Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland – The Guardian Angel Was On Our Side

The synopsis

Phew, that was a close shave. And I’m not talking about Andre’s face! The North East may have the Angel of the North but today the guardian angel was on our side.

Typical of recent performances 1-0 is a dangerous position for us. First half we were marginally better than of late and less soporific. Second half started OK but the whole ground knew that, if we didn’t quickly cement our lead, it would be a stressful last 20 minutes. For much of the game we’d conspired to make Bendtner look half decent but in the final moments he showed his true colours and missed a sitter.

The first half

Started brightly and it was hard to understand how Sunderland had managed to string their decent run of results together. We were dominant without creating too many chances.

After a decent move Mata found space on the right and crossed to the far post. It looked like it had been over hit but Torres leapt into the air and, from a horizontal position, his scissor kick crashed against the bar. It was one of those “wow” moments in football. His leap was majestic and the technique and power of shot spectacular. Nothing like Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick against City last season, where the fat bastard looked like an overladen Airbus A380 struggling for lift off before fumbling the ball home off his shin. This was more like a Harrier Jump Jet, with rapid vertical take-off. More the pity then that it crashed against the bar but thankfully Frank was in the right place at the right time to tap home.

From that point forward Torres only had to put one foot in front of the other and the crowd were applauding and singing his name.

The second half

Forty-five thousand of us were desperate for a second goal because we all know how fragile we are at 1-0. The second goal didn’t happen and so it transpired that we spent the last 20 minutes sitting deep and hanging on against a bread and butter team.

With 15 minutes to go Lampard was substituted for Essien for his welcome return from injury. I was surprised by this move and, with Essien having had so little match practice under his belt, I feared he would be exposed. Strangely Essien was our best player for the remainder with some crisp passing. I’m still conservative about his potential contribution for the rest of the season.

Other highlights of the half were valid penalty claims by both teams followed by a nice Torres dribble in the box which concluded with him being booked for diving after he was felled. These refereeing idiosyncrasies caused many fans to question the length of Phil Dowd’s neck. Additionally Cattermole, true to form, put himself about enough to earn a red.

The player ratings (using Standard & Poor’s credit ratings)

  • Cech – B – Seems unable to distribute the ball. If he’s not tapping out short balls to put our defenders under pressure, he’s hoofing up high balls with swerve to the wing and expecting short arse Mata to control it.
  • Cole – A – Some decent interceptions.
  • David Luiz – A – Settling down and no calamities. Made one very good interception second half to save us.
  • Bosingwa – CC – Will Cahill’s imminent arrival mean his days are numbered, since Ivanovic or Luiz could move to full-back?
  • Terry – A – Still strong.
  • Romeu – BB – Decidedly iffy game which is a shame because he’s my current favourite. Kept passing backwards or to the opposition. Maybe he kept getting distracted by Essien on the bench.
  • Ramires – BB – Not to his normal standard and made two shocking pAAsses in the last few minutes when we could have killed the game off.
  • Lampard – BBB – Notched up another goal to keep him rising on our all-time goal scoring chart.
  • Meireles – BBB – Decent enough.
  • Torres – AA – Sometimes he’s performed like a Kia Picanto 1.1 68bhp 5-speed manual, which is perfectly satisfactory if you’ve only laid out seven grand, but today he fulfilled his price tag and performed more like a Rolls-Royce Ghost with leather headlining and a gold-plated Spirit of Ecstasy up front. If only his scissor kick had gone in!
  • Mata – BB+ – Needs to add some body weight.
  • Essien (sub) – CCC – Rather like Greece it’s going to be a long road back.
  • Malouda (sub) – D – Worst possible credit rating. Why? Because he’s French. How dare those tossers cast aspersions on the British economy. Still, they’ve got their just deserts by being downrated.

The summary

We’re better off than we were this morning which is all that counts, assisted by Spurs and Liverpool dropping points.

The press reports

The Observer, Amy Lawrence: “This was a game that promised changes afoot in Chelsea’s make-up. Michael Essien was thrilled to make his long-awaited return to the midfield heartland for the first time since last May, Gary Cahill watched on with an excitable smile from the stands, and Fernando Torres looked like a brand new player – or more pertinently, an old player. This was much more like the version that terrorised the Premier League in his Liverpool days. But for all the possibilities, Chelsea walked off to enjoy a narrow victory mindful that Sunderland had caused more than enough nervy moments.”

The Sunday Telegraph, Oliver Brown: “A hex hangs over Fernando Torres, and even this cultured exhibition of the lone striker’s art did nothing to lift it. Here it was Frank Lampard who profited from the Spaniard’s rotten luck, staying stationary as his team-mate’s exquisite volley cannoned off the crossbar and in, courtesy of his shin. The freakish strike proved enough for Chelsea to thwart a resolute Sunderland side, but only a goal of Torres’s own could have satisfied a man who has still not scored in the league for almost four months.”

The Independent on Sunday, Glenn Moore: “Chelsea cannot close games out the way they used to and Sunderland, as might be expected given their manager and their form, refused to go quietly. Busy, vibrant and resilient, they took the game to the London side and with better finishing would have gained the draw they merited.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “Frank Lampard netted for the third game in a row to keep the team’s 100 per cent record in 2012 going. Lampard’s 11th of the season put him clear as Chelsea’s top scorer this season and came early in the first-half after Fernando Torres had been unlucky to hit woodwork.”

The goal

13′ Lampard 1-0

There are 120 comments

Add yours
  1. MZ

    Ah, those bastards at EPL Index can break every theory! For example, that Romeu chap You’re writing about? 45% of his passes went forward, only 15% backwards and 40% sideways. And misplaced only 6 of them too. 

    Er… Alright, I will bugger off now with my numbers back to the sad place where it all looks better than on the pitch in reality.

    • Cunningplan

      I like your concise observations, I’ve not seen you post here before, but please post more often.
      And welcome to the blog by the way.

      I think overall we did deserve the win, we created more chances, on, and off target, also had more of the ball than Sunderland. If they had sneaked a late equaliser, it would have been yet another kick in the bollocks.

      Lets hope the media keep talking Spuds up as contenders, then they can continue to find some way to screw it up.

  2. Fat Nakago

    AVB shaved!! That’s right…I thought something looked a little odd about the match, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it. If he keeps his grill tight from now, we will win every game.

    There were other things that seemed odd about the match, but mostly it seemed like our labs arrived at Stamford Bridge in a Hippy Bus….not quite like the Merry Pranksters of old….but more like some Greatful Dead Tribute Band Camp Followers. There was an almost psychedlic prescision and purpose to their play interspersed with blips of psychedelic imprecision ((Wow….DUDE, that was Nickas Bendtner, man….where’d he come from, man…WOOOAAAAAHHH)).

    What didn’t seem odd at all was how very much like a donkey Bosingwa played. That was brutally obvious. Can’t wait for Cahill to get his first start.

    Finally, it was nice to Essien back on the pitch. I think he’ll give us a real spark that’s been missing. Since Lamps is already the odd man out, I’m thinking Essien will see more time at the expense of Meireles.

    I’ll probably have more to say later on my little bloog:

    Respectfully submitted, as always.

  3. Anonymous

    The usual pessimistic Fiftee wants to say (sarcastically) “So glad we held on against the footballing super-power that is Sunderland”.

    The 2012 version of Fiftee says we’re +4 on last season.

    Where we really are is, I guess, somewhere in between. Should have been more comfortable, but the Chelsea of now is about excitement caused by uncertainty, rather than excitement caused by success.

  4. Cunningplan

    After watching the O’Neil interview on the BBC website after the game, I thought the agenda from the Beeb was one of favouring and spinning how unlucky Sunderland were. The reason being, the interviewer brought up their penalty shout, and didn’t ask AVB about the two legitimate appeals that Torres had.

    Fairplay to messrs Hansen and Shearer on MOTD, they pointed out all three should have been given, and they said the yellow card for Torres was a joke. Yes it was a nervy last 15 mins or so, but this is the same Sunderland that have been on a good run as of late. The same team that recently beat champions elect Citeh, and narrowly lost to title contenders Spurs.
    We all know that O’Neil sends out organised well drilled teams, and Sunderland are a different beast now than they were under Bruce, so a 1-0 win and three points is fine by me.

  5. Ryan

    I also thought Hansen and Shearer were quite even-handed. Glad that Shearer pointed out Phil Dowd’s awful yellow card for Torres. He did the same thing to Luiz against Liverpool in the League Cup when he was tripped in the area. I know it’s a hard job but I think the referees this season have been more inconsistent. Not sure if that is to do with the guidelines imposed on them or just poor performances.

    Useful three points. Glad Spurs could only draw. Thought ‘Arry had gone a bit early on the “we’ve done it the right way” comment. Firstly they haven’t done “it” yet. There is still (just under) half the season to go. Secondly it was an odd one to criticize City when they’ve loaned him Adebayor and are paying most of his wages. Probably safe to say you won’t be seeing Ade in a Spurs shirt next season.

    Maybe it’s just because we’ve ticked over onto 40 points but it feels like we’re not so far behind the three sides the media wants to focus on.

  6. Cunningplan

    Certainly agree with the officiating this season, also there’s been far too many yellow cards being dished out for perfectly good tackles.
    And as far as the inconsistencies go, you only have to look at two footed tackles which get reds, the recent Kompany one, our two Drogs and Torres, and of course the one that wasn’t given to Glen Johnson.

    If I want to watch a non contact sport, I’ll watch Netball, or perhaps ladies beach volleyball. 😉

    I would like to add a disclaimer, that I’m not sexist in anyway, my wife won’t allow it.

    • Ryan

      In all the seeming confusion about fairness and consistency regarding two-footed/reckless tackles I really only think a player should be sent off if he endangers the safety of another player purposely or unnecessarily recklessly. I don’t think Kompany’s tackle fitted that criteria to be honest. Others have and haven’t even warranted a yellow. So I m not sure that referees are getting the basics right.
      I also don’t like to see Phil Dowd “having words” with Torres (I remember him doing the same to Luiz) because I can only assume he is telling him to get up because he is cheating. He ought to apologize to Fernando if that was case.

  7. Anonymous

    Statistics shmatistics, Romeu had a horrible game, most uncharacteristically. The whole point of that position is not to give away possession, and he did it with startling regularity (including putting the ball into touch under no pressure at all). If that had been Obi the crowd would have been going batshit and calling for a lynching.

    Otherwise I thought we looked a bit better than in the last three home games.

    My fave moment was when the Sunderland players were chasing the ref around after Cashley wasn’t penalised for leaning on Bendtner. I couldn’t tell which of them it was since most of them look weirdly the same (some scout once took the instruction to find “terrier-like” players a bit too literally, I’d guess) but one of them was actually purple with fury, the way they go purple in Tintin.

  8. Harry

    Back to
    old Chelsea days, an inconsistent team, winning one match that Chelsea should
    have lost and then in the next match getting thrashed by a big margin to a
    Wimbledon side. AVB and Chelsea have no chance in champion league. Mr. AVB and
    Chelsea board thanks for nothing.

    • Ryan

      “Back to the old Chelsea days”
      What you mean when we were relegated to Division 2? Hardly.

      As for “thanks for nothing” you need to realise if your thinking was applied to City you’d have sacked Mancini last year, same goes for Redknapp at Spurs. There is no “magic” manager out there that will come in and transform a team that needs rebuilding overnight.

      You’ve given AVB twenty one league games to turn around 3 or 4 years of instability and under-investment in the future at Chelsea (£70million spent last January hardly addressed our problems). Don’t you see that your brand of thinking is what has caused the difficulties we now face. Ironic eh?

  9. Benajami

    AVB is doing fine at the moment, with a bit more luck we could have had a few more points and everyone would be saying he was doing a fine job. We aren’t expected to win the title this season and I think both AVB and RA knew that before the start of the season. But that isn’t the face AVB has to show to the retarded public 😛

    Massive game next week at Norwich, win is required! We would close the gap to spurs to 3 points and with them playing away at city and still to come to SB, it means we would have morally jumped to 3rd 😉

    Arsenal v Utd as well next weekend, with a bit of luck be a step closer to 2nd place!

    • Harry

      My barnd of thinking?! get real. I was not the one who made all those pathetic decisions. I did not sack JM! I did not appointed AG, PS, or CA.

      Obviousely you are not much a of a Chelsea fan to remember how Chelsea used to get trashed such as 0-5 to wimbledon, or loosing 2-4 to sunderland, 3-5 to blackburn! 1-4 to newcastle,

      next time, concentrate on ur own original brand of illusions before you address some one else.

      • Ryan

        How do you prove how much of a fan you are? I was in the Shed next to the white wall with my old man when I was three years old. Does that make an opinion more valid than if I didn’t go to a game until I was 10? I don’t know what being able to reel off some bad results from down the years proves. Except that you’re possibly a depressive and that we used to be a lot worse than we are now.

        I’m not getting into personal insults. I can’t be bothered with it. I don’t know what sort of personal illusions you’re talking about but I would be interested to know what exactly you’d like to see happen at Chelsea? It’s great you’re so passionate but you seem pretty angry, your criticism isn’t constructive, your spelling’s atrocious, you always post the same boring bollocks and it makes you look a bit of a mug but they’re just my observations.

        Anyway, enjoy the rest of the season and try not to top yourself mate. I’ll be ignoring your posts from now on unless they’re sensible.

        • Harry

          Had you been a decent chap, you
          would have had respect for other’s point of views.

          Mr. Freud, since you
          know what state of mind I am, you should surely know not to open a dialogue
          with someone like me unless your opinion is sought. It is called manners.

          I hold you “Juvenile delinquent” to
          your promise that you will be ignoring my posts from now on.

  10. SweetDairyAir

    People seem to be making too much out of nothing regarding recent refereeing decisions. These red cards are intended to prevent injuries, not punish players after inflicting them. If Nani hadn’t have jumped out of the way, Kompany would have broken his leg. It was a pointless challenge and a defender of his quality should know better.

    Xabi Alonso was quoted as saying of the English game, “I don’t think tackling is a quality…it is a recurso, something
    you have to resort to, not a characteristic of your game…I can’t get
    into my head that football development would educate tackling as a
    quality, something to learn, to teach, a characteristic of your play.
    How can that be a way of seeing the game? I just don’t understand
    football in those terms. Tackling is a [last] resort, and you will need
    it, but it isn’t a quality to aspire to.”

    Defending should be about interceptions and moving a player to a less dangerous position until cover can come back and help out. There will always be a place for tackling in the game but nobody wants to see the types of challenges that resulted in horrendous injuries for Eduardo and Aaron Ramsay, among others. The Secret Footballer column in The Guardian wrote a good piece on this very subject a few days ago mentioning similar points if anyone wants to check it out.

    The rules as written by the governing bodies are fairly clear. They were read out by Gary Lineker last night on MOTD and he himself made good points that neither Shearer or Hansen could answer. They kept going on about consistency from the referees when in actual fact that is an impossibility and should be ignored as an issue. They could not come up with a solution when pressed by Gary. Every challenge is different, judged by a different referee with a different personality in a different situation. It’s only natural that there will be inconsistencies but there is no way of fixing that.

    Also as I have seen from many a pundit, player, commentator and even manager, they should stop mentioning intent. That is not part of the rules. Whether a player means to tackle someone dangerously or not doesn’t matter.

    If anyone wants to see a masterclass in defending, watch Mourinho’s Inter Milan away at the Nou Camp. There were great interceptions, great positioning, and perfectly-timed dives-in when need be. Italian defending of the highest order. That’s what defending should be like, and not the type of tackles you saw from Kompany and Glen Johnson (and to be fair Mourinho’s current crop of players including Marcelo and di Maria also, especially when playing against Barcelona).

    Whatever. Rant over. At least we won at home, kept a clean sheet, finalised a deal for a new centre back and got Torres to play really quite well actually. Not bad.

    • Ryan

      I agree with a lot of your points. But the Kompany tackle wasn’t a leg breaker. I don’t see it. It just wasn’t a red card. He got sent off for being off his feet but he was nowhere near Nani at that point. Don’t get me wrong, I m glad he’s suspended for four games but if he was a Chelsea player I think we’d all have been pretty upset about the decision.

      • SweetDairyAir

        That’s where a lot of the recent brouhaha doesn’t make sense to me. Even if some people don’t think it was a red card (although I personally think it was), I can see why the referee gave it. Surely most people can at least see why he might have given it. It was his judgement made at that time. Referees don’t care about the flow of the game, or if it’s too early or whatever. If they see a challenge they deem to break the rules, they’ll apply the appropriate punishment (again in their judgement). Absolute consistency will never be achieved, but moving the game forward in a general direction where there are fewer potentially dangerous challenges that can seriously injure someone is fine by me, even if different referees apply the rules slightly different in different situations.

        Furthermore yesterday’s decision to book Torres was clearly wrong, but I begrudgingly accept that the referee missed where there was contact, so logically assumed it was a dive, and therefore booked him. Wrong decision, but I can maybe see why it happened.

        Referees do a horrible enough job as it is without the media, fans and managers piling on. A system whereby television cameras and an off-the-field official were utilised would make everyone’s job easier, but knowing how football is run by conservative, old-fart, stick-in-the-muds means that that won’t happen any time soon. Until it does though, these sort of reactions from people who don’t know the actual rules will keep on popping up.

        As an aside, after watching Alan Shearer mumble something incoherent about referees being inconsistent, it reminded me why when every time I see his so called expert analysis I wonder why the BBC has someone so shallow and uninformative when Sky Sports have Gary Neville. I watched a Super Sunday or something recently and he mentioned that he watched a bunch of Spanish matches over the weekend as research. He then compared the tactics, movement and positioning to whoever they were showing against Barcelona, and it was genuinely interesting. He played around with his Minority Report screen and I learnt things that only a recently retired footballer could tell you about the modern game. I get that some people don’t like tactics and find it boring, but can’t we expect better than Shearer going over the bloody highlights we JUST saw, and narrating the exact same clips, saying how great that goal was. WE JUST WATCHED IT ONE MINUTE AGO! Teach us something. Shearer is also a recently retired footballer. He must have some idea about how modern managers set up their teams, but you never get that impression (and judging by his short stint as manager, maybe he just doesn’t know that much about the intricacies of football). Even Alan Hansen seems to be going through the motions most weeks. Last week’s brutal assassination of Bosingwa’s defending was the first time in ages I saw Hansen do anything of note that wasn’t just mentioning how great Rooney’s technique was, or how great Steven Gerrard is etc. I’ve noticed Hansen picks up his game when talking about our defending in particular. I can see there’s some needle between him and AVB. AVB clearly thinks this pundit who retired from football in the 80s has no idea how football is coached or played in the modern era, and the more I watch MOTD, the more I agree with him. Hire someone like Gary Neville, or have Seedorf on every week! That would be much better than the dross we are currently served.

        Anyway after that meandering speech that kind of just ended abruptly without much of a conclusion, because I got bored of getting annoyed at them, I’ll just say that people should lay off referees a bit. Unless it’s Tom Henning Ovrebo. That guy’s a twat!

        • Ryan

          I agree. I did mention what a hard job refs have earlier. Robbie Savage (of all people) summed it up when he said that part of football is differing opinions and debating decisions after games. That is the nature of the game. One man’s red card is another’s yellow and so on.

          I would say though that the reaction from fans, media and managers has arisen because there is a perceived change in the way the rules are being applied this year. Rodwell’s sending off in the Merseyside derby was a glaring example. Ok it was rescinded but that’s cold comfort if you’re on the wrong end of a decision like that. It’s not just a case of knowing the rules. Showing a written rule on screen is one thing but referees are also advised on how to interpret these rules. They are given directives. I think it is sometimes this that causes frustration. People see some decisions as having been awarded as a direct consequence of these directives skewing refs judgement.

          I would say regarding your Alonso quote I disagree that “tackling is not something to aspire to”. If we don’t acknowledge and value tackling as a skill how can we coach the next generation to tackle safely. I can’t see how treating tackling as an unpleasant necessity is likely to actually improve it. It’s a bit like the argument for not teaching sex-education in school to stop teenagers shagging. Better to teach them how to have it off safely, surely!

        • Ryan

          I agree. I did mention what a hard job refs have earlier. Robbie Savage (of all people) summed it up when he said that part of football is differing opinions and debating decisions after games. That is the nature of the game. One man’s red card is another’s yellow and so on.

          I would say though that the reaction from fans, media and managers has arisen because there is a perceived change in the way the rules are being applied this year. Rodwell’s sending off in the Merseyside derby was a glaring example. Ok it was rescinded but that’s cold comfort if you’re on the wrong end of a decision like that. It’s not just a case of knowing the rules. Showing a written rule on screen is one thing but referees are also advised on how to interpret these rules. They are given directives. I think it is sometimes this that causes frustration. People see some decisions as having been awarded as a direct consequence of these directives skewing refs judgement.

          I would say regarding your Alonso quote I disagree that “tackling is not something to aspire to”. If we don’t acknowledge and value tackling as a skill how can we coach the next generation to tackle safely. I can’t see how treating tackling as an unpleasant necessity is likely to actually improve it. It’s a bit like the argument for not teaching sex-education in school to stop teenagers shagging. Better to teach them how to have it off safely, surely!

      • SweetDairyAir

        Watching him play for Real Madrid he isn’t as dirty as he was at Liverpool. Maybe players just get caught up in the emotions of the crowds in this country.

        If you combine the technique of someone like David Silva with the power and pace needed in the Premiership you have a pretty deadly combination. Cristiano Ronaldo is the ultimate example of this. Speaking more broadly I think that’s how the teams in this league can overtake the big Spanish teams in the next few years. Keep the best parts of the Premiership (tone down the Kompany tackling a bit), and bring in more technically gifted players, be it through the academy or transfers, and that’s the way forward.

        I reckon this is the beginning of a shift towards a different style of football in the Premiership. Teams are trying to pass it around more, and there will probably be fewer crunch tackles, with players opting to stay on their feet, shepherding the ball to safety, so that their teams can keep their shape. The tactical problem with diving in is that players can be left on the ground whilst your opponent skips past you into open space in behind. This is sometimes an accusation lobbed at John Terry actually. I think it was Fergie who said that Maldini would often go through matches without a bit of mud on him, yet still the opponent wouldn’t get a sniff of the ball.

        There are fewer Boltons under Sam Allardyce, and more Swansea and Norwich City type teams now. Teams are evolving a more fluid passing and attacking style and I think eventually our defensive approaches will change too, but that may come later as we have seen a lot of people are still fond of their crunch tackles.

  11. mike12

    I’m with Ryan here.

    Tackling is an art-form, and it’s not just about clattering into someone, or giving them a good whack. It’s about technique, and winning the ball cleanly, seeing as winning it cleanly is the most preferable option, tactically speaking. Furthermore, the physical aspects of the game are not to be ignored. Now, I’m not saying we should go back ti the days of Chopper Harris (although I really wouldn’t mind), all I mean is that the focus on technique with the ball, and technical skill is all well and good, but the teams that choose to focus on physicality, as we have done in the past, should have the option of tough tackling. Again, I’m not wishing anymore Aaron Ramsey style breaks on anyone, but the odd clatter here and there isn’t the death of football, shouldn’t be a last resort, and should be taught so that players can tackle hard, in order to be physically intimidating, but not dangerously or recklessly.

    • SweetDairyAir

      I agree that tackling is an art form, and I don’t think any reasonable person wants it outlawed. Xabi Alonso himself was quite a dirty player when over here, getting wrapped up in the atmosphere our fans create when tackles go flying in, and going in quite hard quite a lot. However what Kompany did, and also what that QPR player did this weekend when injuring Cabaye, is not up there as a good example of tackling. That is what is trying to be phased out and I agree with the various governing bodies who are trying to do that. What these rules will hopefully do over time is improve players’ technique when it comes to tackling and taking the ball from the opposition. It may be a long shot, but it may make England a better national team as well!

      Oh and watching MOTD2, Swansea are a mightily impressive little team. I echo everyone else’s thoughts, hoping that McEachran can get in the team, improve a lot, and come back to us a stronger, better player.

  12. Cunningplan

    Well I’ve just seen Arsenal out Arsenal’d by those footballing giants Swansea City.
    So I’m going to use that word again, perspective…. with regard to where we are with our transition, or whatever anyone wants to call it.

    Arsenal have not won anything for how many years now? and on todays performance, it won’t be anytime soon.

    • Anonymous

      Having watched the same game, I have to wonder how Josh is any more likely to play for the Swans than us? They’re not really screaming out for a diminutive, ball player as they have a few already.

      I guess time will tell…

      • Cunningplan

        True, but if he does play, and play well, then he’s going to return to us an even better player.
        The work rate those lads put in was off the scale, they pressed high up the pitch and put Arsenal under allsorts of pressure.
        On saying that, they do take chances, and for all their pretty tippee tappee triangles, it will get them into trouble more often than not, especially trying to play out of their 18 yard area.

    • Ryan

      I make you right again CP. Funny old year this one. I know they all say “there are no easy games in this league” but it hasn’t always seemed that way, it does this year.

      I’m already worrying about Norwich next week. I’m encouraged that we have won a few games on the spin without playing that well and if we can find a bit of form before we play Utd at SB I do think we could kick on and use the squad’s experience on the run-in to good effect.

  13. Anonymous

    And maybe they just want *even better* diminutive ball players. Or perhaps just even more diminutive ones (they need Josh so they can remove some ballast from midfield).

    Re Nando’s booking: watching it live, from a seat near the other end of the ground, I can see why the ref booked him. It definitely looked like he’d been tripped, but it also definitely looked like he waited a fraction of a second and then deliberately fell over — i.e. he could have stayed on his feet if he’d wanted to.

    Whether that’s the case I don’t know, but live and at full speed that’s what it looked like to me, so it might have looked that way to the referee also.

    A nice set of results for us so far this weekend. I still suspect there’ll be a bum-squeaking battle for fourth, though.

    • Cunningplan

      I’ll stick my neck out and say we’ll finish 3rd if not 2nd.
      And I don’t want any wise remarks about forfeits or repercussions for making bold and blanket statements. 😉

    • Anonymous

      Re Nando’s booking. But to most of us in the MH end it look a nailed on penalty and I’m rather sick of refs seemingly giving decisions against us but then failing to spot the downright fucking obvious when we have a claim. Nando had been tormenting their defence when we went forward and had no reason to go down….he’d got through both of them. But now he has a yellow against his name, when Dowd could have just waved play on instead of showboating to his own power crazed ego. It would have still been a wrong call but it would have also spared the Nando cheat implication being levelled against a player who isn’t dirty, rarely lips the refs back and patently deserved a decision. 

      When decisions are marginal I accept the frailties of the refs, but when they’re obvious like yesterdays for us and for Sunderland then you have to wonder about the abilities of some of them.

      it’s incompetency not inconsistency that’s the problem. 

  14. John D

    Yesterday was my first trip to the Bridge this season, so rather than just be a regular reader of the blog I’ll add a few of my opinions from the game.

    It was a well-needed and deserved win, but it was also worrying how Sunderland were able to carve us open to create 3 or 4 very good 2nd half chances (and also their good opportunity at 0-0). The sooner Ivanovic is back and Cahill is integrated into the defence the better in my opinion. How does everyone think that we should then line up the back four – RB Branners,  CBs JT  & Cahill, LB Ashley?

    Watching Mata in the flesh, due to his lack of pace I don’t think that he should play on the wing (also, Ramires looked uncomfortable on the right wing – I hope that he doesn’t play there again). As has been mentioned on this blog before, his ideal position should be ‘in the hole’ behind the centre forward. We need a quick winger who can consistently provide decent crosses into the box (ie not Malouda & Kalou)! Unless we’ve got a player coming through, I hope that we can buy a winger before the transfer deadline.

    It was a great surprise to see Essien back yesterday, I hadn’t realised that he had recovered from his injury. That will beef us up for the rest of the season if he plays to the level he’s capable of.

    A couple of other little observations – Cech’s clearances were good yesterday , but the one time he went for a dribble my heart was in my mouth. Don’t do that Pete – kick it quickly!
    When Sunderland made substitutions, O’Neill made a point of giving the player coming off a big hug and a few (presumably encouraging) words in their ear. When our subs came off AVB didn’t seem to acknowledge them, and it was left to Di Matteo to shake their hands. Maybe AVB can learn a little bit of good man-management from O’Neills example?  

    Finally – am I the only Chelsea fan who still thinks when we reach 40 points “We should be safe from relegation this season”…? 

  15. Ryan

    I’ll be interested to see how City fare without Kompany and Yaya tomorrow. They should still have more than enough for Wigan but we’ll have to wait and see.

    I know everyone is looking at Spurs and City and that’s fair enough based on their form but recent history suggests it’s us and Utd that are proven over 38 games. We play City and Spurs back to back in March. I’ll be fascinated to see how the table looks after those games.

  16. Cunningplan

    I do find it frustrating that yellow cards can’t be rescinded, especially as they tally up to five, and then a ban.
    It would be good for referees (no requests or pressure from clubs) to be allowed under their own volition to review just their bookings after the match, to see if they were correct or not.
    It just seems like commonsense to me.

  17. Gleb

    Although I love AVB and had been calling for him to get appointed long before his name even came up, I think there’s one crucial flow in his managerial approach: he believes in *his* way of playing (or philosophy) too much. He does have Plan Bs and he’s very flexible and tactically astute but WITHIN his philosophy. Them new breed of managers (inspired by Barcelona, no less) are all the same in this regard. They’re the exact opposite of your plain’ old “soccer coach” who just plays his best players and tells them to stick it in the net (and they just run and run and run in training). That’s a bad thing, too, an even worse trait, but what any big club striving for success needs is somewhere in between these two extremes. Those who call AVB “naive” are right in a way because he obviously has no expectations of the majority of our squad. And thus he dismisses them on the grounds that they do not understand or are incapable of playing his “modern” way. He got lucky at Porto, a club with a more or less established approach and philosophy, where he could work his magic and become the best in Europe. Same as Pep. I still think Pep would have a hard time outside Barca (unless it’s a club with a very similar style). These managers know how to become the best provided they’ve got the right ingredients. If they haven’t, they’ll just buy someone who fits.

    I kinda lost myself a bit here, but my point is that our squad does need changing and we definitely need this transition, and if AVB is lucky, he’ll have it his way and unleash his abilities proper. But at the same time I cannot but agree with those of you who say that some of our players aren’t as bad as AVB makes them out to be. A more wise manager would have adapted his approach to this myriad circumstances and somehow found the way to get this squad working. It doesn’t have to an apostasy, but that’s what separates wise people from merely talented ones. AVB is talented but not yet wise. I mean, wasn’t it fucking obvious right from the start that Chelsea (JM’s mighty Chelsea) was the farthest thing possible from Barca in terms of style? Then why on earth did they start implementing their “high line tiki-taka” bullshit right away? Wasn’t it obvious from the beginning that football and footballers don’t work that way. It ain’t a video game, where the changes you make are applied instantly. As a result, AVB not only put himself under immense pressure, he not only damaged his relationship with a number of players, he not only made it a challenge for us to even get in the CL next year, but effectively he made the transition all that much harder by not making it gradual.

    I love the guy and think he’s our future and a very bright spark, and I do believe he knows what he’s doing, but since it was obvious that Roman would at least try not to sack him for a couple of seasons, since it was obvious he was appointed as a “hot prospect” of sorts – if all that he knew, but couldn’t he go about his transitioning in a more thought-out and gradual manner? Why couldn’t he be wise and bite the bullet and utilize our still many strengths (and not so fucking blatantly expose our many weaknesses), while slowly changing the squad to fit his philosophy? After all, no club can buy an entire team within one transfer window. As much as I hate the fascination with Fergie, the guy is wise. Maybe not even tactically talented, but so wise that he never let his weaknesses get in his was. Can anyone, for instance, pinpoint Man U’s style or philosophy? Maybe roughly at most. Do they even have one? Does anyone expect Man U to play a certain way? No! Everyone expects them to win. That’s it. So what he does is constantly adapt to the circumstances, whilst actually remaining very conservative in terms of tactics. Yet he wins stuff. And oversees countless successful transitions.

    Hopefully, that’s the kind of manager AVB will become. He definitely knows all there is to know about football on paper, but real life and elite clubs are different.

    Rant over, sorry.

  18. Dylbo Baggins

    Harry, this is really nothing to do with anything, but did you write your response in Microsoft Word so that you could use the spell checker?

    Your formatting looks very different to normal- classic cut and paste job…?

    Good win by Swansea!

  19. Judgejudas

    I suggest this blog should have an open door policy that
    discourages like for like thinking. Amongst us there are outliers each
    expressing his own unique view ,their views should not be segregated because
    they think differently, this is not an essay writing competition for heavens
    sake its just some open source blogging site and people should look deeply at
    the logic behind the comments instead of displaying  mental nakedness and
    begrudging trivial issues starting with the administrators all the way to the

    • Dylbo Baggins

      Fair comment. 

      I would like to retract my comment directed towards Harry. I would like to think that my comment toward Harry was not typical of my previous efforts.

    • Ryan

      This blog is, in my opinion, about discussion. When people post very minor variations on the same theme over and again and are not prepared to discuss said theme sensibly and without recourse to childish, “I’m a bigger fan than you are”, insults. I believe I am at liberty to question and discuss their views, since they’re putting them in the public domain, or simply ignore them. If one wishes to express an opinion without having anybody question it do not write it in a box displaying a “reply” bar underneath.

      The administrators and bloggers here don’t seem to me to be in the habit of stopping anyone expressing contrary views. Everyone has the right to express their opinion and everyone else has the right to question it. If you’re not prepared to support your arguments with logic expect and accept that some will, naturally, regard them as less valid.

      • Der_Kaiser

        Very rarely does anything get deleted; simple rule is, if you’re expressing an opinion, then be prepared to defend it and also to take some stick if you can’t.  It’s those that aren’t capable of doing so that are the first to shout censorship, groupthink, favouritism, run by a clique, no room for conflicting opinions blah de blah.  Even when, as happens 99% of the time, their comments are left completely untouched for all to see.

        Harry, as we already know, is one of a small handful of monomaniacs who turn up occasionally whether the team has won or lost and bitch incoherently about their pet beef ad infinitum and expect it to be given credence because they are, to quote, a ‘long term’ fan.  As such, they usually take a heap of shit for it, and rightly so.

        • Ryan

          Couldn’t agree more. I didn’t think I gave him a particularly hard time. Really I just wanted to see if he would express a straight opinion about board/manager and suggest an alternative. If you say sack AVB and bring in X because X,Y,Z fair enough. Not much point trying to tell me I’m not much of a fan because he decided inexplicably that I don’t remember when we were inconsistent. That’s not a logical argument and it’s my prerogative to not bother entering into further discussion with someone not capable of educationally normal levels of reasoning. Those expressing minority opinions do themselves a disservice when they won’t have a sensible back and forth. It only serves to make more people think they’re idea’s aren’t grounded in fact.

          Anyway onwards and upwards. Josh is on his way to Swansea and hopefully some PL game time. We’re 6 points behind Spurs. Arsenal lost. Liverpool drew. Mancini reckons he’s going to run out of players if he doesn’t get DeRossi and we’ve won a couple of games without playing particularly well. If we can get some momentum going this season just might not be as depressing as we all feared. I can’t believe we aren’t going to come into a bit of form and confidence soon.

          Glad to see Ess back, Studge back for Norwich, Cahill exchanging contracts as we speak (I assume) hopefully Branners back soon too!

          Up the Chels!

    • Ryan

      So what do we think. Is GC going to be warming the bench? Will he replace DL alongside JT? Could be a chance to try Luiz at RB (a la Ramos) or maybe DM? Anyway I m glad we’ve got him. Opens up a spot on the roster and cheap compared to the £10-12million being talked about for Samba. At least GC can play a bit. I’d rather have had Thiago Silva but that was never on the cards. So pretty happy. He seems to get on well with JT so that’ll help no end.

      • Anonymous

        The most important thing GC can do is to free Branco or Curly to play as a right back, IMHO of course .  

  20. bluebayou

    It will surprise many of you, I’m sure, but were you to start listing the world’s best defenders you would could get through several billion and still not reach my name.

    That said, I believe had I been allowed to run around the pitch on Saturday, pushing a sack barrow on which was mounted a life size cardboard cut-out of Riccy Carvalho (who would be very high on that list), it would have done more to inhibit Bendtner’s game than dear old Davy Luiz.

    Mark, while I agree with your very succinct summary of the afternoon’s proceedings, other than to say I thought we carried a real threat on the breakout in the last 20 minutes, I think with Luiz you’re guilty of the credit rating agencies major sin of rating CDO’s as high grade investment when they were in fact no more than high risk / high reward vehicles. And look where that got us.

    I may be in a minority here but I though Saturday was a long way from Luiz’s finest hour. When it came to handling Bendtner (and Maclean when they doubled up on him) he didn’t seem to know whether to piss or get off the pot. It was all well and good letting the Dane get the ball unopposed, rather than being beaten in the air and leaving Terry exposed, but to then back off another 5 yards so that Nik the narcissist could turn and get a run at us drove me to distraction.

    It was noticeable in the second half that the ever maligned Bosingwa (who I thought was better than Cole on the day) started to take responsibility for the aerial challenges in that part of the field.

    There was no appreciable sign that this dropping off was pre-planned. If it was, surely the usual policy is to have a screening midfielder in front to get the knockdown or challenge the forward before they can turn. Didn’t see that at all.

    Then in the final minute the classic Luiz foible of letting the forward run of his shoulder while falling on his arse was deployed. It could have ended in tears.

    But for all that I thought it was a decent battling performance. The greater part of the team still don’t seem to be working with understanding in their units of twos and threes but I think confidence is short and that always leads to stuttering.

    And they have to start playing the ball where and when Torres wants it. That’s what he’s there for. I lost track of the times he was on the last shoulder looking for the ball down the channel. It never came.

    I agree with LTB that Romeu made some howlers. But he does seem to be resilient and doesn’t get too unnerved by this. He seemed to come back strongly in the last third of the game.

    Anyway, thanks for the report Mark.

    I must get back to reading Thomas Hardy, a favourite author of mine. I can recommend “Far From the Maddening Dowd”.

  21. WorkingClassPost

    On paper that was a fantastic result.

    Three points against an organised and motivated side, clean sheet, Torres getting sharper and Essien back in the fold, but it was a close run thing which could easily have left us pointless and back under pressure. 

    The manner of our play was also lacking something – can’t say I’m actually enjoying watching this transition thingy. But, CL is still our priority (unless RA has had a brain transplant), so maybe we’re training to peak for different matches. 
    Plus, if we keep nicking games, then who knows what a few results in the PL will do for morale, confidence and whatever else is needed to get us playing again on a weekly basis?

    Mark, not sure if we’re still AAA, but S&P will surely be downgrading those around us fairly soon!

  22. Anonymous

    Tony — I quite agree about the refereeing problem. People who bleat about “inconsistency” almost always turn out to mean “how come the decisions always go against my team,” which is of course what we all think all the time, but probably secretly admit to ourselves is actually nonsense.

    Except for Shearer, that is, who bleats about “inconsistency” because it’s the only thing he can think of to say.

    There was a rather worrying Dowd moment early in the game. Cashley was blocked out of running on to an attacking through ball: clearly a foul but the ref was looking the other way. As they all ran back upfield, from my seat you could actually hear Dowd shouting his excuses to the player (yes, all right, I admit we’re not always the loudest singers in the East Upper). Which is fine, except that he hailed him by calling “Ash! … Ash! …” No doubt he refers to Rooney as “Wazza”.

    You suspect that from Collina it would have been “Mr Cole”, or possibly “Number 3” as the rugby referees would have it. Never a good sign when the ref is a starf**ker.

    Does anyone else think there’s beginning to be a hint of Claudio-like weirdness to AVB’s pronouncements? Without the twinkliness of course, but when he says that “everyone can see that there is a stigma at Stamford Bridge” I couldn’t help thinking of the golden days of entirely insane post-match interviews. (I get nostalgic for Gullit’s compulsive head-bobbing sometimes, even.)

    On another note, nice to see that Brendan Rogers is the man of the moment and that his tutelage under Saint José is being regularly credited. I wonder how long it will be before his name starts getting thrown around the media every time we lose a couple?

    • Anonymous

      I thought Phil The Fusspot’s most puzzling moment was when he prevented us from taking a throw-in for about 30 seconds until one of the Sunderland players rescued his boot which had come off accidently and tied his laces up.

      Is there some rule he knows about that no other referee has ever enforced in any game I’ve seen in my football watching life?

      BB, I retain warm feelings toward Claudio too and spookily I’ve just finished  watching my recording of ESPN’s coverage of that Milan derby [last night was filled with a double-bill of splendid NFL play-off games].

      Have to say it was deadly dull stuff to watch with AC Milan’s accuracy in front of goal making Bendtner and the rest of Sunderland’s banjo mis-handlers look [almost] good by comparison.

      Serie A still looks like a pale shadow of the days when it was on Channel 4 in Britain said he donning his nostalgia coat and exiting.

    • Dannybrod

      Re Brendan Rodgers. It really is a delight to see his career flowering at Swansea. I particularly like that banner the Motd cameras often pick out in the crowd, with his face in monochrome and Total Football underneath it. It is also worth noting, with regard to our current manager and calls for his replacement, that Rodgers was given just six months at Reading before they panicked after a flirtation with the relegation zone. Here’s Shane Long, then with Reading, commenting before they played the Swans in last year’s play-off final: 

      “You can see how Swansea play attractive football, but it just didn’t seem to work at Reading. Passing football, extra bodies in midfield, pass it around opponents – the Barcelona way of playing, more or less. I think we all gave it our best shot and it just didn’t seem to work for us. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just didn’t seem to click. It was a big transition in a short period of time and we couldn’t make it work.”

      It sounds similar to reactions to AVB’s similar changes here. Essential to stick with it and give him the time he needs. Not completely sure about what effect Cahill will have. Is he just an extra body with Alex gone? I hope it doesn’t mean we see less of David Luiz. It’s certainly a good bit of business. It looks like we could recoup the fee by selling Alex and seem to have kept the wage bill at a sensible level. 

    • Dannybrod

      Re Brendan Rodgers. It really is a delight to see his career flowering at Swansea. I particularly like that banner the Motd cameras often pick out in the crowd, with his face in monochrome and Total Football underneath it. It is also worth noting, with regard to our current manager and calls for his replacement, that Rodgers was given just six months at Reading before they panicked after a flirtation with the relegation zone. Here’s Shane Long, then with Reading, commenting before they played the Swans in last year’s play-off final: 

      “You can see how Swansea play attractive football, but it just didn’t seem to work at Reading. Passing football, extra bodies in midfield, pass it around opponents – the Barcelona way of playing, more or less. I think we all gave it our best shot and it just didn’t seem to work for us. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just didn’t seem to click. It was a big transition in a short period of time and we couldn’t make it work.”

      It sounds similar to reactions to AVB’s similar changes here. Essential to stick with it and give him the time he needs. Not completely sure about what effect Cahill will have. Is he just an extra body with Alex gone? I hope it doesn’t mean we see less of David Luiz. It’s certainly a good bit of business. It looks like we could recoup the fee by selling Alex and seem to have kept the wage bill at a sensible level. 

      • bluebayou

        Given the echo I assume you’re in the Alps gadding about on the slopes. Mind out for avalanches.

        Good point you’re making. Always wondered what went wrong for him at Reading.

        • NorthernVA

          Remember Roberto Martinez had two years at Swansea a year prior to his arrival. Some of the groundwork was already in place so probably not a complete reorganization.

          • bluebayou

            That’s true. And Paulo Sousa was there for a year as well after Martinez, so they have been looking to play a particular way for some years it would seem.

          • PeteW

            Precisely true, whereas Steve Coppell had been playing kick-and-rush at Reading. The point being, it can take years to change a style – look at Wenger at Arsenal, and how he got them playing decent football but one that wasn’t far from their strengths at first, and only brought in the pass-pass-pass-pass-miss style much later on (arguable until after the entire ‘old guard’ back four had retired). Gradual does it.

      • Cunningplan

        That is interesting with regard BR and Reading, it almost makes you feel that football clubs are rather institutionalised in they way they operate at all levels, with little, or no scope for change.

        Of course you have to accept the type of players you have for the system, but surely if Reading had have been a bit more patient, and adventerous, it might have been them playing and beating the Arse on Sunday.

  23. Ryan

    There’s some talk of us having a bid of £14million for Stevan Jovetic turned down. Not sure if this is another di Maria/Hazard type story. AVB said it would just be Cahill this month but you never know I suppose. If we could get him for less than £20million I’d be pretty happy. He’d be eligible to play in the CL A left winger/forward would free up Mata to play in the hole so I suppose it could work.

    Any thoughts?

  24. bluebayou

    I see there’s quite a lot of speculation about Eden Hazard. He plays for Lille. If he does make a move I wonder what advice Joe (of the Cole variety) will give him?

    Will being from the Belgian branch of the Hazard family give him less of a prediliction for spending most of his career on the treatment table. Micky of the same name managed just over 300 games in 17 years. That’s about 18 games a season. Similar to an American Footballer really.

  25. Shyam1121

    “where the fat bastard looked like an overladen Airbus A380 struggling for lift off before fumbling the ball home off his shin.”– vintage!! Thanks for the lovely description of the fat bastard’s ‘goal’ & El Nino’s attempt/assist, it was jaw droppingly awesome, its a pity that there isn’t much talk about it, This is the problem with the press/tabloids here, if it had been the fat bastard, they would have gone crazy with praise, the same if it was Lamps had created this kind of goal, well being the ‘local’ boys, its understandable, but can’t they give El Nino some credit just for the beauty that is football?!! Nando’s timing was impeccable, his stance absolutely solid & execution of such quality, only a striker’s shot going through a bad phase of luck would ‘miss’ the goal.He smiled at his luck and continued to play well throughout the game, As mentioned here and a lot of other blogs & newspapers, he is getting back his form and confidence, looking forward to the days when we will be talking about which goal of Nando should be voted the best ;).Malouda’s whining should lead to him being shown the door, he is a lazy, selfish bastard!let him go, we may struggle for a while, but we will get back Yossi next season, we have Mikel, Essien is back..I am sure he will not get the money Anelka is getting & I won’t be surprised if Malouda goes to one of the other London clubs! Sala is an impact sub, when our regular fwds are in a whiny & bitching mood, he can raise the level of the game, but for the last 15mins only !(ok, 25 mins!).
    We need a player or two who can go wide and cross the ball,, someone like Jarvis or Adam Johnson.. I would think that AVB would choose a winger during the transfer window, looking at the attacking nature of his game plan, but I have a feeling that he has taken it a notch down and going slow with the change of style. Have heard that he is very good at doing his research and makes brilliant reports/pre & post etc.. I hope he reads this amazingly insightful blog & see what the fans have to say.

    • Anonymous

      Having spent my impressionable youth on the West Coast of the Frozen North I learned a thing or two about those keen to link football with religion, if only in a rancidly sectarian way.

      I like to think I have survived that experience as a benign agnostic with a fairly bemused tolerance towards those with tendencies to Godbothering in all its various forms.

      However, I have to say I’m completely with the sentiments of the cartoon as I still struggle to comprehend the large numbers of footballers on both sides of the Atlantic who feel the need to perform Christian rituals on the football field and wonder about their version of a Supreme Being who they apparently expect to take an interest in such matters/ require their successes to be dedicated to Him/Her/It.

      There’s a time and a place for everything, but I suggest the football field is not the one for devotional duties.

  26. Ryan

    Ok. I may have dismissed some of the transfer rumours doing the rounds this month. Di Maria was never on the cards. I have a suspicion that the Hazard deal could be done this window.

    I might be sticking my neck out here but when it’s reported that Lille have said he won’t be sold this month, for less than £35million it rather suggests that they’re willing to sell. Whether they’d do a player plus cash deal (Malouda/Kalou?) I have no idea. He isn’t going to be there next season whatever happens. Question is will we persuade him that Chelsea is a more attractive option for him than RM (I know United are apparently interested but I really don’t think they’ve got that sort of money to spend otherwise they wouldn’t be dragging Scholes back out of retirement, they’d have got their Sneijder deal done). Considering the amount of players at RM it shouldn’t be too tough to convince him that opportunities could be limited there.

    We’ll have to wait and see and I know AVB said it will just be Cahill this month but I’ve just got a little feeling for this one.

    Time will tell. Clocks ticking though. Exactly a fortnight to go.

    On that note it did occur to the cynic in me that with JT in court on Feb 1st a marquee signing on the final day of the window might just blow some of the negative media attention out of the water. Not a reason to buy a player in itself but a nice tie-in all the same.

    Ah well. It could all just be wishful thinking on my part. I’d better have an Ovaltine and go to bed before I manage to convince myself we’re about to launch a bid for Lionel Messi.

    Interesting to hear Ancellotti’s thoughts on Didier, agents and managing Chelsea today. Slightly skewed by the press but fascinating insight all the same.

  27. bluebayou

    Blue Chronicle (on the twitter) reported that Ancelotti was winding the press up by just reeling off a list of names and the giving them a twinkly smile at the end.

  28. WorkingClassPost

    I hope we haven’t made a mistake here.
    The original scout report said Luton had a great little player who covers so much ground that  “he seems to be in three places all at once”.

    Should’ve gone to specsavers…

  29. Anonymous 
    The team of teamsWith 11 teams now having been assembled from millions of votes over the years, has put together an unofficial XI based around those past selections. While remaining true to the traditional 4-4-2 formation, we have shown flexibility towards certain positions – such as moving Puyol out to left-back (where no specialist has been chosen more than twice, and where the Barcelona centre-half has often turned out).
    Team: Iker Casillas (5 times); Daniel Alves (3), Alessandro Nesta (4), John Terry (4), Carles Puyol (6); Cristiano Ronaldo (6), Andrés Iniesta (3), Xavi Hernández (4), Zinédine Zidane (3); Thierry Henry (5), Lionel Messi (4).
    Bench: Gianluigi Buffon (3), Pavel Nedved (3), Kaká (3), Steven Gerrard (3), Ronaldinho (3)Coach: José Mourinho (4)
    Congratulations to JT!

  30. Anonymous

    Ah, the endorsement of UEFA.

    It reminds me of a comment in the TV listings on the night of the Eurovision Song Contest: “Annual competition for the world’s least prestigious prize.”

    Still, at least it wasn’t FIFA. Who can forget the last world cup? “The Man of the Match, selected by UEFA technical representative Anders Möron, is [insert name of player who scored winning goal, or, if game is drawn, name of most famous player on pitch]”

  31. bluebayou

    I forgot to mention that on hearing that QPR beat MK Dons in the replay my internal voice had this brief conversation.

    Me: Oh bum.

    Other Me: It’s them bag of gobshites again then

    Me: We need that like a hole in the head

    Other Me: Does the reference to “hole” mean something like a bullet or a second anus.? I’ve never known.

    Me: You’ve got me there. I’ll try and get to Wiki before they close it down for the day.

    • bluebayou

      Their new sponsor is Warrior, a US supplier of Hockey and Lacrosse stuff, it would appear.

      Wondering where I might find info on Liverpool, I igonored the Sections on Lacrosse and Hockey and went to Apparel where there was a section titled “Pants”.

      No mention of Liverpool there. Which is strange.

  32. bluebayou

    It will possibly generate more heat than light but it’s the CPO AGM tomorrow.

    It’s another Chapter in the “Do we stay in Byzantium or move to Rome” type schism that’s been excercising Chelsea fan’s in recent months culminating in the EGM back in November.

    Well in case you’re interested and it has passed you by I’ve attached some links below that might help get a grip on what the issues might be. Some of these links take you to groups or people who are firmly entrenched in opposition to each other. I’ve also tried to include articles that give a reasoned overview to give as balanced a picture as is possible.

    Whatever your feelings on the ground move, the CPO remains relevant and it is probably important that the running of it is tidied up, it re-states clearly the aims of the organisation and focuses on core issues, rather than being seen as a fans’ forum or a creature of the Club Board.

    This is by no means exhaustive and I’ve tried to give a picture across the board.

    The thorny issue of the late share sales, its legality and who bought them is a major bone of contention for some and interestingly a piece was published in the Sun today which repeats stuff that I have read in one or two places in recent months. I haven’t included it here as anyone who wants to can navigate there of their own volition.

    Anyway, start with the Official Site. The downloadable Proxy Form will enable you to view the proposals being voted on.,,10268,00.html

    Now here are the thoughts of the Chelsea Supporters Group

    Here are a couple of overviews

    Here is Tim Rolls who was very involved in the SayNoCPO campaign but like some others has stood back since the EGM

    The opinion carried on cfcnet

    Here are SayNoCPO and their implaccable enemy cfctruth

    And this is a more light hearted look at how factionalised it is all becoming.

    I’m hoping to get there tomorrow. Although I’ve just had a meeting dumped on me which it may be difficult to avoid. Which is worrying as I haven’t appointed a proxy.

    I bet Bruce is behind it.

    • Der_Kaiser

      A very handy rundown, BB – thanks.

      From what little I’ve picked up (mostly via Twitter), it does appear that some of the more rational and grounded voices have been forced to the fringes and the debate has been hijacked by some, well, more extreme personalities, shall we say?

      Shame – an important issue which is in danger of descending into a very bitter and acrimonious dispute.  We are all ultimately on the same side, one assumes (with apologies for the descent into cliche).

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the host of links, especially the plains of almeria “factions” one at the end which pretty much sums up my bemusement and explains why I’ll probably not bother going tomorrow, but do something more useful and fun like write my outstanding OU course essay instead.

      I now gather that the curious resolutions at the end of the agenda about issuing shares are to reinstate the power to sell shares which the 2010 AGM placed restrictions on. Still can’t see any explanation of why this restriction was introduced, anywhere?

      Meanwhile in the Mysterious East it seems Shanghai Shenua are keen to re-form that old Anelka/Drogba double act that most of our managers always claimed couldn’t work, according to A Spokesman with a penchant for overblown analogies that would make even BB blush:

      I now await the inevitable “I love this club” /”I want to leave” quotes from The Drog to provide another chapter in my mega work “Drogba: The Story So Far” which I note with amazement I haven’t updated since March 2011.

      Surely I must have missed some pearls of “I’m going/I’m staying”  from The Great One since then?

      • bluebayou

        “Spokesman”, “overblown analogies”


        a man has to get a little work where he can

        cough cough blush blush

      • NorthernVA

        I’m sure you’re ready for the conference championships this weekend. I hope you and every other neutral are pulling for my Ravens this weekend and not only because Boston is one of the most detestable towns on the eastern seaboard. 

        Snowstorms, darkness, and Mayflower moving trucks are searing images ingrained in the memory of many Maryland natives of my age. That image is forever striking. We were too young at the time to understand what it all really meant. To some that image represents simply the moving the material assets of the club the owned by the Irsay family from Baltimore to Indianapolis.. 

        The older we got the more we really understood about that moment our team was taken from us under the cover of night.  If it were all just material items that is something that a town with the character of Baltimore could simply get past.  But tucked deep within those trucks the Irsay’s robbed us of our history. Every win, loss, touchdown, interception, and tackle was literally tucked away on those Mayflower trucks. The record books of one of the original members of the NFL would be forever stripped from the city from which it was born.

        It remains a sore subject for many fans. In the Mt. Rushmore of iconic Baltimore sportsmen would sit Ray Lewis, Reggie Lewis, Cal Ripken, and John Unitas. No former Baltimore Colt was more vocal in his criticism of the move than Johnny U. He cut all ties with the Indy version of the Colts and to a man all other former Baltimore Colts followed suit. Before his death Johnny several times asked the Hall of Fame to remove his display unless they listed it under the Baltimore Colts which to this day have not.

        With a victory on Sunday we would move on to play in Super Bowl. Ironically the host city is Indianapolis. The game is being played in the Irsay family’s brand spanking new stadium. The potential of lifting the Lombardi trophy at that stadium of all stadiums would have extra meaning. Not the ephemeral type of feeling which could be only be gained by urinating on the grave of that robber baron Robert Irsay. If we’re blessed enough to bring it home this year I  would love see the team foresake the traditional double decker bus and  rather ride up and down the streets of Baltimore on top of a Mayflower truck.

        • Anonymous

          Indeed, when Channel 4 first introduced me to NFL in the early 1980s one of my first lessons in coping with the culture shock was learning that the “franchise” system meant an owner could just up and shift a team half way across the country without so much as a by-your-leave when the Colts left Baltimore.

          The hurt among fans was clearly still there a decade later as dramatised occasionally in searingly depressed discussions amongst the detectives in “Homicide:Life on the Street”.

          I have no strong allegiances to individual teams, but took against the Patriots when their ex-kicker, Mick Luckhurst, was presenting on Channel 4 and used to bang on about them endlessly. So I’d be rooting for the Ravens on Sunday for that and because I’ve gradually come to appreciate the skill in good “dee-fence” [and learned not to wince at it being pronounced that way ;-)]

          I have a bit of a soft spot for the 49’ers because the Montana/Steve Young era sides were some of the best early teams I saw, but the poetic justice of the Ravens winning a Superbowl in the stadium of their hated ex-owner is just irresistible.

          Go Ravens! [or whatever the appropriate phrase is]

          • Cunningplan

            I do watch a little NFL but like you, have a soft spot for the 49er’s.
            Nice to see that they have an outside chance of going all the way, it’s been a long time since the winning era of the Montana/Young/Rice days.

          • NorthernVA

            You got it perfect mate…Go Ravens!:) I will be pulling for the 49ers as well.You and CP are spot on in that those Montana/Young teams really are the gold standard when it comes to what constitutes a dynasty. 

            Holding out hope for the possibility of the two Harbaugh brothers leading out their respective teams in the Super Bowl. I had a lot of respect for Jim as a player. He actually spent one season as the QB for the Ravens.

            If the recent games between both sets of teams is anything to go by we should be in for a real treat on Sunday. In all honesty both games are essentially toss ups. They could really go either way.

  33. NorthernVA

    If you ever have roughly 20 or so minutes to waste well here you go. 

    No matter how many times I see that header vs Porto it really never ceases to amaze me. But my personal favorite is #42 at Nou Camp not for the obvious. I just think that goal signified much that was great about the squad at the time. Essien bombing down the right flank playing the perfect ball to JT who heads it down to the Drog who proceeds to completely suck the life out of  90 plus thousand. Cue Jose’s power slide on the touch line coupled with DD and JT running over towards our away support for a celebration that could only be replicated in snake handling church in rural Appalachia. That Chelsea was the epitome of defiance and playing to the whistle.

  34. bluebayou

    There’s probably millions but Tim Rolls is doing a reasonable summary of proceedings at the CPO meeting if yer interested.

    What’s coming across to me is the level of either unpreparedness or unwillingness to deal with some reasonable questions that they must have known would be asked. If they had answers, no matter how unpalatable to some of us, at least people would have a basis for decision making.

    I suppose after years of just bumping along as an almost forgotten backwater, it will take a bit of time to get a focus and drive up and running. And they need to as the freehold issue will need to be sorted.

    (And yes I’m peed off as I wanted to be there.)

  35. bluebayou

    Chelsea Pitch Owners
    It’s all about the Pitch but

    Is anyone buying it?
    Does anyone give a fork? We can only slope.
    Is it turning into a turf war?

    Are we all going to get tarred with the same brush?

    As long as they keep everyone in the pitcher.

    I think that’s enough for now.

  36. Gleb,,10268~2582294,00.html

    Your thoughts?

    Fair, in a way, but I suspect most in and around the team won’t understand his logic. For them it’s already hard enough being a youngster at Chelsea, so when some bloke who hasn’t played a second of competitive football does something like this, the young ones might not understand.

    Plus, we’re not exactly brushing everyone aside with our dazzling football now, do we? If I were a feisty young one with a bit of healthy ego, I’d say AVB and the coaching staff are fucking pretentious cause there’s nothing in our senior players’ performances at the moment that would warrant such a strict approach and this whole “cross the road” business. If more successful and stable clubs can introduce hot prospects into the first team in a more “lenient” and relaxed fashion, why’s this bloke so full of himself despite us being shite?

    As I said, it’s not *my* point of view, since I can partly agree with AVB, but at the same time I can see people thinking thinking something along the lines of what I’ve outlined above.

    P.S. There’s also the bit about Drogba not leaving us until June but wanting more “excitement”, “thrill” etc. that has faded somewhat at Chelsea (it’s on the Russian Chelsea Yeah, right! China – how fucking exciting and thrilling!

  37. Benjami

    Spurs won this 2-0, if we don’t win today I really feel that we are fighting for 4/5 and in danger of dropping out of the Champions League for next season.

    I know that sounds drastic but even when Man Utd were in transition they never looked like dropping out of the top 4 like this.

    We are at a crossroads right now, money has been spent and wasted on Torres (I know he is improving but at the end of the day his goal record is shockingly bad), either we spend again now and pay a premium to increase the chance of the top 4 spot or we delay until Summer and hope.

    The person who makes this decision if they get it wrong will be sacked by RA :/

  38. Benjami

    Looks like we are the first team not to score against Norwich this season whoop de do 🙂 Today is the first day I have doubts about AVB as manager 😛

    I also think it is time we accept Torres is a flop, he has last that spark that made him a top striker. Almost a year is long enough time to give anyone.

  39. SweetDairyAir

    If we had a better winger to challenge the likes or Mata and Sturridge, Mata could play more centrally and solve our lack of incisiveness in midfield, which is all too apparent for everyone to see, especially when a not-so-great Lampard is replaced with Malouda. 

    Oh well. We’ve seen a lot of this type of football this seaon and we all have our opinions as to what will fix it. I just hope we go out and buy some players this January, in central midfield and out wide in particular. Also Bosingwa is terrible.

  40. True blue

    Do you think the CPO not working with RA will make him think twice about spanking more cash on players? Give RA what he wants, show our appreciatin for everything he has done for Chelsea and lets move to a bigger stadium, generate more cash and get better players.

    If arsenal lose this weekend, then we are still on course for 4th spot. Not our expectations at the beginning of the season but since sept it’s all we could ask for.

    Keep in the champs league, keep RA happy by selling him the pitch and let’s move onwards and upwards next season.

  41. Marco

    Our weaknesses were on display for all to see today. Neither Torres nor Sturridge looked like scoring but while Torres worked really hard and showed some good movement his final touch/shot was woeful. Sturridge looks like he could do with a few games on the bench (or, dare I say it – some coaching from Villas-Boas or di Matteo) as his main contributions were restricted to some idle dribbles over by the corner and two blazing shots into row Z. Mata seemed a bit lost too. His approach play looked good but it rarely ended up with a killing assist and I just don’t see any instinctive understanding building up between him and anyone else in front of him – which is a bit worrying given that he’s been working with the squad under Villas-Boas’ beady eye on the training ground since August.

    First half in particular both Ashley and Bosingwa looked fragile with plenty of crosses and forward passes getting in behind them and I am wondering why that is (I don’t think I have enough tactical knowledge to answer that one). Is it because they weren’t protected by Lamps and Ramires in front of them on the wings? Or is it that our defence and midfield just don’t play as a unit any more? Or is it that Meireles isn’t really a defensive midfielder? Could it be that that both of them are now crap at defending? Or could it just be that Villas-Boas is a crap Coach? (Answers and suggestions gratefully received). 

    Going forward it must have been a treat (for opposition fans) to watch Bosingwa marching at walking pace towards their penalty area and then passing back to someone else. What the fuck was all that about?

    Norwich’s reputation as a clever, adventurous team took a bit of a dive today, too, as they played at home, mostly, with ten men behind the ball and their goal-keeper was one of their best players (which put paid to my idle fancy that Paul Lambert might be a better bet than Villas-Boas in organising our long-awaited ‘transition period’). Given that, and our lack of ideas, creativity and general nous going forward the result was one of the most tedious games I’ve seen in a long time. And I’m speaking as a veteran observer at Stamford Bridge against the likes of Rotherham, Barnsley and Shrewsbury in the early 1980s – we looked that clueless.

    Still don’t know whether Villas-Boas is going to be a good manager or whether he is a victim of the Peter Principle (“in an hierarchy every employee rises to his own level of incompetence”) but I sure wish he would stop mouthing platitudes after each dire performance – I’d much rather see some evidence that we have indeed entered the transition period.

  42. Anonymous

    Decent(-ish) result for me as a CFCer residing in Norwich, but there’s already a huge embarrassment about being the first team not to score against Norwich. They really are pony at the back and to not score is hugely worrying.

    Please, someone, anyone put a positive spin on it. ‘Perspective’ perhaps CP? I guess we could end the weekend closer ( or n

    • Cunningplan

      I’ve given up on perspective Fiftee mate, as I’m probably viewed as someone who lives is in cloud cuckoo land for attempting to put any positive spin on things.

      But in some defiance, even as I type, Liverpool are being humiliated by Bolton, (and they are really crap), also Newcastle, another team below us, took an absolute beating. So lets see what tomorrow’s results bring to judge where we are after this weekend.

      Yes Marco, good summing up on our performance today, I nearly dozed off for the last 30 mins of the match.

      If there was ever a game where we passed the ball to death, this was it.

  43. Anonymous

    (or no further away) than our rivals.

    But drawing today, at a newly promoted side is pretty unforgivable. Regardless of their current form.

    Take it away AVB. You need to make it good.

  44. Benjami

    Just watched the game on MOTD, we did make the chances 59% possession 9-3 attempts on target, 10-2 off target. So a total of 19 shots on goal and it looks like we had a good crack at it and were unlucky to score.

    So I take back my earlier doubts about AVB :p was just angry at a lost opportunity to gain on teams ahead of us. But if we have that many shots on target then we are just unlucky not to score 1 or 2. I would love to see RA come out publicly and back AVB for the future.

    Whatever happens today is bad, if a team wins it means either we are closer to dropping out of the top 4 or the teams above us are further away.

    I guess we are all supporting the Manchester teams against the London teams today which sucks ;p

    More importantly to discuss is our lack of goals. The fact AVB took Torres off in the 81 mins to replace him with Lukaku clearly indicates to me a loss in confidence in Torres to put the ball in the back of the net.

    I think we have to accept that the £50m purchase is a failure. Ask yourselves now, if money wasn’t a consideration would you drop Torres and sign someone in immediately to replace him, aka Man City? The answer is clearly yes.

    However money is and should always be a consideration, so we have to compromise. Choices:

    1. Stick with Torres
    2. Sturridge
    3. Buy a player
    4. Lukaku

    1 has failed for me, he should be benched for the time being and someone else given a go.

    2 I think he suits RW more than centre forward, but he has earned the opportunity to play there thanks to recent performances

    3 I don’t know who we would buy, and they will be too expensive. I really hope we don’t take this option, too risky!

    4 Hmm, a young player, who loves Chelsea, will work his ass off whilst on the pitch, is young and I presume full of confidence from the Belgium league, that we spent close to £20m on. Is suited to the type of role we need him to play, fast, strong can hold up the ball.

    OK, I don’t think he is technically there yet, but does anyone remember Drogba’s first season with us? That goal vs Arsenal I think when it just hit his knee and went in. He was a lumbering buffoon back then 😛 The kid will only get better if we give him the chance to…why buy someone if you are not going to use him

    Hope we sign Drogba on that 2 year contract soon, OK he isn’t what he was, but when he decides to play he is a game changer.

  45. Ryan

    Only 5 points behind Spurs now. Super Mario just did us a favour, assuming you’re of the opinion that City and Utd are long gone now (barring a dramatic collapse), which I imagine most of us are. Yeah it’s a bit depressing but hopefully Utd will beat Arsenal this afternoon and we’ll have gained another point on them.

    Norwich had to keep a clean sheet eventually and it would be against us I suppose. Another week, another underwhelming result. Still hoping we can hang in there this season,maybe nick third and avoid qualification for the CL. Would think it’s becoming a necessity that we buy a wide attacker next week. Hopefully AVBs insistence that we aren’t is about negotiating a better price. He obviously doesn’t rate Malouda or Kalou, Mata can’t keep playing every game and I still think he could be more effective in a free role just off the main striker (seeing as how he really only treats the left wing as a starting point). I wouldn’t be surprised if we did a bit of late business this month but I’m not getting my hopes up.

    Hope Mallorca puts the lads in the right frame of mind to win a few games back to back.

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