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Posted by Phil Lythell on 05/12/2012

The recent double-header against Liverpool may have resulted in a 5-3 aggregate loss but there cannot be any doubt as to which was the happier team after the completion of the two matches.

While Chelsea still had a mathematical chance of automatically qualifying for the Champions League going into Tuesday’s fixture at Anfield, one glance at the team selected by Roberto Di Matteo left little doubt as to where the his priorities lay. With the day of reckoning in Munich looming larger with each passing day, preserving the fitness of those eligible to take the field in Bavaria was of primary concern.

The total domination of Kenny Dalglish’s men at Wembley, until Jose Bosingwa’s error allowed Liverpool a foothold in the match, was joyous to behold and rendered proceedings four days later almost meaningless. The FA Cup was secured for the seventh time in the club’s history – drawing level with the Merseysiders and only lagging behind Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham in the numbers game – and mission was accomplished with few alarms.
Even though the war had been won, the skirmish at Anfield was billed as an opportunity for Liverpool to seek revenge, the 4-1 scoreline in favour of the hosts leading many to claim that that is exactly what was achieved. However, I doubt too many of those clad in red truly believe that their victory against a side sporting eight changes to the one that comprehensively outplayed them 96 hours earlier was ample compensation for losing out in English football’s showpiece occasion. It should also be remembered that although Liverpool deserved their win that night, the margin of victory was a little flattering. Both Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres rattled the frame of the goal while Romelu Lukaku fired a point blank header straight at Pepe Reina when he really should have scored. There was even an argument thet Liverpool could have been reduced to nine men after Jonjo Shelvey’s lunging tackle on Ramires (that inexplicably did not even merit a foul) and Luis Suarez’s forearm smash on Ivanovic.

One peculiar legacy of that match, though, has been the knee-jerk reaction of the press. John Terry had a poor game; certainly his poorest of the season but one that was an aberration rather than a regular occurrence. Yet that has not stopped journalists leaping to the conclusion that the the hitherto imperious defender is now finished and unworthy of a place in Roy Hodgson’s England squad. Now we all know that there is an agenda within the British media regarding Terry and there can be no arguing that he has made a rod for his own back with his off-field antics. His spat with Anton Ferdinand that has precipitated accusations of racism and a forthcoming court case have also provided more ammunition to his detractors but until that case has been proved it would be nice if journalists’ prejudices were put aside and it was his performances rather than his personality that was focused on.

Yes, he had a shocker at Anfield but he has been utterly brilliant in the second half of this season, playing through the pain barrier twice a week to answer his team’s call. It is no coincidence that his absence through injury coincided with the disastrous run of results that cost Andre Villas-Boas his job yet one iffy performance and he has been written off.

Contrast that with the media reaction to Andy Carroll’s last 120 minutes of football. Admittedly, the £35m striker scored a good goal at Wembley after coming on as a substitute to give Liverpool hope and he followed that up with a decent performance against a makeshift Chelsea team at Anfield though failed to get his name on the scoresheet. However, such has been the ensuing clamour for him to lead the line for England at the European Championships next month that one would assume he had been on a scoring spree of Lionel Messi proportions. One swallow does not make a summer just as one bad day at the office doesn’t accurately represent your abilities but try telling that to the nation’s scribes who have acted as judge and jury on the basis of the most circumstantial of evidence.

If those that pass judgement wanted to criticise those in Blue then there were plenty of others to choose from on Tuesday. Oriol Romeu has suffered since the regime change took place at Stamford Bridge with injury stymieing his progress further. He looked like a fish out of water at Anfield and it is to be hoped that next season he can rediscover the early season form that won him a regular place under Villas-Boas. Michael Essien didn’t cover himself in glory either and could easily have seen red rather than yellow following a reckless challenge on Carroll in the first half. It would be a surprise if he did not start in Munich, due to the raft of suspensions and injuries, so let’s pray he can turn back the clock ahead of the biggest game of the season. Ross Turnbull also proved that either Thibaut Courtois must be recalled from his successful loan spell at Atletico Madrid or a new back up goalkeeper must be sought in the summer with his botched goal kick routine effectively sealing the team’s fate.

But let’s put such negativity to one side and focus on the positives. Didier Drogba has once again shown his immense worth to the club with yet another strike on the hallowed turf at Wembley. It is incredible to think that Sunday’s match with Blackburn could be the last time we see him at Stamford Bridge as a Chelsea player with his contract situation set to expire and no resolution having been reached over a new deal. Twitter has seen a campaign gather pace for a minute of adulation from the supporters in attendance in the 11th minute in honour of the giant Ivorian as it could be the last chance to say goodbye to one of the all-time Chelsea greats for those not lucky enough to be going to the Champions League final.

With Roberto Di Matteo’s future far from certain and other players likely to be leaving, tomorrow could be a day of emotional goodbyes and I shall definitely be joining in the heartfelt choruses for our departing heroes.

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

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Comments

Posted by ken08 on 05/12/2012

If Dalglish had picked the right team you would have been BATTERED in both games,battered with Rafa and again with Kenny!!! Be VERY afraid

Posted by Michael on 05/12/2012

Don't think any Liverpool fan would say were happy we won the wrong came. FA cup would have been the real one couldn't care less really about the performance in the league to little to late. However it did show the lack of depth within the squad especially taking into account you play Bayern soon, and have a few top players suspended and they are rather good. If you do try to sit behind the ball for 80 minutes, Chelsea could be in for humiliation.

Posted by richard on 05/12/2012

to chelsea the spoils???? if they get beat by bayern they will have one one trophy like lfc and be in the europa league like lfc ..hardly to chelsea the spoils is it????

Posted by Damo on 05/12/2012

Yeah, you better hope you win it, or you won't be in it

Posted by jonnoRichards on 05/12/2012

Well what an utter load of rubbish this is. I agree Chelski had the better of Liverpool for 60 minutes of the final (due to Liverpool not turning up more than anything) then Liverpool truly dominated for the final 30 and can be counted as unlucky not to draw level.
At Anfield Chelski were completely outplayed, and how amusing to hear cries of sendings off after the dirty ivanovic elbow into Carroll, the filthy lunge by essien also against Carroll (due to the fact he was destroying your awful defence all evening).
As for the Champ League final, hurrah for Munich as they will completely destroy Chelski so get your plastic flags from off your seats to at least give a plastic wave when your team takes to the pitch like lambs to the slaughter. Munich Munich!

Posted by P Colohan on 05/12/2012

Here speaks a worried man!

Posted by Nick Davis on 05/12/2012

"While Chelsea still had a mathematical chance of automatically qualifying for the Champions League",
you make this statement like it was virtualy against all odds that Chelsea could still qualify even if they did beat Liverpool, a quick glance at the fixtures for the last day of the season show that this really isn't the case, Newcastle travel to Everton an extremely hard game, Spurs host Fulham, a tricky London derby whilst Chelsea host B'burn,by far the easiest of the three games mentioned.Add to this the fact that Chelsea have a very,very tough game against Bayern in the final on the Germans home ground, which is the only route left open for CL football next season and the league result against Liverpool starts to look far more damaging than any Chelsea fan is willing to admit.The bottom line is come the end of the season Chelsea's achievements will likely not look to dissimilar to Liverpool's,a domestic trophy and Europa League football, all because of DiMateo's defeatist choice.

Posted by frank on 05/12/2012

I agree with the heading, but not the article as it is very biassed. RE FA cup, after an uninspiring first 10minutes from both sides, it was a defensive blunder rather than striking brilliance that opened the scoring. Liverpool shortly after could have equalised. Chelsea outplayed Liverpool from 15th to 40th minutes, this was the only period of the game they did. Liverpool started the 2nd half the better side, but it was Chelsea who took 2-0 lead & stranglehold. Carroll's entry on the hour totally changed proceedings, & it was one way traffic till the end. Rarely have I seen so much domination but sad fact is finishing was not there, although Carroll was literally 1 centermeter (if that) in equalising - & goal line technology may have given it. Chelsea deserved the victory, but only narrowly - by virtue of leading 2-0, and by virtue of Liverpool only coming to life on the hour. In reverse it could have been them leading 2-0 with Chelsea licking their wounds hat half time.

Posted by peter penelope on 05/13/2012

Regarding the game at Anfield, Chelsea were unlucky not to have taken the lead thru Ivanovic, however it was one way traffic after that & there was no more reason for feeling unlucky. Yes Liverpool would have preferred the FA cup...but this game was not unimportant for Chelsea - this loss is unacceptable. Chelsea may not be playing Champions League this year. Finishing 6th with an aging squad & next year possibly no champions league - can't see it getting at all better next year, can see it going a touch worse meaning no champions league for a further year. This is familiar territory for Liverpool I might add who are current underachievers. I predict Chelsea to take over this mantle, with the aging Meireles & average Torres (50 million pounds has now played 4 games against Liverpool without scoring). The post was hit at both ends, with luck the result could have been 6-3 still a thrashing. The way things fell apart in the final 35 minutes at Wembley & what's followed is WORRYING!!!

Posted by TD on 05/13/2012

Whoever we field and whatever the result, Phil, we deserve better than the lifeless performance we got at Anfield.

Frankly, I failed to understand the poor attitude with which we approached the match given that RDM is still on probation, and that the players were supposedly fighting for a place in the CL squad with so many 1st team players suspended for the final.

The line-up was typical AVB, and it gave us a display reminiscent of those woeful performances under the man. It was also a painful reminder that we do not have the quality to replace our ageing stars.

However, more shocking was JT and Brana's attitude. They didn't look like they cared and, in fact, I could have sworn that Brana tried hard to get himself sent off.

Surely RDM could have urged them at half-time to play for their pride. If he did, then they don't have any. If they turn in a similar performance against relegated Blckburn today I'll simply watch Mancity. I just can't stand more of the nonsense.

Posted by paraic on 05/13/2012

terrible article , some very misguided views , Liverpool cracked the bar twice aswell, also once in the final ,, Chelsea dominated Liverpool for 55 mins apart from two gifted goals had no other real clear cut chances , although carrolls goal was a gift to Liverpool played poorly and created more , the rate at which Chelsea crumbled is worrying ,, and the Terry calls are awful , one poor game doesn't make him bad , he had just heavily celebrated the fa cup , cut some slack

Posted by Jason on 05/14/2012

Well written as usual Phil. I was considering applying for the Chelsea blog but on a second glance its good to have you as the Chelsea analyst. I like seeing how often and quick you write these up yet your in depth analysis and truth in your statements is a joy to read. Champions league or bust next weekend, let's hope is the former.

Keep it up.

Posted by aLVin9800 on 05/14/2012

Phil,

Your last paragraph sounded sad for two persons, i.e. Roberto Di Matteo and Didier Drogba, although both of them were highly credited for Chelsea's revival after AVB's sacking!

In any other situation, RDM would have been awarded a new contract by the measure of his success and Drogba would have been given the two years extension that he requested, but not when Abramovich is at the helm.

He clearly wanted a coach to preach the philosophy of playing attractive football and the injection of new and younger players. In this aspect, RDM's recent success was on the contrary, still dependent on the old guards (Abramovich wants to get rid off) and played passive and defensive football to grind out the results. Hence, RDM was managing status quo, albeit by the fact that he was a good motivator.

Drogba was wily, although he had a knack to score important goals but his current form was mediocre and his antics did not go well with the hierarchy.

Hence, we bid goodbye to them.

Posted by Mohsin Maqsood on 05/14/2012

Excellent Article Phil. It's funny how media thinks that they should be the ones making decisions on behalf of FA or club owners.

Same is evident in their attempts to give Di Matteo Chelsea's job and hand Drohba 2 years contract. I really admire Di Matteo and the work he has done since becoming Chelsea manager but do you honestly think he is the man to do the re-building at Chelsea. That work needs a very experienced head with vast knowledge of players to buy which I don't think Di Matteo has.

Also, as good as Drogba have been for Chelsea (As he is a true Chelsea legend), he is already 34, do you think he deserves to earn the same salary for another two years? I don't think so. That's why Chelsea is offering him 1 year deal but he has made it clear that he will join the club that gives him most money.

So All in All, a very good luck for Chelsea for the final as these Chelsea legends deserve Champions league before the final GOOD BYE.

Posted by slim on 05/15/2012

Carrol has now scored more career goals against CHelsea than Messi has - that's why everyone's raving about him.

Posted by duff on 05/16/2012

Let's be honest Chelsea's key game for fourth place came against newcastle when we lost that it was almost certain that we would be left out of qualifing at this point di matteo focused on the cup which we won. As far the crying liverpool fans on this blog that say they destroyed us and we should have won the cup they need to do a reality check. every pundit says carrols second was a no goal and if he was a true professional instead of celebrating it might have been different. in the league game if ivan scores that goal the complextion of the game changes and they get beat by our b side. There side is worse than ours, the table shows the silverware shows and us being one of the top two clubs in europe says it all liverpool will never come to achieve those past glory days ecspecially with the new owners. chelsea wins in munich than lfc will cry that we cheated in that too.

Posted by cale milu on 05/29/2012

I dont care what chelsea fans think about My liverpool; All i know is that we lost b4 the game was played and I thank the owners for firing KD. The man reduced my Liverpool to a joke and all those who won against us should watchout for next season. we were not happy but we lost because KD was racist. How do you play Kuyt on the bench? that how he destroyed my Liverpool and I will never 4get the shame he brought to my Liverpool. I urge the owners to appoint a Director of Football we buy new players so that we compete fairly next year. No excuses come next season. we dont want the excited Chelsea fans with jst one Champions league trophy to vomit rubbish at us but we should teach them a lesson. Liverpool 4life

Posted by Brown on 06/16/2012

...and CHELSEA WON THE CHAMPS LEAGUE!!!

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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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