Spyin' Kop: Chelsea away (Champions League)

Posted by RAWK Editor on December 5, 2005, 08:52:16 PM

An eighth consecutive clean sheet and two(ish) goals for Peter Crouch saw a 6th consecutive league win as Reds beat Wigan with something to spare on Saturday. However looming on the horizon is a large iceberg in the shape of a visit to Chelsea for the last game in the group stage of the Champions League. With both clubs having already qualified for the knock-out stage the two managers have been quick to play down the significance of the game, but bragging rights and top place in the group are still up for grabs. With the forthcoming FIFA World Club Cup in his thoughts Rafa has already said he'll rest Xabi Alonso and Mourinho is expected to shuffle his expensively-collected pack.

Chelsea v Liverpool
Tuesday 6th December 2005
Stamford Bridge
KO - 7.45pm
Referee: Herbert Fandel (Germany)

Current League Positions: Liverpool 3rd Chelsea 1st
Current Champions League Positions: Liverpool 1st (11 pts) Chelsea 2nd (10 pts)

Last 4 meetings: Liverpool W1 D2 L1

The Club

Chelsea FC

Nickname: The Blues
Founded: 1905
Address: Stamford Bridge, London.

Capacity: 42,449
Club Honours

League Champions: 1954/55, 2004/05

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: Robben, Lampard, Duff

Recent form: LLWWWW

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 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 though European Cup success still proves elusive with defeats at the semi-final stage in the last two seasons.

We've taken a trip to the respected Chelsea website CFC Net for their views on the match. Thanks to Paul (who rather unwisely will be on honeymoon for the FA and Champions League Finals this season), Grahame (CFCnet contributor) and Toby (CFCnet Media Liaison) for submitting themselves to the Spyin' Kop interrogation. CFC Net have been unstinting in their efforts to try and find Steven Cook, the Red who went missing in Crete in the summer.

1. This is where we normally ask about your season to dateÖ. but moving quickly on, if you had to choose - the Premiership again or the elusive Champions League?

PAUL: The Premiership. First objective should always be to defend your title..

GRAHAME : The Premiership, without a doubt; back to back titles would be the perfect statement of intent. Regardless of the format, the Champions League can still be something of a lottery, but the Premiership proves consistency.

TOBY : Premier league - every time.  Itís the true measure of a team over the course of the season and as the last few years shown, anyone can win it.

2. Who do you think is your single most important player? and your worst player?

PAUL: Makelele. The most consistent player I have ever seen. NEVER has a bad game.

GRAHAME : Overall, I think our most important player is John Terry. Every team needs a leader, and he has shown he is one of the best. I fully expect him to be England captain one day. If I had to nominate someone as a worst player, and Iím known for not slating players, I would have to say Robert Huth; I see no long-term place for him at Chelsea Football Club.

TOBY : Lampard is, without question, the heartbeat of our team. JT drives us on, but Lampard makes us tick.  Worst player?  Weíve not really got any BAD ones, Glen Johnson has fallen a bit behind and seems a liability nowadays so Iíd say him.

3. Who is your all time favourite player and why?

PAUL: Pat Nevin. A shining light in a team of shockers. He did though take the worst penalty I have ever seen in my life. It was against Man City, mid eighties, and it barely reached the keeper..

GRAHAME : My first match was in the late sixties, but my favourite squad apart from todayís team is that from the seventies, so itís Peter Osgood, for the player he was back then and giving me my most enduring memory of a Chelsea goal, that which he scored from a diving header in the 1970 FA Cup final. Honourable mentions go to Franco Zola, obviously, Pat Nevin for the excitement of watching him and for William Gallas for being the complete defender.

TOBY :  Gianfranco Zola - a true gent and a top top bloke.  Not a bad footballer either!

4. Do you have a favourite song or chant and perhaps any that require an explanation?

PAUL: There used to be a song sung to the tune of 'Yellow Submarine' about Robert Fleck. Never made much sense. Bit like Fleck really...

GRAHAME : Not really. We donít have an amazing repertoire of songs in these politically correct daysÖ One Man Went to Mow is a favourite of mine because is used to get the crowd really involved.

TOBY : ďCelery, celery, if she donít cum Iíll tickle her bum with a stick of celery!Ē - not quite sure how it came about though.

5. What's the atmosphere like at The Bridge these days?

PAUL: Not great. I sit in Block 8 Matthew Harding Lower which can get a bit lively but other than that it's not much to write home about. Too many coach loads of 'regional supporters groups' from Oslo and Osaka..

GRAHAME :  Variable, at best; I sit in Shed Upper and itís usually okay, but I remember the good days rather than bitch about the bad days. Arsenal Champions League QF was truly electric.

TOBY : Better than reported in the press, great sometimes, awfully at others.  I think football on the whole has issues at the moment and they need addressing before fans start walking away.

6. I saw a thread recently on cfc net that asked ďwhere were we when we were shit?Ē  a good point well made I think! But have you any personal memories of the bad olí days that you can tell us about?

PAUL: Drove up to Scarborough away on my own for a midweek Milk Cup game in the early eighties. We were 2-0 up and managed to claw defeat from the grasps of victory 3-2. Remember driving home saying that's my lot, but football fans have short memories when it comes down to their team...

GRAHAME : Yeah, like everyone of a certain age, I guess. I remember what stopped me going for a few years. Getting trampled by a mounted policeman puts a different perspective on spending a day at football I reckon. That said, there was camaraderie among Chelsea fans back then that has, apart from a few notable cases, long since passed.

TOBY : Boxing day game, Iíd traveled miles to see Chelsea v Wimbledon in a then-temporary stand.  We were winning 1-0 in a god awful game when Frank Sinclair made a horror of a passback and the Dons leveled.  That was the thing with Frank Sinclair, when he got the ball you expected him to screw up and he rarely disappointed!

7. And now to classic kits!

Chelsea Kit Gallery

Can you nominate the worst kit from that gallery? Do you have any of these at home?

PAUL: 94-96 away. Looks like someone's thrown up on it. And nopeÖ

GRAHAME : Too easy: the so-called graphite and tangerine away kit from í94-96. The orange crest! What were they thinking? I donít have any of the crap ones, but I have about half a dozen strip shirts at the moment. 

TOBY : This one as to be the worst and I had it!  Got WISE and the number 11 on the back - think my sister has it now. Everyone slated that kit but I actually quite liked it.

8. It has been said that there is a two tier market for players in world Football now -  the Chelsea price and what other clubs will pay. Which of your current squad do you feel was overpriced  when you bought him?

PAUL:  I wouldn't say that Cech was overpriced but maybe unnecessary.It galls me to see Cudicini wasting the best years of his career sitting on the bench. People say that Cech is the best keeper in the world but I can't separate them..

GRAHAME :  I donít buy into that one at all. The price of a player is all about market forces, and as soon as Chelseaís name is mentioned as a possible buyer, it becomes a free for all. Iím pretty staggered at what weíve paid for a couple of players, but I prefer to wait and see how they develop.

TOBY :   None of them.  Theyíre all class at twice the price!

9. Who would you most like to see joining your squad?

PAUL:  Rooney. I know he's ugly and illiterate but he's the best English player for many a year..

GRAHAME :  No-one that is in the news every day; Iíd prefer us to carry on searching for younger players and keep the average age of the squad down to be honest.

TOBY : Adriano would be a dream signing but other than that, I wouldnít change a single player at our club.

10. What chance do you think a good youngster in your development squad has have at Chelsea to break through to the squad?  Any young, up and coming players who have impressed that we may not know about?

PAUL: Itís a frightening reality of football at The Bridge but the chances of anyone coming up through the ranks now is virtually nil. If I looked at the team sheet for a recent reserve match I would be lucky if I recognised  3/4 players. This is probably the most destructive reality of having an open cheque book policy.

GRAHAME :  If youíd have asked me this a year or so back, Iíd have said none whatsoever, but recent developments lead me to believe weíre finally going about this the right way. Iíve watched our reserves a few times and Iím not impressed really, but the academy looks to be shaping up nicely now, unsurprisingly, weíve thrown money at it. Scott Sinclair, signed from Bristol Rovers and recently called up to the England U17 squad looks like a great prospect.

TOBY : Scott Sinclair is one to keep an eye on, heís been doing well in the reserves and youth team - fingers crossed he keeps up the progression heís already shown.

11. Crespo (I still have bad dreams about him!) - What do you make of him of him as a player and do you think you will keep him beyond this season?

PAUL:  Technically he's great, and leagues ahead of Drogba in that sense, but I know who I would rather have in my team. Wouldn't bother me if he left at the end of the season.

GRAHAME :  Iím a big fan, I love his movement and if he wasnít here my answer to one of your earlier questions would have been Michael Owen. Iíd be surprised to see Crespo at Chelsea beyond the summer, but considering his age he is incredibly fit although prone to injuries.

TOBY : Class.  Utter class.  Heís had nine shots on goal this season and scored four.  That alone speaks volumes.  Heís signed an extension to his deal so yes, I expect to see him around next season.

12. Ticket prices, the gap between the players and the fans  and the destruction of the working class game of football - is there any way back - your views?

PAUL: There's a definite distinction from your average football fan from, say the mid eighties, to now. Some would probably say that's a good thing.
Ticket prices though are just a joke. For our CL games against Anderlecht and Betis I had to pay £47.50 to sit on the seat that I have already paid £670.00 for the season. That's why there were 10,000 empty seats at both games. They could have filled it with kids like they did for Charlton in the Carling Cup. Doesn't make sense to me....

GRAHAME :  This is the subject of much discussion at CFCnet; I donít have the answers because I donít believe Chelsea is the only club afflicted by the problems. Iíd like to see much cheaper tickets for youngsters, and the age for juvenile tickets lifted to 18, then weíd be more likely to get the attention of that generation.

TOBY :  My views are too numerous to mention here and now, it needs to change though.  Ticketing, prices, seating/standing - football is over-regulated.  Just like everything else in this country under this government.

13. Your feelings on the new 'Spanish flavour' Liverpool, Senor 'Rafa' Benitez and our new Latin recruits?

PAUL: Interesting watching you lot now. You either look like world beaters or a  particularly bad pub team. Up front Morientes runs hot and cold and Crouch will probably end up like our own Robert Fleck who scored more goals against us than for us.

GRAHAME :  Iíve got loads of time for Rafa, actually, and as I type this it seems his patience in Peter Crouch has been rewarded with two goals in the first half against Wigan. Iím a little surprised at the number of Spanish players heís brought in but if he can make it work, who cares? Fans want to see results, and I think heíll get them for you.

TOBY : Iíve said for about a year now, United and Arsenal are in decline and Liverpool will emerge as our strongest rivals.  Thereís a changing of the guard at the top table and as much as those on our site will hate me saying it, I think youíll be there with us.  Eventually. ;-)

14. We can hardly fail to mention him: Mourinho - he stirs different emotions in opposition  fans, but what are you feelings on the man?

PAUL: Mixed really. He's a winner, make no mistake, but he needs to be more gracious when things don't go well. Cancelling press conferences when someone upsets him ainít the thing to do...

GRAHAME :  Iím a huge fan; Josť has been an enormous breath of fresh air for Chelsea Football Club and for the Premiership as a whole. I love the way he deflects attention from the players onto himself and his tactical abilities are well documented, literally. Many people accuse him of arrogance, but letís be honest if anyone has a reason to be arrogant, he does.

TOBY : Best manager in the world bar none.  What he did with Porto and previous to that, how he turned Claudioís also rans around in one season.  The man is a complete professional whoís dedication to detail is immense.  I hope he stays forever.

15. And finally - go on, predict a scoreline?

PAUL:  1-0  Lampard (Pen)

GRAHAME :  Thereís nothing on this game apart from pride, is there? Itís also the run-in to a very busy Christmas period so I donít think either team will want to go all out for a win, though Iíd be happy to be proved wrong. Iím going for a bore-draw: 1-1.

TOBY : 2-0 or 3-1 to Chelsea.

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

© Tetti 2005

View Comments | Post Comment