Roma 3 Chelsea 0
Tuesday 31st October 19:45
…Said Uncle Albert. Who has been going to Chelsea since 1959.
In the News: Why would United want to sign Ozil? If you are going to treat his time at Arsenal as a job interview it would be the same as you or I walking into a pub, p*ssing on the floor and then asking for a bar job. Joey Barton has branded Everton’s caretaker manager a “glorified PE teacher.” Anyone else who has made such a monumental pig’s ear of his own life might keep their head down, but thankfully he continues to entertain us with a constant stream of irrelevant b*llocks. Manchester City players were forced to wear matching outfits as part of their trip to Napoli. This in itself is far less tragic than the fact that their appalling denim shirt/tie homages to retro tastelessness cost £2,000 for each twat wearing them. James Milner says his smile is back after a difficult start to the season. Lie. I don’t think in the thirty years this man has been a professional footballer his facial expression has changed once. And, most shockingly of all, the Daily Fail claims to have been nominated for football newspaper of the year, or some equally unbelievable sh*t. Can only assume this award is run by FIFA. Or themselves.
So pub it was for this one. I wasn’t at all jealous of all my friends taking off to my second favourite city in the world and stuffing their faces with awesome pasta and gelato. They get the Pantheon and I get BT Sport. Woop. Jake Humphrey is starting to morph into Gary Lineker. Why would you intentionally want to look like you are having a tragic mid-life crisis with the open shirt button, perma-tan and tragic teenage boy overdose of hair gel/spike combo? Patsy (sitcom alias) cheered me up. Not seen her since the Atletico win and the first thing she says? “Morata. I'd wear that man like a gas mask.” This was Conte’s first time in Italy not managing an Italian team. I have to admit my heart sank when I saw Dave had been moved to right wingback, with Zappacosta dropping out. This left space to bring Cahill back into the side in the back three, and other than that it was as you were.
OK, we all said, let's grab hold of this. A point will do. It looked promising with a run from Pesto (whatever, autospell) before thirty seconds had even elapsed, but before 45 had ticked by we were behind. Joy. Two on one and Dzeko somehow gets the ball, then when he puts it down George Michael is absolutely nowhere to stop el-Shaarawy from leathering it. F*ck sake Chelsea. Was George waving his arms about for a hand ball? Only if he had a hand growing out of his foot. On the side line Conte looked like me being forced to read another interminable biography of David Lloyd George. Still, plenty of time to get our sh*t together. Have faith, said I to Uncle Albert, because they will leave themselves open. Defensively they can be as w*nk as we are. Hazard was played in after three minutes and it looked like he just didn't get hold of the ball to make the most of it, which was a shame.
I didn't see much to entertain me in the opening 12 minutes, apart from the fact that their manager looks like he should be running an IT department somewhere in Leatherhead. On 19 minutes Hazard shot low to the corner and they didn't look impenetrable by any means, but to score we'd actually need to have to mounted a quick, potent attack and that was something that was lacking all night long. Too many loose balls by far, but as the half wore on we did fashion more shots. In fact we had six decent attempts according to Bunch of Twats Sport, including Morata missing an absolute sitter. At the risk of sounding like a Gooner, if anyone deserved to score the second goal it was us. So naturally we were two down on 35 minutes. Rudi inexplicably let the ball go past him, and on my massive widescreen pub TV, no other member of the back three even appeared in shot as it was happening. This is unforgivable. We whimpered on for a bit, but ended the half frustrated when a curled shot from George Michael forced a decent save from the keeper and Bakayoko had basically the whole goal to aim at and headed it wide. In an attacking sense it was a repeat of the first half at Bournemouth. A fair performance in which we seized none of our chances. Sigh. Only this time your have to add to it two stupid lapses that left us with it all to do in the second half.
The rest of the night was f*cking shambolic. It’s really not fair to single anyone out of this travesty in particular but Morata was not in the game at all, and Fabregas was generally woeful unless he was playing the odd promising ball up the field. There was no pace either. I honestly wouldn't have been surprised to look up and see Mikel dithering over the ball in midfield after the break. Conte doesn’t make early substitutions if he isn’t pushed, generally, so you knew when the walking stick comes out to hook Cahill on 54 minutes in favour of Willian that the sh*t was hitting the fan. The anti-Gary brigade will love that, but he was no more culpable than anyone else tonight. The part of this I don’t get is that it also required us to bring on Zappacosta to replace Dave who was moving back into the defence. This did not happen. Instead, Pesto went to pay right wingback. Um. OK. The most frustrating thing is that it would not have been that hard to score against this lot tonight, had we been remotely competent. This evening, however, you would have had more luck giving the kiss of life to a rasher of bacon in an attempt to get it to oink again than expecting us to get back on terms.
On 62 minutes the third goal went in and an immense cloud of sh*t rose up from west London as the nappy shitting chorus began. It should have been 4-0 five minutes later despite three players on Dzeko. Three. And it was only their incompetence that saved us. Morata went off for Michy on 74 and at some point Danny Drinkwater put Cesc out of his misery, but you can expect little from subs when you’re at the scoreline of death. 3-0 and the leaders sit back and the team on the other end of it lose the will to live. As far as anything else noteworthy is concerned, we narrowly managed not to really embarrass ourselves by conceding a fourth, and on 77 minutes their keeper was even forced to make a save. Patsy and I decided that watching this game was like experiencing the suffering of a Gooner, but with the added trauma of actually having expectations piled on top.
So: Maybe twenty minutes was all that Drinkwater was fit for tonight after two appearances last week, but it would have been better to bring him on ten minutes earlier. Fabregas in this position against decent opposition doesn't work. Taking Dave out of the back three doesn't work, and putting him back in it and having Pesto as a wingback when you had Zappacosta available to you, I think most people would have guessed that that wouldn’t work and looked at you as if you were bonkers if you suggested it. The manager’s choices may have been somewhat dictated by injury, but we were tactically poor tonight. Praise baby Jesus for FC Carrier Bag, who got a draw at Atletico. Diego and his mates can only now reach a total of nine points in this group, and to do that they would have to beat us and Roma. We are already on seven.
The thing that bugs me about us at the moment is the inexplicable, erratic performances. We are about as fickle as whatever brand of blue dye Bakayoko appears to have employed on his hair. We win in Madrid, then are complete a*se against City. We string three wins together and then this. It’s not difficult to explain why. This time last year we were focused on one simple competition. Having a comparable squad, but not a deeper or enhanced one we are currently juggling the league with the Champions League. Oh and we are still in the cowboy cup. We have gone from one game a week as a rule to a constant flow of them. This is what happens when you ask men to multitask. We have had more injuries, yes, but I don’t think the manager has quite got hold of effective rotation either. I have to say, too, that although it probably wouldn’t have made a difference tonight, Conte just does not have it in his psyche to play for a point, and sometimes a point is OK, and you don’t have to sell your soul like Allardyce to do it. We aren’t failing at anything yet - we’re within spitting distance of second in the league and we have every chance of going through in the CL, but on nights like this, and after games like City, it feels like we are hanging on by our fingernails. If we smash United on Sunday I may get over this, though Chequebook Pulis will now turn up and sit and sit and sit and just wait for us to fuck up at the back. Which on tonight’s showing we probably will. I’m pretty sure by morning we will be in complete crisis, Conte will be leaving, Morata will be leaving and someone will have sent a ambiguous texts criticising everyone down to the kit man. Bullsh*t, bullsh*t, and more bullsh*t. Let the Red Swarm enjoy their moment. I can't listen to it. I'm going to hang out at the Queens house for a couple of days.
*Picture comes from Chelsea's official website
AFC Bournemouth 0 Chelsea 1
Saturday 28th April 2017 17:30
So I’ve been on a road trip in the USA to see some of the most awesome people I know. In the meantime…
Roma 3-3. Massive amount of nappy sh*tters going into meltdown after this one. From my vantage point many miles away, yes we squandered a 2-0 lead but the vestige of this effluent bunch this season appears to be forgetting that it isn't all about us. Occasionally you have to factor in the opposition. They are a very good side and they puzzled it out. We have seven points halfway through the group stages. Not only that, but when you consider that Atletico failed to beat Carrier Bag it was as good as a win, because they are languishing without a single win with a measly two points to their name. Janice (muppet alias) is helping by me compile this on the coach home from the seaside and she also wants to point out that we then came back from 2-3 down after they turned the game around. This would not have happened under Chequebook Pulis.
Watford 4-2. I watched this hanging out of my arse in a hotel room at 7:30am after a long night in Columbia, South Carolina. First half we were the better side; second we were awful. But we scored three goals whilst being outplayed. In days gone by we would have made three w*nk like for like substitutions and achieved nothing. Antonio bossed it. And the players he put faith in to sort it out responded. Not so much hysteria after this one but I missed the point where a win isn't a win if we don't smash the opposition. We came for three points. We got three points. Do we want this harebrained chaos every week? Of course not. But job done against an in form side who came to the Bridge to actually beat us.
Everton 2-1. I think for this one I was ambling around Savannah, Georgia, and eating lunch at a place called Spanky's. Or I may have still been in Charleston abusing a valet who claimed he "supports" Sp*rs AND the Scouse and said that Sturridge was his favourite "footballer" (I pointed out one can't claim something as one's occupation when one only works two days a year) If I had had a spare twelve hours I might have tried to fix him, but we had to get to Florida. Large number of changes for the competition we care least about, against a side who would be hoping for new impetus having canned their manager. Hung in the balance for too long, but again, job done and players rotated out and rested with no consequences. And another home tie in the next round.
So the way I see it, whilst admittedly drunk and rambling around the Carolinas: three matches In a week, none easy, in three different competitions and no f*ck ups. It may be a diabetic coma caused by the horrific amount of high fructose corn syrup still in my system after my trip across the pond, but I'm pretty zen about that.
In the News: I only landed yesterday lunchtime, so there isn't much. Antonio swore. He said bullsh*t. Three times. To be honest, I swear three times an hour about the press so the fact that it has taken him over a year to tell them that they behave like a*seholes is a massive achievement. It made me so proud to see him call the Red Swarm out for being the lying, skullduggerous b*stards that they are. I like to think this angry, sweary blog is rubbing off on him. While I was away Kobe Bryant (he plays that bizarre form of netball where they bounce it up and down a lot) met Harry F*cking Kane. I don't care if it isn't true, but I've seen a hilarious quote attributed to the American: "I'm fluent in four different languages and I have no idea what was coming outta that dude's mouth." (It's called spit Kobe) I'm also going to go out on a limb to guess that while I've been in the States, Paunchettino has said something existential and pointless in keeping with him trying to turn Sp*rs into the new Arsenal (never winning anything but obsessing about the moral high ground because their football is beautiful and all that sh*t) and that Chequebook Pulis has spent most of the last eight days talking out of his backside. Never cries about injuries. Apparently. Unless it's a day that ends in a Y. Oh and I'm back from Bournemuff (London pronunciation) and TM Lewin are using Gary Lineker as a model and touting him as Mr Perfect at Fulham Broadway station. By any stretch of the imagination this is outrageous false advertising. Even if you're his mum.
The Others: A Chequebook Pulis game that was tedious and sh*t? Nay says I. Not possible. Note how once again United face a team just as one of their key players gets injured. How jammy thou art. But it meant Sp*rs lost. So I can't be sad. We had a glimmer of hope re laughing at L'Arse but it was snatched away after Tammy Abraham could have had the opportunity to fire Swansea two ahead. City flirted briefly with disaster too but won. The Scouse and Stoke picked up three points, whilst Palace and West Ham drew. Tomorrow "Super" Sunday offers the joy of Brighton versus Southampton and Leicester against Everton. When Burnley take on Newcastle on Monday, if my own hair does not need washing, I will be shampooing the kitten. Against his will.
Us: After multiple changes for the Everton game, Antonio reverted to a much more familiar looking side. Courtois returned with Dave, Luiz and Rudi in front of him. Fabregas partnered Bakayoko in midfield, Zappacosta and George Michael took the wingback spots and the creative sh*t was placed in the hands of Pesto (blah Auto-spell) Hazard and Morata.
It was an upbeat start from both teams, if anything we had a slight edge and our first shot came from Fabregas on seven minutes. It wasn’t bad, but it was well blocked. A minute later Pesto also battled his way to an opening but his attempt was over. Bournemouth were by no means idle, and they made a dangerous run shortly afterwards. Bakayoko looked like he was going to continue to vindicate Antonio’s observation about him a few weeks ago. Outstanding when it comes to retrieval, much, much room for improvement when actually in possession. Some wits changed his song slightly to “he sometimes give the ball away” but I continued to forgive him on account of his awesome new hair.
We were getting forward but Bournemouth were making a good job out of closing us down. Most of our attempts thus far had been from range and we hadn’t exactly been prolific, though the better of the two sides. Morata missed a sitter after being played in by Hazard on 24 minutes, then it was straight into the keepers hands a couple of minutes later. We had it in the back of the net before the half hour, but it was ruled out, wrongly, and I’m sticking to that even if there was a lunatic jumping up and down in front of me. But the Chelsea end was at least seeing the funny side, singing “we’re gonna score in a minute.” And so we went into half time at 0-0. And people started complaining. We weren’t winning, so it was a disaster. Once again there was a spate of forgetting that there was another team (and a bellend of a Lino) involved as well as us. Nobody in a Chelsea shirt had played badly, and we were unlucky not to be ahead, but the truth is that the home side had made a very good job of intercepting our play and had been disciplined and firm off the ball. All that happened in the first half, and yes, it was a tad disappointing, was that we failed to break them down. (Or at least failed to get credit for it)
We were shooting down the near end in the second half, which meant that we could at least stop mistakenly cheering everything in the six yard box as if we had scored. It was pretty much as you were for the opening few minutes, then the luck swung our way. A Bournemouth defender (I was too busy jumping up and down to care which) fell arse over tit to give Hazard a free run on the goal, but Eden had the mere tiniest bit of it to aim it and like the beautiful little genius he is he put it in the near corner. Or in the words of Chelsea Paul Weller's best mate in front of us, he put it on toast. Bournemouth had chances to level, we had more chances to extend our lead and between the sides several misplaced shots ended up on the beach. We looked the more likely to win it, because Bournemouth were not nearly so disciplined off the ball and were lacking a decent finish, but our major fault today was not enough end result for our attacking. We should have scored more than once.
A decent attempt from Bournemouth was cleared by Luiz on 75, at which point Conte decided to change it up with some fresh legs. Danny Drinkwater came on for Pesto, who managed to waste more time than a Palace player with his twenty yard detour to shake the ref’s hand. He is as good as Bosingwa was in making a meal out of getting off the pitch, in that he can move slower when he is told to jog off and hurry up and not walk. Vengeance for all the times other teams do it to us. Morata also trotted off, with the Roma game in mind and on came the Batman. At this point, with Drinkwater constantly fumbling with his junk and Hazard flaunting his rear end right in front of us, it was hard for the girls in Row H to concentrate on what was going on. The latter played the ball in to Fabregas on 82, but firing from an almost impossibly tight angle Cesc skimmed it just over the far corner of the goal. That was the last contribution from Eden, who went off on 84 for Willian, who when I went away was more Will-I-Ain’t. Happily, although it was a brief cameo today he looked capable of passing the ball to his own teammates and not like he was running about with concussion. I’ve got to say too, as of about the 40th minute Bakayoko got much better at not giving the ball away, and when it comes to winning it, his Inspector Gadget legs just defy human comprehension. Rudiger just looks better every time I see him.
Refwatch: Craig Poorson today. Not the walking f*cking catastrophe he usually is by any standard. My beefs are limited to missing two hands in the back on Hazard a couple of times and a turdlike use of advantage on 87 minutes, but I found it hugely entertaining when he then booked Simon Francis. He protested, and Pawson pointed at his lino and said: "He made me do it." This is the least of the accusations that that knob deserved after he ruled out a goal and gave offside against us after one of their players headed it on for us. Not sure Roger East needed to signal for four minutes of injury time but it did us no harm in the end, as the most that was required as the minutes ticked down was a well placed header from Zappacosta and a quick catch from Thibaut at medium range to secure the win.
So: Why, when there are only 1300 tickets on offer, would you take the trouble of hogging one to stand there and abuse one of your own players while they are warming up? I did find it funny that the chump shouting "Yes Luiz, you can hear me, I'm talking to you, you need to start playing for the manager and not against him" felt comfortable doing it repeatedly when Luiz was running the other way, but scampered into the crowd when he was facing him. For David's part, and he can be proud, the withering look of hate he gave this nonsensical twat matched the ones I dish out to anyone who smokes near me in places where there are no smoking signs, supports Sp*rs, or walks into me because they are dicking about on their mobile phone.
On the other hand there were several candidates for genius of the day. There was the brilliantly English bloke behind us freezing his nuts off out of principle in a pair of shorts because he was at the seaside. (This after I witnessed everyone who works at Busch Gardens in Tampa shivering in a fleece and complaining about the cold because it was only 22 degrees celsius on Thursday) However he was trumped by Winnie (new sitcom Alias - Mrs Brown) who regaled us all with her spare pair of knickers/Paolo Ferreira story on the coach. (If I'm honest I should probably stop there with that one) But in the end I gave this award to myself. Because whenever people ask me how to find my blog online I now tell them to google "Blue Waffle." Mwhahahahaha (Evil laugh)
I love Zappacosta’s song, but more volume is definitely required. For the record: “He’s a star man, running down the right, his name is Zappacosta and he’s f*cking dynamite.” If you don’t know the tune then you should just hang your head in shame.
Not only did we take home three points after a spirited performance from the home side, we also won the kids relay race at half time. Even if we did have a thirty year old running the last leg who almost blew a twenty yard lead. A most entertaining day out not least for the smutfest on the way home looking at player photos. I'm not sure some of the men on the club coach will recover from what they have heard. City have stretched away a bit for now, but despite Walmart's best attempts to convince me otherwise with fifteen aisles of tinsel and baubles, we're not even approaching Christmas yet. We remain fourth, and a victory against CP next week could take us within touching distance of second. Hopefully we'll be within reach of the knockout stages of the Champions League by then too. Contrary to the conviction that this is us failing, I see this as a solid second season in the hands of Conte so far. By no means perfect, but neither was our summer recruitment drive and so far for me he's doing well enough at balancing the much increased workload compared to last season. We are capable of excellence (Madrid away) but it’s not yet consistent enough in the midst of a full fixture list. There are far worse positions to be in. And Sp*rs lost. With the Diving Little Sh*t missing an open goal apparently.
*Picture of happy Hazard comes from Chelsea's official website
And just a reminder - all donations still being gratefully received for the Desert Walk in aid of Veterans in Action. I'll be trotting from the Dead Sea to the site of Petra in just a couple of weeks' time. Link to the Virgin Giving page below:
Crystal Palace 2 Chelsea 1
Saturday 14th October 2017 15:00
You've got no credible use for a flux capacitor when you can automatically go back to 1970 with a visit to Selhurst Park. Complete with a post to block half your view of the pitch and third world toilets. I even saw someone with a mullet.
In the News: Mother of God this has been painful the last couple of weeks. The Red Swarm have just excelled themselves with the amount of useless f*ckwittery they have managed to roll out since there was last a meaningful game of football. Fat Sam wants to sue the FA because he says they didn't wait for enough evidence before "forcing" him to resign. There are no words for the front on this man. Oscar says he'd be open to a Premier League return. There's a surprise. Everyone wants to know about me and Terry. Says Anton Ferdinand. Who wants to write a book about his career. Firstly, I'm doubtful he can write his own name, secondly, how tragic that two second exchange is the only thing of note in his career that he can plug his book with. Gareth Bale is apparently so obsessed with golf that he has paid for a replica of the "Iconic 17th at Sawgrass" whatever that means, to be built in his back garden. I would have thought he'd be keener to play football at the moment and channel his energies there. Lest he ends up working in a McDonalds. Latest from the Daily Fail's "Three Wise Men?" Keown stated last week that he believes that Ozil has already mentally checked out of Arsenal. As far as stating the f*cking obvious goes that's a peach. Shame it's taken him two years to come up with that glaringly obvious gem. There was a story about how Ronaldo now owns £6m worth of cars with pictures of them all. He has two Bugattis boasted the headline. I can't tell you how enriched I feel for knowing that. The FIFA 2018 correspondent is still bleeding a living out of the media. This time he dedicated a whole article to who the Diving Little Sh*tbag would pick other than his teammate Harry F*cking Kane. Jesus wept. Klippity Klopp is perfect for the Scouse says one pundit, because he is under no pressure to win trophies. I'll pause here so you can have a good laugh...
England were so boring that fans started throwing paper aeroplanes on the pitch, Wales have missed out on the world cup on account of that little scab McLean, which means we will be spared Joe Ledley’s beard and the hideous man bun. Although his hamstrings appear to be made of strawberry laces/Twizzlers so he likely wouldn’t have been there anyway. A former Middlesbrough player has been embroiled in a cock scandal, (fighting) Evra was pictured feeding his pet lion cub. I want to see the pictures after it gets bigger than him and isn't satisfied with milk anymore. Kaka tells the world that he doesn't feel any joy in playing football anymore. A world that has long forgotten that Kaka plays football. Speaking of people who you would think would be drawing a pension by now - Tim Cahill has ensured that Australia will be at the World Cup. At the ripe old age of 84. Naturally the Red Swarm have spent the last two weeks as they spend all breaks in play, trying to convince the world that Antonio Conte doesn't want to be at Chelsea. And we've had Musondagate. He was talking about Belgium, not Chelsea, but the club have done right to sit him down and explain why emotional incontinence on social media platforms makes you look silly. Probably using Piers Morgan and Donald Trump as case studies.
The Others: You'd have been forgiven for assuming that there was only one game on this weekend. And hilariously it turned out to be as dull as Michael Owen delivering a lecture on cheese labels. Chequebook Pulis lived up to his name by boring everybody to death and then complained he didn't have a bench, thus not so skilfully evading the fact that he had no intention of trying to win that match by you know, playing football, and trying to retain a level of dignity that in reality deserted him years ago. I'm that drunk now I don't really give a rats a*se about the rest. But as with every other weekend - we can go to bed safe in the knowledge that at least we are not Arsenal.
Them: No striker, Ruben couldn't play, blah, blah. Set to be the first team ever to go nine losses without a goal. Or something. What could possibly go wrong, right? Wrong.
Us: A game too soon for Morata, Kante yet to be fully assessed but don't expect to see him in the next few weeks. Batshuayi up front with Willian and Hazard behind. Fabregas takes Kante's place alongside Bakayoko. Luiz was back and he lined up with Cahill and Azpilicueta on with side of him. Not our first choice line up, but should have been enough to take care of a team rock bottom of the league and literally pointless.
Glad all over. They sang. Probably a bit of a stretch but they had mustered a lot of enthusiasm after an appalling start to the season, so more power to them. They could have had an early goal but Zaha made a hash of getting a shot off. The crowd were so excited at even getting in the box that you almost wanted them to score.
They never looked like a team on its a*se today. We came into it a bit, but we never really got a hold of the ball in the opening spell. In fact most of the first ten minutes we looked to be doing our best to help them score that elusive goal. Never let it be said that Chelsea are not benevolent. I did an interview with Talksport this morning, in which I reassured the Palace fan on air with me that they would score today, whether it be a goal that bounced in off someone's a*se cheek or an own goal we scored for them. Just as predicted and joked about by myself and everyone with any lengthy experience of supporting Chelsea, along came Palace's first goal of the season, courtesy of us. Specifically Dave, who you just can't be angry at, even if he was pretty terrible, because he's Duracell Dave and when does he usually let us down?
If anything that seemed to spark life into us, but for the cohesion on display it looked like some of our lot had never met until five minutes before kick off. When I was five a coach taught me to point my standing foot towards the player I wanted to pass the ball to when I kicked it. At many times today it seemed that this basic principle was something that most of our team had been cruelly deprived of.
If you're Palace though, you wanted to score that in the 80th minute. Not the 11th. And happily we were only behind for a few minutes. WE SCORED FROM A CORNER. A FABREGAS CORNER. A F*CKING LONG FABREGAS CORNER! All I saw was a peroxide blob soar into to air and make contact with the ball. Bakayoko, I forgive you for thus far giving the ball away every time you've had it. Suddenly, with Croydon being it's usual bleak self, the flood lights burst into life and nearly blinded us. Presumably Croydon Council managed to reroute the juice back from whichever illegal caravan site was stealing it. "Oh yay" said Father Ted (sitcom alias) "Now I can really see how sh*t this ground is." We were so missing Kante. I'd already lost count of how many times we had squandered possession in front of the defence but at this point I wasn’t that worried. It was pretty back and forth for a while, both teams coming close. Michy kept getting caught offside. He's not quite reached Loic Remy's appalling standard yet, but it's beginning to get on my nerves. He did, however, atone for these transgressions with a blinding headed clearance from a Palace corner.
Alonso could have put us ahead with a goal in the bottom corner on 33 minutes but his shot was deflected. Again, we got a free header from a corner but Michy was being pushed in the back (this was a theme) and it went over. Local boy Moses limped off shortly afterwards to be replaced by Zappacosta. We could have been ahead again shortly afterwards thanks to a stunning free kick from Fabregas. The keeper was beaten but it just rose too high. Palace bundled the ball off the line on 41, and you really felt like we had been on top. So what happens? We concede again. Sigh.
Refwatch: Marriner was one of my worst refs last season. Though he ignored a fair bit of meathead pushing and shoving in the first half, waited till the third consecutive foul to blow the whistle whenever it was Hazard, ignored Michy being kicked in the face right at his feet or George Michael being dragged to the floor in a head lock, at the end of the first half I did not want to let Bertie the kitten p*ss on him before I set him on fire. Which on my Andre Marriner scale is actually a reasonable achievement on his part. But we'll come back to him.
That Palace goal changed the whole match, but not in any way that was remotely entertaining or good for my blood pressure. Decent watch for the first half. So what of the second?
There was no second half. Thanks to:
As far as “A” is concerned, we did have chances, but life would have been infinitely easier for us had we managed to at least string two passes together, which for some reason today for certain players was just a level of mind blowing intricacy that could not be approached. I can’t put my finger on one of them that looked on point today apart from the two latter substitutes because they at least gave it some welly. In particular, nobody seemed to want to give Michy the ball in the box, with good reason I'm afraid, which doesn’t help when he’s supposed to be the one scoring the goals. At the risk of triggering a bout of nappy sh*tting, it didn't look like he shook Conte's hand coming off when he was replaced by Pesto either (fecking auto spell). As for Willian, he just needs a time out. Badly. I've never seen him play with less conviction off the ball or less of a clue on it.
As for B, I don't blame Palace. They would, sitting there on 0 points, have resorted to absolutely anything to claw their way out the other side of this game with something to show for it. The time wasting and nonsense reached such epic levels that the game just descended into farce. Speroni was determined to spend nigh on a minute on every goal kick, tying his laces and picking his arse in the process, stopping to check his phone and even brewing a cup of tea at one point. Basically he did his usual trick of making Ben Foster, the arch timewaster, look like a f*cking whippet on speed. He was far from the only one. I could have literally left my seat and run a lap of the pitch in my high heeled boots in the time it took Crystal Palace to take each and every throw in.
But then a team doesn’t get away with this if there is a decent referee, do they? Which brings me to C. If Marriner had a backbone it wouldn't be an issue. You warn the player. Maybe twice. Then you book him. Marriner first pulled Speroni up on 60 minutes. And he was still at it on the final whistle with no sanction. We also had the most shockingly obvious interference in the game by a set of ballboys since Hazard decked the middle aged one that was bigger than he was at Swansea. Any referee with a brain would just tell them to get on with it.
I was begging for Musonda to come on. You could do far worse than bringing on a kid in form who's just desperate to shine in this instance. We got him on 64 minutes for Willian, and we actually looked like we had something about us at this point, after the changes, which is a credit to Pesto and Charly.
But A + (B x C) = a fundamental need to nail every slim, remote opportunity that you can muster. And we mostly ballsed them up or they skimmed agonisingly high or wide. It all got too much for me when the ball boys got so obvious that instead of throwing the ball to George Michael one of them ran to the Palace bench with it to ask them what they wanted him to do with it. And nobody said anything. Just the six warnings Speroni got for wasting about 20 mins of the second half, without sight of a yellow card. I lost the will to live and went in search of gin.
So: They were overdue, lets be honest. They were not as bad as their run of results implied. Yes, Marriner just destroys a game of football because he's limp, wet, flaccid and basically sh*t. Usually we manage to surpass his incompetence, but that requires playing decent football, which completely eluded us completely today. Ultimately if you blow them off the park then it wouldn’t matter and we came nowhere near doing that. Even if the game had been allowed by our opposition to marginally flow after half time, without a moron in charge of it, we were terrible.
I was so angry about the overall sh*tness of today that I went the wrong way out of the ground. I've put about two miles on my Fitbit stomping back on the right track to Selhurst station. The only good thing about this is that I've walked far enough to mount enough calories to be able to drown my sorrows in half a bottle of gin guilt free. Even funnier, not at the time, when I got to Selhurst I had fifteen minutes to wait so I went up the far end of the platform to walk up and down and bump my Fitbit stats up further until the train came. The platform dude (Arsenal fan, also hates Marriner, says he’s another strutting idiot like Clattenburg) came up to make sure I wasn't a lunatic. The result wasn't quite that bad. But I was still fuming enough to get on the wrong train, which meant that I had to get on the tram, yes the Croydon f*cking tramlink, which as always smelt like someone had pissed on the seats, to get over the right side of the ghetto. Then my actual train was cancelled. And I've left my charity pot on the original train, which is now going to Milton Keynes. The blame for all of which, in addition to today’s result, will inevitably be blamed by a fair few people on Cahill.
Sod it, it’s done. I’m going to laugh at Arsenal, finish my gin, pretend Match of the Day doesn’t exist and then move on.
*Photo of frustrated Conte is from Chelsea's official website.
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