|photo by eschipul
Despite their tie with Spurs yesterday, something's still amiss with Chelsea. Sure, they looked better in the second half, but 45 minutes does not a game make. In the first half -- sans their malaria-stricken Ivorian super hero -- the Blues looked completely toothless, all bark and no bite. Anelka was lazy and diffident on offense, and Chelsea rarely looked threatening with him leading the line. Malouda and Kalou played slightly better, but the Frenchman's scoring touch has deserted him in recent days, as has that of Drogba's smaller Ivorian compatriot. John Terry was several last ditch toe pokes away from having a diabolically bad game in central defense, and although Paolo Ferreira dealt with Bale, the Welsh wideman was actually one of Spurs' weakest players on the day for my money.
Chelsea were simply outclassed in the middle of the pitch, with Luka Modric, Aaron Lennon and Wilson Palacios bossing the game for good portions. Essien was the best of Chelsea's middle men, although that's not saying much when the other two are Jon Obi Mikel and Ramires. For the life of me, I fail to see any reason at all to have Mikel in the lineup -- McEachren would be an improvement at this point -- and Ramires appears to be adjusting to the EPL about as well as his Brazilian countryman Robinho did.
Chelsea looked slightly better in the second half with Drogba inserted at the interval, but that fact only served to underline Ancelloti's mysterious omission of the Blues' talisman for the first 45 minutes of action. Drogba looked more like his old self when he did get on the pitch, although the one goal he did score should be credited at least as much to Spurs' 'keeper Huerelho Gomes as to the Chelsea striker, and his PK miss to effectively end the game cannot be a confidence or morale builder in any way, shape or form for the Blues or their fans. Chelsea's season has unraveled to the point where a side once comfortably in charge of the EPL is now looking at their title hopes taking a rough battering with five months of the season still left to play.
I know the Ray Wilkins saga has been settled "amicably," but that adverb hardly looks fit to describe the relations between Ancelloti and Wilkins' successor, Michael Emenalo. The Italian and the non-coaching certified Nigerian look as if they don't even speak to each other. On Sunday they were separated on the bench by one man, but the gulf between the two men looked about as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon. Rumors abound that Emenalo is set to take Ancelloti's place if the current coach is forced out later this month.
And it just wouldn’t be farlieonfootie without an expression of lingering dislike for both Chelsea skipper John Terry, or the man who oversaw yesterday' s game in North London, Mike Dean. The television broadcast caught Terry's personality perfectly at the end -- spitting in the direction of Spurs' fans and mouthing off something about a trophy -- complete and utter class from a "role model" to children the world over (compare and contrast that to Manchester United's central defender Nemanja Vidic, who may get bloodied from time to time, but rarely loses his cool).
And how Mike Dean is not only allowed to continue overseeing games in the top flight of English football, but continually handed some of the bigger ones, is a complete mystery to this observer. He may have gotten the penalty call correct at the end of the game -- even the blind squirrel gets a nut now and then -- but I lost count of the vast number of other calls I thought the referee or his assistants blew outright. It's time to install the relegation system for referees that Tony Pulis has called for, and Mike Dean would be my first choice to go down.
It’s a vehement farlieonfootie signing off for December 14.