Leicester City 1 Chelsea 2 (Finally)
FA Cup Quarter Final
Sunday 18th March 2018 16:30
In the News: UEFA are morons. This is arguably not news. They've charged Besiktas with insufficient organisation because a ginger cat ran on the pitch during the Bayern game. My kitten Bertie gets everywhere. He defies physics, so how do UEFA propose that Besiktas entirely cat proof their stadium? A 12ft concrete wall with electric barbed wire? Presumably they should have foreseen this invasion and taken these steps and this is why they have been fined? Or they should have at the very least employed a cat catcher to prowl the premises with a pack of f*cking dreamies? Lofty sanctions indeed must be in store then for Farcalona, the biggest frauds in football, for arming their stewards with batons, letting them beat people with said batons, charging crowds, knocking down and trampling women and children, setting dogs on female fans, and building a death trap of a bridge to get supporters in and out of the ground. To name a few of their transgressions from Wednesday night before you even take into account that half their team are scumbags. More than a football club my a*se. "Worse than anything I ever saw at PSG" is the verdict of eyewitnesses that I trust who were in the middle of this unacceptable carnage this week.
I've got to go back to Chequebook Pulis. I live for press conferences when he's like this. Twelve minutes of madness. Described by one of the Red Swarm as: "Self-pitying claptrap that exposed his delusions in all their towering majesty." Fair. I was just going to go with "Tosser." Since then he's declared that Matic is suddenly God, because in his crazy world he's got to big up one of his big money signings. The psychology of his mind games is so transparent it's actually sad. Pogba is sh*t, and Sanchez, before yesterday, had already given the ball away about 500 times since he signed for them, more than 30 of them against Newport County. So not even CP is mad enough to give those two bellends and their atrocious hair dos any credit. Instead he's invented a run of form in his head for Nemanja. "See, guys, I'm not a transfer market failure." As you were, you lunatic. Also, he's given up on personal grooming which is always a sure sign that Chequebook Pulis is on one of his downward spirals. He's starting to resemble Doc Brown, and heaven knows he looked pretty bonkers when he was fleeing around the Twin Pines Mall car park in a boiler suit trying to escape Libyans who wanted their plutonium back.
Sticking with nonsense coming out of managers. Conte takes another dig about the transfer window. Get over yourself already. We like you. The players like you. Nobody wants you sacked. I just want you to act like the top end manager you're supposed to be. I am sick to the back teeth now of the constant negativity. Didn't get the players he wanted, doesn't rate the FA Cup, doesn't know if we can finish top four. No amount of moaning is going to reverse the transfer window. We all know you weren't happy with it. We're not stupid, we can see you've got a point. But. It is the job of the man in charge of the dugout to get his players going. Even if you don't believe it yourself you've got to tout positivity, not pave the way for non-culpability every week in the event of a defeat. If you don't act like you're convinced none of them will be. I'm afraid after he said that he'd effectively taken 1-0 at City instead of trying to get back into it and losing by more because he didn't want the players to get upset, he's got some way to go before he gets back into my good books. Blue Squirrel ran into him before the Palace game and he looked like he'd slept under a bridge.
And Mark Hughes has promised to get to the bottom of what the problem is with all of Southampton's players. I'm more interested in getting to the bottom of how that jackass has managed to get another job in football when is clearly a terrible manager.
The Others: United are through, not very convincingly, as are Spu*rs who have played basically nobody and Southampton have put Wigan out. Jesus wept, they're calling it a statement of intent from Hughes. It's not like they've just sunk Real Madrid. Just our game then to settle semi-final line up.
Them: I was largely too cold to care. Wes Morgan, God help our forwards if they couldn't outrun that donkey. That diving rat Vardy and a few others. I could see a peroxide abomination on the pitch so Mahrez must have been out there.
Us: Very few days off. Good. If I've got to stand out in this cold so should everybody else. Bakayoko is back. Took adequate precautions against inevitable nappy sh*t tsunami the second he misplaced a pass.
They still insist on showing the highlights of every match in the title winning season while plagiarising the theme music from the Da Vinci Code. It's getting tedious now. Fifteen years on.
A sea of blue and white bin-liners tied to flag poles before kick-off in the home end, large away showing for the cup tie that had both teams poised as little as 90 minutes away from Wembley. Typically intricate diamond and triangle pattern on the pitch that they love obsessing over at the King Power. If you look really closely it's a map for the thick likes of Vardy to show him the way to the goal.
I don't recall us touching the ball in the first minute. But Morata hadn't fallen over either. I applaud Eden, Dave, Christensen and Alonso for not wearing gloves. Cesc too when he came on. Real men. For that flurry of possession though, all Leicester got was one sh*t shot off before we started to participate.
A great ball from Alonso set Eden off on our first run, and by the end of a pacy first ten minutes we'd had the better of it, but not fashioned any real chances. A lucky deflection almost cost us at the back, but it was well blocked by Christensen and from the subsequent corner the Leicester header was over.
You should know that I can't fit all of Craig Pawson's refereeing transgressions into a couple of lines, so I'm just going to have to keep referring back to the Frank Spencer of the referring world. From now on, "doing a Pawson" is where a referee stands dumbly in the middle of the pitch not knowing what is going on before quite obviously guessing which way to call a decision. And gets it wrong. He is especially bad at masking this, and he started by giving random corners to the home side when they'd knocked the ball out themselves. Not satisfied with this level of ineptitude, he awarded them a free kick for accidentally getting sat on when the Leicester player was already on the floor nowhere near the ball. And by watching three players foul Moses at once and waving play on. I should add that his f*ckwittery didn't change the result today, but I'd be remiss if I didn't take the chronic p*ss out of him for stealing a living for my own enjoyment.
Morata, who was much better today made a promising run into the box but it was successfully blocked. Probably by Wes Morgan's hapless fat a*se. The home side managed a long range shot that looked half threatening but it was saved by Big Willy. There wasn't exactly a whole lot going on the way if goal scoring opportunities, but my feet were going numb, and I was suppressing the urge to throttle anti-Morata nappy sh*tters nearby by counting down the 17 minutes until I could eat my Cadbury's Picnic. As much of the play was hashed out in the middle of the field, we had probably too long a conversation about how Zappacosta looks like a cross between Dick Dastardly and the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Don't get me wrong, this was not a boring game. But alas I am a millennial with a crippled attention span. It was competitive, though not exciting at this stage and there was lots to be positive about. Christensen had played really well, As had Kante, who basically ran around doing a share of everyone else's work as well as his own as usual. And here's a stat for you: Morata fell over I think six times, four were definitely fouls, one more might have been. The fact that only two were given is down to Craig Pawson being a bellend. This is a ratio I can live with. We genuinely looked like a football team attempting to create something, and not, as the case was at City, like eleven baffled blokes who only met each other five minutes before kick off. So although it was still goalless as we approached half time, this was not depressing. Just colder than watching Leo DiCaprio freezing in the water while Kate Winslet hogged the whole bit of driftwood to herself.
We survived Big Willy's daily brain fart on 36 minutes. It was a doozie, him bombing out towards the touch line and trusting Bakayoko to get it clear while he ran back to his goal. I'm not digging him out today. Just like Morata reminds us all of Drogba early on, Bakayoko is to me what Ramires was in his first season. Some players take longer than others. He's a good player. According to Blue Squirrel Conte battled strong opposition at the club to get him during the process of sealing the deal last summer. Write this term off, get him through a proper preseason, uninjured, and trust that he will get better as Rami did. God knows he came good in the end, and he was excruciating to watch at first. If not then we can make him Roman's official food taster and I'll say no more about it.
Anyway, on the pitch it looked like being level at the break until a perfect pass from Little Willy found Morata, who slotted it past Mr Potato Head (Schmeichel) There was a split second when the Spaniard was running on goal and we were behind and directly in line with him and I thought he was going to smack it over the bar, but he placed it like the pro we know he is, but haven't seen for a while. We were in front at half time. He'd not been amazing, but today's overall display and a goal was a significant step back in the right direction.
Bakayoko had picked up a booking in the first half, because Pawson is an inconsistent f*ckwit, and he was replaced be Cesc before play restarted. Straight away Willian managed to wriggle forward and pass the ball across the box, but nobody was there to get on the end of it. Shame. Morata followed this up with another strong run, but we failed to double our lead.
This is why Craig Pawson sucks as an official. Willian hacked down. Doesn't give foul. Looks like he considered it at length. Not a head injury. Stops play anyway. It either is a foul, or it's not and you play on. You don't faff around in between the two decisions because you feel bad. This is why he's a complete disaster in charge of VAR and should never be allowed such technology again. He's confused enough with the job he's got now, never mind adding to it. Frankly I'd be amazed if it transpires that he laces his own boots up.
Leicester were by no means out of it, and the tie wasn't over yet. The game got feisty quickly, which is what happens when you've got a lunatic in charge. Leicester were bombing forward in search of an equaliser. A relatively comfortable save from Big Willy on 55 minutes and then we almost hit the jackpot twice in one hit, Morata narrowly missed smashing it in and getting Mr Potato Head, nasty sh*t that is, in the chops at the same time. Leicester made their first change just after the hour mark, and it paid off, just about, on 76 minutes. Three times the ball was blocked, and saved once, and still Big Willy nearly kept it out. It would be that little cheating rat Vardy there to steal a goal. This is entirely Gary's fault. Not Cahill. Gary in front of us. Fifteen seconds before it happened he said: "You just know they're going to get an equaliser and then we'll have to stand here in this freezing cold for another half an hour." Damn you Gary. Damn you. We had the ball hit the woodwork five minutes later, thanks to Morata again, but he was judged offside by Dobby the House Elf, who seems to been moonlighting as a bad official who has about as much grip on the offside rule generally as my mum.
We now had a proper cup tie, open play with both sides looking for a winner for the last ten minutes. Pawson almost managed to orchestrate a punch up. He also did nothing when Maguire attempt to sever one of our players' legs, then redeemed himself when he bizarrely plucked some common sense from the ether to bring a free kick back, and then he booked Moses for a minor transgression. Sigh. Morata nearly saved us from extra time, but Mr Potato Head saved it and after a stellar amount of time-wasting a paltry three minutes were added on before we were forced into extra time.
Half an hour more in -7. No more chocolate for sustenance.
Couldn't bend knees now. Did our best to get rid of nearby nappy sh*tters.
"Well that's it then, replay!" They said.
We all nodded non committal way and prayed for 30 minutes of football without Morata getting mugged off in our ears.
It nearly worked. And I apologise to the guy that took the flak when they figured it out and came back and we all abandoned him to his fate.
Little Willy soon made way for Pesto. (I'm too cold to battle autospell) Pretty much the whole first half of extra time consisted of trying to resume circulation in our legs and me trying to take notes with frozen fingers. Starting to get jealous of DiCaprio's body temperature at the end of the film now. Cahill for Christensen and pampers throughout the stand started filling. You knew that whatever happened, it was going to be Gary's fault.
Arsenalification was resumed (Passing ball around edge of box and not doing anything with it) until out of nowhere the smallest bloke on the pitch scored with a header.
They must have thought we were morons when Kante put another high ball in towards a player who only comes up to Morata's armpit. But Pesto out-foxed (get it?) Albrighton, who had survived what he made out to be brush with death when he ran the clock down earlier, Chilwell (I know, who?) and Mr Potato Head. Have that. Suckers.
We got Giroud, wearing f*cking leggings, for Morata to see the game out and we clung on despite some Keystone Cops defending (thanks Gary) and Leicester throwing the kitchen sink at us as extra time ran out. Ironic when they booed about the lack of injury time (didn't care previously when they were wasting it) and the referee (who was generally awful but somehow managed not to impact what was always the right result).
So: The cold weather has produced a massive spot on my forehead. I'm going to name it Jose, because like him it's full of sh*t. But my knees bend again. Gary & Co have missed their train. Puel reckons they deserved a different result. I reckon he's an idiot, and that he looks like a dodgy second hand car dealer. Leicester were by no means awful, they put up a good fight, and we never looked like running away with it, but the one goal they did score was luckily bundled over and other than that they looked pretty toothless. Vardy wasn't even ever really in a position to do his usual run and dive scam on the ref. He makes Alvaro look like a tower of strength when he leaves a leg dangly and flings himself giant chin-first to the ground.
A semi-final awaits us against Southampton. So you'd have to say a fair chance for some of our players to get to another final and atone for not turning up to the last one. Also, Sp*rs fans are moaning that the draw was a fix. Good. It makes me happy when they're unhappy. But nobody that has the Diving Little Sh*tbag on their team is allowed to make judgments re cheating about anything. Ever.
International Break Time! Which means I'd rather pluck out my eyelashes one by one than watch the football on offer. I'm going to fulfil my nine year old self's Free Willy inspired dream of going Orca watching. Later, peasants.
*Picture of Pesto getting the better of Mr Potato Head comes from Chelsea's Official Website
UEFAlona 3 (4) Chelsea 0 (1)
Champions League Round of 16
Wednesday 14th March 2018 19:45
In the News: Eden Hazard criticised for criticising Conte’s tactics after City. This includes not very subtle hints about the consequences from Conte himself. Everyone else had a go, and they didn’t have to fanny about up front alone, blindly waiting for a miracle to happen at City so I don’t see why Eden should be denied an opinion. Meanwhile our manager is apparently contemplating a move to Paris, to manage a club with limitless resources in one of the most non-competitive leagues on the continent. Would be a sadly easy way out for a manager who’d be selling himself way short.
If you weren’t convinced that Oscar was a gibbering lunatic before he emigrated to China, here’s proof. It seems that two million odd a year in the real world of football just didn’t cut it: “I don’t care if I go to the World Cup or no, I’m only criticised for coming to China. I personally think of my family and my future. I don’t want to get poor when I am old and live on memories that I played at the World Cup.” Dick. Could just be front though, you couldn’t blame him for not wanting any part of it after last time, when Germany did to him what The Mountain did to Oberyn Martel in the semi-final and he ended up sobbing like a baby with more snot and dribble coming out of his face than Harry f*cking Kane.
There must be want of real news for the Red Swarm to report if they are this obsessed by Carragher and Spitgate. You have to have been dragged up by wolves for that to go through your mind as a possible response to any kind of adversity. Then again the dad surely should have been watching the road with his kid in the car instead of screaming out of the window. What I found funniest was Gary Lineker attempting to mock the twat. If you’ve ever shat your pants in front of a worldwide audience you should probably just abstain from comment about such indiscretions. Not to mention the crisp adverts are pretty shameful too.
The Goons have broken Mertesacker, who says he’s finished in football and quitting. Bellerin leaving Arsenal this summer too apparently. Who cares, I know. Arsenal willing to accept £50 million. I’m glad to hear that Chelsea aren’t letting such nonsensical opportunities pass them by either. Apparently we’ve told Dortmund we’ll want just the £53m for Michy. I’m willing to accept £25 million for the empty hula hoop bag with a snotty tissue stuffed inside sitting next to me as I type this. Call my agent.
Is there anything more amusing than the sight of West Ham players wrestling their own fans to the ground? I think not. That minority of real scum that lurk in the Hammers’ wake will always make them one of the most repulsive clubs in the country. I recently found out that my mum’s cousin’s son is a West Ham fan. Not a match-goer, but still. I’ve never felt such shame. Apparently the security people at the Olympic Stadium, who had proved to be about as inspiring in that role as Steve Bruce fronting for WeightWatchers, won’t be sacked because they signed a 30 year deal. Brilliant management. And I’m sure the baying mob will be placated by all the pictures in today’s press of the team lounging about on the beach in Miami.
Granville and Fake Klopp have come up with an imaginative way for Bakayoko to earn his money while he isn’t fit to start. With this spate of dodgy Russian deaths they’d use him as an official food taster for Roman. Granville isn’t sure: “He’d probably f*ck that up. He’d end up slipping and accidentally spitting it into Roman’s mouth or forgetting which plate was his.” Oh and there’s some saga about whether England will go to the World Cup. Which is about as boring as watching England at the World Cup.
The Others: Sp*rs did a Sp*rs and gave us all a good laugh from a commanding position against Juve last week, making them the first English club to exit the Champions League this season. The opposition even came out and said they’d been convinced that this would be the case. Which made it even more hilarious.
Anthony Martial is on crack. I can say this with authority because he has claimed that Pogba is the best midfielder in the world and that he will win the Ballon d’Or in the next five years. B*llocks. I do, however, hear that after his performance last night Sevilla have put him on the list for a medal should they win the Champions League after what he contributed to their effort at Old Trafford. Speaking of money wasted by United - that bloke that manages them insists Sanchez is worth the £600k a week “he just came at the worst moment of the season” For that money, he should have arrived riding on the back of an enchanted unicorn and farting rainbows. They were as pathetic as we were at City, and Chequebook Pulis continued his descent into rambling imbecile that appeared to have stalled for a while by trying to play down their exit from Europe by reminding the fans they had been knocked out before. By him. That will go down well.
While nobody was expecting us to win tonight, if it was to happen it wouldn’t have been from being in a position nailed on to make the quarter finals and it wouldn’t have been by jobbers that everyone expected us to tank. This made me feel slightly better. So how was it going to go down? Had we faced City or the Scouse's’ opposition I believe we would have gone through, but thems the breaks in this competition. And instead we’d ended up facing a team that gets every possible advantage handed to them by the people running it and we’d squandered a good shout of going into this second leg in front.
Them: A veritable parade of c*ntery and cheating sh*thousery: the tax-dodging ferret, Biscuits, Donkey Chops. I wasn’t sure my blood pressure would survive watching the latter two, especially when you chuck Jordi f*cking Alba and his random falling on the floor clutching his little rat-face into the mix too.
Us: A striker. Verily we were spoilt this evening. Whilst the false nine might have worked in the home leg when we never really looked like going behind, Farca were going to go all out to win tonight, and would likely score, and as we proved at City, when we go behind with this formation, we are about as wet as a fourteen year-old girl schoolgirl who has had a run in with Jamie Carragher. If Conte had a more defensive option he thought was more viable at this level I believe he would have used it instead of Fabregas, but the fact is they all needed to be excellent and they all needed to be incredibly focused. It was one single lapse in concentration that cost us a lead at the end of the first leg. And we could not afford to do the same again:
Them booing the Champions League anthem was novel. Considering UEFA are their best friends. They immediately began knobbing about in their own half. 6000 passes in the first two minutes - none of which were aimed at trying to penetrate our defence. Yawn. 48 seconds in and Suarez to start backing into people. Tosser. Then after two minutes they'd scored. Joy. First time they'd been in the box. Shabby error from Courtois on goal coming out that far, but somewhat lucky on the TDF's part.
Advantage of not going to Spain - not being ripped off to sit in the worst seats in football. Disadvantage - having to listen to the tax-dodging ferret w*nkfest on the TV coverage.
Saving ourselves for Leicester, said Granville
We needed to be even more perfect now. Our first real attempt came in the shape of a free kick from Willy three minutes later that started oddly creeping towards goal. Nothing doing though, nor from the subsequent corner. Their goal didn't really change anything. Still in a position where if we scored one goal we go through. She said hopefully. We didn't panic and soon started picking up possession. With confidence too. 8 minutes and Hazard and Willian were starting to open them up. And they'd given the all away a fair few times already. Eden had started well, once again forcing the ball back from Farca and Willian managed to trouble the home keeper just a little with a long range shot on the ground. Possession was nearly level at this stage, which nobody was expecting.
Then back into another boring spell of tippy tappy middle of the pitch sh*t we went. Until: lucky f*cking c*nts. Azpilicueta pretty much managed to diddle the TDF but the ball went back bouncing back onto his foot and they were away. Silly concession from Fabregas, exactly the kind of mistake we all knew we couldn't make on a night like this.
Two silly errors, resulting in two shots, and two goals from them. Moses had space, their long passing wasn't great, Hazard and Willian looked fired up, but all our work had been for nothing. This is exactly what is has been largely missing from our game this season. The ability to be clinical, it was exactly what cost us going into this game with a lead in the tie too. We needed one before half time otherwise it looked bleak. Bertie the Kitten looked as depressed as I did. Advantage of not going - unlimited supply of Christmas present gin at home.
Disadvantage - distractions. Started to think about doing some George V typing, played with cat. Cat had resorted to licking his own privates every time they mention the tax-dodging ferret. I started looking longingly at the Texas road trip guide book on the shelf.
33 minutes and Mungo Pique had almost scored. That would have been really sticking the knife in. Chances of us scoring before half time looked slim to none with ten minutes left till the break. But obviously as soon as I typed that: fabulous run by Willy, Alonso shot saved, Giroud follow up blocked. Then Cesc gets away with being offside but Kante takes the shot from him. Come on Chelsea.
The diving had commenced, the whining from the crowd trying to get people booked l. So far the Slovenian referee was restraining himself from being a bellend. It hadn't turned into a rout, but it was slowly turning into a cringeworthy display of b*stardry in terms of the home team throwing themselves on the floor every time someone brushed up against them. Then having the cheek to moan when we got given anything. Entitled twats. 44 minutes and Giroud earned a dangerous free kick in the edge of the box. A little bit it magic now would have set up and it looked like it might have been on the way in. Up it went, down it came, keeper beaten but it hit the post. B*llocks.
I didn't feel as bad as I did when we were down in 2012, and I wasn't giving up on us yet. In 135 minutes of this tie now, they have by no means played us off the park. After 3/4 of it we were just about still in it. Maybe. Not a lot for Conte to do at half time except gee them up. We've not been bad by any means, but this was going to take a big turnaround to score two and not concede again.
As you were at kick off in the second half. It was a bright start from us and a pretty lacklustre one from them, to the extent that Willy found himself unmarked on the edge of the box. Within two minutes though Courtois had made another daft error. We escaped, and back up the other end Alonso was in, surely he had to get a shot off, but f*cking Dembele came out and got there first. If we could get an early goal in this half, I believed they'd be shaken, but it was a sadly familiar sight. Lots to be pleased with, no sting in the tail. We were the better side, but it counted for nothing yet. Please don't let this be another instance of us squandering our chances and fading away. An overhead kick from Alonso when he didn't quite connect with the ball properly. Nice little moment when Christensen dumped Suarez on his cheating a*se. Great run from Willy, but why he ignored Alonso streaking down the left and tried to thread an impossible ball through to Giroud I couldn't tell you. We just couldn't seem to finish off an attack. Impotent desperation. This must be what Henry VIII must have felt like every time one of his wives peed on a stick.
Biscuits was limping. What a shame. Maybe he tripped over his own front teeth. Farca were well and truly lurking in their own half now. We were playing better than we had in the first leg, far less deep, but still hadn't made it count when the tax-dodging, rancid little f*cking ferret stuck another one in. Another through the legs for Courtois. It'd be harsh to hold one person responsible for the result, and it wouldn't have made any difference had we managed to finish things off at the other end, but he really did have a sh*tter tonight overall.
Morata was getting ready to come on, as was Zappacosta, but it was out of reach now. Giroud was punching the subs bench, and he was right to. Massively frustrating. We didn't deserve the scoreline but what does that matter when they have capitalised on the few mistakes we have made. Over two legs that had been the difference, not the m assive Gulf in class we had been fearing. I had a bag of kettle chips in the cupboard and I was considering shoving them all in my face at once.
Damage was done. The wind went from our sails, but we were going to have to stop them passing the ball round in circles for the last half an hour if we wanted to get at least a goal tonight. Rudiger hit the woodwork with a powerful header, but it was all to no avail. Three like for like subs was never going to inspire a comeback.
So: The result we expected, but we achieved getting knocked out with far less of a bitch-slapping than a lot of people anticipated. We showed up, so there’s that. Same outcome though. It was always going to be a tall order. The chips didn’t fall our way, and we were made to pay for errors. We looked young and naive, snapping at their heels but not quite getting it right, and they looked like cunning, wily b*stards who knew how to shake out the result.
A Look Back at Palace: So now obviously it’s all about making sure we make it back to Europe’s top table next season. It was an amusing weekend. “Kenedy stars…” This is as far as I got through this headline before I fell down in shock. “Kane crocked…” This time I fell down laughing. I was about to get up, but I stayed down there in hysterics when I heard that the Goons were blaming Mother’s Day for all of the empty seats at the Emirates on Sunday. United did beat the Red Scouse, which made me happy, not least because they whiny gits ran out of available fingers to count all the supposed injustices that they faced from the officials. Shame. And it meant it we won at home, we could begin to close the gap on 4th place.
Zappacosta and Cahill rotated in and after the shocker at City, the boss decided to start with Giroud up front. Hallelujah. Kante was also back after a worrying collapse kept him out of the disaster up north.
From the off we actually looked like a football team, which was a vast improvement on six days before. Giroud got his head on the ball in the box, thought it wasn’t at a height or a velocity for him to do anything with, after four minutes. It took us more than 80 to achieve that at the Etihad. Willian had a spring in his step again, and Hazard actually looked like Hazard. With a formation that didn’t hang him out to dry he had more impact in seven minutes than he had had all afternoon against Pip Squeakiola and his band of mercenaries. We’d even managed to force a save in the first ten minutes sort of. Dare I say we were had built a bit of momentum. After 22 minutes a long range shot from Willian comfortably cleared the bar, but two minutes later he decided to go it alone and slipped it past the keeper. Thank f*ck for that. Just after the half an hour mark some shambolic defending from Palace culminated in a tragic own goal for Kelly, and our lead had doubled. How sh*t must you be we're winning at home. The home crowd was singing “you’re going down with the Pikeys,” and in the meantime it was a little bit sexual watching Giroud challenge for fifty-fifty balls in the air. Because that it something we’ve been starved of of late either because there has been nobody up front or because it’s been dumped on poor Eden, who is fractionally taller than me. In truth we toyed with Palace for the rest of the half. They looked very poor, and we looked much better than last week, though not good enough to beat Farcalona away. Especially not in the second half, in which Palace did well to attend to some of the issues that they’d had before the break. One of our ex-players had the cheek to worry us just a tad at the end, but the game was blissfully uneventful in terms of some of the incompetence we have shown this season in squandering points. We are four off of the Champions League places, with a break now to take on Leicester away in the FA Cup, our last chance of winning a trophy this season. Easy. She says with a straight face.
Manchester City 1 Chelsea 0
Sunday 4th March 2018 16:00
In the News: I had a list of the usual mockery to put here, but it dosen’t seem fitting to put it after this: Last night Davide Astori, Fiorentina’s captain, checked into the team hotel ready for today’s game. He didn’t wake up this morning. He was 31, and had a wife and two year old daughter, and if that doesn’t pale into insignificance all of the usual dross and filler that appears in the football press, nothing will.
The Others: More easy fixtures for the Red Scouse and for Sp*rs. But we'll always have Arsenal, who are there to remind us that no matter what happens, and ignoring the fact we can't beat them, we have never quite hit rock bottom.
Our Game: A false nine. Oh goody. And no Kante.
Have I got to do this, really?
I was resigned pretty much as soon as I saw the team. We would have had to be impeccable today. And I doubted whether this would be the case, because Drinkwater and Cesc together wouldn't have worked against Barcelona and I doubted it would work now. (Though I thought Drinkwater did well today, and not only because I have TDD tinted glasses) Therefore this was my plan of action:
1 Don't concede in the first twenty minutes.
2 Actually f*ck that. Try not to concede in the first half.
3 If still remotely in game on hour mark take revolutionary step of bringing on a striker.
4 Try to score/not to lose.
Please note that this essentially appeared to be Conte's game plan too. And he earns £8m a year. Except he waited until almost 80 minutes to evoke steps three and four.
So there I was. Lost in a sea of half and half scarves, being subjected to a ten minute long montage of bull about the greatness of "Citeh" that to cap it all, I think was narrated by Liam F*cking Gallagher, who should have had his vocal chords cut in about 1980 to spare us all from two decades of that whiny nasal twang of his. Not to mention his attitude. Then they were parading the league cup about like it was the Hope Diamond. There was even some mad bint in front of us that thought she was a Kardashian. As in massive fur coat and enormous sun glasses. In March. When it was getting dark. And raining. In sub zero temperatures. All of this was overseen by a steward who couldn't have looked less snappily turned out for work with his tramp beard and rats nest ponytail if he has spent last night sleeping in a dumpster. Oh and food and drink is banned from the stadium. As are cameras, phone chargers, e-fags and well, anything that might threaten to make your afternoon remotely comfortable or enjoyable. Welcome to Manchester.
The First Half:
24 seconds in and we'd had 100% possession. Then it started to go to sh*t and we barely touched the ball for more than half an hour. It was like watching them conduct a training exercise in keeping possession. After six minutes we retained the ball for four consecutive seconds. Eight minutes in and we almost made it out of our own half, but Willian was fouled and the referee ignored it.
BUT this is pretty much what you expect from Pip Squeakiola isn't it? And it's not as if they had our goal under siege. A weak effort by Silva was easily pounced on by Courtois, Sane ran past seven players but somehow managed to not get a shot off. Our team might have all been as much spectators as we were, but they were still in one piece and all those of us secretly dreading an Arsenal-like score of humiliation were starting to breathe a little easier.
Twenty minutes down and they hadn't had a shot on target. We had made half a run towards their goal to chants of "we're in your half" but poor, poor Eden. He was lonelier up front than Gary Lineker at a meeting of his own fan club. One of the best players in the world and it was a waste of time him being on the pitch. I could have stood up there and saved him the trouble of getting out of bed this morning.
Zinchenko was extremely fortunate to get away with a yellow card after a shocking, awful challenge on Moses, shortly before the referee was conned again by a dive and awarded City a free kick. A long ball found Sane unmarked on the back post. Thank god for Dave, eh? And for quick reactions from Courtois.
Impeccable we were not. In fact we were making this look more difficult than greasing Charlie Adam in butter and trying to push him up the side of a steep hill into the face of a force ten gale. Half an hour in we finally made a strong break - Willian is body checked. Nothing. City players falls over immediately afterwards. Free kick given. Sigh. Refwatch: Michael Oliver was nicer to them than he was to us but he's the least of my worries after watching that.
As the last ten minutes of the half approached, we'd come into it a bit more. In fact on 42 minutes we won our first corner. All of their possession had reaped no reward, in fact had not come particularly close to doing so. We were basically only still in the game because of some fantastic work at the back shutting them down from Dave, but none the less we had managed to keep them out, which was a good enough start for me. Provided that we found a way to make more progress into their half after the break: which would undoubtedly require the introduction of a target man, or target beard, up front.
At half time I ate a Cadbury's Picnic that I had smuggled into the ground in my bra. It tasted all the better because it was contraband. They had the cheek to send round a stat that claimed that Zinchenko managed 81 passes in the first half, which was the same as nine of our outfield players combined. A fine feat indeed when you consider that the little turd should have been sent off for trying to kill Victor Moses.
I am going to put proportionately the same amount of effort into the rest of the match as I believe Antonio Conte did today:
The Second Half:
So: Result we all expected, by a less depressing margin than you might have imagined. But it didn't make it any less tragic to watch. Antonio has defended his tactics. The only problem being, of course, that once we conceded his tactics became ever more irrelevant and he stood there and watched this happen largely with his hands in his pockets for more than half an hour before he did anything about it.
Let's get one thing straight. City were neat, tidy and disciplined and are in good form with some great talent. They are going to win the league because they are nigh on the most criminally expensive team ever put together. But they fashioned 900 million odd passes and had three quarters of the possession to create precisely three shots on target. Courtois was hardly troubled. The gulf in quality is not as large as we made it look today. I think that some players underperformed. Pesto was scrappy, Alonso's fine touch largely deserted him and Willian came crashing back down to earth like a fiery ball of space junk. These things happen. But there were other players out there today, like Hazard, like Fabregas, who were completely hamstrung by the sh*t instructions that they were forced to continue to adhere to when it was clear to the entire stadium that they were going to have no effect. They were basically asked to stand up against a brick wall and head butt it. We did not fashion a single shot on target. If we are going to play without a striker, the plan cannot be to continually hoof it up the field and slide balls through as if there is a six foot beautiful lump, bearded or not, waiting up there to jump/run onto it. Giroud was the first player to win a header in the box. After 81 minutes.
If there was ever a coherent plot, Conte lost it after we went behind. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather we'd gone 3-0 down and swinging than flap over the line to a 1-0 defeat like Shamu on dry land, with heatstroke, and a raging hangover. Shamu is dead. (Damn Seaworld) And yet we were roughly on a par with Shamu when it came to having the slightest comprehension as to what it was we were trying to achieve in the second half today. The lack of adaptability on display from us today was stunning, and for me the manager has to take a massive portion of the blame. (Not Morata, someone actually tried to pin it on him as we made our way out, after his 360 second cameo)
If Wenger hadn't lost 8-1 on aggregate this week in his three games and gone into a glorious, effluent meltdown, Conte would be getting more crap with both barrels from everyone in the world of football. I don't know about you, but "at least we're still not as bad as Arsenal" is not a benchmark I want to live by.
A sad seven days. We need points now, starting with Palace. And I want gin. I deserve it after that.
*Picture of dishevelled Conte comes from Chelsea's official site.