ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Chelsea
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Posted by Phil Lythell on 04/10/2012

Another week of football, another week of contentious officiating.

The last seven days have seen the airwaves strain to the sounds of injustice and newspaper columns burst with condemnation for the men in black. But,to make a very pleasant change, Chelsea have largely been on the right side of the referee’s whistle.

To set the ball rolling, the second leg of the Champions League encounter against Benfica saw the officials look kindly upon the Blues with a number of decisions that favoured the home side. That is not to say that all of them were wrong but the borderline calls by Slovenian referee Damir Skomina generally fell Chelsea’s way.

Consider the penalty award. Yes, it was a clumsy challenge by Javi Garcia on Ashley Cole and – in my eyes - warranted a penalty but how many times have you seen a coming together like that not punished with such a damning verdict? Even in the short time between now and the end of the season I venture that you will see plenty of far more obvious spot kicks not given by the man in charge.

Maxi Pereira’s sending off – which threatened to kill the tie but did anything but thanks to Chelsea proving utterly incapable of keeping possession even against ten men – could possibly be viewed as harsh if you are one of those who feel that a player on a yellow card should be given a warning rather than his marching orders for his next transgression. But even accounting for such blue-tinted glasses, Chelsea fully deserved to be in the last four of the competition irrespective of the bitter comments of the Benfica manager Jorge Jesus. Among the flouncy-haired (think an ageing continental Simon Jordan) Portuguese’s gripes was his claim that the worst team lost the tie which somewhat fails to take into consideration that if his team was that good then how the hell did they allow such celebrated performers as Salomon Kalou and Raul Meireles to both score against them over the two legs?

It was a clear case of sour grapes from Jesus – now there is a sentence I never through I’d write – but his counterpart at Wigan Athletic had every right to feel aggrieved by the officials during their 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea’s display on Saturday ranked as one of the worst of an inconsistent if exhausting season (with Florent Malouda chief among those who massively under-performed) yet they still emerged with victory – something wholly attributable to two moments of myopia from assistant referee Dave Bryan.

Branislav Ivanovic – who, yet again, was one of the shining lights in a blue shirt – must have been a clear two yards offside when he scored the game’s opening goal yet Bryan inexplicably missed it. Even from my viewpoint in the Matthew Harding Lower Tier with an angle 90 degrees worse than the all-important flag-bearer the free-scoring Serb looked to be in an illegal position. But no flag was raised and the goal stood. To compound matters for the Latics, their spirited response that yielded a fine goal from substitute Mohamed Diame was undone once more by Mr Bryan who allowed Juan Mata’s injury time winner to stand despite him standing in an offside position when Fernando Torres struck the initial shot that cannoned off the woodwork. Had Chelsea not needed the three points so desperately to pursue ambitions of finishing in the top four, I might have actually felt genuine sorrow for the Lancashire men and their carload of travelling fans.

Roberto Di Matteo’s fortune appeared to be extending to Easter Monday’s west London derby against Fulham when the hapless Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot on the stroke of half time after Kalou fell to the turf inside the penalty area. Countless replays proved inconclusive and while my personal opinion is that the decision was the correct one, I can also see the counter-argument especially in light of Clattenburg’s curious explanation that he did not penalise Danny Murphy for challenging with both feet off the ground but in fact saw a trip by Stephen Kelly who quite clearly did not touch the Ivorian. However, it seems that that call was the end of Chelsea’s line of credit. A blatant push on Frank Lampard by Brede Hangeland in the penalty box was missed in the second half and a soft late equaliser by Clint Dempsey via Gary Cahill ensured that there is still a mountain to climb if fourth place is to be claimed ahead of Tottenham and Newcastle.

While it was nice to have the rub of the green while it lasted, one shudders to think what might happen in the next fortnight if Lady Luck has deserted us altogether. An FA Cup semi-final with Spurs, a double header against a certain Catalan outfit and a trip to Arsenal will all require not only excellent performances but also a large dose of fortune.

Will Providence continue to smile upon Chelsea? My heart says yes but my head disagrees.

You can read more of Phil's opinions at or on Twitter @PhilLythell

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Posted by Eyad Al-kobri on 04/10/2012

I am thankful for all of the luck that has gone Chelsea's way the last week or last 2 months really ever since RDM became in charge. I think that making the top four is going to be a difficult challenge because of Newcastle also entering the battle. I am pretty sure Arsenal will finish 3rd which leaves Tottenham as the one to make way. Even if they dont Newcastle are looking unbeatable as well so who knows what is going to happen. That is the most important thing this season is Champions League football because beating Barcelona over 2 legs is going to be near impossible but I will be keeping the faith. We need to win the FA cup and make the UCL next year in order to be a successful season. The game with Tottenham at Wembley is going to be really difficult especially with our lack of goals and killer instinct to win games and no Ivanovic and hurt Terry doesn't help at all. Another thing is as long as Mikel plays I dont think we have a chance against anybody. What happened to Romeu?

Posted by Sam, Jakarta on 04/10/2012

Wowww what an intriguing way to end your blog. Especially the last line.
Question: If what you think comes into reality, and/or Chelsea lose all the three forthcoming encounters you mentioned, do you think RDM can still stay at Stamford Bridge?

Posted by aLVin9800 on 04/11/2012

Chelsea is defending on all three fronts and non of them are easy. Obviously, they don't have the class and quality to beat Barcelona in the CL and they are realistic perhaps to win the FA Cup that may bring honor to caretaker manager RDM.

But it's difficult to bear without CL football next season, this has bearing to sign good players. Therefore, Chelsea must win the next five games in order to secure the 4th playoff spot, easier said than done!

RDM was diplomatic to say that Chelsea lacked killer instinct but the real fact is that non of the Chelsea players are capable to delivering the goals when required. The fault is not Torres alone but the likes of Sturridge, Drogba, Kalou Mata, Lampard etc.

Torres was really a class above all the rest and when he set up for others, his passes were pinpoint, making scoring easy. On the contrary, he had limited opportunities to receive such telling passes from his team mates. The hard work made him weary and tired, in the Fulham game.

Posted by Cole on 04/12/2012

I think it was about time we got some luck go our ways, as we have suffered a few offside goals ourself this season.

Fingers crossed it last just a bit longer.

Its just a matter now of staying behind the team, and keeping the faith and support until the end of the season.

The fixture list is insane at present, and I'm sure younger, bigger squads would find it tough at the moment too.

We are doing damn well though and the teams results and form speak for themselves under RDM.

Lets keep hope for 4th place with a trophy on top!

Posted by RoyalLoyalBlue on 04/12/2012

And what else is new?
Chelsea's troubles started in 2010/2011 right after then World Cup when there was a complete and deliberate failure to build the squad based on the talent that had won the double.

The likes of Drogba,Lampard,Essien,Ballack,Deco,Carvalho,Essien,Malouda,Anelka and Joe Cole have yet to be adequately replaced by similarly talented players.

I dont care how many times people try to diagree with me but Torres at his peak never did measure up to Drogba and quite honeslty never will.
All the assists/deflections and measly goals will never measure up to Drog's gigantic shoes.

Same applies to Meireles-Lampard and Mikel-Essien/Makelele.

All substandard players none of whom will never reach the heights of their predecessors.

Chelsea is running on fumes.Fact.
And those fumes are just about used up.

Posted by BREDDAN ODUBA on 04/13/2012

Chelsea's problem is the lack of a killer instinct that has repeatedly seen them sit on their laurels while holding onto a one-goal lead which is more often than not cancelled out by our opponents at the death. As for favourable refereeing decisions,we all know no team in England enjoys more of that than Manchester United

Posted by Blue in America on 04/13/2012

I have a sinking feeling that the team is spread too thin in too many competitions. The fixture schedule seems ridiculous. I predict Chelsea fail in all three unfortunately.

Posted by rose on 04/14/2012

my advise...chelsea should choose which is more important 4 them 4rm all the competitions they are participating in. btw playing barcelona or finishing 4th in the league?...if u ask me i say they fight 4 fourth position & not use all their strength in playing barca....why?they have arsenal in btw those 2 leg ties against barca....and 4 them 2 finish 4th..they mustn't lose 2 arsenal/liverpool & newcastle.....CHELSEA HAVE THIER OWN DESTINY IN HANDS....IF THEY WIN THOSE MATCHES & TOTTENHAM DROPS POINT WHICH AM CERTAIN THEY WILL THEN CHELSEA CAN EVEN FINISH 3RD...SO MAKE A CHOICE MR ROBBIE DI MATTEO..."DIS PLAYERS DON'T HAVE THE CAPACITY 2 COMPETE ON ALL 3 COMPETITIONS..THE GAS,THE ZEAL,PACE,THE CREATIVITY,SWAGGER ISN'T JUST IN THIS TEAM IRRESPECTIVE OF WHO STARTS UP-FRONT...EITHER DROGBA OR TORRES IT SAMES STORY....u finish 4th,champions league football is guaranteed next season....but lose/win against barca & not qualify is dastardly act...sorry 4 my vocabulary...

Posted by Jojo on 04/14/2012

A good blog. May not be a blog i will remember though.
Just one thing. Why is it such a fuss for you and all journalist and all reporters to talk about luck when it is the case of Chelsea FC? Why is it not such a big Hoo Haa when it's Mu? Why is there no one writing about referees or the linesman making favorable decision against MU?
Yeah Chelsea were revived when Roman came and bought the club. Yeah He splash big money in transfer market to bring in big names to the club, but I tell you now, it wasn't all that big money that really won all those PL trophies. It was hard work and good management. Lampard were brought in before Roman came. He didn't cost 20millions, but he has been the backbone of the squad. Money has not dried out from Roman's bank. I'm sure of that. But sometimes he spend money on players that don't work for the team. Fans were upset over it. Roman didn't splash that much money this season not because he don't have anymore funds, but it is a sign that he is starting to listen to the Blues loyalist. A good sign don't you think?
Anyway, there is nothing wrong having a bit of luck in this half of the season. Chelsea has been always on the other side of it for many years. It's time for luck siding the Blues for once. I say. wouldn't you want to see the Champions League Trophy going to an English club? Better Chelsea than MU i would think.

Posted by rahul on 04/14/2012

this just shows how the favours, or as your article puts it: luck, can be brought espically when it is badly needed.

against barca, all they've done is moan that they've never got the decisions, that's because European ref's are not interested in players who cheat.

The pl is different, the players ego's and status and expereince shows how easy they can influence a game. long ball into the box, and i any means try get a penalty then for the media to write columns on how lamps is the greatest freescoring midfielder around. never seen the boy pass forward, only left and right to keep his stats up.

Chelsea finishing outside the top four will do wonders for the club, the egoist will leave and also shouldn't be selected for england which i hope happens, as then we'd stand a god chance of competing.

Posted by D_KW on 04/15/2012

Chelsea's next 4 games will decide what's left for us fans in this season, and the next!

As for luck, we accept should just accept it if it comes our way. Over the long run it will even out, considering Chelsea's bad luck in the past against some teams, such as Barcelona and Arsenal.

If the team can come together for a spirited, final push, Chelsea may still get something out of this season. And maybe, it will not be so bad.

It's been very uncertain (and inconsistent) but it is an exciting time for the blues.

Posted by Neil on 04/15/2012

They'll need more than luck against Barcelona.

Posted by Ghaith on 05/10/2012

I watched Spain vs Scotland the other day, and selgnatry Spain lost possession 14 times during the match through misplaced passes. Now how often do u say that about Barcelona? So I gonna have to say Football Clubs play at higher levels, because they spend week-in-week-out playing as a team, getting to know their teammates properly.

Posted by Abdelali on 05/13/2012

I have this kit and i think its awesome. I relaly like the look of it. Its like a mix of our Coors 95/97 and our Autoglass 97/99. Its a shame tho that we're now changing home kit every year which has been announced. The Yellow and the Black away kits are not fake by the way, we shall expect to see them pretty soon. The Black looks excellent. The yellow is ok, but its very Chelsea so i love it. We relaly wearing this kit in the CL final? Anyway whatever we wear, let's show the trophy stamford bridge for the first time. 23

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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, 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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