RIDICULOUSLY, I was really frustrated and annoyed as I left Stamford Bridge last Sunday following our4-0 win over Blackpool. After watching as near perfect a first half as you can get, I was salivating at the thought of the second half – daring to hope that we may actually deliver the double figures that we had been threatening for some time.
And I know the game was already won, and that we have a game this evening, and that we had played midweek in Europe, and that I am being a right spoilt child but that second half was painful.
I can understand (but not like) easing off for the final 15 minutes if you are way ahead, but easing off for the entire second half? Is that fair on the supporters? Personally I don’t think so. It was as if Chelsea were playing a footballing version of Russian roulette – how little effort could they put in without conceding a goal. A dangerous strategy 4-0 up or not – especially with Clattenburg’s evident sympathetic refereeing for Blackpool.
All that said, you can’t help but be blown away by the start we have had to the season – five games, five wins, 21 goals for and one against (yes, that rankles too). Some will say that we were expected to win those games, and that may be true, but we were expected to beat Wigan last season and didn’t. You can only beat what’s put in front of you and we have done that thus far – with bells on. As an aside perhaps Blackpool would have given us more of a game had they not been wearing the biggest shorts in the world. Were they some sort of Stanley Mathews tribute?
All I have heard all week is that Manchester City will be our “first real test” this season. Every game is a test, the fact that we have won all our league games convincingly so far does not negate that fact.
Manchester City beat us twice last season not because they were a better team than us, they were better than us on the day. We were complacent, lazy and sloppy. There was also a lot of media pressure for the home game (Terry-gate) which looked as if it had an effect. The way I see it is that they edge it on speed, whereas we edge it on power; they have a few individuals of real quality – we have more than a few, as well as an established settled team and plenty of experience. Ancelotti’s team selection will be interesting on this one, especially as he will probably have Lampard and Terry back from injury.
It would be wrong of me not to mention Wenger this week? Three times in their first four games Arsenal have had the opposition reduced to ten men – Wenger sees this as proof of over-physical players targeting his team to hurt them. Actually all it proves is that his constant whining to a simpering and overly-sympathetic press is working. Arsenal fans will point you to the fact that they have had an inordinate amount of broken legs, but Wenger also favours a certain type of player: quick, gangly, young and fragile.
The irony then of seeing Arsenal reduced to ten was pretty funny, although not as side-splitting as Wenger’s face when Sunderland’s scored their injury time equaliser nor Wenger’s man-handling of the fourth official. I wonder if he’ll face a disciplinary for that? I doubt it. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the media proclaim that it is only right that Arsenal do play against 10 men so that their wonderful, beautiful, sublime football be allowed to flourish so that we can all sit back in awe and rapture at the sheer magic of it all. Give it time and the FA will invent the Tippy-Tap Trophy just so Arsenal can win something this decade.
Tonight we will see a Chelsea side sprinkled generously with the kind of young talent that we are not supposed to have. I am really excited to see how they fare because, although they are beginning to get a fair bit of first team experience, they are usually brought on when the game is won and the team are trying to conserve energy.
With any luck, they will not only do themselves some justice, but play themselves into a position of being serious contenders for a starting place rather than a “see the game out” place.
It’s all very well seeing these kids play in the Carling Cup and tail end of matches but if we are truly going to be self sufficient we need to integrate these players and make them the basis of future Chelsea teams.
Lots of clubs play youngsters in less important games, and get little deserved credit for this – we need to go that step further. The next three years will see us go through a transition period and these youngsters could make or break the team so we need to integrate them as soon as possible – it seems to be a process that all at Chelsea are on board with including the supporters and done right could cement our position as one of the top clubs in this country certainly and the world, possibly, for years to come – a dynasty no less – doesn’t that sound good.
Come on Chelsea!