Blackpool 1-3 Chelsea – Strictly Balls Ache?

Newspaper reports

The Guardian, Paul Wilson: “Chelsea won where Tottenham had lost to move three points ahead of their London rivals and strengthen their claim on a Champions League place, though Fernando Torres is still waiting for his first goal in five appearances for his new side.”

Daily Telegraph, Rory Smith: “Some couples just click. Others need to work at their relationship. That Chelsea now stand nine points behind Manchester United, boasting a game in hand, their Premier League title not yet wholly relinquished, owes rather more to the natural partnership of John Terry and Frank Lampard than the forced union of Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba.”

The Independent, Tim Rich: “When Chelsea arrived at Bloomfield Road, where they had last been beaten in 1965, a vast sun the colour of a tangerine shirt had sunk into the Irish Sea, which seemed an omen of sorts. Lampard thought the fixture “a banana skin; a Monday night, late in the season,” and well though Blackpool fought, Kalou’s intervention once Drogba had limped theatrically off, was decisive.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “Three goals and three points made it a successful trip to the seaside for Chelsea on Monday night, bringing us within touching distance of third place.”

The goals

20′ Terry 0-1
63′ Lampard (pen) 0-2
66′ Lampard 0-3
86′ Puncheon 1-3

Musings on the game rather than a linear report

Strictly Come DancingWell, one minute we’re gliding through the Paso Doble like Brendan Cole, then we’re worse than John Sergeant at the Cha Cha, but in the end we made Blackpool look like Anne Widdecombe, as we came over all Anton du Beke and wiped the floor with ‘em.

But it wasn’t the polished wood of the Tower Ballroom, it was a rather poor surface at Bloomfield Road and while some of the people’s post-game comments might be in the carping, hyper critical style of Craig Revel Horwood, I’m going to be all Len Goodman and accentuate the positives.

There were changes to the line-up with Drogba starting instead of Anelka, Zhirkov replacing Malouda and Boswinga in at right-back in place of Ivanovic.

It looked like we were staying with the new formation, which to my mind is not working too well defensively. Not perhaps because it can’t work, but because the three lines are not moving up and down the pitch in a cohesive fashion, leaving too much space between them to be exploited. There were times last night where it was far too easy to work the ball past midfield and straight onto the back four.

Interestingly, in the second half period where we killed the game off, it was noticeable that we got much closer to their midfield and suddenly Blackpool coughed the ball up in their own half and we looked more threatening and dynamic.

Perhaps it was the midfield changes or just plain old switching off, but those tense last minutes occurred because once more we backed off and gave Blackpool the room to play in. Now that may be because having successfully squeezed the play up they got nervous about how exposed they looked when Bosingwa made his error. That is not the sort of mistake you should be making. But better made at 3-0 up.

There were some poor passages in the game, particularly the ten or fifteen minutes before half time and those final five. But for the rest of the game we denied Blackpool clear scoring chances and played some decent football.

It wasn’t the perfect game by a long chalk. Blackpool were quick into the challenge and seemed to tackle better than we did. At times they seemed a yard quicker. Part of this, I believe is down to uncertainty about positioning and who is taking responsibility for what tasks. Add this to a still brittle confidence, and we can be too easily discomfited at times.

But as we all know the first hour of a Premiership game can often be attritional. When we use possession and move a team around the fatigue starts to kick in around the sixty-minute mark. Recent seasons have shown that patience is important, particularly when form is patchy. And so it proved.

Ultimately we did well enough to have scored more than three. Practically the last kick of the game was a typical Kalou effort from eight yards out, which left someone at the top of the stand with more teeth in his hands than in his gums.

So what about the boys in Blue? How did they do? By and large a good effort all round I think. I am very wary of attributing motive and mood to players, particularly as this can very often be flavoured with personal likes and dislikes, but they seemed in determined mood if somewhat cagey late in the first half where our defensive organisation seemed to break down.

I thought Drogba made a positive start last night. There’s no denying that he didn’t click with Torres, but he held the ball up, had a couple of threatening runs and his game wasn’t characterised by the antics that indicate he is not happy with life. The commentators seemed to think he was moaning at Torres a lot, but was he moaning or communicating? Shouldn’t players talk on the pitch?

He seemed to genuinely get injured. There followed a period where everyone assumed he’d keep playing and no-one seemed ready to come on. The commentators interpreted this as farce, with Anelka and Kalou both on the bench engaged in some kind of “after you Claude”, as to who would replace him. I don’t lip read but it’s just as likely that an old head like Anelka was offering advice to Kalou.

The alternative would be to assume that the management were not making the decision about who was to come on and the players run the team. Surely not?

Zhirkov showed flashes of the good form we saw last season, particularly in the first half hour. Then he made a couple of poor passes, one that led to the incident where Cech pushed an easy shot onto the post and drifted out of the game for a while. But in the second half he once again showed good movement and direct, pacy runs, which will always trouble a defence.

What to say about Bosingwa? Again a player that started positively. There were some decent attacking runs, he fashioned a good chance that forced a save and he gave much needed width. Defensively, Carney had too much room but that was as much the problems with midfield that I mentioned earlier.

However, he seems to be a player who is trying to find his game and struggling. A couple of lapses, particularly the one for the goal undid a lot of the good work. But then Ivanovic, a player who has been a diamond all season, has been guilty of errors. It happens. But he has the self-belief to go again. Bosingwa appears to have lost that.

Essien and Lampard had better games, Essien certainly less guilty of giving the ball away. Game time is what they both need; though I’m not sure if defensively they are comfortable in the current system. Maybe it’s just a question of working on the training pitch. Three goals in two games (albeit two penalties) will do wonders for Frank and his link up with Kalou was a peach.

Ramires. Well if you were watching the game on another planet in a parallel universe along with Barney Ronay of the Guardian, you might well concur with this observation:

“Wily teen Josh McEachran comes on for the invisible Ramires.”

If you watched the game, then you’ll have seen another fine performance from a man who is establishing himself as one of the first on the team sheet every week.

Dear ol’ Nando. I just grip the rosary harder every week and keep praying. Images of Robert Fleck keep flooding in but I know it will come good. And when it does the goals will flow. I don’t buy the Francophone conspiracy. You could put up any game, for any team and see times where the simple pass is ignored, the open player isn’t seen.

Again I go back to confidence. If Torres is lacking belief, if he isn’t asserting himself and demanding the ball, then being new to the team, his colleagues may not be picking him out as they should.

I still think Ashley Cole is a couple of notches off his best. He isn’t as productive going forward and seems a yard short of pace defensively. But that means he’s steady rather than spectacular and perhaps with Zhirkov back he may have the chance to rest his injuries, which if reports are to be believed are of the chronic type that over time must start to have an effect if not managed properly.

Talking of pace, David Luiz has plenty of that and showed it in covering back on a couple of occasions last night. Not so sure about his abilities one on one. I’d say he needs to work on that. But he’s very good with the ball. One cross field ball to Cole late on, was reminiscent of Leboeuf in his prime.

I thought Terry was steady last night and kept some of the errors that have bugged him recently out of his game. A fine goal in traditional JT style went a long way to calming the nerves.

Cech was confident on the aerial threat and apart from the muffed save where he pushed the ball onto the post instead of around it, he had a relatively untroubled night.

Of the subs, Josh did fine, although was unlucky to be on when the rest decided it was time to think about whether the local water was hard or soft and how that might affect their choice of shampoo and conditioner. Malouda tried a bit too hard for my money, but then we want pressure for places and if Zhirkov’s return can spark him up a bit then all well and good.

And so to Kalou, who once again came off the bench and did the damage. Of course it was a penalty. You kick someone in the knee, it’s a foul. The fact the defender made contact with the ball ten minutes later is of no consequence. If you haven’t seen it, then the term “soft” or “softish”, used by certain media types only works as a comparative if you imagine being hit with a pipe made from a ”softish” metal like lead as opposed to iron. He showed the benefit of one forward operating in behind the other. And yet last Tuesday, putting two up on their centre-backs seemed to work. That’s football. A simple game, but difficult to get right.

To my mind. we’re gradually groping our way back to some sort of form. Players out with long term injuries are coming back and getting games. There is competition for places. Ancelotti has options all over the pitch now and can afford to be flexible in his set up.

Of course we are a long way from perfect and the suspicion remains that we are only ever one game from falling off the plank again.

But supporting the team is about sticking with them through thick and thin. There’s surely satisfaction to be gained from being taken to breaking point and building back to where you feel you might be on the cusp of triumph. We’re on a journey with Carlo and the boys and who knows where it will take us. Spring is coming. Time to cast off the winter doom and gloom. Let’s start playing with the sun on our backs.

It may all come to nothing. But as we’ve been gnashing our teeth for so long now they’re surely all ground down, so all we’ll be left with is tears and the sound of gums rubbing together.

So based on nothing more than blind optimism and a wish to avoid painful gum sores, I’m stepping aboard, ticket in hand ‘cause this train is bound for glory.

There are 119 comments

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  1. PeteW

    Extremely unconvinced by the ‘not passing’ thing, especially as a couple of times they did pass to Torres, but he was so slow to react it didn’t do any good (Malouda right at the end when Kalou belted it over, Kalou for Lampard’s third if Torres had continued his run).

    Torres was good against United, but he was very poor last night – sloppy touch for too often – and blaming everybody else but him isn’t the solution. Definitely think he can’t play with Drogba, and was much better with Kalou than he has been with anybody else because Kalou has a lot of movement and energy, and when he came on he completely changed the pattern of the game. But of course Kalou is shit, so that can’t be the case.

    In fact, in the period between Kalou coming on and Ramires coming off, we were excellent.

    Boswinga was okay for most of the game, very poor as soon as Ramires came off and he was left with zero protection. Would rather see Paolo there, though, or god forbid Clifford from the youth team.

    Essien and Terry were fine. Luiz looked ropey when he was run at with the ball and think Tevez and Silva will be plotting to take advantage of that. Zhirkov was very disappointing. Great to see Lampard’s run for the third, impossible to deny how much we’ve missed that. He always finishes the season strongly, always. Remember that, I say it every season.

    Not a great performance and the mood/shape didn’t look great but a win is a win. Still seems as if they are one bad result away from another collapse, one good win away from a proper charge. There is a lot at stake in the City game now.

  2. Anonymous

    To be fair the pitch was pretty shocking and looked like it had been used for donkey rides the rest of the week so I’m not going to be judgemental on the passing.

    • Anonymous

      Hmmm when somebody starts to comment on pitch quality I always remember Barca’s comments about our pitch. We were laughing it back then, so why would we ow start to use the same excuse?

        • Anonymous

          True, it was a statement of fact, but this fact applies to both sides of the pitch I believe.

      • Nick Benfield

        “Sometimes you see beautiful people with no brains. Sometimes you have ugly people who are intelligent, like scientists. Our pitch is a bit like that. From the top it’s a disgrace but the ball rolls at normal speed.” – Jose Mourinho

  3. Der_Kaiser

    Always good to see a Blue Bayou report on here.

    In two minds about the non-passing to Torres, deliberate or otherwise, having re-watched highlights; once or twice it looked ridiculous, but when you’ve got players (especially forwards) fighting for places then a spot of selfishness is understandable. And team spirit in general looked OK during goal celebrations.

    I concur with the author about players coming back at the right time; few more options to rest tired legs, give the opposition something more to think about.

    Few below par performances; Yuri not staking a decent claim to start, albeit that he’ll need some time get back into things. Bos not brilliant but somewhat undeserving of his boo-boy status, for my money. Why is there an almost desperate need amongst some to continually destroy one or two individuals, win or lose?

    City is going to be tricky and we’ll need to be on last Tuesday’s second half form, not last night’s.

    And to echo Mark’s point, what a bloody dreadful pitch. Blackpool’s highly intellectual fans and their panto booing of JT, Ash and anyone who dared need attention with the magic sponge got a bit bloody tedious too.

  4. Anonymous

    Drog’s should be grounded, Maluoda should be grounded as well and, if they don’t understand that nobody is bigger than club must be sold! Probably must be sold anyway by the end of the season it’s time to build new team around young and hungry players; Ramires, Luiz, Torres, McEchran. Many of you say Kalou is shite. I strongly disagree with this statement. he is a good player who always scored when we needed him. Our over reliance on Drogba for the last four-five years killed all other striking talent around him. Look back he (Drog) never could develop good relationships with anybody around him unless they always pass ball to him. His last year antics against Ballack agrument with Lamps are just some examples of this egocentric type. Two years ago it was Anelka Drogba conundrum, now it is Drogba Torres conundrum. He is a solo player and was good as such, but his days are over, enough!!!

  5. Austin Solari

    Nice report, Blue Bayou …………… just a touch concerned that you’re obviously an afficianado of Strictly Come Dancing. Ooooops, how do I know that? LOL

  6. Anonymous

    Wee Pat Nevin’s column on the official website today gives, as ever, a sensible, level-headed reaction to last night and EPL/CL matters, so I’ll just say congrats to BB in his bid to get the most train/tram references on the blog in 1 week ever and hope The Guinness Book of Records are standing by to acknowledge this feat.

    My take on the “after you, Claude” Anelka-Kalou act was that it looked like another example of the off-field sloppiness since Uncle Ray departed as it took forever for anyone to realise Drogba wasn’t going to do his usual miracle recovery act and Clement had no idea which of them should come on when they looked at him for guidance.

    I thought Kevin Phillips offered some refreshing moments of honesty in the commentary role, having obviously failed to absorb the Sky style guidelines and actually saying positive things about our decent early start rather than bigging-up every opponents’ touch of the ball as making it a really close game.

    He also made the cardinal error in Sky-land, which probably means he’ll never get asked back, of declaring “game over” as the 3rd. goal went in with more than 20 minutes to go.

    I particularly liked his comment as we saw Anelka loping up and down the the touch line doing a token warm-up looking dressed for a trip to the Arctic Circle – “he’s wearing more clothes than I am” !

    • Anonymous

      And I loved his ‘Drogba doesn’t go down easily’ comment. Really Kev?

      I thought Drogba was awful and it’s not about sticking knives in and being negative. he was pretty shit except for some good defensive work, but that’s not his job is it. I saw NO glimpses of the relationship having the same potential as Anelka/Torres, Kalou/Torres or Sturridge/Torres. I still think we’re seeing the decline of a great striker.

      As for the not passing stuff – I did think it looked deliberate as it happened so many times. It is short sighted if true though because Roman isn’t going to let a £50m purchase go anywhere quickly so I’d suggest Kalou/Malouda/Drogba take that on board if they want a future at the club.

      Zhirkhov was poor for me, and made Malouda’s recent form look good, but he deserves more chances. No doubt in the summer we need some pace on the wings though. The future is forming very slowly with Josh, Ramires, Luiz and Torres and despite the ropey performance at times, I’m happy with 3 points. Talk of the title is pretty premature.

      Bravo BB, mighty fine prose indeed.

  7. bluebayou

    As it was all a bit of a last minute rush, I was rather remiss in forgetting to say well done to the away support who sounded like they were there in numbers and kept up a good volume through the game that could clearly be heard via the goggle box.

    And no I don’t watch Strictly Come Dancing on a regular basis. I just try to stay informed on major world events.

  8. Sara

    Do not…don’t . Don’t. Please.
    I ‘m so subjective about Zhirkov. I’m always hyped when he plays.Probably because I forget hestill plays for us. First season, hard work yes, some good , reliable stuff, but too many injuries and 201o/11 is no different. I still think he is a great,intelligent, underrated player…he was just unlucky, as we are one of the rare teams whos left side is much better than the right side.He also scored in his debut, and every player in our shirt that does so, dissappoints after (Pizzarro, Mutu, heck Malouda scored on debut but his first season was horrible etc)
    When we bought him, the rumor was present that Ashley will move to Inter or Real, cant remember and Malouda was in a bad form. Cole stayed and Malouda played wonderfully.
    Still… …he bought me with this game. i don’t know, cant explain this.

    Erh, we relied on our legends again…who are always there to aid us, to remind us-Lamps and Terry. i THOUGT Kalou was good, sometimes I think all the hate he gets is a bit underserved. He is no Drogba , and will never be, but he is a good player and doesn’t do drama.

    The thing with passing is worrying and so is Drogba’s form and behavior. I think even on the first day of his Chelsea career , there was always drama anad with each season, rumors he will leave the club…red cards, bans , suspensions…Yes, one of a kind, complete forward, world class…but in past tense. I wrote him off during Grants and SCOLARI’S season but he always managed to redeem himself and stay 1 more year in Chelsea shirt.I can’t see it happening …He doesn’t brat around like usual, he isn’t angry, he isn’t throwing coins into to supporters face, or proving his worth, or being ignorant like he usual did in times like this…he is just like…depressed?
    If it wasn’t for his behavior, yueah, he could’ve been a legend. But too many…mood swings?Yes. And form swings, worryingly.
    I’m glad Torres sucked on his debut. I think of it as a good sign. He just has to break the ice, I thought it will be yesterday but well…he also seems a bit shy around the players…as sson as he scores his first goal, the goals will flow!
    Title talk is a bit brave, but god knows, I mean Lamps has awoken ( he never was bad, but just injured and not to his brilliant self)


  9. FanSinceTheSixties

    Can’t remember when I’ve been so at odds with the esteemed blogerati here.

    These midweek-ish games up North always cause problems, and I thought we met the challenge really well, though we did seem unsure at 3-0 whether to close it down or push for the fourth, which left us a bit exposed.

    Also thought that Yury had a cracking game, he’s still not match fit, but ran himself into the deck. He tracked back and made so many interceptions that I lost count, he’s not a full-on attacking winger, but that’s sometimes what’s needed.

    Jose is a mystery. He came back from injury like a man possessed, but now?

    Not sure about DD either, we’ve seen this before and he’s always turned it around.

    On the FT thing: he’s not the target man here that he was at Poo, who threw everything up to him, so it may take a while for him/us to adapt.
    The main positive thing I see is that even though he looks disinterested, when there’s a sniff of an opportunity he comes alive, no matter how late in the game, or how bad a game he’s having – and that’s the mark of a top striker.

  10. PeteW

    Fair comment by FanSinceTheSixties, we’ve just had three potential dogpile midweek winter fixtures up Norf in Bolton, Sunderland and Blackpool and returned with nine points and eleven goals. That’s pretty impressive for a misfiring team. Our form since the turn of the year is actually very good, think only Arsenal and Liverpool are better.

    Not sure what to make of Drog, he was brilliant against United and started well last night, but something went wrong. Still think he was offering more threat than Torres, but neither looked particularly happy about something.

  11. Anonymous

    My sad addiction to watching University Challenge (with characteristic brilliance I misidentified Helmut Kohl as “Helmut Schmidt”) meant that I only watched from the 35th minute onwards. I saw 55 minutes of a pretty decent performance all round and therefore join those who are a bit surprised at all the huff. But by all accounts we were pretty awful at the start so perhaps I was just lucky to have skipped that bit.

    I was particularly impressed by the Essien-Lamps-Ramires line. Not as pretty to watch as the more triangular midfield which was doing so well at the start of the season, but even lined up in a row I thought they linked well and covered for each other superbly, especially the indefatigable Ramires.

    The constant close-up shots of Nando were interesting. He looked a bit … glum, somehow. Not disinterested or detached ot anything: just as if he hasn’t quite worked out what he’s doing here. Mind you, I remember Anelka being fairly peripheral for the half season after his January arrival. It can’t be an easy time to join a team, especially for a striker.

    I suspect he’ll turn out all right, though it remains to be seen whether the ‘Poo got the better deal (with Suarez I mean, not Carroll).

    I was impressed by Blackpool too. In fact most of the so-called weaker teams seem a lot better technically than they’ve been in the last few seasons. Bolton are playing proper football now; so are Blackburn; you can really see why there have been so many superficially “odd” results this season. The “gulf in class” of popular cliché between the top teams and the rest of the cloggers has visibly become more of a bay, or perhaps an estuary.

    Drogs: he’s had malaria and his homeland is about to have a civil war. Give the fella a break.

    Kalou: same as always: a genuinely good player who misses the goal amazingly often. If that pass he gave Frank for the third goal had been a Frank pass we’d all be talking about it still. (But then, if it had been Frank putting Kalou through instead of the other way around, it probably wouldn’t have been a goal …)

    • Anonymous

      Enough with the malaria/civil war. if it’s preying on his mind about the situation back home, and the malaria is still affecting him then why the fuck are we playing him. Give him the time off.

      As my boss used to say when people were sick, go home, get fixed, you’re no good to me like this.

  12. Anonymous

    A load of great comments on here…oh and lovely report Blue Bayou.

    As I said earlier, I do think that Didier and his mates were deliberately ignoring Fernando. It just seemed too obvious at times and was frankly ridiculous and embarrassing for them.

    But in the end it was a typical, mid season, tough away day oop North.
    1. Awful pitch, awful weather but a crucial and at times promising win.
    2. The usual woeful Bosingwa defending is still there. His mistakes have nothing to do with his injury, or a lack or confidence or trying to play his way back into form. He’s just fucking lazy and doesn’t care. Just see his reaction to the goal when he just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Or the next two attacks down his flank when he had gone AWOL and Essien was playing at RB. It’s inevitable he will be sold and I can’t wait.
    3. Passing was pretty much impossible on that bog. As soon as we realised that pressing them high up the pitch to win the ball back on the only bits of grass left on the pitch would provide us with scoring opportunities, the chances and goals came.
    4. Didier – Promising start then fucked off for the majority of his hour on the pitch. He still doesn’t know how to pass or dribble with a football. Sadly, this is a terrible end to his Chelsea career. Malaria, lack of form and the return of his dodgy attitude from the turn of the year.
    5. 4-4-2: It works against shit teams but there’sa reason Jose hates playing with it. He kept telling us that teams “can always play between the lines against you” and against a City side who play with Silva and Tevez in that #10 space, we could have problems.
    6. Lamps – I still think he’ll get his 20 goals. He’s bloody Superman with his scoring record!
    7. Carlo – Did well to rotate the players, give Zhirkov, Didier and Bosingwa a start in a shit game and still come away with a win. I expect Malouda, Nico and Branner to be back soon though.
    8. Kalou – The new Solskjaer? Well without the finishing. He’s our supersub and seems to always change the game with his pace and movement. Sometimes you wonder why he struggles so much with doing the same things when given a start!
    9. Josh – It was just nice to see him play. Still full of class and composure on the ball and his signature trick of checking and then skipping away from his marker was again on show. It does look like Luiz, Branner, JT, Lamps, Ash, Lamps, Josh, Ramires and Torres could be our core next season.

    So a good win and we’re hanging in there. We like to play as underdogs so perhaps the title isn’t gone just yet.

  13. Anonymous

    Have to say, I would rather have a mediocre Kalou and Zhirkov than a mediocre Malouda and Drogba. The former run around and seem to care about winning. The latter simply go through the motions.

    The problem with players like Drogba is that they always have a 30million euro/pound/dollar season, then vanish. Sheva, as we have seen, had this problem. I can’t help but feel like the music has stopped and we’re stuck with him now.

    • Anonymous

      As if 😉

      far too pretty and tippy-tappy for me, I sense an Arsenal mugging with a late equaliser……God I hate them both. Now where’s that ‘Nou Camp into Centre of Earth’ button……

  14. Anonymous

    I hate them both, but then them I hate UEFA referees. It simply ridiculous to what extent UEFA is ready to humiliate the game, but just to let Barca win. Fuck them all damn hypocrites!

  15. Austin Solari

    Now Arsenal know how we felt a couple of years ago …………………. Barca must win no matter how much of a fool the ref makes himself look.

  16. Anonymous

    Are the Gooners still on for the quadruple?

    I think watching Barcelona is over-rated. Technically they’re competent but all this passing around in circles, what’s the point? Just lump it up to Drogba.

  17. Der_Kaiser

    Much mixed feelings about the whole Barcelona v Arsenal shindig.

    One the one hand, Arsenal’s ‘it was the ref what won it for ’em’ bleatings have some small basis in fact, if you ignore the minor details like some of the dodgy decisions against the Catalans in the home leg, the fact that Arsene’s boys were being played off the park with 11 men and failed to muster a single shot on target. Fabregas committing some form of flash tippy-tappy suicide on the edge of the box hardly helped them either. I think this goes back to the United theory offered by Pete – if they lose, the narrative will be that they’d been robbed and it’d be the ref’s fault, full stop, irrespective of the availability of plenty of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Souness nailed it – the best team, by far, went through.

    Then on the other paw, there’s Barcelona. I don’t even have to see them play now – just the sight of one of their shirts makes me want to throw up. We are now faced with the hideous prospect of a possible Arsenal league win (should their collective bottle not go even more) and a Barcelona CL victory. It really will be time to head for the hills with no phone or other means of contact for a couple of months if that happens.

    But as much as one can chuckle at Arsene and his anguished ‘man who has put his finger through the toilet paper’ expression, you again have to ask about the officiating you’re likely to be on the receiving end of at the Nou Camp.

    From the home team, hands were raised (love to see one of our boys try that out there), ankles were repeatedly snapped at (I’d love to know how many unpunished fouls they commit per game on average), players routinely failed to retreat 10 yards from free kicks and not one solitary card was shown. Arsenal some how end up with about half a dozen yellows and a red (which looked fairly farcical – neither van Persie or Valdes appeared to react to the whistle). I’m convinced that keeping 11 men on the pitch against them is actually almost as much of an art as their friggin’ beautiful game itself.

    And on that note – yes, there were some great moments – but it’s just like watching some hoary old member of Yes playing a 20 minute guitar solo at times. All technically very impressive, but sometimes you just find yourself praying for BB King and a great three note phrase that knocks them all the show-offs flat.

    I have very little sympathy or time for either of them, on reflection. Yes, the fucking great big hole in the ground option was definitely favourite.

    • Anonymous

      I think the slight glimmer of hope is that Barca seem to be becoming like a bad parody of their beautiful game crap.

      They quite willfully insist in trying to tippy-tap their way through the middle of the most congested defences to score wonderful goals, ignoring the “too easy” option to unmarked wide players.
      This led to their undoing in the first leg v the Gooners when they lost control of a game they’d dominated and if Bendtner wasn’t a clumsy oaf who can’t control the ball it could have happened late on last night too. Though I suppose the referee would have then been required to add as many minutes of stoppage time as it took for Barca to score again. Not sure if any of the sides left in CL has a sufficiently resolute defence to beat them, though.

      I do feel hopeful, however, that a good cuffing from the Mancs in the Cup at the weekend could send the Gooners into another late season melt-down that sees us with a chance of overtaking them.

      Now if the resulting 3-front fixture nightmare can just do for the Mancs the optimists on here will be on tenterhooks. On the other hand our next league game is against Citeh, who we’ve done so well against in recent seasons 😉

      • Anonymous

        They do include Alves quite a lot, so I don’t know if they ignore unmarked wide players. But they do use them differently. Though they don’t have anyone over 5’4, so there really is not point in putting a cross in.

        If I remember correctly, there was a fair bit of ref whinging in both directions when we played them under Guus. Something about missing infractions in the box, cardable offenses and so forth. Totally different case when we were home, but I don’t think there is any reason to believe in long standing conspiracies. I mean, they did lose to Inter.

        • Anonymous

          The game Barca vs Inter that saw Jose knock them out was one of the finest attritional games I’ve ever witnessed. Jose was in his absolute element that night, down to 10 men and barely able to get the ball and yet having to hold out to go through. He showed just how important off the ball work can be especially when you don’t have it, a point also shown by Guus when we played them. In fact I recall a text chat with the Good Lord Kaiser on that very night imagining Jose rubbing his hands in glee at the thought of holding out with 10 men against the pretty boys and not a single Italian in the team.

          Marvin Hagler versus Sugar Ray Leonard springs to mind. Ugly but in a beautiful sort of way

          Arsenal, of course have no clue what to do without the ball and this was a major part of their failing last night. What price a Makalele figure for them last night, or a JT…or an Ivan …or an Obi…..players all willing to do the unglamorous breaking up game.

          Assuming we do go through and draw Barcelona (it is sort of fated), I’m very uncertain that CA has that type of nous, despite being Italian.

          And I hope AC Milan give Spuds a drubbing tonight but I fear it may be the other way round.

          • Anonymous

            Yes, they were both great games, but only for fans/anti-fans of Inter/Chelsea and Barcelona. Bean counters, neutrals, and foreign fans would surely prefer to see Barcelona win everything.

            I read something yesterday that mentioned this very point about Arsenal, and squarely placed the blame on Mr. Wenger. These sorts of players are apparently the players he refused to use, notably to reinforce the Invincibles, which ultimately cost him 5 (6?) years in a trophy desert. Interestingly, Barcelona had two such players on the pitch in Busquets and Mascherano, and usually have Pique and/or Keita who can fill that role as well.

  18. Anonymous

    UEFA will do everything in order to keep Barca in competition as long as possible. The reason behind it is simple – TV rights! Lot of silly wankers around the world like to see passing in circles and triangles, so as long they (Barca) stay in competition UEFA getting richer. Everything is simple, as usual it is either women or money and unfortunately hasn’t got anything to with beautiful game.

  19. Ososdeoro

    I detest Arsenal but somewhere down there is a bit of sympathy for the drubbing the officials have given them the past two games.

  20. PeteW

    To be fair to Arsenal, they were missing Song who is their key defensive midfielder and not a bad one at that.

    I think what happened to Arsenal is much the same thing that happened to us in 2009. We didn’t go to the Nou Camp with the intention of spending the entire game in our own area and occasionally belting it long to Drogba. We planned to sit deep, sure, but also to retain possession when we could and catch them on the break as much as possible. It didn’t happen because we couldn’t get the ball and we could get the ball we couldn’t keep it because of the ferocity with which the Barca midfield hunts. We got a very lucky 0-0 draw, admittedly helped by the canniness of players like Ballack and Lampard and the fact that yes, we aren’t bad at playing without the ball.

    We also played much better against Barca at home than Arsenal did, but didn’t get any luck and missed too many decent chances.

    I don’t think Arsenal have been too badly done here. The RVP second yellow was harsh and Arsenal players were treated harsher than their counterparts for most infringements, but Barca could also have had a penalty, and should have had two pens plus a disallowed goal at the Emirates. It’s not Ovrebo territory, more of a Frisk job.

  21. Gleb

    The inevitable wrath of the resident Spurs haters notwithstanding, I’m very happy for Tottenham! If there’s one team, other than Barcelona, that I detest it is Milan. Glad they’re out.

  22. Ososdeoro

    Perhaps Barca was equally jobbed at Emirates, but Barca had one decent shot on goal before RVP was sent off, and tons of them afterwards. Anyway, I feel dirty now so I’ll stop.

  23. Der_Kaiser

    Happy birthday to us, as the Twitter feed points out. In pretty good nick for 106, I’d say.

    On more pressing matters now that we’ve chuckled at Arsenal – can somebody please put a stop to this horrible Spurs European bandwagon? Let’s face it, we know who we’re getting in the next round.


  24. FanSinceTheSixties

    It was easy to see why Italy are dropping to only three CL places, Milan looked great, should have had six, but couldn’t get one.

    The worrying thing was when they still needed a goal with only 20 mins to go, and decided that passing backwards to keep possession was better than trying even harder to score – looked just like us when we’re having a bad moment or two.

    • Der_Kaiser

      The enigma which is Ibrahimovic must be unbelievably frustrating to watch if he’s playing for your team. Absolute handful one day, less mobile than the average cathedral the next.

      Pato looked lively though. And Clarence Seedorf is evidently still a) alive and b) playing. I’m sure he’s nearly as old as me, which is frankly no age to be near a football pitch in anything other than a viewing capacity.

      • John

        Agreed on (1) Ibrahimovic, who looks fucking hopeless much more often than he does a world-beater. One of the biggest mysteries is how he’s (I think) second only to Anelka for cumulative transfer value. (2) We’re odds on to get Tottenham and lose if we get through. Dreading it.
        Just announced on 6Music news that it “looks as if Ashley Cole will not be prosecuted…” What a surprise. Still, gave the press wankers something to fill their pages with for a while.

    • bluebayou

      So if I understand their argument it is that

      UEFA have instituted a cack handed points system that rewards a team the same ranking points irrespective of whether they win the premier or secondary competition.

      But it’s the fault of the teams and their fans if they value their domestic competition and disregard traipsing around Europe to play in a competition where after 4 months and a dozen games you still have no idea how far you are away from winning the thing and oh my another load of teams parachute in. They are letting their country and fellow clubs down?

      If we end up in the Europa next season I’ll bear that in mind. It’s our civic duty to end up with a knacked out squad because UEFA have frigged the system to promote their 2 bob competition and reward mediocrity.

      Still it will be far more exciting to win than the Premier League title that’s for sure.

      • John

        I’m with you on this. I’m not sure the author is as unsympathetic to the Italian clubs as the article reads, but I’m entirely on their side and sickened again by yet another example of UEFA utter cuntery. Wankers, all of them.

        • Der_Kaiser

          The Europa League is possibly the most ridiculous exercise in the world of football. Longer than the average Genesis album and thrice as bloody pointless.

          • Anonymous

            I can only take so much knocking of my prog rock roots. Genesis had some fine moments with Gabriel and without him. People forget Collins was (is?) a mighty fine drummer who alone should have buried the myth about drummers not being the most intelligent of people. And there are parallels with Barcelona here…..Yes, Genesis could ramble of course they could…..and they’re album and live stuff can often seem like a long time until any sort of crescendo but when it comes it is bloody special and borne of hard work and craftsmanship. All are proper musicians including the unsung hero Chester Thompson. Ever seen his drum duet with Collins live? It’s fucking awesome…I saw it for the first time at Hammersmith Odeon (way before it was a sponsored venue) – aged 17 and was bloody blown away by them. Now older and wiser I see the folly of some of it, and the subjective view of pointlessness, but like anything worthwhile it has to seep in, you have to marinade your mind and soul in it…it’s not for those seeking instant gratification and the sugar fix that Blitzkrieg Bop or Teenage Kicks provide, as fine a tunes as they are.

            All of this is much like Barcelona and their tippy-tappy, intricate weaving and passing, with little flicks and lay offs, twists and turns building towards the crescendo, the denouement, the finale of the goal….it can and often is over-elaborated and over-played…but there are moments of genius waiting for the connoisseur and sometimes the final section will fail and it starts over again. And other times you just have sit back and say Wow, just fucking Wow. Like the works of Genesis, Pink Floyd, ELP, Deep Purple, Yes and others of that ilk, some stuff will miss, but vast amounts will hit and stick and those with broad open minds willing to allow themselves to be challenged will find some gratification in this stuff at some point (Carpet Crawlers is sheer utter genius).

            So am I an aficionado of Barcelona? At times I find it breathtaking, at others it’s tiresome self indulgence and showboating, much like the world of music (all genres) – luckily I can appreciate Genesis at times, Floyd all the time, but at other points I prefer the directness of The Ramones, the complex simplicity and pop genius of Abba, the weirdness of Radiohead or the heart/soul mending music of Marvin Gaye. Just coz it’s complex doesn’t make it bad, poor old Mozart would be persona non gratia if that were the case.

            It’s horses for courses Good Lord Kaiser. Each to their own.

            Rant over. I rest my case.

          • Der_Kaiser

            Morning TG…

            Of course – am actually fond of a spot of prog myself; I just found all that poncing around dressed as a flower singing endless songs about fecking pixies a bit much.

            But I would agree that Phil Collins does take an unnecessary amount of stick for my mind, and is unquestionably a very fine drummer.

            But he’s no Neil Peart, though… 😉

          • Anonymous

            Oh dear, confession time. I too liked some prog rock during my student days in the early 70s and was very into both Yes and Genesis. There, I feel much better now.

            Can’t say I ever feel much inclined to listen to any of it now and have never acquired any of it on anything but the original vinyl, apart from one Yes compilation of early pre- “Wishy-Washy Oceans” stuff as Rick Wakeman always insisted on calling it.

            There must be some football analogy for one of my most frustrating rock gig memories of one night at Green’s Playhouse in Glasgow which was due to be the opening night of a Genesis tour.

            This was around 1973-4 I think when an increasingly irritated full house sat around for about an hour and a half while roadies fiddled with masses of wires over the top of a huge curtain across the back of the stage before Peter Gabriel finally appeared to announce the gig had to be cancelled because the microphones were all live and the band were in danger of being electrocuted.

            I couldn’t help thinking that would really have been suffering for their art and the ultimate in performance.

          • Der_Kaiser

            Would have been very Spinal Tap-esque had they done so. But jolly decent of Mr. Gabriel to tell the punters himself, it must be noted. I can’t imagine that Justin Bieber will confront the screaming hordes when he inevitable has to cancel a show because his voice has broken.

          • bluebayou

            Cheap Joke alert

            One assumes that like everything else in Glasgow someone wanted their musicians “deep fried”

  25. Anonymous

    Reserves win. Borini skippers them and scores. Again.

    Any of you guys with ‘insider’ knowledge know any more about his future? I get the feeling we’re really going to regret not giving him a chance if he does leave.

  26. PeteW

    Loving the musical references here.

    Milan were nice around the box, but bloody hell, Ibrahamovic, I really don’t get it. He combines the worst aspects of Berbatov and Bendtnar. If they had a decent striker, they’d have won but his movement was atrocious. Ditto Robinho.

    Seedorf was staggeringly good.

    Spurs were disciplined and rode their luck. Having horrible dreams about getting them in the next round. Would rather lose to Copenhagen. Actually rather keen on Real in the next round (may have already said this). DOn’t think we’ve ever had them at the Bridge.

    No idea what the story is with Borini. It’s actually quite unlike us to get in this sort of state about a contract, so assume he’s done something to mightily piss people off behind the scenes.

    And what are QPR playing at? Was quite looking forward to a West London menage a trois in the Premier League next season…

    • Der_Kaiser

      All the more staggering is that Ibrahimovic’s record is pretty much a goal every other game wherever he’s been. Heaven only knows how though.

      The wording of QPR’s statement is a worry; denying any ‘deliberate’ wrongdoing sounds suspiciously like they’re playing the ignorance card which won’t get them very far.

      • FanSinceTheSixties

        The QPR thing is a very odd setup when the BBC say that the FA would be looking after the case because “the Football League do not have rules on third-party ownership.”

        WTF is that all about?

        Oh to be a lawyer at times like these…

    • Der_Kaiser

      I think we all have players like that. Every time I watch Totti play, I desperately try to see what the fuss is all about but fail to do so. It’s obviously all the other ones he plays in that he’s a genius.

  27. Anonymous

    For what it’s worth, my take on the Barca thing: yes, they’re a wonderful team, the best in the world, and in ten or twenty years’ time even those of us who find all the hype and orgiastic media fawning incredibly irritating will look back and say, Bloody hell that was a fantastic team.


    What’s so endlessly irritating is the idea that they’re playing football “the right way,” and that everyone else ought to follow suit.

    For fuck’s sake. They can only do it because they have two of the best players of their generation who happen to have showed up simultaneously at their club in central midfield.

    If Doncaster Frigging Rovers had Xavi and Iniesta in those positions then they’d be playing a quick-passing possession game as well. It’s not as if every other club in the world will be converted to The Beautiful Game if they just wake up one morning and realise that my goodness they can’t even call themselves footballers unless they play The Barca Way. What on earth is the point of trying to play in that style if your central midfielders are (for example) Carrick and Fletcher?

    If the Barca academy happened to throw up a bunch of immense six foot five monsters, do you think they’d be shy about banging in a few crosses from wide positions?

    Messi’s a wonderful player. Iniesta and Xavi are (in my opinion at least) even better. But for God’s sake, have the honesty to admit that the reason your team is so good is that you happen to have lit upon three footballing geniuses at the same time, rather than implying that it’s your club which somehow makes those three into the players they are. Otherwise, frankly, you’re no different from frigging Arsenal, whose ideology/rhetoric is about as far from reality as Muammar Gaddafi’s.

    Our academy teaches the same principles that Barcelona’s does. It’s perfectly obvious from watching our youth team that they’re taught technique, technique, technique. But in five years’ time our academy won’t be turning out a team like the Barca of today. Is that because we’ve somehow betrayed the purity of football and don’t understand the beauty of the game? Of course it bloody well isn’t. It’s because even Josh McEachran isn’t Xavi Hernandez.

    So please, please get over yourselves, Barca folk. You just got lucky.

    • NorthernVA

      Well said don’t forgot their target men are not youth products. Eto’o was a Real Madrid youth product and purchased from Mallorca for 24 million euros. His replacement the afforementioned Ibra was purchased for 40 million euro and Eto’o. Moratti absolutely fleeced the Catalans. Once Pep, the guardian of the game, realized that Ibra was nothing more than a “Youtube hero” who is also a lazy fucker completely unwilling to press defenders they purchased David Villa for 34 million euro. They spend as much if not more than anyone else. They have the captain of Argentina firmly seated on the their bench ffs. I am not sure how they are going to get their books right for the financial regulations but I’m sure they will find a way. Maybe Tom Ovrebo does taxes.

  28. FanSinceTheSixties

    Just spent a pleasant evening watching Europa League footie, and after all the self important CL stuff it was quite refreshing.

    Also gotta like it for spreading the joy of mid-week fixture congestion round the PL, kind of levels things out.

  29. NorthernVA

    Note to self avoid this blog during work. I had “Invisible Touch” banging around in my head for about 45 minutes today…thanks. On to the Milan vs the other less cultured club from North London. I thought Seedorf was incredible. Carlo if you happen to be around next year give him a call he may be able to help provide some service to our starved strikers. I think he is out of contract in the summer hence the tears at the final whistle. Credit to Billy Gallas he showed his class last night. Say what you will about the man but any one who can play our club, Arsenal, and Spuds with no stops in between has balls. Which incidently is the same thing he stated his Arsenal mates lacked right before Wenger stripped him of the captaincy and handed it to everyone’s favorite fifth official Cesc. Plenty of laughs in the Gallas household I believe tonight. Too bad things ended so badly with him. I will never forget his match winner versus Spuds. I do think we are assured to see these guys next round. No way UEFA will risk another situation of more than two English clubs in the semi-finals

  30. Ososdeoro

    Yeah, in fact I just couldn’t help but notice how pedestrian “the Arsenal Way” looks when Walcott, RvP and Cesc are all injured, and Marouan is too tired to play.

  31. bluebayou

    Many people thought Torres burned his bridges when he left Liverpool. Well just in case there were any that could be repaired he’s gone back and blown them to fucking bits.

    This is my favourite

    “There are more personal relationships and jokes between the players than there were at Liverpool. Everything was much more serious there. Here, you don’t have to prove you are a professional, it is assumed.”

  32. PeteW

    Interesting quote from Torres – I just read something very similar from Hiddink in Jonathan Wilson’s new magazine (issue zero downloadable on web) The Blizzard. Hiddink says:

    Working with Chelsea was a bit of a
    luxury. I spent fi ve fantastic months
    there… but I had committed myself
    to Russia. One thing surprised me at
    Chelsea — the warmth in the human
    relationships in that club. I’m not saying
    that just because of my links with Frank
    Arnesen, but of what I saw throughout
    the whole club. I’m still in touch with the
    players, and I might even pay them a visit
    from time to time.

    He also says this about Barcelona:

    Well, we were very close to doing it
    with Chelsea in 2009, weren’t we? But
    you remember what happened in that
    semi-fi nal? I do! [Hiddink bursts out
    laughing.] I was very, very frustrated not
    to have won. But later on, you remember
    the pleasure you felt playing against
    Liverpool… and Barcelona. It was all part
    of a great game that turned out awful
    at the end. It’s not always the best team
    that wins.

  33. bluebayou


    Torres has given us the model for a new banner for the Blog.

    “Here, you don’t have to prove acuity, it is assumed.”

    (except in the case of moffat)

  34. Anonymous

    Shock Horror Alert: Daily Wail prints pro-John Terry article [by Martin Samuel unsurprisingly]:

    Is this The End of Civilisation As We Know It?

    And going back to the prog rock discussion, guess who dug out his 1 Yes CD compilation last night, was surprised how much he still liked the apparent jazz influences and has had Yes and King Crimson tunes [the Bill Bruford connection I guess] nagging away in his head ever since 🙂

  35. Blues FTW

    So, Arsenal are on their way to the quadruple – of going out of all four competitions (we are more than half way there though).

    And now that they lost one of better defenders they had, I think Utd are going to win the league now (with us having a good chance to go second).

    Though I never liked the snobs at emirates and their manager, watching his face tonight made me feel sad in a way. Still, better utd than the snobs. Any day.

    As somebody said (Kaiser?), watching Barca win CL and Arsenal win EPL would, indeed, be a big disaster. I would rather see Spurs winning CL than Barca. Then agian, I am not from London (or England), and may utterly lack any history you guys have been accumulating over years.

    Good to be back (although with a new nickname)…


    • Anonymous

      “But the United striker who took the subsequent penalty, Paul Pogba, received a second yellow card because the referee, David Coote, deemed the exaggerated manner of his run-up to be unsporting.”
      I am a little bit confused with this one, probably my imagination fails me. Can somebody possibly explain to me what does it mean?

        • Der_Kaiser

          The relevant FIFA law seems to roughly translate as ‘you can stutter in your run up, but don’t take the piss…’

          Looked like a colourful occasion; if you’re kicking off at a youth cup game, you really need to get out more. Remember seeing a Derby fan being politely asked to tone it down a bit at a reserve game played at the Bridge a few years ago (I say a few, Leon Knight was playing for us…); the other 140 people in the crowd just looked at him a little bemused by it all.

          • bluebayou

            Given that the 4 home unions have half the seats on the IFAB (what makes the rules) there is always likely to be a problem with interpretation.

            “Taking the piss” to dour straight-laced chapel going types (cf Scots, Northern Irish, Wales and some of England with the odd high Anglican leaning towards a touch of the smells and bells) is always going to be different to how it’s seen by your generally fun loving Mediterranean/ Latino/African types who are more given to outward celebration and just enjoying themselves.

            It’s like where we have Shrove Tuesday and eat pancakes, they go on the raz for 3 days.

            To some the penalty is a chance for theatre, to the Calvanist just another punishment step on the way to eternal damnation and should be treated as such.

            Authors Note: Of course this only takes into account Christian responses. I have yet to fully complete the study with reference to the other Abrahamic religions and the belief systems of the Far East. Oh and Richard Dawkins

  36. PeteW

    Interesting piece by Corrigan on the Terry captaincy thing. Reads rather like somebody who is miffed that the ‘narrative’ of Terry is evil is being ignored by somebody who actually knows Terry, ie Fabio Capello. As somebody says in the comments, how can Terry be considered as captain if he challenged Capello’s authority at the World Cup? To which the obvious answer is that he couldn’t be considered – which surely means that Capello never believed his authority was actually being questioned. (If you follow.)

    As for the Manc/Scouse kids – pretty embarrassing really and says a lot about the game these days. it’s not as violent as it used to be, but there’s a real petty viciousness in football supporters that I think is worse than it was ten years ago and different to how it was in the 80s. Fans are a lot quicker to turn on their own – as the scapegoating on here and other websites shows – and much nastier verbally about the opposition. It’s a matter of tone – see the pathetic way Liverpool fans talks about us – and obviously a few harsh words on twitter is a world away from a brick in the face, but I don’t much like either.

    And it goes hand-and-hand with an almost equal determination to take offence. A comment on the Chelsea official chatpage which had a line about ‘Liverpool fans having bloood on their hands’ was all over twitter and liverpool blogs a while back by people who had sought out and then spread it with the intention only of taking offence. Another point: Patrick Van Aanholt was on twitter earlier this season but his account was suspended. Why? because during the Blackpool game at the Bridge he made some comment about Blackpool not being very good (4-0 at half-time I think). A particularly influential Man United fan saw this, sent it to all his followers, sent it to all the football journalists on twitter AND wrote a letter of complaint to Chelsea – all before the end of the game! ‘Imagine if Rio tweeted this’ he said, forgotting that Rio is the England captain and nearly 30 and PVA has only just been allowed to vote and never started a Premier League game.

    So PVA scrapped his account.

    What is the world supposed to do with such titheads?

  37. Anonymous

    I sincerely hope out Yoof game against Young Mancs doesn’t end up like that. It was a bit embarrassing in the last round: Josh was taking a corner down by the section where the Watford fans were, they took exception to him placing the ball maybe 2 inches beyond the little quadrant thingy the ball’s supposed to be in, started booing, chanting “cheat cheat cheat” …

    You can see some of the kids getting really pumped too.

    In the round before that (vs. Young Arse) I was sitting next to a couple of smiley middle-aged women who turned out to be the most breathtakingly one-eyed fans I’ve ever come across in my life. It would take a full-scale post to do justice to their amazing ability to see only what they wanted to see, but they ran the whole gamut, from “this linesman gets everything wrong doesn’t he?” whenever said linesman awarded a (perfectly uncontroversial) throw-in to the Little Arses, to a most remarkable piece of logic regarding how to interpret a foul. A Little Arse had run in towards our box and been (quite obviously) blocked off the ball by Nathaniel Chalobah. It was a fairly heavy tackle and Chalobah limped a bit as he got up.

    One-Eyed Woman 1: “Oh look, now he’s given a foul against us!”

    One-Eyed Woman 2: “Has he? That can’t be right, can it?”

    One-Eyed Woman 1: “No, it can’t be.”

    One-Eyed Woman 2: [thoughtfully] “You’d think … that if someone gets up and they’re hurt … well, logic tells you that they must have been the one who got fouled?”

    One-Eyed Woman 1: [as if One-Eyed Woman 2 was a female Sophocles] “Yes, that’s right! Hey, referee! That’s another one you’ve got wrong!”

    … and so it went on, for 90 solid minutes.

  38. Anonymous

    Borini skippers the reserves. Again. And scores. Again.

    Someone, somewhere needs to man the fuck up (to quote, almost, JT) admit they were wrong and let him play. We’re going to regret letting him go, that’s for sure.

    Also, for a club with such a huge dearth of homegrown talent, someone will have to explain to me why I see the label ‘Chelsea’ next to four names in the England U21 squad. We don’t do youth, or English players, do we?

    The local boys are stealthily doing their best to get back in the Prem next season. Lambert is a hugely impressive manager – destined for much bigger and better things I’d say.

    • Nick Benfield

      It’s becoming increasingly difficult keeping the band together, Ringo. The Big Boys with bigger audiences have decided they like the music we play and are cherry-picking the talent. Tony’s playing arena rock now. He’s still going to make the odd guest appearance with his old band, though. Punk is not dead yet. 🙂

      That said, I’m reassessing the direction the current band is taking hence the lack of any recent releases.

      • Der_Kaiser

        I remain resolutely blog-loyal and shan’t be appearing on Cheggers Plays Pop just yet.

        It’s bloody difficult getting a new single together with a full-time job and a toddler about the place, though!

    • Anonymous

      I can’t deny this is me!

      I was approached independently on 2 counts by both CFCNet and the club and …well I succumbed …much like QI being promoted to BBC1 or The Pistols signing for EMI…and who knows it may be just as ill fated as the second example.

      The idea is an article for the club, plus one for the CFCNet section of the club blog – then if any creative juices are left I will contribute here, plus Nick is aware that I am happy to contribute the odd catch review when I can. It’s not much change in that respect as this fine blog gathers up more talented writers. In the last 18 months or so we’ve seen the fine Dr Bayou join the ranks, the establishment of Habs, the engaging prose of Mark25 and Marco and BlueInMyVeins join the stellar cast. I will be contributing via comments as well, so I’m not deserting the blog entirely. The opportunity to write to a wider audience under my own name was too good to miss, and if it all fails then so be it. Better to crash and burn than not to try flying at all.

      • Anonymous

        Still, we’ll always have bragging rights that we were there at the original gig when it was only 10 men [and his dog, Spot, possibly] reading it 😉

  39. bluebayou

    Did I hear Torres is not starting tonight? Or is someone pulling my lego…………..

    I’m not sure what would constitute £56 worth of football tonight, given the overloading of the thrill circuits in recent years on European nights. But I’d only have spent it on drink. If my children are to wander the streets in rags, ’tis better ’twas for this.

  40. Anonymous

    Hmmm. It appears Platini and Co. have noticed the worrying signs of a return to form from the only side in Europe who’ve proved that they know how to interfere with the ideologically necessary triump of Barcelona.

    They’ve appointed a Norwegian ref tonight.

  41. Ososdeoro

    Hmmm. Amidst an article about how TSO wants to come back to Chelsea (over any of the other EPL clubs) if he has full control over all football operations, we get this tidbit:

    “Chelsea’s place in the quarter-finals is virtually assured courtesy of their 2-0 win in the first leg at Copenhagen two weeks ago and it looks like he [CA] will finally have a full squad to choose from for the bigger matches to come as Alex and Yossi Benayoun are fit after long lay-offs. Ancelotti is certainly talking as if the best is still to come from him and his team this season.”

    Good news indeed.

  42. Jon

    Half time and so far so good. Yuri is playing very well just needs to find his shooting boots. Good tempo from the team and some very slick passing.

    Is it just poor opposition or what, because a month ago none of these players could pass for shit. We are getting in behind the defenders and making opportunities. Still playing the long ball a lot – but we do have Drogs on the pitch. Personally I would bring on Kalou for Anelka. His pass and dribbling would be very effective on the counter.

  43. Anonymous

    *Yawn*. Is it all over yet? What? Only half time? I can’t put myself through 45 more minutes of that dross.

    Jesus, it would take someone of amazing creativity to make that half sound interesting.

    Not awful. Just not, ummm, great. Or exciting. Or watchable. Their post-hitting freekick was the highlight (neon pink shirts aside). Our forwards are taking it too easy. Being too complacent. And what is it with Mikel giving away ridiculously fucking stupid freekicks all the time? Get a grip man….

  44. Blues FTW

    WTF is wrong with Bosingwa? Just don’t get how lazy and aimless he seems all the time. (Though he was a bit better at defense this time, but then we are playing against C’Hagen).

  45. Anonymous

    I’ll say it first – Torres gets 15 minutes and neither Drogba nor Malouda played a pass to him – tell me something isn’t going on there, plain for all to see tonight again.

    • Anonymous

      Ermmm … Malouda did try and put him in once, very obviously.

      I didn’t see any sign of “don’t pass to Nando” at all, let alone clearly.

  46. Anonymous

    Well that was boring wasn’t it?

    Basically a dead rubber played at a pre season tempo in the second half before the City showdown this weekend.

    However, there were two things to note:
    1. Didier is finished – That second half performance was embarrassing at times. The ball kept flying off his shins as he tried to control it, passes were overhit and too slow in getting delivered and his shooting and dribbling especially were woeful.
    2. Egos – After the Blackpool debacle, some laughed at me for suggesting that Didier and his cronies are actively avoiding passing to Fernando but tonight it was so obvious from Malouda and Didier. Whenever Fernando was on the shoulder of the last defender waiting for a through ball, Didier or Flo would pass square or dribble down a cul-de-sac instead. The worst examples though were from Didier near the end of the second half when he twice had easy opportnities to square to an unmarked Torres but decided that he wanted to slow the game down and win a corner instead of passing or even shooting from 45 yards out. It was embarrassing and pathetic with Torres actually looking baffled as to why Frank was the only attacking player who was looking to give him the ball. The egos amongst Didier and cronies will cost us soon but hey, they’re virtually out the door anyway judging by the signing of Piazon and bids for Lukaku and perhaps Sanchez.

    But apart from tonight confirming in my mind that Didier is bringing down the curtain on his Chelsea career in the most pathetic way possible, tonight was a routine, dull 90 mins which got us to the last 8. Can’t see our 4-4-2 beating Barca or Jose though!

  47. Anonymous

    This is odd. I’ve just got back and I feel like I was at the wrong game. The first thing I was going to say was that I thought the biggest positive to come out of a perfectly acceptable energy-saving amble (during which decent chances were created every five minutes or so against truly useless opposition) was that Drogs looked sharp, hungry and effective. He had four or five super touches in the first half and spent a great deal of the second half muscling off defenders, running at goal without losing sight of the rest of the team, and winning the kind of headers he’s been losing (or not competing for) since October.

    I didn’t notice Drogs failing to give crosses. He went into the corner three times, as I recall, and on each occasion either won a corner kick or went through two defenders and squared the ball. In fact when Nando came on what I (and everone sitting around me) saw was that the whole game became about him trying to get a goal. He himself was clearly going to take absolutely every shot available (witness his first serious involvement, when he came all the way from the touchline on the left back into the penalty box, going around and outside defenders, never once thinking of squaring it), and everyone else (including Big Pete) seemed to be aiming the ball in his direction — the only obvious exception I can think of is when Drogs had that fairly ridiculous long range shot from the left with about five minutes to go.

    I would think there’d be more discussion about the number of very good opportunities Nic managed to cock up. And I don’t think he had that bad a game either.

    Can’t see what all the fuss is about to be honest. We were playing with maybe 60% intensity, maximum, never game them a sniff of goal apart from conceding two free kicks early on too close to our area, and had more than 20 shots. We already had the tie won so this was always going to be an exercise in conserving energy. What’s the problem?

    • Anonymous

      It was a decent performance, with Mikel and Ramires looking good…Ramires is a super player and it’s almost hard to picture the team without him. I thought Nico was superb last night and him and Drogba, especially first half, did link up well. But when he went off he barely looked at Torres , let alone pass to him. It ios obvious to me and many others that Drogba, and Malouda seem to be determined to freeze him out. Malouda may have played one pass through, but that was it. Drogba at no point looked to see if he was free.

      You have your view, I have mine, we’ll probably never agree on this. However, I do think we’re seeing Drogs swansong and it’s a shame because he’s been great for us in the main. I stick with my view that strikers do fade very quickly and his current form seems to underline this.

      Bosingwa did manage to get one great cross in last night, so maybe he’s watched some ids of Jesper….who by the way doesn’t seem to have aged one bit! Does he have a picture in an attic somewhere?

  48. Anonymous

    It defies belief that a professional such as Bosingwa can be so positionally retarded.

    I cant understand how he makes what should be such a simple position (stand in line with Ash, JT and Branko) look so convoluted. Caught out a few times tonight by being, well, on holiday. Somewhere in midfield. A new RB is almost a necessity, unless Branko I’d shifted there next season with JT, Alex, Luiz and Bruma vying for the central spots. Maybe the promotion of the hyped Chalobah?

    I tend to disagree on both counts with the Torres posts. I don’t think he was ignored. I kind of got that we were trying to funnel everything through him, but he looked disinterested to me. Whether there’s team-mate friction, not settled in properly or simply thinking he’ll start next season, I don’t know.

    Thought Ramires did well again tonight. Boys got an engine on him, and continues to grow as a Chelsea player. Mikel was comfortable but gave away too many needless freekicks in dangerous positions. Do that Sunday and Citeh will kill us.

    Mind you, I doubt they watched tonight and were overly bothered…

  49. Dennis

    Along with Blue Bayou’s great post I’d like to mention that the Vancouver Whitecaps defeated Toronto FC 4-2 Saturday in the Whitecaps’ Major League Soccer debut. This is the first All-Canadian MLS game in history.

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