Life is like a box of chocolates. Well, so says the guy in the film. For every cherry delight that you get to taste, there is always a coffee crème lurking in the bottom of the box. Tonight we got dished up with a whole plate of them, and melted ones at that. Probably even out of date if you ask me. Maybe I am taking this chocolate analogy a tad too far, but if I say that this was not a great performance you might start to get my drift.
There is good and bad in every performance, and result, no matter what the score. Tonight’s good? Well, I have still not seen us lose at St Mary’s (good for me, maybe not so great for you). We are still undefeated this season. Match for match, we are one point up on last season — not quite Champions League stuff, but an improvement all the same — and they do a lovely cheese and tomato pizza at the ground. That last one may not inspire you, but it did taste nice (after burning my throat away, of course). The bad? Well, this is a very poor Saints team who were there for the taking, and we blew it.
As far as first halves go, this was one to be quickly forgotten. We did not muster a single effort on target, although we were the better side, so make of that what you will. As for Jimmy Floyd, when I heard that he might be on his way for £4 million I thought: “What a laugh. £4 million? Are they having a laugh?” Well on his performances so far this season, and in particular the forty-five minutes he had here, he is over priced by about £3,999,995 — and that’s being kind. My only hope is that all of this transfer talk has unsettled him and that come Sunday he will be back in the swing of things again, bagging a delightful hat-trick against those sad Gooners.
Southampton did grow in confidence as the half went on and could easily have gone in at half time one up when that bloody Beattie had a close-range header well saved by Carlo before being knocked away from goal by Baba. Had they gone in one up it would have been an injustice. Not because it would have been hard on us, it wouldn’t have been, but that the first half just didn’t deserve a goal. If that makes any sense. The second 45 was a better spectacle, which is probably saying very little. Eidur, on for Jimmy, could and probably should have scored. He lifted the ball over the onrushing Jones only to see it squirt agonisingly wide. Then the unthinkable happened. On fifty-one minutes, Baba, who had played well up until that time, chested a cross down and instead of doing what the Southampton defenders had been doing all night — hoofing it away — tried to bring it down and play it out. Fabrice Fernandes took the ball off him and hit a lovely shot past the diving Carlo. Bugger.
We still had another nine minutes to wait before we actually had a shot on target, which kind of summed the night up. When it came, on the hour mark, it was a thumping, swerving effort from Zola that Jones did well to palm away. We did then have a reasonable spell, when Zenden had a volley well saved and Eidur wasted another gilt-edged chance. But the clock was slowly ticking away and with lots of fingernails being bitten all round (better than those coffee crèmes) we finally hit the back of the net. A neat exchange of passes ended when the hard working Lumpy lifted the ball over Jones into the back of the net for his second goal of the season. Phew.
Southampton could still have won it, but in truth a draw was a fair result from two poor sides. Not the fault of Claudio, who picked a team that most supporters would have gone along with (well, maybe Chappie in), it was simply that tonight, for the first time this season, they did not gel. Lots of good individual performances, in spells, but nothing that was sustained. The Gronk, playing his first full game of the season, had Bridge for dinner. Too often though, the final ball was poor. This is, I am reliably informed, the same Bridge who has kept Soxy out of the England squad. Hmm. Zenden had a solid game, as did Gallas and Lumpy. Zola had a good hour then visibly tired and de Lucas (in the centre tonight) continues to impress. Those, and Carlo besides, were the pick of a poor bunch. We will need to show massive improvement if we are not to be slaughtered come Sunday. But then we all know that the Gooners are due one, and due one soon.
Tonight the chocolate was yuk. Please, please you boys in Blue, dish up some tasty morsels this weekend.
Chelsea line-up: Cudicini — Babayaro, Desailly, Gallas, Melchiot — Zenden (Stanic 84), Lampard, de Lucas, Gronkjaer — Zola. Hasselbaink (Gudjohnsen 45)