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Last night Chelsea ran out comfortable winners against Maccabi Tel Aviv. This win looks emphatic on paper but against ten men for more than 45 minutes the overall tone of the performance was slightly worrying.
It was the quality of the opposition and a wild moment by a former Chelsea defender that allowed the score to look so respectable, rather than a rampant Chelsea performance.
Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas all looked lacklustre and failed to make an impact, whilst Jose Mourinho may laugh off arguments at half time with Costa, it was clear that something was not quite right.
Going forward, things were still too slow, the goals game from set pieces and despite the advantage we did not dominate the chances as you would have expected. In fact even down to ten men Tel Aviv were able to force Asmir Begovic into some fine saves.
A win though is a win, a draw against Porto will see the Blues through and when you are not playing well that is all that matters.
Willian Man of The Match
Despite some of the star names having average nights there were some standout performances, Begovic produced two or three top saves and Baba Rahman showed that going forward he has the ability to cross the ball.
The stand out performer though was the same person as it has been for the majority of the season. Willian put in another fantastic shift and scored his sixth set piece in 12 attempts this season.
After he and Baba Rahman got the most tweets suggesting they were candidates for man of the match, we put it to a vote and the result was overwhelming.
Willian got the FamousCFC man of the match award gaining nearly 70% of the 500+ votes cast, lets hope he can continue that against the team that bought his flight.
Last week Europe was rocked by a tragic terrorist attack that will have far reaching implications on the cultural and political future of the continent. We saw football matches targeted, the death toll and the barbarity of the acts of deluded criminals shocked the world.
The reaction to this acts from the football community made me immensely proud.
Normally the reaction I get when I tell people I am a huge football fan that travels home and away to watch my team is mixed, football fans have a polarised reputation. However the reaction of the football community to the Paris attacks brought a tear to my eye and made me proud to be associated in even a minor way to the beautiful game.
The events at Wembley were inspiring as the 80,000 in the stadium and the millions watching at home came together to show solidarity with the people of Paris. Watching the singing of the French national anthem on TV was spine tingling and a brilliant way of showing support, illustrating how football can bring people together.
However the announcement that the French national anthem will be played before each Premier League game left me cold. It just seems like the Premier League does not want to miss out on a good PR opportunity and is playing on the grief and support for Paris. The way that we beat terrorism is by staying strong, dusting ourselves down and moving on, rather than this populist move to capitalise on the goodwill of ordinary people.
The tribute at Wembley worked because it was natural, the playing of anthems at national sporting events is a well established tradition. There was a natural opportunity for England fans to show their support
The move by the Premier League seems forced, something that will not have the symbolism or the impact of the voluntary actions of the people at Wembley Stadium earlier in the week. Jumping on the grief bandwagon of a national disaster does not feel right to me.
Grief and solidarity are not exercises in corporate “me too” the football world has shown its support for those affected and our determination not to let the terrorists win, now is time to move forwards and playing the French anthem does not do that.
Whilst my heart goes out to those affected by terror, for the reasons stated above I will not be singing the French national anthem tomorrow.
Chelsea are currently 16th in the Premier League table, something that I have not seen since the first couple of seasons supporting Chelsea. The most memorable of which was the 1993/1994 season where we sat near the bottom of the table at Christmas.
Glenn Hoddle was in charge at the time and he was able to turn things around with the help of a run to the final of the FA Cup.
That season Chelsea rallied to finish mid-table but got thumped 4-0 in the FA Cup against Manchester United (I still dream of that Gavin Peacock effort dropping over the line instead of cannoning back off the crossbar.
What does this have to do with our current situation?
Well not alot really, Chelsea are a different team with a different culture and expectations to back then, I guess sometimes nostalgia gets the better of us. Something our next opponents will surely share with us having finished that season in 12th place, something they would definitely take at the end of this campaign.
At the time this felt like an amazing season to make a major cup final for the first time in decades and stay up. This is not going to cut it this season.
This season we are staring into the unknown, I am not sure what constitutes a good season from this point. The top four seems so far away but must be the objective as long as it is mathematically possible.
All we can do is take it one game at a time starting with Norwich.
The game against Norwich is one where a big performance is expected, the international break has taken the pressure off temporarily, now is the time to step and get back on the scoreboard. A win will not save our season, but it will be a start.
I am hoping I will see some real performances from some of our key players, I want them taking responsibility for leading from the front.
The atmosphere amongst Chelsea fans on the internet is one that is never that far away from erupting into an argument, however since the start of the season it has turned into a toxic one. Nobody is going to be happy with five defeats in ten Premier League games and nothing highlights the difference in football supporting cultures than poor form.
You would hope that for our next game whatever the result we can take some respite from the poor league form and concentrate on defending a trophy that deep down nobody cares about. However it is likely to matter more than ever and is unlikely to be a chance for players to express themselves and try and lift the pressure that is building in the Premier League.
The Capital One Cup is a little like an online casino for canadian players it is reasonably inoffensive and even if you lose nobody really remembers much about the game after a week or so anyway. It is always great to win trophies but it is not mission critical to win.
Yet with the form we are in a win has become more important, Jose Mourinho may only have a few games left to save his job, rightly or wrongly one of those is going to come against Stoke.
Stoke is usually one of our favourite away grounds to visit, it has a great atmosphere and despite the asthetics of the stadium it is a good place to have a few drinks with friends and watch football. Unfortunately transport to any ground is an issue and despite staying in Walsall for the previous round, we could not justify the trip for a ground we visit every season if possible.
Therefore we will be forced to hold our breathe and hope that we can get the win. This will not relieve any pressure on the manager or the team but it will at least stop it getting any worse.
I am just going to flat out say it, if you want Chelsea to sack Mourinho then you are in our humble opinion a moron.
Yes, Chelsea lost again this weekend and a slump is turning towards a full on meltdown but panicking and turning on our manager is not the answer.
Fans are frustrated, I get that but some of the comments we have seen about a managerial legend are naive and quite frankly stupid. The calls to sack Mourinho are baffling, yes things are not going well but this is a man that delivered the title last season and has proven himself time and time again.
Something is wrong and it is not going to be an easy fix. Sacking Jose Mourinho is not the answer to the problem though and I have full faith that he will turn things around.
Bringing somebody else in will just put the club in a state of flux, they are not going to be able to achieve anything more than Jose Mourinho can.
When things are not working the temptation is to want to change things, but this short term approach is a blight on football that assumes that only a manager change can make things happen.
In the last decade we as a club have become accustomed to instant success and always gone after the quick fix. This is a strategy that has seen Avram Grant and a fat Spanish waiter in charge of the club and created huge instability. We sacked Carlo Ancelotti after finishing second the season after winning the double for crying out loud.
Now is the time to give a manager more than just a handful of games before turning on them and giving them the boot. Sacking Mourinho is not the answer and quite frankly if you think this then you are a moron, so sit down shut up and back the manager and players.
In the last couple of days, you could be forgiven for thinking that Diego Costa had murdered the entire Arsenal team during the clash between the two sides.
Alas, the rumours are not true. Instead he had just made a nuisance of himself and winding up the darling Arsenal players. Reports suggest the Arsenal back line needed counselling after the game. Someone to hold their hand a tell them that Costa is a bad man that cannot hurt them anymore.
After all, he was a terrorist in the game and Arsenal were the gents. Wait, what Arsenal finished the game with nine men? They must have been so busy adhering to fair play that they accidentally got two players sent off.
Which brings the total number of sending offs they have earned in just one week to three from two matches. Maybe it is time that Arsene Wenger got his own house in order before running his mouth.
This is an inconvenient truth for Arsene Wenger, who miraculously was able to see every contentious incident in the game for once. Shamed by another defeat to the Special One, this specialist in failure has successfully changed the narrative.
Instead of focussing on yet another defeat and the fact indiscipline cost his side, it is now one where Costa is a disgrace to football and should get the wrath of the FA and the football media.
This hypocrisy is laughable, few Chelsea fans would suggest that Diego Costa is a saint, however the amount of attention he is getting at the moment is ridiculous.
The FA have bowed to pressure and charged Costa, do they still hang people in London? Needless to say he will get a ban and everyone outside of Chelsea will rejoice.
Time for some perspective, Costa is a battling brawler that gets under the skins of opponents, he is a player every manager wants to have in their team. Fortunately for Chelsea he is at Stamford Bridge and had a real impact at the weekend.
If you know an Arsenal fan, make sure you remind them of the score and bring tissues as they are sure to start whinging and crying about it.Well played to Wenger and Arsenal on the spin, we’ll keep the three points though.
I don’t know if you heard but Chelsea are going down the crapper, it must be true as the club did not win all their games in August and the media is choosing it as easy fluff piece of the day.
Losing is always bad but the timing for the defeat to Crystal Palace means, that we have had to endure more nonsense than usual.
The worst thing about the international break is that it has given bored journalists (myself included) too long to come up with a million stories about Chelsea and a bad start to the season.
Things were not too bad when the transfer window was open, however once it slammed shut (why cannot it have closed with an elegant swoosh) there was little to write about.
So what is a bad start has become a disaster that must be written about hundreds of hundreds of times, with analysis, stats and a tonne of judgements. Fortunately with Wayne Rooney breaking the English goal scoring record should keep them satiated for a little while.
However I do not hold out much faith, I am sure in the previews for the weekend ahead we will again be debating
Last night John Terry was being defended from a source Chelsea fans may think unlikely former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp gave a robust defense of the Chelsea captain.
Speaking at a Telegraph football event in Victoria about the transfer window, Redknapp was in fine form talking about a range of issues from Behraino, scouting players and the challenges the window presents.
When speaking about Chelsea and John Terry, Redknapp said
John Terry’s legs have not gone, he was player of the season last year and carried Chelsea, he is a fighter and will not go down without a fight
This viewpoint is of no surprise as the Chelsea captain has had a couple of bad games and this does not constitute the end of a career. Terry has been the talisman of the team for so long it is time that the current squad steps up and supports him.
John Terry has the experience and the talent to adapt his game to his ageing body, he really is Mr Chelsea and will keep fighting for the team whatever the media is saying. John Terry is a Chelsea legend and I have full faith in his ability and place in the team.
The form of the team is a collective thing, so far the team have been poor across the board at the start of the season. Key players have simply not put the performances in that you would expect based on their pedigree, it is time for them to step up and do a job for the team.
It is easy to forget that this is the same team that won the league by 8 points, it is about time the players remembered this and started acting like it.
Whatever happens, we have a few weeks to regroup, Terry is not on international duty, once his suspension is over he will be biting at the bit to prove a point. It is not often I agree with Harry Redknapp, but on Terry he is on point.
Chelsea have once again gone out and deliberately spited every poorly spoken pundit, particularly those who have played for Liverpool by signing Papy Djilobodji.
Not only will he be a commentators nightmare but fans will also take a bit of time getting used to pronouncing the name of our new defender from Nantes. This is why signing John Stones would have been better, as Al Murray would say “a beautiful British name”.
British pundits and fans struggle with even the simplest foreign name, stumbling over accents silent vowels and a plethora of other factors that mean that we rarely pronounce a players surname the way they do in his homeland.
With Azpilicueta Chelsea fans came up with a simple yet culturally offensive solution, we just call him Dave. The player does not seem to mind and it was a simple solution.
So if Azpilicueta is now “Dave” what should we call Djilobdji?
Although he will likely just be known as Papy, my personal preference when using his surname would be to call him Jeff. It’s short simple and effective, not even the most heavily accented Glaswegian element of our support could trip up on this one.
It would allow us to bask in the glory of Paul Merson making regular gaffes, safe in the knowledge that we will never suffer his fate. Always thinking of the pennies this could take off, “Papy Jeff” would make a great name to print on the back of shirts and lend him to immediate cult status across the league.
Ok so this post is a little fanciful but it’s been a tough few weeks to be a Blues fan, time to bring the fun back.
I look forward to seeing whether Papy Jeff will be hit of miss for Chelsea for the rest of the season.
Something strange is happening at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have gone from targeting £30m defenders to unproven centre backs for peanuts from second rate French clubs (no offence Nantes).
The whole season so far has had a sour taste to it and the club’s transfer dealings have the same disjointed feel to them. With hours left in the transfer window we appear to be scrabbling around for scraps.
Mourinho has not been himself, picking fights with just about everyone, including the medical staff and some of his own players. This is uncharacteristic for Mourinho, who is talking and acting like there is a subplot going on in the background.
If that is the case then Chelsea fans have plenty to worry about as a happy Mourinho is a winning Chelsea and I don’t think I could deal with another 2007 style catastrophic exit.
The Transfer Saga
Inspired by a poor start to the season, the transfer floodgates seem to have opened despite the club having the spine from last season intact with a couple of useful additions. We go into the final hours of the window with two big names on fans lips in the form of Stones and Pogba, but unpronouncable French defenders instead.
If Azpilicueta is Dave, if Papy Djilobodji signs I guess we will have to call him Jeff. Then there is the Michael Hector debacle, a player aged 23 who has struggled to perform anywhere, who would be bought to be loaned out again.
All these goings on suggest that things are not well in the Blues camp, the whole mood of the club seems off, a little like it did in 2007. Lets hope that I am just being paranoid and things will slowly return to normal after the international break.
I guess we needed some drama from somewhere, romping to the title gave the media little to write about.
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