Yep, that’s right. The first time since 1992 (maybe the second, I’ve drunk too much gin to care) that the reigning Premier League champions have not been televised on the opening weekend. Bet they wouldn’t have done that to the Scouse. To my immense amusement though, you have to go back before the Premier League was invented to find when THEY were last champions. That’s before most of their current team was born. And probably the last time Klopp had a shower.
The Others: Urgh. This “Friday Night Football” irks me. It irks me greatly. Clearly all that Shiny Dinner Plate glory went to the Goons’ heads last weekend. They got out of jail eventually, but showed everyone why they probably won’t come anywhere near winning the league. In the words of Jamie Carragher, well, the ones I could understand as he drowned in his own saliva, “Arsenal have played like they’ve never seen Leicester before,” Happy days. The Scouse vindicated everything I said about Klopp and defending in the season preview, Watford clearly didn’t get the memo that this is their year. Shrek scored on his return to Everton, and Huddersfield are top after thrashing Palace at Selhurst Park. They’ve now spent more time leading the Premiership than Sp*rs have in the last two seasons. Southampton and Swansea battled their way to a bore draw, while Real Pulis managed to throttle the life out of valiant little Bournemouth at the Borethorns. In the late fixture Brighton held off City for more than an hour but lost 0-2. This leaves Newcastle to play Sp*rs tomorrow lunchtime and Chequebook Pulis to park his famous bus against West Ham later on. I worry that United will win the league this season. He’s had his first season, then he wins in the second, and then obviously in 2018-19 we can look forward to him having a complete mental breakdown, leaving chaos on his wake in the third.
Nobody is giving us much credit. Chris Sutton and Martin Keown are on my sh*tlist for dismissing us in Sky’s previews. Incidentally, out of every single one of the pundits on the BBC (Boooo – they are in my bad books) only one predicted that Chelsea would finish outside the top four. Gullit. F*cking traitor.
Us: Dave moved up to fill in for suspended Moses and new signing Rudiger went into the back three. In place of Pesto (I yield autospell, I yield) came Boga, which was apparently a shock to the media but not to anyone who’d been paying attention in preseason.
The Game: The first time a Chelsea player tackled someone, he got booked. And so it began. We strung together about 500 passes in the opening five minutes. 495 in our own half, but still, Burnley could hardly get a foot on the ball. Our first break on goal came when a great ball flew out to Dave on the right but he shanked the shot. Shortly afterwards, Boga could have scored on his debut had he made better contact using his head. For his effort he had a foul given against him for having the audacity of trying to win the ball. Then, having dominated we were down to ten men in the first quarter of an hour. My enormous list of transgressions for which I want to repeatedly pimp slap Craig Pawson doesn’t actually include this red card. Uncharacteristic and absolutely no malice in it. Could he have given him a break? Maybe, but allowing for the fact that this referee is a monumental bellend I can see why he sent him off.
So having barely touched the ball Burnley were back in it. I take issue with Fabregas’s first yellow card. You’ve just sent a Chelsea player off. Understandably, his teammates don’t like you. So when you do nothing in the next passage of play when a Chelsea player is hacked down and then Cesc gives you a smattering of sarcastic applause, do you book him? Or do you show a bit of common sense, tell him to watch himself and keep a lid on the situation? Well if you’re Craig Pawson, i.e. a thunderc*nt, you book him and further antagonise 40,000 people before you’re twenty minutes into the game. The crowd response was riotous. I want Mr. Kydd of the Fancast’s opinion, seeing as he has got certificates that allow him to empathise with these twats.
Poor Jeremy Boga made way and Christensen was punted into the deep end to get his first team career started, not only today but probably for next weekend too. For what it’s worth, I think he did OK today. Burnley had a goal chalked off for offside, but following the sending off we were all over the place. There was the odd spell of control, but it was not enough. Burnley did not “stun” us today, as the press plebs are saying, they contributed little before the red card, and sat back for the whole of the second half waiting for a counter-attack, but for that half an hour of the first half when we could hardly string three passes together, they were clinical, disciplined and made the absolute most of the opportunities they got. When finally we settled, looked to be on top despite being a man down, we went and conceded again. Just not good enough. Then the third went in. “Hopefully Trump will choose now to push the button,” said Boycie. Entertainment, this was not. I’ve never seen Gonzo move that fast to get to the beer. All he wanted to do was dull the pain of what was to come after half time.
At least they came out with their heads up. A long range shot from Rudiger on 47 went wide but not embarrassingly so, and a minute later George Michael (still he rocks the atrocious 80s hair) had a shot tipped over. But sadly, for me, despite surmounting our opposition, who outnumbered us, for the whole of the second half, we could not surmount what was the most pathetic attempt to referee a football match I have seen in recent years. No doubt the press will say we booed our team off at the end of the first and second halves. I hear that this is definitely the case with NBC in the States. Nope, that was all for Pawson. Random, stupid stoppages, absurd decisions and about as adept at spotting a Burnley infringement as Nelson would have been waving his telescope in front of his useless eye. In the dark. If he had flown a helicopter over Stamford Bridge and napalmed the stadium and everyone in it, it still would have been more subtle than his car crash of a performance. I just stopped taking notes in the end because it wasn’t a football match, it was a farce. I have not see an outpouring of such disgust aimed at the match officials since that ludicrous semi final against Barcelona in 2009. Penalty shouts went begging, at least one of which was blatant. No cards for Burnley in the first hour. To me that implies we kicked them up and down the pitch. Bullsh*t. It just didn’t happen.
Conte changed it up, for what it was worth. On 57 minutes Batshuayi went off for Morata. The first thing he did was hit a shot. It missed by a mile, but sad to say more than Michy managed in an hour of football. George Michael came close with a free kick, but still my little corner of the Shed Upper just watched on in sheer disbelief at the three man comedy act in magenta who were either blind, high, of extremely limited intelligence or most likely a combination of all three. Morata gave us hope on 67. The ball went in. Pawson looked pleadingly at the Lino then realised he was going to have to give it. We had it in the net again a few minutes later, but this time a flag did go up. Jon Walters came on for Burnley. This gave me hope. Apart from Kondogbia the other week I’ve never seen a player who doesn’t wear our shirt go so far out of his way to score us a goal.
Still, the Pawson show went on. Then, when Fabregas received what should have been his first yellow card, Stamford Bridge was deafened by chants of “3-1 to the referee.” Even with nine men we were still better than them. Luiz thumped in a second, and sent Alf Garnett (sitcom alias) leaping up and down and screaming “NOW I forgive him for PSG!” As one last punch in the face? A mere four minutes of injury time to account for two goals, six subs and a disgraceful amount of time wasting. It was that bad that Alf roared: “Spineless c*nt!” Alf abhors the C-bomb. We came so close to an equaliser in the dying seconds, but it was not to be. Opening day defeat, but a dogged showing against the odds for the duration of the second half.
So: Conte didn’t look happy. Said one genius on the tube. Are you f*cking surprised? To be honest everyone near me stood in an identical pose with a face of complete bafflement for most of that game too. This match had nothing to do with who we signed and who we didn’t or how many players we’ve got. The fact is that the thin squad Antonio does have almost came back from 0-3 down with nine men to get something out of the game. I heard some snippets today: one that a wide player we’ve been linked with is close to joining, it’s a matter of finances now, and that we haven’t given up on another. We’ve put in an offer and I don’t think we’ve yet been told to p*ss off! In the grand scheme of things, we have 37 games left. Write it off, try and get through next weekend without any players, averting a complete disaster and then our season really starts. Apart from saying that I was sad to see Michy have a disappointing afternoon, and that Morata when he came on bagged his first goal quickly and looked exciting (dare I say Torres-like with his runs) it’s not even worth trying to overly scrutinise performances today. Like I said, farce not football.
All that’s left to say is that Pawson has form for ruining matches with utterly atrocious decisions. (City’s FA Cup final semi last season is one of his most epic recent stinkers) The fact that we (as in the Premier League) talk about the effect on results of inept officials week in, week out, and that nothing changes is of real concern. We can discuss how this gets rectified another day. I’m not in the mood to be diplomatic right now. I’d be surprised if the f*cking Expendables can get that tosser out of Stamford Bridge unscathed this evening. With luck the referees room resembles the inside of that plastic medical capsule in Prometheus after the bird from the dragon tattoo films has given herself an alien caesarean. I’m going to spend my night drinking gin, watching the athletics and mocking up a North Korean passport for the ref. Then I’m sending it to Trump. With a note saying that Pawson cussed his mum. Don’t tell my publisher, because I should be doing something more constructive than this.
But the last word shouldn’t go on that snivelling butt monkey. It belongs to our team. I think the last time we were three down at half time was at the Emirates last September. That game ended 3-0 and we had eleven men. We were pathetic. Today our boys, all nine of them, came out after the break and refused to lie down in the face of a ludicrous official and literally couldn’t stand up at the end. We gave ourselves a lot to do in the second half today, but were undone by the referee. I don’t care what it looks like by the time the Press Plebs have whittled it down to two joy-filled minutes of them celebrating our demise. I was there and I believe that had it been officiated fairly, that we would have finished turning the game around to get at least a point by the end of it. But I don’t have a time machine, and as Mrs. Brown (sitcom alias) says: if your granny had balls she’d be your grandpa.
Any manager with a brain will pull the significant bones out of it this. Down to ten men, then nine, Chelseawere still a threat and despite the disparity in numbers, came within a hair of taking a point whilst they completely dominated their opposition. We may not have any players for next week but we’ll worry about that later. I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder standing there applauding my team after a loss. And nigh on everyone else had stayed to do the same. This did not feel like the beginning of the last Chequebook Pulisseason. Happy to say that I departed the stadium today surrounded by an aura of defiance and determination, and to the sound of fans roaring Chelsea songs. As opposed to rampant, overflowing nappy sh*tting. If today’s madness doesn’t galvanise players and fans alike for the rest of the season nothing will. We’re not the only contenders to have had a less than perfect start. I’m still massively excited, and actually, a bit relieved that for all the moping and worrying, we are at least still a group of fighters. That’s going to come in handy.
I’m now going to celebrate the 4×100 relay win with a massive amount of gin.
You can buy the book version of the blog from last season by following this link. Please do so, it keeps me in gin.