Is there anything better than a 94th minute goal? Yes — a 98th minute goal — especially one that upsets the queen mother of football managers, Roberto Martinez. It’s a MINIMUM of minutes Roberto — live with it. Course, if your players hadn’t done the equivalent of two laps of the pitch when they thought they’d scored the winner, things could have been so different.
I have to admit, snatching points away from Martinez was particularly sweet for me, as the Spaniard just sets my teeth on edge. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s those pathetic puppy dog eyes, or the cardigans, or the fact that he is hailed as a managerial genius without actually having achieved much.
He tells us he has the best defender in the league, the best midfielder and the best striker — so how come Everton are 11th then? Only three places above ourselves who have a woeful defence, an even worse midfield and a “limited” strike force.
Anyhow, I really don’t know what to make of the game against Everton. When their second went in, I didn’t really feel anything — as if it had been inevitable, and I couldn’t expect anything else from this group of players. There was no booing, no anger — just an acceptance that this was what we had become — a poor side with the supporters having no expectations other than getting beaten by literally anyone in the league.
Then what happened? Pride kicked in? More like ego, I would say. Not that I care what it was — to see a snapshot of something resembling passion in this side can only be celebrated, as we’ve had precious little else this season. To get it back on an equal footing with such a tremendous effort and then simply watch what would, in most circumstances, have been a winning goal sail in without making any attempt to stop it sums this team up.
Only the old warrior JT saved Ivanovic and Zouma’s blushes in this instance.
I absolutely loved everything about that goal. I loved the fact that it was JT that scored it, who is loathed by virtually everyone in football not connected to Chelsea Football Club.
I loved the fact that it was in the 98th minute — for the informal rule of all football fans that the longer after the 90 minutes, the more splendidly bonkers the celebrations. I especially love the fact that it was offside — not just for the seething fury of everyone at large but particularly Martinez, but also because after the kind of refereeing master classes in incompetence that we have had meted out to us this season, we deserved a bit of good fortune.
That said, you just know that every ref in the Premier League has now been put on red alert to give us nothing — no benefit of the doubt, no advantage, nothing for the rest of the season. So be it, we expected nothing more anyway.
So we are unbeaten under Hiddink but I’ve seen very little to change my mind about this collection of players. Some I don’t think are up to the job in terms of ability and some simply don’t have the character.
We had a great opportunity this week to make up some ground in the league and we bottled it.
Actually I’m not sure whether we did bottle it because what I actually saw was a team playing against a couple of teams of equal ability. Is that what we are now? A mid-table team who through a great manager and a serious measure of over-achievement managed to win the league?
I imagine this weekend coming up may tell us more. We always up our game when up against the media darlings of football, but it will take a pretty gargantuan effort this time around. Arsenal have been buoyed by the failings of all around them and are beginning to believe they could actually win the league. Can you imagine? It cannot be allowed to happen.
But with no Hazard, possibly no Costa and a less-than-fully-fit Willian, I’m not sure we can be relied on to do our usual number on them.
It’s a big game — not only in terms of stopping the enemy but also to see if there is any inkling of hope left for an acceptable league finish.
A win against Arsenal could give us enough belief to do more than simply go through the motions every game.
Especially after that 98th minute goal on Saturday. It can’t be just the supporters that are buzzing, the players must have felt the adrenalin finally pumping through their veins as the ground exploded in joy; it’s time for them to snap out of whatever it is that they have been suffering from and forget whatever their plans are for the end of the season, and give everything they have to end the campaign with their heads held high.
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