Norwich City 0-0 Chelsea – Carrow On Regardless

On a weekend that saw Gael Kakuta mark the start of his loan period at Dijon with a goal, Chelsea were just down the road from the historic home of Colman’s but singularly failing to cut the mustard.

In eight Premier League games since putting three past Newcastle, Chelsea have scored two goals twice, one goal five times and finally a big fat blank on Saturday. We’re drying up quicker than a comedian with stage fright.

On a brighter note it’s the second clean sheet on the trot for a defence that’s shakier than a Shaking Quaker at a prayer meeting but it’s difficult to judge whether this is down to any real adjustment in tactics leading to, as they say in the world of corsetry, a general “tightening” up at the back.

Indeed one of the more worrying aspects of the last two games has been the roasting that Sessegnon and now Pilkington have given Ashley Cole. If you’ve ever fantasised about chasing someone naked through a sea of treacle, then watch Ashley and get a feel for just how much hard work that might be and settle for lying in bed wondering whether you’ll kick ‘em out for munching on your Jacob’s (that’s a brand of crackers, other brands are available. Apologies for the male centric nature of that quip, feel free to play about with it for a more female orientated interpretation).

Is it too early to wonder whether he’s hit that mark where a player whose positioning has been based on confidence in his pace is now being exposed because he doesn’t make the necessary adjustments for not having the legs anymore? But wondering is it I am, as Yoda might say.

It may just be a drop off in form. He almost certainly has some ongoing chronic injury problems. But this is a continuation of a decline we saw last year. He may well regain form at some point but perhaps they should give Bertrand a crack.

In the first half particularly, he and Terry were exposed by Morison and Pilkington to a worrying degree. Holt was a handful throughout the game and the house was filling up with new born kittens as the game developed.

So praise the Lord and pass the plate that Luiz and Bosingwa had fewer problems on the right and generally coped with the Norwich threat, other than the aforementioned Mr Holt.

Yet looking back, while I spent the game waiting for them to get a goal, the home side had very few really clear chances, particularly in the second half. Now I don’t know if it was somehow by design or indicative of how little sustained pressure Norwich applied, but given the much talked about aerial threat posed by the Canaries, it was quite satisfying that it took until around the 70th minute before they got their first, and indeed only, corner of the game. I dread to think of how much more stomach acid would have been produced by a string of corners being fired over at crucial moments of the game. It was enough that they got a couple of free kicks in the Chelsea half, though thankfully none around the 18 yard box.

Now if you keep a clean sheet, one goal will always be enough to garner all three points. And you had to go back to October and Loftus Road for the last time Chelsea had failed to score in a League game. But despite plenty of possession, quality chances were few and far between. When they did arrive they didn’t take them. More annoying was the number of shots that could have become good chances yet ended up miles off target. The level of shooting really was dire, given the quality of player on the pitch. To say nothing of deadball situations.

Rather than dwell on the, by now well documented, problems up front, I’d prefer to look at the curious case of what happened when Lampard went off and Malouda came on. The change was only incremental and ultimately we finished goalless but I thought I detected a real improvement in tempo going forward after the change. This is not inspired by negativity towards Lampard but may be a pointer towards why AVB does not automatically select Frank and why there may be some tension arising out of their differing views on the level of performance and achievement.

The most noticeable effect of Malouda playing on the left of the midfield three was that Mata seemed to become a lot more involved and effective. Perhaps it is Malouda’s ability to play further out wide and his linking with Cole, combined with a natural instinct to play higher up the pitch that gave rise to this. Lampard’s tendency is to drift to centre and come late with a run, whereas Malouda is much more likely to work the left in concert with Cole and Mata. Does this allow Mata to come inside and become more pivotal? It seems so.

The right side is all about pace, with Ramires, Sturridge and Bosingwa, all capable of a gallop. The left-hand side relies more heavily on movement and quick transfer of the ball. Malouda seemed to move the ball more quickly than Lampard, and tends to look to work with the left side players as well as work the byline himself.

This begs the question as to why Lampard is not just played centrally, instead of putting Mereiles there? I don’t have the answer.

Nevertheless on a frustrating day, it gave me food for thought and certainly suggests that problem Ancelotti had when he couldn’t get Pirlo or a player like him to drive his preferred system, is one that AVB is also experiencing.

That said there are enough players of quality in the squad to win games like this and the season seems poised between a spring push to secure a place in the top three, like last season, or an ongoing mediocrity that may see us scrape fourth with very little in the way of fingernails left.

It wasn’t a great weekend for the bird population, I’m thinking of the Cockerel and the Raven (commiserations NVA) but at least the Canary was left happily chirping away.

I couldn’t get excited about Sunday’s games as it was difficult to get behind any of the four teams. With title aspirations long gone, I suppose the results helped us. But I got no joy from it really.

I was reminded of the fragrant Melba Montgomery singing the old country classic, “What’s Bad for You is Good for Me”. (Being from Alabama she is able to make the word misery sound like Missouri, which I find enormously satisfying for no good reason I can give you.) Praying for another’s failure is not a recipe for future happiness, but sometimes it be all we gots.

The match reports

The Sunday Telegraph, Duncan White: “Andre Villas-Boas keeps playing possum. On Boxing Day, the prognosis for Chelsea’s title challenge was dire and after defeat at home to Aston Villa on New Year’s Eve their prospects looked about as promising as those of a man paddling off into the North Sea in his canoe. Turns out, of course, that the Canoe Man was alive and well and living next door. And Chelsea were still secretly in the hunt. In fact this game was Chelsea’s final chance. Now it is definitely dead. Sort of.”

The Observer, Amy Lawrence: “After the many hoots of mockery and chants about money and painful critiques that have trailed Fernando Torres since his move to Stamford Bridge, the Spaniard must have felt he had heard it all. Not quite. Having seen a chance fizzle out, it spoke volumes that the chant that floated over from behind the goal was sung without any irony: ‘We’d rather have Grant Holt.’”

The Independent on Sunday, Steve Tongue: “Chelsea’s defending, with David Luiz much improved against the physicality of Holt, justified Villas-Boas’s assertion that it was not necessary to rush his new signing Gary Cahill into action. Cahill did not make the substitutes’ bench either, because Branislav Ivanovic was “more versatile”, but he is available for Saturday’s Cup tie with QPR.”

The Official Chelsea FC Website: “The winning streak that started 2012 is over after a well-contested but ultimately disappointing trip to Carrow Road. Despite creating the better opportunities over the 90 minutes, the Blues could not beat a dogged and organised Norwich side that earned its first clean sheet of the season.”

The manager’s reaction

“We created enough opportunities to win the game.

“The first half was split between the two teams with good opportunities each. The second half we created a lot more and managed to be dominant but couldn’t find the back of the net. Had we found it, we would have taken three points because we looked solid and confident.

“The players really fought hard to get the winning goal but we couldn’t find this winning goal through our lack of efficiency and also due to Ruddy’s amazing performance.

“Torres tried really hard and his moves once again were sharp and incisive. He is trying really hard to get the goals that we want but he had a major impact in our attacking game and we were happy with his play.”

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  1. Anonymous

    In February’s Chelsea Mag the attached picture shows the team enjoying Xmas lunch.

    On the one hand I take solace in this picture because now I know there are several who look even more miserable than me at the Christmas lunch table.

    On the other hand I’m worried about whether five days in Majorca will bond or break team spirit.

    • Ryan

      Yeah. It’s a bitter pill to swallow before February but with City and Utd already into the distance they did us a favour today. The most annoying thing about this season is that we wouldn’t have needed to do a lot to still be in with a chance. Too many dropped points (QPR, Fulham, Villa, Wigan and Norwich yesterday equates to 12). It’s tough to take at the moment but I still wouldn’t swap our situation (and I m not just talking current PL positions) with Arsenal, Liverpool or Spurs.

      Arsenal will lose RVP at the end of the season the way things are going and I’m not sure how they will replace him. They’re not prepared to pay the transfer fees or wages to attract and keep top players anymore. Same goes for Spurs. Adebayor is being bankrolled for them by City and Bale and Modric won’t stay forever. Levy loves money more than Spurs. Good luck to Harry he’s managed to build a good side around Bale and Modric but it’s not easy to keep finding players like that and holding onto them for average wages. Liverpool must be starting to worry. Dalglish is currently showing why he was out of management for so long. It was never a forward looking appointment but considering the fortune he has paid for some mid-table players (Carroll, Downing, Henderson) and LFC current form it’s starting to look bloody catastrophic.

      It’s a bit harder to draw solace from Utd and City’s position except to say that Utd are not in a great place financially with the Glazers and going forward Fergie’s departure could be a hugely transitional time for them. For all the bluster about what a huge club they are, their youth system, established stars loyalty, enduring success and so on what really sets them apart is Ferguson. When he goes, they’re in it with everyone else. If you thought Jose’s loafers were a wide fit for his successors pity the poor bastard who takes the reins after Ol’ Purple Nose. Maybe they’ll get Ron Atkinson back?
      City are a slightly different story. All I will say is that money does buy success but it must be a continual investment, RM being a classic example. Whether City’s investors are here for the long haul and whether provision is made for the company in the event of their demise I don’t know. Only they know that. Make no mistake though, they have deep pockets and what they’re spending at City is loose change. Whether they maintain their interest long-term I couldn’t say as I don’t know what the motivation was for buying City.

      Anyway that’s enough. I’ve tried to make myself feel better about yesterday’s and today’s results. Not sure if it’s worked. QPR, Swansea and Utd to look forward to and hopefully a bit of excitement in the transfer window before Jan 31st.

      • Anonymous

        Hi Ryan, 
        Hard to disagree with your analysis particularly regarding the long term prospects for Spurs and Arsenal. However, there is one more factor, which you didn’t take into account. Uncle Harry is facing trial on tax evasion and it should start, if I am not mistaken at the beginning of Feb and if found guilty he might face even real jail term. 
        Regarding the criticism towards AVB (not from you, but from others) I totally disagree. I personally think that in current circumstances he is doing better than at least Carlo did last year.    

  2. Harry

    an average team” comment made on 22, Jan. 12, by Kenny Sansom “team
    talk- The Paper Round”!?

    It does
    not take an Einstein to see AVB is a slow learner, and Chelsea is no longer a
    competent team.

    chanted “we would rather have Grant Holt”! speaks volumes about AVB
    management and Chelsea team.

  3. Anonymous

    The thing is, having watched the games today, I don’t feel City or United are all that better or stronger than us. If we hadn’t fucked up in so many stupid positions this season (the games mentioned above) we’d still be in the hunt.

    That hurts. We’ve chuffed up more than the rest. That’s very un-Chelsea like. At least, the Chelsea of old. We’re a new team now, a new machine. No longer unbeatable, no longer a terrifying opponent for everyone else. A fairly one-dimensional, slightly-above-average collection of once-amazing Premier League players, most of whom are on the wane.

    We really could have had a say in the title-race this year.

  4. Ryan

    Yeah you’re right. It’s a horrible feeling. Hopefully we can survive this year with some pride and a CL spot intact and maybe as AVB overhauls the squad between now and August/September we’ll start to see the basis for a new generation of success.


    What disappoints most is the inevitability of this seasons decline. It was all there last season to see. Yet AVB sits on his hands all summer. No RB, no #2 to put pressure on Cech, the old problems of lack of creativity and width still evident. Now in the current transfer window we are once again seeing more opportunity to integrate new blood wasted. Inevitable, but no less painful. AVB = C – (back to school).

  6. Anonymous

    Oh the ignominy!

    8th of 8 games on MOTD running order and scarcely justifying the 6-7 minutes generously devoted to us, followed by a Sunday reduced to rooting for both sets of Mancs to help us cling on to 4th place.

    A bit worried by a report somewhere that AVB was scornful of a reporter’s suggestion that we might be in danger of slipping out of the CL places. Might explain the kind of complacency in our performance that resulted in a first 45 minutes where we didn’t earn or concede a single free kick – or is that just impeccable discipline all round?

    Agree that Liverpool and Newcastle look like carcrashes and the Gooners could now be into another of their classic post-Xmas slumps, but we seem just as likely to vie with them to see who can drop the most points and slide furthest.

    There again, no one said transition from the old regime would be quick and painless, did they?

    Oh lots of you thought it ought to be?

    • Cunningplan

      I even stayed up to watch the 49’ers, and then they had to torment me with an overtime loss, a mixed bag of sporting results allround.

    • Marco

      Quite reconciled to the thought that our transition period will be difficult and strewn with disappointments.

      Just wondering when it is going to get started ; – )

          • Cunningplan

            Come on, you’re delving into history now, and you know only too well as Chelsea fans, we don’t have any.

          • Gleb

            Wow, congrats and massive props for knowing your history 😉 Our history, to be precise.
            We could actually use one now, to be honest. It’s been a while. We’re lost and depressed when nothing around is collapsing and exploding, it ain’t the Russian comfort zone. At least it’s “finally” proper cold here. Winter took a long time to come. Now I’m thinking of quitting smoking cause my hands are always frostbitten.

            P.S. Sorry for a nothing-to-do-with-Chelsea post. If our lads are on holiday, why can’t I not write about them for once? 🙂

          • Marco

            Are things that awful where you are? Sounds as bad as here except you have sub-zero temperatures to add to the economic gloom.

            As a matter of interest – how did you get to become a Chelsea fan?

          • Gleb

            That’s the problem: things are not awful at all (and definitely no economic gloom akin to Europe, though I suspect the situation is all rosy either). There isn’t a single potential spark. Some people – successful and “educated” – have simply gotten too used to this “stable” life and now want “more”, whatever it is (they don’t really know…). As for me, I’m just bored and wouldn’t mind a revolution for no political or social reasons whatsoever, just out of boredom. Obviously, the MA political scientist in me (I’m that screwed) is all too aware of how complicated my country really is. The government does need to go and they’re not helping at all, but most of our problems aren’t their fault either. Coupled with a lack of any even remotely worthy opposition (those who the West so diligently supports are not only total idiots but had their chance – several years, actually; and they failed miserably – to fix things when they used to be part of the government), the future is nothing but “stable” – one of the hottest words of the last decade and Putin’s infallible selling point. Until everyone who remembers what it was like in the 90ies (let alone the Soviet Union, whose legacy is too complicated to analyze) simply dies out, there’s not gonna be any change. The strangest thing is that while this vote rigging business was highly prominent, I still fail to see the point of rigging the elections at all, since they could have and still can win fair and square. Anyways, whatever happens we as a nation seem to be immune to any kind of civil society.

            As for the economy, our problems are systemic and fundamental, not related to crises per se. We haven’t suffered nearly as much as the Western states precisely because there’s, well, nothing that could have collapsed in the first place. Our financial market is a joke, the only proper companies are state-owned, we don’t really produce anything anyway, and so on. We just sell oil.

            I’m now doubting whether you’ve asked about politics or something else… 

            As for how I came to become a Chelsea fan, it was waaay back in 1995 or something (I’m young). I had a Sega Mega Drive if anyone remembers, and for that I had FIFA 199-something. And there I noticed a Russian goalkeeper playing for Chelsea. That’s when I became curious, since I was a wee goalkeeper back then. Then they started broadcasting the EPL around 1998. So since then, when time allowed, I became a follower. The extent of support kinda grew with my growing interest in football. Obviously, I also didn’t want to be like everyone around – supporting ManUnited and Arsenal.

          • Gleb

            Yup. Strangely, very few people remember him over here, as if we’re Brazil with gazillions of footballers playing abroad. Kanchelskis, for instance, is much more “popular”.

            Also funny how his (Kharine’s) name uses an “Kh” instead of a plain ol’ simple “H”, cause that’s the way it should sound. Like in “heart”. Or “Harry”, to stay relevant 🙂

          • Marco

            Hmmm….thanks for the answer to those questions. The picture you give is very different to the one we get in the press and on TV over here!

  7. WorkingClassPost

    As someone just getting over a bug of some sort, I am going to be very charitable about that game, and recognise that teams and individual’s can lose form temporarily for a variety of reasons, especially at this time of year.

    More importantly, it may demonstrate that AVB is doing exactly the right thing by shifting us out for some mid-winter sunshine.

    Maybe he should have waited til after the match to tell them, though. 

    That way they might’ve concentrated on picking up three points, rather than wondering what factor sun lotion they needed to pack.

  8. Gleb

    I have to admit, though, my proper following of all things Chelsea and English football “conveniently” coincided with RA’s arrival, because at that same year I had moved to Malaysia, where the EPL fanbase is huuuuuuge and English football is on 24/7.

    Though my favorite memories include the UCL quarter-final against Barca back when Zola and Flo scored. I remember staying up late to watch the game on TV. Chelsea always seemed like a weird club to be, kind of in between, cause obviously few people pick bottom-table teams from foreign leagues (to support), yet I didn’t want to support the leaders because they seemed generic and faceless, with no character (in that juvenile way I understood it back then). So Chelsea was by all means a great choice. I always felt special. And frankly, was very happy when it payed off during JM’s reign.

  9. PeteW

    I’ve managed to miss the last few games, or at least only followed them on radio – where they always seem to make us sound quite good and a bit unlucky.

    Had a feeling we were stuck for the draw as soon as Lampard went off. He really is the only thing we have approaching a matchwinner when Drogba isn’t around.

    • bluebayou

      I thought the same that’s why I was intrigued when to my eyes they seemed to get a little more fluid, with Mata doing more.

      But of course there was no finish. And Lampard does have the knack of being in the right place, as with his goal against Sunderland.

      • PeteW

        And Wolves, and City. In fact, when’s the last time we won a league game without Lampard getting the winner? Newcastle in early December I reckon.

        That’s been my point all along – it’s all very well talking about getting rid of these players cos they are too ‘old’, but there is clearly nobody around that can replace them. Fluidity is nice, but pointless if there’s nobody scoring.

        I mean Torres, one inch forward, three feet back, over the bar or past the post. He’s like Kezman, without the goals.

        I actually reckon our best forward line at the moment would be Mata-Sturridge-Kalou. Can’t be worse than the alternatives, surely?

        • Ryan

          I’m neither a great fan of Kalou nor a detractor. I would suggest that he has had enough opportunities to establish himself as a top class performer in the past and hasn’t but would temper that comment by saying he is most effective, in my opinion playing in a two upfront. He has rarely had the chance to fulfil that role because of our formation.

          I do think it would be worthwhile trying but it seems unlikely as AVB has shown very little faith in Kalou.

          I’d be interested to see how Studge would get on as CF. It seems to me that whether it’s been Didier or Torres the central striker’s role has been something of a thankless task. Whether that is because of those players form, the midfield’s lack of creativity and width or something else I haven’t picked up on I couldn’t say.

          In terms of goal scoring opportunities it looks to be more advantageous to be playing out wide (Mata/Studge) or as an attacking midfielder (Rami/Lamps). Again though it’s impossible to say if that is influenced by the players form or the way the team is set-up or a combination of the two. Which is why what you’re saying is interesting.

          Play Studge in his preferred position and see if he struggles for goals (a la Torres and Drogba). If he does we can assume that the system is debilitating for the CF. If he thrives, as he has out wide, we’ll know that Torres and Didier haven’t been up to it this year.

    • Anonymous

      We will no doubt get a stream of nonsense like this exhibiting varying degrees of hysteria for the rest of the week.

      On the brighter side, the game has not been picked for live TV coverage which means events on the day should go largely unnoticed.

      Not least because it’s a 12 noon kick off meaning most of the crowd should be reasonably sober and it overlaps with live coverage of the Scousers v Mancs game which should offer enough to keep sensation seekers otherwise engaged.

      • Anonymous

        The “funniest” thing there is that those “blind cunts” from QPR made a statement that there was no racial abuse, or at least they were not aware of it. 
        Hence, why should players be involved in all this rubbish at all!!! Bloody press is creating all this controversy. 
        P.S. I still would love to watch the game though. Hopefully there will be stream over the web. 

    • Anonymous

      Dumbest thing I ever heard, so why did you even set an account.
      “Redknapp told police reason he hadn’t told his accountant about existence of Monaco account was because he thought there was no money in it” 

      • Moffat

         you gotta believe this poor old chap. i once saw him taking a nap on the touchline. why else were his eyes close?

        • Anonymous

          There were around 200K on this account, which he claims he has forgotten. This amount was probably half of his yearly income those days. 

    • Anonymous

      Well I have to say I am shocked – by the declining standards of our courts’ system.

      I noticed the start of this process between the 2 occasions when they were so desperate for “good men  [or women] and true” that I was required to do jury service.

      On the first occasion A Court Jobsworth practically pinned each individual against a wall and relieved them of mobile phones which were placed in a not very large box before entering the court.

      A mere 4 years on and they probably couldn’t find a box big enough for them all, so potential jurors were merely exhorted to ensure they were switched off completely on pain of contempt of court charges or some such.

      Now it seems journalists can not only take mobile devices into court but can text and tweet to their heart’s content during proceedings.

      Good God they’ll be admitting this is the 21st century soon, at this rate!

    • Ryan

      Interesting one that. Will be fascinating to see how those statistics are affected by his move away from the relegation battle. We could get an opportunity to see a lot of GC if JT’s upcoming court case goes against us. He’ll definitely get a longer ban than Suarez if he is found guilty. Probably 12 games I guess.

  10. Anonymous

    Have you already watched Moneyball? Try it good film on some similar topic: sport, players, managers e.t.c.

    • Ryan

      No I haven’t seen it. I’ll check it out.

      It’s difficult for any of us to speculate on what may or may not work as we never get to see the different systems, formations, combinations that the manager might experiment with in training. If he has tried PeteW’s suggested attacking line-up in training and feels that it’s not feasible for whatever reason (Studge can’t hold the ball up as effectively as required, Kalou’s crossing/distribution would leave Studge lacking service) then it’s understandable that we haven’t seen the combination in a competitive game. I’m not saying the reasons given in brackets are the reasons why. Just possible examples.

      From our point of view though it would be nice to see a striker who is generally accepted to be in good form have a go through the middle to see if they have any joy. I have often wondered this season if Aguero, for example, were at Chelsea would he have scored his 14 league goals? And the answer is that I m not sure he would. Most times I’ve seen him play he has missed a couple of good chances before scoring a more difficult one. I don’t think we’re creating sufficient chances for any CF to have scored prolifically this season. Maybe Van Persie as he has scored a hatful of half-chances.

      • Anonymous

        I am so much with you on this one, regarding the way we (our midfield) serve our strikers. For years we were spoiled by Drogs ability to out muscle  defenders. We have become so one dimensional that now it is very difficult to change it. We are pretty much like Spurs with their philosophy to pass ball to Gareth Bale hoping he will do something. This is how we played with Drog give him pass and he will do something.   

  11. bluebayou

    As a crude measure, if you take games played including substitute appearances, Drogba averages a goal just over every 2 games during his Chelsea career. The average in the last couple of seasons (injuries etc.) is more like every 3 games. In the double winning year it was 37 in 44 appearances.

    Lampard averages just under 1 goal every 3 games. It has tended to fluctuate between 1 every 2 and 1 every 3 since 2004.

    Anelka, who played more games for Chelsea than any other team by a long way, averaged a shade over 1 goal every 3.

    Sturridge is currently running at a goal between every 2 or 3 games if you take this as his first proper season.

    The oft forgotten Kalou averages a goal every 4 games.

    Malouda in the two seasons prior to this posted a goal every 3 and a half games but has only 1 now in 12 starts and 13 sub appearances.

    Ramires has come into the picture this season with a goal every 3 games and Mata is hitting 1 in just over every 4.

    So with Drogba and Lampard closer to the end than the beginning of their careers, Anelka gone, Malouda peripheral, and Kalou all but invisible, who is going to do the heavy lifting?

    As a team Chelsea have in recent seasons depended heavily on Drogba and Lampard supported by other strikers whose figures are far from shabby along with Malouda and others (Cole J and the like) chipping in for particular seasons.

    Sturridge appears capable of providing at least Anelka type figures. Can Mata produce more to replace Lampard? He has to be scoring around 20 a season while starting at least 45 games to do that. But then Lampard didn’t do that at 23, so you have to give him time. But other than Ramires no other current Chelsea player appears to have regular goal scoring as a strength.

    Go back over the last 7 or 8 years the team seemed to always have 4 or 5 players on or approaching double figures, with the odd outstanding season for an individual thrown in.

    Take out Drogba, Lampard, Malouda and Kalou with Anelka gone and we have one striker on decent numbers and two midfielders who may score enough.

    It’s obvious that there be a hole.  Down the bottom of that hole is one F. Torres. If he doesn’t climb out of there rapidly there’s will be a problem. And we still probably need a third striker. Step up Mr Lukaku? He’s still young though isn’t he?

    For this season, with Drogba and Lampard still around, combined with Sturridge, Ramires and Mata, there may be enough to get somewhere. They are currently on 69 goal pace for the League season. That fits with every year since 2000 with the exception of the annus mirabilis. The difference of course has been the number going in our onion bag. With the exception of a miserly 15 in 2004/2005 it was in the mid twenties until 2009 when letting in 32 was offset by scoring 103. Since then we’ve returned to the scoring norm but stayed leaky. This season they’re on pace to let in 45, unheard of since 6th place in 2000/2001.

    So next year is the big unknown. We need to ensure a 70 goal league season with a better defensive performance. Or score a lot more goals.

    • Ryan

      Some interesting stats there. Obviously it’s not a huge problem who scores the goals as long as they get scored. I do think that who the chances fall to is a greater concern. Second half against Spurs the two best chances to win the game fell to Rami. He’s had a good season but I’d always much prefer those chances to fall to a CF (preferably one in decent form) or Lamps, who would be the exception due to the quality of his finishing.

    • bluebayou

      Gratifying to see the club acting immediately to my post.

      From Ealing to Ghent. His mum obviously doesn’t like to be too far from a monastery.

      • Anonymous

        Most reports seem to say A Spokesman claims we’ll immediately loan him back for the rest of this season.

        Can’t say I’m as hopeful as you about our goal scoring for the rest of this season. The Drog is bound to come back from ACN knackered for weeks at least, while Lamps seems in danger of hitting a spell of minor injuries.

        Can Nando finally find some form, or are we stuffed?

  12. Ryan

    Interesting to see Willian talking up a move to Chelsea. Window closes next Tuesday. Chequebook at the ready then Roman?

    I’ve seen this morning that Lucas Moura’s agent has said that Chelsea have bid €35million for his player. I can’t believe that we would sign KDB, Moura, Willian and Hazard. Maybe 3 of the 4 as KDB would really be one for the year after next at the earliest, assuming he makes the grade out on loan. Willian and Hazard would be the ones able to come in and do a job immediately. Moura, while his talent is not in any doubt, would require time to adapt especially taking into account his age.

    Would be a little surprised if we didn’t get a move for Willian tied up. I don’t think Shakhtar would be likely to make things too difficult as I understand the chap who owns the club is a friend of RAs.

    Whether there is a reason why things have gone quiet on the Hazard front I don’t know. Possibly we have agreed to come back in June to get a deal done. This could make sense. If Lille really don’t want to sell this month there is no point souring relations by unsettling the player.

    Anyway it’s good to know that our major concerns (width and creativity) are being addressed. I have a friend who is an Arsenal supporter and I actually have a degree of sympathy for him in that year in, year out the big problems in the squad aren’t being dealt with. As a result they seem to be on a downward trajectory. Whatever your opinion of AVB it seems he will be given the funds and the time to build the squad he wants. That might be the best decision CFC has made since they appointed Jose and built Cobham.

  13. Der_Kaiser

    Do we know what this Willian chap is like?  Not seen much of him, personally.  De Bruyne seems to be making positive noises too, but with a possible loan back until next season.

    On another note, it was 15 years ago today that we beat Liverpool 4-2 in the FA Cup.  As second half comebacks go, doubt we’ll ever see many better…

  14. Ryan

    More transfer news… I’ve just read that Jose Bosingwa has been offered to PSG! Not sure if this is true. Apparently he is out of contract this summer and looks to be on the way out either then or now.

    • Anonymous

      somehow I am not crying about it. He can re unite with Carlo, particularly if his contract expires.  

      • Ryan

        You and me both. I would be a little concerned about squad depth if he went in this window but if we have no intention of renewing his contract it would be good to recoup something for him.

        Whether Carlo would want him though I m not sure. He wasn’t his first choice at RB when he managed us and I don’t know if that’s because he saw Branners as exceptional in the position (he was in the PL team of the year at RB when we won the double to be fair) or because he didn’t rate Bosingwa.

        I suspect based on some of his performances this year that we’ll have more luck giving him away in the summer than selling him now. I think he is a pretty high earner. Maybe £80-90k a week. So could be an opportunity to cut the wage bill AND improve the squad which is the name of the game with the FFP rules coming into play. Not sure how City will manage that. They’re talking up letting Tevez rot in the reserves rather than be pushed into selling him on the cheap which they can afford to do in real terms but FFP will be an issue if Adebayor, Tevez and Bridge aren’t sold. They must be costing them £2million a month between them. One in Argentina, one at Spurs and one in the reserves! Their wage bill is looking out of control.

  15. Anonymous

    De Bruyne seems to be done deal according to papers of course.

    “Genk chief executive Dirk Degraen flew to London earlier this week to hold talks with Chelsea officials with a view to completing a deal for the 20-year-old before the January transfer window closes next week.

    A spokesman for the Belgium club confirmed on Wednesday morning: “The expectation is that [the transfer of De Bruyne] will be finished this week.””

    • Anonymous

      Perhaps Rosie pocketed the fee for ‘Arry’s Current Bun column too?

      Going back to our own transfer dealings, it had escaped me entirely that Bosingwa was in the last year of his contract. Are there any others, apart from The Drog, in a similar position?

      • Ryan

        Kalou, Hilario, Anelka (had he not gone to China), Drogba and Bosingwa. Alex as well maybe but he’ll be gone before the end of the month anyway I suppose.

        Not sure if there are any others. No first team players anyway.

    • Anonymous

      The technology thought for some seconds there, threw a wobbly and decided to post my entry twice.

      I don’t think it was that good really, so I’ve overwritten the 2nd one.

        • Ryan

          Yeah he really is trying every trick in the book. Or he rather he would be if could actually read. Anyway it must have been the book titled “excuses that won’t wash when accused of tax evasion”. I don’t know how much he’s paying his QC but if he can’t come up with a better argument than “I forgot about that couple of hundred grand in the bank account which I had to get on a plane to open” and “I’m educationally subnormal” I would suggest either his QC is singularly inept (extremely unlikely), his QC is a secret Arsenal supporter or ‘Arry is bang to rights!

          Also a slight contradiction in his evidence where he claims not to have been paid by the Sun for writing his weekly column for 18 months and then subsequently claims to be almost totally incapable of writing. Harry did you ever think they haven’t paid you because someone else writes the columns for you mate?

          While I’m obviously taking the piss a bit, to be fair to Redknapp’s representation most of the more ridiculous things that have been reported were said to an earlier investigation. So he could be on a (very well paid) hiding to nothing here.

  16. musumba

    too  many mediocre signings and a stubborn manager(perceived as the new jose ) ,we might as well sign formica(the generic kaka) after signing the generic drogba(lukaku)& luiz(carvalho)…..

    • Ryan

      Would you say KDB or Moura would be ready for the first team? I’m glad we’re looking at this kind of young talent but have heard a lot of doubts expressed about either player’s ability or likelihood to make an impact either this year or next.

      • SweetDairyAir

        This other article compares KDB to Bale before he became the amazing player he is now. He needs bulking up but has the pace and skill to make it within a year or two apparently. If we loan him back, it still leaves us a bit wanting until the summer.

        The way things are going, AVB probably wants to get rid of Kalou, Malouda and Drogba in the summer (or sooner), leaving us with a very bare attacking line. Even if we get KDB, there will be more transfers and I feel someone like Moura in the summer will be chucked in anyway, whether he is totally ready or not. Mata isn’t exactly the muscly type. If you have enough skill and technique, the bulk can come with time and these type of players (if of high enough quality) should be fine. AVB will also probably try to get a player in the mould of Modric as Lampard’s powers continue to wane. (Hopefully he’ll solve the right back problem too).

        We should get into the top four (I think we’ll make third, pushing hard for second actually), and with the signings made in January and the summer coming up, next season should be fun. But whilst we still have most of the same players, our football is probably going to be fairly slow and plodding until then. Unless Abramovich goes crazy in the transfer market in the next couple of days of course.

  17. SweetDairyAir

    Here’s a long but very interesting interview with AVB. It shows his approach to the game and maybe how things are run behind the scenes, as well as what type of football we might get in the future.

    And something funny to round off the week before worrying about the FA Cup tie:

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