What a week. If you were to describe it in one, neat, bite-sized word, what would it be? My first reaction would probably be ‘wow,’ followed the kind of wild-eyed look that was last seen on Dougal’s face in Father Ted. Maybe a Gordon Ramsey-style response would be more fitting. Two must-win games? ‘Done.’ (And not a swear word in sight). I would be tempted to say ‘awesome’ if it wasn’t in fear of sounding like a ninja turtle. It has been a week of goals, thrilling football and, ultimately, heroes. The only word that does it all justice is ‘special,’ a word for so long affiliated with Chelsea for different reasons. This might just be the week when Avram Grant has finally stepped out of the shadow of the Special One. And praise where it’s due. That’s something special indeed.
Credit to the players, first and foremost, for two engaging matches. We played some great football, showed unbelievable character, resolve, and backbreaking determination. The tempo in both games never let up for a second and every player ran their hearts out. The passing was slick and the goals that came were much deserved. You can’t ask for much more as a fan. In a big week the team certainly delivered. So too did Grant and the management team. The tactics proved to be spot on. Fergie left out some big names and paid the price, and Rafa’s defensive outlook proved Liverpool’s undoing. Grant’s substitutions were attacking, positive and did enough to swing both games in our favour. The use and timing of subs resulted in criticism, and occasional bewilderment, for much of the season but he got them right this week.
Frank deserves all the plaudits heading his way for the bravery he showed in taking the penalty. The man’s a legend. It’s also highlighted a unity and togetherness at the club that warrants to be rewarded with silverware. It’s been a time for the big names to show what they are made of. As Man United continue to stumble in their play Chelsea look strong and in rich form. We can only hope it’s enough to sneak the title. United defended superbly but were out-passed by a toothless Barca. Chelsea out-muscled and outclassed them last Saturday and will need to show the same determination in the next two games. The formbooks may be in our favour but, with two games left, the fixture list isn’t.
Saturday could be a massive day in deciding the title. West Ham have been a bogey side for United, winning by a Tevez goal last year, and deservedly winners at Upton Park this season. But it is a big ask for them to buck form and take some points. Sure, it is in the realms of possibility, but the odds are stacked in United’s favour. What could be just as important is what happens at the other end. Sadly I’ve too much time on my hands, and have been studying the table with an abacus and a puzzled frown. If Villa, as expected with them gunning for the UEFA spot, earn three points at home to Wigan and Birmingham win at Fulham then Wigan will need a point on the last day to stay in the league. Confused? So am I! Bolton would then also be in the same boat, needing points at the Bridge, but at least United would have a game on their hands rather than Steve Bruce rolling over for his mentor to pick up the points. It’s the kind of twists and turns we need to come our way if we have a chance of winning the Premiership.
Just as important is that Chelsea stay focused and on top of the game for the next two fixtures. A tough away game against a rejuvenated Newcastle won’t be easy. Keegan will want to leave the Geordie faithful on a high note in his last home fixture. We need to upset the party and take three points. If everything goes down to the last day then anything can happen, football has a habit of throwing up surprises. Let’s keep everything crossed that Chelsea will be celebrating come the final league game. The end of the season promises to be something special.