A FAMOUS WIN
There is something really satisfying about Chelsea’s unusual, though not unexpected, victory at Anne’s Field on Sunday. It bears comparison with the 4-1 demolition of the hosts in 2005. On that occasion, the Blues emphatically avenged the 1-0 ‘ghost goal’ aberration. This time around, our team silenced the Liverfools and their media apologists who had prematurely talked up their league success.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more twists and turns before the farce that is the current Premiership campaign finally staggers over the finishing line. Can we safely say that Manchester Mercenaries will take maximum points from their tricky trip to Everton on Saturday? Can we assume that in-form Crystal Palace will be a pushover for Liverpoo next Monday? Of course, as Mourinho has stated, it would be delusional to think that Chelsea will win the league, and bloody infuriating when we fall narrowly short.
However, if we can roll Norwich City over on Saturday, we will at least take the proceedings to the last day of the season, thereby forcing our two rivals to win their remaining matches. At the very least, Chelsea must take maximum points from our last two matches against two doomed teams and make our two northern friends sweat for their imminent Premiership glory. Personally, I hope that Manchester City triumph at the expense of Liverpoo.
The latter have been way too mouthy and starry-eyed about the league triumph which the media had all but handed them after their misleading and fortunate win at home to Manchester Wannabes earlier in April. Why was it fortunate? Well, Yaya Toure was forced off early and Kompany made an uncharacteristic error which yielded the winner. Furthermore, Liverpoor have won a lot of matches by the odd goal recently. Sooner or later, this run of wins by a narrow margin gets halted.
The Reds have also had their fair share of penalties too, in recent months. Now, there’s no denying that Liverpoo in full flow have been a sight to behold, and yes we Blues devotees can only look on with envy at their flair and pace. However, as Sunday has proved, not only do Chelsea have much to learn from Liverpool’s attacking abilities, but Liverpoo [and frankly the rest of Europe] can learn much from Chelsea’s phenomenal defensive talents. Indeed, it is a testimony to the sheer spirit of the west London club that we can draft in our reserve goalkeeper and hand a first Premiership start to a rookie defender and still emerge unscathed from an arena where others have foolishly capitulated all too easily. If ever arrogant Wenger should study the effectiveness of Chelsea and modify his own pretentious footballing philosophy, it is from our recent escapades in Madrid and Shamfield, where we collected two clean sheets against the leaders of the Premiership and La Liga.
Of course, Brendan Rodgers has unsportingly sneered about the parking of two buses. Blimey, this bus-parking lark is becoming a bore and getting on my increasingly frail nerves. Regrettably, Jose introduced the terminology into our beloved game back at the start of his first season. Now, every boring sod in the northern hemisphere cries about parked buses. Oh give me a break. Right, for the benefit of the numerous slow learners out there, permit me to explain the following.
First of all, I believe that the first time that JM coined the term was in response to a Tottensham team that played for and obtained a 0-0 at the Bridge in 2004. In my opinion, any team is completely entitled to come away from home and put lots of players behind the ball and stoutly resist the attacking ambitions of the hosts. Now if the away team rarely lands a punch but merely absorbs their punishment and leaves with a share of the spoils, well good for them. This applies to any team that visits the Bridge or when Chelsea have gone elsewhere and built a wall. [Oh why not use the word wall, instead of flaming buses? Yawn, bloody yawn.] I mean, although Jose scorned West Ham for their nineteenth-century football antics back in January, their bloody-minded defending was merely giving his team a dose of their own medicine. Whether big Sam’s troops can be equally resistant against Manchester Mercenaries remains to be seen. Whether Pulis’s people are as keen to turn over Liverpoo as they were at stopping Chelsea, also remains to be seen. However, I digress.
Any team that goes to Ann’s Field and mugs the hosts to the tune of two goals to nil has demonstrated the value of defending very well, answering all the questions that the probing home team have thrown at them, and then countering with two goals [and being denied a penalty too, surprise surprise]. This is the essence of professional football [and rugby too]. The winner will always be the competitor who defends best and converts their own chances. This has always been the story of soccer and it will never change. Now admittedly, there are those idealists, like the begrudgingly admirable Keegan at Newcastle and Ferguson at ManUre who appeared to hold to the theory that conceding goals was no big deal, if you can trust your own attacking instincts and score at least one more than the opposition. Such a good attitude has at times worked for both managers. However, Mourinho’s instincts are more cautious. Like George Graham before him, he takes the view that nullifying the opposition’s opportunities to score takes
the pressure off the team to create lots of chances.
Instead, the ability to stifle an opposition means that only about two goals will be required to win a match. Where a team is more cavalier, they often need about four goals to ensure victory, because of their own contempt for the art of defending. Those fools who think that football is all about entertainment have no appreciation of the perils and pressures of being a manager nowadays. Football is dominated by results-driven, impatient, trigger-happy owners. In such circumstances, winning is the priority. Style is but a bonus. Mind you, it is hard to win without playing well. I agree with Jose that Chelsea deserved to win and that their Anfield exploits were “beautiful.” It wasn’t so long ago that Liverpoo clung on doggedly to a 1-0 Champions League win at Shamfield in 2005. What comes round, goes round.
[The author can be stalked at http://chelsea.thefootballnetwork.net]
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