In the News: Chequebook Pulis says he never makes a circus out of winning. The absolute ringleader of making a circus out of everything down to having a fart on the bench, claims that he is not a drama queen. Dog over fence. Laundry basket. Even today United thought they would be clever and fly down to Bristol at the last minute. They ended up diverted to Cardiff on account of fog. You can submit your favourite elaborate CP melodrama below to further mock his statement.
The Daily Fail thinks that Lukaku painting his Rolls Royce in United colours is worthy of a whole article, while JT says he thinks Conte is here to stay, which tells you above everything else that JT still wants a job at Chelsea because he’s towing the party line, and that he’ll be home soon, wherever Conte is. Mikel, who joined the shameless exodus to China without a flicker of remorse has drawn the line at suggestion of playing for Allardyce at Everton with as much disgust as if he had just watched someone curl one out on the street in front of him. Never, he says. Transfer madness continues. Rafa is planning to swoop for Luiz in January. Unless he’s swooping in a Chinook with a Velcro net to grab him by the hair I suspect he will come up short. If you were impressed by how often Alonso manages to find the goal from set pieces, check out the video online that shows him finding a basketball net. And Andreas Christensen’s accuracy stats are now so good that even Roger Federer, who gets his wife pregnant with twins every five minutes is starting to get jealous. Did you think you’d see him getting the night off for cup games this soon? No, me neither. ‘Tis the season to be petty. Barcelona will refuse to give Real a guard of honour after their victory in the World Club Cup and the FA have been churlish enough to fine Wimbledon for refusing to refer to Milton Keynes as “Dons” during their visit in September. ‘Tis seemingly also the season to get completely sh*tfaced before rolling up to do a press conference. Klopp is insisting that Oxlade-Chamberlain is “unbelievable.” Unbelievably overrated, maybe. And finally ’tis the season to be massive hypocrites. United are bitching about how much Sevilla are having the audacity to charge them for Champions League tickets. I will remember sitting in the Gods at Old Trafford against them for the equivalent cost of several premium bottles of gin.
The Others: At least there was some scope for St. Pep the Overrated to sh*t his pants for half an hour last night before his side finally put Leicester out. Arsenal dispensed with West Ham and Chequebook Pulis made ten changes. The Wimbledon bound tube cackled with glee when news of the shock result came through from the West Country. I wonder whose fault it will be? I’m going to predict “the fog.” But who cares? Bristol City have set light to the big top and United have crashed out of the competition. Hurrah. I wonder if Eden will think twice about his £90m move to Old Trafford now, to play for a manager he clearly couldn’t stand by the time he was fired, and whom he still takes every opportunity to dig at in the press he can find.
Our Game: The press have been scrooging the sh*t out of this competition this week, so just because they p*ss me off I’m going to write it up as if it was the most exciting match Stamford Bridge has ever seen. I’ve gauged whether I think I’ve hit them mark by imagining each paragraph read out by Jonathan Kydd on the Fancast in dramatic tones. He can record it for me as my Christmas present.
At 19:43 the lights went down. The heartbeat came over the tannoy system, images flashed up on the screens and the lights pulsed. The flag wafted across the Matthew Harding Lower at a drunken angle, and so beganeth the dramatic opening strains of The Liquidator. Eight changes for us, seven for them, which means that come tomorrow we will be harangued as the enemies of football for not showing the Carabao Cup or our opponents enough respect. In keeping with our panto villain status in the world of football, we got out first yellow card after less than two minutes. Ampadu, the teenage sensation leaving scorch marks on the pitch, who has modelled his hair on Chuckie from Rugrats, had tried to decapitate Defoe. Youngest player ever booked in a Chelsea shirt apparently. He is about the first Chelsea player that I have watched and thought, biologically I could almost be his f*cking mother. I’m definitely going to need a gin when I get home.
Bournemouth rampaged to life, throwing themselves into action like Bruce Willis swinging off the side of Nakatomi Plaza wielding an automatic weapon. (Yes it’s time for Christmas film references) They burst towards the goal on five minutes, some bloke in black and red swung his leg back, he connected with the ball and thankfully for us all he leathered it wide. Their fans were buoyant too, and although I shook my fist at them, it’s hard to hate a set of visitors who insult you by singing “Is this the Emirates?”
We began to settle down, third game in a row now where we haven’t been laughable for the opening spell of the game. It was an even contest, players clad in red and blue weaving in out of each other backlit by brilliant green, their shadows cast long by the floodlights. Within a quarter of an hour Chelsea were ahead, pouncing opportunistically. A sweeping back heel from Kenedy, (He’s not getting anything but coal from Santa this week, especially if Santa is Chinese) our hearts were in our mouths as it fell to Cesc’s feet, but instead of shooting at a narrow angle he unselfishly sent it out to Willian who thumped it into the net.
Soon afterwards Defoe scuttled off. He’d been well and truly Ampadued, which is going to be a thing, I can tell. Ethan was Godzilla, Jermaine was Japan. We could have had a second. Pesto (Merry Christmas autospell) sent it through to Zappacosta, a cunning ball; as cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University. The ball fell to Michy, who promptly air kicked it from three yards out. Then Pesto was on it again, leaping on to a loose ball. The shot from Michy was blocked, cannoning back out to Zappacosta, who sent it back in and the final clearance fell to Captain Cahill, who rose to the air like a salmon, poised to volley the ball. In slow motion he hit it, and the crowd groaned as it sailed just over the bar. Bournemouth had had 40% of the possession, but had fashioned very little that felt like it was going to give us a nightmare before Christmas. (titter) When they looked to threaten, our makeshift side proved adept at tenaciously winning the ball back. On 36 minutes the ball looked to be stuck to Zappacosta’s foot as he weaved his way into the box. In it came to Michy, who had his back to goal. He paused, he dragged it back, he turned, and face planted the defender and ended up on the floor. It was looking like tonight might be another missed opportunity for Chelsea’s forgotten equivalent of Macauley Culkin in Home Alone, where his mother didn’t care enough to check that he was even on the plane before she left the continent. Kenedy rampaged through the entire Bournemouth right side shortly afterwards, but then smacked it fifteen yards wide, so it was with a one goal lead that the Blues trudged off the field at half time.
Bournemouth began the second half like Rocky Balboa slugging his way through fifteen rounds against Ivan Drago. (The bout takes place on Christmas Day, which means it’s a Christmas film, just) Like phoenixeses(whatever the plural is) rising from the ashes they pressed, narrowly missing out thanks to spritely leaps from Caballero; then Kenedy ended up crumpled in a heap after one attempt, and Cahill had to use his face to clear another. The atmosphere had been building; and now we had a raucous blend of typical championship songs from Bournemouth and a chorus of “Stand up if you hate T*ttenham.” F*ck T*ttenham.
Fabregas was clearing corners. What is this madness!? It was almost as implausible as the plot for Home Alone 2! Surely this woman has learned to count her damn kids by now? Bournemouth have had their fun, I’d like the little big gun now please. Sure enough as Zappacosta writhed in agony like a sticky bandit who has been smacked in the face with a can of paint, there was my favourite sight of all. Eden Hazard seductively (well in my brain anyway) removing items of clothing. On he came, bouncing into the action closely followed by Bakayoko. Take that b*tches. I hope. Although of course I anticipated watching him get kicked up and down like a Gremlin by the opposition and the referee doing absolutely nothing. Which is largely what happened at first. Refwatch: Ebeneezer Mason, and not the cute Donald Duck version, one of the more malevolent ones. Our refereeing Grinch had his Bournemouth boxers on. His jaunty whistle blowing grates on my nerves. He’s so flushed and pasty he looks like an undercooked Christmas turkey. Overly picky and oblivious to fouls on Chelsea players. There was a massive outpouring of irony when he finally booked a Bournemouth player on 72 minutes, the crowd snarling and snapping after an hour and a half of his limp little half-a*sed hand gestures and shoulder shrugs. The fact also, that he let Dan Gosling get away with being a vicious little thunderc*nt all evening made me rage. It took Kenedy going down like he’d been whacked by Tim Allen, eight reindeer and a sleigh to get a decision out of him. It was a bad tempered last fifteen minutes. Morata entered the fray shortly before Ibe squandered the away side’s best chance of the night, dragging it left of the post. On 80 minutes an Inspector Gadget one handed save from Caballero saved our blushes. Mason was insatiable, trying to play his whistle like a f*cking harmonica as he gave soft decision after soft decision Bournemouth’s way. In the name of Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the bloody donkey, please let us get to the final whistle.
No such luck. The ball came out off of Morata’s head, was played out to none other than the little thunderc*nt himself, Gosling, who smashed it in from range. The keeper stood no chance. All those about to make a dash for the train, sit your a*ses back down. I’d like to say that the thought of going out of the competition dominated my thoughts, but in reality, I was more despairing of my journey home being delayed by about an hour when I have to be up at the crack of dawn to deliver two car loads of presents to our homeless kids.
Happily, Bournemouth’s glory lasted all of about 40 seconds. Zappacosta punted it forward, Eden was away, he back heeled the ball to Morata who saved us all from the potential agony of a penalty shoot out and an outrageous bedtime on a school night. Take that, you cockle-munching bellends! Hysteria from 9/10 of the stadium. Their only response? “We support out local team.” Yawn. Ebeneezer Mason’s last bah-humbug act was to book Morata for having the audacity to celebrate scoring the winning goal, meaning that we will be without our main striker for the appallingly timed trip to Everton the day before Christmas Eve. Here’s hoping that the Rudolph sh*tting in Mason’s garden as he flies over on Sunday night is the only thing he receives this Christmas.
So: Conte has stuck with rotation in this competition and his players have not let him down. A semi-final against L’Arse it is. Imagine my surprise that Pepalicious got Bristol City. Caballero solid. Rudiger strode up and down the back line like a gazelle, a gazelle on ketamine mowing down everything in his path. Kenedy – who is this person? This bloke who appears once every six weeks from nowhere and looks like a real footballer? But Michy, oh Michy. Destoyer of West Brom, Winner of Leagues, Khaleesi of the great astroturf sea at Cobham and Master of Twitter. When I was paying attention he looked to be stuck up top alone, as ineffective as a fairy sitting aloft on a Christmas tree. Hoofing the ball up to him is not kind. My old nan told me if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. Obviously I play pretty fast and loose with that wisdom on this blog, but this is me saying nothing. Except “sigh.” At the opposite end of the spectrum, Chuckie Ampadu take a bow. Even if you do make me feel old. (Not as old as TCW (special alias) feels tonight though. “That’s why we f*cking sold you Begovic!” He apparently hollered. Should have gone to SpecSavers) A teenage midfielder playing at the heart of central defence and doing it like a boss. Blocks and clearances aplenty, almost 99% accurate according to the stat nutters. If at all unsure, he didn’t go at it like a bonkers David Luiz in his early Chelsea days, he passed the ball back to the keeper plain and simple. We like him.