So within the space of a week we put together three 1-0 victories. So I worked out that this meant I spent roughly 111 minutes waiting for the opposition to score. I know but its years of waiting for the worst and a combination of things really. Years if watching late equalisers and just not believing how solid we are at the moment but let’s start at the beginning.
We beat a very obdurate WBA. A team that worked their proverbial socks off to preserve what they had. They bored, wasted time (shamefully not acted on by the referee) and generally played anti football. They’re entitled to do just that and it didn’t help we were slightly off the pace. Our little Belgian genius got an almighty whack and was either injured or didn’t fancy another but there was a general lethargy to our play. Luckily we have a striker currently playing brilliantly and moment of sheer brilliance brought our winner. So there we were 9 wins in a row.
Up to Sunderland an evening that was ultimately about Bradley Lowery the terminally ill boy. Completely heartbreaking situation and both Chelsea and Sunderland came through the evening with an enormous amount of credit for how they behaved that night both players and fans. Football is sometimes a wonderful family. The game was even in the first half and then we had a moment of absolute class with Cesc passing the ball into the net. We should have scored more in the second half but ironically it took one great save and a worldy from the much maligned Thibault to bring us win number 10.
I have been banging his drum throughout his Chelsea career even when he has struggled. His form last season and the beginning of this season has been not up to his standard and he has not helped himself with some of his comments. That being said he has played behind the worst defence we have had in decades and is still only 24. He now has a settled defence, has regained his confidence, albeit he is having to come out at half time as he has so little to do during games.
So to Palace. A misty morning and another side determined to dent our record of wins. The first half followed the pattern of the two matches earlier in the week . One rare attacking venture produced a goal for Diego. Instinctive striking and a wonderful ball by Azpi. The timing of the goal just before half time, like Sunderland, must be deflating for our opponents and sets the tone. The second half developed and the introduction of Cesc upped outr attacking tempo. At the moment Willian appears to be struggling and maybe not playing every week is affecting him but he looks out of sorts.
When Cesc came on we created whereas before we had laboured. He is a dilemma because we know he can’t do the hard yards but no one can play people in as he can. With more clinical finishing the game would have been tied up a long time before the final whistle. In truth Palace didn’t threaten. The hyped Zaha did an Ozil in the second half and there were no the nervous minutes we should have endured.
If I am not at a game I try not to look at Twitter but I thought I’d check in at half time. I was staggered that someone had expressed his displeasure at Alonso and called him a liability and berating Kante for his poor distribution. I cannot be watching the same game. Their names sound the same but Kante and Conte are the best thing to happen to this club since we picked up the Premier League.
The work rate and effectiveness of Kante is spectacular. He nips in, disrupts, intercepts and even had his shooting boots on. If fans cannot see that an excuse him a few errant passes then I give up. As for |Alonso, he has been a crucial part of a defence who have conceded an two goals in 11 and a half games. That’s over a quarter of a season!
Back to my 111 minutes of waiting,the reality of which is with the exception of Sunderland our defence has been magnificent. The snuffing out of problems before they happen, the organisation of Luiz, the brilliance of Azpi and the steel of Cahill and the emergence of Moses who is improving defensively game by game
So if we had been told at the beginning of the season we would be top and clear at Christmas, I suspect we would have wondered how. The manager is a breath of fresh air, his enthusiasm infectious and it is obviously rubbing of on our players. It is way too early to be calling us anything other than contenders. So let’s just enjoy the moment and be glad with where we are.
Compliments of the season to you all.
Follow Clayton on Twitter @goalie59
Author of “Palpable Discord. A Year of drama and dissent at Chelsea” Published by Gate 17