TOP of the league, a point better off than last week and United, Liverpool and Tottenham all losing in the same weekend — you’d think I’d be happy.
I sometimes yearn for the days when happiness was guaranteed simply by avoiding relegation and making it past the third round of the FA Cup. It’s all so much more complicated now.
I don’t expect to win every game, but am ridiculously disappointed when we don’t, especially when we concede ludicrous goals like against Everton.
We started slowly and went 1-0 down. This, as previously, seems to rouse the team out of their zombie-like torpor. They attack in waves (always popular with the Russians) and, hey presto, we find ourselves 2-1 up. Do they press on, and finish the game in the first half? Nyet! They slide back into the lethargy and panic of the first 20 minutes with inevitable results.
I don’t think the blame for any of the freakish goals could be laid at Cech’s door. The defence was petrified every time a ball floated into the box and despite Cech’s constant pleas to push out, they ignored those calls and crowded him and the area.
The Everton result must have been especially frustrating for Anelka and Ivanovic, who were outstanding and kept their heads while others were losing theirs. They were the only two who seemed to remember what our strengths are and patiently delivered ball after ball into the box. If a few more followed their example we would have won quite easily.
This week is crucial for us as far as the league goes and defeat is not an option. In Portsmouth we face one of the poorest sides in the Premier League and if Ancelotti is out-thought and out-fought by Avram Grant, he may as well pack his bags and return to Italy.
As for West Ham, the only way they will beat us is if their desire is greater than ours. It’s up to the manager and captain to ensure that is not the case.
However individuals need to look at themselves too, and resolve the more obvious issues — Joe Cole being a case in point. He is just trying too hard and his all-round contribution is suffering. His game usually comes naturally, but in his frantic desire to prove his worth to both Capello and Ancelotti, he is forgetting his team responsibilities. He is hanging onto the ball far too long, attempting ridiculous shots and trying to beat all 11 opposition players when his team-mates are free.
It is difficult to accept these recent results when you think how comprehensively we put Arsenal to the sword. We left the Emirates with the symbolic head of Arsenal on a stick as a trophy — with everyone believing it was a guaranteed precursor to the real silverware to follow. We also left Arsenal seemingly out of the title race and their confidence shot. But just as we were responsible for their apparent demise, we are just as responsible for the fact that they are rising disturbingly, a little like Michael Myers in the Halloween movies, every time we look the other way. We have encouraged them back out of their grave by demonstrating that we can so easily drop points from perceived “bankers”. And that has to stop.
Chelsea’s “blip” is squarely down to the ludicrous team we fielded at Blackburn; what has followed demonstrates that the belief of the players has been rocked. We need to ensure the game at Ewood Park temporarily slowed our season down rather than pointing it at the buffers! Tonight and Sunday are ideal games to reinstate a winning mentality. One of the hangovers from the Mourinho era I do not like is the restraint we frequently show when the team thinks opponents are beaten.
Chelsea need to keep attacking, score as many goals as possible, and give more opportunity to the midfield, who haven’t weighed in with their usual goal quota.
This time last year Scolari really started to wobble. The last time I heard home supporters booing the players was at his final game against Hull. Until Saturday evening, when there were a significant number of jeers at the end. The fans need to have more faith, but the players must demonstrate their ability over 90 minutes and not in fits and starts.
* Contact Trizia on Trizia_f@hotmail.com
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