Sunday, 8 November 2009

I guess that's why they call them the Blues

AS he walked off tonight, lamenting a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Wayne Rooney mouthed quite clearly to the cameras: "Twelve men."
It may have felt that way, but the ref didn't look too bad from where I was.
And the problem is: I don't like Manchester United's Johnny Evans. There are dubious allegations in his past and for one so average, he has a huge mouth. Oh, and the studs he left in Didier Drogba's chest today were cunningly delivered for one so young. Give me John Terry any time. Hard, uncompromising, a true leader.
Yes, he was lucky to get away with the penalty shout in the first half, Valencia had the legs on him so Terry grabbed his shirt and pulled him down. But amid the bitchiness, the perpetual handbags, Terry stands tall.
And he got the goal that mattered at Stamford Bridge, extending Chelsea's lead over the champions just before the international break. Something for him to mention over breakfast to the goalless Wayne Rooney when they jet off to play Brazil this week. Poor lamb, with his street football series just getting underway.
Today's top-two showdown at The Bridge was no classic. After all those goals yesterday - averaging nearly five a game - we might have hoped for at least two when the best sides in the Premier League meet.
But the technical expertise was evident... and the commitment. It's still the best, hardest, most-watched, highest-paid, ridiculously addictive league in the world. Whether it's the skill, the talent... or just the increasingly vindictive nature of the game, the increasingly difficult decisions for referees, the constant fear of finding somebody else is better at play-acting than you are when you writhe around on the floor.
Didier Drogba looked like he was having death spasms when he was hit by Evans' studs, but he got the yellow card for his obvious pains. I love the bloke, he's twice as effective as Rooney and Owen put together... but is that necessary? Probably not. But then screaming obscenities into the microphone when Chelsea went out of the Champions League against Barcelona last season was strictly unnecessary too.
But he cares. The man from the Ivory Coast has had his ups and downs in England but his passion levels can't be questioned. He battled, dramatised and gave his all until his later substitution.
Point is Chelsea may be a little over-dramatic at times. They may use every trick in the book as they learn from the greats, Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant (?), Hiddink and Ancelotti. They may only survive because Roman Abramovich is recession-proof.
But with a spine of Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, they might just have the edge on Manchester United this season.


  1. Gavin Billenness8 November 2009 at 18:33

    Wayne Rooney was probably doubly miffed as he didn't get a chance to do that really annoying 'rocking the baby' goal celebration players do just after they've become a dad. They always think they're being so witty as if they're the ones who thought of it.
    Hey Neal, is it true you're writing a book about the World Cup in South Africa? When is it out?

  2. I'm glad I wasn't the only one to think that Johnny Evans' studs "colliding" with Drogba's chest was more than just accidental. A single replay was all that was needed to see that it was a deliberate action and should have led to a penalty, yet Sky's esteemed commentators failed to comment further other than to wonder at the yellow card subsequently issued to the Ivorian! One has to wonder what decision would have been taken on the pitch had the roles been reversed. Will the FA take retrospective action against Evans? The next 24 hours will answer that.

    Excellent blog Neal, despite it being written by a Gooner! ;o)

  3. Thanks for your comments guys... tell your pals on facebook! will soon link to

  4. Unlucky losing at five a side tonight dad...I think you and Rio are declining at equal rates.
    Regards Kriss