Ned Stratton's blog

Posts Tagged ‘football

Why an improbable victory over Man Utd this season would emulate our 2009/10 triumph.

Source: Mail Online

The red and white flags, shirts and scarves were out in force late afternoon yesterday on Holloway Road and Highbury Corner to celebrate a 1-0 Arsenal victory over title favourites Manchester United.

For once this made being a Chelsea fan in Highbury a positively excellent thing because the result benefits both teams. It is a much needed source of hope and pride for The Gunners after the disappointment of dropping out of the title race, but also a crucial helping hand for our boys – now only three points behind Man Utd, level on goal difference and due to play them next Sunday – in the race for an unlikely fifth Premiership title.

Picture this scenario: 22nd May 2011, 5pm – Goodison Park.  Chelsea captain John Terry lifts the Barclays Premiership trophy aloft after a 3-2 win over Everton on the last day of the 2010/11 season.

The victory follows a 4-0 crushing of punchless, safe-in-mid-table Newcastle at Stamford Bridge the weekend before, but more importantly a dramatic smash-and-grab 1-0 away victory over “Champions elect” Man Utd the weekend before that.

After 92 minutes of dominance from Rooney, Hernandez et all, an otherwise lacklustre Fernando Torres majestically lept up to score a stoppage time header from a hotly disputed free kick.

The three results leave Chelsea, with 38 games played, League Champions on 79 points, the same tally as Man Utd (who win their two other games against Blackpool and Blackburn), but on a higher goal difference; + 44 to Man Utd’s +42. 

Such an outcome is still improbable, but it seemed impossible a few months ago when Man Utd led Chelsea by 15 points in the title race. A comeback like this would be almost as sensational as that of 1995/96 when Alex Ferguson’s team pipped Newcastle to the post having trailed by 12 points earlier on.

This time, the shoe will be well and truly on the other foot if Chelsea can pull it off. Indeed, this is partly why, from a Chelsea fan’s perspective, a victory this season would be even sweeter than our Premiership title last season.

In 2009/10, Chelsea set the standard with relentless attacking football which resulted in a deserved League title, sealed in style with an emphatic 8-0 thrashing of Wigan on the last day of the seasonWith 86 points and over 100 goals, few could dispute it being Chelsea’s year.

And few did. But nonetheless, the Chelsea-loathing English fan base and punditry – clutching at straws to take away the gloss from the Blues’ success – found a plan B; they wrote the season off as mediocre. On BBC’s last Match of The Day in 2009/10, Gary Lineker ended the show by asking the two Alans for their opinion on the season as a whole. The verdict ran along the lines of “quite high on drama, short on quality”, with Shearer adding an equally gloomy throwaway comment about “English teams losing a lot of ground in Europe”.

Likewise, United fans offered up the “Green and Gold” movement as their way of writing the history of 2009/10 not as Chelsea’s victory or their own team’s failure, but as the wretchedness and parsimony of their nasty American owners (under whose  six-year ownership they have so far won three Premierships, three League Cups and a Champions League).

The consensus was thus: Chelsea were worthy winners, but since 2009/10 was so bland and forgettable their achievement was a hollow and meaningless one.

And this is why my scenario of a few paragraphs ago would be so sweet. Yes, partly because of the “smash-and-grab” factor.  It would leave Ferguson – and the Old Trafford faithful who’ve lost interest in ousting their owners with green and yellow scarves now that they’re satisfied their team is winning again – bloody-nosed and indignant at refereeing decisions.

More importantly though, it would see Chelsea taking the plaudits in an extraordinary twist at the end of a dramatic and indisputably entertaining 2010/11 season. We’ve seen bizarre sackings, hilarious outbursts from a batshit Blackpool boss, wondergoals, comebacks from 4-0 down, and a relegation battle go down to the wire. This season will never be forgotten, and Chelsea would love to be remembered as its victors.

And a Chelsea victory would be a guilty pleasure because, truth be told, we probably don’t deserve it. We’ve hit rock bottom at times this season. Losing 3-0 at home to Sunderland, sacking our influential and hugely popular assistant manager for no apparent reason, breaking the British transfer record in a £50 million vanity buy for an out-of-form player in a position in which we already have strength and depth. The list goes on. And with goalie blunders and key refereeing decisions going our way, we’ve been very lucky too.

But we’re still in with a chance, and with seven Premier League wins in our last eight, it is feasible to suggest we will take that chance. And if we do, let the nay-sayers point to our short-comings.  We will point to the final league table after 38 games as the blue flags fly high and the legend of 2011 lives long on the King’s Road.


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