Watching Sky Sports News’ compulsively annoying ‘Transfer Deadline Day+1’ special on Monday evening brought up some interesting questions. Just who is that fresh-faced berk who brings his phones into the studio and disguises the calls he receives from his mum and his primary school wondering where he is as being from such footballing luminaries like Leroy Lita and Micah Richards? Why on earth did Liverpool sell Robbie Keane? Why on earth did Tottenham buy Robbie Keane? More to the point, were we excited because we signed Ricardo Quaresma, or were we just excited because we signed anyone?
The rot at Chelsea had well and truly set in, and it seems that the breath of fresh air required could have come from anywhere and any player. I would probably have been jumping for joy even if we sealed a triple deal to bring back Steve Sidwell, Tal Ben Haim and of course, Sheva (keep the faith), because it’s a bit of a shake-up. Well, that would have been a huge shake-up, and probably not as welcome as I imagine it to be. But as it is, Quaresma’s arrival has brought new hopes and new expectations. Could it be that we now possess a proper winger? One who can cross, and dribble, and do those winger things we all like? Apologies for my sketchy description, but having watched Florent Malouda for the past couple of seasons, I have completely forgotten what a winger is supposed to do.
But Quaresma was not the only arrival this past week. A certain Frank Lampard has arrived back into first-team contention having been kept in Mike Riley’s warped limbo-world of unjust suspension for a few days until the FA managed to gather together a panel and quash the red-card in what must have been one of the fastest decisions ever made in Soho Square. Well, apart from getting rid of Schteve for sure.
Now with 300 words already gone it seems strange that there hasn’t been a mention of our opponents at the Bridge this Saturday, so here goes. Hull City. There, happy now? Just kidding, although most footballing action seems to happen off the pitch nowadays, it’s worth remembering that there is usually 90 minutes of sport at some point during the week. Unfortunately most of our 90 minutes haven’t been worth remembering this season.
However, the drab factor could take a hiatus this weekend with the arrival of free-falling Hull. The Tigers have not won a Premier League game since the 6th December when they won 2-1 against a terrible Middlesbrough side, and even that took two goals in the last eight minutes including one own goal from ‘Boro ‘keeper Ross Turnbull. Previous to that win, Phil Brown’s side had gone six games without a win, including a 0-3 defeat against Chelsea at the end of October. It seems that after a bright start, the decline has set in. Hang on, sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Hull also have some injuries to contend with for the trip to the Bridge, with five first-team players expected to miss out. Veteran local boy Nicky Barmby, defender Anthony Gardner, midfielders George Boateng and Jimmy Bullard and striker Daniel Cousin are all on the sidelines. Meanwhile Bernard Mendy, who scored in a 2-2 draw with West Brom last weekend, is suspended.
The Blues could give Quaresma a debut while his Portuguese compatriot Ricardo Carvalho may also take the field following a recent hamstring injury.
As we have drifted further off the top of the table, the ideal result at the Bridge would be a repeat of the aforementioned 3-0 win at Hull earlier in the season. An early Lampard strike was followed by goals from Nicolas Anelka and Malouda with the final score a fair reflection on what was a relative breeze.
Chelsea and Hull have only ever played each other a puny 37 times, with 25 Chelsea wins tipping the balance firmly in our favour. The last four games against them have seen the Blues bag four wins from four, and a hefty 15 goals scored, while only one Hull shot crept into our net during those 360 minutes of football.
We can dream but only the players can make it a reality, and Quaresma or no Quaresma, we need to start changing for the better. Whether this happens on Saturday against Hull, no-one knows until the final score comes in at about 5 o’clock. But as time starts ticking away for Luis Felipe Scolari, results must start sooner rather than later.