Monday, 29 October 2012

Chelsea 2 Surrey 3

Ferguson commented after the game that Manchester United have never had the rub of the green when it came to refereeing decisions at Stamford Bridge. Throughout the many times where we have played his side I cannot really remember ever leaving a match that Chelsea has won against them and thought, "wow, we were lucky that the referee helped our cause today". On the journey back to their London suburbs, Manchester United fans must surely be honest and say that they were extremely lucky to take all three points yesterday. At the end of the season, if Manchester United win the league two points ahead of Chelsea then this will be the match that I will remember bitterly for the rest of my Chelsea supporting career.

We started pretty woefully and for the first half of the first half resembled a team that was in a different league from the visitors. There was not one single short on goal from us. Their lead was deserved as more woeful defending allowed them to have so much space that on some occasions it felt like they had more of their players in our half than our own! The defending for the first goal... normally, we have moans that central defenders are not close enough to each other horizontally... but on this occasion Luiz was nearer the half-way line than his own penalty box when the visitors began their attacking move (and then he ended up scoring for them!). We missed the Englishness of John Terry's defending.

The feeling before the game was one of dread. We have a fantastic attacking line-up but a weak defence even with a defensive midfielder in Mikel trying to help. We seemed outnumbered on the flanks in the opening stages and there was simply not enough cover to counter their attacks. Seeing Rooney and Van Persie facing us did not fill me with confidence and pre-match there was little atmosphere in the stadium. That all changed when we finally woke up after 25 minutes and played some excellent attacking football. Mata brought us back into the game with a brilliant free-kick and the momentum remained with us up until the first red card. Ramires' mandate seemed to be to mark Rooney and he kept him quiet. I was overjoyed when we equalised and also to see him score - with a header!

It is rare that a match brings up such puerile emotions in me these days but I must admit that when we brought the game back to 2-2 all I could do was run down the gangway and stick two fingers up at the nonchalant away fans who see no hypocrisy singing about our racist centre back when their very own gets away with calling Ashley Cole a "choc-ice".

There were no real complaints about Ivanovic's red but then the main decision that brought so much ire to the fans. The fact is that Torres was fouled. Whether he embellished it or not is irrelevant. It is all very well for their manager to claim that he would have been through on goal had he not fallen over (though he would not have been as there was a covering defender ahead of him) but at the time we were down to ten men. Ferguson should know that a free kick would have been welcome in such circumstances. His own goalkeeper was already wasting time twenty minutes into the game when his side were winning by two goals to nil. Different scores and situations in a football match lead to different mentalities.

Chelsea played fantastically well even when down to nine men and I must admit that even having not seen a replay it seemed obvious to me that their winner was offside. To lose the game in such a manner was sickening and in the final ten minutes it almost felt like Clattenburg was awarding our side free-kicks for 50/50 challenges in neutral areas to make up for earlier mistakes. If he really did use foul and abusive language towards our players then he should be suspended... but watch the media now start discussing hypocrisy in a game where players go unpunished for doing the same. It was all Chelsea's fault probably!

We are still top of the league and the side should take a lot of heart from the hard work they put in. Our attacking midfield looks more exciting by the week and expect more games like this throughout the season. Enjoy this year if your heart can take it. It will not be a smooth ride but finally it feels like the passion is back in the stands and there is more adventure on the pitch - something that has been missing for a while. If you are a Chelsea player or a fan then you can place your hand on your heart and honestly say that the match was a moral victory for our football club.

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