RIDICULOUSLY, I was frustrated and annoyed leaving Stamford Bridge last following our 4-0 win over Blackpool.
After watching as near perfect a first half imaginable, I was salivating at the thought of the next 45 minutes — daring to hope that we may deliver the double-figure goal tally we had been threatening for some time.
I know the game was won at that juncture, and that we have a match this evening, and that we had played midweek in Europe, and that I am being a right spoilt child.
But that second half was painful.
I can understand (but not like) easing off for the final quarter if you are ahead, but easing off for the entire second half? It was as if Chelsea were playing a footballing version of Russian roulette — how little effort could they put in without conceding a goal.
All that said, you can’t help but be blown away by our start this season — five games, five wins, 21 goals for and one against (yes, that rankles too). Some will say that we were expected to win those games, and that may be true, but we were expected to beat Wigan last season and didn’t. You can only beat what’s put in front of you and we have done that thus far — with bells on.
All I have heard this week is that Manchester City will be our ‘first real test’. Every game is a test, the fact that we have won all our league games convincingly so far does not negate that fact. City beat us twice last season not because they were a better team than us, but because they were better on the day. We were complacent, lazy and sloppy. There was also a lot of media pressure for the home game (Terrygate) which looked as if it had an effect. The way I see it is that they edge it on speed, whereas we edge it on power; they have a few individuals of real quality — we have more than a few, as well as an established settled side and plenty of experience. Ancelotti’s team selection will be interesting on this one, especially as he will probably have Lampard and Terry back from injury.
It would be wrong of me not to mention Wenger this week? Three times in their first four games Arsenal have had the opposition reduced to 10 men — Wenger sees this as proof of overphysical players targeting his team to hurt them. Actually all it proves is that his constant whining to a simpering and overly-sympathetic press is working. Arsenal fans will point you to the fact that they have had an inordinate amount of broken legs, but Wenger also favours a certain type of player: quick, gangly, young, fragile.
It was funny then to see Arsenal reduced to 10, although not as side-splitting as Wenger’s face when Sunderland’s scored their injury time equaliser nor the manager’s man-handling of the fourth official. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the media proclaim that it is only right that Arsenal do play against 10 men so that their wonderful, beautiful, sublime football be allowed to flourish and we can sit back in awe at the sheer magic of it all. Give it time and the FA will invent the Tippy-Tap Trophy just so Arsenal win something.
Tonight we will see a Chelsea side sprinkled generously with the kind of young talent that we are not supposed to have. With any luck, they will not only do themselves some justice, but play themselves into a position of being serious contenders for a starting place rather than a “see the game out” place.
It’s all very well seeing these kids play in the Carling Cup and tail end of matches but if we are going to be self-sufficient we need to integrate these players and make them the basis of future Chelsea teams.
Lots of clubs play youngsters in less important games, and get little deserved credit for this but Chelsea need to go that step further. The next three years will see us go through a transition period and these youngsters could make or break the side so we need to integrate them as soon as possible. It seems to be a process that all at Chelsea are on board with, including the supporters, and done correctly could cement our position as one of the top clubs in this country certainly and the world possibly.
* Contact Trizia at Trizia_f@hotmail.com
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