Jet lag + monster flu = waking up half an hour before you were due to leave for Huddersfield. From the other side of London. Oops.
In the News: In my opinion, Conte spoke a lot of sense in the aftermath of the Saturday morning clusterf*ck. Not good enough, not capitalising on our chances, oh and that those three points lost are not the end of our season by any of our means. He also made sure he mentioned that he was building a base, and hinted plentifiously (if it isn’t a word it should be) that he doesn’t consider his squad to be complete by any means. We have Barcelona in the first knockout round of the Champions League. Oh well. Better the devil you know in my opinion. It’s not like we didn’t get the better of them a few years back when they were a much better side, and in a cup game, who knows? Rather our draw than the Sp*ds. I’d hate to face Juventus over two legs because they’d be much more likely to shut us out. Tie of the round is Real vs PSG. I’d laugh my head off if Paris get knocked out this early and have literally nothing but soul-destroying French domestic football to look forward until mid-September 2018. Urgh and this brawl in Manchester, as if one of those happening there is news. Predictably Pep reckons he is innocent. Isn’t he always? Chequebook Pulis came out with a semi-nonsensical appraisal that made everyone think he is losing the plot. Doesn’t he always? Wenger made an irrelevant contribution to the debate. Doesn’t he always? He says that Manchester City should learn from sumo wrestlers and respectfully not show any signs of enjoying victory. Someone has been on the mulled wine early this year. I did chuckle at the put down slung at Zlatan by a City employee: “You talk a lot… but you move a little.” Funny. Enjoy walking home in the dark mate.
Transfer rot continues. We’ve been linked with Jamaican youngster Bailey so far this week, and with ballsing up Arsenal’s neverendingly amateur attempts to sign Thomas Lemar from Monaco. Real Madrid apparently want Salah. I would laugh if he deserted the Scouse after five minutes. Everyone wants to leave Arsenal. Shock. Andre Villas Boas has quite his job to enter the Dakar Rally next year. What the f*ck? Oh and Ross Barkley has a ten inch scar on his leg but is nearly ready to play football again. His hair covers the scar where they attempted to revive his brain with those little paddle thingies following his daft almost-move in the summer.
Them: They have beaten United at home, and almost got a point out of City so they are not chumps by any means. In fact, on paper we should be more concerned about Huddersfield away than the East London pikeys.
Us: Willian in for Fabregas. Changing from Morata to Hazard up front was going to mess with their preparation I would have thought. Ouch for Michy, who once again wasn’t trusted to start up front. My problem with this? Just the lack of height in the box. Cahill out for Rudiger, in for Zappacosta.
A soaking wet night in Huddersfield. You could almost hear the glee in Robbie Savage’s voice at the thought of an upset in some grim conditions. Hats off to his co-commentator for pointing out that Robbie loved nights like this because he was always one of the minnows.
We had 75% possession in the opening ten minutes, but aside from Pesto’s (too ill to care about autospell) offside goal on five minutes we hadn’t fashioned anything else. I’ve not got the hump. Yet. We’re using our width much better than at the weekend and don’t look completely f*cking incompetent. Also we’ve stayed on our feet. Superb rant sent my way on Facebook re the amount of time we spent on the floor at West Ham. if Morata had fallen over one more time, Mark was all set to risk a lifetime ban to go on the pitch to show him how your legs work in tandem to prevent this. “My kids learnt this by f*cking two years of age.” Also, he knows someone who knows someone who is boinking Bakayoko and reckons that any ropey performance is either down to her being the greatest shag in the world or a sleeper agent for Sp*rs.
Speaking of: 22 minutes and I laughed my head off. Because who should pop up to take advantage of shoddy work at the back by Huddersfield but the nappy sh*tters’ latest victim, Timoue. He did exactly what we were lamenting the absence of on the fancast last night since Lampard left. He steamed into the box past the forwards on the off chance and got his reward. His third goal of the season. And everyone sang his name. I suspect there may have been a few hypocrites in the away end at that point. Savage was heartbroken. Good. Chelsea have not lost a league game from a leading possession since Conte took over. So I was feeling positive about this now, despite being off my face on cold and flu medication and spewing more wrongness out of my nose than has come out of Chequebook Pulis since this brawl on Sunday.
In the first half an hour Huddersfield had offered almost nothing going forward. Rudiger had been so isolated at the back that he had an exclusion zone around him bigger than the one Michael Owe is going to get at the BT Sport Christmas Party. Because really, who wants to hear him tell stories about himself all night in that boring voice? We had a very high effort from Kante on 36 minutes, Bakayoko could have had a second with a header as the half wound down but it looked like we might go into the break just the one up. Until Willy came along. What I said about no height in the box? Who needs it when Willian is there to head, yes head, the ball into the back of the net. A two goal lead was the least of what we deserved at that point. We could have had a third when Pesto received the ball from Hazard but his shot was run down by the Huddersfield keeper. Why were we incapable of this sh*t on Saturday? I have to say that I thought it was because instead of waiting an hour before bringing them on, Willian and Pesto had started. Thibaut had only touched the ball five times.
As you were after the break. 0-3 up within five minutes. Alonso had all the time in the world to pick out a cross after some bobbling around Willian and insufficient defending from the home side it fell to Pesto, who his in with consummate precision. At one point Huddersfield were desperate enough to try taking Chelsea throw ins and hoping that nobody would notice, but then they made some changes. Courtois made his first save on the hour mark, and the ball was cleared by Azpicwelleter (that’s how you pronounce it according to Slippy G. Mind you he can’t pronounce anything properly. That’s harder to say than saying it RIGHT. Bellend) Shortly afterwards another home shot rose comfortably over the bar. The home side had been sparked into life, you had to think too late to make any impact on the result. And surely pressing would leave them exposed at the back again. Tom Ince showed why he doesn’t score goals before Bakayoko capitalised on another error to play the ball into Hazard. The Belgian back heeled the ball to Pesto, who shot wide just before he made way for Batshuayi, who left his water bottle on the bench. His first contribution was to be offside, but Conte had given him a good long stint to try and stake a claim for some attention. TDD (Tenacious Double D) came on too, as did 17 year old Ampadu, who made his first league appearance. Hilarity now ensues, because Ethan plays for Wales, which means that Robbie Savage has to say something nice about one of our players. “It’s nice to see a Chelsea youth player getting a chance.” Tosser. He did, however, acknowledge that TDD, as a Leicester player couldn’t possibly not go to Chelsea if the opportunity was there. Santa already knows you’ve been a w*nker Robbie. There’s no dialling it back now.
3-0 is scoreline of death. Losing team stops caring, winning team dials it back (Conte still leaps up and down like a flea on speed) Michy didn’t help himself by being offside as many times as Loic Remy. When he did get right in on goal he handballed it. Sigh. The Huddersfield fans amused themselves by singing that we’re not Champions anymore. Someone draw them a cartoon of how it works.
Refwatch: Marriner. PGMOL’s Christmas present to me. I’d rather have had a lump of coal. He did nothing to annoy me in the first 45 minutes, which is a first. But he veers from satisfactory to complete f*cking insanity in the course of 90 minutes so I wasn’t holding my breath. He actually penalised Huddersfield players for fouling Hazard, which would be impressive had he not neglected to show anyone a yellow card for a bookable offence. Here you go: At no point did I want to hit him in the face with a brick tonight. Merry Christmas Andre, that is the nicest thing I will ever say about you. No clean sheet for T-Bo. Rudiger was wayward in his marking, the keeper was slow off the mark and the header was nailed by the Huddersfield sub with confidence.
So: Why oh why do we veer from making it look so easy to face-planting like idiots in the space of just a few hours?! I’m not going to be churlish about the last fifteen seconds, because aside from that this was exactly the sort of performance that we wanted after such a sh*tfest on Saturday. We never looked in danger of dropping points. To a man they put the weekend behind them and turned up like we’d expect. Bakayoko in particular put in an extremely solid showing tonight. I don’t care if we don’t set the league on fire, week in, week out, but I want us to be like this, consistently competent. I couldn’t claim with any confidence that we will come out and do the same thing in four days time against Southampton. Brilliant post match interview from Eden and Willy. The latter forgot to award us three points for the win and had to be corrected. We’re only eleven points off the top. Back in it, says Hazard in fits of laughter. Then he refused to take the man of the match award and presented it to his mate instead. But can we get JT back on one of his Villa days off again? Because someone needs to have a serious word with Moses about this gloves and short sleeves thing. More importantly, Rudi in gloves, AC in long sleeves. Have a word John. Chelsea defenders DO NOT wear gloves. Or long sleeves. They’d never have dared do such a lam-a*se thing sharing a dressing room with Ivanovic. Next they will all be coordinating their outfits like Arsenal.
There are five days left to contribute to the fund for the SW London shelter that looks after women and children that are victims of domestic violence. We’ve had some astounding donations from across the globe and are just trying to make sure now that as well as looking after the childrens’ Christmas wishlists, and treating their mums, we can provide more practical help into the new year for one particular family in desperate need of clothing and food whilst their situation is resolved. You can paypal donations to firstname.lastname@example.org, contact me for bank transfer details or I can collect cash at the Southampton game this weekend.