In the News: Clattenburg. Front and centre. Just the way he likes it. What an egotistical f*ckbag this weave-wearing bellend is. He “allowed” T*ttenham to self-destruct at the bridge apparently. We can only lament that when Copernicus and Galileo championed the idea that the earth was not at the centre of the universe, that neither of them thought to add a caveat that it did not revolve around Mark Clattenburg either. In his (clearly damaged) head, he orchestrated the whole game to ensure that he could not be blamed for them losing the title. That’s why he didn’t show any one of the blatant red cards that should have come out of his pocket, but merely booked everyone in white and facilitated a mass brawl because he didn’t fancy doing his job properly, in case it would mean people didn’t like him. Guess what sh*thead? Nobody likes you anyway. But we can all rest assure that moving to the desert has not dented his implicit belief that being a referee is the same thing as being a member of the Rolling Stones. Priceless contribution from Twitter: “Do you think he makes his missus wear a Mark Clattenburg mask when he shags her? They’d both be screaming Mark for 15 seconds… I bet he tells he to put it on in the third person: “Mark Clattenburg wants you to wear the mask.”
Crystal Palace are planning a £100m renovation of Selhurst Park. I know, I know, who cares, but if you watch the animation, THE BLOODY POSTS ARE GONE. For once, something that has come out of the much maligned Michael Emanalo’s mouth has the blessing of all Chelsea fans. Conte has the full backing of the board and is going nowhere apparently. Pogba is dumb enough to have got himself suspended from the Manchester derby, as much as we’d all like to stamp on Bellerin. Well, his top knot at least. Speaking of suspensions, you will not be surprised to hear that whilst Antonio has been charged, Pep is not adjudged to have made the game look bad by running up and down like a crazed lunatic and screaming in people’s faces. People that he doesn’t even know, let alone employ. Apparently City are set to make Sterling the highest paid player in the league. Well if the rest of us are scratching our heads at least the mothers of his legion of offspring will be celebrating. Scouse derby is about the most exciting prospect for the FA Cup third round. I predict 12-12 because neither of them can defend to save their lives. God help Shrewsbury, who have got West Ham coming to town. And Frank. Oh Frank, saying that at the price he cost Bakayoko needs to start delivering. From a player who himself took a good long while to settle into his football I’d have expected a bit more sympathy for a young player. Is he the finished article? Absolutely not, but that one stinker in the Land of Scouse seems to have wiped clean a lot of people’s memories about how he manned up and played when he wasn’t fit and turned in a number of good performances.
Us: I’ve got that many presents to buy for our shelter kids and so much accounting to do to make sure they get the most out of our money that I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast, let alone who is rotating out for who. This is who played tonight: Courtois, Dave, Christensen, Cahill, Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Fabregas, Zapppacosta, Hazard and Morata.
Them: A return for Nando, who was well received, but not for Diego who remained caged at home with his dog. Filipe Luis was back too, who I always forget exists until I see his dopey hairdo again.
Lots of Cup faces in the Shed Upper tonight, as in strangers. I got a giant madman who wanted two thirds of my seat as well as his own. Before we’d even kicked off I’d had every part of his anatomy rubbed up against me. I wouldn’t have complained if he looked like Chris Hemsworth. But he looked more like Vladimir Klitchsko and Miranda Hart’s lovechild. Oh and we had a visiting band of Cahill nappy sh*tters behind us who had obviously heard that it was fashionable to mug him off every time he touched the ball. Yawn.
Alonso got himself into a good position after one minute but his shot was speculative. There was not a lot of early possession for them but they had one tipped over the bar after four minutes. The opening spell was quite even, but I expected more zip from a passionate side who needed to go out and make a statement to have any hope of staying in the competition. The better chances were ours. Morata could have had a first half hat trick. An outstanding effort on 16 minutes just skimmed wide. Shortly afterwards a brilliantly worked chance from Victor Moses to Morata was saved at short range by the keeper. And our striker was in the thick of it again when he had a narrow angle shot knocked clear. He must have thought he’d wandered into a parallel universe, because every time he was fouled he got a free kick. Some sublime theft of the ball by Bakayoko from Greizmann just after the half hour unfortunately floated into the arms of the keeper when he attempted to drive it home, then a great drive from Zappacosta on 36 was just palmed away from the keeper before Bakayoko threw himself at the ball at close range in the box and just missed. We had definitely looked the more likely to score in the first half and it was a mixture of bad luck and a wee bit of f*ckmuppetry in the box that meant we hadn’t found the net. I just expected them to be more up for it. Or were they confident and just patient? They had by no means been bad, though they certainly had the hump at the referees refusal to into a more Spanish style of officiating, shall we say. (Blowing the whistle every time someone fell over) Their worst attempt to con him came just before half time when I was disgusted to see them trying to get Cahill sent off for a collision. In real time it looked accidental, and he tried to pull out. Strong showing from the ref when he had a whole team screaming in his face. Not even a flicker on his giveaf*ckometer. I can’t remember the last time I saw such a sensible 45 minutes from an official.
Was it a stretch to think that they were just holding steady and doing nothing flash in the knowledge that they would get at least one good chance out of our defence? I dunno. I thought they would be like us in that second leg against Napoli back in 2012. Their fans tried hard enough but even they were chastened by the end of the half. And this when Carrier Bag were holding Roma at 0-0. Koke stopping Kante from taking a free kick just before half time was the feistiest they got in the first half. Anyway this is all getting philosophical. We had defended well, with little drama when they had come forward, putting in some decent blocks, but although they had been solid this was by no means the monstrous Atletico side of recent years. 0-0 at half time, but not because of them. The lack of goals was down to our finishing in the main.
They clearly took a massive b*llocking at half time from Simeone, because they burst out of the blocks after the break. That and they’d probably heard that Roma weren’t winning. However we weren’t far behind, and it took an impressive save on 48 to deny a Christensen header. Within a minute Hazard left a defender on his arse and his shot was put over the bar. From the corner too we almost took the lead. Their newfound attacking determination was leaving them susceptible at the back, but Madrid’s best chance so far came on 52 when the ball ricocheted off the post. Koke came in for a flying header but having dived one way, Courtois was up quickly and diving the other to catch the follow up comfortably. Admirable goalkeeping. It was end to end and on 55 Torres played in Niguez who had come steaming in completely unmopposed to head it home with ease. A familiar refrain as far as we were concerned. Chances squandered. Paying the price. Atletico were looking more and more comfortable on the ball, and had locked Hazard down effectively. We were looking frustrated and just that little bit sloppy. To cap it off, Roma had gone ahead so we had slipped to second in the group. Probably. Maths was never my strong point as you couldn’t bullsh*t your way to the answer in the exam.
Understandably, Antonio shuffled the pack almost immediately, taking off Bakayoko for a more attacking player in Pesto (f*ck off autospell) He had an immediate impact as far as our attacking was concerned, but still we squandered our chances. We were into shameless time-wasting territory now, but it was kept in check reasonably well. Which brings me to Refwatch: Danny Makelie of Holland, take a bow. Good use of advantage right from the off. I liked him. For once if our players were fouled there was no underlying or existing preconceptions. It was all done on the merits of nothing more than what was happening on the pitch tonight and both teams got what they should have. His cards were reasonable too, and the only two decisions I remember were when he got dicked over by his oddball lino in front of the West Stand, who was a useless twat. Compared to the referees we have in our league, Makelie had balls of epic, steel, Kyle’s dad proportions. Sign him up please Premier League muppets. And show the saggy likes of Jonathan Moss how it is done.
In the crowd we tried to get the team going with a stadium wide chant of Chelsea/Champions with just over a quarter of an hour to go. Conte rolled the dice again taking off Zappacosta and bringing on Willian, who was at his mesmerising best during his cameo tonight, (save for one kick) into the game. It worked within about a minute. Not because we finally managed to hit the target, but thanks to a nifty own goal by Stefan Savic, which was announced a little over enthusiastically as belonging to Hazard. Whatever, it had been a long time coming and then we nearly got two in two minutes. Morata missed a glaring chance and suddenly we were all over them. There was a rollicking atmosphere at the Bridge now. Are we winning the group or not? The internet at the Bridge is shit and I can’t find out… Finally get into Bet365 and realise we are smashing Roma on goal difference. But I’m not sure that that matters and that it’s one of these bellend scenarios where they do it on head to head. W*nkers. So we do need another one. Morata. For Batshuayi. You know the script Batman. It’s expected of you now. But it was not to be. Willian shanked the ball and missed a sitter, (That’s the one kick) then we inexplicably left the entire Atletico team unmarked in the six yard box as the ball was played in. But every one of them missed it. Phew. Michy scuffed it in the box, he could have had his goal five minutes later as we went into injury time but ultimately we failed to put the ball in the net for ourselves.
So: Supposed group of death successfully navigated. Which leaves us second and with three options: Uefalona, PSG, again, (yawn) or a mad trip to Turkey. I’m fine with that. We’ve gone from no European football to the CL knockout stages, which is I think the minimum that we all expected. Sooner or later if you want to win this thing, as we know, you’re going to have to face some b*stard opposition and get past them. This is fine. I don’t want to Arsenal my way to a trophy. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to East London on Saturday. Not only is full of West Ham, everyone talks funny and it smells. So what to do… I’ve decided to go and watch the game in New York instead. Preferably at the Football Factory. Where I can blog the wrong way round for once, and tell all the regulars what it’s like to do a game Yank style. Far better than a trip the arsehole of the world to suffer again how the grimy squatters have butchered Britains Olympic legacy.
Don’t forget that you can still donate to the fund for children at a safe house in SW London who, with their mothers are victims of domestic violence and homeless this Christmas. We are taking care of what they have asked Santa for, but additionally we have some children who are in desperate need of clothes, and short of warm garments and even underwear. You can send donations via PayPal (email@example.com) or contact me for bank transfer details via Facebook. Alternatively, I can take cash donations at the Huddersfield and Southampton games. Tonight I’ve come home with a number of these, so thank you! The fund closes on 17th December.