Monday, 14 December 2009

Carlo Ancelotti uses the second of his nine lives

Not a woeful performance by any means but let's pray Ancelotti learns quickly from his mistakes.
He needs to take some serious criticism for recent team selection: playing a weak team in the League Cup (it may be a blessing in disguise to be knocked out but why aren't we fighting for every trophy?) and messing about with starting line-up from the side that annihilated Arsenal.
Not sure quite why Mikel gets so much flak from the stands compared to Lampard and Cole who have put in some weak performances recently, but how we missed Essien who strangely was picked to play in a dead rubber against Apoel Nicosia. For games like our last one in the Champions' League Carlo needs to take a leaf out of the book of Arsene Wenger - if you lose a game playing mainly youth then just put it down to a lack of experience... if they win then wax lyrical about how well your academy is and wait for the media to get sucked into this false footballing philosophy that has yielded the Gunners zero trophies in five years. Instead a key player in our squad was missing against Everton.
Carlo has had a bit of luck where it has mattered this season - the win against Manchester United was fortuitous (although United were lucky to finish with all their players on the pitch) and the fact they lost to Villa for the first time since the 1980s must surely provide some optimism that finally our luck will turn this season. Those balls that never crossed the line, the many penalties not given as well as sendings off that were later rescinded must surely play on the traditionally pessimistic Chelsea fan's mind as we approach the halfway point of the season.
Conversely the game against Everton was filled with unfortunate incidents - Cech will not score an own goal like that again this season and nor will we see such a fluke as Everton's third goal... nevertheless, again we look vulnerable against set pieces; Moyes' side looked dangerous every time they attacked and resembled that side that managed to finish fourth in the league only a few seasons ago. What a difference a couple of games makes for them after their away win in the Europa League and their comeback against those underachievers from North London.
Every team will go through a rocky patch such as ours but the knock-on effect from the Blackburn defeat certainly seems to have dented some of that invincibility that permeated throughout the team at the Emirates only two weeks ago.
Now onto Avram Grant and Portsmouth, a man who I detest for being instrumental in the removal of our greatest manager but also a man who fluked his way to two major finals with a world-class side... and lost. I don't really want Portsmouth to go down as it is such an easy away trip - less than two hours from Clapham Junction - but with Grant in charge I hope they get trounced this week and we restore some confidence in a side which theoretically has an easier run during the Christmas and New Year period than its peers.

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