It's only October, but already people are saying Chelsea have got the title wrapped up. Why? Because Mourinho is a winner, that's why!
Well that, my friends, was a game of football!!!
First things first though (and to get it out of the way). Congratulations to Wenger for 1,000 games in charge. That right there is a legacy, my friends. A legacy. And much like Joe Blow in the street shakes off and forgets a really bad day he has at the office, so too must Wenger shake this off and move on to the next match.
Looking at it glass half full for him, if Arse had got a draw against Sp*rs and a draw against Chelsea, they'd have 2 points from their last two games and there'd be no talk of a crisis at their club. A win at Sp*rs and a loss at Chelsea gives them 3 points. Not ideal, but not too shabby when you consider they're both very difficult local derbies at the pointy end of the season.
So, yeah, congratulations to Wenger for 1000 games in charge of a big club like Arsenal. Perhaps the Chelsea fans at the ground said it best for all of us with repeated choruses of: “Arsène Wenger, we want you to stay...”
As for the match, WHAT A GAME!!! Do you see how good we can be if we just have strikers who deliver what it says on the can, and actually score when they have the opportunity? The likes of Falcao, Zlatan, Cavani et al, do not require 10 half-chances to score. Give a great striker a sniff and the ball is in the back of the net.
Eto is a great striker past his best. And that German member of a Flock of Seagulls we've got playing as a 2nd striker is still earning his hair gel. But can you imagine how good we can be if we actually have (say) Falcao and Lukaku up front for us next season (as an example)? Solidity at the back we've already got. Talent and work ethic in midfield? Check. The world's best manager. Yup. And creative attacking midfielder types we've got coming out of the woodwork. But world class, 20-30 EPL goals a season strikers we do not have. Ba, Torres and Eto are demonstrably not the future of Chelsea and should (will) all be sold or let go at the end of the season with a thank you and a pat on the back (for their efforts, if not for their overall goal tallies).
But let's not get bogged down in the striker debate. Today's not the time for that. Not when we PUT 6 GOALS PAST ARSENAL!!!
Arsenal played against Sp*rs last weekend and took advantage of their opponent's playing an overly ambitious high defensive line (the ghost of AVB perhaps?!). So you'd think Wenger would know the perils of trying to do exactly that against Chelsea today. But...nope. A high line was the order of the day and right from the off Chelsea were getting behind their defenders and looking like we could score from practically every attack. And, before you know it, we were 2 v 0 up and the Bridge was buzzing.
Yes, Andre Marriner c*cked up and sent the wrong player off. Inexcusable? Perhaps. But I'm reminded of a certain referee in a world cup giving a player 3 yellow cards so, you know...sh*t happens in the heat of battle. We can't crucify the man for that. Plus there's not a person watching the match who could - with a straight face and a clear conscience - say that the 'who' got sent off, would've made any difference to the final result. It was a deliberate handball / red card and we would've been 3 v 0 at home and FLYING by that stage no matter who got their marching orders. Yes, a defender was sent off instead of an attacker. And they could've done with an extra defender (or 3!) on the pitch. But honestly, did the Arsenal defenders look remotely able to stop the Chelsea juggernaut when they had 11 on the field? No. Not today. So the 'who' was sent off made not a jot of difference. Today we were unstoppable. Partly due to Jose's tactics. Partly due to the great finishing from our strikers. Partly due to Wenger's badly misjudged tactics when he set up his team. And partly due to the stars just aligning, as stars sometimes do, when football comes to town.
Arsenal fans must no more put guns in their mouths after this loss, than Chelsea fans must get drunk on champagne and talk of the title because of the win. In a one off game, stuff like this sometimes happens. Heck, I'm reminded of a famous match against Man Utd from 1999 when the stars aligned so much, even Chris Sutton scored...
Chelsea 5 v 0 Man Utd
...and that loss didn't do Man Utd any harm, given they went on to win the treble that year...
So yeah, it's a one off game. I'd have preferred a draw today and a win against Aston Villa last week and 4 point on the board, rather than a loss then and a drubbing today of one of our local rivals. Call me a pragmatist. But we won a title on 1 v 0 wins and it's all about the silverware.
Positives from this game...gee, where to start?
Oscar - who has been pants these last few months - got a brace and is looking like getting back to his best. Boy how we missed him.
Eto - he's like an aging shark who still knows where to find the blood in the water. I just hope the hammy was only sore, not pulled because we'll need him in the lead up to the end of the season.
Torres - no goal but a terrific performance for the team. When he goes back to Spain at the end of the season, expect him to remember where the goal is.
Schürrle - he really didn't do it for me when he joined, but he's starting to find his feet, and could yet prove to be a diamond in the rough.
Salah - another guy who looked rubbish in his first few (cameo) appearances for us. But today looked like he belonged. Jury's still out, but today's match bodes well.
Hazard - here, there and everywhere and pivotal to our team's success. But again, if he wants to be talked about in the same breath as Messi and Ronaldo, he has got to SCORE MORE GOALS. And he's unlikely to get a better chance than against a 10 man Arsenal team that's pressing the self-destruct button.
Cech - nothing to do beyond that one save early on. But what an important save that was. If that went it we were down 0 v 1 and Arsenal would've had the wind at their backs.
Defenders - solid, solid, solid. Dave's a piece of work and is quite a find. JT's a rock. Cahill's a younger JT. And Ivanovic, while not playing his best recently, is hardly what you'd call a liability (although he drifts inside and leaves space on the right wing too much for my tastes).
Midfield - industrious and with a desire to press both the ball and the space. I still can't wait to sell Luis at the end of the season, as he's demonstrably not a Jose type of player (and will be much better suited to a cavalier life as a Barca centre back than a no nonsense EPL centre back), but today he did his job while playing alongside Matic, who was good too, without ever really being asked to get out of 2nd gear.
And let's not forget we kept another clean sheet, and that our goal difference went up by 6 goals (too little too late, but every goal counts...).
All in all it was one of those wonderful games that you get to enjoy practically from the first kick, because the result is never in doubt. And gosh, don't we as fans love watching games like that!
Grumble, grumble, grumble. I thought now that we'd got rid of Benitez we might actually start winning finals we played, but today turned out to be yet another loss.
Admittedly this loss was to the European Champions, and current 'best team in Europe'. And at no time did we look out of our depth playing against them. But still, losing to them like this, bites big time.
After this loss I must confess that I'm not much inclined to go into this match in any great detail. Not so much that we lost, but in the manner we lost. On a p*ss poor penalty from Lukaku. I mean, what the hell sort of penalty was that? I know people in wheelchairs with no feeling below the waist that can kick the f*cking ball harder than that.
And yes, I know, I know, Lukaku is - at 20 - just a kid. So he's allowed his schoolboy errors. But make them on the training pitch, not in a European final! Honestly, I know this sounds like sour-grapes, but if he'd put his foot through the ball and the keeper saved it, then no harm no foul. But that pathetic pseudo-step run up and p*ss poor kick really got my goat. You want to see how a penalty is taken, watch Super Frankie Lampard and put your f*cking laces through the shot!
Anyway, bile and anger and recrimination aside, we drew 2 v 2 in normal time against the Champions League winners. Torres scored. Hazard scored. And we had a stoic backs against the wall performance (so Chelsea) when Ramires got sent off. We could've easily knicked it but Neuer saved from Hazard,then from Luiz, Oscar went close and Ivanovic headed against the crossbar. But it was not to be, and as I said to mates after the match, 'If we were going to lose against them in a European final on penalties, better in the Super Cup than in the Champion's League final'.
Still, Jose will not be a happy camper losing to Pep, and Lukaku will rightfully get an earful. But let's take the positives out of the game and look forward to the team getting better as the season goes on.
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If this match was a coma patient and Old Trafford the hospital, then 80,000 people would've been begging the doctor to pull the plug. Only in this case it would be us, the humble supporters on both sides, who would ultimately be released from their pain rather than 'the patient'!
To say this was a boring game would be like saying water is wet, space is vast or people who do Brazilian Jujitsu secretly enjoy touching other men while lying around in compromising positions. It was dull on a scale I've not felt since my girlfriend forced me to watch 'Arrested Development'.
As to what actually happened in the match, let's just say that the midfield was congested. Jose played with a 'false number 9' (which didn't remotely work and should never, ever, ever, ever be tried again). And that both teams defended with 10 men behind the ball whenever the other team had the temerity to cross the half way line.
Wayne Rooney played well, and was probably my man of the match, solid work rate, assured on the ball, and with a great range of passes. Nobody really stood out for us. Okay, that's not fair, I guess our defenders played well as Man Utd barely had a sniff at goal. So job done there.
Overall I'd say Manure edged the match maybe 55/45 but a 0 v 0 draw was a fair result, and you suspect Jose was the happier of the two managers when the final whistle blew. And to be honest, a clean sheet in an away match at Old Trafford is fine in the grand scheme of things. I just wish I could find something in the performance of our much lauded attacking midfielders (of which we had about 30 on the field today) to get all lovey-dovey over. So much 'creativity' and no end product says everything we need to know about how desperately we need an out and out #9.
Personally I wanted Lukaku to start up top in this one. After scoring three against Manure in the last match of the season for WBA back in May, he would'be been well up for it. But no, Jose decided to 'out fox' the opposition by playing like Barca.
Yeah, right. How'd that work out?
Let's not do that again, Jose. We don't even like Barca. Remember? So let's play like Chelsea from now on. Solid in defence. Quick transitioning from front to back. Devastating on the counter attack. Is that too much to ask for?
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Two matches played, two matches won. This game against Aston Villa will go down in the history books as more of the 'old' Chelsea from the Jose 1.0 era (grinding out wins when we probably didn't deserve them) rather than from the sure to be swashbuckling Jose 2.0 era that will shortly be coming to a football ground (or TV set) near you.
Chelsea had an obscene amount of possession in this match, but really struggled to make it pay against a very well organized Villa team. This remember is a team that lost 8 v 0 the last time they visited Stamford Bridge, so the transformation in them is nothing short of remarkable.
In this match Chelsea started brightly enough, and after a tricky move early on racked up an own goal after a Hazard shot bounced off their keeper and onto the unlucky Antonio Luna. Chelsea barely put a foot wrong for the rest of the half (without really working out the Villa keeper unduly) but were made to pay for their lack of a cutting edge when, deep into first-half stoppage time, Gabriel Agbonlahor cut a ball back from the left wing to Christian Benteke. The Villa forward (who I must admit I thoroughly dislike as his skill barely masks his thuggery) took the ball down with his first touch, then - in a very Drogba-esque move - swiveled on a dime and buried the ball inside the near post.
Needless to say losing a goal just before half-time would've taken the wind out of the sails of the Chelsea team when they went in for their cut up oranges and Lucozade.
The expected Chelsea onslaught in the second half never eventuated, and while we continued to boss the possession, we certainly weren't bossing the match. And but for a couple of great save from Cech late on, Jose could lost his first home match at Stamford Bridge since the battle of Hastings.
Losing the match would've been harsh on us though. But if I'm being honest here, them losing is probably a bit harsh on them. But, thanks to a towering Ivanovic header late on (from a terrific Frank Lampard free kick) we snatched all three points, and the Jose revolution gathers pace.
For the second match on the spin we faded badly in the second half, though. Whether this is because Jose is pushing them too hard with double sessions at training, I cannot say. But one thing is for sure, it is way too early in the season for our lads to be running out of puff with half an hour to go.
Only really noteworthy mention from a Chelsea player perspective in this match was Juan Mata, who had a 'mare of a game. His inability to tackle or track back is often masked by his many touches of genius. But sadly there was no genius on display here. Just a player who seemed ill at ease with how the new manager wants him to play and produced a thoroughly forgettable display because of it.
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The Special One made his triumphant return to the EPL today, and didn't the Chelsea faithful give him a rapturous welcome home! It was a standing ovation which brought a tear to the great man's eyes.
When the game finally got underway and Jose was (momentarily) forgotten, we were instantly reminded that football, as the cliche goes, is a game of two halves.
in the first half Chelsea pummeled Hull's goal like the USS Missouri letting rip at the battle of Iwo Jima.
Only two goals resulted from this barrage however, due to a combination of terrific goalkeeping and some wayward shooting (paging Kevin De Bruyne especially).
The two goals were brilliant though, but for different reasons. Oscar's opener was the result of terrific team play, and Lampard's free kick was a spectacular solo effort.
After the match Jose claimed Chelsea's play (in the opening 25 minutes) was better than anything he has EVER seen before at the Bridge. High praise indeed!
“I’ve played so many times here and won so many matches here, but we’ve not had so many periods here like that quality,” said Mourinho when quizzed about it.
The second half was a different kettle of fish altogether, as Chelsea took their foot well and truly off the gas and allowed Hull to have far more possession that their play deserved (though they never seriously threatened Cech's goal).
“I’m very happy. We can’t play that way for 90 minutes,' said Mourinho. 'We had no energy, no physical energy and no mental availability to play that way. The three boys behind Fernando Torres were fantastic. In the second half they disappeared. All of them played national team matches: Kevin (De Bruyne), 85 minutes v France, Oscar, 80 minutes v Switzerland, Eden (Hazard), 80 minutes against France. When the creativity disappeared, we lost the danger in our game. But the game was already dead when I made the changes'.
Seems a bit early in the season to be making excuses about the team being tired though, if you ask me. Still, a comprehensive win, a clean sheet, and some dazzling attacking play (in the first half at least) gives us hope that we just might be able to win back the EPL this season if we can build on this performance.
Jose Mourinho may have described himself as "The Happy One", as opposed to "The Special One", after being unveiled as Chelsea's manager (again) on Monday, but he'll always be 'The Special One' to me.
With two (back-to-back titles) in his first spell with Chelsea between 2004 and 2007, Jose has signed a new 4-year deal and is putting the hotbed of Real Madrid behind him.
When asked to describe how he felt upon his return to Chelsea, Jose said: "I would describe myself as a very happy person because it's the first time I arrive in a club where I already love the club."
I'm sure I speak for all Chelsea fans when I say Jose is welcomed back with open arms!
Cavani v Falcao. So just who is better?
Personally I'd pick Falcao over Cavani if I'm given a choice. That's personal taste more than anything else. But with Falcao now looking like he's heading off to Monaco, Cavani seems to be the best on offer. But is he really anyone's second choice?
Here's how the two guys stack up against each other:
Cavani (6'2" - Aged 26)
2010-11: Played 47 (all comps) scored 33 = Goal every 1.42 games.
2011-12: Played 48 (all comps) scored 33 = Goal every 1.45 games.
2012-13: Played 42 (all comps) scored 37 = Goal every 1.13 games.
Total Games (3 seasons) Played = 137
Total Goals (3 seasons) Scored = 103
= a goal every 1.33 games.
Falcao (5'10" - Age 27)
2010-11: Played 42 (all comps) scored 38 = Goal every 1.10 games.
2011-12: Played 52 (all comps) scored 36 = Goal every 1.44 games
2012-13: Played 38 (all comps) scored 33 = Goal every 1.15 games.
Total Games (3 seasons) Played = 132
Total Goals (3 seasons) Scored = 107
= a goal every 1.23 games.
So Falcao is marginally the more prolific striker. But Cavani is 4 inches taller and a year younger. Which means that if either of these players end up at Chelsea it will be a vast improvement on the players we currently have and should start banging in goals for fun!
Brian M Logan
Well done Chelsea!!! But let's not fool ourselves, Benfica were by far the better team on the night and deserved to win. The only thing Benitez did right was pick the correct team (from the personnel available). He did nothing else - and I mean nothing else - the entire game.
From the first minute we were overrun in the midfield. Jose would've seen that and done something about it at half time (if not sooner). He would've either changed personnel (Mikel on for the largely ineffectual Luiz - thus freeing Lamps (our most dangerous attacking threat on the night) to go forward more). Or else he would've played Ramires deeper to make a midfield three leaving Torres up front and Mata in the hole, with Cashley and Dave bombing up both wings as wing-backs (which would've kept their midfielders on the back foot more as well as given us much needed width).
But what did Benitez do? Nothing. Nada. Zip. We won because of a) luck and b) the now famous plucky Chelsea never-say-die spirit. Benitez will take the plaudits, but anyone who knows anything about football will know that the Benfica manager out thought him on the night and - but for some inexperience in the box - Benfica should've won this game.
Still, any plane crash you can walk away from counts as a landing. So well done the mighty Chelsea. Well done Torres (who knew he still had it in him!).Well done Ivanovic (again!). And well done to Mata for two assists! First team in football history to simultaneously hold the Champion's League and the Europa League trophies.
One team in London? One team in England more like it!