Suarez & Carroll rendered perfectly in the center.
Sorry that I’ve been MIA recently Blues fans, until BBC decides to start paying me and Bryan for our dedication and alcoholism, work unfortunately has to take precedence to my regular posts. That said, I want to have a quick word about the recent Chelsea FC happenings. 2 things in particular I want to highlight: Fernando’s inexplicable ability to make me love and hate him simultaneously, and Frank Lampard’s aggressive reassertion that he deserves a place in any starting 11, not just that of the 2 teams he currently plays for.
Regarding Nando: Only the unluckiest man in football can play like Fernando has in his past 2 games. I mean seriously, I have remained silent about his horrid miss during the United match… while I’m not saying I can do any better, I do think that most people have been unnecessarily harsh on the poor boy, all things considered. Did he beat De Gea? Yes. Should he have scored? Probably. Could you have scored given the same circumstances? Probably not. Unless a club has paid 50 million pounds for you, then you have no right to mock the poor boy. He has come back from unbelievable injury and is performing at near his top form… which brings me to my next point. What the fuck was up with his tackle in the game against Swansea? I mean, I completely understand his desire to show every one of his critics that he is 150% committed to giving his all for the team, but that tackle was worse than I used to do when I was playing middle school B team soccer. Okay fine, I will remain one of Fernando’s biggest fans, mostly because I see shades of him coming back into form with every game he plays, but when he makes moves like that, intention doesn’t matter… the 3 match ban he has incurred does. Every game he doesn’t play is another 90 minutes gone by that he starts to go back into his dark place.
Speaking of dark places, let’s move on to my next topic of discussion: Frank Lampard. Accused of being past his prime, Lamps went on to silence his critics 1000 times over this past weekend. Sure he was kept out of the match against Valencia this past week, but if you watched the Bolton match, Lamps looked like a man possessed. Running all over the pitch, wanting the ball, he seemed the natural leader that we have seen him as for the past 10 years. A hat trick speaks for itself (and can we just note how Sturridge very nearly had a hat trick too that match?). Not only that, but Lamps’ goals showed everyone that he was not only out for blood, but that he wants his spot on the England squad back. Fabio Capello’s commentary that Lamps was no longer guaranteed a space should be laughed at after this kind of performance. The England squad’s chances are a different story, but to insinuate that Lamps is past his prime is ridiculous. Frank Lampard needs to be allowed his ability to use his natural leadership and captaining abilities to inspire his “troops.”
Long story short, it is about to be a very interesting season. Where we stand in the table, it is very much a 3 horse race… all it takes is for us to beat City and for United to underestimate a weaker opponent and drop points and then we can jump on tome. The season is far too young to speculate on (this time last year we were just about to start on our way to one of the worst results streaks I can imagine), but I have very high hopes, and I think that, once Torres gets his mojo back, the Chelsea FC train will be amazingly difficult to stop.
With about 25 minutes left to play, I wanted to turn it off. Being reduced to nine men with that much time to go meant it was only going to get worse and it was only a matter of maintaining our dignity to see the game out. It was an astonishingly poor performance. The 4-0 scoreline was our worst defeat in over eight years and the combination of dejection, fury, and confusion I felt over how this could even happen was reminiscent of the darkest day in the brief pre-Dalglish span of last season. Credit to Spurs of course because they had a collective screamer, but we looked poised to lose to anybody today. That is about as low of an assessment I can give our squad.
On paper I remain convinced that our squad is perfectly capable of finishing in the top four and that the reverse fixture at Anfield is set up for us to deal Spurs the kind of lashing they just gave us. Dalglish will have a lot to think about between now and then though. Our tactics on the day were completely wrong and our starting eleven was puzzling. Kenny was so slow to make obvious changes once his plan didn’t take off and we could easily have been down by two before halftime.
Our midfield looked spineless, our defense looked outmatched, and our forwards looked pretty useless too. The most flagrant mistake was our right side, with Skrtel and Henderson a disastrous combination lined up against Gareth Bale. I rarely feel this much anger towards one of our own players, but I desperately wanted to run onto the pitch and haul Martin Skrtel off of it - the guy has no business to ever play fullback again. In the absence of Johnson and Kelly, our options were 1. Carragher, the obvious disadvantage being his dire lack of pace, and 2. Flanagan, whose form this season has been questionable and indicative of his inexperience. With either option we would have fared better, particularly if Kuyt had been placed at right mid to track back. This is all in hindsight though. If I had to pick our side differently today we would have probably still lost. Inconsistency from quality players is confusing. Everyone looked SO directionless and slow. The most glaring contrast was the difference between our big/little forward combination and theirs. Adebayor was terrifying from start to finish, popping up all over the pitch making streaking runs and creating chances, while Carroll looked just as pedestrian and heavy-footed as he has all season. I keep expecting Carroll to play off the shoulder and turn defenders when the ball gets delivered to him but like 10000% of the time he’s clinging to a defender, merely trying to jump higher than him. This is greater than a simple issue about match fitness or pace, but a question about positional awareness and football intelligence. So far the Suarez/Carroll partnership has been miles away from fulfilling its potential. In the back of my mind, however, I imagine the introduction of Gerrard back to the midfield will bring the best out of that partnership.
Plenty to complain about, sure, but that’s not why we lost. I have no idea what Kenny’s visit with the ref’s association accomplished but whatever he said had no effect on the way decisions went today. We received SIX yellow cards, with Adam and Skrtel receiving a pair each. Adam was sent off after 20 minutes for a bad but unintentionally bad challenge on Scott Parker. That was a turning point in the officiating and more quick cards were inevitable. Whatever. For unknown reasons, referees just don’t fucking get it sometimes.
Jose Enrique was the only player in red who looked the part. Seb Coates had a decent debut after getting thrown into a very hot fire but egregiously overhit some long passes. I attribute those mishaps to nerves though and I’m confident he’ll be fine. The timing and selection of our subs weren’t great at all, but I was happy to see players I would actually pick come off the bench. I would really appreciate seeing Gerrard and Johnson back in the starting eleven soon. None of our players really crumbled in the end and our traveling support was fantastic as usual.
There may be more but I’m running out of steam and watching Chelsea fail to convert their opportunities while United just fucking slams in every chance they get isn’t helping alleviate my frustration.
Looking back to my previous post concerning Chelsea’s transfer policy, one thing I can definitively say about this past transfer window is that Caligula seems to be allowing Andre Villas-Boas to craft his own team. While this is not uncommon policy when a new manager comes in, I have to say that it seems like Andre had a lot of say in the moves that actually happened. The drama over Luka Modric seems to have come from a combination of assuaging Caligula’s pride and Andre’s genuine desire for a playmaker of the crafty Croatian’s style. While I will go through each of the transfers one by one, I have to say that I think that Juan “not for sale” Mata seems ready and willing to fill the role that Luka would have filled at about half the cost. With that said, let’s look at the transfers:
Raul Meireles – a solid purchase, to say the least. Chelsea’s midfield, while formidable in years past, needs some moderately aged replacements before our youngsters are ready for the big time. Josh McEachran is absolutely going to feature prominently in the future of the Blues (I see him taking on a leadership role similar to John Terry once he has matured), but until that happens, we need a player of Meireles’ caliber to hold down the fort. Look for him to feature prominently, especially with Essien injured, and once he figures out our system, I see him being a dangerous addition.
Juan Mata – As mentioned before, he can easily fill the playmaker role that Andre V-B was looking to fill with Luka Modric. During his first outing, he scored a goal (not unlike David Luiz last season), and I can see a glorious future ahead of the young Spaniard. I just hope that he can use his previous experience with Torres to Fernando’s advantage.
Romelu Lukaku – While the comparison’s to Drogba are bound to happen, Lukaku is a player that I am very happy to see in our squad. Yes, he is a very young, dark complexioned player with tons of raw talent, and his playing style is similar to Drogba’s, but he has the ability to develop into his own force, and I think that he can learn a lot from the team he has established. He certainly needs Premier League experience before we can say definitively whether or not he will be effective, but his desire to play with Chelsea means that he will put in the necessary work to make a bright future happen.
Oriel Romeu – A relative unknown, and, as far as I’m concerned, a steal from a stacked Barcelona squad, he will be a stalwart in the Chelsea defence for years to come. I don’t want to say too much yet, because he is still a very raw player, but any player who has come through the Barcelona training system for any length of time has a distinct advantage over any other transfer. His true value to the Blues will not be seen for a few years to come, but watch out for him, as a significant injury to any of our current squad is sure to result in a boatload of playing time for the young man from the Nou Camp.
Thibaut Courtois – Chelsea struck gold when they signed a young player named Petr Cech from the middle of nowhere, and the signing of Courtois shows them trying to strike lightning twice. I can’t blame them, our depth in the keeper position is pathetic. I joke with Bryan that the name of our back up keeper isn’t the only funny part about watching him play… Hilario is awful, and I feel scared any time Cech is injured. I only hope that a few years in the Chelsea system will harden Courtois, and that he will serve as a legitimate backup to Cech sooner than later.
While I won’t go through all of the outward transfers, two in particular stand out:
Yuri Zhirkov to FC Anzhi Makhachkala – Not only does this club have one of the hardest non-Turkish names to pronounce, but the fact that they are located in one of the most dangerous regions of Russia speaks volumes about them. Their signing of Eto’o showed the footballing world that they mean business, and their bringing home a Russian international shows that they are looking to cater to the hometown crowd as much as the football community at large. While Yuri failed to make a huge impact at Chelsea, I always liked watching him when he was on the pitch, and his versatility made him a great impact sub. I can see how he would want to go home to Russia though, and I wish him and his new squad the best of luck in the Russian premier league, where they seem to be new favorites in the increasingly tough world of Russian footy, if for no other reason than their ridiculous financial prowess.
Yossi Benayoun to Arsenal – Again, a player who failed to make a huge impact at Chelsea, while not his fault, I can see why the powers that be were willing to part with the Israeli. Sure, as a Jew, I hate to see a player like Yossi go, I wish him the best of luck at his new club, and I hope that he shows the footballing world that Sandy Koufax wasn’t the only good Jewish athlete in history.
As a Chelsea fan, one of the things I look forward to most is transfer time. It’s like a great combination of Christmas and Hanukkah with Black History month thrown in for good measure. You know, because it’s a month long. Most importantly, however, it gives us a chance to look back on the past few months and look at which players have scored game winning/tying goals, as they are most likely to suddenly be linked with a transfer to the London blues. It’s a strange phenomenon, really. Per Bryan, here’s a fun fact: apart from Xabi Alonso’s goal in ‘08 (which was given as an own goal), every Liverpool scorer in the last 8 league games between Liverpool/Chelsea has been signed by Chelsea. Looks like Caligula (as we will hereafter be using to refer to Roman Abramovich) doesn’t like having his pride wounded, and he tries to assuage himself by buying up all of the players who have caused the blues not to win a game.
I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this. Sure, it led to our signing of a ridiculously out of form Fernando Torres (even though he is looking better this season than he did for most of the last few, he still is nowhere near his former self, and until the powers that be figure out how to replace glass legs, he is looking more and more like he will follow in Andrei Shevchenko’s legacy as one of Caligula’s great vanity signings), and it precipitated a lengthy, drawn out transfer saga over Luka Modric this past term.
So, watch out this season, any player who scores against us, especially if they cause us to lose or draw a match, is sure to end up being linked with a transfer to the Bridge.