Monday 9 April
Fulham 1:1 Chelsea
A filthy night and a not very encouraging result considering Newcastle won earlier and Norwich did the decent thing and beat Spurs. However Ron Gourlay may plead it seems the race for fourth place has not gripped the players as much as a crack at Barcelona. There was plenty of effort on show tonight but very little guile.
There had been nothing much in a fast and furious game when Meireles was booked for being too close to Riise when he decided to dive.
Fulham had created all the best moves and chances as Cech was forced into several saves but it was Kalou who won the penalty. Murphy slid in two-footed on him and while Fulham bleated that he got some of the ball, he was clearly studs-up on the ankle of an opponent in the box. Frank Lampard chose placement again and Schwarzer guessed but didn’t get close enough. 0-1.
The second-half started with a cross from Bertrand that would have been met by Frank Lampard for 0-2 but Hangeland muscled him over for an obvious penalty, but, no, the referee has been swayed by all the Fulham moaning over the first and are now free to defend rugby style for the rest of the evening.
Fulham created the better chances thereafter but we didn’t look troubled before they won a second corner and Dempsey was allowed a free header. 1-1. Dempsey header came about because John Terry was deliberately blocked off.
AVB will be secretly furious that he lost his job with this outfit while RDM has not improved selection or performances but has us in two semi-finals and will be remembered as a miracle worker.
Tuesday 10 April
Branislav Ivanovic is going to contest the charge of violent conduct issued by the FA after video appeared to show him striking Shaun Maloney. The appeal is a bit of a risk considering his ban could be increased for a flippant appeal and the video does appear to show him, er, striking, um, Shaun Maloney.
Wednesday 11 April
The summer tour to North America is growing. A game against the MLS All Stars has been added to the Seattle Sounders game in July.
Thursday 12 April
To everyone’s great surprise the FA banned Ivanovic for three games. He didn’t get a four-game ban because the panel didn’t deem the appeal frivolous. This week the FA have decided that Mario Balotelli cannot be disciplined despite the evidence showing an assault on Alex Song, that Shaun Derry was guilty despite Ashley Young’s blatant dive to win a penalty against QPR and that Ivanovic is guilty but that his case had merit. It seems quite clear that where an offence involves a Manchester club it cannot be reviewed but if they come from West London then they’re fair game, this from an organisation that has an offence on its books of ‘bringing the game into disrepute’.
In sartorial news the home shirt for next season has been released, already, and first impressions are good. The shirt is very plain and the right colour. Two simple things kit designers get wrong so often. The only major drawback is the gold trimming. Erm, shouldn’t you only have gold trimming if you’ve won something? Perhaps Adidas know something we don’t.
Friday 13 April
Chelsea youth 1:1 Manchester United youth
Another FA Youth Cup final was booked after a noisy and showy United side were eventually seen off with some ease. Lewis Baker was again the engine for everything but the goal came from Lucas Piazon after Islam Feruz drove at the United defence in the second-half.
The final is next week against Blackburn over the usual two legs.
Saturday 14 April
If we beat Tottenham tomorrow we’ll have a Cup final with Liverpool after the red half of that city fluked their way past the blue half. Not much to loose sleep over but Steve Clarke for one will be eager to put one over us. If we get there of course …
Sunday 15 April
Tottenham Hotspur 1:5 Chelsea
As the delirium settles into every Chelsea heart it is difficult to step back and tell you objectively what happened. The headlines will scream for goalline technology, Tottenham will bleat about one of the goals but ultimately the other four we scored overwhelmed them.
The team showed changes with Kalou continuing Drogba in for Torres Bosingwa at right-back for the suspended Ivanovic. Those who disrespected the minute silence are beneath contempt. It was in honour of 96 people who died going to a football match. It could have been any of us down the years, that they were fans of another team doesn’t enter into it. We’ve all been in surges and crushes in the past, only we can thank our stars that the ones we were in never got out of hand.
We started pretty well in that we passed better than Tottenham without making any deep cuts into their defence the best chance of the phoney-war of the first forty minutes came from Mata but he couldn’t control the fizzer he been presented by Kalou. The Ivorian had been presented with the ball by Spurs right-back and for once made the right choice.
We needed a man of steel on the line a few minutes later as Van Der Vaart was given a second chance to head at goal and it was the same player’s looping cross that evaded Adebayor and thumped back off Cech’s post; we had been warned.
Tottenham were so on top that we scored. John Terry thumped up a long clearance and Didier Drogba turned Gallas and smashed an unstoppable drive. 0-1. The goal woke Spurs up a bit but not enough before half-time.
What followed after the break will make all the headlines. A Lampard corner was half cleared and Mata shot goalwards and suddenly Martin Atkinson has blown for a goal and everyone rushes up the pitch celebrating. Having been the victims of a ghost goal ourselves we should all be honest enough to say the replays were clear – it was not a goal. 0-2.
When the fuss died down Tottenham got more direct. Parker ran up the middle fed Adebayor who was tripped by Cech but thankfully Bale was on hand to put the ball in and spare Cech a red-card for denying an obvious… 1-2. In the same incident David Luiz collapsed and needed treatment before a stretcher was called for a suspected hamstring tear.
While the club will sweat on his fitness the delay robbed Tottenham of any impetus they might have hoped for after the goal.
As it was Spurs had to wait ten minutes before winning a couple of corners. Too little too late, as Harry took off Van Der Vaart for Jermain Defoe, he immediate effect was to grant Mata more space. Space he used to chip the ball over the defence for Ramires to poke home. 1-3.
Spurs were just cursing their luck when Gallas hacked down Drogba and Frank Lampard placed the ball for the free-kick – surely, he can’t shoot from there – fully 35-yards out he thunders the ball into the top corner. 1-4.
There was time to change Torres for Drogba and Malouda for Ramires. Scott Parker blew his top over a playful tap from Obi John and both were booked before Mata tried the ball over the top thing again and found Malouda who nutmegged poor Cudicini. 1-5.
The Spurs end was almost completely empty as the fifth went in, it seems they didn’t want to stay and see their last chance of a cup disappear.
Roberto Di Matteo will be pinching himself, AVB will be kicking himself, but the symmetry with three seasons back when Guus Hiddink led us to an FA Cup final and a semi-final with Barcelona. All we need now is to go one better that Guus managed.