Spyin' Kop: Chelsea at the Bridge, Premiership, 17/9/06

Posted by Rushian on September 16, 2006, 10:44:10 AM

Liverpool face a third tough away fixture in a week, following the derby day debacle and the Champions League stalemate in Eindhoven. Though success against Chelsea in the cups has been forthcoming, the league has been an entirely different matter with four consecutive defeats for the Reds since Benitez and Mourinho employed Iberian House Movers Inc. in the summer of 2004.

Our recent record at Stamford Bridge is quite frankly rubbish, with just one win and three draws in the last thirteen matches, and we had to rely on the goalscoring prowess of Bruno Zidane for that solitary victory. With the Reds having such a patchy start to the season, a point at Chelsea would be seen as imperative if we're not to fall too far behind at this early stage of the campaign.

Chelsea v Liverpool
Sunday 17th September 2006
Stamford Bridge
KO: 1.30pm
Referee: Mike Riley (Leeds)


Current League Positions: Liverpool 10th Chelsea 4th

Last 6 meetings: Liverpool W2 D2 L2

The Club

Chelsea FC

Nickname: The Blues
Founded: 1905
Address: Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, London, SW6 1HS.

Capacity: 42,449
      
Club Honours

League Champions: 1954/55, 2004/05, 2005/06

FA Cup Winners: 1970, 1997, 2000

League Cup Winners: 1965, 1998, 2005

Charity Shield Winners: 1956, 2000, 2005

UEFA Cup Winners Cup: 1971, 1998

UEFA Super Cup: 1998

Players To Watch: Shevchenko, Ballack, Terry

Recent form: LWLWWW

Chelsea have developed a reputation as one the game's glamour clubs and Stamford Bridge has become home to some of football's biggest names over the years. The Blues, founded in 1905, were committed to playing attractive football that matched the stylish surrounds of their West London setting, but silverware initially proved elusive. A First Division championship in 1955 stood alone in the trophy cabinet until a golden period in the 1960s and 1970s. The League Cup, FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup were hoisted in a six-year spell with players such as Peter Osgood, Ron Harris, Charlie Cooke and Ian Hutchison. The FA Premier League coincided with another successful era and imports of the quality of Ruud Gullitt, Gianfranco Zola and Gianluca Vialli shone at the Bridge. A losing FA Cup final appearance in 1994 was followed by victory three years later and 1998 alone saw three more trophies - the League Cup, European Cup Winners' Cup and European Super Cup. The FA Cup was won again in 2000 before the spending was reined in. Struggling with financial problems the good times looked over for Chelsea until Roman Abrahmovic came riding into town with his vast fortune to takeover the club in the summer of 2003. The large debt was wiped out overnight and spending on transfers increased to a level previously unseen in world football.  Success has followed with a league cup and a second elusive league title in 2005 under the stewardship of the eccentric but talented manager Jose Mourinho. A third title followed in 2006 though European Cup success still proves elusive with defeats at the knock-out stages in the last three seasons.

We've taken a trip to the respected Chelsea website CFC Net for their views on the match. Thanks to their posters for submitting themselves to the Spyin' Kop interrogation.

How has the early season shaped up, and how are the new players settling in?

DP89: The season has started OK. We're not playing our best football at the minute, and the defeat away to Boro was disappointing, but we are winning and gaining points when we play badly, a sign of Champion quality. We were handed a tough opening six games to the season. Man City, Middlesbrough, Blackburn, Charlton, Liverpool and Fulham, all teams to get points against/beat us in the Jose Mourinho era. From the opening four games, we are five points up than from the corresponding games last season, so we are fairly happy. (Last year we lost at Boro and Blackburn, and drew at home to Charlton). The new boys have shown glimpses of what they can do, but are still only in about first gear. Sheva hasnít set the league alight yet, but his goals against Liverpool and Boro showed he can do it against English teams. His first touch is magnificent, and every time he gets the ball there is expectation and belief something is going to happen. Ballack has done OK, goal midweek, and all though Essien has been the shining star in midfield so far this season, Ballackís done well, and he just seems to have so much time on the ball. Khalid Boulahrouz looks defensively sound, and could cement a place at right-back with the shaky form of Paulo Ferriera. ĎSalouí and Jon Obi Mikel are going to be great players, but are going to have to await a chanceÖ

Khobar: Our worst start for 4 seasons I think I heard - amazing! The very new players seem to be slowly getting used to the pace. Ashley Cole, we'll have to wait and see as Wayne Bridge started the season very well. Shaun Wright phillips is still struggling though, and the longer it goes on even the average performances become unacceptable to most. I just think that one magic moment could turn it all around for him, but it's taking an age to happen. Boulahrouz looks steady at right back, although I'd prefer him as cover for the centre and Geremi back on the right. Shevchenko appears to have given Drogba a little extra space to play in - I'm looking forward to seeing their partnership gel. Kalou seems to have potential, but it'll take a while to see if he can fulfill it. Mikel I just haven't seen enough of.

Goldcoastblue: I think we are off to a slow start and the new players have not found their feet yet but this will change soon.

Karan: A patched up and a 'crash course' type pre season hasn't helped. Understandable though because of the players' WC commitments. Season started with a surprisingly positive display against City, but then came the Blunders at Boro. The team's gradually getting to the right level in terms of training and adapting for the new players. Mid-October should see us with a more fitter, fluent and in form squad.

aprevost: We've definitely not been in top form so far this season, but the encouraging thing is we've managed to get the 3 points in all but one of our games anyway. You have to feel that once all of the new players settle in and we get Joe Cole and Arjen Robben back from injury, things will improve significantly and we'll start comprehensively beating teams rather than just grinding out wins.

As for the new players... Ashley Cole has looked pretty poor in his two appearances so far, which is not surprising given his late arrival and the adjustment required after playing in Arsenal's system for so long. But it has particularly disappointed many of us because Wayne Bridge's form was so good before Cole arrived, personally I'm hoping to see Bridge start against you rather than Cashley.

Ballack was injured in preseason so struggled with his form at first, but in the last couple of games has started to show his quality. His control of the ball is impressive, and his defensive work-rate and ability to win the ball back have surprised many of us as well. But he's clearly not got his full fitness back yet as in each of the last two games he's been all over the place in the first half but rather disappeared in the second half.

Shevchenko has seemed a bit lost, there's no doubt he's still struggling to figure out how to play within our system. The biggest problem is he's really not seeing much of the ball so far, to be honest. But when he does manage to get himself involved in the play, his quality is plain to see - he's got everything, speed, size, touch, vision. So we're all still very excited, there's no doubt he'll score - and create - bucketloads of goals once he settles in.

The less heralded new arrivals, Mikel and Kalou, both look promising but are unlikely to play regularly this season. Kalou is the one you're more likely to see on Sunday, probably as a late second-half substitution. He'll almost certainly be on the bench as he provides cover both at centre-forward and on the wing. So far he's shown great pace and energy, a willingness to track back on defence, and the ability to take defenders on with the dribble.

dgalaty: The team hasn't yet started firing on all cylinders - the new players in particular have had little time to gel. IMO Ballack, Kalou and Sheva are great additions but will certainly need quite a bit more time to fit in to our system. With Robben and Joey Cole also out with injury, though, we've also not been able to practice playing the new boys with wingers. 9 points from 12 so far is not too bad at all, though.

CarefreeChris: We're doing ok. We haven't yet hit our stride but it'll come. Boulahrouz has slotted in nicely, Ballack is getting better each game, Mikel shows promise and Kalou has much raw talent. Sheva has everything he needs to succeed, just a little bedding in time required.

maxfire: It's all a bit hit and miss at the moment, the injuries to Robben and Joe Cole haven't helped and we've suffered through lack of width. Ballack and Sheva look class though and when they are used to the players around them then we will be on fire

What are your expectations for this season?

DP89: To be honest, anything less than Champions will be a disappointment. I know it's arrogant, but we have a squad that is far better than any of our challengers. Its going to be tighter this season, but I think weíll take the title. A challenge for the Champions League would be great, but that can wait. The 3rd title is the priority for me.

Khobar: No expectations, just a hope that we can retain the Premiership, maybe grab the FA Cup and if luck is with us then another tilt at the Champions League.

Goldcoastblue: I expect Chelsea to win the league or the Champions League but not both, one or the other.

Karan: Hopefully the Premier League which is the prime target. The Champions League, FA Cup would be nice bonuses. I feel we'll do a double this season (PL + one of the cups).

aprevost: I feel it's arrogant to say I "expect" to win the league... it's hardly a given, and I have a feeling that we'll get a much stiffer challenge from you, Man U, and Arsenal this season. Still, I do feel our squad is vastly superior to those of our rivals, particularly in terms of depth - I feel we'll be able to weather injuries to key players better than any of our competitors. So the fact is anything less than another Premiership trophy will be disappointing.

Beyond that, I have no expectations other than reaching the knock-out stages of the Champions League. I hope we'll win at least one other trophy, ideally the Champions League, we certainly have the quality and depth to win every competition we enter. I feel we should be favoured to win every match we play unless it's away to Barcelona. But we all know that the best team doesn't always win in knock-out competitions, it only takes one lapse in concentration to be eliminated, so you can't predict or expect anything in the cups.

dgalaty: Premiership Winners, at least one domestic cup and at worst a good run in the UCL.

CarefreeChris: Well we're Champions, and as we want to improve every season, we'd like to be Champions again, and winning the FA Cup would be nice. An improved go at the Champions League too. But nothing is certain in football!

maxfire: We'll win the league and the FA Cup if it's played at Wembley - Champions League not really fussed, 5 in a row in England and then dominate Europe.

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

DP89: The two most important players to Chelsea are John Terry and Frank Lampard. Jose said he can't leave Frank out, and I agree. The Chelsea team without these two guys is a different team, they are our heartbeat, and a hell of a lot of the team spirit is there because of JT. Petr Cech, Claude Makelele and Joe Cole are the other Ďkey playersí, I expect Andriy Shevchenko to join that list in the not to distant future.

Khobar: At the moment it's Essien, but overall probably John Terry. With Gallas now gone, perhaps he's even more important now than before.

Goldcoastblue: Terry & Makka.

Karan: At present JT, Cech, Essien and Drogba. Cech & JT need to make that defence more unbreachable and confident (will come with more clean sheets). Essien has started brilliantly and Drogba has looked more confident than what I've seen of him before.

aprevost: Obviously the heart and soul of our team is formed by Terry and Lampard. They're the bedrock of everything we do. The importance of Cech in goal is often frequently overlooked - his authority coming out to deal with balls in to the box, in particular, is key to our defensive solidity. And our form player right now is Essien, who's been our best player in every game so far no matter where he's been played, he has to be in the team somewhere.

In previous years Makelele would have to be included as one of our most important players, but Essien's emergence (and specifically his ability to play Maka's role) means he's no longer so vital to us.

dgalaty: Terry - by sheer will, he raises the game of all his teammates.

CarefreeChris: Terry and Lampard are obvious choices. Cech is very important, as he gives the defence so much confidence. Cudicini is very good, but Cech is great. There's a notable superiority in the defensive solidarity when Cech plays. Joe Cole and Robben are vital too - they offer us width and choice.

maxfire: Joe Cole, Terry, Maka and Cech - goals will come from everywhere.

Your worst player(s)?

DP89: Its hard to pick a Ďworst playerí for Chelsea because they are all so good. A lot of people would say Shaun Wright-Phillips, but he will come good, Iím sure of that. There arenít many of our Ďbad playersí that wouldnít walk into any other club in the Premiership.

Khobar: I don't have one.

Goldcoastblue: There are no bad players at Chelsea as the standard is so high and also any player in our whole squad would be in the starting 11 for any team in the Premiership. If put on the spot I would choose S.W.P.

Karan: Too early to say, and also a bit unfair. After really cornering my analysis, I'd have to say (regretably) Paulo Ferreira (his form is at its worse ATM). Hasn't looked quite consistent and confident as before. Hopefully he comes to his true level.

aprevost: We have no bad players. That's just a fact. Our biggest strength is our depth of quality. Players like Geremi and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who have a hard time even making the bench for us would be stars on most other teams in the Premiership. But without a doubt the player I have the least confidence in is SWP. After that, it would have to be Paulo Ferreira, he always makes me nervous.

dgalaty: Shaun has been pretty mediocre so far, but still deserves a chance to show the quality we all know he has. Carlo didn't have a great stint in goal but he's still quality on his day.

CarefreeChris: We don't have any 'bad' players, in all honesty. Kalou needs polishing, as does SWP and Mikel.

maxfire: Unlike Liverpool we don't have any poor players.

This will be what seems like the millionth meeting between us since Mourinho and Benitez arrived in 2004. Are you as bored of playing us as we are of playing you and the press hype associated with the games?

DP89: Iím not bored of having to play Liverpool, but I am bored of all the media crap and all the big match build up. This game is rapidly becoming what Arsenal v Manchester United used to be. Itís the 12th game in 2 years I believe, and as we get to know each other better, the games get better. Itís the two best managers in the English game going head to head and many would argue its also the two best squads going head to head. Both teams are strong at the back, which makes the game counter-attacking football, which is always interesting. Itís the game I now look out for on the day the fixtures are released, so I think its going to be a little while before I get bored of Chelsea v Liverpool.

Khobar: Yes.

Goldcoastblue: Short answer. yes, The press have so over hyped these games.

Karan: Yes! Moreso with the weird hype and baggage that seems to be surrounded around this fixture. The games seem to be interesting tactical battles littered with sprinkles of controversy.

aprevost: I'm not the least bit bored of it. Maybe because I don't live in the UK, I don't have to deal with all the overdone media coverage and hype. To me, the fact we've played each other so often has only made the rivalry stronger, created a little more bad feeling between the clubs, and the more bad feeling there is, the more intense and exciting the games become. I love it.

dgalaty: Bored to tears. Can't you just do us a favour and go down to the Championship for a season so we can avoid you for just a year? But seriously, the hype is artificial - the match is about 3 poitns and the league. Nobody's title challenge is over or assured in September and no result will guarantee perpetual bragging rights.

CarefreeChris: To be honest, yes it is getting a bit boring! The media hype is the most tedious, but variety is the spice of life and we've played Liverpool so many times in the last couple of seasons.

maxfire: Never bored of playing Liverpool for me always one of the big home games of the season, we've tonked you so often at home over the last 25 years it's alway a pleasure. Bored of the hype but more bored of your songs "we've won it five times" means nothing to Chelsea fans save it for when you play the Mancs.

You've invested heavily in the youth academy at Cobham recently, so are there any young up and coming players that might start pushing for a place in the first team squad soon?

DP89: There are two or three players that really could make a push for the first team squad this year. Weíve got a few boys in the England under 19ís, and younger age levels, and since the arrival of Brendan Rodgers to the youth team system development has gone from strength to strength. Brendan was promoted to the Reserve team this season and has taken a lot of his youth team boys to the reserves with him. Michael Mancienne would be my bet for the first player to break through to the squad, and it already considered as our fourth choice centre half, and this is a boy who was playing in the youth team this time last year. The skipper of our reserves, Jimmy Smith played away at Newcastle last year, and is another lad who could break through, all though up against the likes of Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Joe Cole, Arjen Robben and Shaun Wright-Phillips, I donít fancy his chances! Scotty Sinclair is another boy who is making strides in the reserve team. He player the majority of his games in the youth team last season, but is one of the lads to step up to reserve upon the change of management. Ben Sahar is an Israeli forward, signed in the summer. I've watched him a few times this season and the lad has undoubted quality, and most importantly knows were the goal is. Look out for a few of these names in the Carling and FA Cups this year, as well as Ryan Bertrand.

Khobar: Scott Sinclair looks sharp but a bit lightweight, Mancienne appears to be close but I don't see any of them pushing for first team action this season except maybe in the League Cup.

Goldcoastblue: I do not think we will see any of the young kids from the academy play this season, the only chance is if we suffer from extensive injuries in one particulat position.

Karan: Mancienne, Betrand and Sinclair are more likely to make it sooner than others - hopefully in the Carling Cup. Although I'm excited about what I've heard of Tejera, Stoich and Ben Sahar.

aprevost: The short answer is no. But it depends what you mean by "soon". Problem is that no matter how much we invest in our academy, or how good the players we start to produce are (and there are 2 or 3 who look like they could turn out to be Premiership-quality), it will be a good 3-4 years before they're able to displace any of the core first-team group we already have in place. Because with the exception of Makelele, none of our key players are even approaching the downside of their careers yet. This is something posters on our site complain about frequently, that it's virtually impossible for our promising youngsters to get a game in the first-team squad given our depth.

That said, the youth/reserve team player most likely to get a sniff of first-team action this season is central defender Michael Mancienne. He's an England under-19 international, was captain of our youth team last year (although I believe he's playing more with the reserve team this year), and central defence is the one position where we could be caught short if we have a couple of injuries.

dgalaty: Mancienne and Sinclair might well make first team appearances, if we have key injuries but starting them would be premature, especially with Kalou, Mikel and Diarra already in the first team squad.

CarefreeChris: There are a few players that look promising. Mourinho has already earmarked Ryan Bertrand as a future first team LB. Striker Scott Sinclair, who we got from Bristol Rovers is scoring quite a lot after making the step up to the reserve team. Hopefully Michael Mancienne, a CB, can get an opportunity either this year or next year. He has talent. And Jimmy Smith is the reserve team captain. He played at Newcastle last year and looked very comfortable. He plays attacking mid.

maxfire: Micheal Mancienne looks a good prospect. I'd give it another couple of years before we see the likes of Scott Sinclair, Ben Saha and Michael Woods amongst others pushing for a place.

What sort of line-up will Jose put out against us?

DP89: Joe Coleís injury has flared up again, so unfortunately heíll miss out. Arjen Robben is back though. Expect the 4-4-2 diamond on Saturday. Itís not a game Jose will experiment with, so donít expect surprises. The back four looks certain to be Khalid the Cannibal, JT, Riccy and Ashley Cole. Wayne Bridge, unfortunately will miss out. Best player in the first four games, but misses out in our biggest game of the season thus far. Thatís the back four Jose likes and I think will choose. In midfield, Makelele will play the holding role, in his 100th premiership game, with Essien, Ballack and Frank infront of him, in a diamond formation. Essien, by the way, has been superb. Didi and Sheva should be upfront. Didi is another one to have improved this season, the divings gone, and he looks a better player, I think the arrival of Sheva has given him the kick up the bum he really needed.

Khobar: Hopefully one which plays to our strengths rather than defends against Liverpool's. As we're still short of wingers it won't be much different to the team against Charlton, with Bridge or Cole being the main question.

Goldcoastblue: 4-4-2.

Karan: As difficult as predicting the result of this one. 4-3-3 is my favoured formation for the PL and moreso against Liverpool. But the 4 CMs sort of select themselves (Maka, Essien, Ballack, Lamps). A 4-4-2 with Shev and Drogs as front 2 with Kalou, SWP or Robben providing width and pace later on. Don't bet against a surprise though.

aprevost: The strongest possible. Absolutely guaranteed to be in the lineup are Cech in goal, Terry and Carvalho in central defence, Essien and Lampard somewhere in midfield, and Shevchenko and Drogba up front. Given that Joe Cole has been ruled out again, and it will be Robben's first game back from injury, it's almost certain that Makelele and Ballack will start in midfield as well, as they did against Bremen on Tuesday.

The only potential question-marks for me are the fullbacks. At right-back, Boulahrouz will probably be preferred over Ferreira again, as Jose will want the most defensively solid line-up possible. On the left, given the importance of the game and the shakiness of Ashley Cole's performance against Bremen, I wouldn't be surprised to see Wayne Bridge brought back in to the squad. This game is too important to use Ashley Cole when he's still not fully comfortable with his new teammates.

dgalaty: Dictated by injuries it will have to be the same squad we lined up against Bremen, with Robben, SWP, Mikel, Bridge and Carlo on the bench, I'll guess. I'm afraid Robben will probably not play more than half an hour.

CarefreeChris: Well Joe Cole is out, which is a shame. But Arjen is back, though having been out for a few weeks, he'll probably start on the bench. I'd expect another 4-1-3-2: Cech; Bridge/A Cole, Terry, Carvalho, Boulahrouz; Makelele; Lampard, Ballack, Essien; Shevchenko, Drogba.

maxfire: 442 Sheva and Drogs to do the business.

Which Liverpool player will cause you most problems on Sunday?

DP89: I think John Arne Riise is out for Sunday, which is a relief. For some reason he has a knack of scoring against us, which is strange as I think he is awful usually. Iím hearing great things about Dirk Kuyt. We played against him pre-season and we kept him quiet, but if he starts, heíll be a threat. We looked dodgy Tuesday night against Klose, and I believe Kuyt is good in the air too, so cant make that mistake again.

Khobar: Garcia, one way or another.

Goldcoastblue: Gerrard if he plays or Sissoko.

Karan: Bellamy but only because he's got 'linesman confusing' pace. He might be a good outlet for Liverpool attacks.

aprevost: With Riise out (he's killed us recently!), I'll have to go with the obvious and say Gerrard. He is your most dynamic player, and I also worry that the departure of Gallas means our defence will be much less capable of dealing with him than we have been the last couple of seasons.

dgalaty: Seeing that Riise is out (thank god!) I'd say Gerrard, though Luis Garcia seems to like us as well.

CarefreeChris: Gerrard seems to have made a quiet start, but he can never be written off. Kuijt and Bellamy may cause problems. Bellamy has so much pace, and Kuijt has strength and power. If Carvalho can handle Bellamy then I'd back Terry to handle Kuijt.

maxfire: Gerrard obviously the biggest threat - Sissoko being the other that stands out.

Where do you expect Chelsea and Liverpool to finish in the Premier and Champions Leagues?

DP89: I think Liverpool will be runners up to Chelsea this season, despite the poor start and United having a great start. Donít ask me why I believe Liverpool will do well, but they are definitely on their way up, and would have taken confidence out of the FA Cup, and Community Shield wins against the best side in the country. Champions League, second round/quarter finals. As for Chelsea,  Iíve said before I think it will be three in the league, enough said. Champions League wise, we can win it, we're the second best team in the competition, and Iíd love to be in Athens in May, and I think I will be. (No bias there obviously)

Khobar: Chelsea top of the Premiership, CL Semi Final. Liverpool 4th in the Premiership, CL quarter Final (although the PL standings were my pre-season prediction and didn't take account of Arsenals continuing poor league form).

Goldcoastblue: PREM: Chelsea 1st Liverpool 3rd. Champions League Chelsea semis, Liverpool quarters.

Karan: The bias starts here. Chelsea should prioritise the Premier League and we'll be celebrating our 3rd consecutive Premier League title in April/May. I'm hoping we play Real Madrid in Athens in the Champions League Final come May, be nice to repeat the Cup Winners Cup result of 1971, in the same city.

Liverpool will finish 2nd in the PL, you have the squad to do so, will depend on your head to head with ManU. CL, perhaps semis or quarters, although I'm hoping you get to face Barcelona in the 2nd round.

aprevost: In the Premiership, I'd say Chelsea first and Liverpool second. In the Champions League, see above ... I think it's ridiculous to even pretend to be able to predict what will happen in a Cup competition. For sure I think both will make it out of the group stage, but beyond that so much depends on the luck of the draw. It's a crapshoot.

dgalaty: Chelsea Prem and UCL winners, Liverpool Prem 3rd and UCL quarters.

CarefreeChris: I hope Chelsea finish top in the Premiership. I'd hope we get to at least the semis of the CL, preferably the final. Liverpool haven't had a great start. I'd say they'll be competing for second, Man Utd will be the team most likely to challenge us for the Title, I think. If Liverpool get to the quarters/semis then that would be a decent result.

maxfire: Chelsea champions, quarter final Champions League. Liverpool third and just scrape through the qualifiers before being thumped by Barcelona.

Peter Kenyon has talked of making Chelsea the biggest football club in the world, yet you've struggled with attendances at some of the recent games. Is he trying to run before he can walk and should be pay more attention to the concerns of the core support over pricing etc?

DP89: Attendances are a problem, and ticket prices HAVE to come down. The atmosphere is becoming worse and worse as real hardcore supporters simply, no disrespect, can not afford them. Iím not Kenyonís number one fan, but heís a business man and I donít blame him for what he is doing. We sold out all but one of our games I think last season (the boycott vs. Anderlecht). Boycotts arenít going to work though, because I really donít think Kenyon gives a shit about attendances. The main boycott for Anderlecht was season ticket holders, who had already brought tickets, hence the club still making moneyÖ Weíre not the most expensive club in London, thatís Arsenal, but their ground is a library because of that, and weíre heading the same way.

Khobar: I think Kenyon talks in 'brands' rather than core support, and he's succesful in what he's doing. A number of supporters' concerns HAVE been addressed, but it will always be done only if it's to the clubs' advantage. It's two entirely different questions really, isn't it? We'll never sell out for the little games because there's only so much money to go around, but the club needs the money to come in to help guide us towards financial stability. We could theoretically be the biggest club in the world with a 30,000 capacity ground.

Goldcoastblue: We have hardly been struggling with attendances! it was just the Champ League game but that week there were 3 games and prices are so high people will vote with their feet and avoid group stage matches. Because in the majority of these group games we win so the fans will rather watch the game on TV. I do not think that had we been playing Barcelona for instance, there would have been any empty seats.

Karan: Sorry, I'll leave that to the match going and UK based fans to decide. From what I read here though, its an interesting issue (from my viewpoint).

aprevost: Yes. There is a LOT of discussion about this on our forum. Ticket prices are too high for most season-ticket holders to be able to afford to go to every cup game as well, and means other long-time supporters who are members can't afford to attend as many games as they used to. And our current success is still too recent for us to have attracted enough newer/more casual fans to take their place - at least not at those prices. It's the biggest problem facing the club right now, in my opinion.

dgalaty: The attendance problem is really just for UCL matches. Some creative pricing policies will fix it.

CarefreeChris: Ticket prices are an issue, but that's not just for Chelsea, it's across the board. Everywhere, football is so expensive. But at least at Chelsea you're getting a lot of quality for the money.

maxfire: Totally agree, the pricing policy is a joke. Kenyon is quite happy attracting the day trippers whilst alienating the local support. £45.00 was the cheapest ticket for Tuesday night so it's no wonder people choose the TV. The club must be embarrassed that we get sell outs for our Carling Cup games and thousands of empty seats for the so called glamour games.

I remember John Bumstead scoring a fantastic diving header against us at the Bridge the last game of the 1986/87 season. What's the best Chelsea goal you've seen live?

DP89: My favourite goal Iíve seen live was when Maka scored against Charlton when we won the league in 2005. Brilliant moment. JTís header v Barcelona comes close, because of what it meant. The best goal in terms of quality though was Frankís volley v Bayern Munich a couple of years back. Ball in from Maka, control on his chest, turned and hit in past Ollie Kahn with his weaker foot, brilliant.

Khobar: That's a tough one! Gary Chivers against Newcastle in the early 80's - the move went from back to front and it was a good finish. Other than that, Zola's backheel against Norwich (although I'm cheating as I wasn't there!)

Goldcoastblue: I remember that goal also and it was a cracker. There are so many to think of and a lot of them would involve Speedy and Dixon which in my mind was the perfect striker combination. I would love to get the same high level of understanding with our current strikers.

A goal that took my breath away mainly because it was so quick and unexpected was from a few seasons back when we played West Ham at the Bridge. Stanic recieved the ball on the half way line, chested it down and ran 15 feet from the half way line and volleyed the ball like a cannon that looped over the keeper, I think the West Ham keeper at that time was Hislop but not too sure. The crowd were silent for what seemed ages as the realisation sunk in to what he just did. Funny though, after that he was a pile of stinking poo but worth the signing money Chelsea paid for that one goal.

Zola's back flip was also fantastic and cheeky but I have always prefered screamer goals than the intricate ones.

Karan: Live on TV (not including the delays or recorded transmissions) - has to be Super Frank Lampard's second goal against Bolton in the 2004/05 Title winning season. Nothing beats that for me. Special mention for Duffer's 3rd goal against Barca though.

aprevost: As an overseas supporter, haven't seen that many games in person. Best goal I saw was Sam Dalla Bona's injury-time winner from 30 yards or so against Ipswich Town in 2001, which was the first Chelsea match I ever attended. Best goal I've ever seen live on TV was undoubtedly Wayne Bridge's goal at Highbury to defeat Arsenal in the Champions League in 2004.

dgalaty: Undoubtedly Zola. His back-heel goal versus Norwich in the FA Cup of 2002 or his superb FA Cup semi-final goal against Wimbledon (97).

CarefreeChris: I'd have to go for Gallas' goal versus Sprurs last season. Cracker of a goal, unstoppable. And it left such a great feeling.

maxfire: Mark Hughes against Vicenza in the ECWC semi-final followed by mental celebrations.

And a prediction on the score?

DP89: My score prediction is Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool. Frank Lampard with the goal.

Khobar: 3-1, although part of me would take a draw.

Goldcoastblue: 2-0 to Chelsea.

Karan: Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool.

aprevost: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 1. Another tight, hard-fought game.

dgalaty: 3-1 to the Blues.

CarefreeChris: 2-1 or 2-0 Chelsea.

maxfire: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0.

Thanks again to everyone at CFC Net for their help in answering our questions.

© Rushian 2006

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