I Blame Cahill.
Chelsea 0 Manchester Citeh 1
Saturday 30th September 2017 17:30
Well that got your attention. If you came here joyfully looking for a Gary-bashing session: Shame. On. You.
I got a text from my dear old mum on 85 minutes. "Why do Chelsea look so bad?" My response? "Because for about an hour we tried to play with someone my height at centre forward and pretended that he was 6'4"."
In the News: Chequebook Pulis was moaning about a fixture pileup after their trip to Moscow. Everyone else is still moaning about how easy United's Champions League group is. Again. The only thing you have to conquer is distance my friend. And don't worry, as with every other day that ends in a Y you had an easy fixture lined up for the weekend. Speaking of moaning, Southgate is complaining that as England manager he doesn't have good players to choose from and half of them don't deserve to wear the shirt. Er, you got the bit where you only had English players to choose from, right? That was in the job description? He'd have to be as dumb as a post to only be realising that his prospects were sh*t now. And Klippity Klopp has been having a whinge too. About the possibility of being dragged down to London on 24th December to play Arsenal. "Nobody wants to see this happen on Christmas Eve". He says. Oh, but I do. I really want to think of your horrible lot crawling home when it's already Christmas Day. And besides, it's a local game for half his fans anyway. They all live in North London. And have southern accents. I hear them moaning on Talksport, blud. Speaking of London’s hovels, Ancelotti to West Ham is doing the rounds on the rumour mill. Please God, such a nice man, such a horrible place, don't do that to him. The Daily Fail's FIFA 2018 correspondent (No, I'm not letting this go until they do) has now been paid to do a comparison of all past FIFA games, thus dragging out the most ridiculous contract in journalism. Which is almost as stupid as their three wise men concept. Remember? Redknapp, Keown and Sutton? Jesus wept. According to Keown, Nelson, I know, who? (Some kid who drew the short straw at Arsenal and had to go to Belarus with part-timers like Wilshere and Walcott in the silly European competition) shows qualities you'd associate with Neymar. What a Bellend. I also display similar qualities to Messi. Such as breathing in and out. And I leave you with this thought. Roy Keane, yes: Roy. Keane. Had the audacity to write (more likely attach his name to something someone else wrote) that David Luiz is a liability to his teammates on account of his erratic and fighty behaviour. Pot, kettle, etc.
The Others: Meh who cares. Palace still haven’t scored, Huddersfield rolled over and played dead and the rest I haven’t got a clue, because I can’t be arsed to watch Match of the Day when we lose. Lineker is uglier when he is gloating over our misfortune than at any other time. Unless it’s when he’s crapping himself on live television and trying to wipe his arse on the pitch.
Them: They were missing Mendy, who has done the dreaded cruciate thingy to his knee. And Aguero. I’m not going to lie, when I found out he wasn’t seriously hurt, but just enough to miss a few games I did some fist-pumping. Who goes out on the p*ss in Amsterdam 48 hours before the biggest game of the season so far? Dick. But if you think that was the stupidest injury this week, spare a thought for a hooker (this is a real thing in egg chasing apparently) who plays for something called Ospreys, who has been ruled out of action because he was bitten by a lion.
Us: Luiz serves out his suspension, making way for Rudiger and Christensen comes in too as Conte opted to push Dave out as RWB instead of using Moses, which was sound in my opinion against such a sharp attack. George Michael took up his usual spot on the left, Kante was deployed slightly ahead of Bakayoko as on Wednesday night, and Antonio opted to have Fabregas, Hazard and Morata in attack.
3-1 was my prediction. Silly me. Both teams shot out of the blocks. In the first ten minutes we had a mere 25% of the ball, but I expected that. And that did certainly not mean that we were under a constant barrage. In fact we could have gone ahead right at the start when Kante did what everyone tries to do now and put the ball on Morata’s head. The resulting shot went over the bar. They had a decent free kick shortly afterwards, but the ball went straight into Thibaut’s arms. At this point Boycie’s son, Tyler (sitcom aliases) pointed out that from our corner of the Shed Upper, Pep looked hilarious. The gleaming white trainers, the chavvy jacket, he looked like he was about to head out clubbing in Croydon. Blue Orchid style. For every half chance they had we followed. A limp wide shot by some bald git I didn’t recognise, who it turns out is David Silva going for a convict chic look, was followed up by a deft break from Hazard.
Then on fourteen minutes came the first instance of what became the most unbelievable display of f*ckwittery on the part of a linesman I have seen, well, since the last one. Either he had a spasm in his flag arm or he was a bonafide moron, but the end result was that the individual running the line in front of the West Stand became even less popular at Stamford Bridge this evening than the idea of a return stint from Scolari. Naked.
iPhone spellcheck changes De Bruyne to De Britney, which is too good not to use. For the first half an hour he was muzzled efficiently by Bakayoko, as was Sane, who seemed to have assumed the role of roving dying swan. This was like a game against the Scouse, you felt. We needed to get through the first half an hour without conceding. At this point Gonzo (Muppet alias) was apoplectic with rage because Tyler had gone and located a (supposedly chicken) pie, therefore lining his stomach to ready himself for the Gonzo challenge. (four pints at half time, I’m told) We made it through the half hour, but then our evening started falling apart when Morata began signalling to De Britney to put the ball out. It was probably a gamble to start him today, given that he wasn’t totally comfortable for much of the game in Madrid, but one you’d take. Unfortunately he couldn’t continue and, bizarrely for me, he was replaced by Willian with Hazard pushing up, sort of, to replace our ailing striker. The pace went out of the game, there was a mopey atmosphere in the stands for the rest of the half. They'd had far more possession and far more attempts but I didn't feel like we'd been under really heavy pressure. Anytime we did get into the final third though, it was embarrassing, and in the end Thibaut grabbed the plaudits for Chelsea with a save to keep the score level right before half time. For City? The Lino was the best on the pitch.
Tyler managed the one pint at half time. Gonzo’s face was one of unmitigated disappointment. This look did not fade when he resumed watching the game. We were on the back foot as soon as the second half began, culminating in a shot from close range hit wide on 48 minutes. There were huge, ironic jeers of sarcastic applause for the lino every time he gave us a throw in. For him, the next 45 mins of his life was going to be pretty unbearable, but no more than he deserved. We had not remotely recovered from the loss of Morata. We were so woeful in the last third it was embarrassing. Poor Hazard, who had started the game brightly, was completely isolated and rendered so invisible by playing as a striker that he may as well not have been on the pitch. When he did finally break on 59 minutes, you knew Fernandinho was going to clean him out, because that is just what that awful little sh*tbag does. The resulting free kick that went sideways from Fabregas was a bit bizarre, but it did ping into the six yard box. It did also succeed in sparking life into both the players and the crowd, but by now we were fully under the cosh, with no outlet. It took some heroics to keep the score level; namely from Rudiger and an acrobatic George Michael. We were lucky not to be behind, and then lo and behold came a lapse that let in De Britney, of course it would be him, to put City ahead. I was p*ssed that it was a shot from that far out and we let it through. Urgh.
Cue one of those monumental bellends in front of us. You know the ones. You’ve never ever seen them in your life before, but they decide to get up and start going “sing up you c***s!” To everyone. As if they be a paragon of support when they aren’t even looking at the pitch. You know it's bad when the supporters are arguing amongst themselves. I now felt like it would be a miracle if we got anything out of this game. Because playing without an established striker is a bad idea when you are losing. We were getting more and more laboured with every minute that passed, especially Bakayoko and Kante, who had run their nuts off in Madrid. (I make no assumption about the size of said nuts) We had completely lost all ability to pass the ball to each other.
Conte made his last two changes. Hazard went off, presumably not quite up to two back to back full games in four days yet; and he was replaced by Pesto. (Another autospell gem) At last Michy came on. OK, I know he isn’t everyone’s joyous idea of a substitute, but given that he pops up and scores goals like those in West Brom and earlier in the week, it blows my mind that we had to wait until there were just fifteen minutes left to see him come on. Fabregas had gone back to sit in front of the defence with an exhausted Kante. So it really was sh*t or bust. It had got so bad that we were cheering like Gooners when we won corners. We immediately looked better going forward but I dreaded to think what would happen if then came at us, and it looked like too little, too late. The crowd was up, the players were up but we squandered what attempts we did have, and our passing remained woefully loose. Which brings me to Refwatch: Atkinson. Apart from failure to notice what looked distinctly like Ederson scampering out of his box with the ball in his hand, which was a stinker, I don’t think he had a bad day considering he was trying to do the job of of three people at once. He was determined to let the game flow from the start, he saw through Jesus and Sterling diving, and he booked Fernandinho when he wiped out Hazard. But his support from the other officials was shocking. EIGHT times offside they would have you believe. City 0. Does that sound right to you? Thats compared to once against Stoke, and four times against Arsenal, and it wasn’t anything to do with their defence being uber smart. The linesmen were just thick. If TV tells you anything it’s been doctored as part of the red agenda. I guarantee it. The remainder of the game was slowed down as much as City could manage, and when we did get the ball we couldn’t do anything with it. Even the ball boy couldn't complete a pass to help us get it back in play on 87. We headed over just after that, and in injury time I think we strung five passes together for the first time in the second half, but we could have stayed there till midnight and not scored today.
So: If I was a bigger person I would say that the better team won. But I am the worst loser you can think of. So I can’t. I won’t argue with anyone who does say it though. I will just point out, somewhat pettily, the fact that Sane has a full length portrait of himself covering his back complete with stadium background as he celebrates a goal. (It doesn’t even look like him) Ederson has a f*cking emoji covering half of his neck and John Stones now appears to have a stripper tattoo covering the whole of his thigh. So we walk away with the moral high ground.
Lampard hailed our win midweek as one of the best European performances he's seen by an English side. Consider it against Arsenal's trouncing at the hands of Bayern - a team with another impressive recent European record. They lost 10-2 on aggregate. It was an inspiring performance for a Premier League side when they have been lacking in the competition of late. But 72 hours after we became the first English team to win away at Atletico in the Champions League, we looked void of all energy and pretty terrible as the evening progressed. I don't know if Willian completed a pass all day. George Michael tried, but Walker just shut him down. Hazard was isolated through no fault of his own, Bakayoko and Kante faded badly. We've all supported Chelsea long enough to see this before. When you expect nothing we get miracles and when you come in breezily expecting a result we fall on our ar*e.
This result had little to do with Cahill, or indeed Rudi or Christensen. The defenders that played midweek looked fresher than most. Our game was over when Morata went off and it needn't necessarily have been, which was as frustrating as our inability to complete a pass. If you’re Michy you are going to go home and pick another row with EA Sports. Or cry. I think the disparity in mid-week action, them playing Ukrainians at home on Tuesday and us playing away to Atletico on Wednesday showed as the game went on. Antonio was understandably much frustrated by the complete lack of time between this huge match and the game in Madrid, but he made the wrong calls today. We played half the match sacrificing our best player by using Hazard as a centre forward in exactly the same way we would Morata. Why? When we had a striker on the bench? But then I can't remember the last time we said that about our manager, and let’s not forget we were quite rightly hailing him as a genius for his work earlier in the week.
We lost by one goal, not five. Some of the players didn’t look at it today, but it wasn’t for want of trying. Take yourself back to the loosely corresponding fixture last year, the last before going into the October break was Arsenal away - and we were pathetic. I could have taken to the field with Uncle Albert and Gonzo and we could have had more of a go at the Emirates. City were top then too. We were 7th and eight points behind them. Now? 4th, and six off. So no nappysh*tting required. That is, though, two European games and two non results the following weekend, albeit against top end “rivals.” We should keep an eye on that though, before we turn into Sp*rs. And we haven't scored twice in a row now at Stamford Bridge so watch out for “a club in crisis” in the red rags tomorrow. Yawn.
*Photo of the awful stripper tattoo comes from Chelsea's official website.
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Carry On Champions League
Atletico Madrid 1 Chelsea 2
Wednesday 27th September 2017 19:45
I warn you - if you are not of the disposition that finds lewd British sexual innuendo amusing. You should go and find your match report elsewhere, because tonight, Patsy was in town.
In the News: Real Pulis is complaining that Sanchez is a cheater as if he is the only person in the world that didn't know this before Monday night. PSG have offered Cavani £1m to hand over penalty duties. I do wonder if anyone that runs that bonkers club has ever watched a game of football. FIFA will now let us wear poppies. As if we didn’t just ignore them and wear them before. Dicks. Bryan Robson says Klopp and Conte are allowed to act like lunatics but that Chequebook Pulis gets punished for it. I don’t pay enough attention to Kilppity Klopp to care, but certainly in Antonio’s case he’s only a threat to himself. He actually shredded both his groin and the crotch of his trousers at once last season on the touchline. Nothing that our boss does involves harassing and verbally abusing every official/member of the opposition in sight.
Motherwell have a "legend" called Steven Craigan. No, I had never heard of him either until he brutally tackled Chris Sutton when he was wittering away on air at Fir Park, which I am reliably informed is in Scotland. Try and catch it on YouTube. I’ve watched him hit the deck about thirty times and it hasn’t got old yet. The Red Spawn have now done an article on players' FIFA speed ratings and who would win a theoretical foot race. Do the Daily Fail just have a FIFA 2018 correspondent? If so this is potentially the most stupid job ever, and that comes after I learned at Windsor this week that Queen Victoria appointed an "animal painter to the Queen." I was devastated to learn that this was not as much fun as it sounded and that he painted pictures of the animals, and did not tart up cows in psychedelic colours for Her Majesty's amusement.
The Others: The Scouse failed. Chuckles Karius was sh*t (after telling everyone that he wants to be picked ahead of Krusty Mignolet) and everyone seems to be preoccupied with the fact that Klippity started Coutinho, Mane, Firmino and Salah together. Yes, but they still didn’t win. Do pundits and press plebs learn nothing? Why is no one bothered about the fact that the reason they didn’t win was because they can’t stop conceding at the other end? Allegedly, Conte contributed in some tiny way to that results with some tips for the opposition manager. That makes me happy. Unlike the fact that Sp*rs won and I am subjected to nonsense about Harry F*cking Kane because he scored some more goals against minnows. Someone should flag with a member of the medical professional just how quickly boxing appears to be obliterating the capacity of the few brain cells Rio Ferdinand had in the first place, because he says that he is as good as Ronaldo and Messi. Also, Pochettino says his love for HFK has made his wife jealous. Make of that what you will. United have swatted aside their Russian opposition, while City made quite a big deal out of their game but won in the end.
Them: Familiar faces tonight, but Torres started on the bench and Costa looked marginally more awake in the stands. Six months ago Greizmann was looking spiffy enough to be invited to make a shampoo advert. Now he looks like a sad homage to Patrick Swayze in Point Break. Wearing a headband.
Us: This was undoubtedly a chance to show that we belong at Europe’s top table. Luiz came into the starting lineup, with Cahill to his left and Dave to his right. Moses and George Michael on the wings, Kante and Bakayoko sat in front and Fabregas was pushed up to join Hazard and Morata.
Standard practice for European aways which we are too poor/lazy to attend is for Uncle Albert/Royus, Denzil (Only Fools and Horses) and Patsy to meet at our local to watch the game. Even before kick off Patsy had blown Uncle Albert’s mind with talk of E Cups and possible uses for a cucumber, he was praying for the game to start just so he’d have somewhere else to look. Roll on kick-off, pitting football’s most successful hair transplant against football’s most drastic combover.
First thoughts: Atletico have started quickly and: Robbie Savage is commentating. Joy.
I was expecting no possession, and that’s what we achieved in the opening minutes, as the home side pinged the ball around easily. But the first thing that looked remotely like a chance fell to us on four minutes, Hazard shanking it wide. A minute later he hit the side netting. We weathered the early pressure and settled into the game, and actually we were having the better opportunities. On 12 minutes Hazard, my man of the match tonight, cut across the box and put a shot in. The keeper was beaten but the ball took a deflection, and however that altered the flight of the ball (too much cheap gin, couldn't’ figure it out) it ended up cracking the post. Patsy had gone into a diatribe about Eden and his backside, until I told her that when I met him it depressed me that he was thinner than me, so she was half watching the game and half devising a scheme to lock him in her loft and fatten him up. Meanwhile on the pitch it was an open game, but the Atletico play-acting was already p*ssing me off, as well as the referees inability to recognise that you needn’t go down clutching your face if nobody has actually touched you. On 20 minutes Luis was rolling on the floor like Kante had tried to kill him, making card gestures. I knew there was a reason beyond his sh*t hair that I didn't care that much when we sold him.
Despite being about half an hour from Stamford Bridge, on a bad day, the foolish landlady had decided to split the screens between us and United. 95% of the pub was of the blue persuasion, but of course I ended up next to three tedious Middle Class Southern Plastic Mancs (MCSPMs) drinking Speckled Hen and talking absolute b*llocks. We came close again on 23 minutes when Morata could have scored another with his head. A sublime ball in, but it didn’t quite come off. Patsy didn’t mind on account of the close ups of Alvaro, who is her new obsession. She has surmised that “it's so nice to be able to follow up every game with a w*nk even if we lose.” Hold tight, I told Uncle Albert. She's only two gins in, she’ll get worse yet.
Hazard was having an outstanding first half, partly because he was being really quite selfish, which I don’t object to in the slightest when he is on this form. Bitterly, the MCSPMs were loudly pontificating about how “easy” our group is, in case you needed any more clarification that the were tossers. Just after half an hour we had had 53% possession, conceded nothing and Atletico had not even had a shot on target. You could argue with confidence that we deserved to be ahead. It was a very disciplined, very sensible performance and I was that ecstatic that I went and bought more cheap gin.
Then along came David Luiz. I agree that I saw thirty similar shirt pulls at Stoke on Saturday and that none of them were penalised. But this is Europe. The fact that Luiz barely argued the point himself says it all. Silly, silly boy. I was hoping that Greizmann wouldn’t be able to see through the Wurzel Gummidge wig stuck to his head, but his penalty was pretty emphatic. The MCSPMs jeered in our faces. I wont lie. I contemplated hitting them with a tonic bottle. We had a couple of half chances before the break, both long range, from Cahill and George Michael, but we went in to half time behind, and actually we were lucky that it was only a single goal deficit thanks to an Atletico attempt right before the whistle.
I spent half time torturing a plastic London Scouser. He swaggered past us and mentioned that they had had 169 shots in the last half an hour of football, or whatever, and therefore were better than us. By the time I finished with my Klippity transfer window mockery and ripping their defence to shreds he’d run away to hide in the toilets. Meanwhile the bartender, when Patsy asked for a large one said: "would you like a gin with that" Guffaw, guffaw. Bless him he thought he was being very risqué. I refer your back to Patsy's previous first half comments which make him look like a smut peasant.
Atletico are consistently strong in the Champions League for a reason. “Masters of the Dark Arts” says Albert, in reference to the conning of free kicks out of the referee, and in a rare lucid moment Patsy articulated another interesting interpretation; that Spanish football can be largely about who is the better side at fouling the opposition and getting away with it. It’s the officials who need to be strong and adept at clarifying what is nonsense play-acting and what is actually an infringement of this rules. This referee tonight largely failed at this. We were debating whether he was a gooch (I’ll leave you to google that one) or a chode, which according to Patsy is a man part that is unfortunately as wide as it is long. As this debate ensued, Juanfran was rolling about on the floor holding his face having not been touched. Presumably he fell over his own massively receding hair line. When players do this this blatantly in Spain it sickens me. They deserve to be kicked in the crotch by someone wearing steel toecaps. Multiple times.
As the clock was about to tick onto the hour we finally had something to show for all of our hard work when Luiz redeemed himself by playing a great ball out to Hazard who crossed it perfectly into the box. Who else but Morata would be there to nod it in and set Conte off going batsh*t crazy on the touchline. The plastic Scouser was by now fighty and drunk and saying that Morata is shIt because all he's got is his head. I responded by licking his face. Agonisingly, we could have actually gone ahead minutes later but for a terrible miss by Fabregas. At the risk of sounding like whiny Scouser man, at this point we had had 18 attempts on goal to Atletico’s seven, surely we could aim for the win? It was a thoroughly entertaining game, end to end, feisty, and the referee’s ineptitude at deciding what was a foul and what was not was at least beginning to pay dividends for us too. They had forays forward, but we came closer to scoring, Moses pulling a shot wide and Morata making a fierce run forward only to send his shot wide too on 73 minutes. We had spent much of the time fending off sniping from plastic Scouser man. Patsy put him in his place and declared herself a “Bantersaurus Rex.” What does that make him? I asked? “A chode,” she replied.
Conte’s substitutions began with taking off Morata and Hazard. They had both had the sh*t kicked out of them. With City on Saturday, and with Pep’s brats getting an extra day to recover from European action this was sound. Michy and Willian were the fresh pairs of legs introduced. Patsy was devastated, and resorted to scouting along the bar for something else to perv at. Antonio’s last change turned out to be inspired. Fabregas came off for Christensen. Uncle Albert was doing his tactical nut trying to figure out what was about to happen. The answer? Andreas slipped into the middle of the back three and Luiz went up into midfield. Suddenly we looked strong again as the final whistle approached. By this point the game was frantic. Atletico were trying to win, I think we would have been happy with a point. Cahill saved the day on 89 minutes with some calm play, but we had dropped very deep. With just the last of injury time to play, Luiz did a Juanfran and picked up a free kick. Into the box the ball went, and with seconds left Bakayoko played a neat flick out to George Michael, who put a cross in with his right, yes right foot. Who was on the end of it? Who else. Michy. Cue meltdown in the pub. Even the PMCSMs high-fived us. Plastic Scouser pouted in the corner. The biggest cheer of the night though? Seconds later when the whistle went and the camera zoomed in on Diego Costa. Bless him.
So: Though he basically redeemed himself, this penalty tonight and the red against Arsenal, it's Retro Luiz. Someone shake him by the hair and make it stop. We saw Morata and Hazard start together for the first time. And wow. Conte beat Simeone tonight with his changes. Inspired. We weren't even in this competition last year - our boys were putting in London night-time training sessions on European nights, presumably to keep some kind of rhythm with the schedule. Conte pulled off a miracle in his first season, when actually what was required of him was to bail out a sinking ship. So this, for me, is year one. We had a relaxed start to life back in Europe's premier competition and tonight was the first real measure of where we are following a spell of exile. This, for me, was an outstanding away performance and makes me a whole lot more confident about our chances further into the competition if we can keep it up.
Patsy has had to go home after half a bottle of sh*t gin to ice a marble cake for the Macmillan Coffee morning. This is why you just suck up the financial hit and buy a big box of cupcakes from M&S. Same starting line up on Saturday would do me. I think it’s a battle of the defences, and I fancy our chances.
Photo of screamy Conte comes from Chelsea's official website
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Stoke City 0 Chelsea 4
Saturday 23rd September 2017 15:00
No. I'm not speaking Flemish. In London, "we are Stoke" would constitute three words using actual English. In "Sterk" it's one. It took nigh on the entire match to translate that.
In the News: Diegogate is finally at an end. I'm glad. I think everyone has got what they wanted, apart from the Red Swarm who are now without dramatic fodder at our expense. Costa has said he'll always have special affection for us, Conte has said that he won't forget that they won together. (I've gone all Queen Victoria and started underlining random sh*t today. Hopefully it's temporary. Her diaries read like a bizarre opera) Personally I wish him all the best, so long as he is not playing against us in any competition. He was bonkers, angry, mercurial and hilarious all at the same time. At the end of the day the personality clash with Antonio meant that he had to go. One of a kind, as frustrating as he was brilliant, and of course, a champion. We shouldn't resent him for the way it has ended, even if somewhere in the middle he got fat and then when he got thin again he tried to run away to China. Needless to say there is no chance we will forget the scary-looking lunatic. God speed, you absolute animal.
Ryan Bertrand says he didn't feel like a footballer at Chelsea. He didn't like "auditioning" every time he played and it put him on edge. For me, this says a lot about him, as opposed to us. The more I think about it it's bizarre coming from a professional sportsman. Firstly, I think the decision to walk away from that pressure would have been easier when he already had a Champions League winners' medal to mark his Chelsea career. That seems to have put the lid on it from what he was saying. Where was the hunger to build on that? It suggests a lack of ambition, which is disappointing coming from a talented man. No doubt he can earn an amazing living regardless, but no top, top level player ever got where he is by walking away from a challenge. I personally think that Bertrand could have been a better player than he is plodding at a mid-table team and that he would have got his chance at Chelsea, as there was a time when we didn't have the options we needed on the left. I couldn't believe when I read he was 28 already. Just seems like he's squandered some awesome potential to me, but what do I know.
However, he'd have to sink some way further to find himself circling the footballing drain with Mesut Ozil. Who is now featured by the Red Swarm playing FIFA as if this is newsworthy. He plays as himself. Mate. Put down the PS4 controller. Pick up a shovel. Dig yourself a hole. And climb in it. And take Jack Wilshere with you.
You waste a lot of energy, says Pep of the League Cup. He's always at liberty to p*ss off back to Spain where you only get a rough game once a month and take off weeks at a time at Christmas of course. How very disrespectful. Think of how much that trophy means to the minnows that have won nothing better for at least a decade and hold it as a measure of their standing in the game and cherish the memory of waving the Carling Cup about. Like Liverpool.
Everton are coming back for the next round of the Horse P*ss Cup (don't try any of the freebies they give out at Stamford Bridge. Carabao stinks worse than Phil Jones's jock strap) which will be great if they are anywhere near as bad as last time. That said, they will invade the Shed, which means I'll be a Chelsea gypsy on the move again. Joy. Vertonghen was claiming pre-match that he wasn't afraid of the challenge of marking Andy Carroll. Not surprising when if he planned to put in his usual shift he'd just be kicking him when the officials weren't looking or rolling on the floor pretending that West Ham's adopted pantomime horse had fouled him or poked him in the eye. If Vertonghen was actually going to try and play football, that would be a different story.
The Others: Speaking of the Sp*ds, how hilarious it could have been had West Ham scored another, but considering they are footballing bellends so far this season this was probably always asking too much. Aurier seemed to be running round at random fouling people, with all the spatial awareness of a moron on the Tube in rush hour who doesn't remove their backpack and put it on the floor. Thus it was no surprise when he got a second yellow for hacking down the panto horse. The vacant expression, tasteless ginger patch on his head that he presumably thinks is cool and a propensity for being a git means that he should nonetheless blend in well with all the other dickheads at his club. Chequebook Pulis managed to get himself sent to the stands with a mere twenty seconds of injury time left when his side were winning 0-1. If I was a cynic I might suggest that that was a nifty bit of time-wasting. Oh wait. I am a cynic.
Pepalicious's entitled brats took until nearly half time to put one past Palace. Then promptly destroyed them. They were Godzilla. Roy Hodgson was Japan. How many games has he got left before they go for a manager even more boring? Two? I read a stat that about 50 million people have been born since Palace last scored a league goal. I don't know about you but I am thrilled about the footballing education Ruben Loftus-Cheek is getting over in Croydon. Even if he did hit the post today, we could have loaned him to SAS boot camp and it would have been less brutally soul destroying. Elsewhere Huddersfield and Burnley will be last up on Match of the Day, Everton came from behind (titter) Swansea lost at home to Watford and Klippity Klopp and his travelling circus played another round of goal roulette and happened to be on top at the final whistle in Leicester. Who didn’t deserve any better when for the last of the Scouse goals they left WES MORGAN as the last man back.
Them: Mark Hughes was vocal in reminding everybody that he didn't have any defenders today. Cameron out. I don't know who that is, but I'm going to assume he is a giant meathead. They couldn't use Zouma because he is our giant meathead. Shawcross was injured - and missed by the away support about as much as a dwindling pandemic of the Black Death. (Seeing as the world has gone mad, I'll get called a racist for that reference if the Daily Fail see it)
Us: Christensen took up David Luiz’s spot in the centre of the back three, with Rudiger and Azpilicueta flanking him, meaning that Cahill had to settle for a place on the bench. Likewise Fabregas, as Bakayoko and Kante paired up in midfield. George Michael and Moses took up their wingback roles and our attacking force comprised Willian and Pesto (blah, autospell) behind Morata. Charly Musonda was rewarded for a blinding effort in midweek with a place on the bench.
To plagiarise Stamford Chidge: a*se gravy is usually an accurate description of a day out at the Bet365 Stadium. I do like the away support being in one big section, for the atmosphere, and they've closed in one of the corners, which means that it is not quite so f*cking cold, but those are the only two nice things I can think of to say about this trip. Happily we got the perfect start. Alvaro Morata in scores with his foot shocker. A long ball from Dave to play in the striker, who stung the Stoke defence, or lack of it, and put us ahead after a minute. Bakayoko made that goal by tenaciously digging that ball out at the back.
On four minutes they wandered into the box, but it was put emphatically out by Dave. They aren't bad in midfield you know. After quarter of an hour they had played themselves into it. We actually had less possession and made less attacks than the home side in the first half. Could it be that they are breeding out Pulisitis finally? They were, however, a lot easier to push off the ball than you'd expect ordinarily and for all their effort they hadn’t really looked like scoring. And their fans were singing that Sterk-on-Trent was wonderful. OK, this isn’t quite as dire as days of old but let’s not push it. Just before the half hour mark it was time for Pesto the Poacher to cr*p on their efforts from a great height. He had been largely anonymous till then, but a stupid mistake by Darren Fletcher and it was 0-2. We played within ourselves as the half progressed. After all there is no sense taking any risks away from home when you are two up. Kante almost lobbed the ball to perfection for Pesto after a string of one touch passing, but at the other end, Morata was proving his defensive worth both with his head and his feet to maintain our clear lead. They were more excited at a corner than the Goons. The home side could have gone in only one down, but their best chance was squandered when one of theirs leapt like a directionally challenged salmon and ballsed up an overhead kick. Which apparently is only a horrific offence if you play for Chelsea. I was too busy laughing to see who it was. Not vintage. Two attempts, two goals. We’d basically made the most of a Sterk brain fart and sprung their defence with some quick thinking to put daylight between us at half time.
Refwatch: Mike Dean. Was in petty mode today. Every time a Stoke player fell over his own feet he got a free kick. His finest (sarcasm) effort was when he ignored George Michael lying on the floor holding his head. You see him say to Dean as he sits up, that’s twice. Then when he took matters into his own hands and lashed out back, Dean booked him. Two minutes later he looked ready to send him off, but sense prevailed. Literally created a clusterf*ck out of nothing at all. You know the officials have been on the funny fags in their dressing room when you concede twice as many fouls as Sterk City. That’s about as comprehensible as the OJ Simpson verdict. But at the end of the day, he is less of a f*ckwit than most of his colleagues so I won’t get too worked up. More ludicrous was the home support singing: “If he played for Sterk you'd send him off.” Yes because if he played for Sterk the chances are the tackle would have been studs up, nowhere near the ball and would have come close to severing a limb. Then they moved on to: “Same old Chelsea always cheating.” Just as they are booing Willian for falling down having been dragged over by the throat. A timely reminder that even if they do play slightly more attractive football since Real Pulis left, they are still a sour bunch of moaning twats.
Anyway. Gary Cahill had sprung up as soon as the yellow came out for George Michael, because the last thing we need is another defender sent off and serving a suspension with City next week. Cahill went into the back three and the ever reliable Dave handed over the armband and went out to replace his compatriot. Hughes shuffled his pack. Every Chelsea fan’s favourite moment when they bring Crouch on, because it means you can start singing “Does the Circus Know You’re Here?” The home side were pressing, but the majority of their attempts were being shanked well over the bar. The natives were getting feisty with chants of “Wearesterk.” There was a shout for a penalty just after the hour mark. From the complete opposite end of the stadium I held my breath, as I’m pretty sure Cahill did too, but thankfully Dean’s blindness was getting less selective. If they had scored the third goal, I would have been convinced that we’d drop points with twenty minutes to go.
Lots of boos for Thibaut for almost losing consciousness, which tells you all you need to know about them. They had done all they could, but Conte brought on Cesc and Hazard and from then on we just had too much for them. The first thing that the latter did was set off a forward run that only fell at the last when Dave’s cross went slightly high and long. Fabregas contributed half a dozen of his stunning balls forward. The tide began to turn and when Sterk lost the ball by the halfway line Morata was off. It was three on one when they gave it away, but none of them got near him. Past the lot he went before shooting from a tight angle and making Butland look like a total pratt. Hazard could have one, then Morata was back. Dave found the ball played to him in the box. He didn’t even consider having a shot, instead chesting it across to his mate to set him up for yet another goal. Hatrick. One more of them than a certain Mr. Costa ever scored for us. And actually Alvaro could have scored two of them today. Match of the Day conveniently excluded the Crouch tackle that should have been a red as the game wound down, but f*ck it. Job done.
So: This fixture was a pain in the a*se in the middle of a busy run. We were businesslike, clinical when the occasion arose and not a bit entertaining until they gave up after the third goal, not that you'd expect to be entertained in Sterk. Rudi is a beast, but I love Dave. It gives me actual warm and fuzzy feelings to see the acknowledgement of what he is to our club when he wears the armband. If you want someone to embody the work ethic and the attitude required, you couldn’t choose better. Not to mention the fact that Choupo-Moting scored twice against United but could get literally nowhere against Dave. Christensen commanded the centre of defence, bossing everyone around. I wondered how he’d stand up against a tougher team and yet again, not a foot wrong and completely assured. We couldn’t have done better than bringing him back from loan if we’d spent stupid money on a centre back. If you gave me the choice of him and Stones, I know which one I would want. As for Bakayoko, Conte is dead on when he says he has to improve when he has the ball. When he is going after it though, he is a monster.
“What a tackle Bakayoko!" Said one of our number.
His dad: "Do you think that is classed as racist now?"
The last two goals embellished the score, says Hughes. In case you missed it, he followed this up with: “the sky is blue” and “Gary Lineker’s ears are slightly large” as he voiced the obvious in typically bitter fashion. My day was crowned by watching a very good friend of mine chasing Carlo Cudicini’s car out of Stamford Bridge screaming his name. In front of her husband. It’s OK. Carlo knows her well, and is aware she is a lunatic. He loves her anyway. Just watched City on Match of the Day. Absolutely, must, not, concede, the, first, goal, next, week. But before that it’s a trip to Spain. I’m not at all jealous that I will be freezing my a*se off in a medieval siege tower when all of my friends are in Madrid. Enjoy. Gits.
You're Not Famous Anymore
Chelsea 5 Nottingham Forest 1
Third Round: League/Milk/Rumbelows/Coca-Cola/Carling Cup, depending on your age.
Wednesday 20th September 2017 19:45
In the News: Rio Ferdinand has taken up a career in boxing. I might follow, if there is someone sanctioning punching him repeatedly in the face it's almost worth the effort. Kudos to G-Nev: "Does Vidic come in and take the punches for you?" Speaking of people I'd like to punch in the face: Neymar is demanding that PSG sell Cavani because he doesn't like him. They're calling him the Prince of Paris. If he could read (I don't credit anyone who makes his hair/fashion choices with that much intelligence) I'd tell him to look into what happened to the last royal personages in France that got too big for their boots. Though watching him guillotined might justify Sky's price hike and stupid new channel system if they can get the rights.
The Others: Only 48 hours since the last blog and already there are new reasons to laugh at the Scouse defence. They're out at the hands of Leicester already. We could all see that possibility coming. They’ve now gone four without winning. Brilliant. Klippity Klopp says he's sick of them conceding goals like this. On the contrary, I hope it never, ever stops. 60,000 plastic seats watched Sp*ds make a big deal out of beating Barnsley, United walked over Burton Albion, Arsenal did the bare minimum against Doncaster and ruined my accumulator. Twats. West Brom equalised with City to make Pep’s bald head sweat for about a minute before they cocked it up, so no major shocks in the third round.
Them: Captained by our old boy Michael Mancienne, but a number of changes for them - nine in total for their trip to London.
Us: Half a dozen players got the night off. Full debut for Charly Musonda, a chance for Batshuayi to take a start by the scruff of the neck. Rudiger went into the back three with Cahill and Christensen. Kenedy - I know, I know, I forgot he existed too and Zappacosta took the wide berths. Fabregas and Bakayoko at the back of midfield and a start for Hazard as he works his way up to full fitness.
Four minutes and Caballero made his first real save for Chelsea. Huzzah! Then he promptly almost got himself in the sh*t. I thought they came out with something about them, they were definitely not going to do a Pulis; Real or Chequebook. Worrall denied Musonda slipping all the way through to goal. Well worked by the fringe man, but a solid tackle. They had their early chances too - Rudiger had to be awake to put a stop to one run but Batushuayi poked an effort wide to round off the opening ten.
We didn’t have to wait long for our first goal though - two minutes later Musonda was at the heart of things again. Up the pitch it went and Kenedy was right where he needed to be for Rudiger to do his best impression of Dave out wide playing in the ball. Pinpoint accurate from the defender and Chelsea’s forgotten man takes advantage to put us ahead. 18 minutes gone and we had another. No dicking about from Batshuayi tonight. Made the most of Forest’s inability to close down Hazard. He chipped the ball through the defence and it came slightly off a defender’s leg to set it up for his compatriot. Poor Forest hadn’t actually done that much wrong at this stage, but the tie was already running away from them and their fans looked a little glum. Things were not about to get better for them either. They might have looked even worse had Zappacosta not had a goal disallowed on 24 minutes when the flag went up. Fabregas was ludicrously lucky not to get booked shortly afterwards for conceding a free kick on the edge of the box. Run away little Spanish man before the referee changes his mind. Crossbar for Forest, perhaps a bit too close to try and go up and over. Kenedy could have had another on the half hour. Great strike from distance but just off target. By this point Forest looked to be running out of steam after their sharp start. On 39 minutes the game was out of reach. Musonda absolutely deserved to get his name on the scoresheet. Endless time and space, through the Keeper’s arms. Best player on the pitch this half. Did he cry? We were waxing lyrical about how thrilled Zappacosta looked just to be playing for Chelsea against Qarabag. I get the same vibe off of Alonso and now Charly too. We like him.
Straight after the break Forest could have scored with three quick efforts, if not for Rudiger making consecutive saves. Moments later Hazard had cracked one off the inside of the post though, and then it was as you were. Musonda resumed his swagger straight away, but it was Hazard again who waltzed in on 53 minutes, left the Keeper on his a*se and then promptly set it up for Michy to claim the glory and take his second. Batman, you owe him a drink. Or five. 4-0.
55 minutes and Conte relieved Forest of Fabregas’s nightmare (for them) presence and on came newly 17 year old Ethan Ampadu with a terrifying hairdo in a like for like change. He promptly started bossing Bakayoko about, which I liked. And then he destroyed a Forest player with his first tackle. Which I liked even more. What I don’t like is that he was born IN THE YEAR 2000! F*ck I feel old.
On the hour Forest fans were screaming for a penalty, but nothing doing. The match had wound down so that it looked like a training game. Those in Blue had just resorted to showing off. Clarke-Salter came on for Christensen with twenty to go and Dujon Sterling got his debut when he came on for Zappacosta with a quarter of an hour to go. Chelsea’s Academy players all over the pitch. The Red Swarm won’t mention that. Michy could have had a third and the match ball, had been able to head a football properly, but that wasn’t to be. In fact, when he did get his third, he didn’t even know what was happening. Another outstanding ball from Rudiger to Kenedy who hit the the bar before it bounced in off Michy. Very bored Forest fans singing “Where were you when you were sh*t?” Chelsea response? “You’re not famous anymore.” They were still better than Everton, to be fair to them. They at least looked like they wanted to be there, and the 4000 travelling fans got a consolation with a last minute goal.
So: That’s how you do a cup tie, Klopp. A night for some of the fringe players and for some of the new signings to settle down a bit further. No Chelsea drama, no squeaky bums, could have been a fourth clean sheet in a row had we not gone to sleep. Forest came to have a go and we got to work. Took them apart in fact.
Ninety minutes for Hazard. Boom. Not a lot asked of Caballero but no drama. Musonda: I love this kid. He never stops the ball. He’s always got it on the move. He’s only weeny but I lost count of the times tonight that the only answer Forest had was to foul him. Slippery is the best word I think. He and Hazard just worked together. First opportunity from Conte. Smashed it. Others struggle to do this. I had a right old moan on the Fancast (I think, but I was hungover so I can’t be sure, it might just have been in my head) about not seeing a progression with Batshuayi. Tonight I have to be nicer to him. I saw him trying much harder to make runs off the ball in the first half that weren’t just random ambling about. His movement looked more assured and like he had a plan. But he still needs to be a bigger b*stard and when you look at the impact Musonda has just made in one start, you have to consider all the wasted opportunities that have come the Belgian’s way. Is he just not going to cut it? Or is he just more in the Drogba-slow-burner mould? Or should we just give him a break because even if he’s done bugger all else, he’s scored the most hapless hatrick in history tonight and even if he isn't going to challenge Morata, when we are playing him, he is just about getting the job done? He’s a conundrum. Would I want to see him replace an injured first choice striker in a massive game? Probably not, but then… West Brom. Won us the title. Urgh my head hurts. I give up. Predictably everyone was shouting shoooooooooot every time Zappacosta got the ball. Not quite the highlight-hogging heights of last week in the Champions League, but a good game. Every time I see Christensen play he just exudes class so far. I do wonder how he’d manage against an Aguero or a Costa - i.e. an a*sehole of a centre forward. Not so Rudiger, for me he looks like he’s been here forever already. Either way, our centre-backs are giving the manager plenty to think about. For obvious reasons Kenedy is a bit of a laughing stock at the moment. But I thought he did well tonight. He’s still got a long way to go to atone for not having done much but p*ss off China in the last year in my book though. We have the joy of Stoke to look forward to on Saturday. It's cold, windy, mean, usually boring and there will be a fair chance someone’s leg will get snapped in half. Don’t know about you but I can’t wait to head up there for that one.
*Picture of rampant Musonda comes from Chelsea's official website
No More Gin, Please, No More Gin
Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0
Sunday 17th September 2017 13:30
Brought to you from Putney High Street. I think. There was a wedding yesterday and we've now had a birthday party involving my extended Chelsea family. So I’m not sure exactly what's going on. I only know I've eaten so many carbs I feel like I'm having a heart attack, and that this is not helped by jogging up and down on the spot trying to get my quote of steps in for my Fitbit before midnight. Do not recommend this after mixing shots, gin, caipirinhas and God knows what else.
In the News: United would have been contenders for the Champions League if they had signed Bale. Says Ryan Giggs. No sh*t. We can all make up nonsense that was never going to happen and apply it in fantasy land. If I was a foot shorter and half the size I could have been an Olympic gymnast. If Robbie Savage was as prolific at football as he is at yapping like a complete knob he could have won the Ballon d'Or. Speaking of Bale, he appears to be not popular in Madrid. Has nothing to do with football. They are just that tired of his awful top knot that they can stand it no more. “Be gone, monkey faced man. And take your greasy ponytail with you.” The Scouse were the only English team not to win their Champions League opener. Happy days. Klopp says his defensive woes can't be solved in the transfer window. Well, not when you make one single attempt to sign any decent defenders and then give up they can't. I love Cologne's reaction to the chaos that ensued last Thursday night at Arsenal. "Unfortunately they were not adequately prepared." Which, however much you like mocking the Goons, is a bit ludicrous, considering that if you had done anything to stem the tide of your own fans invading across the Channel, or stumped up some cash to help police them might not have been such a disaster in the first place. I still can't do long Division and yet I know that 17,000 does not fit into 2,600. At best, this FUBAR might mean that the same touts, the same faces we see robbing people and clustered round Fulham Broadway and every other relevant Tube station across London on a match day like cockroaches might finally get collared. If we can all pick them out of a crowd then the police should be able to. But it won't happen. There were at least two dozen outwardly breaking the law around Stamford Bridge (but off of Chelsea's property) today and no one gave a sh*t. Putting up signs doesn't make them go away. I really don't care what this technicality about whose turf they are standing on means or subsequently whose problem it is. I hate tripping over them, being harassed by them week in, week out, and not only, as we saw at Arsenal on Thursday is it a safety issue, but in the modern world it is a security issue too. Create a last minute ticket drop/exchange and put them out of business.
And it wouldn't be a day ending with a Y if Chequebook Pulis wasn't trying to wind someone up. "We got Lukaku because we paid what Everton wanted" he sniped. Firstly, we all know that, and that makes you a mug in most Blue eyes, secondly, it probably had a fair bit to do with his mercenary agent and lastly, I think you'll find we got the better player, the one YOU wanted, because Morata told you he'd only sign for Chelsea. Get back in your sad little hotel room, you joker. And come back out when you've beaten somebody decent.
The Others: 'Arry hasn't even made it to October at Birmingham. I'd be remiss if I didn't have a chuckle about that. But back in the Premier League, here are some stats that prove the Scouse won't win the league this season unless there is an outbreak of bubonic plague everywhere else that they are immune to because of their own naturally germ-ridden state. 35 shots on Saturday. 71.4% possession. Scored once. Burnley made 37 clearances. Liverpool managed 8. They only made six tackles. Nearly 900 touches and approaching 700 passes and they couldn't score more than once. Which epitomises every issue they have and basically means they are wasteful as well as sh*t at the back. We love Klippity Klopp. We hope he stays forever.
Sp*rs - the gift that keeps on giving. Bore draw with Swansea at Wembley, who barely had a third of the possession and yet managed to stop Harry F*cking Kane dribbling past them. (In more ways than one) Startlingly disciplined away performance from Paul Clements's team.
Adam Crafton. (Yes the Costa interview twat again, who didn't ask basic questions like, what did "the text" say or "what about all that China sh*t you pulled then?") He says Pep has arrived now that City smacked Watford about. As if this is something to be celebrated. Did he come with Southern Trains? Is that why it's taken him so long to show up? Prior to yesterday at Watford, City have beaten Brighton and Bournemouth, and humiliated a Liverpool side, who can't defend in ordinary circumstances, after they were reduced to ten men. They failed to beat Everton who are the worst side I've seen turn up at the bridge since us in 2015/16. As with all the people who think United have won the title already, Adam might want to take his hand out of his pants until they've actually played a team that can defend. Seeing as Phil "The Milk Cart" Jagielka and Ashley "Panto-Horse" Williams managed to limit them to a point. They are the two strongest teams but lauding them as unbeatable right now is moronic.
Elsewhere Huddersfield continued to pick up points, Newcastle have now amassed three wins on the trot, Real Pulis failed to get the better of West Ham, who will probably be ecstatic with their 0-0 and the Palace board basically got what they deserved for taking up their default position of pussying out of having managers with a brain and resorting to dinosaurs with all the creativity of one of Allardyce's used bits of gum at the first bump in the road.
Them: Wenger used his tried and tested method - that is the one that beat us in the cup final and the dinner plate match in August. Apparently Ozil was injured. Again. There’s only so many dubious and vague absences you can float in front of the world before everyone detects a strong whiff of bullsh*t. They better pay him pro rata for his part time effort.
Us: A tried and tested team from Antonio. Which raised a few eyebrows, because it meant the return of Cahill, the exclusion of Rudiger, Fabregas at the back of midfield and no room for Bakayoko, perhaps because he’s not considered ready to have a go at ninety minutes yet? Well it was going to work, or it wasn’t, but at least the bench was stacked with the likes of those omissions and Hazard.
Our Game: Began with chants of “where were you on Thursday night?” directed at the Goons from all corners of the ground. Somewhat predictable response was “Where were you when you were sh*t?” Unfortunately this just paved the way for a resounding chorus of “We’re the only team in London with the European Cup.” 1-0 Blues.
Moses almost got one on Morata’s head in the first minute, but Cech, always a welcome returnee, was alive to that threat and snatched it from in front of him. Pesto (yawn, autospell) shot from range shortly afterwards, but again it went straight into Petr’s hands. Then it was over to them briefly before we surged forward and won our first corner. Morata went close again after ten minutes, again with his head but the flag was up. We were definitely on top for the first quarter of an hour, but not to the extent that we had any really convincing shots on goal. Thibaut too was forced to make a couple of saves, but my blood pressure was at a reasonable level. There was a lengthy break after Pesto went down with a busted shin. It didn't look like a foul, he just went in bravely and didn't come out of it well. We were down to ten while he tried to jog it off on the touchline, but almost instantly on his return he found himself bursting through the Goon defence. A goal looked inevitable for a few manic seconds, but then he took too many touches and the opportunity was gone. Yet another header from Morata failed to find the target moments later when the ball looped high and he just couldn't aim it with enough force.
Arsenal fans had spotted their want-away Chilean warming up. Their song for him is to the tune of Human League’s Don’t You Want Me? Alexis Sanchez baby, Alexis Sanchez Oooh. What a generic pile of w*nk. Not exciting. Not creative. Can’t understand why it would amuse anybody. It raised the same disdain from me as every time I hear an Ed Sheeran song on the radio. Still I don’t suppose there is any point spending time coming up with a new one when you know he’s going to f*ck off and abandon you at the first opportunity.
After half an hour both teams were about even, but while both sides were good on the ball, we were better off it. Cahill was doing step-overs in the last third, so that gives you an idea of how much pressure we were under. It was not a particularly exciting game, with both teams containing each other. The fans in The Shed made their own amusement. Namely a reworking of a old song to the tune of Come On Feel the Noise:
F*ck of Pochettino
Wenger is a p*d*
We've got Antoniooooo
We've got Antoniooooo
As the half began to wind down, we basically lost our sh*t. We were making a meal out of everything. Moses was air-kicking on the edge of our own box, then there was some flapping by Cahill. Luckily they best chance they had fell to Ramsey, who couldn’t miss again from that range if you gave him a billion pounds. But we were lucky not concede in the last minutes of the half. Our composure had completely evaporated, apart from Luiz holding it together at the back with Dave. Somehow we had gone from bossing the first half to going AWOL, so a draw at half time was reasonable. Kante had been shackled and Fabregas wasn’t doing it for me. The latter seems to be a theme against his old side of late. My choice would have been to hook him and get Bakayoko on and hope that that pairing would do better in midfield. I’d also have considered Zappacosta, as on his showings he could have caused them infinitely more problems down the right hand side than Victor today, who worked hard but just wasn’t firing on all cylinders. And obviously we’d have Eden to come.
We enjoyed an upbeat start to the second half. Pesto, who I am not convinced wasn’t broken in that early shin collision, went off and Bakayoko came on, but Antonio spurned by advice, pushing Cesc up the pitch instead of yanking him off. This was vindicated on 52 minutes when the new signing went rampaging up the pitch, cutting through the Arsenal midfield with ease. George Michael’s shot, however, was well blocked, and from then on everyone’s frustration levels mounted. Cahill was looking as rusty as a porthole on the Titanic, I forgot Cesc was even playing, and in the last week Willian has veered from awful in his cameo at Leicester, to great against Carrier Bag and then back to a little bit woeful again today.
Refwatch: Michael Oliver. Don't ask Morata what he thought of the officials today. A couple of his tumbles weren't fouls, but he looked ready to rip his head off and sh*t down his neck on the hour mark. Today gave us an absolutely bizarre performance by the referee. He went from admirable in the first half, to dubious after the break, and ended up making Harry F*cking Kane look like a brain surgeon by the final whistle. He ended up booking Morata, ostensibly because the Spaniard is taller, richer and better looking than him. He can consider himself off of the striker’s Christmas card list, unless the card is going to have a turd in it.
We just weren’t committing enough players forward. It was all too cautious, so I was pleased to see Hazard come on for Willy on 68 minutes, with Fabregas dropping back to fill an ever widening gulf further back in midfield. We had an interval whilst Danny Welbeck rolled about on the floor, presumably dying of shame having contributed nothing all day, and Wenger made his own change by switching out him for Giroud and his beard, which should count as two substitutions. Meanwhile Oliver was getting worse and worse, though after giving them a dangerous free kick for falling over on 74 he did manage to notice their whole team with the exception of Cech was offside when they scored from it.
All day long our last ball hadn’t been there and it was becoming clear that this was going to end goalless if nobody could come up with a moment of magic. We almost got it on 78 minutes when Hazard went on a flying run up the pitch and got a shot off that require a decent save from Cech. Suddenly the game was end to end, everyone running about like headless chickens. After we had a pass go right across the face of goal we seemed to realise that we were running out of time and stopped dicking around with passing it round endlessly on the end of the box and short corners.
Having gone slightly bonkers since half time, Luiz suddenly lost his head having started off with an assured showing this afternoon. Nobody really complained, and from the other side of the pitch we could see that he’d gone into that challenge with the serious a*seache with Sanchez and Kolasinac had been kicking and punching people all afternoon. Christensen came straight on, with Morata offered up in sacrifice. It was kitchen sink time for the Goons now they had a man advantage. Referee f*ckwit bingo continued, namely when Oliver ignored all of the fouls committed on Hazard and then penalised him instead. Four minutes of injury time and they couldn’t break us down. We might have nicked it, but it wasn’t to be.
So: This week Wenger was still saying his muppets could win the league. After today’s showing it is my opinion that three, possibly four teams would have to catastrophically roll over and lie there with their legs in the air for this to happen. Because stifling a rival top six team is not the same as beating them. Not if you’re Wenger, anyway. They may well nick some points off their near neighbours, but they will p*ss them away elsewhere and won’t sustain a challenge. From our perspective, not our finest hour, but nothing to trigger a mass epidemic of nappysh*tting. Sticking with the new signings at this early stage, every time I see him I love Bakayoko and his magic inspector gadget legs more. I literally cannot explain how he gets in front to win the ball back from some of his positions, or how when he doesn’t he still manages to fish the ball out. He is going to be an absolute legend when he’d in full stride. Against Sp*rs, Morata won absolutely nothing in the air. That has changed, and I can’t fault the way in which he is trying to embrace the physicality of the Premier League. That said, roughly half of the fouls he wanted given today were not infringements. I get that he is still adjusting to the English game, but if it doesn’t go your way get straight back up and carry on, don’t sit on the floor sulking.
As a team, there was not enough impetus going forward for long stretches today. The short corners p*ss me off, we had wasted free kicks. And yet. Clean sheet. Two “rivals” played, neither of them losses. And that was the first time we have failed to score at home under Conte. We’ll have easier days, and others have yet to have tougher ones. We’re third, three points off the top, which is good enough for me at this early stage. Today might have been an anti-climax, but just put Parklife by Blur on and have a listen. It just came on my Amazon playlist and it makes everything rosy again. And this will cheer you up. Blue Squirrel tells me that the hilarious pitch invader, who got himself nicked over a disallowed goal, had something in his pocket that means the football banning order is the least of his worries. Hilarious.
Please don’t forget to make a donation, however small, to Veterans in Action in aid of our Blue Desert Walk in November. Even if you give me 50p that will be 50p more than Jeremy Clarkson gave me. All I got off him was a filthy look outside the ground yesterday. Information below:
It's Two Words
Chelsea 6 FK Carrier Bag 0
Tuesday 12th September 2017 19:45
We all hate UEFA - crooked b*stards. But we'd be lying if we said we didn't forget that like the European football loving whores we all are when we hear that damned theme music as the teams walk onto the pitch. At least until we get knocked out, then we can resume hating them again.
In the news: I reserved top spot here for the Zlatan: "Lukaku is better than me? You make me laugh, my nose is bigger than his career." If you haven't googled this man's top 10 quotes, you haven't lived. The Daily Fail are that bored that they’ve begun running daily articles about players’ ratings on FIFA 18. Yes. Computer football. Can only assume it is some dastardly ploy to try and con a whole new generation of schmucks into reading their newspaper. Their so-called three wise men have been at it again this week. Despite the sight of stitches all over his victim’s face, Chris Sutton insists that Mane should not have been sent off for dangerous play, and that anyone who says that they believe he should have been is a “liar.” I was marginally more disturbed by the close up that reveals that Ederson has a f*cking emoji tattooed on his neck. Another of these exalted pundits, namely Redknapp, has suddenly declared that taking part in one 5-0 drubbing against just ten of Klippity Klopp’s band of muppets after months of being pretty average makes De Bruyne the best player in the league. I suppose at some point people thought the world was flat, but that is still no excuse for this level of f*ckwittery. Klopp meanwhile says that his midfielders are to blame for the loss. If his dubious adhesion to personal hygiene didn’t convince you he wasn’t right in the head, this should. And remember how four weeks ago they thought that Antonio would win the race to be the first outgoing manager? De Boer is gone. Too soon in my opinion. Palace weren’t that bad against Burnley. They sacked Pardew for that big sow Allardyce too. Every time they make a move that threatens to lift them to a new level they panic and revert to sh*t on a stick football. Why else would you hire Uncle Woy?
The Others: Happily, in our group, Atlético and Roma both dropped points in a 0-0 draw, which means that we lead the pack with a hefty goal difference. We couldn’t have asked for a better start. In United’s suspiciously easy (as always) group they ran out 3-0 winners against Basel and CSKA beat Benfica at theirs. Celtic got a beating from PSG and Bayern subdued Anderlecht, so no surprises there. Somewhat bafflingly, Barcelona managed to put three past Juve’s stingy defence, leaving them on the back foot and Sporting beat Olympiakos. The Italians will still be confident of getting out of that group.
Them: I'm going to take this seriously. Mowgli even bought me a programme for this section. FK Carrier Bag (ok, not that seriously) play in Baku, in a 68,000 seater stadium, so they aren't minnows in their neck of the woods. They are Azerbaijan's league champions and played in the group stages of the Europa League last season. Just like Arsenal will this week. They had already played seven matches to get to this opening game of the group stages, including beating Copenhagen over two legs, so they have earned their spot. They are a multinational side, with representatives from the Ukraine, Poland, Bosnia, Spain, South Africa and Haiti as well as a pile of home grown players. Their captain is an Azerbaijani footballing legend. Now I have said all this respectfully, I can say that if you offered me a billion pounds I could not pick one out of a line up and name him. I really do wish I was doing the away game, because I’ve never been remotely near Baku, but it clashes with my walking across the desert in aid of veterans. (Link below, with info, all donations much appreciated)
Us: Some squad rotation tonight before a game against some mid-table has-beens on Sunday. Cahill and Christensen came in for Rudiger and Luiz, Batshuayi for Morata, and in midfield Hazard still sitting out, Willian starts then, as does Fabregas. Zappacosta made his full debut in place of Victor Moses.
And so there we were on a rainy September evening. You know it's not the normal crowd in when the Shed Upper gets an early round of "Ziggy Zagga." And we were treated to a hospitality box next to the Shed taken up by rampant Azerbaijanis in full voice. Bless 'em. They stayed till the end and screamed themselves hoarse. The opening five minutes was a quick rush up the far end and then a flurry of chances for the likes of George Michael and Michy. We were ahead almost straight after those thanks to a perfectly hit long range strike from Pesto. (Pah, autospell) He was winding up to hit that thirty seconds before the ball arrived at his foot, he had that much time and space. They settled down a little by the tenth minute, and were knocking the ball about quite quickly amongst themselves, but every time we were running on goal they looked like they were sh*tting their pants. Quite a lot of ball hogging going on in blue - with everyone sensing a chance to get one. Michy did hit a ball back for Willian, who had clearly shaken of his jet lag, but when the save came back his own way he could only hit the side netting. On 21 mins Zappacosta almost had his first goal too, but he was offside. As Boycie (sitcom alias) pointed out, probably no need for the ridiculous Hollywood save by the goalkeeper. But then that never stops De Gea does it?
There was a bit of hope for the away side when a free kick was heading straight towards goal on 28 minutes, but it got no further than the wall. Then we went straight up the other end and Zappacosta stunned the crowd with a worldy half an hour into his Stamford Bridge career. That's what a goal looks like when you mean it, Harry F*cking Kane. Because he did. He looked up, couldn't see a cross and for me, he decided to have a go. If he contradicts this, I am right and he is wrong, by nature of me being a woman. Because we are always right. Victor Moses has to share his tune with the Italian new boy now - that goal was worthy of the immediate "Doo doo doo do, Zappacosta." We also had a round of "Zappacosta - he scores when he wants." Not a Y word in sight. The Red Swarm will be disappointed. We could have had a third on 32 for George Michael or Kante, but for the ball getting tangled under a prostrate defender’s feet in between them. Zappacosta had another one go wide on 34. There was now a universal shout of shoooooooot every time he touched the ball. (no doubt tomorrow the Red Swarm will be saying that we booed him) For their part, they had a low drive from distance go straight into Thibaut's hands just after half an hour, but although they had been spirited they never really looked like scoring. They made a decent run a couple of minutes later, but it was swept up with some acrobatics on the part of Cahill and Azpilicueta.
Part-timer Granville was already p*ssed off about the lack of beer on European nights. Then they ran out of hotdogs at the other end of the Shed at half time. "Wouldn't have happened on Kenyon's watch!” He moaned. I expect they did have them, but when he asked for gravy on it they looked at him in disgust and denied it. It's bad enough the pig has to die, without disrespecting it with all that northern nonsense.
This was turning out to be even more chilled out than Everton. The last two home games have made this football lark look rather easy. There was a bit of a lull after half time; another shot on target from them, but not enough on it and easily taken by Courtois. Boycie and I had to put up with the two losers next to us talking about women that weren't attractive enough for their liking. Neither of them was an oil painting. They paid a combined amount of £60 to sit and bitch about girlfriends. You could do that for a lot less in your local Spoons. And I wouldn't have to hear it. Happily Dave briefly shut them on 55 minutes when Fabregas put the ball into him. Absolutely unmarked in the box.
I says to Boycie: We should hammer this, we might need the goal difference in a tight group.
He says: Yeah.
Right on cue, because Antonio always listens to us, there was Eden's bum jumping up and down waiting to come on for Pesto. I should point out that in the p*ssing rain, with his coat undone like the 'ard b*stard that he is, Conte was still raving like a lunatic at 3-0 up. He made a second change just after the hour mark, resting Kante ahead of a Sunday and giving Bakayoko a run out. I expected the opposition to be hanging out of their a*ses by now, looking like Wayne Rooney falling out of a Volkswagen Beetle with a kebab hanging out of his mouth in the wee small hours. To their credit, though, they were much fitter than I expected and still running, but they still didn't look like achieving much at the end of it. We were back to Ziggy Zagga again. There are literally two words to this song. How can you get them wrong?
Then the floodgates opened. Willy hit the bar before Bakayoko saw his shot deflected into the back of the net on 70 minutes.The indomitable Dave was given a bit of a rest and replaced with Rudiger, but the back three still didn't look remotely troubled. Michy finally got his goal on 75 at the near post. He hadn't played badly at all, but he had squandered a couple of half chances, enough to set off a bout of sphincter action among the nappysh*tters. It would, though, have been pretty cataclysmic had he not been amongst a pile of goal-scorers tonight. Happily he got another on 81 when Batshuayi (and the defender) bundled it over on the line. As the game wound down they they could have had one, but some bloke put it high. Two minutes later their number 9 hit it even further over the bar and looked like he wanted to dig a hole on the pitch and climb in it. I didn't think they were embarrassing tonight. They were outclassed by a mile and it may turned out to be that I'm high on cow after the amount of birthday burger I ate before kick off, but I don't recall any Mignolet/Moreno style clownery that you would have laughed at. Refwatch: typical Euro ref, classes football as a non contact sport. Blew the whistle far too many times but I'll take that over the Premier League when they can't stay consistent for five minutes. Gladiator style, thumbs up, I will let him live. This time.
So: Hard to judge in such an uneven contest. Zappacosta was an absolute menace on the the right hand side. Hazard looks like he's getting right back into the swing of things - though not ready for ninety minutes yet by any means. Again Bakayoko showed flashes of absolute beastery when he came on, and I maintain that in his tackling and his general aura of scariness Rudiger reminds me of Ivanovic c.2009. Willian fully awake again after his long flight back from international duty and solid performances from Cahill and Christensen coming in having not played at length for a while. Any criticism? Against better opposition Michy won't be able to miss four or five chances to have a go at the goal before he puts one away. But we won 6-0 and he got a brace, so if I got on his back now I'd sound like an Arsenal fan. Speaking of, that was a nice run out before we face the Goons at the weekend, by which time I will have consumed that much gin to dull the pain of ageing another year that I can't promise my match report will make any sense. Till then...
*Picture of rabid Conte comes from Chelsea's official website
2 + 2 = Bellends
Leicester City 1 Chelsea 2
Saturday 9th September 2017 15:00
Where I come from foxes are vermin. Out they came to a bugle sounding the beginning of the hunt. They do realise that after that the foxes get hunted down and ripped apart, right?
International Break: It's not that I'm unpatriotic. I abuse anyone who doesn't stand for the national anthem. The Queen has been nice to me and my fridge door is a magnet shrine to her, the Duke of Edinburgh (who I wish was my grandad) and Winston Churchill. But I've broken the cycle of self flagellation that is watching a load of bellend Scousers and Sp*ds running round achieving nothing in an England shirt. Not a minute did I watch. Instead I dined off the US Open and the lasting high of Arsenal's smashing at Anfailed and of Sp*rs failing to win at Wembley. Again.
I did sit shaking my fist at Belgium on the Bet365 live feed when they had the cheek to use Hazard. Grr. I wonder how close Diego comes to losing that temper of his when he sees Morata nicking his career. What is it? First player in the Premier League to get a goal and an assist in both his first starts? Janice (muppet alias) isn't here to do my stat checking. She basically worked as my PA and creative consultant for that transfer window breakdown. Without her it could have been 3000 words of traditional lewd British sexual innuendo and Game of Thrones metaphors. Anyway, Morata also smashing it for Spain too. Nothing else caught my eye about the break apart from Antonio in his budgie smugglers on the beach. Nice. He was reading a guide to speaking for English for football. Outstanding:
"At the end of the day” - Over-used phrase trollied out by managers in post match interviews of ambiguous meaning.
"Bottling" - The act of almost achieving something spectacular, telling anyone that will listen that glory is yours, taunting the opposition and then faceplanting at the last moment and winning nothing. See also: Sp*rs
"Joey Barton" - a w*nker.
Leave any more in the comments section if you see fit.
In the News: Speaking of Barton. Since his brilliant and much deserved demise he's filling his days with yapping about things that are not his concern, or that rest outside the realms of his intelligence. Which is everything. Including gambling. Because he was betting on himself to score. He says Barkley decided to pull out of his Chelsea move because Antonio turned his phone off. I say: get thee back to the bar at ye local Wetherspoon's for your 9am pint with the rest of life's broken humanity. The Daily Fail have titled Keown, Redknapp & Sutton as The Three Wise Men. What the f*ck was the criteria?! Joined up writing? Counting past ten without taking their socks off? All three completely outwitted by Carragher. Which is a low bar. Because he can't even speak properly. You can always rely on Roy Keane to come out with something mindlessly stupid too. He says in today's transfer market Ryan Giggs would have cost £2 Billion. That's right. More than all of the money spent in the entire window plus about another £500m. No more for him, bartender. Ray Wilkins says selling Matic to United was the stupidest thing Chelsea have ever done. Come on mate, you worked for the club. You should know better than that. Winston Bogarde is up there. That graphite and tangerine kit too. Again, feel free to contribute stupider things we have managed over the years... the Nike Dictatorship Megastore Overhaul is a contender for me. Arsene Whinger says Arsenal could still win the league this season. And I could sell enough copies of my book to fund a half decent bottle of gin, Bertie the kitten could go a whole day without smashing something that I own, and little green men could land a spaceship on the park at Old Trafford and claim Fellaini back for whatever luntatic planet he came from. All of these things could happen. They won’t. I've left the King of the bullsh*tters till last. Chequebook Pulis is lauding his own intelligence. Says Lukaku would have cost him the same as Mbappe on deadline day. I don't know what's more ridiculous, the idea of £150m for a bloke with a decent finish who essentially goal hangs his way through every game or the wording that intimates CP would have paid it.
The Others: The Scouse have gone from second to seventh in a matter of hours. Glorious. I have actually laughed until I cried watching the highlights. Bertie thinks I have lost my mind. I’d like to know what Klopp’s complaints were about. I don’t care where your eyes are, if your foot is six feet off the floor and the keeper gets stretchered off, you’re f*cked. Just when you thought Pogba couldn't make himself look any more stupid he comes out at Stoke looking like a startled parrot. If Stoke win 7-0, said a hopeful travelling Chelsea steward, we go second. This is the kind of optimism we like. Hilarious defending from United for the first goal. Unbeatable? Nope, outdone by Stoke. Until they all decided to stand on top of each other instead of marking the opposition for the equaliser. Best moment? Nobody from Chequebook Pulis’s band of mighty monsters marking at the back post when the home side made it 2-2. Brilliant. Almost as brilliant as CP not shaking hands with Hughes like a big baby. Sp*rs won. It's OK, they will be back at Wembley next week. Koeman has to be worried. Two games in a row Everton have rolled over. Having spent a fortune. Brighton got a win, woohoo! And even better it was at Pulis’s expense. Fancy Jonny Evans, everyone’s favourite defensive transfer target being on the end of a beating like that. This time next week, Gareth Barry will have made more appearances in the Premier League than anyone else. That’s a pub quiz question nobody will ever guess the answer too. Arsenal won. Not so much Wenger, who tried to carry off a schoolboy cardigan and ended up looking like a dodgy physics teacher.
Us: Bakayoko into the starting line up and Fabregas and Pesto (blah autospell) supporting Morata up front. Willian dropped to the bench, which looked a darn sight better now that Zappacosta and Drinkwater were sitting on it in addition to a fit Hazard.
Them: All the players they had before, apart from all the ones we nicked. Oh and Harry Maguire. Mahrez has turned up - looking like Tom Hanks in castaway after spending the last week wandering the European wilderness barefoot, surviving on food he picked out of his beard after that bizarre transfer deadline day.
Buoyant away support today. Let's get this over with. Do I sing the Y word? No. Do I condemn those that do? Not especially in the context it was used in today. It referred to a club the way their own fans refer to themselves. It's going to be nigh on impossible to convince a few thousand p*ssed up people who do use that word they are doing anything wrong when the club in question sing about being a y** army and beat drums shouting it about themselves. I've even seen it printed on replica shirts at theirs. If it is offensive then everyone needs to stop saying it then, don't they? Something is either acceptable or it is not. There can't be one rule for one club and a different one for another, else you will just be beating your head off a brick wall trying to argue your point. At least the Red Swarm can amuse themselves having another pop at Chelsea tomorrow. There's a circle jerk going on at the Daily Fail as we speak at the thought of Sunday's headlines.
Suggested replacement doing the rounds:
He comes from sunny Spain
He's better than Harry Kane
(It took all the willpower in the world not to insert an obscenity into that dribbling idiot’s name)
After one minute Bakayoko came storming out of midfield on a run that reminded everybody of Yaya Toure before he started sulking about birthday cakes, arguing with managers and got old. Morata took the shot, but it went straight into Sh*t Schmeichel's hands. (Lets face it, he'll never be his dad) It transpires we were next to the Leicester twat with a drum. Excellent. It took Vardy five minutes to p*ss me off when he skidded in on Thibaut after ball was out of play. Dirty ratfaced sh*tbag. I always forget how much I hate the cheating little turd until we play them. The first ten minutes were even. Though Leicester didn't really cause any serious problems in the box, they retained possession well and had come out very physical, which is fine with me so long as we are going to get away with kicking them back.
Meanwhile the Leicester fans were singing "Who came third in a two horse race, T*ttenham F*cking H*tspur" (it goes to the same tune as Super Frank) It's always grand when the whole stadium is taking the p*ss out of them in tandem. Leicester had their first real break on 18 minutes but leave it to Dave to save the day. A minute later a free kick from Luiz was driven low and made it through the wall, but went straight into Sh*t Schmeichel's hands. We were definitely on top. After 20 minutes Harry Maguire was puffing like he'd been hung upside down in a wind tunnel having had Moses and Pesto running at him. Almost all of our success was coming down that right hand side. Any trickery they tried in the box was broken down swiftly by our back three. Leicester's first shot was dragged wide by Vardy. Shame. I've decided that he is a thin version of Rooney. He's a whiny, inadequate dick who doesn't stop complaining, can barely speak English, who is always throwing himself on the floor or putting a nasty foot in on his opponent and then bitching when he gets a taste of his own medicine. And somehow he gets away with it all. And. AND, he uses the word “defo” in serious conversation. Happily he was having a right old strop at this point having had no joy. Not to mention the fact that it had stated raining so now he was getting wet too. Drowned rat. Literally. It had been competent and assured opening half hour by us, but the final ball hadn't been there. Sh*t Schmeichel was time wasting already. We had about a forty second wait for him to put the ball back into play. A great clearance from Rudi bounced luckily for Morata who was away on 35, but he was being pushed wide all the way in and couldn't get a decent shot off. At this point I was annoyed that we weren't ahead but it's not like we had tested them much in the box. In fact we could have been stung on 39 minutes when Kante gave it away. By now it was bucketing down. The home side broke quickly, but luckily Thibaut he made himself look bigger than the fat Steve Bruce sized head in front of me blocking my view of half the pitch and their best chance so far went begging.
Sadly for them, two minutes later we were ahead. Dave and Morata again. Just before the break that same brilliantly accurate pass from Dave that we saw against Everton, finding Morata's head for the new man to nod it into the goal. Hurrah. Gary Lineker trying to claim it was offside on MoTD. Shut up and eat another bag of crisps, you bellend. That was until we spent the last moments of the half with our backs to the wall while they desperately tried to get back on level terms. It wasn't a particularly mature reaction from the home side, bombing forward as if we were in the dying moments of a cup game. Surely you don't want to risk going in at 0-2. Had Sh*t Schmeichel not saved a Moses effort with his legs that would have been the case.
They came out the blocks very determined after half time, and having made two subs. They looked slightly threatening for four minutes. Kante found himself in miles of space on the edge of the box. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. We all went "shoooooooot" and he went "why not?" It seemed to bobble agonisingly towards the goal, did it even have enough pace to get there? Then the net rippled. He didn't celebrate much, because he's such a nice chap, but that's ok because we made up for it by jumping up and down like maniacs. Goalkeeper was shockingly slow off the mark. The Leicester fans spent the rest of the game booing Kante. How can you boo him? He's got a big cheesy grin and he drives a mini. And he does sweet little interviews now. It’s like walking up to a puppy and stamping on it. Danny Drinkwater even got a nasty song sung about him. It was rotated with another song about their 5000-1 title win. They're missing the connection there aren’t they? In Leicester, 2+2=Bellends.
We had some good chances to add to our lead, but nothing doing. Then, Courtois brought down Vardy and conceded a penalty you can’t really moan about. Which brings me to: Refwatch: Lee Mason. You can tell it's not Anthony Taylor from a distance at the ground because he's got a shinier head. Apart from the reflection coming off it it, blissfully anonymous for much of the game. I didn’t want to hit him with a brick, which means he has turned in a better performance than the rest of the jobber officials we have had so far. He even penalised the home side for their atrocious, never-ending shirt-pulling.
Thibaut got a touch on the little git’s penalty, but not enough to tip it around the post. Unfortunately the penalty stirred the f*cking drummer from the coma he had been in for the previous half an hour and he was at it again. From 200 yards away Janice and I spotted Hazard’s bum warming up on the opposite touchline, eagle eyed perverts that we are. Joyous news. Belgium didn't break him. This time. The first sub though was Pesto making way for Willian. We'd been very solid at the back but as the last twenty minutes approached things had got very scrappy. That said, they had a lot of possession and got as far as our box repeatedly, but they rarely looked like breaking us down once their. It was quite hilarious how distasteful Leicester fans found time wasting when it wasn't them doing it. Touché. Suckers. Zappacosta got his first appearance under his belt when he replaced Moses, but more importantly, come 75 minutes, Hazard was taking off clothes. As he waited on the sideline, Leicester fans had a laugh at Luiz and Thibaut lying on the floor after they ran into each other. We were laughing too. Because they were not injured at all, they were running the clock down and milking it for every second they could, you morons.
Time for a last roll of the dice. Theirs was Iheanacho and ours was Eden. We could have had a third goal. On 79 a stunned Zappacosta found himself in space with the ball in the box and nobody attempting to stop him but his shot skimmed just wide. We were denied a penalty shout. It may be that it was point blank, but the defender’s arms were all over the place, out in front of him and up in the air. Lucky boy. On 86 minutes we struck just wide thanks to a rusty Willy, who had another chance to put it to bed blocked by Sh*t Schmeichel. Leicester put everything into grabbing an equaliser, and there was a bit of hair pulling and wringing of hands as the four minutes of injury time ticked down. In the end, they couldn’t score from open play.
So: Another impressive showing from George Michael. At the other end of the spectrum, Willian seemed to have left his mojo in South America - we’ll put it down to jet lag. Bakayoko is going to be a monster once he settles in. Nemanja who? God it was good to have Hazard back. Just the ten minutes of watching him getting back into the swing of things by running past six Leicester players at a time made me excited about what's to come this season when we have a chance to settle everything down with our new recruits. I am endlessly smug about us having ended up with the better player out of Lukaku and Morata. He's catching on quick. The physical pasting he took at Wembley seems like a lot more than three/four weeks ago. Every time we see him he's toughened up more. Every time Leicester tried to elbow him off ball, or out of the path of it today he assumed a Chuck Norris pose and gave as good as he got. And when he the lost ball late on he turned around, stampeded up the pitch and put in a brutal tackle to try and win it back. It took Hazard the whole of his first season to catch on to that concept. Rudiger continues to grow quietly into his new role. You can see at the moment that he's used to a slower pace of game - he's not incapable of keeping up, but he's quite languid on the ball. He thinks he has more time than he does, but wasn’t caught out today and was quickly responsive all day when he started getting an earful from the other Antonio about it.
Three weeks ago the Nappy sh*tters were in a fit of apoplexy, the world was ending, Conte was leaving. Now we're third. One point off the top. We are, however, going into a busy spell that we didn't have to deal with last season that holds some tough challenges. Next step FC Carrier Bag, which you would hope would be a nice easy reintroduction to the Champions League. But we wouldn't be Chelsea if we didn't make at least a bit of a meal of it.
Oh. And f*ck T*ttenham. Unless we're playing them at the time who gives a crap. Unless it's Willian's song, because he can never be given enough praise for nicking their private jet to come to England and join us.
*Rendition of Saturday Night Fever comes from Chelsea's official website
Steal of the day on TDD was undoubtedly how Swansea managed to get Bayern to loan them a player. Well done Paul Clement. But the "How the F*ckDid They Manage That?" award this summer still has to go to United for convincing us to sell them Matic. The prize for reckless spending in the pursuit of greatness goes to PSG, naturally, but the trophy (let's hope it is the only one) for "You May Have Done Better Than Us But I'm Sure You Will Still Fail" goes to Pep, because I like being right. Though they are of course the lesser of all other evils.
The Window: Which has been the subject of so much rage, desperation and angst, not to mention a frantic licking from Harry F*cking Kane in the last two months is shut. Finally.
Waaaaah. We didn't get everything we wanted. Sigh. Nobody did.
This isn't Football Manager. There are more factors in play besides your club deciding they want someone and offering their club an amount that they would happily take. These are human beings and as much as you want them to sign for us, it's a highly intricate piece of work with motivations and influences you haven't got the first clue about unless you are in the room. Most significantly, you have to factor in the (often verminous) agents with the ear of the player whose priority motivation in some cases is often to line their own pockets (viz. Pogba to Juve and back again)
So. Chequebook Pulis said that he wanted four top quality players. He got three expensive ones, one of whom I'm dubious about being that high on quality. And he'll get a few weeks out of the now unknown entity in post-injury Zlatan. But they got their business done early. And look more settled for it. Well for that and the easy fixture run. For me, as much as it makes me sick in my mouth, they look like early front runners. Good job they're not sanctimonious entitled gits about it, isn't it.
City failed in their own way too - to get Sanchez in the end. Still they have been winners over the summer in all but this, but with great spending comes great responsibility, or whatever it was that some bloke said. Absolutely nowhere for Pep to hide this season, winning the league the bare minimum. And a great big dent in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Anything else is failure. And I don't think he will win the league. Because to win the Premiership you have to be able to get your players to defend. And he hasn't so far. His A game is still trying to outscore the opposition by seven goals and this is naive. Even if they did buy every fullback in Europe with a pulse that was going. So far this has not improved either Pep's hairline or their defensive ability. Huzzah.
Arsenal failed with their number one target, Lemar. They were prepared to obliterate their transfer record for him. Which is new. Even after Giroud tried to stuff him in his beard and abduct him from international duty he still wasn't interested. And they have a dressing room with a star man in it who doesn't want to be there. And a manager nobody respects anymore. And they've had a stinker of a start and a f*cking rotten conclusion to the window which has probably left Lacazette sobbing over a fancy bottle of wine on noticing he is surrounded by people stampeding for the exit. All except for Wilshere, who is clinging to the physio table and refusing to let go as they try and drag him out. Someone broke into their club shop and the standing joke is that when the police arrived they found 17,000 season tickets left on the doormat. Knobhead, my one Gooner friend gave me the following appraisal: "It's not the lack of signings, it's the lack of the one major transfer that we all wanted; a new manager. But, at least we aren't pinning our hopes on Danny fucking Drinkwater! Xx." Touché knobhead, touché. As a last laugh, they told Sky, with a straight face, that they were entirely happy with their transfer doings this summer. ATV should be a cracker this season.
The Scouse didn't get Van Dijk, which is the player they needed more than anything. For this alone they have had an average summer by my estimation. When they didn't get him and ended up with egg on their dirty faces at the beginning of the window they should have had a plan B, a plan C, a plan D and then finally a parachute for Klippity Klopp. Because despite the fact that they have Boring James Milner and f*cking Moreno the Clown in defence (not to mention two goalkeepers with less hand/eye coordination than a blindfolded Liver bird with one wing) they have not strengthened this area. So it matters little how many people are fighting for positions further forward. I'm not even talking about getting goals past their main rivals without reply. I'm talking about not being able to fathom a way around massive donkeys like Stoke or Real Pulis. There is no contingency and as far as I am concerned you just tackle a game with them as you did last season. Shut them out for as long as possible and wait for them to run out of ideas and make an inevitable cock up at the back.
Sp*ds haven't set the world alight either. Just their own town.
But more importantly than any of them, how did we do in the end?
We’ve replaced Ivanovic - Rudiger
We've replaced Matic - Bakayoko
We've replaced Mikel - Drinkwater
We’ve replaced Costa - Morata
We’ve brought youth through to replace JT - Christensen
We’ve replaced Begovic - Caballero - for free.
We’ve replaced Oscar with a different kind of player more suited to reinforcing our new system - Zappacosta.
Yes. Woe is us. What a crisis. I've read a stat I'm too lazy to check that says we've spent c.£180m. We haven't disclosed a lot of info so it's not an exact science.
If you are a Chelsea fan, and I'd have told you in May that "by August Alvaro Morata will be a Chelsea player," and you say you would not have wet your pants in excitement. You lie.
Likewise, if you don't at least appreciate the potential of Rudiger, a beast who has defended in Italy, where it is an art-form, or Bakayoko, who was a significant part of Monaco's stunning season last time out, then nobody can help you. These three were our big signings. And I am happy with them.
If you want to complain about bringing Christensen through (remember we've bought a Rudi too) instead of trying to buy the likes of Van Dijk, then I don't want to hear another word out of you about loaning kids out or not giving youth a chance. Ever. Chelsea have been true to their word with this particular kid. This season he would get to stay and fight for a place after a two year spell in Germany. The coolness of his performance against both Burnley after coming on and at Wembley has already vindicated this for me. I wouldn't put him ahead of Cahill, but many would and I wouldn't mock them. It's not a stupid debate by any means.
I far more appreciate a scout that can ferret out talent that can then come and stun us all than I do a club that works out a deal to spend £100m plus on someone who's already "arrived." I couldn't do it, and God knows City have been proof of late that buying the shiniest players at a massive cost and throwing them into one dressing room doesn't automatically equate to a winning team. Unlike all of the nappysh*tters ™ the scouts don't base their entire assessment of a player on FIFA 17. George Michael turned out to be a gem after they all soiled themselves about signing a former Bolton player so let's wait and see, eh? Because Zappacosta is arguably more established than George was when we brought him in and look at how well he has done. I am quite excited to see what Conte gets out of him. We badly needed reinforcements for this area. Deal well done.
Drinkwater isn't shiny enough? We didn't buy him because he is a world beater, we bought him because midfielders left and only Bakayoko had come in. He has a proven partnership with Kante. We now don't have to consider playing Fabregas in a holding position when we are facing strong teams. It's more options, and more depth.
This assessment is by no means supposed to be a blanket defence of the board. There are things about this window that have either frustrated me or made me want to repeatedly slap resident pantomime villain Michael Emenalo's silly grinning face with a wet kipper.
What hasn't gone right?
We wanted another striker. Some wise person pointed out the probable reason we didn't get Llorente was because a club came in after our discussions, which including booking a medical, and offered him a two year deal. We don't offer more than one year if they're over thirty. I do wonder what Antonio makes of this policy. Seeing as he is Italian and they play till their 70 over there. Possibly didn't make a difference. As at some stage the player agreed to whatever terms he was offered. Not signing a striker means Michy has to step up. He did it at West Brom. Now we want consistency. He has had time to acclimatise to life at Cobham, he absolutely has to step up regularly now as a reliable number two behind Morata.
As for Diego, though this is Chelsea and anything could happen, his being on the squad list, simple HR manoeuvring if you ask me. If this supposed law suit appears we can argue he was given the chance to play. Had he left South America.
We needed more cover at wingback. Oxlade-Chamberlain appears to be under the illusion that a move to Liverpool means he can play in the centre of midfield. Bear in mind he never broke into the Arsenal team until he went wide. Whatever, he wants he wants, and it isn't what we wanted. A lot of Scouse fans and even pundits, Carragher is one, are baffled by this concept of him at CM. My attitude is much the same about anyone umming and aahing about whether they can be bothered to pull on a Chelsea shit. F*ck 'em. , At the time I was p*ssed; but we did get the Zappacosta deal through. But they wanted two. This means that Kenedy is going to have to do his bit, at least until January. He was good enough for Newcastle to be bugging us about a loan deal, so lower end of the Premier League? We can hope that at the very least this means he will be a competent deputy for George Michael in any domestic Cup/Champions League dead rubber action. Just pray that our bouffant little free kick superstar doesn't get injured until we can revisit this in the January window.
Stats - We have already established that we have made good the losses from the first team since last summer. Well, to the extent at least that we have no need to be stamping our feet and whining like little b*tch babies facing the end of the world.
Last season we had 23 players leave either permanently or on loan. This summer 43. From JT at the top down to teenagers you have never heard of. But who out of these loan deals would you actually have wanted to see in the first team if the occasion demanded it. Let's just stick a pin in the list in a few places.
Zouma. Had all of last season to stake a claim and couldn't manage it after long term injury. He needs to get his career back on track and play regular football. With Christensen being given his chance and Rudiger coming in, there are not enough opportunities for him at Chelsea this season. Ruben. There's an argument for saying we should have loaned him out earlier. I had kind of come to conclusion by the end of last season that he needed to get out and see some of the world. He is one of the best prospects we have but he needs to play. In retrospect, could we have used him with our subsequent lack of numbers? Keeping him would certainly have been in our best interests, but not his. The same goes for Tammy Abraham. Swansea is the best possible place for because he has made a textbook progression through the leagues and impressed every club he has been at. Bristol City to Chelsea is too much in one hit for a kid unless you are going to suddenly chuck him in at the deep end like Harry F*cking Kane at Sp*ra and play him every week. That happened because the Sp*ds had no other option. With Morata and Michy to think of, barring biblical scale, unfortunate events, this scenario is not likely to emerge to Chelsea this season. Boga. This one irritated me a lot. But I suppose in his position he just won't play enough either. I was really impressed with him though, and had a sulk. At random for the lesser knowns, The Red Swarm made a huge deal out of Jameson because they were starved of newsworthy chat on TDD. He is highly regarded by us apparently. If he was that highly regarded, we wouldn't be letting him go on a permanent deal. Secondly, if he was the next John Terry, Pulis would have given him more than a one year contract in the West Brom development squad.
Lukaku - I fully concur with the club decision not to offer Willian or Fabregas in part exchange as Everton wanted, (source: Blue Squirrel) or, in that instance to pay £85m all in for him. I will lose literally not one second of sleep over this. I want to watch a player like Morata (and not just because he's hot) more than I want to watch us hoofing it up to a lump of a centre forward. I said dozens of times, too often he's behind the game. It's either because he is lazy, which you could kick out of him, or it's because he cant read the play quickly enough. For me £85m is too much to spend when you don't know the answer. And we got, in my opinion, the better all round footballer of the two.
Ake and Chalobah. This grieves me. But we're back to the human element here aren't we? They've been out on their loans, they've been back and they've decided that they would rather not play for the champions every now and again, and play every week instead. They've not gone to rivals - you could argue that being at the level required to start for Watford and Bournemouth means that they weren't good enough. Some have. Here's a stat for you from BlueSquirrel. Of every 200 players that Chelsea invest time and money in from the bottom up, so U7s or whatever and onwards, they hope one will be a JT. So if you're expecting a clump of them to filter through a la United and the class of '92, your expectations are far higher than the club. This isn't the way football works anymore. Either way, we couldn't hold them hostage. I wish them all the best, and I wish they hadn't chosen to leave, but they want something different from their careers right now than what we can offer them. If you're not compatible there is no point making the player and club suffer. I am sincerely hopeful though that we have managed to get buy back clauses in their deals, so that if they reach another level we have first refusal, without being robbed.
I don’t much care that Matic wanted to leave, but I resent that we sold him to United, even if the player did want it as his first choice. Tough. If he has to go somewhere else for a year, and we have the take less money, then he can get picked up by Chequebook Pulis so be it, not our problem. And he’d be a year older. He's started well for them, but they have yet to see the erratic form or dopey mistakes that are as much a part of his game as the excellent performances. Still, it irks me and this could well bite us in the a*se.
As for Barkley, in my own opinion no club should be signing seriously crocked players, and no seriously crocked players should be moving until they are fit again. Surely you want continuity of treatment? Surely you don't want to be starting a new life at the other end of the country when your primary focus should be getting back into a football pitch? Regardless, he was a dope to let the deal get as far down the line as possible before running away. There will be a bun fight for his signature now. Seeing as it's Sp*rs I'm prepared to use my fingernails of Chelsea need me.
I think if this window has shown us anything, it is the difficulty of trying to build a competitive squad at the bottom end, either in recruiting. quality players to not be your first choice when they are fully aware that they could go elsewhere and play every week, or managing the players of a certain lever you already have in both their best interests and yours as a business. You’ve also got to factor in that we put ourselves in a dumba*se position where we needed specifically homegrown players coming in which put us in an even tougher predicament. That nobody was monitoring this baffles me.
Praise Baby Jesus this madness is at an end, till January at least. We have the players we have, now let's just play football. I don't consider us necessarily weaker than twelve months ago, but certainly at least two of our main rivals are stronger. On paper. Let's not forget that this is the Premier League, which week in, week out is as mad as a box of frogs on acid.
On reflection we haven’t has the perfect transfer window. But we haven’t had one that warrants nonsense hysteria either. Whenever you feel your blood pressure rising take a deep breath and repeat these words after me:
"We're not Arsenal."
*Photo of new signings with the fan punching bag is from the Chelsea website