They did what Spurs did in 2005 against Chelsea at White Hart Lane, “parking the bus in front of the goal” as Jose Mourinho put it. They did what a Liverpool side (who were 33 points behind that same Chelsea side in the league that year) did in the Champions League semi final.
They did what Arsenal, despite what Arsene Wenger would protest, did against Real Madrid in the second leg of their last 16 game in 2006, having come away with a one-nil win at the Bernabéu. Inferior sides sit back, defend, hope for a lucky break, pile on the pressure at set pieces and generally hoof the ball as far away from the penalty box as possible as often as possible. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Most of the time it’s as ugly to look at as this.
Starting with Graeme Souness last night (who seems to be in the first fully blown lovers’ tiff with Eamonn Dunphy) and going on to some Chelski-loving English hacks and inevitably Sky’s entire panel, some fools will have you believe that what Chelsea did last night was simply play the way any away side does in Europe, which frankly is bollocks.
Chelsea’s last two visits to the Nou Camp in the Champions League were characterised by goals, controversy and at least some enterprising play from the away side. That’s what good away sides who consider themselves on a similar level to their opponents do. What Chelsea did last night however, should mean that everyone who actually likes watching football should hope they get thoroughly spanked back at Stamford Bridge next week. It was anti-football. It was puke football. It was fucking rugby.
Watch out for the Sky panel telling us this evening how this shows the Premier League is superior to La Liga. There may be other evidence to show this (Arsenal’s win over Villareal, Pool’s demolition of Real Madrid) but this wasn’t it. If the Premier League is a few shades above the Spanish top tier, why didn’t Chelsea show the world why the English league is better? Why didn’t they take on Barcelona once or twice?
Two of the few things that brightened up the game were the injury to Marquez and the suspension of Puyol. Not because I want Chelsea to win, but just that it gives the Londoners’ no excuse for failing to attack next week and perhaps the may even abandon their novel approach of playing four defensive midfielders, with Hiddink last night asking Lampard and Ballack to curb their attacking instincts and join Kalou sitting in front of John Terry and Alex, while also playing ‘right winger’ Michael Essien as almost a second right back.
Good luck to Chelsea but one other bright spot was that when you look through the team sheet at least there’s promise that this side don’t have too many years left in them. Besides for their trip to Anfield a few weeks back (which looks more and more like a complete fluke) it’s been years since Chelsea played any kind of decent football at the highest level, and players like Lampard, Terry, Carvalho, Drogba and Ballack will either move on or get worse at playing such shite against decent teams. Let’s hope for an early Barcelona goal next week and that it will also be the last time we see Hiddink’s side in Europe this season.
Then there’s tonight, and frankly I haven’t a notion what way this will go. There will be goals though so just for the sake of it, I’m putting a fiver on 2-2 (14/1) and hopefully we get a game that will erase nearly every memory of last night’s putrid shite from the team who were, quite aptly, in yellow*.
Later folks, JJ