’Twas a dark night. All around there was a heavy smog and the few gaslights that were working were hardly visible to the naked eye. Somewhere in the distance, louder than the sound of the passing horses, came the shrill sound of a woman’s scream. Maybe Jack the Ripper was up to his dirty tricks once more. Such was the scene the last time the famous Rottenham Hotspurts managed to secure three points off of those wonderful boys in blue. Rottenham’s inability to beat us, or maybe our inability to lose to them, has been a source of delight in west London for many a year.
Meanwhile, in the darkest depths of north London, where it is rumoured that dinosaurs still roam the streets searching for tasty treats, they will once again have to wait for another season to see if the curse can be lifted.
It goes against the grain for me to say anything pleasant about Glenda’s motley crew. However, they have actually started to look like a team this season, so the walk up to the ground was full of the usual “will it be this year” talk. The fact that it was not lies squarely at the feet (or, more appropriately, hands) of one Carlo Cudicini.
Let’s face it, we have had some bargains thanks to Mr Bosman. Ruudi and Vialli for free spring to mind, but the purchase of Carlo has to be very close to the top of the pile. Today, as on a number of occasions, he saved us from defeat. That he manages to even get near some of the shots he stops is worthy of debate. That he manages to actually prevent them from going in calls for a motion in Parliament. A fantastic flying stop to keep out Jamie Redknapp’s excellent free-kick was certainly the best of the lot, but each one of his stops was worthy of praise.
The game was very much one of two halves, the first belonging to us, with Rottenham coming out on top in the second. This was no run of the mill 0-0 draw. Both sides had ample chances to have won the game. That Rottenham did not score was down to Carlo, that we did not was down to either poor finishing or a wish to over elaborate at times.
Zola, Lumpy and de Lucas all had chances to score in the first forty-five minutes, but for one reason or another the ball did not find itself in the back of the net. Keane somehow managed to twice put the ball wide (once in each half), while Carlo saved well from Sherringham (who is still a c—t), Redknapp and Poyet (who?).
All in all, a draw was probably about the right result, although Rottenham will doubtless have more reasons than us to curse their luck. We lost Jimmy before half time with what looked like a groin strain, while the entire back four played as well as it has done this season. Manu, dominant in the first half, faded in the second, while Jody managed to perform the trick the other way around. The only disappointment to me was the performance of de Lucas. He was, however, playing out of position on the left side of midfield, so can perhaps be forgiven under the circumstances.
If truth be told, I would have settled for a point at the start of play. We now have a run of five matches from which I would reasonably expect us to pick up maximum points. This though is Chelsea, so you can never be sure. The only certainties in life seem to be death, taxes and no league losses at Three Point Lane.
Chelsea line-up: Cudicini — Melchiot, Gallas, Desailly, Babayaro — Morris, Lampard, Petit, de Lucas (Oliveira, 88) — Zola, Hasselbaink (Gudjohnsen, 43)
Unused subs: Pidgeley, Terry, Ferrer