“Peter Withe, Andy Gray, Stan Collymore, Big Ron, David Platt, Paul McGrath, Ron Saunders and Archie Hunter…your boys took one hell of a beating!”
When the Premiership’s highest goal scorers met the Premiership’s surest defence, we knew that something would had to give. Little did we expect, and neither did the bookmakers at 120 to one, that Villa would be given the hiding of their lives.
It was also fitting that on the day that Frank Lampard became our third highest scorer of all time, and John Terry our longest-serving captain ever, that other records were broken too. This was Villa’s heaviest defeat in the Premiership since it began – in a season which had previously seen them concede as few goals as Manchester United.
Sitting 20 yards behind the net, the mouths of the CFCnet crew dropped to the floor as goal after goal rained down on Villa. This was, quite simply, a magnificent performance. We had width, creativity, pace and clinical finishing in abundance….if only we’d played this line up against Inter.
The elephant in the room of course, was the absence of Drogba. CFCnet has held the view for some time that with Drogba in the team, we don’t play to anything like our potential. Anelka is shunted off to the wing, Frank told to stay in the centre circle and our creative plays consists of long balls hoofed up to our Ivorian superstar.
Back in the Anglesea Arms the great debate continued: is Drogba the problem?
Case for the prosecution: Drogba’s link up play is poor, his first touch often clumsy and the rest of the team’s creativity is reduced to lobbing the ball to him as quickly as possible. As Inter Milan showed, shackle Drogba and you shut down the team.
As EXHIBIT A we note that Chelsea often score more goals with Drogba OUT of the team than when he’s in it. We beat Atletico 4-0, Wolves 4-0, Sunderland 7-2, Watford 5-0, Birmingham 3-0, Bolton 4-0 and Villa 7-2 without Drogba in the team.
As EXHIBIT B we note that our team’s creativity, pace, imagination and overall performance is much better when Drogba’s not playing. Our best football this season was in January during the African Cup of Nations. A coincidence?
Case for the defence: Drogba is probably one of the three best strikers in the world, has scored 30 goals this season and is African Player of the Year.
For Ancelotti, Drogba must represent a huge problem. After all, if Saturday’s team demolished Villa so comfortably, why change it for the FA Cup semi final? If it ain’t broke why fix it? Putting our managerial cap on we’d keep the same team and just use Drogba as Plan B when everything goes pear shaped. Same on Saturday against Manchester United.
The fact of the matter is that we often look world class when Drogba’s not playing. That can’t always be said when Didier’s in the team. We also notice that Lampard and Anelka play infinitely better and their goal ratios are far, far better when Drogba’s not playing. In fact Frank has scored more goals when Drogba’s not been in the team.
Confused? We are.
Finally, on a lighter note, CFCnet has put up a piece of audio for our foreign fans who have never had a chance to visit Stamford Bridge. The one minute phone blog, courtesy of iPadio, has the Matthew Harding Lower imploring Martin O Neill to give us a wave – an ironic request usually sung by Villa fans when their team has just scored. Laugh? Oh yes. To listen, click here.
Very finally, our congratulations once again to Lamps and JT. True legends and we’re very, very grateful to you both.