Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1
FA Cup Final Saturday 27th May 17:30
...Where Arsenal actually look good. I'm writing this in the midst of a joint Chelsea/Arsenal "We hate T*ttenham" singsong on the Victoria Line and I've just realised who Wenger reminds me of. Anyone watch Buffy back in the day? There were these baddies called The Gentlemen who were impossibly old and scrawny with terrifying faces who used to float everywhere. They ripped the hearts out of people's chests having somehow managed to make their voices complete unheard no matter how vehement their protestations. They left misery in their wake. Their continued presence and determined resilience gave people horrific nightmares. So the more I think of the similarities the more I can't believe I haven't put this together before. If you see Wenger hovering with a scalpel. Run.
So the day started well. Pork Pie's massive over reaction to Miranda Hart's face being plastered all over the tube was hysterical. Couldn't have been more revolted if Wenger had turned up at brunch and curled one out on her plate. Also got to have a dig at Slippy G on tv. Then it went downhill.
Going by the team sheet Arsenal looked positively f*cked. All we had to do was play our best football and they didn’t stand a chance. We did not play our best football. By any stretch of the imagination. We started by giving the ball away on the edge of the box. And Arsenal put it in the net. Handball, offside, possibly both. Still we can always rely on the integrity of the officials to sort these matters out. Right? Wrong. Because someone gave Anthony Taylor the whistle. We’ll get to him later.
We did not settle, in fact we failed to string together a coherent set of passes, with the vague exception of an almost nearly moment after fifteen minutes. But then it was back down the other end and Cahill was clearing it off the line. Then they hit the post. We had not looked this bad since we played them in September. And they were out of sight by half time.
We at least managed to prevent this. Just after the clock ticked past twenty minutes there was a slight flickering of intent that intimated that we might be about to wake up, but it didn’t last very long. It took us nearly half an hour to win a corner and a couple of tackles, but we were a yard off the ball and they clearly wanted it more than us. If not for Thibaut palming it away and the constant intervention of Gary Cahill we could have been about 5-0 down by half time. We kept hoofing the ball to Costa. Why we did this when Mertesacker has a two foot head start on him, who can say. Why we didn’t try and run it round him when he is about as alert and spritely as a Koala with a spliff in its paw, who can say.
Still, it’s only one goal. And Antonio will open a stylish Italian can of whoop ass at half time. It can’t possibly continue to be this bad.
We were not as sh*t when we came back out. In fact, the tide had turned fairly comprehensively, and we looked far more like ourselves. We had more possession in the first two minutes than we had in the entire first half and more attempts too; even one on target, but we failed to put anything away in the opening minutes of the second half and they were gradually coming back into it. Combine this with Taylor’s inability to identify who puts the ball out of play and a host of other random twatlike decisions, and we were still behind. Pesto came close just before the hour, we thought it was going in when he hit it, but it went wide.
Fabregas please. And on he came on 60 minutes. To a chorus of boos. From a club that waved a massive banner before kick off that reminded everyone how much class they have. History, Tradition, Class and a long list of dates they’ve won the cup. I suppose when you haven’t won anything significant in fifteen years you’ve got to cling to your glory days. In contrast ours had three words. Pride of London.
Anyway, I genuinely believed that we could come back into this game, which is more than can be said for the voice of f*cking doom behind us. What's worse than watching your team lose? Watching your team lose when someone stands there for the whole game blandly (like a train spotter) telling you exactly why the opposition are superior to us. Your sense or your logic or your reason has no place in this stadium sh*thead.
You could see the joy on Taylor's face when he sent Moses off. (and Sh*thead's, because it gave him another five minutes of ammunition) It was like a traffic warden spying a Ferrari parked on a double yellow. For a man who had missed several obviously nasty fouls throughout the match pulling out a yellow and doing him for diving was petty to the highest degree. I was behind that goal and watching it live I don’t see that he could have thought he’d be gaining anything. Maybe we should be celebrating Taylor’s evil bald genius. He has the power to make everyone in close proximity hate him every weekend by a continuous string of bizarre decisions and inexplicable outbursts of power hungry madness. He’s basically PGMOLs’s answer to Donald Trump. I spent half time having a text debate with Knobhead (my only Arsenal friend) across Wembley about which of us had the right to be more pissed off at him. He was an utter f*ckshit of comic book blockbuster proportions today. Were Martin Atkinson, Michael Oliver, even CLATTENBURG really all unavailable on cup final day? I've have taken Lee Mason or Mike Jones before I started scraping the bottom of the refereeing barrel and gave it to Anthony f*cking Taylor. Dubious goal, petty bookings, ignoring two handed shoves, buying every other dive going, claiming that Ozil got the ball when he almost broke Hazard’s legs in scything him down for it. Arsenal fans have got their own lengthy list of transgressions too.
But though all of this may be true, (it is, because I say so) he didn't lose us the game. We did that ourselves. Thanks to Costa I at least felt like I'd been partially rewarded for getting out of bed. But then we p*ssed it away in the next ten seconds of play. Sh*thead had a boner by this time, pointing out the many reasons why we were going to lose.
Back to square one. Somehow we ended up playing the underdog all afternoon and although we might have nicked an equaliser in the 85th, it came to nothing. It's not even worth picking out who was more at fault. Collectively we were a shadow of ourselves today. I will point out that at 2-1 down on 81 mins I did not want to see Willian cuddling Sanchez. Some tried harder than others, whatever. They will all feel it when they realised they literally chucked the double away. I don't get angry when we lose, I get angry when we lose because we don't show up. But at the end of the day, to use the most overused cliche in football, Champions AND FA Cup Finalists would have been beyond my wildest dreams on 24th September when we went down like a submarine with a sun roof at the Emirates. I can live with this. Providing I don't look at any football coverage for the next week.
Rant: Jester hats. There is no way not to look like a c*nt in one. And yet they're everywhere. Let’s donate them all to the twatter bellends slagging off Conte this evening. F*cking jokers.
Another rant: The Goons pouring away from Wembley as soon as the whistle went are the ones that make my blood boil. What about the trophy says I? To some of them. "Winning this is the least they could do" apparently. No interest in staying to celebrate it. The sense of entitlement makes me rage. Actually, after whimpering across 38 games to fifth place, getting utterly annihilated in Europe, getting bumped through the semi final of the FA cup by the incompetence of Craig Pawson, you might be grateful that you got the opportunity to take try and take home a trophy at all this season. Other fans would be. Tossers.
Still, every mangy French poodle has its day and every cloud has a silver lining. Two more years of Gentleman Wenger at least by the looks of it. It might not be the cup we wanted today, but the cup that we do have runneth over if that happens.
Today was disappointing, but it shouldn't dampen what has been a joyously unexpected success of a first season in England for Conte, who has apparently silenced rumours and committed his long term future to the club. Are we perfect? No. But we are champions, deserved champions if not double winners and now he has a transfer window with the Champions League to offer to strengthen the squad. Then a settled preseason now he's got his feet under the table to move his philosophy along ready for next term's challenges.
The book version of the blog, including season reviews, player review, mocking of our rivals etc. is available in a few days both as a paperback and an ebook. If you previously placed a pre-order, Amazon have cancelled it, because they’re morons, and you won’t have been charged, but it will be available on 5th June in both formats. I’ll drop a link @CFCgwlb
Please buy one. My kitten has expensive tastes in premium food. And I need to have his nuts cut off right about the time pre-season starts. That ain't cheap.
Also, while you've got your hands in your pockets Mowgli (aka QuickDraw) Mini Mowgli and I are walking across the Jordanian desert on November in aid of Veterans in Action. Follow this link to make a much appreciated donation to The Blue Trekkers:
Game 38: Chelsea 5 Sunderland 1
Sunday 21st May 2017 15:00
Spare a thought for the millennials, myself amongst them. If we were conscious of anything other than dribbling before the advent of JT's Chelsea career (not with a football, Harry F*cking Kane style) then it was primitive. Probably involved sh*t like Pokemon, or He-Man. (And yet both of these things are closer in living memory than the last time the league trophy was displayed at Anfield. And at least in living memory, unlike anything decent Sp*rs have done) Today marked the end of an era for all at Chelsea Football Club, but for us, we don't really remember the place before him and just at the moment it feels like it will never be quite the same.
The Others: Now that nothing is at stake Sp*rs won. I’m sure that’s a huge consolation for achieving nothing. Again. Arsenal have been condemned to a season of Thursday night ignominy in the Europa League. Hurrah. Oh, and the Scouse will be dining at Europe's top table with us next season. (And presumably running away without paying their bill) This after they assured everyone that this really was their year and that they were going to win the league. One can only assume that they were planning a shellsuit-clad heist to try and nick the trophy because they were never going to get their hands on it any other way.
Our Game: Yes, there was one of these to be played before we could start celebrating. Poor Sunderland were already down, but they turned up in large numbers. Let’s be honest, nobody really wants to read an in depth report of this dead rubber. Today was about getting our hands on the trophy and bidding goodbye to a club legend and a world class player, so let’s get it over with.
There was a lot of tin foil in the Shed End. We followed the instructions re waving it about, but then we resorted to trying to mummify Gonzo. We then gave Sunderland fans a standing ovation for their joyous celebration after going ahead in the third minute. Free kick came in, ball goes out to the right, lack of defending and put home by someone wearing a red and white shirt. Marcos Alonso cracked the crossbar and there followed some pinball in the box where nobody seemed to want to have a shot. Willian stormed in to save the day and smacked it home. 1-1. Then it was like a lunchtime kickabout in the school playground, all in the Sunderland box. Defenders flopping about, everyone trying to get a shot off, about 300 corners, some of which cleared the first man, JT quite rightly goal-hanging and trying to crown his final appearance with a goal. There was a brief point when everybody ceased to watch the game and collectively tried to figure out if Koscielny and his dinosaur head would miss the cup final as he’d had a straight red card at the Emirates. (Apparently another defender was stretchered off, too, but given how flaky they are I suppose this means that Arsenal are only marginally worse off than when everybody is fit) Then came the moment I personally had been dreading. I thought the 26th minute was a nice touch, same with the Guard of Honour formed by the rest of the team as JT left the pitch. Drogba being carried off was Drogba, but this was an entirely more fitting. There could have been more goals, lots more, but it was all square when we went into the break.
We faffed about a bit more at the beginning of the second half, who was going to put us ahead? Who else but Eden Hazard on the hour, when he combined with Costa to put us ahead. Diego went off straight off afterwards in exchange for Michy. A lot of people read a lot into the copious hand waving that went on as he left. I think attributing any deep subterfuge to him in this instance is a bit like looking at my kitten cleaning his nuts and convincing myself that he’s planning to invade Croydon. I don't think he's already planned his escape yet, is what I am saying, even if he does manage to in the coming weeks. I think he was just waving. The parade pretty much began when Pesto [he tells me he has just changed his name by deed poll now] came on for Hazard, who I am pretty positive is not going anywhere. Fabregas’s long ball into the box came off a Sunderland player fortuitously, but Pesto’s savvy saw him stay on it and head it over the line to make it 3-1. Remember that bloke Michy, who never seemed to be in the place you wanted him? Scratch that. Great sneaky ball in from Pesto and he lunged onto the end of it to make it four. Not satisfied with that, a couple of minutes later he spotted a gap in the defence and curled the ball through, past the Sunderland keeper and into the far corner. Confident as you like. Scored four in the last three games. Where the bloody hell has he come from?! So Dave played every minute of every league game, Thibaut got the golden gloves for 16 clean sheets, and we’re the first club in the history of the Premier League to win 30 games in a season. And yet Sp*rs are the best team in it, don't you know.
I could pass scathing comment about the discrepancy in coverage between Slippy G's last game amongst the Red Mafia, led by Scouse Sports News. But then I'd be wasting words that could be better spent on John George Terry.
Drogba’s departure was somewhat dampened by the fact that he’d already left once before. Frank’s was a clusterf*ck in terms of organisation, but this was done right. Everyone knew what was coming weeks in advance and it gave us a chance to get used to the idea that we were seeing the last of a club legend. We had free souvenir programmes, they even plied us with alcohol. We got to see JT lead the team out, and we got to give him an ovation on the way off. None of this made me feel any better about what was to come. Were we all ready to celebrate the title? Absolutely. And then some. But the mood at Stamford Bridge had a sad edge to it for many, because there was an inevitably emotional goodbye to come too.
We’ll gloss over the bit where JT was born in East London and started off with West Ham, and jump straight to where he joined us as a midfielder at 14. Desperation caused his move to defence and he’s never looked back. Making his first team when Steps were still considered cool (in my world, anyway) he’s since made 717 appearances for Chelsea. There have been downs, namely Moscow, but he’s contributed to nearly fifteen glittering years in our clubs’ history. Five Premier League titles, four FA Cups (and counting) three league cups, the Europa League and the Champions League. Then there are the personal accolades. Highest scoring defender in club history, UEFA defender of the year three times, PFA Player of the Year, FIFPro World XI five seasons in a row. Let’s also chuck in that he was the first player to lift the FA Cup at the new Wembley and also the first international goal scorer at the new stadium as well. Let’s also not forget the FA cutting off their nose to spite their faces with regard to his England role after he’d made 78 appearances for his country. F*ck them. Their loss five years ago was our gain, because in my (probably not so) expert opinion, it’s the reason we have been able to delay today’s pained goodbye as long as we have.
If you had told me that I would have been watching us win the league today back in August, I would have thought that you were as delusional as Wenger. I thought we were a three year project, that we’d see pretty much a full turnover of playing personnel before Antonio Conte had a hope of making his mark, and yet there we were jumping about to One Step Beyond. This season did not define John Terry’s career, he is past his best, but it rounded off nicely. I think that the move to three at the back accelerated the end of his effective days at Chelsea, but not by much. His role in this title win was a cameo, but one that I think we all would have wanted for him, and I am glad that he leaves us on a high. That said just because he has left us, I don't think that that means JT has got nothing to offer the world of football.
Giant beach balls, flames and sparkly confetti dispensed with, hardly a seat had been vacated before someone handed him a microphone. Before he said anything, our Captain Leader Legend made sure that Steve Holland got the recognition he rightly deserved before he departs for a new challenge. (England, so a f*cking big challenge) JT's farewell speech was emotional; thanking Roman Abramovich for making all of Chelsea’s achievements possible in the last decade or so, the team mates that scaled those heights with him. His voice broke when he thanked his family. By this point his kids were also tearful. Then there was thanks for the squad, for Antonion and for us, the fans, who, he says, have never failed him in his time at the club, supporting him when he was on his a*se or out of form. Time is a great healer and all of those other soppy platitudes. Much like those who worshipped Tommy Langley, Osgood or Jimmy Greaves in their youth, we'll have to come to terms with his departure. But I'm going to let myself have a sulk this evening, and a lot of gin.
Veni vidi vici might be more pithy for Antonio, bestow on JT the London version: He turned up, he had a look about, and he f*cking smashed it. For nearly twenty years. Here's to you John. Good luck with whatever (yes, whatever) you chose to do, and don't be a stranger.
Now let’s go and shove it up L’Arse next weekend and make it a double.
Chelsea Reserves 4 Watford 3
Game 37: Monday 15th May 20:00
In the News: Just f*ck off already with this nauseating Sh*te Hart Lane vomitfest. They're moving out for a few months. And they're going three feet up the road. Also, nothing of note has happened at that dump since my mum was at primary school so I don't know why the press plebs have spent the last few days mourning like someone ran over their childhood pet with a lawnmower. Having said that, I give you a picture of the pitch being savaged by diggers. Because I'm not going to lie, it turned me on just a little bit.
The Others: I just need to pause to reflect upon the greatest moment in Manchester United's history.
I think I might actually die laughing. Just when you thought HWWNBN couldn't come up with anything more f*cking ridiculous he declares that a Europa League fixture (the competition he's spent his whole managerial life scoffing at) against Celta Poxy Vigo is the seminal moment in his new club's history. There was a moment towards the end of the game where it looked like the Spaniards might nick it and you could see him crapping his pants live on BT. I'm slightly drunk on the train with Uncle Albert (who henceforth shall be known by the special alias of Royus Decimus Meridias - all will become clear) and we're gunning for a Bertrand Traore brace in the final. Come on Ajax.
I did a mini jig around the living room when Hull joined Boro and Sunderland in the Championship. Not because I'm a c*nt. Well, ok, but mainly because from an away travel point of view next season the sh*ts at BT and Sky have far less opportunity to send us halfway into the Arctic Circle on a weeknight or first thing on a Saturday morning. I think Hull worked a miracle staying in touch as long as they did with all the f*ckwittery going on at the club. Poor b*stards. But for me, apart from potential chuckling when someone I don't like inevitably misses out on top four, I'm only interested in keeping an eye on the Goons now on the run up to the cup final. Seeing as we've left them all for dust in the league. Because we're Champions. It was only away to Stoke, but we know first hand that that can be about as enjoyable as a day trip to Chernobyl.
Four out of six sh*ts on target, I've written in my notes yesterday. Presumably that's shots, although I could have been referring to the goalscorers I suppose. They took their chances, but Wenger's mob didn't look impenetrable at the back and I wonder if with our defence they'd have manufactured the attempts they did. Unless we have a repeat of the Emirates of course, and without some act of God (or a bellend referee) I don't think we are that side anymore. We lose now when people suffocate us and get lucky. (Palace case in point) Arsenal won't (can't) do that. 1-4 flattered them, and for a spell Stoke threatened quite convincingly to nick a point before the rolled over. I still don't think that anyone but Sanchez would get anywhere near our team this season. But then I occasionally still wake up throttling the kitten and rocking back and forth in the foetal position when I think of the 3-0 in September. Hilariously. Arsenal fans were singing "We've got Ozil, Mesut Ozil, I just don't think you understand.." Oh no, we do. You pay him shedloads of money and he turns up once every couple of months. And moans that it's not enough. Then pretends to have the flu for weeks at a time. And they've taken Frank's song for "Super Robbie Holding". Who the f*ck is Robbie Holding?
Our Game: Multiple changes tonight, and unsurprisingly after Friday's heroics. Dave is on for playing every minute, which is a rarity, so obviously he remained and other than that, it was only Hazard that kept his place. Deserved run outs for the likes of Ake, Chalobah and our league winner Batshuayi who have waited for chances few and far between this season. Pretty sure there were some medal connotations going on too. Apparently the low number of players that we have used makes some difference but I have hears so many versions of the rules now that I intend to do a Wenger (stick my head in the sand) and just turn up with a stack of chocolate coins to dispense to any player that looks like he might cry on Sunday. Kenedy’s appearance served at least one purpose. (Other than confirming that we haven’t packed him off to a monastery somewhere) We now know who the random blond bloke was in all the celebration videos on Friday. A reliable little bird tells me Loftus Cheek wasn't fit, before the press plebs start writing his absence up as a weepy sob story of him being kicked aside like an unwanted puppy. It was novelty to see Gomes applaud the home fans, which proves that either he is thick, and didn’t know where the Watford lot were, or that psychologically and in terms of humanity there is a way back after having played for a bunch of c*nts like Sp*rs. I'm pretty sure he asked to leave too which at least shows some intent at saving his soul.
Watford did a huddle. They meant business. If by business you mean pulling at the opposition’s shirts and kicking them when the referee is not looking because you can’t match them at football. Michy fluffed a shot in the opening minutes and although Hazard got a foot in on the rebound, it cannoned straight into a defender. This was the limit of the excitement in the opening phase of the game. In one lull we were discussing how ugly Steven Gerrard’s new baby is. he looks like Phil Mitchell on the slide back into the booze.
“They’ve named it after Messi,” I said.
“What? Arsehole?” Said one wit.
On the pitch it remained basically a repeat of the fixture at theirs early in the season. Us trying to play, not doing too badly, but not really getting anywhere. The stand out moment came after twenty minutes when, challenged on the edge of the box, Michy held up the ball. Like a baby Drogba. OK maybe not quite, but isn’t it marvellous what a bit of confidence could do. On 22 minutes came the elation of JT scoring at the shed end to put us ahead, just like days of old. That was the 1000th Premier League goal since Abramovich took the reins at Chelsea. About a minute later came the agony, OK, nobody really gave a sh*t because we’ve won the league, but still, Watford equalised. Perhaps a bit emotional after scoring, not 100% focused but it was a clusterf*ck of a defensive header. Ah well, how often has JT been guilty of that? I’ll get over it. 1-1. There is just no redeeming point about watching Watford. If they were a sandwich filling they'd be some supermarket value brand, sweaty tasteless cheddar on the turn. On stale bread. With no butter. If Vicarage Road fell into a sinkhole over the summer and was no more I doubt the world of football would even notice when they got back from their holidays. There were a few half a*sed cries for a penalty on the half hour, but none from Hazard, who was the man taken down. Shortly afterwards Kenedy muscled his way past his opposing number and into the box, even managed to get a shot off which went out for a corner. The result was a ball in that rebounded out to Dave, who, ever reliable, smashed it diagonally into the bottom right hand corner for a second
We'd already fizzed one across the face of goal shortly after the break when Michy got a second. Hurrah - 3-1, game over, let the celebrations recommence. Or not. Minutes later Daryl Janmaat ran round everybody like he was Hazard and put one past Begovic. I couldn’t pick him out of lineup of three random men if you gave me a million pounds.
"How sh*t must you be, we've scored two goals,” they sang.
Firstly, this is our B Team. Secondly, you're not winning. Because we've scored three. That's how this works. So shut up.
Gonzo’s more pithy response? "Chelsea Reserves, we're better than you."
Shortly after the hour mark Gomes pulled off a brilliant save. Didn't he get the memo? Possession was pretty even, but they weren’t really threatening. They had taken two goals out of four attempts, which is the nicest thing I intend to say about them. Gomes pulled off another dramatic save before Watford brought on a bloke who scored. He was so f*cking massive he looked like he had eaten all their other subs. Apparently Mason didn't see all the defenders being held in the box. Which brings me to Refwatch: Lee Mason must have been in a diet, because we thought he was Anthony Taylor for the first ten minutes. If he was a sandwich he'd be some dubious looking egg mayonnaise that smelled of fart. A testament to bland mediocrity who even managed to tackle Kante at one stage. He's the office creep officiously blowing his whistle at nothing and p*ssing everybody off. In another life he'd be a traffic warden. We brought on Aina, and Chalobah, who was solid once again, departed for Fabregas with ten minutes to go. Batshuayi rightly got an ovation after his heroics on Friday and Pesto (no, autospell still hasn’t fathomed this with only one game left) replaced him. Gomes had one of his flappy hand moments straight after this change but we couldn't put a winner away. Highlight of the closing minutes, Kante taking down Okaka, the beast and the eight foot monster crying about it. At least that was the highlight until Fabregas scored a fourth and half the Watford team collapsed on the pitch and started sobbing. You can't say they didn't put a shift in. By this point Watford who were confusing the end of the match with a Saturday night in Croydon. Prodl, whoever he is, saw red, and two bouts of shoutiness and fronting up followed. No Chelsea players were booked for any of this nonsense scrapping. But the Daily Mail won't tell you that.
Somebody pressed the button and set the fireworks and the streamers off early, but I’m sure they’ll find some more by Sunday.
So: I think that’s the first time we've conceded three goals this season since that heinous day at the Emirates. Ake was impressive on a difficult day when the entire back three rotated. Chalobah, too, was as composed as always. It’s one of football’s mysteries how Zouma lollops about like an ungainly rhino with two left feet trying to perform the Nutcracker and yet somehow manages to control the ball with finesse. I like him, but I don’t know if he can play this system. I'm not offended by the notion of potentially sacking three points off so that some guys who have waited patiently in the wings this season could have their moment or secure a winner’s medal. I care more about our best players being in optimum condition for the cup final than winning these two dead rubbers. Watford had a couple of ok chances after the equaliser, but it not for the heroics of Gomes we would have been clear by then. All’s well that ends well, five days left till we get the trophy.
Photo of Fabregas being a winner comes from Chelsea's official Instagram page. Image of Sp*dsville getting trashed is from BBC Sport.
West Bromwich Albion 0 Chelsea 1
Friday (pft) 12th May 2017 20:00
He came on. He gave away three free kicks that made everyone shout at him and then the bloke that's been slated from one end of the season to the other sealed the title for us. Get the f*ck in. Instagram reveals that as I write this, Antonio is covered in champagne, Diego is walking round the dressing room with his a*se crack hanging out and Marcus Alonso is a doing a half naked filthy dance in the middle of the floor that not only makes me happy but makes me want to shove a fiver in his waistband and slap his backside. Well, makes me want to do these things more than usual.
In the News: Losing Conte now would be like the man of your dreams ditching you a month after your honeymoon. After he's knocked you up. I really wish the press would piss off with this one. If (big if) they've got all their facts straight (for once) is he only worth half of what Pep and HWWNBN get paid? Absolutely not. Will this get addressed after the chips have fallen now that we're champions and we've still got the cup final to play? You bet your arse it will. More importantly, too, because us getting back into the Champions League after last years' debacle was the very least of what was expected of him last summer - and he spanked that out of the park with months to spare. In the meantime - I note that the owners of Inter are Chinese. Is tapping up a completely free unknown concept in the land of the dragon? It's starting to wind me right up now. And why has nobody done anything about it?
Elsewhere, real news has been thin on the ground since we played on Monday. The only thing worthy of mention on a night like tonight is this - because it will make you all laugh. Coutinho parks expensive car outside Anfailed for player of the year do. Windows get done in. Brilliant. Oh and he didn't win either. He did come close in the best hair category though.
The Others: There are no others. Because we've won the title. Let them fight over the scraps. I wonder what the other managers are doing right now? Pochettino will be on the SleazyJet website looking at flights to Barcelona. HWWNBN is ordering 50,000 calories of comfort food from room service at the Lowry. Whilst practicing saying that United have been the better team over the whole season because of their boring unbeaten streak. (The one that took them from 6th to... er... 6th) He'll be repeating it over and over again in the mirror until he thinks he looks half convincing. Pep will be sobbing into a San Miguel and wondering how Antonio made his first season in England look so easy. Klopp apparently reckons that the Scouse are pretty much level with us in terms of performance and that the league isn't an actual representation of their quality. So presumably he won't learn about tonight's result until they let him out of his padded cell tomorrow morning.
Our Game: Was sh*t. The excitement had been building all week - half the job done against Boro; win tonight and we were Champions. I even inappropriately borrowed a policeman's hat on the way into the ground and copped a feel. (a tame one) Unfortunately all of this merriment distracted us from one key point. We were going to the Borethorns. To face death by a thousand time-wasting goal kicks at the hands of Tony Pulis and his soulless band of also rans/has beens.
After thirty seconds, Thibaut was forced into action, which was a punch in the face that reminded us all that we actually had to win three points tonight. Against a team that would be willing to drag the game into the footballing gutter to stop you doing just that. Fortunately, this was as convincing as West Brom got during the first half. We settled down very quickly and the opening ten minutes was a dominant display, during which if we did lose the ball, we reclaimed possession quickly. The rest of the half was basically a litany of squandered chances on our part. Hazard fired one shot into Foster's arms, Matic orchestrated a great counter attack but the final attempt was well blocked. Another bobbled wide, but there was nothing that took our breath away. We were a bit susceptible on the counter, but West Brom being utter morons offensively helped, as they proved on numerous occasions why they have sucked at scoring goals of late. In the first half hour, (at the risk of sounding like a Sp*rs statistician rewriting a match to make it look like they deserved the glory they haven't managed to achieve) 70% of the possession had been ours and we'd had seven shots versus one half effort for them. But still it remained 0-0. This should not have been a surprise against a Pulis side. As the clock ticked on, the away end of the Borethorns was a cauldron of conflicting emotion: There was mounting trepidation that we might have endured five hours of traffic agony to spend a Friday night in West Bromwich for no good reason. Then disbelief that Darren Fletcher hasn't yet been farmed out to the knackers yard. How have they not had him turned into dog food yet? Add a dose of the usual rage at the sight of James McLean and a healthy measure of amusement that Foster was awarded player of the season before kick off. For what? Stringing goal kicks out to new, world record lengths? And there was pity, at the club flogging a dead horse, (not Fletcher) trying to get people to commit to another 18 games of this sh*t next year at £20 a match. I assumed Pulis donated all of his salary to paying people to watch his team. It truly is grim up north. Glancing to my left on the stroke of halftime the display of humanity resembled what I imagine a family wedding would look like for Harry F*cking Kane. Lots of vacant expressions, a large crowd breathing through their mouths and worshipping a mediocre musician/DJ like he was producing some sort of genial witchcraft by bashing his drum repetitively for an hour and a half. If we were going to get our way, and ensure a drunken, elated and glorious start to the weekend, the footballing gods were going to make us wait for it.
We burst out of the blocks again in the second half. Very much a case of: "just score a f*cking goal so we can start the party" We had one shot palmed away by Player of the Year Ben Foster. (Jesus wept, he's your GOALKEEPER, what a sad state of affairs) Diego struck one straight into his hands, Cesc put one just wide. All the fun was being sucked out of this outing. Why should this be a surprise? What else should we have expected? Still. There was some worthy chuckling in our row at this "one of our own" business. We were in West Bromwich. I just assumed everybody there was related to everyone else in three different ways, so it seemed superfluous to start singing about it. The game turned into a time-wasting extravaganza. An hour in and Pulis's sh*t on a stick tactics were working. Which brings me to Refwatch: Michael Oliver tonight. When Plan A is to kick the living sh*t out of the opposition, you can't sulk like b*tch babies when the ref keeps blowing the whistle. The yokels, sorry, locals, were raging over him, but when you subscribe to Pulis's thuglife philosophy, I don't see how you can be surprised at being penalised for it if a ref is smart enough to catch on (funny how many of them aren't) Often when we've had Oliver, I've been left thinking, "what does everyone see in this scowly looking bellend?" Tonight I thought he was pretty much spot on. I think I get it. This doesn't mean I like him. Obviously. I just dislike him less than most of the others. For now.
As we reached the last twenty minutes, West Brom were hanging out of their a*ses. And yet we almost got caught out on 69 minutes when the home side launched a counter attack. Saved by an outstanding run back from from Dave. Shortly afterwards they finally strung together a proper attack on goal, but luckily it went wide. Dave's shot on 74 minutes nearly hit me in the face. And I was in row N. Time for fresh legs? Indeed. Though I won't lie, when they came, they did not fill me with joy. Willian came on, all well and good but so did Michy. Make or break time for you young man. His opening moves (kicking people) did not inspire anyone with confidence, but I've been plugging away at "give the kid a chance" all season in terms of being too critical of him, in his first season and once again Antonio proved why he earns the big bucks (not as many as St Pep the Perfect of Yacksville, we know, blah, blah) and why we have to pay to watch his work. After the subs came on it felt like the pace had been sucked out of the side. Oh dear. This could end badly. But then from nowhere, after some faffing about on our part, The ball went over the line. Michy Batshuayi might just have won us the league. The whole of his difficult debut season has instantly been forgiven. You, my boy, are now a firm fan favourite. Three songs he had going on the coach. (My favourite was "He won us the league, he won us the league, Michy Batshuayi, he won us the league.")
Eight minutes plus stoppages to go. Where the hell is Mikel when you need him? Zouma came on instead and after this I can literally remember nothing that happened with any clarity. Apart from West Brom almost scoring, watching the six minutes of Ben Foster time tick agonisingly by, and cursing at people already singing about us being champions.
So: Conte said he wanted wild celebrations if we won the league and he got them. Not only in the stands but on the pitch, which resembled a primary school disco after half an hour: Antonio with his shirt hanging out, the players with the eight year old school boy dance moves. Loved it. Each of them got serenaded, which was great. My favourite celebration moments? Willian singing along to his song and covering his mouth in a totally unconvincing manner when he got to the bit about hating T*ttenham and footage of Bonkers Billy doing the worm on the floor in the dressing room. (Badly) Well done Antonio, too, for making sure that Steve Holland got the attention and the farewell he richly deserved tonight. God speed and ta very much for everything you've done for our club old bean.
And let's not forget our humanity. All the plebs out there that are less fortunate than ourselves. Scattered about the country roundabout the 80th minute were several thousand Sp*ds, watching through their fingers and hoping, praying that West Brom were about to nick it so that they could start singing about coming for us again in the vain hope that they'd achieve something more than the sum total of f*ck all this season. Like every other season. Better luck next time. Chumps.
In the meantime, f*ck them, I'm only half an hour away from a celebratory gin now. Would it be so wrong to just carry on drinking through to Monday night? Premier League Champions. Beyond my wildest dreams when we set out in August. Party time. But let's not get fat and complacent like last time, eh?
Chelsea 3 Middlesbrough 0
Monday 8th May 2017 20:00
If you can't fathom the meaning of this title. Consider yourself lucky. The rest of us are scarred for life. I blame the Norwegians.
In the News: Jesus, it's been a slow news week. Mbappe to Arsenal. It's hardly a revelation that a promising young French boy has caught Wenger's attention. The Daily Fail have been recirculating selfies of Alexei Sanchez where he's superimposed a stupid dog face on himself. Apparently Hulk punched a coach in the face in China and the press have elevated this to claim it's because he despises all Chinese people. Speaking of that hotbed of mercenary talent; Costa blah blah. China blah blah. He's not worth £65,000,000,000 a week. Nobody is. If they're stupid enough to pay it and he's stupid enough to give up a meaningful career in football for it, they're welcome to each other with no hard feelings. Provided that he works his a*se off for Chelsea while he is on our payroll and we win at least the league, if not the double. If he sloths around stealing a ridiculously good living like Pogba and we fail in the slightest because of it, things are going to get ugly. By that I mean I will get ranty.
The Others: Suddenly a Friday night out in West Bromwich started to look appealing. West Ham proved that every stinking, three-legged mutt squatting in an athletics stadium has its day. I didn't think Harry F*cking Kane's jaw could get any slacker but then came the final whistle on Friday night and his mouth just dropped, unleashing a tsunami of drool that engulfed eight stewards, two ball boys, the Sp*rs team bus and the Olympic Aquatic Centre. St. Totteringham Day, or whatever it is called is a washout this season but I hereby create: Sp*rsy Day - the day they bomb out of the title race every year despite being "the best team in the country." (I’ve heard a rumour that in the last two seasons Hull City have spent more days at the top of the league than R*ttenham) With nobody to punch within an inch of their lives that they thought was a Chelsea fan and no stadium now to vandalise, the Sp*ds resorted to bashing Rachel Riley for being female and daring to talk about football on BT when she said they bottled it. At some point someone is going to have to explain to me who she is, so I can send her a note of congratulations for alienating every Sp*rs fan on the planet with one sentence. Enviable.
Our Game: So starting with tonight, we were in a position where we could win the league before the also-rans kick another ball. Lo and behold, along comes a team fighting for its life. If they come to play football though, to win, then surely we'd beat them? The Norwegian Supporters Club were in town. Which means that philosophical questions such as this went out of the window. I drank half a bottle of Hendricks before kick off and have had to go back and edit out a certain amount of unicorns from this match report.
Kante got a night off, owing to injury, but Luiz was fit to start. We could have been ahead in the opening minute or two, thanks to Alonso cracking one off the cross bar. We dominated the early play, and thanks to him we came close again when he directed the ball across the face of goal. Luiz fluffed a free kick after a quarter of an hour and Fabregas shot wide shortly afterwards, before once again the ball came across the face of goal courtesy of Eden Hazard and just missed finding Diego Costa. We'd had by far the best of the play but it didn't pay off until 22 minutes when a stunning Cesc ball into the box to Diego. Good bit of control and through the keeper’s legs. 1-0. More chances followed, and just after the half hour Alonso struck from a narrow angle. Shocking goalkeeping, bobbled off the Boro man and into his own net. How the f*ck did that go through the his legs? Who knows? More importantly, who cares? 2-0. Not even the most diehard of Boro fans imagined that they would come back from this. And now you better believe us. Moses could have made it three, if not Alonso again before half time. It may be my gin goggles, but I don't remember Boro creating anything other than a few hopeful long balls into the box in the first half. In fact, they were as barren as Mary Berry's crusty old womb. Cue loud chorus of "T*ttenham H*tspur, We're Laughing At You". And rightly deserved it is too after all that nonsense about chasing us down
As soon as the second half kicked off we picked up where we left off. Pesto (yawn, auto spell) hit a long range effort off the bar in the opening seconds. Poor Boro. I don't think it looked like they didn't turn up, more that they never had any conviction that they could get anything out of this game. Which is a shame for the away fans who travelled a long way, packed out their allocation and stayed till the end. It didn’t get any better for them. Dave hit one over the bar, Alonso, who was immense tonight, fizzed one wide, Cahill almost caught the keeper out too. I got so excited at that one that I accidentally logged into an app on my phone instead of note taking and started off the coffee machine grinding beans at home. On 65 minutes another ball into the box from Fabregas, great control by Matic and a third goal through the keeper’s legs. The latter was found curled into a ball in the away dressing room, sucking his thumb and sobbing after his display tonight.
Hazard trotted off for Willian, Pesto for Chalobah. 3-0. Scoreline of death. The leaders drop down a gear and the team trailing lose the will to live. It kills all bets off with Game of Thrones like efficiency. In fairness, Boro played with a bit more freedom once they were three behind, but they still didn't look like a threat. Refwatch: We had Craig Pawson, who did not cover himself in glory at Wembley in the other cup semi final. Not that I cared as we've got a far better chance of beating L'Arse come the end of the month. He was gloriously anonymous. Mind you, for a game this uncompetitive an official would have to be a bellend of enormous, Steve Bruce-like proportions to f*ck it up. I was so mellow by this point I alarmed myself. I didn’t know if it had anything to do with how little of a game Boro made of it or whether it was purely the result of my bloodstream being 80% gin. Either way, London is Blue pod people, Norwegian Supporters Club chaps, including Kermit (muppet alias) who actually bothered to shave this time and thus did not curse us like on his last visit, you are clearly good luck charms and are now required at every game. With the result in the bag and time to spare there were even enough minutes left for another round of Terryfest 2017. It was nice touch to see Cahill give up the armband. I'm already getting emotional and we've still got three more games before it's goodbye.
So: "T*ttenham Hotspur it's happened again." Indeed it has. But f*ck them. This is about us smashing this league title home after having led the damn thing for more than half the season. They were merely an irritating parasite that with luck, has finally buggered off and left us to it. One Boro fan took the time to shake our hands and say that the trophy, if we finally sew it up, will be 100% deserved. A nice touch considering that a loss tonight meant to them. It was a particularly poor outing for the Middlesbrough keeper, but none of them deserve a pasting, they were just outclassed. I can't bring myself to gloat over their demise. God speed in the Championship little red northern men. As for us, I don't think I ever anticipated such a drama free outing as that. Boro mustered just a single shot on goal and had little to offer by way of a contest. I don't think we ever had to get out of third gear. And Smutbuddy Glover was bricking it. What a dick. One more win will, praise baby Jesus, seal the title. Four days till West Brom.
Picture of Fabregas riding Matic like a pony comes from Chelsea's official Instagram account.