Chelsea 0 Manchester Citeh 1
Saturday 30th September 2017 17:30
Well that got your attention. If you came here joyfully looking for a Gary-bashing session: Shame. On. You.
I got a text from my dear old mum on 85 minutes. "Why do Chelsea look so bad?" My response? "Because for about an hour we tried to play with someone my height at centre forward and pretended that he was 6'4"."
In the News: Chequebook Pulis was moaning about a fixture pileup after their trip to Moscow. Everyone else is still moaning about how easy United's Champions League group is. Again. The only thing you have to conquer is distance my friend. And don't worry, as with every other day that ends in a Y you had an easy fixture lined up for the weekend. Speaking of moaning, Southgate is complaining that as England manager he doesn't have good players to choose from and half of them don't deserve to wear the shirt. Er, you got the bit where you only had English players to choose from, right? That was in the job description? He'd have to be as dumb as a post to only be realising that his prospects were sh*t now. And Klippity Klopp has been having a whinge too. About the possibility of being dragged down to London on 24th December to play Arsenal. "Nobody wants to see this happen on Christmas Eve". He says. Oh, but I do. I really want to think of your horrible lot crawling home when it's already Christmas Day. And besides, it's a local game for half his fans anyway. They all live in North London. And have southern accents. I hear them moaning on Talksport, blud. Speaking of London’s hovels, Ancelotti to West Ham is doing the rounds on the rumour mill. Please God, such a nice man, such a horrible place, don't do that to him. The Daily Fail's FIFA 2018 correspondent (No, I'm not letting this go until they do) has now been paid to do a comparison of all past FIFA games, thus dragging out the most ridiculous contract in journalism. Which is almost as stupid as their three wise men concept. Remember? Redknapp, Keown and Sutton? Jesus wept. According to Keown, Nelson, I know, who? (Some kid who drew the short straw at Arsenal and had to go to Belarus with part-timers like Wilshere and Walcott in the silly European competition) shows qualities you'd associate with Neymar. What a Bellend. I also display similar qualities to Messi. Such as breathing in and out. And I leave you with this thought. Roy Keane, yes: Roy. Keane. Had the audacity to write (more likely attach his name to something someone else wrote) that David Luiz is a liability to his teammates on account of his erratic and fighty behaviour. Pot, kettle, etc.
The Others: Meh who cares. Palace still haven’t scored, Huddersfield rolled over and played dead and the rest I haven’t got a clue, because I can’t be arsed to watch Match of the Day when we lose. Lineker is uglier when he is gloating over our misfortune than at any other time. Unless it’s when he’s crapping himself on live television and trying to wipe his arse on the pitch.
Them: They were missing Mendy, who has done the dreaded cruciate thingy to his knee. And Aguero. I’m not going to lie, when I found out he wasn’t seriously hurt, but just enough to miss a few games I did some fist-pumping. Who goes out on the p*ss in Amsterdam 48 hours before the biggest game of the season so far? Dick. But if you think that was the stupidest injury this week, spare a thought for a hooker (this is a real thing in egg chasing apparently) who plays for something called Ospreys, who has been ruled out of action because he was bitten by a lion.
Us: Luiz serves out his suspension, making way for Rudiger and Christensen comes in too as Conte opted to push Dave out as RWB instead of using Moses, which was sound in my opinion against such a sharp attack. George Michael took up his usual spot on the left, Kante was deployed slightly ahead of Bakayoko as on Wednesday night, and Antonio opted to have Fabregas, Hazard and Morata in attack.
3-1 was my prediction. Silly me. Both teams shot out of the blocks. In the first ten minutes we had a mere 25% of the ball, but I expected that. And that did certainly not mean that we were under a constant barrage. In fact we could have gone ahead right at the start when Kante did what everyone tries to do now and put the ball on Morata’s head. The resulting shot went over the bar. They had a decent free kick shortly afterwards, but the ball went straight into Thibaut’s arms. At this point Boycie’s son, Tyler (sitcom aliases) pointed out that from our corner of the Shed Upper, Pep looked hilarious. The gleaming white trainers, the chavvy jacket, he looked like he was about to head out clubbing in Croydon. Blue Orchid style. For every half chance they had we followed. A limp wide shot by some bald git I didn’t recognise, who it turns out is David Silva going for a convict chic look, was followed up by a deft break from Hazard.
Then on fourteen minutes came the first instance of what became the most unbelievable display of f*ckwittery on the part of a linesman I have seen, well, since the last one. Either he had a spasm in his flag arm or he was a bonafide moron, but the end result was that the individual running the line in front of the West Stand became even less popular at Stamford Bridge this evening than the idea of a return stint from Scolari. Naked.
iPhone spellcheck changes De Bruyne to De Britney, which is too good not to use. For the first half an hour he was muzzled efficiently by Bakayoko, as was Sane, who seemed to have assumed the role of roving dying swan. This was like a game against the Scouse, you felt. We needed to get through the first half an hour without conceding. At this point Gonzo (Muppet alias) was apoplectic with rage because Tyler had gone and located a (supposedly chicken) pie, therefore lining his stomach to ready himself for the Gonzo challenge. (four pints at half time, I’m told) We made it through the half hour, but then our evening started falling apart when Morata began signalling to De Britney to put the ball out. It was probably a gamble to start him today, given that he wasn’t totally comfortable for much of the game in Madrid, but one you’d take. Unfortunately he couldn’t continue and, bizarrely for me, he was replaced by Willian with Hazard pushing up, sort of, to replace our ailing striker. The pace went out of the game, there was a mopey atmosphere in the stands for the rest of the half. They'd had far more possession and far more attempts but I didn't feel like we'd been under really heavy pressure. Anytime we did get into the final third though, it was embarrassing, and in the end Thibaut grabbed the plaudits for Chelsea with a save to keep the score level right before half time. For City? The Lino was the best on the pitch.
Tyler managed the one pint at half time. Gonzo’s face was one of unmitigated disappointment. This look did not fade when he resumed watching the game. We were on the back foot as soon as the second half began, culminating in a shot from close range hit wide on 48 minutes. There were huge, ironic jeers of sarcastic applause for the lino every time he gave us a throw in. For him, the next 45 mins of his life was going to be pretty unbearable, but no more than he deserved. We had not remotely recovered from the loss of Morata. We were so woeful in the last third it was embarrassing. Poor Hazard, who had started the game brightly, was completely isolated and rendered so invisible by playing as a striker that he may as well not have been on the pitch. When he did finally break on 59 minutes, you knew Fernandinho was going to clean him out, because that is just what that awful little sh*tbag does. The resulting free kick that went sideways from Fabregas was a bit bizarre, but it did ping into the six yard box. It did also succeed in sparking life into both the players and the crowd, but by now we were fully under the cosh, with no outlet. It took some heroics to keep the score level; namely from Rudiger and an acrobatic George Michael. We were lucky not to be behind, and then lo and behold came a lapse that let in De Britney, of course it would be him, to put City ahead. I was p*ssed that it was a shot from that far out and we let it through. Urgh.
Cue one of those monumental bellends in front of us. You know the ones. You’ve never ever seen them in your life before, but they decide to get up and start going “sing up you c***s!” To everyone. As if they be a paragon of support when they aren’t even looking at the pitch. You know it's bad when the supporters are arguing amongst themselves. I now felt like it would be a miracle if we got anything out of this game. Because playing without an established striker is a bad idea when you are losing. We were getting more and more laboured with every minute that passed, especially Bakayoko and Kante, who had run their nuts off in Madrid. (I make no assumption about the size of said nuts) We had completely lost all ability to pass the ball to each other.
Conte made his last two changes. Hazard went off, presumably not quite up to two back to back full games in four days yet; and he was replaced by Pesto. (Another autospell gem) At last Michy came on. OK, I know he isn’t everyone’s joyous idea of a substitute, but given that he pops up and scores goals like those in West Brom and earlier in the week, it blows my mind that we had to wait until there were just fifteen minutes left to see him come on. Fabregas had gone back to sit in front of the defence with an exhausted Kante. So it really was sh*t or bust. It had got so bad that we were cheering like Gooners when we won corners. We immediately looked better going forward but I dreaded to think what would happen if then came at us, and it looked like too little, too late. The crowd was up, the players were up but we squandered what attempts we did have, and our passing remained woefully loose. Which brings me to Refwatch: Atkinson. Apart from failure to notice what looked distinctly like Ederson scampering out of his box with the ball in his hand, which was a stinker, I don’t think he had a bad day considering he was trying to do the job of of three people at once. He was determined to let the game flow from the start, he saw through Jesus and Sterling diving, and he booked Fernandinho when he wiped out Hazard. But his support from the other officials was shocking. EIGHT times offside they would have you believe. City 0. Does that sound right to you? Thats compared to once against Stoke, and four times against Arsenal, and it wasn’t anything to do with their defence being uber smart. The linesmen were just thick. If TV tells you anything it’s been doctored as part of the red agenda. I guarantee it. The remainder of the game was slowed down as much as City could manage, and when we did get the ball we couldn’t do anything with it. Even the ball boy couldn't complete a pass to help us get it back in play on 87. We headed over just after that, and in injury time I think we strung five passes together for the first time in the second half, but we could have stayed there till midnight and not scored today.
So: If I was a bigger person I would say that the better team won. But I am the worst loser you can think of. So I can’t. I won’t argue with anyone who does say it though. I will just point out, somewhat pettily, the fact that Sane has a full length portrait of himself covering his back complete with stadium background as he celebrates a goal. (It doesn’t even look like him) Ederson has a f*cking emoji covering half of his neck and John Stones now appears to have a stripper tattoo covering the whole of his thigh. So we walk away with the moral high ground.
Lampard hailed our win midweek as one of the best European performances he's seen by an English side. Consider it against Arsenal's trouncing at the hands of Bayern - a team with another impressive recent European record. They lost 10-2 on aggregate. It was an inspiring performance for a Premier League side when they have been lacking in the competition of late. But 72 hours after we became the first English team to win away at Atletico in the Champions League, we looked void of all energy and pretty terrible as the evening progressed. I don't know if Willian completed a pass all day. George Michael tried, but Walker just shut him down. Hazard was isolated through no fault of his own, Bakayoko and Kante faded badly. We've all supported Chelsea long enough to see this before. When you expect nothing we get miracles and when you come in breezily expecting a result we fall on our ar*e.
This result had little to do with Cahill, or indeed Rudi or Christensen. The defenders that played midweek looked fresher than most. Our game was over when Morata went off and it needn't necessarily have been, which was as frustrating as our inability to complete a pass. If you’re Michy you are going to go home and pick another row with EA Sports. Or cry. I think the disparity in mid-week action, them playing Ukrainians at home on Tuesday and us playing away to Atletico on Wednesday showed as the game went on. Antonio was understandably much frustrated by the complete lack of time between this huge match and the game in Madrid, but he made the wrong calls today. We played half the match sacrificing our best player by using Hazard as a centre forward in exactly the same way we would Morata. Why? When we had a striker on the bench? But then I can't remember the last time we said that about our manager, and let’s not forget we were quite rightly hailing him as a genius for his work earlier in the week.
We lost by one goal, not five. Some of the players didn’t look at it today, but it wasn’t for want of trying. Take yourself back to the loosely corresponding fixture last year, the last before going into the October break was Arsenal away - and we were pathetic. I could have taken to the field with Uncle Albert and Gonzo and we could have had more of a go at the Emirates. City were top then too. We were 7th and eight points behind them. Now? 4th, and six off. So no nappysh*tting required. That is, though, two European games and two non results the following weekend, albeit against top end “rivals.” We should keep an eye on that though, before we turn into Sp*rs. And we haven't scored twice in a row now at Stamford Bridge so watch out for “a club in crisis” in the red rags tomorrow. Yawn.
*Photo of the awful stripper tattoo comes from Chelsea's official website.
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