Chelsea 0 Arsenal 0
1st Leg Semi-Final Carabao Cup
Wednesday 10th January 2018
In the News: Everything is about racism so far this week. Oh dear Peter Beardsley. Oh. Dear. The Newcastle youth coach appears to be Britain's socially inept equivalent of Donald Trump. He's suspended, having allegedly told black players at a climbing adventure park called "Go Ape" that they could do better with the words "your lot should be good at this." What an unmitigated dick. Firminho could be in hot water too for an alleged racist slur against Mason Holgate. I recognised one word that came out of his mouth. It wasn't racist but it wasn't nice either. What are the papers more interested in? The fact that the hairdo fell over some advertising boards in the same game. He wasn't hurt, they say. But he could have been. But. As an ethnic minority, this idea about having to interview a minority candidate for the England job makes me squirm. The concept of a qualified manager missing out on his interview because they are fulfilling a quota to make themselves look diverse makes me every bit as angry as the concept of a black manager not getting an interview because of his ethnicity. I ended up as the only non-white person speaking at a history festival last year and the idea that I was only there because of the colour of my skin and not because of my ability was every bit as insulting to me as someone being racist towards me would have been. Robbie Di Matteo answered a question on this perfectly a few years back when he said, just hire the best person for the job. And obviously, don't ask Peter Beardsley or Firminho to be on the interview panel.
Apparently when Whinger is finally committed to an asylum, the Goons have fingered Ancelotti as his potential replacement. Lord no. Carlo is far too unsanctimonious and unsmug to end up there. But I can see the attraction for any manager. No axe dangling over your head. You can literally be sh*t at your job for ten years and not get fired. And Real Madrid f*cked up again. Why do we care? Because their swan dive, which almost has them closer to relegation than to the top of La Liga, and the fallout that may come with it could be the only thing that stops Hazard going there in the summer. So watch with glee and pray they get stuffed every week. And also pray that we don't get flattened by Uefalona and look decently ambitious in Europe ourselves.
Transfer B*llocks: Andreas Christensen has signed a new four and a half year deal. Huzzah. This is the best thing that will happen to us in this window. It also means that the Red Swarm are having to give us some credit for our youth system. They're dulling their pain with words like "rare" and “miraculous” to describe the inroads he has made. Not content with making himself look like a big tit the first time, the Mayor of Scouseland has carried out his threat re angry letters over Ross Barkley. It doesn't get any better than this. He has written to the police alleging fraud. Let's not forget which city he is the mayor of. And how much crime happens there. And this is the case, of fraud no less, that he chooses to have a b*tch baby fit over and on which to make a moral stand. Courtois and Hazard to Real rumours aren't going to go away, and with good reason in both cases. If you're one of those prone to ripping your hair out over such things and calling for the heads of everyone on the board when we don't get our own way, you'll do well to remember, in regard to one of these that sometimes there is no logic, and that it just isn't about football, and there is nothing your club can do to stop someone wanting to leave. I doesn't mean the club has failed. Sandro I think will happen in the summer and that the only real stalling point is Juve not wanting him to go before they've got a replacement, which they did not manage to find in August. Every time a transfer window opens, Pep resembles Granville (sitcom alias) when a new batch of Star Wars figures is released. This time his obsession is Sanchez. Because he doesn't have enough forwards already. Deal is done apparently, according to Kevin De Britney. (Nice one autospell) Don't listen to him, he lies. Particularly about being injured. The sale of Coutinho to Barcelona has apparently driven the price of Paulo Dybala up to £150m. Has it f*ck. I can only think of three clubs in Europe that might be that stupid. And two of them are in Manchester. But hilariously, as one Blue wit has pointed out, Coutinho may be the be the only player since 1990 to start a season playing for the Scouse and win a title. I don't care enough to check.
The Others: Arsenal are out of the FA Cup. They left Nottingham with the sound of "Champions of Europe, you'll never sing that" ringing in their ears. Apparently they gave back "Champions of Europe - You weren't even born,” to which Forest replied: "Champions of Europe - you won't be alive." Fun times. And Alex Iwobi is in trouble for being caught getting trashed the night before the game. I'd have to get sh*tfaced before going to work if Whinger was my boss too. Best headline on Monday? "Forest Thump."
Manchester United in p*ss easy fourth round draw shocker. Yeovil. Mind you, that's not so far from Bristol. There are literally no shiny ties in the next round. If we can surmount a replay against Norwich City without everyone dying of boredom then we'll have to play Newcastle, thankfully at home, else you would have seen BT rubbing their fat hands gleefully and setting us up for a 10am kick off practically in Scandinavia.
And so dawnethed the era of the assisted referee with the last of the FA Cup third round ties on Monday. And couldn't Andre Marriner just do with some help when it comes to doing his job properly? But I liked this not, waiting for him to chat away with someone else sitting near Heathrow Airport to see if a goal stood. He looked like he was doing it with all of them, which to me exceeds the principle of what it should be used for. It shouldn't be used to check if every decision is right, but when the official feels that he is unable to make a decision because he didn't see something or his view was blocked. Right? Or are we going to end up watching the ball hit the back of the net week in, week out and then have to wait every time for a conflab before we can start celebrating? That's going to be b*llocks. The Germans have trialled it more extensively this season, and apparently the fans hate it. And in the other Carabao Cup semi-final last night, Bristol City came close to walking away on level terms, and not against a team of City also-rans either. Fingers crossed they can pull something out of the bag in the second leg.
Us: Another game against Arse, and for me, missing another trick. I thought we could have gone more attacking.
Them: No Sanchez, no Ozil, some jobbers on the bench I've never heard of.
Well done Chelsea. Shed people displaced to other seats in the Shed so that the Goons can sit in our seats. What a pointless exercise. And we were right next to them. Joy. They are even more unpleasant up close. We hit the side netting in the opening two minutes, but other than that it was a pretty even start. Both teams looked perky but but if anyone looked like stringing something together it was us in the first five minutes, then they started to pull back into it a bit.
Oh but if I had had a machine gun and an endless supply of rubber bullets tonight. Their lot were so tedious it actually defied belief. Jesus wept - they were singing that our support is f*cking sh*t. Do they not know that the whole of the Premier Leagues' new favourite song is "Is this the Emirates?" Alonso found himself running in on goal on eleven minutes. Unfortunately it was with a Goon's arms around his throat, which was apparently legal. They were now attempting to sing "you're f*cking sh*t" at Morata, but after Lacazette managed to sky his only shot of the game that was worth anything over the bar by about thirty feet they couldn't even take themselves seriously. What can I say about the first twenty minutes that is positive? It didn't suck as much as Norwich. That's about it. Highlight so far: the chubby kid in the too-tight t-shirt filming himself singing “Chelsea rent boys” while we and all of his silent Goon brethren looked at him like he was a moron.
On 23 minutes a Moses shot was predictably spilled by Ospina, who makes Mignolet look like a world beater at times, but he managed to get his sh*t together and dive on it before anybody could follow up. Shortly afterwards Alonso played a stinging ball across the box, but Morata had just overrun it and it passed behind him. A minute later it was almost in at the near post, but L'Arse managed to scrabble it clear. This was about as entertaining as it got, and was followed by the faithful in the Matthew Harding Lower having to tell the Goons how you take a corner. Their best shot came on 38 when Courtois palmed away a shot from Mistakeland-Niles, who then embarrassed himself just like he did last week with a delayed flail onto the floor in the box. VAR eventually confirmed that yes, he definitely is a twat. No penalty.
The Goons next to us we're now singing, "Arsene Wenger, he's won more than you." Er, no. He hasn't. In his tenure he's won three league titles and seven FA Cups. In that time we've won 21 trophies. Including the European Cup. Dickheads. Even Basil Fawlty (Sitcom Alias) who usually just broods menacingly, was sparked into angry fury, thus earning this nickname, at some of the factually inaccurate drivel they were coming out with. Hazard was almost in on 42, but the ball just ran away from him. We ended the half at 0-0, the Goons immensely pleased with themselves and singing "You've bought it all” again and again, and again. Frenzied shouts of Bank of England Club!! Came from Basil. To say nothing of people reminding them how much money they've spunked on Ozil, Lacazette and Sanchez. Seems it takes a bit more than a shopping spree to win things. Shorta*se (this is Stretch's new alias) saved us all from despondency of another goalless, frustrating 45 minutes with a multipack of Twixes (or is it Twixi? What is the plural of a Twix?) but we were hopeful that things would pick up in the second half.
We had a corner in the opening seconds, followed by a mass of pinball in the box before it went out for another. Promising. Then we came close, Alonso flicking it on for Christensen who couldn't get over the ball and headed it high. Then we sank back towards painful mediocrity. All night long we conceded a frustrating amount of possession with sloppy balls. The margins were tight, as we all knew they would be, and we just weren't quite sharp enough. In the instance you don't want to see complicated flicks and back heels. Just keep it simple, as Mrs Brown (sitcom alias) screamed in despair.
Five minutes after the restart I was complaining that I wanted Tenacious Double D off and Willian on, but was distracted from my bitching for a few minutes by the hilarity of Wilshere injuring himself again. Must be a day that ends in a Y. As he toddled off the Shed Upper was singing “You’ve had your day out, now f*ck off home.” What would they do without magical Captain Jack? What would we do if we could string five passes together? There were half chances, mostly long range, interrupted by Ospina moving as slowly as a stoned koala every time he had to take a goal kick. They had the odd one too, but nothing earth shattering. On the hour mark Welbeck was so excited about a ball coming in towards him that he forgot to jump to try and win it. We’ve got no class, according to the sanctimonious red knobs that were stood on my left. There were some enquiries about whether or not they had seen their own fan channel lately, followed by a mini chorus of “Fam, Fam, Bruv, Bruv” to the tune of Big Ben.
As far as we were concerned, this was just panning out like a duller version of the league game: us, more specifically Antonio, failing to puzzle a way around one of the dopiest Arsenal sides in years and his players not doing him a whole load of favours, with too many having an off night. Sanchez came on for Lacazette. Willian came on for TDD on 67, I like to think because Conte listens to me, and straight away we were rampaging forward; but Eden managed to outfox himself and failed to get a shot off. Sh*t club no history, apparently. Sh*t club, no future was the response from us. One of our best chances came on 74 minutes with a low shot from Willian but it was pounced on by Ospina. Another came in from Alonso shortly afterwards. In between this they were coming forward too, but thankfully every chance they had dropped to Welbeck or relied on his competency as a footballer to get near the goal. How any fan can sing about Morata being sh*t when they’ve got this bellend up front is beyond me. As is how Xhaka was still on the pitch after his usual bumbling display of f*ckwittery and crashing into people.
Iwobi, presumably pissed, had perhaps their best chance of the night. They were in, no question, him striding towards the goal accompanied by Sanchez and Welbeck. But then he inexplicably just passed the ball to Courtois. I have literally no idea why Antonio decided to take Hazard off for Bakayoko on 83 minutes. Yes, let’s cling on to this invaluable 0-0. Here we are again, deeper than f*cking Atlantis and inviting Arsenal on with five minutes to go. Morata went off for Michy, because I think we were just making substitutions for the sake of it now. I couldn’t really see the penalty shout from the other end but my brother was livid and there was a stream of obscene consciousness flowing into my phone via WhatsApp. One thing is clear, because we all stood around not knowing what the f*ck was going on while VAR intervened. You’ve got to communicate with the fans in the stadium, in the same way that hawkeye comes up on the screen in tennis. Otherwise the people that have paid to watch the game haven’t got a clue what is going on. And that is bullsh*t. Which brings me to Refwatch: Atkinson is becoming my favourite referee, if you can admit to having such a thing. But VAR is wank. And Neil Swarbrick is clearly hated by his colleagues because they’re taking every opportunity to lock him in a room away from them. I’ve decided I hate it and nobody is going to convince me otherwise. Until we benefit from it, then I will inevitably deny that I ever wrote this.
So: That was marginally less shit than Norwich. And I mean marginally. We're still in it. But in the last five days I’ve spent £60 on tickets alone to watch us to score no goals and to be about as entertaining as an alcohol-free night of charades with Michael Owen. This must be what it feels like to support a team managed by Real Pulis. If we play like this in February when the Champions League picks up again, there is a fair chance that we are going to be annihilated.
*Photo of surprised Christensen comes from Chelsea's official site.