COMEBACK KINGS

By Daniel Rankine
Jan 19th, 2009

It’s what’s known in the game as swings and roundabouts. Instant Karma. What goes around comes around. The past two seasons we’ve took the brunt of seemingly endless, sometimes completely undeserved, sometimes even laughably unjust, equalisers.

Thanks to bad luck and edgy defending it’s been our trademark goal the past few weeks. Then, would you believe it, Frank Lampard pings one in (despite Ballack’s cheeky claim) in a special dimension of time that can only be described as ‘last gasp’ and order is restored to the Chelsea universe. I’d almost forgotten that feeling, having got used to the other kind, the one that sinks to the pit of your gut and ruins the rest of your week. Condolences to Stoke but, let’s be fair, we were due one.

It was a vital win on Saturday for a few reasons. Last week was truly awful for everyone connected to the club. It was one of those occasions when afterwards you mope about like a sulking kid, muttering to yourself about how rubbish football is and that you’ve had enough of it. Not only did we lose comprehensively to our main, hated, rivals but also the players didn’t even turn up for the second half. It was unforgivable and that’s what made defeat such a bitter pill to swallow. This Chelsea team has been successful for the togetherness on the pitch, a never-say-die attitude. But this season in three key games, heads have gone down and we’ve all but walked back to the changing rooms. Against United and Liverpool in the second half there was a ghostly void where our team should have been. Arsenal scored twice in quick succession and we had half an hour left to do absolutely nothing. But, first against Southend and then so dramatically against Stoke, the signs were there that the drive and winning mentality are creeping back.

Half of the stadium thought we’d blown it at the weekend but the important thing was the players didn’t. They still believed. They gave everything, pushed and pushed, and got a deserved victory at the death. Now if they can show that much effort, and manage to comeback to win from a goal down with two minutes on the clock, then they can happily comeback in this title race. Sure, there are still problems to sort out but we know this squad is full of quality. If the attitude and belief is there as well then we can do it. It’s time to get behind the team and believe with them. United and Liverpool are still scrapping apprehensive, edgy wins, they’ll both drop more points in the run in. We have to make sure we don’t.

Although the renewed fight is looking promising there are still a few issues that need sorting in the next few weeks training please, Big Phil. One, is shooting practice. Seriously, how many shots do we need before it hits back of the onion bag? Two, are corners. Here’s an idea, let’s put a man on the back stick as that’s where nine out of the ten conceded have ended up. Three, when teams counter the forward runs of the full backs, let’s have some width by the wide forwards. Four, keep bringing the kids on as they might actually change the game. Finally, sort the Drog’s head out so he gives us some fire and goals in the title run in. Easily said than done but worth a try.

The injury to Joe Cole was awful news and added to uneasy pre-match feeling. Thoughts go out for Joe to make a complete recovery in time for preseason. With Cole out it leaves a big hole on the right side. Kalou and Deco can do their bit in that position but neither has the same trickery, work rate or fight as the number ten. With a transfer coming in over January as likely as Kaka joining a relegation-fodder Premiership team, it leaves a void that I’m hoping another injured player can fill. Someone who can tear up and down that right side with some powerhouse running. Fingers crossed the Train can arrive on time.

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