30 January 2014

Chelsea's vaunted catenaccio claims another point!

Some call it boring football.

Still others deride it as "parking the bus."

However, after yet another gritty, defensive display, even the critics will have to concede a point—and that's more than what Chelsea's defense will be conceding any time soon. Zing! Now, where were we? Ah, yes, Chelsea's critics. They wring their hands and knit their brows, worrying that this stout, impregnable fortress that is Chelsea's backline, is bad for football. Football already suffers from a dearth of goals, they say. We need goals galore, they whinge.

While I, for one, say, enough of such whimpering. After the tenacious, bend-but-not-break display that Chelsea put on against their previously indomitable foes on Wednesday, refusing to concede despite a facing relentless, voracious onslaught from the Hammers—why, it was like the Battle of Helm's Deep, what with Sam Allardyce as the debased, power-mad Saruman goading his Uruk-Haimmers onto war, proclaiming, "A new power is rising; its victory is at hand. This night the land will be stained with the blood of Rohan Blues. March to Helm's deep Stamford Bridge. Leave none alive. To war! There will be no dawn for man Mou." Yes, as wave upon wave of blood-crazed Hammers poured forward, they crashed vainly against the resolute wall of outmanned, outspent (?), and overmatched Chelsea, who repelled each attack with vigor, courage, and pride, until the dispirited rabble, gormless and clapper-clawed, sulked back to their lair.

Triumphantly then did the proud Blues, battered but unbowed, defend their realm, proudly denying their ill-bred nemeses any more than a point. It was a stirring display, one that will be handed down through the ages as a tremendous moral and strategic victory. Soon will the names Mourinho and Terry and Ramires tickle the tongues of the land's greatest bards, and, when lo the years have passed will we feel a tremor in our hearts at the sounding of those names.

Yes, verily, the Blues may have been outgunned by their more illustrious counterparts. They may even have been outnumbered. In the fog of war, such details elude the grasp. More important than such trivial details, though, beyond what can be fathomed or measured through mere numbers, is the heart of a side that refused to go down to ignoble victory. Nay, says Mourinho, for, in his own words, "[i]t's very difficult to play a football match when only one team wants to play. A football match is about two teams playing". Truer words were never spoken. Call it boring, if you will, when one team decides to resist overwhelming odds in order to defend its castle. Call it that if you will, for you would be sore mistaken. This was a stirring display of defensive integrity—nothing more, nothing less.

"The Stalemate at Stamford," they'll anoint it, and such a name it is. Its hallowed memories shall be venerated along with other battles of old—Tilbury, 1588. The Somme, 1916. Waterloo, 1815. Salamanca, 1812. And now, Stamford, 2014.

Oh—wait. Did I say "West Ham"?