Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Oh f**k, it's Chelsea on the march!

Well folks,
JJ here

Seeing as how Mark pretty much covered United’s demolition of Roma – which I switched away from after the third goal – I’ll concentrate on the performance of Chelsea last night. If ever there was proof that a manager should be allowed to run a football club and not a chairman last night was it. Say what you like about Chelsea – and we all have done so – but I have never seen a side so brilliant at smelling fear in their opponents. A trait they have inherited from their boss on the bench not in the boardroom.
Last week, Valencia went to Stamford Bridge and tore Chelsea apart for most of the game, this week they could only manage that for five minutes of the first half. They were lucky to score during this brief respite from Chelsea pressure and amazingly they could have gone two or three up with a bit more luck. However, even at one-down at the end of the first half every Chelsea player looked as if they knew the Spaniards were there for the taking.
Lampard was excellent (and I say that through gritted teeth), while Joe Cole was even better once he came on and his return could swing everything in Chelsea’s balance at the end of this season. Mourinho meanwhile was superb (I say that with teeth mashing against each other), brilliantly seeing that Valencia had gone into their shell enough for him to slot Essien in at right back for the second half (essentially going three at the back) once Diarra had been brought off for Cole.
This is the man remember who previously thought throwing Robert Huth up front was a good tactic so he must be improving over time – something his chairman should notice.
The Essien plan worked at Old Trafford earlier in the season when Chelsea overran United as the home team brought their midfield back to help out the over-worked defence. With space appearing before him, Essien looked like a man possessed; no actually he looked like a man capable of ending the tiresome debate over who is the best player in the world right now. Keep up this form and Ronaldo’s show pony antics will not only be usurped by Essien’s drive and brilliant range of passing but the Ghanaian will most likely give the little prat a kick up the arse for good measure to tell him who’s boss.
Chelsea were relentless and once they got the equaliser – even once it had got to the stage when the fourth official held up the board for injury time – I still felt they would nick it. Mobile phone records will prove this by the way for any of ye doubters out there. Mourinho urged his team forward at 1-1. With a big game at the weekend against 10-Man Blackburn, he didn’t want it to go to extra time and this bravery is something that should be applauded.
Even Ballack, at last, looked like he was contributing. Terry and Carvalho would no doubt have been on 9/10 performances had they anything to actually deal with in the second half.
The only problem they now have is what formation to play for the rest of the season. Cole looked like his old self, unlocking the defence and playing excellent one-twos with his fellow midfielders but will he be in the side each week? Will Diarra – who is no longer heir to the throne of Makelele thanks to the excellent Obi Mikel – continue at right back? Will Essien only be let loose in emergencies?
I think the semi between Liverpool (fingers crossed there no more surprises tonight) and Chelsea will be very, very tight. It’s something, like Man U v Bayern/AC Milan, which we will look at extensively over the coming weeks.
I don’t care which national league is the best in Europe by the way. The Champions League has again proved itself as the only must-watch competition going. Please don’t let Platini mess with it. Last night was just the latest great evening of football we’ve seen in Europe this season, long may it continue.

Though hopefully United don’t actually win the f**king thing.


schuly said...

A lot of pride at stake this year, someone's going to be found's hoping it's Fat Lumpard and Whiskyface.

JJ said...

All too much pride at stake though Pool are looking disgustingly relaxed about the whole thing this year. Which I like. A lot.

Last time around in Istanbul all the players seemed burdened by the fact that it may be the only final they would ever get to. Especially Gerrard who has some issues that a psychiatrist should see to; he spent two weeks prior to that game referring to himself in the third person and whenever he said he was “excited” about the prospect of playing in the final his face scrunched up in nervous agony (even more so than usual).

Plenty of twists ahead though and think the way Chelsea are playing Pool will have to score at least three goals over the two legs to go through.

Let the mind games begin!