Chelsea 4 Stoke City 2
Saturday 31st December 2016 15:00
In the words of Eddie Murphy: Merry New Year! And in the words of Chewbacca: Uuuuuuurrrrgh Ahhhhhr Uhrrrr Aaaaaaarg.” Which I am reliably informed translates as “Stand up, if you hate T*ttenham.”
The Others: The league’s most prolific scarecrow, Worzel von Gummidge, and his merry band of nivea coated sh*tty topknots remain six points behind after serving another dose of humiliation out to Pep. City are now ten points off the pace. But more importantly, how tedious is BT coverage? And I had gin on the go. How much does Klopp go on? Is he capable of delivering a post-match interview that comes in shorter than a Lord of the Rings film? I quote Marlene (sitcom aliases) at half-time in their game: “Look at Michael Owen, what a j*zzmop - f*ck off back to your horses.” Quite. And as if he isn’t tedious enough, what about Gerrard? He is about as void of a personality as he is of any league silverware. One had to pity Jake Humphries playing to a crowd of deadpan Scouse-affiliated pond-life for the usual four hours of post match analysis. Kompany didn’t want any part of it - he voluntarily stood out in the crowd shivering his nuts off instead.
United left it late to turn Boro over. I swear HWWNBN was not this tedious when he was with us. He’s waffling away about having 70,000 brilliant fans on the pitch with his team. Anyone who’s been to Old Trafford knows that this is bullsh*t. Someone pointed out to me that love is blind, but this awakening is epic. For us, this must be the level of horror that Peter Andre felt when he woke up and realised that he'd been married to Katie Price. Elsewhere, Burnley thumped Sunderland, Leicester did enough to secure a home win against West Ham, Bournemouth battered Swansea and Southampton lost at home to West Brom. They’ll be willing Charlie Austin back for his goals as much as I am so that I can drool over him in a pair of shorts.
Our Game: Pesto (auto spell) got an enforced rest as he saw out a one game suspension, and Matic dropped to the bench to prevent him picking up the one yellow that would mean he’d miss Sp*rs next week. The rest was as you were. The only injury we've picked up is Conte, who got so excited in training that he gave himself a calf strain. I'm a little bit in love with him. Ok. A lot. Stoke were missing Walters, which was a shame given his goal scoring record for us. Crouch on their team sheet ensured that we’d have an hour and a half of amusement as his expense and urgh, Charlie Adam - giving every chubby middle-aged man in the stands hope that he can still make it as a Premier League footballer. I've seen better specimens of man at the darts this week. Actually, if you stripped Adam and Phil Taylor naked and put a bag over each of their heads, I'm not sure I could tell the difference.
Stoke had definitely come to have a go. More of a go than West Brom, anyway. Their display hinged on them being disciplined in midfield and keeping possession, but straight away, as soon as they were under pressure at the back they looked flaky. A quarter of an hour in I wrote in my notes: “It will not take 80 minutes to break this lot down.” We had an early opportunity, which Kante scuffed wide, but in truth, there was so little on it that it would have been comical if Stoke had actually conceded it. We made a practice of taking short corners, which made complete sense when you looked at 10 big b*stards (well nine big b*stards and a freak of nature) packed into their box. As the half progressed, Operation Timewaste kicked in, as Stoke attempted to dull any intensity we could get going, but when we did have the ball we weren’t doing anything exciting with it. Dare I say without Pesto there was not quite the same pizazz (great word) but maybe this is more about how he fits in with Hazard and Costa at the moment as opposed to us being dependent on him as an individual. It's the three of them together, on fire that are unstoppable. Diego controlled it under difficult circumstances, but smashed it straight at the keeper. Stoke were lucky that the quick rebound off their defender and fell into his arms as opposed to their own goal. Marlene and I had been saying that we should send in some long corners, as defending set plays, Stoke appeared to be essentially a big ugly collection of meatheads with a combined IQ equivalent to a cabbage. On 34 minutes we did just that and Cahill took advantage of Alonso leading off the defenders to head it home. The discipline that had seen Stoke keep plenty of possession evaporated after the goal, as did, thankfully, the desire to spend more time over every throw in or goal kick than Charlie Adam spends lingering at a Christmas buffet table. We went into the break pretty relieved to be 1-0 up.
Then after half-time basically all hell broke loose. I’ve got to say I think the guy that was offside did pull Courtois off from being able to save Martins Indi’s goal but I’m only seeing that wih the benefit of a replay. And we have been rather spoiled in not conceding anything of late, and annoying as this was, Stoke by no means looked stable at the back. This was entirely surmountable. Time to step it up. And we did. Willian hit the side netting less than two minutes later, we went just wide on 51, forced a save on 52 and then fizzed it across the box on 55. Finally, just after that Moses did brilliantly to cross into Hazard, who teed it up for Willian. The shot was hit perfectly to make it 2-1. As of now the wheels came off discipline wise. No doubt this will be referred to as “dogged” or “determined,” but when Crouch is employing a unique tackle that involves grabbing Luiz around the throat and dragging him off the ball, and Diouf misses the ball and punches Alonso in the face, you’ve got to question why they aren’t getting penalised. I don't even know why I'm surprised. C'est Stoke. C'est la vie.
The away side made a double substitution on the hour and shortly afterwards there was a melee in the box that possibly included a foul, but when you let a player who can't even walk properly score against you, you can’t really complain. Chaotic defending and Crouch bumbling around kicking people resulted in him being in precisely the right place to hit it home.
These are my notes:
“Let’s not have a tantrum. Not every game goes your way. You just have to knuckle down and....
What happened?! Who F*cking cares!!!
OK, so as it turns out, we kicked off from having just conceded the second and Hazard just wasn’t having it. Within a minute we’d charged up their end and Willian struck up into the roof of the net to put us back ahead. The game still did not settle and Conte made the utterly sensible substitution of Matic for Fabregas to shore thing up and make sure we didn’t f*ck it up again. The play continued to go from end to end, as Stoke tried to get a third equaliser and we took the opportunity to counter attack. Three passes down to Diego on 76 minutes and he clipped it over the bar, Moses, of all people cleared it off the line at our end. Then on 85 Costa held off two defenders fouling him, like a beast, and rifled it in from a ridiculous angle to seal the three points.
Refwatch: Bobby Madeley. I read in a preview that he was the worst ref in the league. That’s harsh, said Marlene and I. No. It isn’t. Literally bonkers at times. Absolutely impossible for the players to gauge the tone of the game with yellows being brandished for nothing and nasty fouls and persistent infringements going unpunished. I’m losing track of how many times I’ve said this: As fans, we don’t ask for perfection, we just want consistency.
So: Thirteen in a row. THIRTEEN! Oh the irony. The first 3pm kick off on a Saturday since people celebrated the New Year by drinking mead and pillaging the next town in search of witches, and it was worthy of being on TV. It was a repeat of the Scouse game for Stoke, who at least turned up to play football and were not thumped by any means in terms of play. But still they ended up shopping four goals. We were Apollo Creed (In the first film, not against the Russian) and they were Rocky Balboa: big, ugly and stupid, but nonetheless slogging it out to the end. Someone said that Willian has been shit of late. I don't think he’s been that bad, but his decision making has not been great of late. He’s seems to hang on too long before passing, or he gives it away, or he doesn't pass at all. Let’s hope that his brace and his second half showing today is the start of an upturn in form that will bring him somewhere close to the blessed little fluffy haired saviour who basically carried us for most of last season. Costa almost literally broke his neck trying to score today. I’m starting to lose count of how many goals are a result of this kind of effort on this part, whether he gets the glory or not.
We were given a different challenge today. Pegged back twice and we’ve still managed to win it without destroying everyone’s blood pressure too much in the end. In the same way that you have to blag 1-0 victories when the going gets tough, two or three times a season you have to win these inexplicable matches where you make mistakes and a team as hapless as Stoke score two against you. We are relentless, apparently. And I take that as a compliment. And as for today, a little bit of adversity builds character, even if it is of your own making.
I'm off to carb up ready for my never-ending ghetto walk along the Seven Sisters Road on Wednesday night.
Image of large happy fan defying gravity with the grace of a swan comes from Chelsea's official Instagram page.
I’d like to dedicate this (as good as) half-way round up to Harry the Hornet - the Watford mascot, for managing to get Allardyce to make a complete tit out of himself on his first outing as Palace manager.
As Mowgli (special alias) pointed out: “He rolls the FA over, then goes crying to them about a fluffy monster.” As if it wasn’t hilarious enough, watching him have a meltdown about Harry’s rib-splitting dive to mock Zaha, he then gave us this (side-achingly hypocritical) gem: “The Premier League and the FA can look at that and do what they want to do.” I’d keep my mouth shut if I were you, fatty, otherwise they might look a bit more closely at you and you might not get off so lightly next time.
What have we learned so far this season?
(Thanks, by the way, to Marlene (sitcom aliases) for all the laughs and his input on putting this section together)
Conte is adapting to the English game faster than Usain Bolt cracking out 100m on a sugar high when there is an advertising deal waiting for him on the finish line. Thanks to the sterling efforts of Moses and the steady rise of Chalobah and Ake, suddenly our loan system isn’t so hilarious to everyone else anymore, and Chelsea still have the propensity to extort ludicrous amounts of money out of people for our cast-offs, it seems. JT as we've known him for nearly two decades is no more, the biggest casualty of our new system, but hopefully he's not quite done yet. Branna is the new Mikel, David Luiz should not take free kicks, and it is physically possibly for Courtois to crack a smile on occasion. (I’d always just assumed that it was the weight of his nose pushing the corners of his mouth down)
As far as the rest of the top six goes:
The worst of the Scouse muppets will never cease to be knee-jerk f*cktards with the memory span of goldfish, the logical reasoning ability of a squirrel that's been roadkill for a week and no grasp on reality. Sturridge (let’s not forget it is his job is to score goals) netted his first league goal of the season AFTER BOXING DAY, but he’s apparently going to be the one to win them the league.
Pep is going to have to earn his money this time and probably, at some stage, will have to acknowledge that Bravo is useless. Although, to his credit I think he probably exiled Joe Hart more for his sh*t acting in that Head & Shoulders advert. (Equally it might have been jealousy after watching him massage all that luscious curly hair in every Champions League ad break)
Wenger does not improve with age, certainly not to look at, as he’s beginning to resemble Gollum in a wig. Definitely not, it seems, in terms of getting near winning the league. Also, his aim hasn’t got any better when he kicks a water bottle.
Sp*rs can still crumble as quickly as a Cadbury’s flake under pressure, and it never gets any less entertaining. Oh, and Pochettino needs to make it his New Year’s resolution to clarify with Harry F*cking Kane (try saying his name without swearing) exactly what he means when he says “dribble with the ball.”
Wherever he goes, whatever he does, and however hard he tries, HWWNBN will always be a victim of his own personality. He remains bonkers, delusional, and about as genuinely humble or sincere as The Sun running tributes to George Michael after attempting to destroy him for several decades. Wayne Rooney doesn’t appear to have as much trouble growing hair on his face as he does on his head, even though neither makes him any better looking. Oh, and Pogba is sh*t.
West Ham are gits and the Olympic Stadium was out of their league. (Although, in both of these cases this is more clarification than a new concept)
International football remains about as worthy of television airtime as X-Factor.
Allardyce’s whole misshapen, weeble-like body appears to be coated in Teflon (much to the misfortune of Crystal Palace fans) And he has a phobia of large stuffed animals. Also, having seen him from the back, I think he might be a Kardashian.
Leicester were a one-season wonder, and it appears wouldn’t have got their title without Kante last time out. Still, they are enjoying Europe.
It took Swansea a whole 86 days to realise that an American should not manage in the Premier League. Presumably he confused all of the players by referring to it as "soccer" and banging on about "off-ence" and "de-fence" and filling them all full of Gatorade. The result of all of those training sessions where he had them wearing skin-tight lycra and kicking funny shaped balls over the bar is painfully apparent by their league position.
David Moyes is back where he belongs. His personal spirit level will always be at peace when he is scrapping over relegation with a squad full of Harry Redknapp rejects somewhere in the frozen wastes of the north, in the shadow of a f*ck off big wall keeping out the Wildlings. (His fellow Scots) I’m pretty sure the only way he got back into England in the first place was by clinging to the coat tails of that giant in Season 4. (Episode 9 for the anoraks)
And Bournemouth are a ray of sunshine in the middle of the table and long may they continue to prove that you don’t have to bore the living daylights out of everyone and refuse to play football like Tony Pulis (who is still the footballing antichrist) to be there.
The recruitment criteria for match officials does not include an eye exam, lessons in how to use a foam spray can without looking like a dick, or an IQ test. In fact, I’m pretty sure as long as your BMI doesn’t tip into the obese range and you are willing to wear an unsightly array of shirts that would have embarrassed Wham in their Club Tropicana heyday, then they will give you 80k a year to compensate for the whole country hating you.
Giving Michael Owen more air time doesn’t make him anymore interesting.
In the same vein, Robbie Savage’s worth as a pundit is not increasing in correlation with the volume of his badly dyed super fringe.
Talksport basically exists for us all to laugh hysterically at Scouse fans with Birmingham/West Country/London accents who have never been further north than Stoke as we travel home from away games, whimpering on about how this is their year. (again more of a re-affirmation than a new revelation)
Oh, and the Daily Fail will upload literally anything to keep traffic on their sports page up, without even spell-checking it, never mind worrying about whether it is true or not.
So who is going to win the league?
Currently 1st - Chelsea: I’m not going to say it is ours to lose. That is smug at halfway. It’s the kind of thing a Gooner would do. It would be like the Scouse printing up those champions t-shirts before Demba Demba Demba Ba (he comes from Africa and he plays football, etc, etc) ended their hopes and dreams. But we have built a real momentum now and everyone seems to be loving life under Conte. If we go behind, I feel we can come back, if it take us 80 minutes to break down the likes of Pulis and his bore-factory, I believe in the team. I also feel like if we hit a bump in the road for a couple of games, then the wheels don’t necessarily have to come off. I definitely would not have been confident enough to say that last season. As far as our title effort is concerned I feel like it all depends on keeping the top fourteen or so players fit. If we start accumulating a lot of knocks and losing them from key positions without cover (such as the wing backs, who have just obliterated everyone’s basic expectations of them this season) then we could be screwed when sh*t starts to get real at the end of the season. I think we might have the best team in the league right now, but we don’t have the best squad. I also feel like this absolutely won’t be the outfit Conte will have once he has Champions League football to offer incoming personnel, which he didn’t last year, and after he has proved himself in his first season in English football. I don’t expect us to get into this until next summer though, bar shoring up a couple of positions in January. Unless the right people come up, in which case, spank the money Roman, spank it like Allardyce violating a Christmas turkey (or anyone at the FA, who appear to be willing to bend over for him at any cost)
Currently 2nd - Liverpool. Will not win the league. I don’t really feel like I’m even sticking my neck out. They concede too many goals, even if they do bang plenty in at the other end. Most significantly, they do not have a league-winning goalkeeper. Both of the ones that they have will cost any team a minimum of twelve points a season. I’ve said this about Mignolet for two years now. Shame for them (mwhahaha) that the Brigitte Nielsen lookalike is worse. They are very reminiscent of Klopp’s Dortmund: free-scoring, entertaining, somewhere near the top, but too often the entertainment involves them f*cking it up and they are ultimately too flaky to win the title. I feel like other, more stable teams would have to massively capitulate for them to win it this season. Also, we have already lost David Bowie and Princess Leia in the last twelve months, and there is only so much punishment that mankind can take. If they are anywhere near in March I’ll either emigrate or spend six months in a gin-induced stupour in an attempt to block out the noise.
Currently 3rd - City: I think they are the favourites to catch us. Can they do it? Obviously I hope not, and the problem with them is that the team never looks like what you would expect to get given the sum of all their stupidly expensive parts. I had my rant about Pep a few weeks’ back. He is categorically not the managerial messiah that everyone says that he is. But he is not sh*t either. That is his job for his second season, I feel: Sooner or later they need to stop just smashing vast amounts of money out on each player and worry about making them a cohesive unit if they want to dominate the league. As for the rest of this term, I just hope we don’t leave the door open for them, because if we do, and if they get their sh*t together for any length of time, they can win it. Obviously they are the lesser of all other evils.
Currently 4th - Arsenal: Nope. They went from level at the top one Saturday, to behind by nine points the next week. This is always their problem. The Gooner Wobble ( (c) - please send GIFs of selves doing an interpretative dance of this, starting with Gonzo) The Gooner Wobble usually comes at the point where their fans just about start to believe and get all gobby before they inexplicably start to drop points against teams propping up the league. If they are to win the league this season it would have to be a more epic effort than Leonardo Di Caprio trying not to die in the Revenant. (If only he had expended the same effort on survival at the end of Titanic, there could have been a sequel.) There are six teams who look to be in with a shout at the Champions League places, and I think Arsenal could be in danger of missing out if they drop stupid points. Maybe that is actually what they need. As hilarious as it would be for Wenger to stay, that could be what finally forces a change at the club. Stability is all well and good, but not when all it has maintained for more than a decade is frustrating mediocrity by their lofty (and mostly self-adulating) standards.
Currently 5th - Spurs: No chance. They’ve just won their first game away from home in the league since September. Plus, between us we can’t possibly have amassed that much bad karma in West London for this to happen. I think they’ve set themselves too big a task by settling for too many draws, unless everyone else implodes on a nuclear level. I feel like their battle is to get in the top four. If they win the league this season I will invade the pitch at Stamford Bridge and lick Neil Barnett’s bald head. And no. I have learned nothing from Gary Lineker saying something vaguely like this last year.
Currently 6th - Man United: If they were closer, I would have said maybe, but they are a long way off now. I don’t think they have the depth of squad to win the league, which is sickening and basically f*cking incompetent when you consider what they have spent. If I was one of their fans I would be really, really, annoyed. But I fancy them to get top four via a lot of 1-0 wins provided HWWNBN doesn’t have another one of his catastrophic meltdowns. And they should be closer next year. With the same caveat. I dread to think what we would have to put up with if they won the league from the position they are currently in as far as he is concerned.
Who’s going to get relegated?
This is more of a challenge than picking a title winner. If you asked me right now, I’d say, Swansea, although maybe there is hope now they have got rid of Bradley. Hull, because they’ve been hung out to dry by their bellend owners. As for the third one, I call it as a toss-up between Sunderland, (though they are nifty at getting out of this every year) Palace, (who have a good enough squad that they should be well clear by Spring) and Leicester, who just don’t seem to be picking up with any consistency, despite one or two positive results. The Champions League is a distraction. Could their downfall be as dramatic as their league win? It will very much depend on who they can get in in January, I think. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Boro get sucked into the drama, but I feel like Bournemouth and Burnley have shown enough to prove that they can stay up barring any collapse.
I’m off to anticipate a lot of creative hate mail from a lot of other clubs’ fans. Most of which will probably imply that I’m a slag and threatening to insert household implements into various orifices. There is “w” at the beginning of whore, by the way. Chumps.
**Image of Costa greeting the Press Plebs (allegedly) from Chelsea's official instagram page.
By the way, feel free to follow at:
Chelsea 3 AFC Bournemouth 0
Monday 26th September 15:00
Firstly, Merry Christmas and all that sh*t. I hope you’ve all stuffed your faces and managed to get through it without throttling your offspring or your in-laws.
In the News:
So Oscar is gone. He is a great player, but he never fulfilled his potential in England. For what it’s worth (nothing actually, as I don’t get paid for this) as much as I liked him, I don’t think it was physical. I didn’t think he was mentally that strong. Hazard had a stinker last year, the whole world was on his back, and he’s bounced back. JT up at Burnley after a tabloid storm, goes and scores; Lampard playing and scoring in the Champions League just after his mum died, Diego overcoming his Hulk rage and channelling it into his game. I don’t think I can see Oscar ever being one of those top level players, one that takes professional or personal adversity and uses it to smash home a point and shut everyone up. To be a real world-beater you either have to have such a massive ego that nothing anyone says can touch you (The Zlatan, Ronaldo) or you’ve got to be a machine, able to turn all your sh*t around and use it to fire you up and take you to the next level. As talented as Oscar undoubtedly is, he never looked like either. He came across, to me, as maybe a bit fragile for the relentless, analytical and critical side of being a professional footballer. He was erratic in his form, from the sublime to the ridiculous in a week. Every setback also seemed to bog him down and last for ages, as he’s proved this when the biggest one has hit him and he’s taken an immediate transfer when he can’t get in Conte’s side. Have a look at what Fabregas has done in the same position. To my mind, Oscar’s Asian move proves my amateur pyschology. Things haven’t gone well for him, and he isn’t going to stick around and prove anybody wrong. He’s taken the easiest option available to him by going to China. He can turn up on his worst day and play to 40% of his ability and he will still be the best player in the country by a mile. He is guaranteed to be a superstar. There is literally no pressure on him, and no danger of failure, because footballing wise he’ll be playing in the equivalent of the Scottish lower leagues. I liked him, but equally I doubt I’ll miss him much, if that makes any sense. I’ll maybe briefly ponder what might have been. Good luck and God speed and all that, but he’s basically being paid an obscene amount of money to end his career.
HHWNBN has been at it again. He's never been at a club as big as United, apparently. And the league is Chelsea's to lose. He also says that he refuses to employ everyone else's negative tactics (the same ones he has used relentlessly at every club that he has ever been at) because they are beneath them. I wonder when he'll realise that the only mind he is destroying with his inane (and nonsensical) drivel appears now to be his own? To the rest of the footballing world he's just that piss-smelling elderly relative that's let out once a year, sitting ignored in the corner of your lounge on Christmas Day talking to himself in a crumpled paper crown whilst he dribbles mince pie down his front.
I took one look at our big dead turkey and named it Alan, after Pardew, who has probably had about as good a week as the bird. Poor b*stard. And poor Palace fans. Their new manager reckons he had come out of his darkest moment. Well, they are just entering theirs. They’ve just been guaranteed sh*t on a stick, dull relegation battles for the foreseeable future. And more importantly, as Mowgli (special alias) has pointed out: It is pretty incomprehensible that on the one hand England have been fined tens of thousands of pounds for something as innocuous as wearing a poppy, and on the other a corrupt prick like Allardyce is just walking back into the game with no sanctions after humiliating the national side by being as bent-looking as Ricky Martin gyrating on a carnival float to the Weather Girls, whilst wearing a mankini and a two foot headress made of plastic fruit. Adorned in a tracksuit, gnawing on gum and looking like a lazy waste of space, with a big mouth and nothing of any intelligence to say, he will at least fit in in Croydon.
The Others: F*ck ‘em. If we keep winning they don’t matter.
Our Game: We were looking for our twelfth victory in a row, which brings us right up close to the record in one season. Bournemouth became the first newly promoted team to win at the Bridge in fourteen years when they beat us last season (didn’t everyone?) But they had only won one game in the last ten away from home, so tentatively, I was hopeful. We were forced to make changes owing to suspensions. The first was a straight swap of Fabregas for Kante but the talking point was that Batshuayi was left out and that instead, Conte opted to start both Willian and Pesto (Eff off, autospell) To be fair, both have got more of a claim on a starting place by a mile. Perhaps more shocking than any of our team news was the fact that both of Jack Wilshere's little twiglet legs were working properly, together, for the first time, well, ever.
The crowd was remarkably awake for a group of people who between them consumed in excess of 130 million calories and a lot of alcohol yesterday. We like Eddie Howe. We like Bournemouth, because they actually come to play football and it was an even start. A brilliant through ball to Pesto after five minutes was just too long, and we were deprived of an early goal. Our first shot on target came ten minutes later when Hazard danced across the front of the box and past half the Bournemouth side, but there was no power behind it and it was comfortably saved, but more chances followed. There was a great break by Luiz, who went storming up the pitch midway through the half, but when it came to sending him the ball from out wide Pesto's effort was something in between a shot and a cross. No such worry a couple of minutes later though, when he picked a perfect spot in the top corner to give the keeper no chance and put us in the lead. Bournemouth had their fair share of possession and they forced a save from Thibaut and a great block from Dave. This was followed up immediately by penalty shout from the away side that was emphatically waved away. Which brings me to Refwatch: Mike Jones was quite whistle happy today, though to be fair he was consistent in that he gave everything, all day, to both sides, which is more than can be said for most of his f*ckmuppet colleagues.
Bournemouth came out fired up for the second half, but as we are so efficient at counter-attacking at the moment, it led to immediate problems for them when we broke and they conceded a penalty which Hazard tucked neatly away on 49 minutes. That was his 50th league goal for the club, and the worst thing that could have happened for Bournemouth as then they had no choice but to come right out and attempt to salvage something from the game, leaving themselves vulnerable. Willian forced a save on 57, Moses could have had a goal a minute later. Howe's side maintained better possession and worked hard, but on the hour they'd only managed a single shot on target. When they finally did almost get in our box we'd snatch it back and in four passes they were scrambling to defend at the other end. To their credit, Bournemouth kept going till the end. A double substitution introduced new attacking options but still they couldn't make the breakthrough. Hazard really did deserve a goal for his one man run on the 68th minute, but his shot was blocked. Where I was, we missed what was probably the opposition's best shot thanks to a feisty man in a Christmas jumper in the West Lower taking on the whole Shed at singing. We salute you, you lunatic. Bournemouth made their last change and brought on Ibe and right on cue one of Wilshere's weetabix legs gave way. He came back on and running about looked like all those post Christmas joggers which are going to flood past my window next week for about three days before they give up again. I don't think he's convincing anyone back at Arsenal if today's display was anything to go by. I wrote a song:
Oooooooh Wilshere is a pisshead, he's got no magic hat,
He went and signed for Arsenal, but they said no f*ck that.
They sent him off to Bournemouth, and he tried with all his might,
But everyone had realised that he was a load of shite.
In injury time Pesto was determined to hog the ball all the way to the other end and it deflected in for his second, (well deserved) goal of the game. No Kante, no Diego, but still the same discipline and the same stability. Smashing people like Everton and United (lol) is all well and good but today, again, we faced a side that played well and have tripped up others and yet still we still didn't really look under threat for any sustained period of time, despite having less possession. Pesto and Hazard were outstanding, but a word on someone else. Cahill took a lot of sh*t from a lot of people last season and at the beginning of this one (not from me, because I'm shallow and I've got got a thing about his ears and his northern accent makes him sound like he might be dirty) He was disciplined and everywhere he should have been again today. He's now captained us through a dozen straight wins. I think he deserves some credit. He has not the speed of Dave or Luiz, but looks at home in this system. He works damn hard and is much more of a player than we thought we were getting for a pittance five years ago. He's a decent servant to the club who has never caused any manager any trouble or been linked to any dressing room drama. Players like him and Dave are a rarity in a game full of divas and egomaniacs and I like them.
If I had to pick a hole at the moment? Can anyone name the last player we had taking corners that consistently cleared the first man? We suck at it.
Crystal Palace 0 Chelsea 1
Saturday 17th December 2016 12:30
Here's a little ditty I like to call “I Had to Get Up for Yet Another Early Kick Off and There's a Pillar in My Face" that I recorded earlier at Selhurst Park.
News: Nothing like a good Arsenal whinge on a pub crawl to boost the evening on Friday. We're cheating apparently - by not being in Europe. My response was, don't worry, you won't be either when Bayern have finished with you. Again. Speaking of, I watch with anticipation to see whether or not they just pay the likes of Sanchez the going rate he’s started to hint about in order to remain competitive, or stand by those yawnworthy “principles” that we all have to endure hearing so much about and lose their players because they are tight. (I’m pretty sure the only way to get a drink out of the Gooner’s boardroom at Christmas is to stick your fingers down the chairman’s throat.)
“Before the money must be the passion,” Says Conte, also reminding the world that when any kid, anywhere picks up a ball and falls in love with the game it has got nothing to do with how much cash you can get out of it. All I can think about in relation to Oscar is that episode of The Simpsons where Homer sells his soul for a doughnut. We’ll happily take the money from them, and good luck to him, but wow, what a way to end your career at 25.
The Others: Despite going down to ten men, Leicester came from behind for a point. Sunderland clung on by their fingernails at home to Watford, and Swansea have taken yet another kicking, at the hands of Boro. West Ham and Hull City couldn’t hit a barn door between them but the former nicked it thanks to a penalty. West Brom currently need to come from behind to make HWWNBN miserable. Nothing much doing as far as the top half goes until tomorrow. The day kicks off with a south coast derby between Bournemouth and Southampton and then we all look forward to watching L’Arse and City kick lumps out of each other. Sp*rs take on Burnley at the same time and then on Monday night we have the joy of watching any one of a number of hopeless twats in the red scouse goal trying to stop Everton from coming out on top of the Merseyside derby.
Our Game: The usual bleak Croydon smog had descended like something out of a Dickens novel this morning and hilariously for us, but not so much for Trigger, (sitcom aliases remember) he was receiving a valuable lesson in humility from the Ghost of Christmas Past who swiped use of all mobile devices from him and dumped him in a ground that hasn't had a makeover since bonnets and public hangings were fashionable. Watching him reach for his pocket every five seconds before he realised again that his iPhone was deader than Oscar’s future prospects of footballing glory was almost as funny as watching Paul Merson trying to pronounce, well, any name longer than a single syllable. Palace had dug out their best retro mix tape pre-match and much fun was had at Club 90’s bopping round to Baby D and Shabba Ranks. Even Mrs Bucket half raised a smile, (but it might have been wind) although getting a Christmas hat onto Victor Meldrew’s head was about as much of a lost cause as expecting Jack Wilshere to go teetotal and splifless between now and New Year’s Eve.
The team was doing a bit of festive shuffle of their own as far as keeping everyone fresh goes. Pesto (f*ck off autospell) dropped to the bench, Hazard returned and Matic came in for Fabregas. Out they came and I embarked on a game of my own trying to blog at Palace when I can see less than two thirds of the pitch. Even my usual tactic there of watching half the game on the screen was shot thanks to what might have been genuine fog, but equally might have been the standard funk coming off of nearby Croydon town centre. Behold, the drum w*nker to surpass all drum w*ankers, for there is no motive other than to relentlessly smash it as the same moronic rhythm for 90 minutes. Hell is either this or a Tony Pulis team talk. Or possibly a date with Michael Owen.
It was a bright, even start on the part of both sides. Possession was pretty even, with neither side having any decent attempts on goal. Palace had the better chance of taking the lead inside the first half an hour, but Puncheon ballsed it up by scuffing a great chance across the face of goal. We had the opportunity to go ahead a few minutes later thanks to an amazing take down by Hazard, but unfortunately the run on goal fell to Alonso and his attempt to play someone in (it could have been anyone, the pillar was in the way) was lacking. Which leads me to a text conversation going on with Knobhead, my one and only Gooner friend, which went a little something like:
Him: “I know you want to sex him right up, and I don’t watch your lot much, but Alonso hasn’t looked that amazing when I’ve seen him.”
Me: “He’s good, not uber shiny. But I’d still let him ********* my face.” (Sorry mum, but in fairness I’ve heard you say worse about Drogba)
We were still crying with laughter at Victor Meldrew’s rant of “BLOW THE FLAG YOU DICK!” when we went ahead just before halftime. True to form, I was in the middle of complaining that we had been far too sloppy and not decisive enough going forward when Diego scored. At the time, Victor (Meldrew not Moses) Father Ted (on account of his weary cynicism) and I were jumping up and down shouting: “We have no idea what just happened!” (The pillar, again) It transpires that Diego rose gracefully, like a hirsute, scary looking ballerina to get his head on the ball and gave the Palace keeper no chance.
The second half began much like the first, with Palace probably turning in their best performance in a good while (But check with the pillar) A wide shot from the home side was quickly countered with a fantastic Victor Moses cross that Hazard (possibly) couldn’t quite get on the end of. “Great sh*t from Kante” is most likely a typo on my part from the 49th minute, before we settled into a period in which the home team looked far the more likely to score, and we didn’t help ourselves by giving the ball away constantly. It proved difficult to get on top and stay there, and it felt like the kind of game that could be seen off by Pesto the Pickpocket. Fabregas was the man to come on though, replacing Willian on the hour and the way the game panned out, we looked like a much, much more convincing attacking entity after his arrival. He almost played us in straight away, and we might have had a second goal had Palace not decided to start feigning head injuries en masse in the box. A great cross from Moses saw Alonso hit the side netting, and shortly afterwards a great pull back from Hazard, who really got better and better as the game went on, fell to Cesc but went straight into the hands of the keeper.
Time for Refwatch. We got the equivalent of a lump of coal from PGMOL when we got lumbered with Jon Moss for the second time in a few weeks. This is what I wrote after Boro:
“”His performance was his usual bonkers (and breathless) mix of silly inteference and failing to punish the infractions that really mattered. In the first half I can only assume he traded his cards for a spliff before kick off. Conveniently he found them again to book Dave for possibly the most innocuous foul of the match. Also, someone needs to tell him that there is no advantage to be played when it is seven against two.”
Replace Dave with Diego today for the booking and depressingly, the same applies. Firstly, I am not fattist, but if you're on £80k as an official you should be able to keep up with play. Secondly, I would appreciate it if someone could tell him that an advantage is not getting a bigger pie than the linos at halftime. Thirdly, decide what a foul is, decide what dissent is, and apply the same rule to everybody throughout the course of a game. Otherwise you end up with 22 players enduring 90 minutes of f*ckwit bingo while you blow your whistle (or your flag, according to Meldrew) at random every twelve seconds and brandish your cards like you’ve got the same amount of control over your limbs as Fellaini after fifteen Jaeger bombs. Once again, as I said at Boro I think the Palace fans would have been just as p*ssed off with him as we were.Branna and his beard came on to shore us up at the back, and although Alonso cracked the bar with an outstanding free kick in the 83rd minute (Luiz can consider himself sacked from those now) in truth the final minutes were about fending off Palace’s attempts to nick a point.
So: You didn’t hear this from me, but Fabregas was so quick onto the coach that I’m pretty sure he did that teenage boy thing where they wet their hair, pretend they’ve showered and drown themselves in a whole can of Lynx Africa and hope they don’t smell like a badger. As far as the football was concerned, the big difference in the last couple of games has been that we have not been picking up the second balls. Whether it’s because our workrate has dropped slightly or because opposition have realised that picking these up is essential to not getting thumped like Everton or United, who knows. (The Pillar, probably) Mid-way through the first half I did wonder if today was going to be the day our luck ran out, but we remain unbeaten, so although we haven’t seen brilliantly free-flowing football in the last week, it would be churlish (and Gooner-like) to complain about this. Diego and Kante have Boxing Day off, and in truth both have earned a rest somewhere amongst these crowded fixtures. Thing’s might look even rosier by the end of the weekend, as someone in the top four has got to drop points. In the words of Knobhead: “Eleven wins on the trot? Four 1-0s in that run and only two conceded? Form of champions. F*ckers.”
Just a note - I am organising a festive collection amongst Chelsea fans which is gaining momentum and so I thought it might be an idea to offer more people the chance to chip in. We have been in contact with a shelter for victims of domestic violence in an area that is relevant to our football club. There are a number of young children who are living there with their mums in secrecy because they literally had nowhere else to go to be safe and we have a list of what they'd like from Santa. We've already been given some extremely kind donations, but if anyone else would like to contribute over the weekend just drop me a message. We also hope to do a little something for each of the women in the shelter too. Any excess funds will go towards a drop off of toys and presents to Great Ormond Street patients next week.
Sunderland 0 Chelsea 1
Wednesday 14th December 2016 19:45
After my Pep rant at the weekend, you’ll probably pleased to hear I’ve consumed too much gin to be that wordy tonight.
This is me pausing for effect.
Right now there is a smug grin spreading across your face isn’t there?
Pause a bit more.
Someone pointed out that I ignored them in the last blog. I shall atone:
Huzzah Everton. Just the thought of that knob on L’Arse’s fan channel getting all ranty makes me happy. But not scary ranty. He'll be angry rugby fan ranty. (Because that is what Arsenal fans are like, for the most part: self-satisfied, socially superior bores, with their cries of “my game is better than your game because we don’t get fighty with each other, but its morally OK when we start drinking each others’ piss in the clubhouse or shoving coins under our foreskins.” The Emirates is like a pseudo-Twickenham for budding egg-chasers who can't get there because the tube-line doesn't stretch that far)
My favourite aspect of their dropped points last night was when Michael Owen was asked if they fought hard enough for the win. Yes. Said the most boring man on earth. But they fought in an Arsenal way, by passing the ball around, as opposed to sticking a foot in and getting even with Everton’s tough play. In other words, a diplomatic way of saying, yes, Arsenal did fight. But being Arsenal, they fought like girls. And lost. Elsewhere we’ve been denied an opportunity to laugh at HWWNBN again thanks to a late winner at Palace from The Zlatan. Bodes quite well for us for Saturday that Pardew’s side just cannot stop conceding, but not well for anyone who doesn’t want to see Allardyce’s fat chops murdering a wad of chewing gum every week whilst he slouches like a wallowing hippo in his dugout. City put a stop to their losing run, turning over Watford at home. Pep will be a genius again in the papers tomorrow. Hull fell apart at Shite Hart Lane, but we can’t have it all our own way.
News: So far this week we have a new contract for Dave. Good defenders are massively hard to come by at the moment, (hence why City would even contemplate coughing up £30m plus for Mangala, wherever he is now, or paying circa £50m for John Stones when he might be nearly half decent, probably, or maybe, one day. Wouldn’t catch us considering that) Anyway, if you’ve got an adaptable, hard-working and exemplary professional such as Azpilicueta on your payroll already, nail him down. And quick. Like Wayne Bridge knocking up that bird from The Saturdays before her beer goggles wore off. Good work.
But Oscar to China. Didn’t see this coming. For me it was a big enough shocker that Ramires or Lavezzi went there. Because let’s face it, the only reason you even contemplate such a move is if you are looking solely at the money and have accepted that your career as far as footballing achievements is concerned, is as limp as a Southern Rail employee’s work ethic. If Oscar makes such a move at 25 it will actually blow my mind. Because I didn’t have him pegged as one of those players. Let’s face it. If you are going to a league that has already commandeered the services of Sven-Göran Eriksson, AVB and Hulk you are fully bumming around with the mercenaries of the footballing world. If someone, somewhere launched a combination footballing/live dogging league in Mongolia and offered them enough cash, those three would be there. The only money grabber they are missing from their ranks is ‘Arry Redknapp, and that’s only because they haven’t yet found a route so he can drive there from Bournemouth every morning.
Our Game: No road trip for me. Deadline means I have 65-odd sad death scenes to polish ready for a Passchendaele centenary book in the next three weeks. So it was down the Nag’s ‘ead with Rodney/Dave and Uncle Albert (sitcom aliases, remember). Lots of familiar faces from the Bridge, ones you can’t necessarily put names to. Enter Denzil - whose opening words were along the lines of “this time last year you escaped that carriage full of those screaming kids on the way home from Sunderland. I had to put up with them all the way to London.” I’m sorry. But I’m not really. We ran for the other end of the train like Payet trying to get away from West Ham. Next time you are welcome to tag along, because if it happened again, Trigger, Janice and I would do the same in a heartbeat!
Some changes to the lineup. Willian in for Hazard and Fabregas for Matic. Personnel entirely capable of getting the job done. Also, a huge shout out for Zooms (this is another autospell brainfart, but one I quite like because it makes it sound like Zouma is actually my friend) who was back on the bench tonight after a long, long road back from an injury that still makes me cringe when I think of how you could hear his scream throughout the stadium. Good man.
The first half was not as dull as West Brom, I can say that much, although this may have been the hilarity of having a commentator scream in Arabic throughout and the novelty value of having Uncle Albert sat on my lap. It was an industrious start on our part, if not inspiring. To their credit Sunderland were put out to have more of a go than our weekend opposition. It was the 33rd minute before we had much to get excited about, when Pesto hit his effort just wide, but the flag was up. Seven minutes later we thought Willian should have shot as he found himself on the edge of the box. Uncle Albert was moaning that we’d overcooked it, but what does he know. 1-0 and he quickly took it back when the replay showed just how neatly Willian had chopped the ball into the path of Fabregas, taking all of the pace out of it so that the latter basically had a dead ball to hit low into the corner to put us ahead. Great time to score, and far less hair raising than having to wait until the final quarter of the game as on Sunday.
It is transpiring that we are now a better side in the second half, and we came out with much urgency after the break. And promptly nearly shot ourselves in the foot with some casual passing from Luiz before we countered, and Victor Moses just shot wide and high. He missed another one on the hour mark too. Let’s not forget that he has massively surpassed anything we thought him capable of so far this season, but I think if he is to go up another level again, he needs to be more clinical in front of goal.
We dominated the game for the first part of the half, muchly aided by Sunderland's inability to keep the ball. But the home side were by no means pathetic, and they had a few fleeting chances of their own. By the last ten minutes the game had become scrappy with some changes that left us looking a bit lopsided. Our substitutions weren't massively inspiring, but then we were ahead, so there was no need to do anything radical was there? And we're into the realms of stacked up fixtures and managing fitness levels over Christmas. It was a solid performance, and we didn’t look under pressure, but I do think that we might have made a much easier night of it with Hazard scampering about, with the skill (and the current form) to do something unpredictable to catch out the opposition. Interesting point, has Willian lost a bit of his mojo since he chopped his hair short? I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt for now and say that this is the beginning of him easing back into the swing of things after his bereavement. He hit the ball straight at the keeper in the 84th minute, but there was just too much giving the ball away from everyone in blue. Fabregas hit a weak effort on 87, which would have sealed it, but the real action of the closing moments saw Courtois (take a deep breath, I’m about to say something nice) saved us from conceding an equaliser with a diving save in the 93 minute. Job done.
Ref-watch? He had shit hair. Whoever he was. But I can’t think of anything specific that he did to piss me off. The two whinges from a slightly less zen Diego tonight for penalties, I didn’t think he had much of a case. I like it when you don’t notice the officials. Because you are not supposed to.
So: Six points clear before Christmas, having won away at City and taken 30 points out of 30. If you’d have suggested that this might be the case in August, I would have had you marked down as a raving crackhead. Undoubtedly points will be dropped, f*ckmuppetry will occur involving sendings off and dumbarse officials, and we’re especially susceptible to being screwed by injuries if they occur in certain areas of the field, but none of this is happening right now, so hurrah!
Chelsea 1 West Bromwich Albion 0
Sunday 11th December 2016 12:00
Well our Game isn't going to take up much space is it? Breakneck breakfast fare it certainly wasn’t, thanks to the most boring man in football. But we'll get to that. In the meantime, what to fill the space with, if not descriptions of throw-ins that took thirty seconds or of Ben Foster readjusting his nuts copiously every five minutes when he was supposed to be putting the ball back in play?
’Tis the season to be jolly. So let's laugh at other peoples' misfortune.
Sp*rs lost. We’re now 10 points clear of them. HWWNBN is 13 points adrift, despite his hilarious claims that United deserve to be in the top three. The Scouse were ahead, again, and f*cked up, again. Two more points dropped. And ding ding, round two of Pundits vs. whoever that Brigitte Nielsen lookalike is in goal for Klopp’s sh*t-haired mob. I thought they couldn’t do any worse than Mignolet. Thank you Santa. But most importantly. I’ve been dog sick all week and I gave myself such a massive coughing fit last night laughing at City that I nearly passed out. It was worth it. "If this wasn't Pep, he'd be getting hammered," said all the pundits. So hammer him I shall. Like Thor losing his rag stuck on a self checkout in Morrison's.
10th December 2016. The day that Icarus Guardiola fell to earth, followed by the wax spattered remains of his prized angel wings. Brace yourself for some radical opinion. Pep is just another manager. He's not the Jesus of the football world. He certainly isn't one of the wise men either. Right now he is not even a donkey in the stable. Unless it's a donkey that has been kicked out and chained up in the rain for dropping a dirty fart and p*ssing everyone else off inside.
Let's run through my favourite three explanations for City’s predicament:
"He needs time."
Right. Ranieri with supposed relegation fodder LEICESTER last season? Conte? It seems that some managers are more adaptable than others. I can accept this whinge to a certain extent, but, there’s needing time, and then there is being a moron. His team can't defend. Now I know you come from Spain, Pep, where this isn't entirely necessary for all but about six games of the season, but it's a basic principle of football that one would have thought you might have grasped in a lengthy career in the game. You’ve been in the land of Manc for nearly six months and rather than gaining anything, City have become incapable of stopping the opposition from putting the ball in their net. A half-arsed count on my part seems to reveal that they have only kept two clean sheets in the league. They aren’t even getting the basics right, never mind trying to build any lofty, smug philosophy that would turn them into world beaters.
"He doesn't know his best team"
Which is, I suppose, why he has made an astonishing 50 changes so far this season. Somewhere, last night, Joe Hart sat down to watch Match of the Day with a massive box of tissues wearing his best Head and Shoulders cheesy grin. He got exiled for Bravo because he didn’t play the ball out with his feet. He did, however, do a fair bit of m-a-k-i-n-g s-a-v-e-s, which I would have expected someone as special as Pep to have sussed out as the priority for a goalkeeper. Kolarov at the back is like Luiz on his worst, harebrained day, if as well as being harebrained he was also concussed, high on smarties and five pounds overweight. As someone who earns £0 a year out of the football industry, as opposed to Pep’s £15m, I would be confident that I would have by now realised that Kolarov would not be in my best team. After the game yesterday, Pep claimed that he doesn’t need any new defenders. Nothing wrong with the ones he has got apparently. If he genuinely looked at his back three of Two-Pies Kolarov, Sagna and Stones, then looked at Mahrez and Vardy and thought, “Yup, looking good,” then he is not only less clever than he has been given credit for, but he is in fact, a bell-end of epic proportions.
Which leads me to another great one. "He doesn't have the right players."
Piss poor. And not only because they have spent an astronomical amount on players. I’d argue that Pep just doesn’t know what to do with them. Because not even a complete f*ckmuppet, not even ALLARDYCE would have decided that the way back yesterday was to lump on Yaya Toure as f*cking centre forward. I mean, I've been led to believe this man is a footballing genius. If he was that bright, would he have not noticed that his players don't have a clue what they are supposed to be doing? That they are running about like a drunken Andy Carroll unsupervised in a kebab shop? I have not an ounce of sympathy. For the fees that they (stupidly) shelled out on De Bruyne, Stones (what a dodged bullet that was) and Sterling alone, Manchester City could have bought approximately four Eden Hazards, about six and a half Pestos, (autospell clearly knows best) or in excess of twenty Victor Moseses(eses - f*ck knows - what is the plural of a Victor Moses? Answers on a postcard) My point is that ignorance in the transfer market is not an excuse for wank results.
Pep Guardiola is every bit as delusional as HWWNBN, coming out yesterday having conceded twice in the first four minutes of the game and claiming that his side defended well. His post-defeat interviews sound as nonsensical as listening to a diatribe by Ozzy Osbourne. For Christ sake, the man got owned by Robbie Savage during the post match yammering. If it was me, I would just dig myself a hole and climb in. Or pull all my hair out... Oh... wait... But seriously, A pub team manager could not have failed to win everything going at Barcelona with Xavi, Iniesta and Messi at the height of their powers in a league where the bottom half is muchly comprised of players that wouldn’t get into a League Two side here. He turns up at Bayern the year they won the treble. To do what, exactly? What was any better than the poor guy that got swept out to make way for him? They didn’t win the Champions League, and he is not the Messiah that much of the footballing world professes him to be. He might be a good manager, he might well build something in the future at Manchester City to be immensely proud of. But his first half a season in English football has fulfilled all of my predictions of doom (which have been rammed down the throat of anyone who will listen for the last three years) He isn’t any shinier than anyone else, and if he isn’t handed a team that already wins everything in sight he is a mere mortal, just like the rest of them.
Our Game: I look forward to the two occasions a season when I occupy the same breathing space as Tony “Grinchman” Pulis as much as I anticipate root canal. Or watching anything with Danny Dyer in it.
What do you do when you know he has turned up to literally do nothing in the way of playing actual football? You come out swinging, which to our credit we did, with our favoured line up. This was marginally appreciated by a crowd not long out of bed. The time wasting began in the 8th minute. It was about as subtle and as poorly acted as a fight scene in the Queen Vic. I arrived at the Bridge today thinking: “Maybe Pulis has turned over a new leaf. Maybe they actually play football, they were in the top half, after all.” Nope. Pulis’s team are not there because they play stunning football. They are there because suffocating the life out of a football match has become an art form for the tramp in the tracksuit. Which is a shame, because they probably now have a better collection of players than warrants that, as shown in some of their results, and it demeans them. Nobody had any particularly inspiring chances, and the closest we came was when everyone in the ground could see the pass Victor Moses should have played through to Hazard except poor Victor himself. We were not playing terribly, but at half time we had not looked like breaking through.
Fuelled by chocolate for the second half, I felt like we needed Fabregas if we were to cut open Pulis’s well drilled 9-0-1 setup. We weren’t faring much better in the second half, despite giving it a go. At the other end, Rondon might have robbed Luiz, who didn’t have his best day, a couple times, but having won it they were so defensive that he never had anybody to pass it to. BBC gave Jonny Evans MOTM, presumably for his oscar winning portrayal of cramp ten minutes after half time, as the time-wasting increased and the time spent actually playing football ebbed accordingly. I had another coughing laughing fit when Diego, who was as annoyed as the crowd were by the slow-walking, was fouled and the away support started singing: “Same old Chelsea, always cheating.”
As we reached the last 20 West Brom decided they might actually fancy having a go, which opened the game out a little. Willian shot wide shortly after his arrival, but just after that Diego did it all on his own. No right to get on that ball, destroyed McAuley and then slid it past Foster from a difficult angle. On came Branna. And I don’t blame Conte for that. They'd offered little going forward, but it had taken more than hour to nudge ahead. It was a gamble, but one that would hopefully make sure we didn’t foul things up at the back. Mysteriously, it now only took West Brom four seconds to orchestrate a throw in. My candidate for MOTM? Thibaut, for the whole, hilarious, ironic minute that he got out of a goal kick whilst the away contingent screamed at him to get on with it.
We were waiting for the board to go up with a minimum of 25 added minutes now that the football boot was on the other foot. Which brings me to this weeks’ “Refwatch.” How Mike Dean, the biggest busybody in officialdom, didn't say a single word to Foster about his 45 second dropkicks, or shrugged off the fact that he couldn’t tell the difference between a corner and a goal kick on multiple occasions, astounded me, but at least he wasn’t blowing his whistle every five seconds like Taylor last week.
TAKE IT TO THE CORNER! Everyone screamed at Costa as the seconds ticked down. Giving him a football and telling him not to attempt to destroy the opposition in front of him with it right now is like waving a sausage at a jack russell and ordering it to sit. But in truth our hearts were never in our mouths. Pulis reckons his team had a right go today. I reckon he shouldn’t be putting himself anywhere near a scenario where he might be breathalysed any time soon. Nine wins in a row. Ugly, boring game, but we’re half done with him for the season and its the kind of dross that has to be endured and surmounted if we want to stay at the top of the league.
This Week: West Ham did us no favours against L’arse last weekend. But what a great mid-table clash that was between United and Everton on Sunday. Fellaini is a bellend. A loveable, incompetent, criminally ginger-afro-wearing, hilarious bellend. United don’t get the results they deserve, according to He Who Will Not be Named. Nothing like a bit of nonsensical f*ckmuppetry from him to crown a great weekend. On the contrary I reckon he might be getting everything he deserves. And I always said that Jack Wilshere bloke would go far. (although I was thinking Parkhurst on possession with intent to supply) Hurrah Bournemouth. After moaning about how turgid the MNF fixture was, I was given a very sound bit of advice by Granville (new sitcom alias) “I have a rule, never to watch what would be the last game on MOTD, live.” Wise words.
In other news I thought we were pushing it with our airlines and F1 teams, but it transpires that United have an “official pillow and mattress” partner. Probably not helping HWWNBN with his sleepless nights. And here’s something to make you smile. Willian has been talking about Sp*rs. he “admits snubbing Rottenham to fulfil his Chelsea dream was the best moment of his life: “I said I’m sorry but I have to go there. I don’t care.” Speaking of which, what a perfect end to Sp*rs’ own version of Brexit. They won, and it meant absolutely nothing because they had already folded like the petulant footballing jellyfish that they are.
The Others: This weekend kicks off with Watford and Everton, with both looking to climb the table towards the European places. At 3pm on a Saturday (yes, apparently some people still get to play at this hour) L’Arse take on Stoke to try and close the three point gap to us and the summit, Burnley are at home to Bournemouth, Hull play Palace and Swansea host Sunderland as both look to dig themselves out of a looming relegation struggle. After our fixture on Sunday, United take on Sp*urs (please Santa, I’ve been really good, can I have four red cards, three broken legs, two disallowed goals, a thirty man brawl and a complete meltdown from Jose? And a draw) At the same time, Southampton take on Boro and the last game of the weekend is the Scouse hosting West Ham. Can’t think of two sets of fans that deserve each other more.
Our Game: Don’t even get me started on the kick off time. Bang goes my weekly breakfast treat of a massively crispy bacon sandwich with the old dear. I haven’t broken it to her yet.
These Press Plebs are a glass half empty lot. They spent the minutes waiting for Antonio to arrive for his press conference moaning to each other about how depressing life is in January, when Christmas is finished. Although whether or not they have souls is debatable in some cases, so I suppose this outlook should not be surprising. Their kids are probably getting lumps of coal and a day off from chimney sweeping. Contewatch: (Each week I evaluate how close to a complete meltdown the manager is, based on the Jose scale. The more dishevelled, ranting and tramp-like a manager becomes, the more likely he is to be given a fat pile to just go away) Defcon 1 for Antonio today (1 is normal, 5 is HWWNBN in his last weeks at Real Madrid) This was despite the first dumbarse question being “Do you accept you are title favourites?” Conte pointed out we aren’t even halfway through the season. Second dumbarse question was “How satisfying was it watching Manchester City lose their cool?” Sigh. “What have you done to Diego?” Was marginally more amusing. But not as much as “Are you signing Pirlo?” because he happens to have visited the manager at Cobham. But wait, then we got “Are you monitoring Alexis Sanchez because he hasn’t signed a new contract with Arsenal?” So after half the TV section of the PC was wasted on b*llocks like this, they actually asked him a question about, you know, the match we are playing on Sunday.
JT still recovering, Oscar is sick, a couple of others they will look at tomorrow, but he didn’t name names. Matic has been back in training since Tuesday, but he hasn’t selected the eleven yet. He is going to wait until after training tomorrow to decide who plays. The Press Plebs flagged who are next five fixtures are against and implying what massive failures we would be, and what a field day they would have if we don’t win them all. Conte responded to this genius by telling him how much he stresses to the players that they have to concentrate on each game and on just doing their own job. Because we know, as well as the Press Plebs do, that there are no bloody easy games in this league. Unless they are against United, Mwhahhahahahahahahahahaaha (Evil panto laugh)
We are going for our ninth consecutive win. And not to tempt fate, but the club record is 11. West Brom, however, are doing ok on the road - they’ve only lost twice, so don’t imagine this is going to be a walkover. If we get an early goal then it could be a great afternoon. But the longer they hold out, the more the game plays into Pulis’s boring hands. Basically we need to turn up, put in the effort and be clinical, because to tank points this weekend after having beaten two top four rivals would be a bit sad.
And doubly so when the opposition lose their sh*t like Yaya Toure finding out someone's forgotten his birthday. Again. But don't laugh too hard. Remember, when it comes to not winning the league for ourselves, City are the lesser of all possible evils.
Manchester City 1 Chelsea 3
Saturday 3rd December: 12 'effin 30pm.
The Others: I'll be honest. We were so busy gloating (and sleeping) on the way back that few f*cks were given about what was going on elsewhere. Swansea shouldn't be surprised to be bottom. Bob Bradley is about as qualified to be a premiership manager as Donald Trump is to be President. And I doubt that will end well either. Poor old Monk. But Palace have been saved from a fate worse than Allardyce for another week at least, as the chips finally fell for them against an apparently tired looking Southampton side.
Oh, and we are all aware that Conte has had a hair transplant, and that he looks very suave for it. On the way to the land of Manc, in conversation with Tom and Barbara (sitcom aliases, remember) it transpired that Klopp has allegedly also had it done. Given that he has cornered the market in "tramp chic,” and wouldn't look out of place lurking under a bridge at 7am snaffling a mouldy Gregg's sausage roll and washing it down with a can of White Lightning, it may constitute the biggest waste of shaving off your pubes and glueing them to your head (I'm reliably informed this is how it is done in the land of Scouse) that has ever occurred. So he wanted hair, so that he could choose never, ever to brush it. And better highlight his disdain for personal grooming... Hmm...
Our Game: The cryptic press conference comments yesterday transpired to be an admission that Matic was unavailable. Which was a worry when all was revealed an hour before kick off. Combining Fabregas with Kante is more offensive than you'd choose to go for away to Manchester City. But we lived in hope. We were evidently more excited than several thousand Mancs, who didn’t bother filling their seats today. Slightly shameful for a top of the table clash.
For those that did bother, we had an open first ten minutes. If their intention was to push us into playing with five across the back it wasn't really working. It took less than a minute and a half for one of them to take out Hazard, which was sadly predictable based on previous fixtures. At the other end there was perhaps a lucky escape for Gary Cahill in the seventh minute. Seen those penalties given. Speaking of, on the half hour we had the first of what was to be his many, many interpretative falls in tribute to a dying swan when Aguero went down looking for a penalty. I thought I was being harsh when I turned to Victor Meldrew and said "I'd only be pleased to see that man if his shin bone was sticking out of his sock." Victor's response? (Bearing in mind that Aguero is to him what Vertonghen is to me) "Nah, f*ck that, sticking out of his mouth." I love you Victor, you miserable sod.
Only about four of theirs offside when they had one chalked off. For nearly every break they had, we'd retaliate, but with neither side breaking the deadlock. Key in this respect was Luiz. Time and time again, he put in the crucial block in what was turning out to be a reassuringly disciplined performance in the face of their attacks. So it was gutting for us to concede an own goal off Cahill on the stroke of half time. Just unlucky, but nonetheless, depressing. Then, as if that wasn't sh*t enough, half time consisted of robots (Team Nobody vs. Team Gives a Shit) doing press ups in what was the most convoluted, waste of time clusterf*ck of an excuse for entertainment that I have ever seen at a football club.
So it can only get better in the second half, right? Diego, who maybe reached Defcon 3 at one point today for the first time in a couple of months, shot wide on 48 minutes, and almost immediately afterwards, Conte made his first change replacing Pesto (1-0 autospell) with Willian. The fuzzy haired little superstar could have passed it neatly out to Alonso almost immediately, but elected to take a feeble shot instead. Nonetheless, we looked more together than at the beginning of the first half. They could have and should have taken a decisive lead on 56 minutes, but the ball fell to some ginger bloke who smacked it spectacularly off target considering he was four yards out. He's worth a fortune apparently.
This proved to be the turning point of the match. Less than two minutes later, just as I was typing "we need to start taking our chances” onto my phone, Diego held the ball up brilliantly from a Fabregas chip to level the score. The game was turning out to be the same niggley, mean-spirited affair that it always is when we visit the Etihad and at this point either side could have won it. Which leads me to my assessment of the referee today. All the players get picked apart week in, week out, so why not? In technical terms he was as pathetic as Wayne Bridge eating crocodile bumholes on ITV for attention. The last thing you want is a game like this ruined by some f*cking hippy referee who thinks football is a non contact sport. And who do we get? Bingo. Anthony Taylor is in a league of his own. True to form, his grip on the game today was about as vice-like and convincing as a ninety year old woman trying to arm wrestle The Rock. What I despise about seeing his bald head appear in proximity to me is knowing that as well as the opposition, we will face his complete unpredictability. You feel like it could swing the game, and that is just wrong. The minutiae that he chooses to get involved in has no logical correlation at all with all the important stuff that he pretends not to notice. Hence a punch up at the end, and players kicking the sh*t out of each other. And players booked for pretty much nothing, whilst Aguero knocks out a more stringent diving programme than Tom Daley and Fernandinho is swaggering around having kicked every in Chelsea blue for 90+ minutes as opposed to the ball. Replace the City names with a couple of ours and I'm pretty sure their fans would have exactly the same complaints about him. Nobody asks that they’re perfect, but consistency should be a given.
The home side obviously wanted more than a point out of the game, so it was bizarre when Pep made a defensive substitution on 69 minutes and brought on Clichy. And it blew up in his shiny face within a minute thanks to a touch of complete class by Willian. Three passes from their box and a turn by Costa to play him in and we were ahead.
Then it was City’s turn to try and come from behind. Yaya came on, looking like he might need to borrow some of his brother's infamous diet pills. He was not really up to speed and it was a bit of a random one for anything other than trying to shore up the midfield. It was definitely a stretch, given how little game time he has had of late, to expect him to waltz through out midfield and shaft us like he frequently has in the past if that was the point. Coming from someone who is lauded as a tactical genius, City's first two substitutions showed a remarkable lack of imagination. Things got marginally better for them when Pep hooked Stones and replaced him with Iheanacho. They threw the kitchen sink at us, and Antonio's measured response was to add Chalobah to try and hold the line.
It was quite probably the longest ten minutes of my life as we approached the final whistle.
"Sit down Pep you spoilt wanker!" Shouted one wit.
"Work hard now all of you!" Said a constructive chap behind us.
Victor Meldrew's response? "Kick the c**t!!" (Aguero)
Ultimately we were all praying that they would leave a gap at the back and we could finish them off, which is exactly what happened on the 90th minute. Three passes, Hazard, pissed all over Kolarov, who had already been left for dust with a five yard headstart by Willian for the second, and the points were ours. Wasn't it nice to finally see Aguero get what he's had coming to him for about four years with regard to his habit of two foot stamping on/diving at Luiz? Perfect. And then Fernandinho got what he deserved too, thanks in part to some sly gittery from Fabregas that was one of the many reasons I wanted to throttle him when he played for Arsenal. Much smugness was evident. (After we did a quick count up to make sure all of ours were still on the pitch)
So: They kept sending a stat round on the rolling screen saying we hadn't scored against them in three matches. In the words of Barbara: "Up Yours!" On paper this was perhaps our hardest fixture of the season. Last year they tanked us 3-0. Today we were Godzilla, they were Japan. My verdict? At this point in time there are too many City players that don't look like they are worth half what the club has paid for them. We were the better team, even if they have a better tally of individual stars. Also, it's ten times more amusing when the other team not only rolls over having led, but then has a meltdown and their manager comes out shell shocked and spouting existential waffle worthy of Eric Cantona in his post match interview.
Fabregas put in a great shift. Most of the time I forgot Matic wasn't playing, and the difference was only really noticeable when we lacked the latter's height in the box when defending set plays. Magic hats off to Cesc. Hazard, great; Costa, outstanding. In fact nobody had a bad game, although Alonso found today tough, I think. Notable once again was the fact that Chalobah was sent on with a bit part to play and, not only did he quietly do it once again without putting a foot wrong, (especially when you factor in that he also shoved Aguero over on his arse) but he set us on the path to killing off the game with the third goal. In short, after a ridiculously early start, today gave us:
12 City fans left at full time
11 dodgy tackles
10 players scrapping
9 dubious penalty shouts
8 games unbeaten
7 places over Jose
5 games left this yeeeeeeear
4 shots on target
3 Chelsea goals
2 very long overdue City red cards
And only 1 team at the top of the leeeeeeeaaaague
Ok. The red-loving slutbags were never on it in the first place, but my girly fists will be shaking in protest at their studio in Manchester come 12:30!!!! on Saturday.
This week: HWWNBN - Eat a Snickers, mate. You’re a right diva when you’re hungry. He went up another level in entertainment value last weekend, as if it were possible. It seems that a lobotomy is the only way forward, as having tried eloping to several different countries he doesn’t seem able to outrun his own personality. Real Madrid weren’t even big enough not to be consumed by it. For what he was, I am grateful, for what he is now, I am sincerely glad he is someone else’s problem. Aside from that it has been a slow enough news week for the Daily Fail to produce a whole webpage on the three week evolution of Wayne Rooney’s beard.
In other news - a list has been published of the top 21 clubs in terms of naughty fans when you count up arrests so far this season. We aren’t in it, which will leave the press plebs scratching their heads and wondering how to fill some column inches. Sp*rs are 21st with 37 arrests. Bravo the police, I’d have trouble narrowing their horde from last week down to so few knobs whose Saturday night I would want to ruin. My favourites were the two bellends chasing a female blue up the Fulham Road abusing her for wearing a maroon woolly hat. Apart from this being quite pathetic to watch, as the intellectual sparring was like watching Bill and Ben try to shout down Stephen Fry in terms of wit, one of them had red trainers on. Sigh. 40 Scousers have been arrested so far this season, presumably for being too tedious for public consumption. West Ham are only at #11 - which is surprising, but then it isn’t, because then they’d be “good” at something. 49 Villa vans have been nicked, presumably for trying to hunt down and string up the b*stard that owns the club. Arsenal are the fifth worst behaved club of the season so far with 60 arrests. Has someone outlawed online polls? Or moaning? They wouldn’t be lobbing coins, they are too morally superior for that. £50 notes, perhaps? Or are they just getting too rowdy on craft beer for the Met’s liking? Do you know who is top? Birmingham City. 74 arrested in less than half a season. But then I’d be shouty and angry if I lived in Birmingham too.
The Others: By the time we are gratefully zooming away from Manchester after our game, everyone else will have just got out of bed. Southampton will be the last team Palace would have wanted to host this weekend, as they desperately need a result to prevent an Allardyce invasion and to make sure that they don’t drop into the bottom three. Stoke, who have got their act together of late, are at home to Burnley; Leicester will also hope to avoid getting sucked into the relegation places when they travel to Sunderland, Swansea go to (hopefully inflict more pain on) Sp*rs, and there is a mid-table clash between West Brom and Watford. The late kick-off will likely see more arrests for both West Ham and Arsenal, regardless of that happens on the pitch. The Scouse continue on the easiest run of fixtures I think I have ever seen when they go to Bournemouth for the 13:30 kick off on Sunday. Everton host United at four, with both managers pretty desperate for a win in the league. Hold your breath. “MNF” has excelled itself this time. With the greatest respect to Boro and Hull, that one isn’t going to divert my attention from my X-Files marathon on Amazon Prime.
Our Game: JT remains out, Zouma remains on the comeback trail, and one or two people need to be given the once over prior to the game. Boss wouldn’t say who. The press plebs tried to be clever and ask if he would field an unchanged team, to no avail. Remarkably, the press plebs were actually interested in the football today, instead of waffling on about nonsense.
Contewatch: (monitoring him at his weekly press conferences to make sure he is not having a HWWNBN style meltdown where he ends up ranting like a mad tramp. Defcon 1 is great, 5 means we’re doomed) Defcon 1, again. He sees tomorrow as another step up to show us how far we have come since the start of the season. When asked about Pep’s record of late, Conte says he arrived to a fortunate situation (doesn’t he always) and that he should be able to implement his ideas sooner or rather than later. If they ever face each other as players, he doesn’t remember anything about it. He thinks he might have been better with the ball, but that Guardiola probably used his brain more!
They asked Antonio about last week, and what we’d learnt by being bludgeoned by Sp*rs in the first half. They’ve studied it a lot, and he’s talked it over with the players, hopefully with the result that we won’t have to sit through that again! Fair play to one press pleb for highlighting the fact that Diego has been on his best behaviour for weeks now. Conte is appreciative of the fact that now he gets asked exclusively positive questions about the loveable, furry little scamp.
Right. Mid-afternoon. Better go to bed then, seeing as I haven’t had to get up this early for an away game since PSG. Thanks Sky/BT. Wankers. I’m not even going to try and call this one. It all hinges on whether or not we can get an early goal. I’d settle for a point. Or just less of a drubbing than we got last season.
Finally: The Drog is keen that as many people as possible see the following statement (published on his social media) I figure its the least I can do for a legend.