The ironic thing is that the marketing bods at the club have come up with a new strapline which has been plastered across every surface in SW6: ‘Expect Thrilling’. Not only are they out of touch, but their timing seems to be well out too.
There are lots of words you could use to describe the football we have played this season, but ‘thrilling’ is certainly not one of them. The semi-final followed the theme established early in the season — lethargic and predictable and looking like a mid-table league clash — which probably flatters Southampton somewhat.
Hazard, as usual, attracted foul after foul — but that hopefully will prepare him for the attentions of Herrera who I imagine will have his sights set on stopping the Belgian by fair means or foul — mainly foul, judging by past outings.
It’s difficult to know what to expect from the final but Mourinho does have a knack of winning them. His approach is never particularly inventive — his teams often rely on brute force and relentlessness and I’m not sure many of our current squad would be up for a battle.
I know it’s late in the season but Conte could do worse than make his peace with Luiz. No one believes this injury story and the manager is cutting off his nose to spite his face in this instance. Luiz is a big game player. He doesn’t mind getting in the mix should the occasion dictate it and he is very versatile which is what we need at the moment.
The squad is thin enough as it is, so it’s in no-one’s interest to make it even thinner through a personal issue which could/should have been sorted long ago. It makes Conte look petty and vindictive, which are not qualities I would have associated with the Italian. The fact is that one or both of them will certainly be gone at the end of the season so let’s move on from whatever happened.
Of course the real decision will be whether to play Giroud or Morata. Both have their advantages — but Morata, despite scoring, does seem to still be suffering a crisis of confidence.
He missed a couple of fairly simple chances and looks hesitant sometimes on the ball. Giroud does look more confident but whether he is better as an impact sub or starting is still to be decided.
Giroud is already becoming a bit of a cult hero amongst Chelsea fans whereas the jury is out on the Spaniard. It’s not difficult to win Chelsea fans over — all it takes is to demonstrate that you are giving 100% when you take to the field.
We’re a pretty forgiving lot — misfiring strikers are often given a lot of time and leeway as long as the supporters can see that you have a bit about you and are trying your best.
Morata’s falling over and sulking has not helped him form a bond with the supporters and the constant rumours of homesickness have not sat well with the fanbase.
Most foreign players, especially strikers for some reason, seem to need a year to adapt to the Premier League.
Morata has pedigree and I think if he stopped feeling sorry for himself, and toughened up a bit, he could become the prolific striker we all hoped for.
So May 21 will see us in our 19th final in 25 years — that’s some record for a club with ‘no history’. And you can argue that Abramovich’s boom and bust approach works, even if the periodic busts are pretty frustrating.
There are many that would kill to be in our position — perennial bridesmaids Tottenham chief amongst them. And even Arsenal in more recent years.
I was going to say that the cup is the best we can hope for in what has been a largely disappointing season but while it is still mathematically possible for Tottenham to have a catastrophic implosion I’ll keep everything crossed for that.
Oh and for Brendan Rodgers to take the hot seat at Arsenal — that really would make my year.