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Chelsea
Posted by David Kyle on 08/23/2010

And so the dream story continues. After yet another thumping and emphatic victory, Chelsea have now smashed in 20 goals in their last 3 Premier League games.

It is always worth pointing out that these have all come against Wigan and West Brom, but at the end of the day their is no need to dress down what has been an impressive masterclass in attacking football.

As with the first game of the season it was a slow first half, with Wigan even on top for periods, yet it cannot help but be impressive when Chelsea maul teams in as unflinching a manner as was evident on Saturday evening.


Yossi Benayoun 1 Joe Cole 0 ©Getty Images

More impressive still is the ability for everybody to play their roles so superbly. For those with good memories, this was something I pointed out was key to our successful campaign last season.

Drogba failed to wear his goal scoring boots, but still managed to assist half of the goals against our northern opponents.

Rebel du jour Anelka opened his account and ended the day with a double.

Kalou and Benayoun came off the bench to knock in a combined 3 goals.

And Florent Malouda continued his impeccable form and notching himself a goal adding to his opening day brace.

Malouda's opener showed exactly why Chelsea, when on form, have plenty to frighten opponents. The sheer volume of players in an around Wigan's box was frightening.

With Drogba and Anelka loitering, accompanied by Malouda and Lampard in advanced positions. Surely a front line even the tightest of defences would struggle to contain.

It was a blue wave which showed little sign of receding even up until the 90th minute - after which two of our goals were scored.

Another frightener for opponents is that last season the success was without Essien. With him in the starting XI it is as if Chelsea have their engine back. He simply doesn't put a foot wrong, unless sometimes it is accidentally half way up an opposing player's leg (sorry Didi Hamaan!).

Credit due to Jon Obi Mikel too when he also got in on the act.

As readers may well be aware I am one of his critics, but I was a surprised as a celebrating John Terry (who grabbed JMO and pointed him out to the bench) when Mikel's superb switched pass to Anelka allowed the Frenchman to strike the ball past a stationary Kirkland - the second England international to concede 6 against us in two weeks.

I paid special care to Mikel's game this weekend, with an open mind, just in case my opinion was blinkered. And even though he didn't play a bad game there were still worrying parts of his play that are a cause for concern.

His urgency is virtually non existent, I beg of anyone who is upset by my criticism of him to compare what happens when he gets the ball and what happens when Essien gets it.

Essien is a much quicker thinker, his awareness of his surroundings is perfect, whereas Mikel needs a touch and breathing time before the next pass comes.

I still think he is worthy backup but think that Ancelotti may well be, and in my mind correctly, planning to move Essien into that more defensive role once Ramires is fit enough to occupy the central midfield position.

It is also worth remembering the input of the defence. It was incredible to see Alex make two exceptional blocks in the box when we were comfortably winning 3-0.

It is refreshing to know that the players you loyally support give so much to the cause too.

Alex,for me, is the sole reason why we don't need to replace Carvalho. I think he was always destined to make that position his own, and was surprised to see him excluded from the Brazil selecao in the summer.

Unfortunately with the great start to the season comes the devastating news that Chelsea youngster Sam Hutchinson has had to retire from the game at 21. Just on the brink of possibly making a career at the club, or even just finding his way in football, his career has been cruelly cut short. It's a terrible shame, but it has been great to see the club's response in making sure his future will still be in football.

Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!

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Comments

Posted by Kim on 08/23/2010

tis really beautiful seeing Chelsea on top of their game. My prayer is that they crown it all with European Champions League Glory.......

Posted by CHukz on 08/23/2010

Comparing mikel and essien's style of play is like comparing drogba and anelkas which is very different and cannot b the same neva.worthy backup meaning benching mikel,pushing essien to defending role while ramires attacks will surely backfire because essien loves to attack and when he does our defenders are exposed.well you are entitled to your own opinion.blues reign.

Posted by blueASH on 08/23/2010

im still very cautious as chelsea can become quite unpredictable. a great start yes, but we need to keep up the tempo. i was a bit concerned by the performance of ivanovic as he made a couple of silly decisions and put us in danger but we had the quality to clear up. i fully agree with the criticisms of JMO as i too think he can be a bit of a liability. i honestly think we should have sold him off but lets see what he can do this season. I'm very much looking forward to the 3 man midfield of lampard, ramires and essien. i also think benayoun will prove to be a valuable player to us. he reminds me of gudjohnson, a player imo we should not have got rid of. but yea, should be a good season ahead of us! CFC4life!

Posted by David Kyle on 08/24/2010

@ CHukz, i think its very valid comparing their styles of play because they are both employed in the same role, and there is little denying that Essien is better at it. Once he moves back he will leave his attacking game behind and leave that to Ramires presumably.
I dont think Ancelotti has bought Ramires to warm the bench, and somehow doubt Essien will be dropped over JMO.

@ blueASH. I think you've made brilliant points, Ivanovic is still a little unfit so we can blame that, as for Benayoun he does look like a useful signing!

Posted by Rob on 08/24/2010

I don't agree with your assessment of the Essien / Mikel situation at all. Relegating Essien to a purely defensive role surely neuters one of the most potent exponents of midfield dynamism in the game.

It seems much more likely that Ramires is pushing for Mikel's defensive berth, as his record at Benfica should tell you.

Posted by Shawn on 08/24/2010

Alot of Chelsea fans complain that Ancelotti does not use his youth talent.

But when our less experienced players like Mikel (23)and kalou (25) play, they are criticized, even if they score or provide an assist.

So if fans want to see promising youngsters like Kakuta play, they've got to learn to be less harsh on developing players.

Its obvious that they do not have the same experience as the senior players (Drogba, anelka) so they will make some mistakes.

If we keep criticizing them instead of encouraging them, they will feel demoralized and their performance will drop.

Players like Mikel and Kalou are still developing, and one day they might be the next Essien or Anelka.

Give them your support!

Posted by albert on 08/24/2010

David Kyle,
Good coaches always try to get a stabilising influence on their midfield. Someone who can hold the ball, not panic, remain disciplined and look for the pass as early as possible, get the tackle when necesary etc. It's usually a thankless job, appreciated only by the discerning football mind. Some call these midfielders 'the watercarriers for the team' That is what Mikel provides for Chelsea. This is why EVERY coach that has come to Chelsea has used him despite his young age. They will continue play him. You can check the statistics online if you can be bothered to overcome your stereotype.
Ancelotti was once asked which Chelsea midfield he sees himself in.( Ancelotti was a defensive midfileder for AC milan and Italy if your understanding of football goes beyond Abramovich's purchase of chelsea). Guess which Chelsea midfielder Carlo called?
.....MIKEL.
Anyway I guess you know more than Ancelotti and all the other previous chelsea managers.

Posted by David Kyle on 08/24/2010

Albert,

Thanks for your comments, I agree with the point that you have made regarding Mikel being picked by previous managers - however it is worth pointing out that the consistent injuries to Essien have played a major part in his role in the team.

Surely Ancelotti wouldn't have spent all that money on Ramires if he wasn't going to play him. Who will he replace in the team, sense says that it will be neither Lampard, Malouda or Essien in midfield. Then who does that leave?

I can assure you that my Chelsea knowledge is much wider than Abramovich era, in fact September marks my 18th anniversary of going to Chelsea (not bad for a 26 year old who has also been a season ticket holder for 13 years - so half of my life). Whilst you are free to comment, questioning my knowledge because of me questioning Mikel's contribution seems particularly strange - I shouldn't really have to justify it either. However now you can rest assured I am more than a glory hunter! Thanks!

Posted by John on 08/24/2010

I couldn't agree with you more David Kyle. I am certainly not as seasoned a Chelsea fan as you, but ever since I started watching them I have begged to know what reason Mikel was on the field for. And its not just that he doesnt focus on attack like albert implied above. It's that the job he is tasked with, being a ballstopper in front of the back line, is the one he fails at the most. No one expects or even wants him in on Chelsea offensive acts, but I can't count how many times he's been turned around by a quicker attacker and then simply stood on their foot to stop their progress. The most telling moment of Mikel, for me, was last season when he set up Tevez's goal by trying to head the ball back to JT & Co. only to give it to the other teams attack. Urgency is a great way to put it, he just doesnt seem like he cares enough. Mikel is the type of player you normally say you hate if he's against you but love him if he's on your team, wen actually no, everyone hates him. c'mon Ramires!

Posted by Markus on 08/24/2010

Not too sure why you guys are questioning how Ramires is going to fit into the Chelsea starting 11. Have most of you forgot that there are potentially 55+ games to be played throughout the season. Chelsea will be fighting for 4 trophies throughout and the midfield players will not always be the same every game. We've lost the likes of Deco, Ballack, J. Cole, Belletti, we've brought in Ramires and Benayoun while working in a few youngsters.

Personally cannot wait to see Ramires make his debut. From watching several Brazil and Benfica games in which he's featured, although he shows some similarites to Essien; he is much different player who senses danger defensively and will be more so in competition with Mikel. Should be interesting.

Posted by albert on 08/24/2010

John,
I wonder who and who constitute the everybody you claim hates Mikel. I can assure you that Chelsea fans who understand football appreciate what he brings to the team. You 'haters' seem to assume that Ramires was brought in to replace Mikel. You are in for a surprise. What are you going to do when you start seeing both Mikel and Ramires playing consistently? Call for Ancelotti's head? Electric chair for the chelsea technical crew?
kindly tell me which Chelsea player doesn't make a mistake. How many matches did we loose last season because of John Terry, for example? Mikel has played over a hundred matches for Chelsea but the 1 or 2 matches he made a mistake is 'the most telling moment' for you?

Posted by Elias on 08/25/2010

I hate it when people talk against Mikel like most of you are doing now,how many of you guys know Mikel too well,i mean from the time he was in Lyn Oslo,was he a defensive midfielder?. He wasn't,it was Jose who converted him to this very role,Mikel was bought as an attacking midfielder,how many of you watched him during Netherlands 2005?.We need to stop talking badly about him,the people that kept talking about Ramires price,how much was Mikel bought? 16 million pounds then,so i hate it when people talk about ramires and his price,somebody pointed out the mistake he made last season against man city,how many of you are talking about the ones that JT did?.We are yet to win champions league is becuase of JT,how many of you have forgotten what JT did against everton last season,allowing Saha to score 2 goals,all becuase of his mistakes,each and every one of them makes mistakes,even Essien,so let's leave Mikel alone

Posted by joseph on 08/25/2010

we start great season and we are doing good job and carlo ancheloti doing good job as well but there is long way to go if we can do the same thing we did last time and I hope chelsea can win again the title because they are great players and great team and they are the most fear team in this world ..

Posted by nortey on 08/25/2010

it is good to be back again with the winning spree we have the best attacking forward in the premiership and hopefully we will win the league

Posted by Ambasador on 08/25/2010

Can we talk about the general team performance, without picking on individual flaws, which we all know every player do make mistake(s). Chelsea has kicked off the season on a flying note. But with the job midfielders are doing, I guess we'll see a lot of rotation in the starting line up. Continous play of any player will likely tell on his performance on pitch. Most of the works are shouldered by the Midfielders, so playig them consecutively will affect their performance.
I know Mikel is a promising player, he's doing better this early season. He's a valuable player, seems to be more defensive than Essien who on other hand is more offensive. You can play back the recent Community Shield against Man U, sincerely I spontaneously voiced "We are vulnerable now", when Mikel was subtituted. We could see it when Man U worked passed Essien and Young Bruma for the third goal.
The bond in the team is stronger, and understanding has deepened in the squad.
Go Chelsea! Go UCL, EPL, FA, Charity

Posted by M 2 KUSA on 08/25/2010

we should please try to value and appreciate what we have in your hand but when we lost it that when we will know the important and it values so,let accomodate them all(the mistake of selling out aryen rubben out will come to pass if we the fans are not careful with our criticisim or undervaluating our promising players)so we should think deep and fast one too in the encouraging path toward the success of our team at all levels (UP THE BLUES)

Posted by Mike on 08/25/2010

Im going to have to agree with David Kyle's points on the midfield. I dont doubt Mikels talent, but david is correct when he stated that Mikels time on the field was largely due to Essien being injured for 3/4 of the season. Mikel is a great developing youth, But Chelsea has a lot to lose, which is why we try not to rely on Youth so much in our matches. Any position on the starting XI for CFC is an enormous role to fill. We always compete for the title every season and mistakes are more likely to be made by youth. The best place for youth development IMO are the Carling, FA Cup and English Cup matches. I would rather play youth in those matches than again UTD, ARS, LIV and City. You have to learn to walk before you run. I feel that a lot of youth get thrown into games where they get dominated by stronger/smarter players and its a shot to their confidence.

Posted by Dwonder on 08/25/2010

The castigation of Mikel makes me remember a quote once attributed to Bernand Shaw. " Mens good deeds are written on on water; while my bad deeds are written on brass. When i am right nobody remembers; but when i am wrong nobody forgets.(end of quote) All those times that mikel had played well kept the back four safe and largely filled in for essien during his season long injury i guess does not count. But one question remains unanswered. If he is this bad why does every coach play him??????. if any of you Mikel doubters know the answer to this question you would be in carlo's seat.

Posted by Sheva on 08/25/2010

Well,for me i have all your contribution but let's stop this criticism on our players because it demolarise them.no one is above mistake,beside Ancelloti is doing a great job likewise the player.mikel,essien and Jt all have made mistakes that cost the team so much.jt deprived us champions league glory,essien also against barcelona in the semi 2008/2009.failing to clear the ball from our half afterwords barcelona scored a late equalizer to seal a place in roma.but we have to focus on the futûre for now.chelsea4lif

Posted by Lewis A on 08/25/2010

The good thing about football is the different opinions fans have, but then I am disappointed when we talk like kids. Comparing two Talented players and criticizing one is crazy. Without Mikel, Essien cannot join the attack. Essien plays better when Mikel plays behind him which is obvious. Secondly they bring so much to the team when they play side by side. plus the fact that they are both different. Mikel played a major part in our double last season and also every season he has played for us, he should be congratulated not crucified, Ramires is a good buy but I don't see him (Ramires) keeping Mikel permanently on the bench, nobody can. Somebody said we should have sold him (Mikel) that is the worst thing I have heard from a Chelsea fan if truly he is one.
Say what you like but mark my words "Mikel will play more games this season than he has ever played". And to all you haters continue. Mikel will flourish and there is nothing anybody can do. Enjoy the season peeps. CFC for Life.

Posted by Yezen on 08/25/2010

In this excellent victory over Wigan, there are a lot of positives to be seen, but we must also look on the other side too. Against better opponents like Manchester United and manchester city, we woill be defeated easily. We are not dominating the first half, and this is concerning me greatly. Yes I know we scored 5 goals in the second half, but we only scored 1 i nthe first. We were domintaed by Wigan for long periods, and we were very slow to start.

Posted by cy on 08/25/2010

every player should play his own game if not, he'll perform badly, its left for the couch to blend different styles of play into a unit. mikel is not an english man and will never be, neither is he essien. his nigerian style is relaxed so is anelka's. they are perfect the way they play

Posted by fred daka kamwada on 08/26/2010

chelsea sur[prises me sometimes. i dont know how they managed to stirke al those goals in games that they strugle to assert their domanance.

wigan was good and always proved it by pressing the blues right on the wall.
but they swallowed six!!!!!!!!!!!unbeleivable ,.
fred daka kamwada , kampala, uganda

Posted by Teejay on 08/26/2010

We should concentrate more on the positive sides of things & not the other way round. I've always seen Mikel as a great player with abundant talents. He was an attacking midfielder before JM converted him. His first start for CFC against Lefski sophia in 2006, he played in an attacking right wing position & almost got on d score sheet.has anyone ever thought of the over-shadowing effect the other players have on him?. Mikel will even get better either playing for CFC or any other club.have u all forgoten how Didier started at SW6. Pls.....give d guy a break.we are human & always bound to make mistakes.i can say to Kyle that there are a million and one things u've done that u're not proud of.hope u don't come crying someday that Ramires should be off loaded. Shevy was expensive but he spent major part of his time sitting on the bench at d bridge. UP MIKEL!

Posted by bigvern on 08/26/2010

Every team goes through ups and downs,their job is like any other,although the salary may be quite different,you have bad days at work,they have bad days at work.What you all should remember though, is that they work damn hard for you guys,seven days a week not just a saturday,but they are a 'TEAM',and they live by the sword,and die by the sword 'TOGETHER'.So give the boys a break, and enjoy the good times while we have them,and give them 'ALL' your full support.C'mon you Blues

Posted by neal on 08/26/2010

Being a cfc fan frm way down here on the islands of Seyhelles its been 15 years now since im GLUED to my telly to watch boring boring chelski.it is bad enough criticising your very own player but let's get it right JMO will NEVA be michael essien let alone makelele.the latter was the best defensive midfielder cfc have ever signed and JMO should have been his understudy.the boy is still young but matured enough to cope with the demands of PL football but he surely have failed to live up to expectations, he made me swear at him a few times with his uncharacteristic errors.he is good at keeping the ball but he seems to wait for ages always before releasing a pass and thus makes a fail pass. i can't wait to see the introduction of ramires alongside michael and frankie. so unfortunate for JMO but wait till those 3 start playing alongside each oda, just sit and learn my boy, cause if you don't make the grade you'd be downgraded. Blueboy4life!

Posted by deji on 08/27/2010

Wen u bcom chelseas manager,u can efect ur changes.am sure jose,fergie and arsene wil die to hav a player like mikel.so u hv ur opinion but it doesn't count so much.we lost at home against barca wit esiens careles pass,so keep pointin out erors,mikel is still a strange player dat mixes well wit any team.I lov him so much.

Posted by zubairu on 08/27/2010

Love my club too much.

Posted by Creftic on 08/27/2010

The most telling moment of Mikel, for me, was last season when he set up Tevez's goal by trying to head the ball back to JT & Co. only to give it to the other teams attack. Urgency is a great way to put it, he just doesnt seem like he cares enough. Mikel is the type of player you normally say you hate if he's against you but love him if he's on your team, wen actually no, everyone hates him. c'mon Ramires!
Ancelotti was once asked which Chelsea midfield he sees himself in.( Ancelotti was a defensive midfileder for AC milan and Italy if your understanding of football goes beyond Abramovich's purchase of chelsea). Guess which Chelsea midfielder Carlo called?
know Mikel is a promising player, he's doing better this early season. He's a valuable player, seems to be more defensive than Essien who on other hand is more offensive. You can play back the recent Community Shield against Man U, sincerely I spontaneously voiced "We are vulnerable now", when Mikel was subtituted. We could see it when Man U worked passed Essien and Young Bruma for the third goal.
The bond in the team is stronger, and understanding has deepened in the squad.
i honestly think we should have sold him off but lets see what he can do this season. I'm very much looking forward to the 3 man midfield of lampard, ramires and essien. i also think benayoun will prove to be a valuable player to us. he reminds me of gudjohnson, a player imo we should not have got rid of. but yea, should be a good season ahead of us! CFC4life!

Posted by Hanvaw on 08/27/2010

Mikel is a great player now, he will getting better and better in future. Essien, Mikel and Ramires is the future chelsea mid trio. Ramires is bought to replace Lampard in 3-5 years time. Carlo said that he is young and the future. Arjen Robben is a great player. He is the best winger we ever had. I still feel the pain of letting him go. Please don't over criticize any of our promising great future player.

Posted by John French on 08/27/2010

The squad is too light IMO. No goalkeeping cover worth talking about. Bos (injured), Zhirkov (injured?) and Paulo (past it?) represent our experienced cover at the back. Obi, Yosi and Kakuta are for the m/f and Kalou and Sturridge up front. One could throw Bruma and Patrick Van into the mix (both young defenders) but it still seems horribly light. I am thinking letting Ballack go was a mistake. I would 100% be buying a decent goalkeeper before the end of the transfer window if it were me. What is the point with all these youngsters out on loan? Have any made the first team yet?

Posted by Giddy on 08/28/2010

Go Chelsea!! Go Essien!!! Go Ramires!!!

CFC for life

Posted by Abrah on 08/28/2010

It is unfortunate that you all CFC fans start discussing the demerits about our players. At whatever level a player is, there are mistakes which will be committed. What we have to put in mind is that with more of these games to the young players, is when they start to develop into mature talents. If we prohibit the young lads from playing in the senior team then what is the Academy for anyway. The Manager put said he wants to use more of these young players so we should be just supportive to the young lads whoever is given a chance to future in the Senior Team Without using the young players, we shall sieze to have the chelsea FC faithfull players, the likes of JT, we need more of them from the Academy. Please give constructive ideas to the players and the Manager. Thanks

Posted by Lawrence Banda on 08/28/2010

Hi up there,

I'm a staunch Chelsea fan knwon in my community and my work place.

A credit to Management, the Players, all stakeholders and the fans at large.

Keep the winning spirit moving. until we see the entire globe in blue. As JM said lets stay 'Ture Blue' forever.

More comments after Stocke City. I predict 4-0 in favour of the Blues.

Keep me posted on the lates news.

Regards,

Lawrence.

Posted by Brandon on 08/28/2010

People's evaluation if Mikel's play is disappointing. It isnt truely a lack of urgency, part of his role with the ball is to hold it and allow the attacking players to move into attacking positions. This is what he has been directed to do by Ancelotti. If he werent doing the job he wouldve been sold. This is similar to Real Madrid's valuation of Claude Makelele, and look at how their results changed with his departure. Mikel is only a Role player and he plays his role well. Essien is the best player in the team, and is playing in his best fit position. Why would one change that? Just believe in Carlo's decisions and do not create doubt just for arguement. Look at Joe Cole, look at last January's transfer window, and you'll see Carlo knows what he is doing. WE have the strongest first 11, the most depth, and the best chemistry. We will finish with with around 95 points this season, and 100+ goals!

Posted by Rukky Arus on 08/29/2010

Hey peeps like d elders wud say a word is enough 4 d wise -wt out d eyes d face is incomplete n wt out d neck d head is worthless.we al make mistakes so instead of cutting heads let al stand by our plays n our team.Blues forever.

Posted by John on 08/30/2010

albert, you don't need to get mad, we both want the same thing: Chelsea wins. We just may disagree on the best way to achieve them. I just feel Essien plays Mikel's role better than Mikel and some.
and yes I realize JT is culpable for many goals and losses, I have been worried about his diminishing skills for a while, he however remains our best CB and overall leader, he is irreplaceable in Chelsea terms. In Essien, I feel we have Mikel's superior in hand. and yes I realize he was originally an attacking midfielder, Nigeria wants to play him there still. and yes I realize manager after manager has played him. He is not useless, I just find his play more frustrating than others I guess. but alas, I suppose I am biased. As always, go Chelsea.

Posted by Dedza on 08/30/2010

we have to keep scoring !!

Posted by IKENNA on 08/31/2010

i have only one question to ask all those who are mikel haters-- can you name any manager who has benched mikel in his team?
there is a raw talent in that young boy that all managers sees. if anyone sees differently he should stop posting and making unnessasary comment, then forward his Cv to Abramovich and call for the coaches resnigation. makalele wasnt appreciated until he was sold by real madrid. we shouldnt make that mistake in mikel. all his team mate seems to love him a lot because of what he brings to the team.

Posted by Alfred on 09/01/2010

Mikel is a very good player and thats why most Chelsea coaches play him in most of their games.For those who like rush football instead of skillful thinking game where you have to hold the ball before passing and having premediated passing,then Mikel isn't their type of player.Please stop the English mentally of speed,strength and power without brain.Remember England Vs Germany in S.africa.

Posted by Alfred on 09/01/2010

Mikel is a very good player and thats why most Chelsea coaches play him in most of their games.For those who like rush football instead of skillful thinking game where you have to hold the ball before passing and having premediated passing,then Mikel isn't their type of player.Please stop the English mentally of speed,strength and power without brain.Remember England Vs Germany in S.africa.

Posted by bobby on 09/01/2010

If I am not wrong, Mikel has played all the PL matches this season and has played for 90mins throughout the games. And when Carlo wants 2 substitute, he substitutes Franky and Essien. Are you surprised? All you Mikel Haters get ready to watch him in all the matches we will play this season! UP CHELSEA!!

Posted by ColeMan on 09/03/2010

The supporters pointing out obi's failings should re-watch the first 3 games again. He has been outstanding, as have the rest of the team. Why can't people just enjoy the great start to the season and leave the Chelsea bashing to the bloody media ?
With the amount of games to be played this season ALL the midfielders will get plenty of games.

Posted by sazin on 11/28/2010

i am little upset about the 3 games but i am sure chelsea not gone be stoped and will win the league go chelsea go!!!!!

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About
Phil Lythell Phil Lythell is a Chelsea season ticket holder and lifelong Blues supporter stretching back to the sepia-tinted days of Kerry Dixon and Pat Nevin. Author of Chelsea-centric blog ShoutyandSpitty.com, Phil has spent his entire life living within a 20 minute walk of Stamford Bridge which has cost him a fortune but has also kept him from those interminable queues outside Fulham Broadway Station giving him more time in the pub to discuss the latest glorious/calamitous/insipid match.

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