What a weekend. Not only did we put Villa to the sword at Wembley but Man Utd were held at Blackburn giving us extra momentum in the title race. The icing on the case, of course, was Pompey beating Spurs in extra time in the other FA Cup semi-final.
There are a few Chelsea fans, us included, who rather looked forward to facing Spurs at the end of the season, particularly if the Double was still on. That little avenue of pleasure has now been taken away from us but the positive is that Pompey are a level below Tottenham and, on face value, should give us an easier game.
That’s dangerous talk, of course, but there’s no hiding that the faces of all the staff at CFCnet have a grin as broad as the Thames Estuary. Happy? Oh yes indeed.
It wasn’t the case all weekend. We had a face like thunder at half time at Wembley. After scoring nine goals against the two meanest defences in the Premiership we were looking forward to playing a settled side. What did we get? More tinkering and Drogba alone up front in a 4-5-1 formation.
Regular readers will have heard us go blue in the face about playing Drogba alone up front. Chelsea suddenly transform from a brilliant passing side in the mould of Barcelona to a one dimensional long ball team in the style of Wimbledon of old.
We have to ask Ancelotti, why tinker with a winning team? Our best football all season was in January and latterly against Villa and United. In all these instances, Drogba wasn’t our focal point of attack – he was either in Africa or on the bench (and used as a stunning impact substitute as witnessed against United).
Perhaps Ancelotti had one eye on the match against Bolton on Tuesday and was rotating the team with this in mind. Fair enough, because in the end we can’t argue with his decisions as we won the game 3-0 and a few players like Ballack and Anelka are fresher for it. Still, at half time we would have liked to have had a little ‘word’ with ‘Carletto’.
Wembley was, as usual in recent seasons, an outstanding day out. Funniest scene was the melee at a packed Baker Street which saw a man in a convertible drive alongside the Globe pub. He promptly kissed the badge of his Arsenal shirt but was caught cold by the traffic lights turning red. By the time the convertible hood had been raised over his car, 15 seconds by our counting, his seats were awash with beer and celery lobbed by hundreds of good natured Blues fans. Even the policemen doubled up laughing. It’s moments like that which make a day out at Wembley such a classic experience.
As far as the game itself went, yet again we were disappointed with the noise from the Chelsea end. It seems our traditionally outstanding support has metamorphosed into a ‘sing-when-you’re-winning’ crowd which saddens us somewhat. There’s no question that until we scored, Villa fans were a level above us in terms of noise. Still, it’s not just us who suffer from the ‘sing-when-you’re-winning’ disease as anyone who caught a glimpse of United conceding against Bayern will tell you.
There’s nothing like a goal, however, to raise the volume and as the Villa fans went silent the Chelsea end sang anthem after anthem as the last twenty minutes saw us become utterly dominant. Like a bruised boxer against the ropes you could almost hear the Villa fans imploring Howard Webb to blow the whistle to put their team out of their misery.
Walking home we talked to a few Villa fans who said they felt robbed of a penalty in the first half. They’d be right, even from Wembley’s Upper Tier it was quite clearly a penalty. Why Howard Webb didn’t blow his whistle is anyone’s guess but there’s no question he bottled it. Still, they say that these things even themselves out over the course of a season with last weekend’s tackle by Gary Neville on Anelka being a case in point.
The Double is now officially ON. Come on Chelsea, just six games to go. BELIEVE!