Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United – Newspaper Reaction, Goal Videos, Match Report, Player Ratings

Newspaper reports

The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “These clubs are so well-matched that only controversy can separate them. An initially listless Chelsea equalised through David Luiz and then won the game with a dubious penalty in the 79th minute. Frank Lampard slipped the ball to a substitute, Yuri Zhirkov, and he appeared to run into Chris Smalling. The referee, Martin Atkinson, deemed it to be a foul and Lampard crashed the spot-kick straight into the middle of the goal.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “There were no major celebrations at the end of the game last night, and no one was foolish enough to say that this was the moment that Chelsea launched their push for the league title, but for all those who have wondered of late what happened to last season’s Double-winners – they turned up at last in the second half.”

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Chelsea are not going to let the title go without a fight. Frank Lampard and company finally remembered they were champions, playing with a tempo and hunger in the second half that turned this exceptional game on its head.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “A spectacular first Chelsea goal from David Luiz and an equally well-struck penalty from Frank Lampard turned around the game in the second-half.”

The goals

29′ Rooney 0-1
54′ David Luiz 1-1
80′ Lampard (pen) 2-1

The preamble

So, I think the title is heading to United this season, and as much as I dislike them I’d rather it went there than to the winey kids of Arsenal or the overpaid mercenaries at City. Bar a poor couple of months, we all know it would have stayed put in Chelsea, but c’est la vie. Despite that I feel this game is far from meaningless, even though it may not do too much towards deciding the title. And I don’t think it is a make or break game for us finishing fourth; after all, you can always rely on the Spuds to fuck it up sooner or later. For me, I see the game as a chance to make a statement to the lazy hacks and naysayers who seem to have forgotten this is the same team who broke the 100 goals barrier in the last campaign, the team with the fewest goals conceded this season, and the team who on their day is the best in the country and second best in the world. I’m not really sure where this mini-rant is going, but I just want the team to send a big “Fuck You” to those tossers who decide that Ashley Cole firing an air gun is a sign of Carlo losing the dressing room, or invent stories about Drogba saying he will leave if he isn’t picked to start this game, or who write one of the million other pathetic excuses for a bit of journalism proclaiming the demise of Chelsea, whilst simultaneously sucking on the cock of the aged, tired and frankly lucky team that is United.

So now I’ve got that out of my system I’d like to share a few stats with you:

  1. We’re the only team to have taken more points off United than they have of us over the course of the Premiership;
  2. United haven’t won at the Bridge for almost nine years; and
  3. The last time United scored at Chelsea was three years ago.

The teams

Remarkably over the last few weeks Carlo has started changing things, and this time we start with the 4-4-2 that worked well in Denmark. He has also decided to leave Drogba on the bench, a good decision based on his recent performances.

Cech, Cole, Terry, Luiz, Ivanovic, Malouda, Lampard, Essien, Ramires, Torres, Anelka.

And for completeness I should mention the United line-up, which was missing Rio. Interestingly Fergie chose to play their best player (Nani) on the left, possibly to avoid Cole or possibly to attack Ivanovic who can be prone to giving away free kicks.

Van der Sar, Evra, Vidic, Smalling, O’Shea, Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Fletcher, Rooney, Hernandez.

The first half

We started brightly, pressing United high up the pitch and playing with good energy and enthusiasm. After a minute or two we win a corner, which ends up dropping to Torres on the edge of the area. His shot smashes in off the underside of the crossbar, but the ref had already blown for a non-existent foul on Vidic. We create another good chance minutes later when Ramires charges down the right, carrying the ball through midfield before moving it onto Anelka. Nico drags it back to Flo on the edge of the area, but his shot goes straight to van der Sar. By now Anelka and Torres are looking lively, and we even get a glimpse of the old Essien when he receives the ball from Malouda and barges through a few United players before squeezing off a shot.

After about fifteen minutes it looks just a matter of time before we get the first goal, but then Rooney, Hernandez and Nani start linking up well and looking dangerous, especially with their speed and movement on the counter attack. One such counter sees Nani put in a cross behind all our defenders but thankfully it’s a couple of yards in front of Rooney. Shortly after this Terry gives the ball straight to Fletcher when trying to find Cole, providing a three-on-two chance for the Mancs, but Luiz cuts out the cross. At this point they are on top and we start to look a bit vulnerable to a well picked pass from Scholes or run from Nani. Their goal comes from a short pass in from the left flank to Rooney, who receives the ball twenty-five yards out, turns away from his man, creates a yard, and slams his shot straight into the bottom-left corner. God I hate those bastard Lowry-loving northern monkeys.

In response to conceding we do rally slightly, trying to get an early riposte and putting in a few crosses or winning free kicks. During one attack down the right Torres and Evra collide off the ball and the ref gives a free kick near the edge of the area. Lampard takes it, blasting a low shot across van der Sar who can only parry it into the path of Ivanovic two yards out. Unfortunately it is at the wrong height and all Branners can do is bounce it off his midriff back towards goal. At this point it is a bit of a scramble, with a deflection off Vidic before van der Sar paws it away to safety whilst still lying on the floor, having not had time to get up after saving the shot from Lamps.

Just as the half draws to a close we manage to juggle a few headers in the middle of the park before Essien bursts free and then gets cynically taken out by Vidic (who gets booked) on the edge of the ‘D’. Frank then lets Ashley take the free kick which is curled over. The half ends to the soundtrack of the infuriating Alan Smith on Sky Sports who has been told to turn the United arse-licking up to 11 now that Andy Gray isn’t around any more; I’d say United just shaded it but listening to him you’d think the Mancs had run riot.

The second half

Chelsea start brightly, in a similar fashion to the first half, pressing high up the pitch and with some good possession. Ten minutes in Torres wins a corner off Vidic after a good bit of play, which he then has to collect wide out left after it is over hit. He slips in Malouda, but again the cross comes straight out of the area, this time to Essien. By now most players have pushed out of United’s box following the corner, but Essien’s ball in does find Ivanovic, who flicks it on to Luiz to smash home the equaliser with a good half volley.

Unlike the first half, whenever the Manc danger trio of Nani, Rooney and Hernandez attack we usually deal with it, with one of Ivanovic, Luiz or Terry clattering into the tackle and winning the ball. There is one scary moment when Nani gets Rooney in down the left, but fortunately by the time he gets near goal it’s a very tight angle and his shot ends up going near the corner flag. At this point it’s been 50/50 possession-wise for the last five minutes, with United trying to reassert some dominance, but we look more likely to score.

After an hour Drogba had come on for Anelka, and one of his first bits of action is to nearly slip Torres through on goal but he is marginally offside. That is one of the few good bits of interplay between them, but their body language seems good, with neither complaining when the other loses it. Around seventy minutes both managers make a few changes, with the Purple Nose bringing on Berbatov and Giggs for Hernandez and Scholes, and Carlo bringing on Zhirkov for Malouda.

Fergie’s substitutions look designed to help United get on the ball a bit more, but by now the balance has tipped in our favour, and fate is definitely on our side when we get a bit of a soft penalty with 15 minutes left. Cech bowls it out to Lamps, he finds Drogba on the left and then continues his run, getting the ball back on the edge of the area. The layoff to Zhirkov means all Yuri has to do is take one touch before tripping over Smalling’s leg, and the ref blows for a penalty. Lamps despatches it straight down the middle into the roof of the net. I yell very loudly.

Three minutes later and Zhirkov meets a corner on the edge of the box, smashing a shot goal bound which Vidic just manages to deflect wide as it goes through his legs. We keep the pressure on as the next corner is only half cleared before we win another. Unfortunately it comes to nothing.

United have one more attacking move but Rooney’s ball to Fabio (on for Evra) gets smothered by Cech before he can get a shot off. And then we just have injury time to play out, which basically involves Drogba and Ramires playing one-twos by United’s corner flag, winning a succession of free kicks, throw-ins, and corners. Giggs gets booked for a frustrated kick at Drogba, and Vidic’s second foul in as many minutes leads to him getting a second yellow and a ban for the next game at Anfield.

Player ratings

  • Cech – 7 – Not at fault for the goal and caught the crosses and corners very competently
  • Cole – 8 – Looking closer to his best every game
  • Terry – 8 – Solid
  • Luiz – 8 – At times brilliant, he scored a great goal, but also scared me with a few reckless challenges
  • Ivanovic – 7½ – He gave away a few fouls as usual but Nani is a really quality player and overall he didn’t do badly against him. A few times Nani and Ivan wrestled for the ball which predictably ended with our man wandering up the pitch in possession while the guy in red sat on the floor in a sulk
  • Malouda – 7 – Recently had been poor as part of a front three but more involved today; looks like 4-4-2 suits him
  • Lampard – 8 – Had a good game and scored the penalty under pressure
  • Essien – 8 – At times he bullied United, on one occasion just letting Scholes bounce off him when he attempted to tackle. He also went on a few of his trademark runs from midfield, and would have got a higher score if he had kept possession a bit better
  • Ramires – 7½ – He picked up an early yellow which may have prevented him getting more involved in some of the challenges. Normal all energy game with some good passing
  • Torres – 7½ – Similar to last couple of games: good movement but just lacked a goal
  • Anelka – 7 – Worked well with Torres and my only criticism is that a couple of times he lost the ball with too many of our players in the opponent’s third
  • Drogba (sub) – 7 – Tries a bit too hard when he comes on as sub to do it all himself, but had a good few minutes at the end when he and Ramires kept the ball away from United for fun. And I know he has had some criticism lately, but give the guy a break, he had malaria a few months ago!
  • Zhirkov (sub) – 8 – During the limited time he was on he won a penalty and nearly scored a second


We went into the break 1-0 down to the team top of the table, and yet ran out deserved winners. Not bad for an ageing team on a bad run of form, is it? In my opinion Cole, Lampard and Essien are all getting closer to their peak with every run out, and Ramires and Luiz look like really quality young players; if we can get Torres scoring goals as well then this team will be lethal. Let’s hope we can now build some momentum to finish (at least) second in the Premier League and win the Champions League.

There are 139 comments

Add yours
  1. Ringo

    Whoever it was on here that said Luiz would score before Torres ,I doff my bowler to you sir.
    I suggest we have a whip round and buy Pete a season ticket.
    And there’s nothing wrong with Lowry ,BIMV. Apart from his song.

  2. Prodicky7777

    Essien Malouda and Torres all had a terrible game, Torres does not look like a 50 million buy,is he becoming the second sheva ?Luiz looks more genuine,Essien constantly gave away possession and he seems a fraction slower than his normal self,his decision making is somehow erratic,nowadays hardly a match passes without him making schoolboy errors,Malouda should be benched to ensure he improves his performance,my main worry is that the french contingent may stage a rebellious a faction led by Didier Lesulk Malouda Kalou if constantly benched may gang up to frustrate our efforts and throw things in their favor,we know they can do it. I hope the Italian clown has this anticipated,Zhirkov is a very intelligent player and i hope he can be given numerous starting opportunities he is miles ahead of kalou and malouda in having a football brain.

    • NorthernVA

      Please with all due respect…kick rocks. On the back of another home victory against United you want to criticize…once again kick rocks. More than just critizing you want to develop French Conspiracy Theory straight from the pages of the Daily Mail or News of the “World”…once again kick rocks! Funny thing about most conspiracy theories is they are all shit. Much like the drivel you just spewed. Here is a conspiracy theory that I heard may be shit or may be not. There was a team meeting called before the game by the Drogs AKA the leader of “la Revolution.” What he said I can’t be sure however the response seemed to be pretty effective on most accounts present company not included. There may be something to it considering after his first of many goals as a BLUE!!! Mr. Luiz sought out the leader of said Revolution to celebrate!!

    • Aravind NG

      Essien erratic? I understand he’s been off form recently but this was one of his better performances. 50/54 passes completed is erratic? You sure you saw the same match?

      And did you see Torres goal that was disallowed? That IS a 50 million finish !!

  3. PeteW

    Wonderful game. United shaded first half, but hardly dominated. We blitzed them in the second and deserved the win.
    Ramires was outstanding, best player on the pitch. Torres was very good, some lovely touches around the area, and clearly gives us a different option.
    Luiz was great, scored, clattered Rooney and wound up Fergie – what more can we ask for.
    And Didier was IMMENSE! Superb cameo, he just stood there and said ‘come and kick me’ and took all they had. Bit of badge kissing on final whistle as well.
    CA got this one spot on – good substitutions that won the match, good team talk, good tactics. Have to see this as a turning point.
    As for United – they were good, Scholes was majestic, Nani has amazing quick feet, but ponderous in midfield, gettable at the back and Hernandez looked well out of his depth. By the end, they were typical United at the Bridge – ragged, angry, ill-disciplined, hilarious.
    Interesting to see what Liverpool do to them.

    • Cunningplan

      Come on Pete don’t talk down your influence on the game, you were there! in the immortal words of “The Sun”
      It was you wot won it! 😉

  4. Der_Kaiser

    A most enjoyable evening.

    Fergie clearly thought we were there for the killing; surely the most attacking line-up he’s played down here since Jose? Got their 1-0 lead and then sat on it which rather assumed we had nothing to offer in return. How wrong he was…

    Luiz very enjoyable to watch – bonkers and a tad unpredictable, in a Gronks but with skill sort of way. Didi and Ramires playing their own personal game of keep-ball to the annoyance of Giggs and co. was a personal highlight.

    Only downside is that it puts the past few months into sharp focus. Are United 12 points better than us? Not in a million years. Surprised Berbatov didn’t start ahead of Hernandez. The odd bright spark, but by and large very functional and pretty ordinary. That said, it’s probably all you need when you have us throwing a wobbler and a fair chance that the rest of the pack are likely to lose bottle at any given moment.

    The foaming and raging about Luiz and his non-sending off is all terribly amusing. How Fergie delivers the kind of rant about the ref and cards that should have been shown he threw in last night with a straight face, I’ll never know. Years of practice, I suppose.

    Luiz will now be a marked man, of course. He’ll cop a red before the season is out.

  5. PeteW

    I wonder if the ref didn’t send Luiz off because he’d already clocked at least two blatant dives from Rooney and didn’t want to fall for a con.

    Agreed, Luiz wont get away with that again, but it was great to watch. Definitely a new ‘type’ of player emerging at the Bridge – him, Torres and Ramires are sleeker, more natural footballers, soft feet

    • Der_Kaiser

      Very probably – nightmare game to referee, I’d imagine. Fast paced, lots of needle and niggling – too much going on to keep a proper handle on things.

      Yes – interesting to see how we develop over the next 2-3 seasons. Hopefully better in possession which should serve us well in Europe (whichever tier of competition…) but still able to take the hits in the Premier League. Could be quite a formidable outfit if given a bit of time (Roman, take note).

      Where the performance came from, who knows? Reminded me a bit of the 4-1 against West Ham in the second title season; we’d had a poor run and after Maniche was sent off, something seemed to snap – that’s it, we’ve had enough, kind of thing.

  6. PeteW

    As for the sudden good performance – I wonder if we’ll ever get to the bottom of what went wrong. I think it was an accumulation of things and a serious loss off confidence, but have to think it’s over now. (Cue a 1-0 loss at Blackpool.)

    • lamps

      great game.. was absolutely thrilled to see luiz play… the goal and firm defending… a new hero?????? anyone??
      this comeback win will give us the confidence for champions league matches to come.shame luiz is unavailable for those.

      drogba was really tremendous.. not the sulky drogs but bullying defenders type. and all the media could report was he was leaving if left on the bench. how about that u scums??????

      just need to continue now,,,,,, and zirkov deserves a start ahead of maluda …… he is just a shadow of his former self…
      go chelsea.

  7. Anonymous

    Well, I for one am happy to be proved wrong again predictions-wise.

    It makes it all the sweeter that we win in controversial circumstances.

    Luiz is nailed on for a red card soon. Probably sooner than Torres will score. They both looked very impressive last night though.

    Malouda really needs to buck his ideas up. I’d rather give Zhirkov a go on the left at the moment. He seems to show more desire.

    But all this talk of turned-corners and the like is a bit premature, no? You’re asking for trouble if you think the old Chelsea is back.

  8. Anonymous

    Wonderful result that I never allowed myself to believe we’d avoid cocking up until the final whistle blew.

    Thought Essien had a poor first half [with lots of company] and perhaps the loud bloke a few rows behind me who spent the entire 2nd half bellowing “Essien has to be substituted” distracted me from seeing enough of an improvement to get him Sky’s MoM award?

    Luiz looks well on the way to legendary status – Doug Rougvie/ Joey Jones with talent, possibly?

    While I bow to Mrs Cunningplan and those with actual medical qualifications could Rooney’s problem be an acute ear infection? The sudden elbow jerking might be an attempt to scratch an ear itch, together with repeated abrupt loss of balance and falling to the ground at little or no contact with opponents? Perhaps the pain causes him to indulge in all the endless whinging at officials too?

    I quote:

    “You want a fair referee – or a strong referee, anyway – and we didn’t get that,”
    “When I saw who the referee was I did fear it. I feared the worst.”
    “He does Rooney clear as day, [the referee is] six yards from it, he doesn’t do anything. That changed the game.
    “These are decisions that change the game. And he’s going to be refereeing every week.”

    All from Lord Ferg’s post match gracious acceptance of defeat – will he face a disrepute charge for another nail in the coffin of the Respect campaign? About as likely as the fines for his continual refusal to give post-match interviews to the Beeb actually being enforced?

    • Der_Kaiser

      Wayne Rooney has a potty mouth. I’m no lip reader but some of the insults he was hurling at the referee last night wouldn’t just make a docker blush, but also write to his MP and Points of View to register his displeasure.

      I wonder if it’s something in the water down here? United always seem to leave in a very bad mood.

  9. Anonymous

    A great night but tinged with a little bit of regret because despite Utd’s difficult run in and our game in hand, it just seems sad that we’ve left it so late to wake up from our 4 month slumber. But hey, everyside needs a dip to shock themselves back into action and seeing as it forced Roman to bring in Luiz and Torres, every cloud and all that.

    I’ll keep this short:

    Luiz – Jamie calls him “The Assassin” and that’s pretty apt. He has the steel and well, nasty side of JT but also the class and skill of…Pique…or even Beckenbauer? Dare I say it?
    Torres – Great movement, lovely touches and definitely our first choice striker. Just needs a goal and when he had that chance in the last minute but again chose to pass, I did start screaming for him to be a lot greedier. He is a striker after all.
    Rooney – A disgusting animal and thug. How he doesn’t get booked more often I don’t know.
    Smalling – Hugely impressive.
    Nani – Great feet and skills but a diving little shit.
    Ramires – His turnaround since the start of the season has been nothing short of incredible. Just learn how to shoot Sir and you’ll be kind of unstoppable.
    Fergie – He lost the game for Utd. Going for an attacking 4-2-4 when at 1-1, away from home against Chelsea was moronic. It left the midfield empty for us to dominate and we scored the winner directly from a counter attack in which Utd’s midfield had gone AWOL.
    Carlo – Some praise for the man is in order from some of his doubters. Great subs, tactics, motivation…
    Title race – Well, a game in hand, Utd to play Liverpool, Arsenal and us still….can you see where I’m going with this? 11 wins will get us the title! Yep, never going to happen.

  10. Anonymous

    I do find managers extremely tedious the way they only talk from their point of view and never discuss the wrongs of their team. Wenger and Fergie are prime examples. Carlo on the other hand seems more even handed and honest.

    Drogs is still in the corner protecting the ball. Should we tell him it’s ok to go home now?

  11. Anonymous

    Excellent game. As my neighbour in the East Upper said to me as we filed out, “now we lose to Blackpool” — but for a week or so nothing else matters but sending the Mancs away in their usual fit.

    The good:

    Smalling. Most impressive.

    Vidic. Scary bastard and great to see him lose his rag and get himself sent off but in a fairly average team he makes you see why they may end up champions.

    Nani. Had the beating of Branners and looks a far better team player that the preening moron C Ronaldo ever was.

    Carlo. All the substitutions were the right ones, and after a frankly miserable second quarter of the game we came out after half time looking much more energetic.

    Luiz. Oh, this is going to be fun. The above diagnosis of Jesper-like looniness seems bang on, but he combines that with Riccy-style absolute competence. And how can anyone who manages to wind the Ferg up so comprehensively within weeks of making his first appearance be anything other than a cult figure in the making?

    Ramires. Impressively often in exactly the right place.

    Zhirkov. Good to see him back. He’ll probably leave in the summer but he’s a very good option.

    Cech. Hugely impressive on any lofted ball in his area. His best season at Chelsea, I’d say.

    The first 15 minutes. Everything looked in synch: strikers sharp and agile, midfield quick, plenty of width, defense more or less untroubled.

    … and my personal favourite:

    Drogs and Ramires dicking around by the corner flag for five minutes of injury time. I’ve never seen that tactic executed so well. Not only were they driving the Mancs to teeth-grinding fury by shielding the ball and doing nothing, they were also happy to blow past the defenders and make passes into the box. The whole episode had that José feel: “we know we’re going to win this game, you know we’re going to win it, and there’s absolutely f*** all you can do about it.”

    The bad:

    The Manc fans. Good God what a bunch of gormless muppets. They are literally the *only* set of visiting fans who only sing when they’re winning. Started off with all their usual roaring nasal-accented bullshit; went strangely hesitant when Luiz equalised; and then for the last ten minutes stood in sheepish silence. Lowry-lovers or not they might as well have been in one of his paintings, little stick men in rows doing bugger all. Usually the away section manages to keep up a few taunts and songs throughout. It was obvious that this lot just didn’t have losing anywhere on their songsheet and had no idea at all what to do. Pathetic showing.

    Cashley. He played well — better than he has for months — but I’m afraid by demanding to take that free kick when Frank was standing over it he just showed himself to be even more of an utter tool than we thought. Really, Cashley, it’s more important to you to get back at the crowd and write the next morning’s headlines than to let a proper dead-ball artist take a free kick in a must-win game? How about maybe showing some actual embarrassment about the fact that you just **shot someone**?? Prick.

    Rooney. Played well — better than I expected after reading so much about his poor season — but you can see how playing under Ferg has rubbed off on him and he now clearly believes (like his mentor) that football games are organised for his personal pleasure and convenience and that anything that happens contrary to those criteria is some kind of flaw in the order of things.

    Hernandez. Barely noticed him. Isn’t he supposed to be good?

    “Chelsea are back” talk. We weren’t all that good overall and had a fair bit of luck. On that showing we ought to be good enough to finish in the top 4 but in no way did that look like last season’s team.

    — but then the nice thing about playing the Mancs is that no one cares about who/what was good or bad. All that matters is sending them away nice and miserable. Job done.

  12. Anonymous

    Afternoon, have hung up my pith helmet, khaki suit and blunderbuss for today. There’s only so many United fans to hunt here, and today has been very successful in that sense, got me a nice few trophies in terms of bragging rights and kudos. Some observations……..

    1.) United, as Pete said, shaded the first half but I’d hardly use the word ‘dominated’. We were great for first 20 minutes then fell back to our walking pace football and that was when United got the upper hand.
    2.) Mystified as to why the Torres goal was disallowed, the MHU isn’t the best place for seeing close up what’s happening at the Shed end.
    3.) Couldn’t believe the goalmouth scramble from Franks free kick, everyone but everyone near me thought it was in.
    4.) Frank slightly better than of recent but worrying slow and reluctant to go for the 50-50 ball or tackle.
    5.) Essien also reluctant to go forward despite that being his forte. 50/54 passes? If that’s true I’m surprised.
    6.) Rooney is a cheating, diving, red-mist laden thug. His dive in the box in the first half was outrageous in trying to get Ivan in trouble. I’d still have him in our team mind.
    7.) Deeply impressed by Evra who was a constant pain down the left for them. At times he was keeping the ball from 3 of our players.
    8.) Hugely impressive passages of play from both teams showing the best of the EPL. About as far from the shite served up between us and Liverpool as is possible to get. Marvellous – even the hunted United fans today said that was as good as they’ve played this season and they lost. They’ll play far worse than last night and win. that’s the mark of champions I guess and where we’ve slipped up this season.
    8.) Ramires – wonderful player, fast, fearless and tireless.
    9.) Torres – sheer class with an Anelka like ability to hold the ball – the goals will come but I reckon he’ll be a more rounded player with us.
    10.) Luiz, cult figure, world class defender, outrageous skill. Definitely a future captain. Come on Chelsea get the wigs on sale now!
    11.) Drogba – superb cameo seems to belittle him, it was just superb and maybe he’s had the kick up the arse he needed.
    12.) JT – subdued again in my view.
    13.) Ivan and Ash – great games for both, and perfect selctions for this game.
    14.) Ferguson – UC in it’s highest level of the art. .Sample this Slur Alex: on Rooney post Wigan “it was a clash, nothing serious and the referee dealt with it” and later “we’re not interested in debating the decisions of the referees’ and on Luiz “These decisions change games, Luiz has done Hernandez, proper done him off the ball and Rooney twice- It’s the second time this ref has done this and these decisions change games” – as Tweeter ChelseaStats so succinctly said ‘THAT my friends is the definition of hypocrisy’. If this was a UC competition then cue us, the judges all holding up 10s for Lord Purplenose of Salford Quays.
    15.) Simply the best atmosphere this season at SB, even outdoing the Arse game, which just goes to show how important the fayre dished up is in generating that.
    16.) Will someone please tell Cech to stop the endless hoofing when Drogba isn’t on the pitch?

    As someone said, when the fans are singling along the Fulham Road then you know that’s a big victory. 4th in sight, but with Citeh suffering a blip, who knows maybe even 3rd. Arsenal will have got a huge fillip from that after their defeat on Sunday, and the truth is we could still win the title….for them!!!

  13. Nick Benfield

    Nice report, BIMV. Good to relive what was a cracking match (though I missed most of the first half – I committed myself to playing league pool before checking the fixture list – hey-ho). But the second half more than made up for it. I haven’t enjoyed 45 minutes of football as much since… well, I can’t recall the last time I got quite so carried away. It was magnificent stuff (though I was a tad inebriated by the end of it).

    I was the one who predicted Luiz would score before Torres. It’s the only positive thing to come out of the bout of pessimism that struck me down last week. Shortly after that I changed my current favourite player on the who’s who page of this blog to Luiz. And I’m close to ordering a home shirt bearing his name. It must be love. He’s already a legend in my book.

    Might go for the full Brazilian next season and get a Ramires shirt too.

    I did something daft yesterday – I created a Facebook page for the blog. Yeah, I know. Anyway, if you’re one of the 666 trillion people with a Facebook account, head to the Chelsea FC Blog page and click the ‘Like’ button before the billionaire dude decides to delete it through lack of ‘Likes’.

    • Cunningplan

      Sorry Nick don’t have a facebook account, I prefer to keep a low profile on the web as I’m still wanted by Interpol. 😉

      As far as the numerous comments above on the game, all accurate and superb, As far as Lord Purplenose goes, you just have to admire the Charlie Sheen like rant and paranoia he spouted, worth an Oscar all on it’s own.

  14. Anonymous

    Why was Ashley allowed to take a free kick on the edge of their box?

    Is it to compile a dossier, if and when required, that he’s incapable of shooting?

  15. John

    Good report thanks and a very pleasing night all round. I love watching them when they stem from a beating by us but the way Ferguson’s rants go unpunished and then become the accepted version of events sickens me. Last season up there Drogba’s goal was offside, theirs was a clear handball but all we hear about is our goal and how vital the poor decision was in a game that we clearly deserved to win; it now goes unchallenged when he cites bad decisions in the previous two games they’ve played at the Bridge but in both cases the referee made good, or at least relatively uncontroversial, calls. Remember all the bad coverage we got when Mourinho was here because we were bad losers? We get zero credit for the way Carlo takes all the shit and remains a calm, dignified presence. Fuck ’em all.
    And sorry to go all Chelsea, but I don’t think we’ve quite turned a corner yet despite the good performances from most of the team. Terry seems to play 2 or 3 bad passes to the oppo in every game now and his body language looks iffy to me, Lampard and Essien are still way off their old form, and Malouda appears to have reverted completely to the 2007 model. One reading of last night is that an ageing team gave it one last big shot, driven by the occasion and the atmosphere. I hope I’m wrong.

  16. Anonymous

    Tony Glover on Facebook. Amazing.

    Watched the match on replay, so the drama was much subdued for me. As far as I’m concerned, Torres scored, and he’s off the mark for us. He was quality the rest of the game as well…

    With the “officiating controversy” in mind, I watched with a keen eye for fouls going each way. The calls and non-calls were rather even going each way. The difference is that the non-calls going in our direction were more significant. That said, Man U were doing everything in their power to hurt Ramires, and he got caught from behind at least twice where there should have been a booking after advantage was given.

    I don’t think much more needs to be said about Luiz, but that was quite a finish. I’m really wondering what he’ll be like once he gets time to settle in to the back 4. That kind of understanding takes time, and it’s a testament to how good he is that Carlo put him at CB for this match already.

    I think one of the keys to the game was Ramires. In a 4-4-2 we get open, flowing games that take advantage of his skills.
    Zonal Marking has a good article on the Brazil formation at the World Cup and Ramires’ importance to it:

    When we play in a 4-4-2, it opens up the game. This plays to Ramires’ strengths, as he is extremely pacy and has near-limitless amounts of energy. He isn’t exactly a box-to-box midfielder, but he probably gets up and down the pitch better than anyone else. Carlo’s switch to a 4-4-2 takes advantage of that aspect of his play. It doesn’t hurt that the team isn’t exactly shipping goals this season, so a more open game is probably going to be more to our advantage attacking than a detriment defending. Adding Luiz sure doesn’t hurt either.

    Considering the similarity of our current formation to Dunga’s Brazil, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more Zhirkov than Malouda. Yuri can get up and down the pitch better, he’s a better defender, and he does a better job attacking from deep. I prefer Malouda tighter to the goal in a 4-3-3.

    In any case, since we need to win games, I’ll imagine that we’ll continue to attack- at least in league games. Who knows for Champions League. If that’s the case, I really hope we get to see more of Josh in the midfield.

  17. Ososdeoro

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Cole got to take the shot as a chance at redemption. Tells me the team is very supportive of one another. Not the wisest thing for a team in Chelsea’s position to do, but on the other hand the shot wasn’t really that far off.

    And I wonder why the media simply can’t seem to understand that Torres was acquired for depth. Even the “bad moments” last season were almost entirely explainable by the fact that losses occurred in weeks there were two matches. I’m thinking all of the strikers on the team understand this, and the defenders and midfielders probably wish Alex and Yossi were back.

    I’m in love with David Luiz. Unabashedly, unashamedly, agape, phileo, eros, the whole shebang. Until today I have never felt the need for a name on any jersey I’ve ever bought, but now I must have one.

  18. Cunningplan

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned last night, was the fact the game was far more open second half. Yes we did step up the pace, but Utd looked rather tired from the 60 min mark onwards, their three games in less than seven days played it’s part I think.

    I have a sneaky feeling we could well finish second once this all finishes, I just see significant turning points in the next three months.

  19. Ashwin Singh

    I really thought Essien played the best game he has had in a while. He gave the ball away far less and it did make me smile to see Scholes bouncing off him and see him going on those driving runs through midfield but not being so careless to give the ball away. I hope he keeps it up.

    I agree that sometimes Luiz gives you the heart in mouth but it’s actually quite nice to see and must be really frustrating for an opposing attacker. He comes at you hard, with no respite, and will not take the easy option and punt the ball out unless absolutely necessary, which really helps our overall play.

    Interesting that we were able to succeed with the modified 442 so much so that United copied our formation. Seems like we are playing a bit more open/slightly wider than previous games and it is having a positive effect throughout the team. One of the keys to the formation of course is Ramires.. his energy and defensive ability balances Malouda + runs from Lampard/Essien.

  20. Cunningplan

    Interesting statistic, as we played with the white ball (spring/summer use) things could be looking up.

    Chelsea record with white ball (2010/11): P11 W9 D1 L1 Pts28
    Chelsea record with yellow ball (2010/11): P16 W5 D5 L6 Pts20

  21. Anonymous

    Thanks for the props on the blog.

    As far as the Ashley Cole FK thing goes I’d like to side with Ososdeoro in that it reflects the good team spirit rather than the horrible shit Ashley is. Don’t get me wrong, he seems a horrible bloke, but I thought the FK showed team togetherness rather than arrogance from Cole. After all, Lamps took one minutes before that ended in the Ivanovic/Vidic/VDS scramble.

    My only real worry from last night is that part of me agrees with John; perhaps this is one of the last hurrahs from a fading great team rather than a sign of good things to come. That’s what bi-polarity is all about though I guess…

  22. Anonymous

    Perhaps I’m jaundiced — I’ve never taken to Cashley. But it seemed to me that the feeling in the stadium as Cashley took that kick was that he’d insisted on taking it. Frank looked as if he wanted to shrug in a “what can you do?” sort of way.

    Anyway, never mind.

    So I went to see the yoof this evening. For the third successive FA Yoof Cup game, they fell behind to an early goal, equalised around the middle and scored a late winner. Well done to them, into the semis now.

    The real lesson for me was that I finally understood why the result really isn’t the point in youth football. The reason is that the result is determined by goals, and at this level goals seem to have very little to do with the overall quality or pattern of play. Chelsea were by a very long way the better team in every technical sense, but the actual score had remarkably little to do with their superiority. Watford scored first: a very nicely taken goal, a proper shot, but it only came about because of about three successive laughable failures to clear a defensive position (our kids failed repeatedly just to hoof it upfield — presumably because they’ve been told not to, which is of course right since developing technique and confidence is far more important to their education that not surrendering goals). Then we equalised with a fluke goal: a flick-on from a corner that wasn’t a corner (ref screwed up) which somehow looped in. Then our winner was an own goal, a deflection from a cross which wouldn’t have done any damage undeflected. We also missed a penalty (by a hilarious margin — not even close).

    We fashioned loads of chances, which indicates how superior our kids were, but the actual goals were both complete flukes.

    I wish you all could have seen Josh though. I can’t really describe how far above everyone else on the pitch he was. It was almost embarrassing. He must have had fifteen or twenty exquisite passes: he sees stuff that no one else even comes close to seeing at that level. And the way he keeps possession when harrassed by the opposition (the Watford kids were much bigger) was extraordinary to watch: it’s like Zidane, you can’t really see how he does it but he seems to glide away from markers as if he’s moving through another dimension. Obviously it’s not the same as playing against professionals but in age group football he looks like Cruyff.

    Billy Clifford was also very impressive. He may well be the next player to knock around the fringes of the reserve team. He’s always played in attacking defensive positions when I’ve seen him before (full back) but today he was next to Josh in a sort of Ramires role. Rather reminiscent of Kakuta.

    Two other players caught the eye but I don’t know who they are: a centre back with a weird resemblance to Torres and a small fast right back who might have been Todd Kane but I’m not sure.

    Every single one of the kids looked like they’ll have a career as a professional, but Josh’s superiority really makes you realise how incredibly hard it is to progress into our first team squad. If he’s that much better than his peers and still can’t (yet) get a game, you begin to understand that the Academy is all about taking a hundred kids and crossing your fingers that there might be one in there who’ll play for Chelsea one day. He will, though — for years, I hope.

    • NorthernVA

      I got a question for you. Where do you envision Josh playing in the midfield down the road. It seems as though when he comes in it is always for Mikel in the holding role. Does he play a more attacking position in the youth games? With his vision and passing from the unfortunately little I have seen I would like to see him a little further up the pitch. Is he the long term replacement for Frank?

  23. Anonymous

    EDIT: for those who care, the right back was indeed Todd Kane (possibly a name worth remembering) and the Torres-lookalike in the right centre-back position was some kid I haven’t heard of before — Tomas Kalas. I think he might be the one who was signed last year but then immediately lent back to his original club (in the Czech Rep?) for the rest of their season.

  24. Anonymous

    Good question. My sense is that the kids get to play in various different positions: they don’t get fixed in a particular role until they’re playing at a professional level. (With a few obvious exceptions: the massive kids are always going to be central defenders and the nippy fleet-footed ones like Gokhan Tore are always going to be wide attackers.) For the youth team Josh plays as an out-and-out no. 10, a playmaker, getting the ball all over the pitch and looking to put the players ahead of him through. For the first team, he’s kept further back, presumably to stop him being under inappopriate levels of pressure. We do have to remember that until two days ago (happy 18th Josh) he was basically a child, and even watching him tonight you can’t help noticing how incredibly weedy he is.

    But as to whether he’s the long-term replacement for Frank: yes, he surely is. I don’t know whether he’ll develop into the kind of goalscorer Frank is, but in terms of playing with his head up and being able to make quick passes to open space, yes. In fact — perhaps this is the wine talking — I’m not sure that he’s isn’t more like the long-term replacement for Franco. He has the potential to be that good.

    • NorthernVA

      Thanks for the information there. So the club is probably doing the right thing by weening him in slowly. No reason to put the weight of the world on the kid’s shoulders. Good to hear he does play a more attacking role in the youth level. I think you English and we Americans got a lot in common when it comes to sports. We are constantly in search of the big next thing and really end up destroying our most promosing youth at times.

  25. NorthernVA

    How much would you have paid to see the reaction of one Stanley Collymore after that howler guaranteed BFC the
    Carling Cup. I believe it would be a much different reaction the Villa’s equalizer at the Bridge (New Library my ass, it sounded electric last night). If you have any free time just go on an Arsenal site and listen to the Villa supporters hammering the Gooners. It’s weeks like this that make getting up early on Saturdays and Sundays worth it!

  26. John

    Thanks for the youth team update LTB. Though as you say results and goals aren’t of of as much importance, still a good win and getting this far again must be a good sign. We won it twice running early 60s and half of the team graduated to the Docherty side. But again as people say if we get one or two through as top players we’ll be lucky. Josh does look the business and I think he’s stronger than his frame indicates: in first team games he’s put his foot in and has not been bumped around as much as I’d feared. I’m not sure he’s another Frank though. The player he reminds me of most in both look and play is Liam Brady. A bit heretical I know, but if he’s as good as Brady it’ll be a real result.

  27. PeteW

    I think the worry with Josh at the club isn’t strength as much as stamina. I think we are being sensible with him, perhaps a little cautious. if our performances had been better over the winter he’d have made more appearances. it’s a shame he wasn’t born a couple of months earlier, cos it would have been useful to get him out on loan for the rest of this season. can he still go to a championship team or is it more value having him play in the Youth Cup and training with the first team?

    Should give him some minutes v Copenhagen if all is going well. Can’t see many other opportunities in the first team this season from now.

    Can definitely see a new sort of team emerging with Luiz, Ramires, Torres and Josh – much more comfortable on the ball. i’ve said before that Mikel is our only ‘natural footballer’, ie looks like he was born with a ball at his feet but all four of those have that look about them. You can see it in Torres’s movement, directness and lovely soft feet, such a contrast to Anelka and Drogba.

    We really aren’t that far away from having a very interesting, very good and very different looking team, but it’s going to take a while and at least two more significant signings.

  28. Austin Solari

    But who and where, Pete? I enjoyed LTB’s report and agree a lot with your remarks. But where exactly would you be looking to improve? I would like to think we can get 2 more good years out of Frank ……….. maybe one more good year out of JT (due to injuries etc). I like the look of a defence made up of Branners, Kuiz, Alex and Cole. Alex and Luiz will become the new JT and Ricky. (I can see Luiz as a future captain too when he learns some bloody English).
    There are plenty of young players in midfield …. Essien (if he ever gets his form back), Mikel is still a baby, Ramires is slowly improving and showing why we paid a lot for him. Then there is Josh.
    Up front I don’t think we have anything to worry about for a few years!! Torres is going to hit his peak soon, Anelka has another couple of seasons in him and looks good with Torres. Then we have Studge who is showing he can score goals at Bolton.
    As you said, Pete, this could be the beginning of a very interesting period …… would still like to see Guus managing the team though.

  29. Anonymous

    Interesting point on Cole, LTB. Watching on telly you never get the full picture, so it’s always good to get a perspective from someone at the game. What a delusional muppet to think he’s more likely to score than Super Frank!

    Also great report on the youngsters. Anyone know what’s happening with Van Aarnholt at the minute? I’ve only seen him play once but he looked very impressive.

    • Anonymous

      Pat Van A is out on loan at Leicester, receiving tips on his “game” (fnargh fnargh phwooaarr) from Sven. Bruma is there as well and judging by the team lists in the Monday sports sections both of them are regular starters. And I gather Leicester have been bombing up the table since they and a couple of other loaness from Prem clubs arrived.

      The talent on loan is those two, Kakuta, Studge, plus Jack Cork & Ryan Bertrand (just back from loan) who both also play for England U-21. Some decent kids pushing to get into the squad in the next couple of years.

  30. PeteW

    Well, if Boswinga is a write-off, which he probably is, I think we need a new specialist right back. I like Ivanovic, but don’t see him a natural there and he’s not strong enough coming forward. He was lucky not to get done by Nani on Tuesday.

    I also think we need a creative player to get the best out of Torres. that could be a playmaker, or a right-sided attacker, or a false attacker, but we need something there further up the pitch. A player like Nasri would be perfect. Sanchez is a very interesting option. We need to wean ourselves off Lampard, who has more games in him but is going to have to be used more sparingly so therefore can no longer be the player who the whole creative structure of the team is built round.

    I also think we we need to look ahead and get in another young striker (or Kakuta) and a back-up keeper, and maybe another younger midfielder to replace Matic.

  31. Der_Kaiser

    Yes, cheers to LTB for the yoof update.

    I’d rather we were a little cautious with Josh. Talent that good doesn’t come along often and needs to be managed very carefully. Maybe some additional playing time would helped this season, but in the circumstances asking him to come in and fill the shoes of a Frank or and Essien would just be too much at this stage. And given how patient and understanding our fans are (the u-turning and re-evalution of the initial ‘he’s shit, how much did we pay?’ nonsense spouted on Ramires by the masses has been utterly hilarious, by the way), how long would he get before the muttering started if he wasn’t instantly the Zidane / Gullit / Pirlo / Brady that so many already assume he is?

    Even if he goes out on loan next season – which would undoubtedly cause apoplectic rage on here and elsewhere – he could come back the following season and be the fulcrum of our midfield for a decade. That’s maybe 400-500 plus games, should we remain near the top of the heap here and in Europe and he remain reasonably injury free as we all hope he does.

    And he STILL wouldn’t be 30 years old. There really is no rush. I’d much rather we took the patient approach in the hope that we end up with another Paul Scholes, still able to keep the midfield of a top side ticking over in his mid 30’s, than another Michael Owen, basically finished at the very top by the time he’s 30.

    • Austin Solari

      But Scholes was playing in the first team as a teenager, Mr K ………. as was that ‘orrible little bugger that scored against us Tuesday night, 16 yrs old as I recall. There comes a point where you have to say “Go out there and show them what you can do, son”

      • Der_Kaiser

        Scholes didn’t make his United first team debut until he was 19 and ultimately it was only Sparky coming down here that really gave him his breakthrough. And Rooney isn’t really a yardstick to judge things by – physically he was far more developed and stronger than the majority of kids his age.

    • Jon

      I put my hands up say I was one of those crying about how shit Ramires was and how much we payed (compared to spurs dropping 8 mill on VDV who made an instant impact). Is Ramires worth 17mill? I think so and will now return to work realising I am not a football manager nor will I be the next Jose …

      • Der_Kaiser

        VdV has done well, no question. But most players that arrive from overseas take a little time to adjust, some more than others. Luiz looks tailor made for English football after very few appearances, as VdV did but Ramires took some time as most seem to.

        We’ve all been guilty of slating players too readily, whether they are new to the league or coming back from a long lay-off – seems to have got more prevalent since we started winning things. No hard and fast rule, other than it’s probably wise to give them the benefit of the doubt for a little while. The number of overseas players that express surprise at the speed of the game here when they arrive always stands out for me – must take some getting used to.

  32. bluebayou

    As usual Tuesday night turned into another bitterly, disappointing failure.

    Nice try BIMV but you’re deluded along with the rest of the posters on this site.

    You’re all crowing away, but once again we failed. We failed to beat a vastly superior team, just as we failed last season.

    Yes we scored more goals. Yes the League gave us the points, but as any real football fan can see, United were once again robbed by poor refereeing.

    Is it too much to ask that we get past United without the obvious hand up from the referee? If he’d not disallowed that early Chelsea goal, then United would have been spurned on to complete dominance and an easy win.

    No I just can’t keep this up. I have to stop laughing ‘cause they’ve only just re-attached my arse in a 9 hour operation after it fell of on Wednesday morning, as I read the inevitable ranting from the Mancs, led of course by their knight of the realm.

    While one can’t condone violence in the game of football, David Luiz’s hip-check on Rooney was worthy of any NHL game. It was all the more amusing as he’d been diving around all night and this was possible the only real foul on him.

    I was surprised how open United let the game get in the second half. Our best performance previous to this was against Sunderland and that was another team who elected to try and outrun and outgun us. I’m sure if he’d had Park, Anderson and Fletcher with maybe Nani out wide, he would have tried to close the game down completely. But Carrick once again showed his limitations when he’s not protected in a dominant midfield.

    Still concerned about Essien and Lampard. I don’t think either are anywhere near decent form. I thought Cole had a poor game by his standards, though this wasn’t helped by Terry misplacing countless passes. We seemed to struggle with tracking United’s runs from midfield. This may have been as a result of lack of familiarity with the system but the flat midfield four set-up needs some work.

    It was a long way from a great performance and indeed served to show how limited the current United set up really is. Arsenal, City and even Tottenham will surely never have a better chance to win the League, with our mediocre season and United plainly there for the taking.

    Ramiries was the pick for me along with Sideshow Bob (or Daffid Lewis as it was St David’s day).

    And Drogba coming on to occupy Vidic made their defence seem very shaky. I thought Smalling looked nervous against Torres and was lucky not to be exposed due to our inability to spring the early ball to Torres so that he could run him more consistently.

    The masterclass in ball retention from Drogs, aided by Ramires and Bosingwa was just superb and a reminder that he is a world class player who we have to hope can rediscover some form down the stretch.

    Perhaps in the reduced circumstances of the season we are forced to find solace in “small victories” like this. But they do taste very sweet.

    So while I don’t necessarily agree with all your observations Blue, it’s a good piece that captures the night really well.

    And let’s face it wasn’t it great to have a big night game instead of an anaemic 12.30 ko on a Saturday?

    And thanks for the Yoof update LTB.

    • Anonymous


      You could have tacked this on to the opening of your previous spoof entry and we would have struggled to notice the join.

      Mind you the pinko, leftie Manc lovers at the Grauniad slipped up when they let this appear the day before:

      which reminds us that the “not fair or strong” Atkinson has actually dished out more cards to Chelsea players than their opponents in games he’s refereed, and he was the ref who helpfully added an extra 2 minutes to the planned 4 so that Michael Owen could score the winner for Man U v Citeh!

  33. PeteW

    Regarding Ramires, I think the astonishing thing is how quickly he has adapted to our game given the severe problems at the club during the bulk of his time here. He bedded down quicker than Lampard, Essien, Mikel, Makelele, Ballack and just about any other recent midfielder I can think of.

    • Der_Kaiser

      True. Would have been far more difficult for him had he just been clocking up 15 mins here and there. Probably not just a coincidence that both he and Luiz are more ‘natural’ footballers in terms of basic skill either.

  34. Ososdeoro

    I know it’s hard to be dispassionate, but Nani is going to make even the best players in the world look bad sometimes, at least when he’s not pulling down defenders and then going on and on about how he’s been wronged.

    Luiz may have been retaliating, by the way. As you watch the second half for the umpteenth time, you’ll notice during Lampard’s corner at 71 minutes (not the one that led to the score and just before the take-down of Rooney) the hatchet job O’Shea does on Luiz as Luiz goes up for a header. Pretty vile, quite dangerous.

    I think Carlo does a great job of getting the team to keep their complaints, and usually their foibles, to themselves. Neither he nor the team feeds the tabloids when speaking to the press. And if this is a deliberate strategy, it’s working. On the other hand, if Ashley’s take of the free kick was due to his own “initiative” and not particularly authorized (after all, Lampard’s tries had been good, and Drogba’s was close to being vintage Drogba), I think it’s time to start shopping him — maybe to Spain where the press won’t bother him (chokes back a laugh). He’s just over the line too much and doesn’t seem particularly happy with anything, even when events have gone well. His loss would be a huge void to fill….so perhaps action should be taken while Roman’s checkbook is open (and probably someone good can be gotten for the money other teams would pay for Cole anyway).

  35. Donkey's Ears

    From a United point of view that was a hard loss to take. Not simply because Atkinson had a bad game (and he did) but also because we failed to take advantage of the opening goal and made some strange substitutions. It’s not right to say we dominated the first half but equally your second half strength isn’y enough to blightly say you deserved the win. I think a draw was the fair result and it was ifrustrating that the penalty was the decisive moment.

    Whether or not Ferguson was hypocritical (and I think a team led by JT should be wary of criticising hypocrisy), doesn’t change the fact that Atkinson had a bad game. Luiz should have gone off – I haven’t actually met a Chelsea fan who doesn’t agree he was lucky – and if your penalty was soft but probably fair it was less obvious than Terry’s handball and Ivanovic’s foul. This isn’t saying we were robbed or that you were not good but that it’s frustrating to have lost three games in a row by one goal and where each winner was tinged with some controversy.

    One more neutral point is that I disagree with the criticism of Hernandez, for me he looked awful on the ball but his movement caused a lot of problems and created significant openings for Nani and Rooney.

    In the end our achilles’ heel as ever was the midfield which ran out of legs and lacked the strength and composure to tighten the game when the momentum was shifting.

    Doesn’t mean I can’t moan about another useless game from Atkinson.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Morning DE,

      Good to see you back on here.

      Chelsea v United games are rarely easy to officiate and this one was no exception; fast-paced, frenetic and plenty of needle from both sides. Luiz was lucky, no doubt, but the point was made on here that Rooney had hit the deck fairly unnecessarily on at least one occasion during the game; Atkinson may just have felt that he didn’t see clearly enough what happened (not having the benefit of replays and so on). Most blues would point to Vidic being on the pitch after a few incidents that could have seen him walk earlier than he did under different circumstances; Giggs’s hack at Drogba would probably have seen red were the roles reversed, or possibly on a non-record breaking night for the Welshman.

      The cookie crumbled our way on Tuesday – amongst all the stats produced about games Atkinson has officiated, the overriding theme is that he’s a bit of a homer – but the likelihood is that it’ll help Arsene and co. more than anyone else. Aside of the decisions, can’t help feeling that Fergie called it wrong; probably the most attacking line-up you’ve played down here for a while, a goal up but failed the press home the advantage.

      Your thoughts on the new Carrick deal? And Anfield minus Rio and Vidic?

    • bluebayou

      I agree with you about Hernandez. I felt he was unsettling Terry with his pace and movement and to some extent creating space for Rooney to operate in by playing up on the last man. Berbatov didn’t threaten in the same way and enabled us to push up and squeeze the play a bit. I was glad to see Hernandez go off to be honest. I have the impression he has a habit of scoring goals when they’re needed.

      I haven’t seen any replays but from where I was sitting looking across the half way line in the East Stand, my impression was that David Luiz checked Rooney on Atkinsons blind side and that’s why he got away with it..

      You’re right about the midfield. Anderson and to my mind Park were missed. It’s going to be hard to replace what Scholes brought to the team. A class act in everything but the tackle.

      The penalty might not have been given on another day, but apart from Fletcher, a serial complainer, the players didn’t really get after Atkinson, which often suggests that they felt it might well be legitimate. Unless they’d given up on him of course 😉

  36. Cunningplan

    Good to see you back DE

    But just to pcik up on a few of your observations and frustrations, no doubting Luiz was a lucky lad, it should have been his second yellow, but then I thought his first was rather soft. Do you also feel that Rooney was a lucky boy on Saturday? you’ll be surprised that quite a few Utd fans think Clattenberg got it right.

    You also mention that it has been three games you’ve lost in a row against us with controversy, can I just remind you that although Drogbas goal was offside, Macheda handled the ball into our goal, so as you can see if the correct calls were made the score would have been 1-0 to us.

    As far as Atkinson goes, yes he favoured us in some key decisions, but you’ve had more than you fair share this season, ask Blackpool, Wigan and WBA fans on that, you even got a rather soft penalty in the FA cup game at OT against Liverpool, but that really doesn’t count in my book, as it was only Liverpool.

    The victory for us on Tuesday, has only put a brief smile on Chelsea fans faces, which in fairness has been a pretty poor few months for us in the league. You’ll still win the Prem unless you implode and allow Wengers teenagers in through the back door.

  37. Anonymous

    Another welcome back to DE.

    I think pretty much all but the most one-eyes Chelsea fans will admit we were lucky, and we weren’t obviously the better team. But that happens. This is what annoys non-ManU fans so much about Lord Ferg. It’s fair enough to say “those were bad decisions and we didn’t deserve to lose”: goodness knows we had two and a half years of that, in spades, from our beloved José. But Ferg never seems to acknowledge the flip side, which is that sometimes the bad decisions go in your favour and you don’t deserve to win; plus whereas José performed the whole business with fabulously OTT elan, Ferg just comes across as a miserable sulking old git. Witness his hilarious new refusal to speak to … his own club’s in-house TV station.

    I can understand the ManU fans singing “We’re Man United, we’ll do what we like”. Whatever a “big club” is, ManU is undoubtedly the “biggest” in the country, so the supporters can be allowed their attitude that the rest of the game can go f*** itself. [Reminds me of when Rooney went down injured at a game at the Bridge in 2006 and the away fans started cheerfully singing “There goes your World Cup.”]

    But I think it’s more of a problem when the manager has the same attitude, as he quite obviously does. And I don’t think that transmitting that attitude to Rooney has made him a better player.

    It’s been a pretty thoroughly miserable season for us though, so we’re just chirping from the sidelines.

  38. Donkey's Ears

    @ Kaiser

    I think Rooney did collapse a little too easily and that probably did not help matters but the final foul by Luiz (before Ancelloti took him off) was right in front of Atkinson and very cynical (we actually had a decent break on at the time).

    It was those decisions plus the same lack of eveness that we had last season that rankle. I know we benefit from decisions going our way and I broadly accept the principle that they even themselves out over the season. But in recent games against you, it doesn’t feel like many decisions have gone our way. And I say that regardless of who played better or deserved the win or anything. You can even go back to the handball that was given against Carrick when Grant at the end of the 08 season.

    But I do think Ferguson made a mistake in not reinforcing the midfield more quickly – Fletcher stopped pressing so well and you began to make inroads down our right flank – and we failed to press home the advantage when on top in the first half. Certainly I’m not trying to claim that Atkinson prevented a deserved win, just that I would like one game between us to be settled without the contentious decisions (but maybe I really contentious decisions in your favour!).

    Certainly Tuesday was also about a sense of frustration about our own failings and perhaps surprise that your team turned up with so much determination and energy.

    Not unhappy about keeping a stable squad (Carrick, Fletcher resigning etc) as long as it doesn’t mean not adding more bodies to midfield. The problem is not what we have (which is ok) but what we don’t have (world-class midfielders in their prime).

    Sunday will be tough – but Smalling has played well and Brown is a very good defender on his day – I’m more worried about the lack of energy without Anderson in the middle.


    I don’t disagree Rooney was lucky but (to be pedantic) I am not surprised Clattenburg got it wrong. He was a long way away, McCarty didn’t roll around (unliked Ramires and, before you say it, Nani) and he was watching the ball which was also a long way away from the incident. I think the FA come out of that worse than Clattenburg.

    My gripe with Atkinson was that the final Luiz foul was right in front of him and it was patently obvious what had happened. We had a decent break on at the time and there was no need to dive.

    But overall he was not that he had a shocker more that he had a bad game and this was the second bad game he had in a Chelsea v United game. If he want’s to give the penalty for the foul of Zhirkov he should also have called it on Terry and Ivanovic. If he wants to send Vidic off then Luiz should definitely have gone first.

    I forgot about Macheda’s goal but (again to be pedantic), the handball was hard to spot in real time whereas Drogba was several yards offside, standing still. But I take your point.

    As I say, once I stopped looking for scapegoats (the football fan’s best friend), I realised a lot of the frustration was aimed at the team for not pressing home a good start (for the umpteenth time) and for Ferguson’s odd conservatisim with subs.

    Not as confident as you re the title. We’re carrying a lot of injuries to our important players. We need some luck now that is for sure.

    • #18

      While it is refreshing to hear from an opposition supporter who can actually articulate coherent arguments, I must say you seem to have a very selective memory. The allegedly pro-Chelsea Atkinson is the same man who booked Drogba for getting flying dragon kicked in the chest by Jonny Evans in the penalty box. Hmm. Maybe he’s just a bottler in general, which would explain why he didn’t book Rooney for that laughable dive moments before the goal, or book Nani for falling to the ground clutching his face every time an opponent came up behind him, or send off St. Giggs for that shocking tackle on Drogba.

      As to last year’s controversial victory at Old Trafford, I totally agree that the referee ruined that match. Have another look at what went on in the game apart from the goals:
      18′ Giggs fouls Cole from behind 6x but no free kick awarded
      19′ Neville, Valencia, and Fletcher all foul Malouda during his run into the box to cross for Cole’s goal (Fletcher’s tug on Malouda’s arm continued into the box and should have resulted in a penalty)
      20′ Giggs escapes booking for late hack on Deco
      22′ Scholes escapes booking for stud-first, thigh-high lunge at Malouda during counter-attack (Malouda jumped and Dean played advantage but failed to show caution at next break in play)
      25′ Park miscontrols ball and runs into Zhirkov’s leg with contact actually outside the box (United’s so-called penalty claim)
      27′ Scholes escapes booking for late, off-the-ball barge on Deco (Dean saw the foul but only gave verbal warning)
      29′ Valencia fouls Anelka on run towards goal with no free kick awarded; Anelka gets up and continues run until clearly barged over in box by Neville but no penalty given
      33′ Valencia fouls Malouda during another counter; Malouda hurdles that challenge then a vicious late scythe by Scholes that finally earns a booking (his third bookable offense)
      43′ Lampard executes a perfect tackle in the box to poke the ball away from Berbatov (United’s second desperate penalty claim)
      44′ Neville is booked for a high tackle from behind on Malouda (his third bad challenge including the ignored Anelka penalty)
      53′ Cole’s shot appears to strike Vidic’s arm (no replays)
      59′ Ferdinand performs a literal scissor tackle on Anelka just outside the box, then pulls the striker back by the shoulders, then pushes him over in the corner of the box, yet escapes a booking and conceding a free kick or penalty (a period of United pressure culminating in Berbatov’s missed header resulted from Anelka being ‘dispossessed’)
      61′ Scholes escapes another booking for another foul on Deco
      68′ Neville escapes another booking for another foul from behind on Malouda as well as backchat
      72′ United players appeal for handball for a ball that clearly hits Malouda’s chest
      76′ Macheda tackles Mikel off the ball with no free kick awarded
      88′ Valencia escapes a booking for a cynical foul on Zhirkov
      93′ Giggs escapes a booking for a cynical trip on Ballack to prevent a counter

      So, yeah, apart from failing to dismiss two United players and award at least one stonewall penalty to Chelsea clearly Mike Dean and his assistants favoured the Blues. What a shame that the team which so dominated the match, epitomised fair play and sportsmanship, and scored such a classic goal was denied a deserved victory by the officials. Do me a favour!

      It’s back to work for me now but I’ll leave you all with a polite suggestion: Maybe more people (and this isn’t directed at you, DE) should pay more attention to what actually happens in a match instead of the way the media and sad old hypocrites like Ferguson rewrite history.

  39. Anonymous

    He’s here!!!! Quick everyone, get your questions and thoughts down, THE sensible Man U fan has appeared.

    Another welcome back DE.

    Some well thought out points. Absolutely agree on Luiz. Should have seen a second yellow, how the one right in front of Atkinson isn’t given, I dont know. I reckon he’s nailed on to get a red card sooner than Torres will score for us.

    Interesting that both sides seem to be lacking / missing that tricky midfield schemer. Between us, we dont have a Sneijder / Van Der Vaart / Ozil / Kaka type to give you that ‘something out of nothing’ moment I think both our seasons have needed. I’m not saying it’s an obvious gap, personnel-wise – we’ve both done very well without one. Maybe a sign of the times domestically. A luxury player that neither SAF or Carlo deems necessary.

    Can’t see you boys chucking it away though. If we can’t overhaul you, I don’t want anyone to. The collective media orgasm if Arsenal won it is a thought that makesme die inside a little. Citeh can’t, because we ‘bought’ the title. Thats our ABC appointed moniker. We’re keeping it. And Spurs? Well, they’re just Spurs. Could easily win the CL and beat us in the league, but they’ve always got performances like their one at Blackpool in the bag.

    And if they don’t make the CL next season, it’ll be like the Worlds best car-boot sale in the transfer window.

    Best of luck for the rest of the season, our trip to OT apart.

  40. PeteW

    No arguing whatsoever that Luiz should have gone, much as Neville should have done at the game last year at Old Trafford for three wild tackles, one of which was in the area and should have been a penalty (to be fair, I think he missed a decent pen shout for you in that game as well).

    Atkinson is clearly a ref who tries to avoid sending people off – Fletcher, Luiz, Ivanovic, Evans, Giggs and Neville have all benefited from that recently, and he even tried to give Vidic a few chances to stay on, but the poor chap didn’t quite have the brains to avoid that final challenge. This also clearly backfires, as he has quite a high red card count. In fact, last time he reffed at the Bridge he sent off Essien for a foul on Dempsey, while missing a blatant elbow on Boswinga by, er Dempsey.

    But the Luiz second yellow was the ONLY big contentious decision. The Terry handball – which I’ve only heard about in the last day – wasn’t anything such, it hits his chest and his upper arm is behind his back quite clearly attempting to avoid putting it in contact with the ball. It would have been a crazy penalty to give. They are, sometimes, but then everybody afterwards tends to agree they were wrong. I don’t recall any appeal at the time.

    The Chelsea penalty was a penalty.

    It would be nice to see one of these games end without major controversy, but I think that is partly the fault of your manager who goes on about things that may or may not have been given in a deliberate attempt to obscure the fact he got things wrong (see the ridiculous ‘controversy’ over Terry’s goal last season, completely ignoring some poor defending). He fixes the narrative and the fans join in.

    Funnily enough, I predicted on a Guardian blog before the game that ‘in the very unlikely event Chelsea win, United players, fans and manager will blame the referee, and all will be well with the world’. I should get a medal, if it wasn’t so bleedin’ obvious.

  41. PeteW

    On the football itself, those 20 minutes or so when Carrick and Scholes were pinging it round were very impressive. Unlike many others, I rate this United side quite highly – in terms of personality, tenacity, determination and self-belief they are extraordinary and for part of the first half they were also bloody good to watch.

    I’m not sure exactly what Chelsea did second half other then play with more width and encourage Luiz and Terry to step into midfield a bit more. At one point it was like an old-fashioned league game with two set ups of 4-4-2 and no tactical discipline at all, trading blows, attacking each other at pace.

    I thought we deserved the win for simply achieving that, changing the narrative (ahem), stopping United from retaining control and put them on the backfoot for most of the second half – even if the best chance fell to Rooney, and I still am not sure how he missed it. But even though we were very good, we never had quite the degree of control United had for that spell.

    But even then there was still such a vast gap between Chelsea’s defence and midfield that was crying out to be exploited. Part of me thinks Ferguson was so caught up in the old-fashioned ding-dong nature of it, he didn’t want to do anything too boringly technical about it. The net result was that we brought on Zhirkov and I’m not sure if United really responded to that. He proved to be the matchwinner.

  42. PeteW

    Oh, and also the game should have been stopped and Rooney booked for the World’s Worst Dive shortly before he scored.

    So really, it should have been 2-0. Outrageous and unfair.

  43. PeteW

    I mean, this is the ref who is SO biased towards Chelsea that he booked Didier Drogba for getting kicked in the chest by Jonny Evans. (Was that in the area as well? Did Carlo even mention it in his press conference afterwards?)


    Come on Donkey’s, you’re better then that. On the Ovrebo scale, it isn’t even a ripple.

  44. Ringo

    Fuck off you condescending slur alex worshipping manc tosser!

    Sorry all ,but that’s not what I come here for ,if I wanted to read that load of old bollocks I’d go to a man u blog.

  45. Ososdeoro

    Haha, Pete. I actually think Didier getting the yellow for being kicked was short of the penalty area. You forget that it actually should have been 3-0 because Torres was robbed in the first half. Yes, VanderSar probably stopped because he heard the whistle, but it would have been a ripping miraculous save if the ref hadn’t blown his damn whistle (for nothing!).

    If Terry had a handball in the box then so did Vidic, but my personal opinion is that either of those calls would have been incorrect.

    And then there’s Carrick’s tackle on Ramires which should have merited a yellow, and O’Shea’s faceplant of Luiz in the box on the 72nd minute (before his tackle of Rooney). And shirley we’re not considering Nani’s hold/pull-down of Ivanovic in the corner to be a foul on Ivanovic, are we?

  46. Anonymous

    This all goes to my general gripe with refereeing. I detest the “let them play” approach.

    Why? Because it leads to controversial non-calls, and then fouls that are called become larger because “the previous fouls weren’t called”.

    Should Luiz have seen red? Sure. Vidic should have gone 5 minutes earlier, blah blah blah.

    Now the immediate retort is that if the referee calls the match tighter then we will have referees deciding the game and not the players. (There is also the “English football requires bone crunching tackles” argument, which I find ludicrous.) First, the referees aren’t deciding the game when they call every foul- the players are deciding it by fouling. Second, this argument assumes it is as if world-class athletes can’t control their body. If you change the way the game is refereed, then the players will change the way they play. Simple as that.

    Want to get rid of gratuitous shirt tugging? Call it. Pushing on corners? Call it. Give the penalty. Cynical fouls on breakaways? Yellow card automatically.

    Someone on this blog a while back (it might have been LTB, but I’m not sure and please correct me if I’m wrong) recounted a friendly youth match officiated by a top level referee. The ref was blowing his whistle non-stop for fouls, and eventually stopped the match to explain to the players that at the next level this is the way the game will be called and their late fouls wouldn’t cut it. The same thing can happen at the highest level.

    Sure, there will be an adjustment period to the new standards, but I don’t imagine it will last long. After, the higher threat of enforcement will cause players to rein in the fouling. Those that can’t adjust will be sent off all the time, and won’t have value as top-level players.

  47. Donkey's Ears

    @ bluebayou

    Yes – Berbatov in retrospect was a terrible move from us. From then on, we just lost control (although tbf some of that was due to Scholes being replaced too). Hernandez was a little bit of a liability when forced out wide or with his back to goal, but I did feel he stretched things for us.

    In the end (once again) your midfield, even though not one of your finest, was still too strong for us.

    I was impressed by your togetherness tbh after reading so many posts bemoaning the team and their willingness to fight. Even Drogba came on and got stuck in. It was a performance which I think showed why both teams (even when the quality isn’t there) have competed.

    See this link though for Atkinson’s blindness:

    He’s looking straight at it.

    And just in case anyway misinterprets this – I am not claiming bias but simply incompetence that we have already witnessed last season and it irritates me that he got the game. It deserved better than him.

    @ Fiftee

    Completely agree that we both lack something subtle in midfield but from you have at least Josh M to potentially play that role whilst all our talent is loaded upfront. I think we might both be after Sanchez this summer and possibly Rodwell.

    Luiz might get a red card but so far he looks class if you can stop his unwise forays up the pitch. I assumed he would look good but might be a soft touch but he looks positively nasty. I said (on a United blog I hate to say) that I was surprised you got him with such little obvious competition given City and Real are desperate for defenders of his quality.

    I don’t think we’ll implode but we need a good result this weekend or the pressure really starts to mount.


    I basically take your point but again I’m not claiming bias or monumental incompetence. I’m simply saying I think he had a pretty poor day (for the second time in a row) and had some effect on the game. He’s not a Chelsea fan so much as a poor referee who seems to favour the home team and is too self-conscious in his refereeing for my liking.

    I agree that Vidic was brainless, it’s the price we seem to have to pay for his quality. Every now and then he loses his rag and makes it all too easy for the referee to send him off. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been.

    On the Terry penalty, if you watch it again, he leans into the ball, not away. You can’t claim ball to hand in this case. It’s travelled too far for that. I hate handball penalties which are simply a result of the ball being smashed into the defender but that is not the case here or anywhere close. It’s as much a penalty as the one he gave (which I’ve said was a penalty albeit soft).

    I’m not saying you guys didn’t deserve to win, you played well and you definitely deserve a lot of credit for the way you came back and pushed us back, but I am saying I don’t think the gulf or the gap was such that you can argue the referee didnt’ have some bearing on the result and (obviously) as the loser that is frustrating.

    We haven’t beaten you guys in a while – so give me a break!

    • Jon

      “We haven’t beaten you guys in a while – so give me a break!”

      Fair enough … but seeing as your gonna win the league, can’t you at least say we beat you without blaming the Ref? Most big matches have decisions made by the refs that opposing fans will argue over till hell freezes over.

      I also think we should get credit for our Manager who does not stoke these arguments like Fergie does? I am curious on your view on Fergie’s comments about Rooney’s elbow vs his comments against Luiz?

    • Anonymous

      I’ll join the chorus welcoming your comments DE – I like to think this blog is a little above the normal tribal baiting bollocks you see. We have always tried to respect opinions that different from other fans as long as the usual mindless name calling crap doesn’t arise.

      For me, I take all the points as valid, but do find SAF disingenuous when on the one hand he states ‘we don’t want to debate refereeing decisions’ said post Wigan, and then does exactly that post Chelsea. I’ll jump in and say that we rarely get any credit as a club for what we’ve achieved. Yes money did play a part obviously, but as real Madrid and Citeh have demonstrated, it takes far more than that. In our case it took the single mindedness of Mourinho, for you it took similar reserves of self belief and arrogant swagger from SAF. Sadly I think he’s rather becoming a parody of his own Govan hard man image and is now starting to make the sort of PR mistakes that Mourinho made. Mourinho was inexperience/latin straight talking culture. With SAF I fear its just intransigence and bluster borne of old age.

      My last and only point is that this was by far and away the best game both sides have been involved in this season, a fascinating ebbing/flowing spectacle of everything good about the Premier League, and both teams should take credit for that. Everything from audacious skill and deep rooted competitive combativeness was on show. Biggest surprise for me wasn’t the brilliance of Luiz, Ramires or Torres, but the excellence of Evra, which for breathtaking at times. I might have had my eyes deliberately closed to his attributes before but I thought he was outstanding. United will and have played worse and won, they will rarely play better and lose.

      And Ringo, make your comments mate, but we will always accept decent well formed views from opposition fans here. it’s what sets this blog apart from others.

  48. bluebayou

    That’s why I could never work in an abbatoir.

    There I am running around waving my bolt gun of derision after we beat United, when in walks old DE, broken down by years of poor reffing decisions and ready for the knackers yard.

    Ready to jeer I wander over to deliver the fatal shot, look into his sad reasonable old eyes and next thing I know I’m snivelling into my hanky and ready to wish him on his way to the donkey sanctuary of footballing success.

    I’m going soft in me old age.

  49. Nick Benfield

    There was a piece about blog comments on last night’s Culture Show, presented by and featuring Telegraph journalists (including James Delingpole, who frankly deserves to be trolled to death) but still. It got me to thinking how lucky we are here in our little corner of the internet to attract such good comments, especially considering the tribal nature of football fandom. We have our resident troll but he doesn’t show up that often these days, thank Luiz. I for one would welcome more comments from opposition fans like Donkey’s Ears.

  50. PeteW

    Absolutely agree Nick, and credit to DE for showing up after a defeat and being so reasonable. This is a fairly civil corner of the internet, which is very rare for an unmoderated sports blog.

    But Delingpole has no right to call anybody out, the man is a dishonest nincompoop who can dish it out but doesn’t like it when the proles answer back. Like many ‘opinion’ columnists, he wants the right to say whatever he wants about anybody he dislikes in as vicious and untruthful way as he can, but woe betide anybody who dares respond. A horrible specimen.

  51. PeteW

    But this Terry penalty claptrap has clearly been written into the MUFC narrative alongside the supposedly ‘dodgy’ goal last season. The only good thing is that I’ve never heard anybody other than United fans buy into it, not one single ‘neutral’ seems to go along with the party line. I wonder why?

    • NorthernVA

      I think a simple answer can be found in the words of Emerson, ” A foolish consistency is the hobgobblin of simple minds.” I think what he meant in this text is if you truly believe and state something on Saturday it does not really matter if you COMPLETELY contradict yourself on Tuesday as long as you believe in what you state on Tuesday. Therefore you could hypothetically be a PETA activist on Sunday and potentially be Ted Nuggent’s hunting partner on Wednesday.Some may call it hypocrisy or being a huckster, I just call it Chuck Norris. Ferguson is just a much more highly evolved character than the rest of us so we just need to deal with it.

  52. Gleb

    Jose almost got knifed by some lunatic in La Coruna the other day. Saved by his bodyguard, who’s recovering from a 4 cm stab wound. The obvious shockingness aside, seems like a good pretext to quit Real and finally make his way home! Seeing as Carlo is almost certainly going to Roma…

  53. Anonymous

    Generally good comments, but in fairness to Drogba, the events in Ivory Coast have to weigh mightily on him. Professional or not, a civil war simply cannot be ignored. Those of us who have worked in a country other than our own know how easily it is to be distracted by incidental news from home, much less news of your country being torn apart. For me, a bit of grace towards his appearances and a hearty cheer, no matter the quality.

    Kalou, of course, deserves the same. But somewhat less is expected from him, compared to Drogba

    • NorthernVA

      I completely agree with that statement. I think it may have been Der Kaiser who brought this up weeks ago. It must weigh on him and Kalou both. I think that a lot of DD’s family still resides in the Ivory Coast from his parents to siblings. He is the captain of the national team which was seen as a unifying force for their nation ever since their qualification of the 2006 World Cup. If Drogs could have chosen to play for France and who would have blamed him. It was two years prior to his first cap that members of the national team were held for three days in a military camp after a poor showing at the ACN.

      He has been tip of the spear in one of the most brutually efficient sides to grace the continent of Europe. Conquering grounds from Nou Camp, to Munich, to Turin with a completely defiant and unrepentant swagger. After he hit the equalizer in Barcelona he and JT ran up towards the away supporters to celebrate. A Barca fan threw a peach or pear at him. He picked the damn thing up and start talking bites of it, that epitomizes the mentality of these guys. It’s why Wenger calls him a killer striker. The effects of malaria will reside and I believe he will be key in us lifting that cup at Wembley. It can happen and trust me it will, not really as much quality in Europe as we are lead to believe.

      I don’t believe Jose was blowing hot air when he said DD would be the first guy he would want in a battle. I trust Guus when supposedly told Roman DD could be replaced but he could not be replicated. I think the quality of our play from last season and the beginning of this season compared to our form post malaria confirms Guus’s prescience.

      Not to mention he was the voice for all Chelsea fans worldwide when Barcelona was beginning to be appointed the best team ever. I quote, “It’s a fucking disgrace.” When I have a son I pray they will be his first words. He didn’t make of the cover or Time Magazine as one of the most 100 influential people by banging hookers, or assaulting disc jockeys, or putting buckshots in interns. I think his charity off the pitch will be his lasting legacy worldwide which is incredible considering his many on it.The effects of malaria will reside and I believe he will be key in us lifting that cup at Wembley. He owns Wembley. One word for the man…LEGEND, if you grant me three more…A TRUE BLUE

  54. Anonymous

    Jesus. Arsenal fans better hope the players were saving themselves, or Tuesday could be a massacre.

    Semi-favour from Sunderland then. Over to you, King Kenny.

  55. Benjami

    Anyone else getting really annoyed at all these Monday/Tuesday games?

    I don’t understand why we can’t play on Saturday 3pm or on Sunday 😛

    Also I would love to bump into Drogba in the street, he needs to be reminded just how much of a Chelsea legend he is 🙂

  56. Anonymous

    Two results out of two gone our way so far, come on Wolves.

    Suarez looks a bit tasty, no? Much better than our £50m albatross 😉

  57. Ososdeoro

    Speaking of Zola, the TV decided to show me an FA Cup final from 2002. Being a plastic fan and all, I decided I better watch it and see what real fans have lived through. Other than the nice stadium in Cardiff, don’t know why this game was billed as a classic (though admittedly the opposition goals were skilled). Waste of time if you ask me. Except that it was kind of fun to see the “kids” Frank, JT and Carlo, and younger Wengers, Ranieris, etc.

  58. Anonymous

    I’ve got a confession to make.

    Even though I should know better, after all I’ve supported Chelsea for decades, I’ve done something this weekend that I promised myself I wouldn’t do again this season. In fact I did it three times last night and once already this morning.

    Yes, that’s right, I’ve been studying the league table and the remaining fixtures for us and United.

    We’ve got 11 to go and 6 of those are at home and the 11 include

    West Brom
    West Ham

    We’re 12 points behind United but have 2 games in hand. So let’s call that 6 points.

    Arsenal beat United, that’s 3.

    People are calling the Arsenal v United game the championship decider but now I’m starting to think it could be our visit to Old Trafford instead. Looks like I might need to travel to Manchester again.

  59. Anonymous

    Oh Mark, Mark. It just makes it so much worse in the long run.

    Anyway, the way this season has gone there’s no hope of predicting results. We’re just as capable of losing tonight as we are of beating the Mancs up at OT.

    Incidentally — by a weird quirk of the internet I ended up accidentally logging into to Sir Ferg’s Lovefilm account. He’s just edited his request list to include the complete works of Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin and Marcel Marceau.

    • Der_Kaiser

      Indeed – no point travelling in hope the way things have gone thus far. Some very confident Gooners out there at the moment who seem to think the trophy drought will end in May (pending the usual comedic meltdown, obviously). All helps to keep things interesting.

      Good weekend of football, really – all pretty entertaining stuff. Never mind it being Dalglish’s birthday, surely Kuyt’s can’t be that far away on the evidence available?

      Poor old Fergie – those bit part players aren’t quite up to scratch, are they? Suarez’s little individual dance through the United defence was impressive, but the opposition was shambolic – Wes Brown; what were you thinking?

      Blackpool are a bit depleted tonight, are they not?

      • Donkey's Ears

        The ‘bit part’ players were awful yesterday. No arguments. But I think actually it was as much tactics as personnel that was the problem. We haven’t played 4-4-2 away from home successfully for some time, we’ve now lost three games doing this (Wolves, you and Pool) and to play that team, with no Vidic or Ferdinand, and no Fletcher in the middle seemed suicidal and proved to be disastrous.

        We’ve coped well without players but I think the strain is beginning to tell in midfield. If Nani is out at all then we are just too easy to shut down.

        I would still argue that we have a good squad, possibly still the strongest in the league, but are seriously flawed in midfield and lack creativity and (surprisingly) pace. I think its our first XI which, on paper anyway, is weak and needs strengthening.

        But, for me, yesterday was on Fergie. He knew what was coming and didn’t help us at all. Tactics have never been his strong suit unfortunately.

        • Der_Kaiser

          Morning DE,

          Was very surprising not to see Fletcher in the middle yesterday – just his kind of game. Scholes and Carrick just got overrun and once Nani was off (Carragher not following him – now that was a poor decision…) there wasn’t a great deal on offer in response to a pretty well drilled Liverpool side. Very odd decision given the lack of a first choice central defence, as you say.

          All said and done, I like Fergie. Has his moments, of course and can be monstrously hypocritical, but he’s far from alone in that sense. And much of what is passed off as mind games etc. by the hacks is, for the most part, generally bang on the money – he’s not often wrong on matters football.

          And yes, the world can definitely do without a summer of endless North London based smugness and the like…

          • Anonymous

            I’ve been pretty non-commital so far on who would I rather won EPL given we can’t really expect to be last man standing again this season [come on Mark, let’s not go there].

            I think you’re right, the orgy of Gooner smugness is too much to contemplate, especially if combined with Barca winning CL again, leading to the “beautiful game” cliche counter disappearing off the edge of the scale.

            Only possible upside is that Clive Tyldesley would surely spontaneously combust in orgiastic exultation as he disappeared up the orifice of Wenger and/or Messi at appropriate moments?

  60. Donkey's Ears

    I meant to post yesterday but I am sure you can understand the delay.

    I should have known better than to moan about the referee and expect much sympathy. Being honest, we’re not playing well enough to blame referees and on the evidence of yesterday, a siege mentality won’t do us any good. I got sucked into the emotion of Tuesday and in the cold light of day, Atkinson was poor but didn’t have an absolute shocker.

    I take the points about SAF and obviously part of me wishes he was more gracious, less pugnacious and less easy to hate. Ancelotti for example is obviously a gentleman (we all saw the way he shook Vidic’s hand etc) and I like his attitude and approach. But I think he doesn’t have the same chips on his shoulder, perhaps because he had so much success as a player, and so this means he doesn’t quite have the same brutal determination to succeed and prove himself continually like Mourinho and Ferguson. For all the elements of Ferguson that seem easy to parody or criticise, I can’t concieve of any United fan (or indeed any fan) who would not want him around. He doesn’t create an excuses culture (he’s very careful not to do that unlike Wenger or Benitez) and he cultivates an amazing winning mentality.

    I would have imagined Chelsea fans would be the last to turn their heat (in that way) on old SAF. He’s as close to Mourinho as you can get albeit older, not as suave and with a red nose. And his English is worse. But you get my point. Yes. he’s not perfect, tactically he can be awful (witness Tuesday and yesterday), but he is a proven winner and our biggest challenge will start the day he retires.

    This may come back to haunt me but I think you have left it just too late. Your maximum haul is 81 and that means a lot of collectively dropped points from us and Arsenal. But it’s not unthinkable I guess.

    We’re wobbling though for sure and if Nani is out for anything longer than a week, then we could be facing a nightmare summer of praise for Wenger and his ‘amazingly’ cheap wonder team.

    • Jon

      Wow … I can’t actually believe how much I agree with a Manu fan. Rational, unbiased and sound points.

      Totally agree about JM and SAF friendship … was amazing the only manager with no mates is Wenger.

  61. PeteW

    DE – Ferguson is an absolutely sensational manager, for my money the greatest in the history of the game. He has built, what, four different teams, consistently won trophies, played good football and confronted all sorts of challenges from the money of Chelsea and City, to the passion of Liverpool and the Europeanisation of Arsenal. Outstanding achievements. I just tire of the public bitterness and the hyporcrisy and question whether it needs to be ‘part of his game’ in the same way being a short-tempered idiot needs to be part of Rooney’s.

    Given the way results have gone this weekend, absolutely guaranteed Chelsea will drop points to Blackpool.

  62. John

    Good to see you back, DE. It’s always refreshing to have a reasonable and relatively objective oppo opinion. I wouldn’t mind City winning it as I’ve got nothing against them and it’d be good to see it go to someone new; also be interesting to see how their treatment would differ from what’s been doled out to us for having too much money etc. But that looks unlikely so I too would far rather United than Arsenal if it can’t be us, and much as I get the hump with Ferguson it’s impossible to deny his greatness. As DE says, the real difficulty for them will be replacing him. We won’t go to the end without dropping more points, but even if we did it’s difficult to see two teams fucking up enough for us to nick it.

    • Anonymous

      Now, let’s just stop this at once!

      You know it will all only end in tears, possibly as early as c. 9.50 tonight.

      Going back to Lord Ferg, I tend to agree with PeteW that he has an extraordinary record of success as a manager, in Scotland too, where he broke the Old Firm monopoly with Aberdeen.

      But I’ve thought increasingly he’s very hard to like as a personality, not being fond of arrogant, bullying gits who seem to revel in letting perceived grudges stew for years.

      There is an argument that the reason he never managed Rangers in Scotland was because he was still bitter at the brutal way he was discarded by the club as a player, allegedly when blamed for a goal conceded v Celtic which cost the team the Scottish Cup. Those of you into psychological explanations of behaviour might want to see a repetition of a variation of this pattern in the way Strachan, Keane, Hughes etc were dumped in their prime during his managerial career.

      Then there’s his ongoing refusal to speak to the Beeb, and now the entire world including MUTV apparently, plus the “hairdryer” nonsense and Fergie-time antics – need I go on?

      • Cunningplan

        Have you been possessed by Fiftee BBD? 😉

        I did say recently I have a feeling, we could well finish second, and after yesterdays result, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility we could do a back door job on Utd. Now I may end up with Waitrose eggs all over my face at 9.50pm tonight, but Blackpool are without their talisman in midfield, so I’m quietly confident.

          • Anonymous

            We might need to organise a whip-round given Waitrose’s prices [those organic eggs don’t come cheap you know!].

            I will be happy if the Fickle Finger of Fate chooses not to whip the legs from under us against a depleted Blackpool side, but won’t be contemplating anytime soon the likelihood of all 3 teams currently above us dropping enough points while we keep on winning to give us a shot at retaining the title .

            It goes without saying you can always rely on the Spuds to crumble away 😉

          • Anonymous

            Well even my myopic happy world pink glasses vision does not suggest we will win the title 🙂 However, I strongly insist on us winning tonight! Organic eggs are fine!

      • Der_Kaiser

        Know a guy who has dealt with Fergie professionally a fair bit over the years; says he’s actually pretty likeable on a one-to-one basis, obviously very knowledgable and usually happy to talk about all things football until the cows come home too.

        Always believe that with any public figure of a certain ‘reputation’, there is always the public face and the private one, and more often than not they are fairly different people.

  63. Anonymous


    Completely agree about SAF. Amazing manager, truly amazing. You’ve had him long enough to enjoy both success at the very top AND stability in harder times, something I very much doubt we’ll see in tandem at the Bridge.

    By and large, he comes across as a fairly decent bloke as well, certainly nowhere near Wenger in terms of myopic-ness (clearly a word I just made up). It’s pertinent that more is being made now of him saying nothing after the match, than him coming out and being critical (rightly IMO) of the decisions yesterday.

    On the flip side, he’s doing noone at OT any favours with this stance and it’d be nice for him to take a step back and realise he’d probably not have half the fame or bank balance (and horses) he has were it not for the very media he’s so resolutely ostracising himself from.

  64. Anonymous

    Let me put my pink glasses on ! We are going to win 2:0 tonight with both Drog and Torres scoring!!!

  65. Ososdeoro

    I think it’s myopicity, Fiftee. Anyway, in with the crowd on SAF. Best thing ever for ManU certainly, and fantastic for football overall, and I can’t even criticize him that much for yesterday. Chelsea would be a disaster without it’s two best central defenders (oops, I hope not tonight, though). It’s a nearly impossible problem to solve, especially without Nani. Probably the idea of going for a tie at Anfield was too hateful for SAF to park the buses.

    So I completely respect what he’s accomplished….it’s just that part of the winning is working the system, working the officials, calling for non-existent penalties on a constant basis (as Berbatov called for a “handball” on Meireles) and baiting the other team. If he ever even showed the least bit of guilt over it I might like him a lot better!

  66. bluebayou

    As Susan Boyle once sang “I dreamed a dream”……but then that song did come from Les Miserables and like Les we all know misery awaits……..oh yes it’s the hope that kills you…….

    However it is worth considering for a moment where we currently stand. We have 2 games in hand. Win those and we are 6 points off the lead. Theoretically 6 points with 11 games to go? That didn’t seem possible a few weeks back.

    We still have to play at Old Trafford. The upside of that is we have our destiny in our hands. That leaves 3 points and goal difference.

    Traditionally we always look to United to mount the strong finish. What if we can close out a season in similar form to last year.

    It’s all highly unlikely. But neither Arsenal or United look like a paragon of mental strength at the moment. We have nothing to lose. Putting a few results together can only increase the pressure.

    Despite the brittle confidence displayed this season, this team has been there and won a tight race last year.

    It’s still all to play for.

    What this tells us is that there is absolutley no excuse for an abject or ineffectual performance against Blackpool tonight. This is far from just another away game in a season that has drifted away from us.

    We had a penalty at Spurs, we only had to hold the lead for a few minutes after coming back against Villa. That’s 4 points that could have made all the difference. And yet here we are offered another slim chance.

    Blackpool means a lot of things to a lot of people. To evil Alan Bradley it spelt the end in an episode of Coronation Street in 1989.

    So as we chase the the Rita Fairclough of Premiership success over the busy seafront of a difficult away fixture, let’s hope we can avoid Tram 710 (the one that did for Alan Bradley is still running to this day).

  67. Ringo

    As it appears I’m in a majority of one, I’ll just join in with the fawning masses.
    Good morning Donkey’s Ears ,so good to see you again old chap.
    How about those Red Devils eh?

    Guess I should apologise for my little outburst the other day.
    But just like Fergie ,I don’t do sorry.

    And speaking of donkey’s ,so Blackpool it is then!

  68. bluebayou

    I hope no-one was offended by the scene of forced abduction in that clip. Obviously the sight of someone omitting to secure the vehicle once the target was apprehended and contained will have caused a certain amount of pain to security professionals.

  69. Anonymous

    Erm, Jose in for Ivanovic? Not sure who should be more offended – Branko or me as I have Ivanovic in my FF team.

    Thanks Carlo, thanks a bunch. What a joke.

  70. Anonymous

    Was then about to say we’re not at the races tonight, and up pops JT!

    Too many ‘non midweek evening game’ players in the XI in my opinion. And Bosingwa has looked shite all night so far.

  71. Anonymous

    We might win this game, but my God how slow, how unimaginative we are!!!! We play like we haven’t got strikers, they are not receiving service at all, our midfield is joke!!!

  72. Anonymous

    We really are nowhere.

    We look truly awful. One-dimensional, barely one paced, against a Blackpool side missing their best players.

    Drogba’s been woeful. His shot when just ruled offside was a fucking joke. there’s no heart out there at all. Midfield is woeful.

  73. Anonymous

    Drogba for Anelka and Malouda for Zhirkov has to be done at HT.

    How can tubby Andy Reid be running the show. It’s an embarrassment.

  74. Anonymous

    One cute assist to Lamps aside, Kalou did next-to-fuck-all when he came on. Not sure how that view will sit with everyone else, Kevin Phillips in Sky thought he changed the game. I don’t.

    He was, however, still a huge improvement over Drogba who was so appalling I’m not sure what he’s done with himself since Tuesday. Go to the Michael Essien school of ‘Getting shit clones of oneself made up’? Ramires was our best midfielder; Lamps improving once his goal went in.

    Nice to see Josh come on for another trouble-free cameo. You can tell there’s a dynamite performance to come out of him, but he’s too terrified of cocking up. So he keeps it simple, and still outshines most of his peers.

    Fernando is too self-less at the moment. He needs to adopt the greed of Drogs / Malouda / everyone else and he’ll come good.

    And then Bosingwa. What in the name if all that’s holy and connected to football is he doing near any professional football team – let along ours? Utter utter garbage. Their goal was his fault and he just needs putting down. Not selling – no other team deserves to put up with that drivel.

  75. Anonymous

    A crucial win which keeps us in the race. First thoughts:

    Bosingwa – Must be shot or sold. Laziness like that is unacceptable.
    Didier – Disgraceful at times. Couldn’t pass or control the football. And despite it being offside, his decision to ignore the pass to Torres on that one-on-one confirmed to me that his arrogance and ego means that this partnership will never work.
    Kalou – Nice running and energy. Decision making still dodgy.
    Malouda – Seemed determined to never pass to Torres. Has Didier told his pals to ignore Fernando? Looked like it tonight.
    Lamps – He’ll get his 20 goals again. He always does.
    JT – MOTM for me.

    And that’s about it. We’re hanging in there and a 100% run in will see us win it. Do we have the nerve?

    • Anonymous

      Spot on, Drog and Malouda two prima ballerinas who are not happy with new and talented dancer in company. It is completely ridiculous, Carlo must have a chat with both and, if they don’t understand ground the bastards. Drog was appalling tonight! It was not a big deal for Kalou to change the game after pedestrian and self obsessed Drog. MUST be sold by the end of the season! Nobody is bigger than club and these two (Drog and Malouda) think too much about themselves.

    • Anonymous

      I’m one of several twitterati who thought Malouda and Kalou deliberately ignored Torres when he was in bags of space. Yes, Drogba was awful and he did nothing to suggest he wants to be anything other than a lone striker, again ignoring Torres.

      As for Bosingwa, that single moment will probably win the Utter Cuntery award for this year. I thought Essien was much improved tonight, as was Lamps after the penalty, but yes, we’re far too slow and seem to revel in slowing the game down and then sitting back. Frankly we were lucky they didn’t get a 2nd towards the end.

      MIA: The team that beat United last Tuesday.

      • Anonymous

        I thought that it was a deliberate plan from Didier and his mates to not pass to Torres.

        Whether it was Kalou’s decision to ruin a 2 on 1 break away by not backheeling to Torres, or Didier on that 1 on 1 when he was offside or the 3 times in the last 10 minutes when Malouda felt that trying to beat 5 men was a better idea than passing to an unmarked Torres, it all just looked a bit too obvious to me.

        It’s a moronic decision though as if it’s a choice between Torres or Didier and his mates, then Roman, Carlo and the fans will ALWAYS pick Torres. Disgusting really.

        Not as disgusting as Bosingwa though who even after that shocking goal failed to track back on their next two attacks. He seems to think that it’s acceptable to just stand around and not defend. What a fucking idiot.

        But it was a good win with some promising midfield and defensive showings. And wasn’t it great to see Josh and his signature trick again?

  76. Prodicky7777

    ……my main worry is that the french contingent may stage a rebellious faction, led by Didier, Le sulk, Malouda Kalou, if constantly benched , may gang up to frustrate our efforts and throw things in their favor,we know they can do it. I hope the Italian clown has this anticipated………………..
    @prodicky from MR KICKROCKS .Please with all due respect…kick rocks. On the back of another home victory against United you want to criticize…once again kick rocks. More than just critizing you want to develop French Conspiracy Theory straight from the pages ..KICK ROCKS
    NorthernVA you are clearly an intellectual lightweight u cant deduce anything except KICK ROCKS, the french have already ganged up,and it was quite evident from yesterdays game , get that through your thick skull it seems you just cant comprehend because your mind cant manage.Didiers body language spoke volumes ,Maloudas refusal to pass Torres was more than obvious , Kalou and Anelka well God knows ,i will not over emphasize KICK ROCKS

  77. 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.

    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.

    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. There is a lot at stake in the City game now.

  78. bluebayou

    I have mailed my report to Nick.

    Worryingly it says very little that’s different to the thoughts of Chairman PeteW above but takes about eleventy million more words to say it.

    The difference between late Beckett and Charles Dickens really.

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