REPEAT after me Carlo – 4-3-3, 4-3-3, 4-3-3 – got that? If we revert back to that damned diamond at Old Trafford I will not be responsible for my actions. Although, even if Ancelotti has seen the light, United would never capitulate the way that Villa did in the second half.
It made their fans’ chant of “We’ve got the Special One” rather stick in their throat a bit – needless to say, we didn’t hear that again after the first 45 minutes. O’Neil’s half time team talks must be worse than ours for motivation!
To score seven is obviously a stunning feat – to do that without Drogba kicking a ball does make you question the pros and cons of having a player of his stature leading the line. I am not suggesting that we sell him, leave him on the bench, or play him less but that he is not the be all and end all and we should not play exclusively to his strengths to the detriment of the other outfield players. The rest of the team should not always look to him to score the goals.
There is nothing I can say about Lampard that hasn’t already been said. Any midfielder that scores 20 plus goals at the highest level for six continuous seasons tells his own story. Add to that what he contributes for others to score and you have the kind of team player that does not come around very often and I, for one, feel privileged that he has contributed so emphatically to the most successful period in our history.
Of course there are those that call his talent into question, much to the amusement of the generally better-informed European fans. Only today when mooching around opposition forums I came across a discussion about Lampard on an Arsenal website where I read “Does anyone on here actually rate Lampard? I understand he scores a lot of goals, but I just don’t see what he contributes all round” along with “He does nothing until he scores” and again “no creativity whatsoever – would never make it into an Arsenal side.”
Arsenal fans eh? They always bring a Blackadder quote back to me: “The eyes are open, the mouth moves, but Mr. Brain has long since departed.”
Speaking of Arsenal – Wenger really should consider a career with RADA, the London drama school. His exaggerated pained expressions, sharp intakes of breath, the mournful, woeful demeanor, the dramatic holding of head in hands, the raising of the eyes pleadingly to the almighty, the desolate shaking of the head – all in response to the sheer audacity of an opposition player breathing in the general direction of one of his players. It’s the kind of performance that got silent films a bad name.
I know Wenger has convinced the Arsenal fans and the majority of the English press that his players are ethereal beings who float on pixie dust with their delicate butterfly wings and the rest of the Premier league are evil marauding orcs with the sole intention of destroying the last vestiges of the beautiful game – but to be honest it’s all wearing a bit thin and his face has once again over-taken Benitez’s as the most slappable in the league.
Of course, if you read the match reports our 7 (seven) 1 against what was previously the meanest defence in the Premiership wasn’t a patch on United’s 4-0 win – obviously. I know I should be used to the media bias but I am not. It will be interesting to see, too, whether the press has saved up any of its Black Arts stories to roll out against Chelsea before Old Trafford.
It seems that everyone in football agrees that our game this weekend with United will be decisive in where the league title will end up. I’m not so sure; it will have a bearing obviously but if there is one thing this campaign has taught me is that we (the football fraternity as a whole) have been too keen to name winners and losers prematurely.
I am concerned about this game despite our record against them in recent years. Our injuries could finally tell for us at this most crucial part of the season. The person we will miss most acutely is Ashley Cole who has always had a stormer against United. He always had Ronaldo firmly in his back pocket and his speed and excellent reading of the game frustrated the United front line whoever made it up. Conversely, they seem to be getting all their players back just now for the run-in. If Carlo does manage to pull this one off, I will have to re-think my bleak assessment of him
My only other hope, is that we finally this season get a little luck with referees – a lot to ask of a team playing at Old Trafford but one can only live in hope. To win the Premiership you need more than good players, clever tactics, a wiley manager – you need a huge slice of luck and I don’t think anyone can say that we’ve had a single shred of that!
Win this and fans will start to believe that Ancelotti perhaps does have the wherewithal to make it in the Premier League. Choke now and it will take a long time to build up any faith again. No pressure then. Come on Chelsea!
Trizia is Joint Chair of the Chelsea Supporters Group. Visit the CSG website to find out more information.