Monday, 16 January 2012

Three Unconvincing Points

Saturday was a busy day for events. First the Chelsea vs Sunderland game with my old man and then a visit to the West End with the wife to watch The Nutcracker. One of these spectacles involved a mysterious man entering a household temporarily bringing doll-like figures to life. A broken toy comes alive. This is followed by a dream-like sequence of events which seem rather unreal and end rather ambiguously with noone really knowing the future outcome of events. The other event was a Tchaikovsky opera which was mesmerising in its intricacy.

It was one of those days at Stamford Bridge where the day was more enjoyable than the game itself. For the first five minutes of the match it felt as if we were witnessing a non-league match with Chelsea passing atrociously. Every time Sunderland had the ball in our half we appeared vulnerable.

We scored against the run of play with the unlucky Torres missing out on scoring one of the goals of the season but with the ever-dependable Lampard following up.

When I watch Chelsea these days it seems as if we have one goalkeeper and ten central midfielders on the pitch. There is just not enough width. The structure of the team means that we have to play very tight – and we excel at that – but create few clearcut chances. For all of Torres’ endeavour he is being forced to drop deep and attack – that should be the work of a midfielder and not a lone striker. It is surprising that he is not given the chance to shoot from direct free-kicks either.

Ramires and Romeu still stand out as our best players. Mata is skilful but slow... Meireles does little to stir the blood and Luiz still looks a liability in defence. Will Cahill replace him or is he supposed to be John Terry's long-term successor? It is all a tad confusing.

Sunderland had three easy opportunities to equalise and were quite unfortunate not to do so. The old adage of good teams being able to take their chances applies in this case and Sunderland simply lack the quality up front despite looking dangerous.

The result of Chelsea’s mediocre performance on the pitch has lead to stagnation on the terraces. Not even the presence of Martin O’Neill could muster the faithful to even have one rousing rendition of, “There’s only one Erland Johnsen”. It is even worse when one starts to think that Sunderland’s manager could have carried out a better job at our club than AVB!

Nevertheless we are still in the hunt for a top three place, a run in the FA Cup and are within an earshot of European glory if we avoid Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions’ League.

What I love about being a Chelsea fan is that we are realists. We do not have myopic views like Liverpool fans who think they are owed a trophy every season; neither do we try to kid ourselves that the media has a soft spot for our beloved club. The coverage of both Terry Henry and Tottenham has been sickeningly posterior-licking and yet again seems to demonstrate the rampant favouritism awarded to rivals who always seem to have the rub of the green with the media even when they are on terrible runs. Who can forget that the only reason Arsenal are underperforming is because they have so many youngsters on their books? It was joyful to see Henry offering to fight a supporter who was abusing him at the end of the Swansea match and threatening to, “kick your f*cking head in”. It was with an Arsenal fan too!

Overall the most important thing for now is for Chelsea to grind out results. If we can get a little run of wins going then we can stop looking over our shoulder and hopefully challenge our peers who on paper I see as not that much superior to ourselves. Norwich and Swansea could be tricky aways but if we could end up with six points from sides who have given many of our rivals a run for their money then we could easily start building momentum as it feels the top three are stuttering.

Come on Chelsea!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Time to admit it - I know nothing about football!

What a difference a month makes. Having been so positive in mid-December now yet again I have doubts about our team and manager.

It is my fault really. With the in-laws over for Christmas I took them to two home Chelsea matches. They were Stamford Bridge virgins and did not pay the sacrifice I was hoping for with Fulham and then Aston Villa taking points off us. The jinx was complete when I took them to Twickenham to back my local rugby union side, Harlequins and saw them lose their only game in the Premiership so far.

It is tough to really analyse where we are going wrong. The players are just as culpable as the manager but then I keep reminding myself that I do believe we have a strong squad so where exactly have we gone wrong?

There is little more that I can add. The fans themselves seem to accept that we are not the force we once were with many simply resigned to the fact with a shrug of their shoulders after the defeat to Villa. Oh, for the club to be in the position it was six or seven years ago... and how tough it is to see a side like Tottenham above us in the league.