.

    Happy 2011 and all that mularkey. Can’t really be much worse than 2010 can it? Not like we won the double last year was it? Oh….

  51. Anonymous

    No. No. No. No. No.

    Just read that Ferreira is expected to play at centre back tomorrow. If true, have we learned nothing from the-period-we-shall-not-speak-of? Play Bruma and if he has a mare put it down to youthful exuberance or whatever. Don’t wheel out the same one paced clogger that did nothing to help out last time we called on him. Paulo’s barely good enough for a back up right back now, let alone replacement CB.

    Also, Villa are almost full strength. Will be a tough game for us. We should prosper really.

    Finally, what the hell is agent Cole playing at? Turning rogue on his mission to Anfield. Unless he did it to prolong Agent Hodgsons tenure. Sneaky……

  52. Anonymous

    I see Villa have called Dunne in from the cold today. Queue him having a stormer. And doesn’t their pace normally trouble us? Paulo better be flying today.

  53. Anonymous

    Villa game.
    We are slow, extremely slow. The only player on the pitch is Flo, he is running and trying, but in most of the cases not receiving any support in attack. The other bad word coming to Ferreira I might fingers of only one hand to count number of passes he made and might require calculator for the number of mispasses.

  54. Anonymous

    Ferreira needs putting down. What the fuck is he waiting for in the build up to their penalty? Just wallop the fucking thing downfield. No-one is expecting anything else, so why dither for so long.

    We look clueless up front, othering nothing. Ashley is getting no help on the left. At this stage my newfound optimism looks foolish. Our only consolation could come from them having 6 yellow cards already.

  55. Anonymous

    Fucking shambles.

    No right back = no win. Simple.

    Bruma did very well I thought, completely let down by some senior team mates. Essien pretty anonymous, Kalou doing his blind alley thing when coming on. Easier to pass but just run into the opposition.

    No idea what the hell happened for their equaliser, JT drags us into the lead from nothing then someone switches off at the most important time. Inexcusable. I’m angry now. Not frustrated, but angry. We probably didn’t deserve to win, but to take the lead when we did and still stuff it up sums up how broken we still are.

  56. Anonymous

    Awful, just awful.

    Forget the incredibly unprofessional way we thought we had won the game with 5 fucking minutes still to play and concentrate on our football because we were dire. A few Lampard passes apart we created fuck all in terms of chances and our slow, incredibly boring football was laughable at times.

    And have you ever seen two players put in performances of such woeful technique as Drogba and Ramires today? Both of their attempts to pass or control a football were embarrassing and the fact that Heskey completely outplayed Dorgba kind of says it all really.

    And I’m kind of glad that we didn’t win the game in a way. It would have simply covered up the cracks. We look one-paced, devoid of ideas and just a bit past it. The side looks tired and ready for an overhaul and hopefully the grim league table will persuade Roman to spend some money. His cost cutting has been banking on Champions League cash but if he hasn’t spent enough money to maintain a CL quality side then we’ll finish out of the top 4 and he’ll need to spend even more to get us back in it. It’s counter productive to simply buy 1 player a summer when a team is as old and tired as ours.

    At least Kalou’s ridiculous step overs and Bosingwa’s volley into his own face cheered me up.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry, Ramires was one of the few bright sparks again today, the kid was unlucky to go off. He was doing what Essien should be doing. Take those anti-Ramires glasses off Habs, everyone I’ve spoken to thinks he did better than OK. He put Essien to shame at times today with his effort.

      Drogba on the other hand,……..embarrassing. I’m on match report duty and frankly I’m sick of being a voice of reason.

      • Anonymous

        No Ramires bashing glasses here.

        Love his effort. Love his pace and I love his energy. But his passing is dismal. One example springs to mind: he had broken through two Villa challenges and had Didier directly in front of him, ready to receive an easy 4 yard pass (yep, only 4 yards). So what does he do…fucking blasts it to Friedel. His touch and technique lets him down and as I’ve said loads of times, if Carlo switched Essien and Ramires then we’d have a much better balance. Ramires has the energy to cover the ground in our own half and Essien enjoys powering forward in attack.

        But Didier was an embarrassment. I feel the word disgrace is apt. He must have touched the ball twice in the first half and his inability to control or pass the ball in the second half was hilarious. As his pace has now gone, all he has left is his dismal touch and technique. The power and hold up play has disappeared (watch Heskey today to see how a lone front man should play) and his attempts to dribble (always a disaster), pass (almost never goes to the right man) or control (tripped himself up twice in the second half) are laughable. His finish for our second goal was his usual head down and hope, blast towards goal and only came about after some awful chest control (and a terrible Kalou finish). He also thinks he’s better than he is as he constantly insists on stealing the ball off others in better positions. As I said after the Arsenal game: “is it wise to base our entire footballing philosophy around a 33 year old, clearly on the wane?”

        Oh and Bosingwa can fuck off too. Carlo may bring him on, thinking he can provide some more attacking threat, but he’s weak, lazy and can’t cross a fucking football.

        Good luck to Spurs though. They deserve Champions League football ahead of us at present.

  57. Benjamin

    We had some good chances that we could have scored from but chose to shoot straight at BF, so we were making the chances and just not taking them (Malouda 1v1, Lampard volley)

    At our end the defence keeps pressing the self-destruct button. Could easily argue all 3 goals were our own making and won the game 2-0.

    Silly penalty given away as we were messing around.
    2v1 at far post and Heskey wins
    Lose concentration = goal

    Bruma played well, next defence Ivanovic Bruma Terry Cole till Alex back. Ivanovic and Terry on either side of him will look after him. That defence looks strong.

    For me I think we need to sign a striker and a winger, then drop Malouda until he starts playing back at the level we have come to expect from him.

    Also Sturridge deserves to start over Kalou, and Paulo for me is finished.

    We should consider signing Lahm from Bayern Munich and offer Paula or Bosingwa in return (or both ;p)

  58. Anonymous

    So, so slow. So clueless.

    At times it looked like we were crying out for more rigidity in our formation. You’ve got Anelka AND Malouda dropping deeper than the 3 midfielders at times. And still doing nothing with it. Then we’re left short up top if by some miracle the ball gets through.

    The Chelsea of last season (and a few before it) is long dead. Major overhaul time. Promotion of the kids, or investment in new players, but the blip turned into a crisis, and the crisis has turned into a fatality. No-one can defend what’s going on (well, and not believe it as well). Whoevers to blame – Roman, Carlo, players, mixture of all – things will only continue to worsen until there are a lot of changes. We need defenders who can defend, midfielders who can create, strikers who can score and speedy, dynamic wingers. And we have none of them. Well, not in the usual faces.

    Spoilt kid time from me, but it seems it’s double or quits Roman. Either bury the team as it is know, strip out the deadwood and play the kids regardless of results, or spend a few roubles. But continuing as we are and just idling along into oblivion is not the answer.

  59. Anonymous

    Too many passengers. Drogba and Malouda were ineffectual and Anelka can’t do anything; score, create, work, tackle.

    JT can hold his head up. Some great tackles and a well taken goal.

    We desperately need a right back. This whole implosion is due to having to move Ivanovic from right to centre back.

  60. Der_Kaiser

    Never a dull moment down SW6 way… Not sure what happened to the marking for Villa’s 3rd but that’s ultimately what cost us. Defence is still the concern without Alex and Ivan; forwards still labouring but are also poorly served and supported which seemed to dawn on the collective after about 75 minutes.

    This run can’t come to an end soon enough – some of the old shite being spouted (here, in the pubs, the stands etc.) is cringeworthy in the extreme. We’re starting to sound like fucking scousers.

    • Anonymous

      Taking of scousers, I was thinking earlier how our gloating about Liverpool’s demise might end with egg on our faces.

      • Der_Kaiser

        Doomsday scenario – we finish 5th, they finish 6th and next season’s fixtures will be dominated by the fans baiting each other about who has a higher billing on 5’s Europa League coverage…

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