Thursday, 22 May 2008

A fine line between despair and euphoria...

Chelsea 1 - 1 ManU (Man U win 6-5 on penalties, aet)

... in this case, maybe a blade of grass ??

What can you say on a night of such emotion. The best that the Premiership has to offer provided a veritable feast of football which ended in the most dramatic and cruel fashion.
That it should come down to a tragically missed penalty from "Mr Chelsea" himself is the most dramatic of ironies. When Jose left all those months ago, no one dreamed we'd even get here and yet there we were, one kick away from an historic victory. When Ronaldo's penalty was saved by Petr Cech, the crowd in the Kings Rd wend wild. All thoughts of Drogbas dismissal 4 minutes earlier disappeared as up stepped our very own Captain Marvel to take the fifth and potentially decisive penalty.

The outcome will melt into history and few who read the cold result will remember the slip that shifted a goal bound (and Champions League winning) strike on to the right hand upright.
For it to happen to JT of all people was a crime of immense and proportions. The same JT who had a few minutes earlier thrown himself at a goal bound Ryan Giggs effort that could have sealed the match. No-one who was there, or watched on TV will forget his tears or the image of him slumped in AG's arms as the rain lashed the Luzhniki Stadium and Man U celebrated with their fans.

Yet this was a match that could and should have been won outright. Yes, Man U could have been out of sight by half time but thanks to an opportunistic equaliser from Super Frank, the second half was a revelation. Chelsea out fought, out shot and for large portions of the half out played Man U with Drogba hitting the post, Lamps hitting the bar and a whole host of other efforts that went begging. Some people will dwell on the lunacy and Drogbas actions in getting a straight red and thus consigning the fifth spot kick to JT but few of us would have wanted anyone else to take it.

But dont just take it from me; here's what the BBC had to say ...

"Chelsea, bluntly, did not deserve to be on the wrong side of the cruellest of finals. Blues skipper Terry was inconsolable after his penalty miss. After being tormented by the wizardry of Ronaldo for the first half-hour they got a foothold in the game, thanks to the industry and endeavour of the peerless Claude Makelele and from then on were by far the better team. They had twice as many shots and, as Ferguson himself conceded, they overpowered United through sheer physical strength and dynamic displays from Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack.

It was Chelsea at their imperious best. And you know what? They were awesome to watch, too - not something they have been labelled with much during this turbulent campaign. For that and so much more, Avram Grant should hold his head high. Even if he is shortly relieved of his duties, nothing will ever be as cruel as the way in which he saw his team suffer defeat in the most important game in Chelsea's history. "

So the season ends with no trophies and second place all round. Some will see that as an unacceptable and a job threatening outcome. I simply look back at where we were in September of 2007 and the night I've just endured and hope that the core of this squad (which includes the boss) stays together, gains some new blood and pushes on to even greater feats in 08/09.


Monday, 12 May 2008

The inevitable is no less disappointing

Chelsea 1 - 1 Bolton

The atmosphere was tense and the anticipation high, though in truth no one really believed. Surely Man U wouldn't slip up away to Wigan, had Fergies mind games got to Steve Bennett, was 4-4 against Tottenhan and 1-1 against Wigan themselves going to come back and haunt us. In reality they all mattered and then none of them mattered. Over a long and turbulent season, Man U were the better team ...... but we pushed them right to the wire

As for the game itself, the omens were not good when JT was stretchered off after a collision with Petr Cech in only the tenth minute and the first half was a nervy affair with Joe Cole obviously having left his crossing boots at home. We started the second half in a much more positive vein with Malouda forcing a stunning save from the Bolton keeper from a 25 yards rocket. Sheva, on for Maka in a reshuffled 4-4-2 scrambled us into the lead on 62mins and despite Man U being one up there was a sudden air of expectation around the bridge. However this left the ground in an instant as the news filtered through that United had added a second at the JJB - ever heard 40,000 people sigh in unison ? its quite eerie

As the game petered away, we once again scummed to a 92nd minute sucker punchwhen Matt Taylors shot found its way through a crowded penalty area to beat Petr Cech, but the spark had long gone by then and thoughts were turning to Moscow.

hankfully JT made it back on to the pitch for the "lap of recognition" and hopefully he'll lead us out in Moscow for the first Champions League final in our History - COME ON U BLUES !!

Monday, 5 May 2008

One last push - on the last day

Newcastle 0 - 2 Chelsea

So it goes to the last game of the season and the math is straightforward - Man U have to slip up and we have to go one better (they draw - then we win, they loose - we only need a point). What could be closer and if you'd have told me on that fateful few days after the Rosenborg game that we'd be level on points and in our frst Champions league final, I'd have called you insane.

It all started a bit nervy up in Geordie land with a line up that had neither of the Coles (or Lamps) in the starting eleven, Ferreira at right back, Jedi holding and Anelka and Malouda either side of Drogs. The Blues started strongly but Newcastle came back with half chances falling to Owen and Martins, neither of which troubled Cech. Drogba and Anelka were starting to link up well but the end product was missing. On the half hour Ess found Ballack in acres of space inside the Newcastle box but his shot flew wide.
Second half and Kegan swaps Viduka for Alan Smith but its more of the same. Rickey heads over from a Malouda corner and then 10mins later JT crashes one against the bar from the same set up. Then finally on the hour, Ballack heads home a clever dummied free kick from the Drog and the away fans go wild. Lamps replaces Anelka on 66mins and Alex comes on for an injured Carvalho with 79 minutes gone before but Malouda finishes things off with a neat shot from Lamp's pass.

So there it is - last game of the season beckons along with "squeaky bum time".

Thursday, 1 May 2008

We're on our way to Moscow

Chelsea 3 - 2 Liverpool (aet 4 - 3 on aggregate)

A momentous night at the bridge - I've hardly got my breath back, let alone my voice.
Drogba was immense (how dumb was Benitez to wind him up)
What can you say about Lamps - to even play, let alone take the penalty in extra time - his strength of character is astonishing
Maka and Ballack - just outstanding
I genuinely have no words - just pure elation so read the BBC report here and Sky report here .
Our first Champions League final in our history and 82 home games unbeaten