1. Drogba and Anelka CAN play together. Out of the nine goals we have scored so far, Didier and Nic have got five. Against Sunderland Didier won the penalty that Lamps duly converted. So in all between them they have contributed directly to two thirds of the goals we scored so far. This myth was started by Avram Grant and perpetrated by Scolari who I suspect used it as an excuse to keep Drogba out of the team. Thank god we can now bury it forever. Looking at it objectively it is inconceivable how it could have crossed anybody’s mind that it could have been otherwise. Drogba is the target man par excellance while Anelka is much more of a roamer. They are seasoned professionals who can easily adapt to any system asked for by the coach. So all in all, no surprises there.
  2. Ancelotti does have a plan B and a plan C. This year’s start has been widely compared to last season’s start. And we all know where that went until Roman lost his patience with Scolari. The difference is that while Scolari had never managed a club side in Europe, Carlo is fresh from 13 years of managing in Serie A. He has won titles in Italy and the Champions League. You don’t do that by putting your head in the sand and sticking to one system. Carlo is a master at playing to his players’ strengths. With Joe Cole and Zhirkov both out injured, Malouda is the only natural wide player available to Carlo. We have already seen a variation to the diamond theme against Sunderland. Once Coley and Zhirkov are fit, expect a few more tricks from the coach.
  3. There is still plenty of running left in the old legs. Aging squad – how many times have we heard those words? If we were to believe it you would turn up at Cobham expecting wheelchairs in the place of the Bentleys, Ferraris and Mercs in the car park. Who exactly are they talking about? Lamps, at 31 still by far the fittest player in the Premiership? Michael Ballack, 33 at the end of this month, who statistically is the player who covers most ground in a Chelsea shirt? Or perhaps Ricardo Carvalho, at 31 still amongst the top 2 centre halves in the Premiership, JT being the other one. Or perhaps JT himself, crocked and battle scarred but still voted best defender in the Champions League last season. Perhaps they are talking about Drogba, the most potent centre forward in the world, or Anelka, last season’s Premiership top scorer. If this lot don’t walk into the lineup of any top team in Europe, then I am Anastasia’s grandson and the real heir to the Russian throne.
  4. We have the best all round squad in the Premiership. Early season matches are the time when coaches tinker around with formations and players to come up with the best eleven and a system for the rest of the season. The indications are that we can rotate players without seriously jeopardising the overall strength of the team. And we still have our two most creative players to come in (Joe Cole and Zhirkov), making us dream of a repeat of five years ago when Robben and Duff were unleashed onto the Premiership eight/nine games into the season. In fact I think that Ancelotti’s main task when all the players are fit and available for selection is to keep everyone happy. Hopefully there will be plenty of games with nice long runs in the cups to go alongside our championship challenge. It will be interesting to see who gets to play in the big games. Knowing Carlo from his Italian days it will be horses for courses with a team built around his untouchables Lamps, Drogba, JT, Essien, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech. As for the Champions League Final, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. (It’s not easy typing away on my keyboard with fingers crossed).
  5. And finally, Liverpool and Arsenal won’t win the League. I have a long standing bet with a Liverpool fan that they will never win the league under Benitez. It became hairy at times last season, but true to form Rafa screwed up at the crucial moments. You just know that when Liverpool need a goal Rafa’s rabbit out of the hat will be taking off Gerrard or his girl-boy and bring on a holding midfield player. Or David Ngog. Or else he will take Torres off at half time with Liverpool leading 1-0 away to Stoke to rest him for a meaningless Champions League group game ten days away. And Liverpool duly concede two late goals, one from a corner because none of his players have quite got the hang of zonal marking five years down the line and one from a long throw by Rory Delap. As for Arsenal I wrote on this site last season that in reality they can never hope to compete against Chelsea when the chips are down as we will simply overpower them. I had worked out that on average Arsenal players are 3 inches shorter and more than half a stone lighter than ours. Since then Wenger has sold Adebayor, and replaced him with a midget, and Kolo Toure. So make that 4 inches shorter and three quarters of a stone lighter this time round.