12 March 2015

Let's all laugh at Chelsea, or, The Mourinho Conspiracy.

Fair warning: this post is all about spite and schadenfreude and sarcasm. If ye be of the easily offended variety, I suggest you jog on before you get your knickers in a twist. Are they gone? Good. Let's get on with it shall we? Lemme lay out the scene: Chelsea, having bravely gone into the Parc des Princes and somehow maneuvered that luxury bus into position long enough to earn a 1-1 draw, sidled into Stamford Bridge cozy in the knoweldge that they had that all-important away goal, scored with the one on-frame shot (of two total). Mourinho's Machiavellian method had worked in the first leg, and the second leg would surely be one in which he could count on a similar approach: defend like you're desperately out of your league, play for a scoreless draw, and hope for a timely goal. All the pieces were in place. Progress assured., right?

The plan even got an untimely boost, precisely the kind of boost that Mourinho's always loath to point out because we know how much he hates to complain about bad refereeing. Nonetheless, as further proof that his claims of a conspiracy against his club are as true as the day is long, PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimović was finally sent off after a series of rash, studs-up, two-footed tackles going in strong for a 50-50 ball against Oscar. No fewer than nine Chelsea players swarmed referee Björn Kuipers, who showed Ibra a straight red. In the 31st minute. For a tackle in which it appears that it's Oscar's cleat that strikes Ibra's shin, but after which Oscar flops about like an electrified fish out of water, holding his shin. For those of you who doubted Mourinho's complaints about biased refereeing, I rest my case.

Back to the match itself. From there, it looked to be a walk in the park for Chelsea, facing ten-man PSG, shorn of their talismanic striker when they would need to score at least one goal while holding off Mourinho's little pony. However, it was very nearly PSG who went ahead but for Cavani's sharply-angled strike off the woodwork. Surely, Cahill's goal in the 80th minute would kill it off, allowing Chelsea to advance on aggregate. Pick up the prayer-books, as the saying goes, this one's over. The fat lady's warming up.

Hold the phone. Minutes later, David "Don't Call Me Sideshow Bob" Luiz scored a stunning header to equalise, and it was game on all over again. The former Chelsea man, who according to rumours left Chelsea in part because of a tetchy relationship with Mourinho (who'd've thunk it?), got a bit of payback against his former club while showing that PSG can out-Chelsea Chelsea when it comes to splurging on transfer-fees—Luiz is 1/4 of the most-expensive back four in the history of football—well, in terms of how many players there are, of course. For transfer-fees, he accounts for almost 1/2 of the most-expensive back four in the history of football: Marquinhos, £22m; Luiz, £50m; Silva, £30m; Maxwell, er, um, £2.5m.

I digress.

It went to extra time, and one of the jammiest clubs in town (literally) benefitted from a moment of madness from Silva, who went in for a header with his right arm raised, and promptly earned Chelsea a spot-kick. Hazard slotted home in cheeky fashion, and Chelsea were through to the quarterfinal, were they not? No, they were not. Silva, more than atoning for his aforementioned madness, scored with a beautifully headed goal from a corner, and it would be PSG who advance to the quarterfinal on aggregate, courtesy of these two away-goals. Did I mention that Silva beat Terry to the ball? I feel like I'm living in some kind of glorious dream.

What a week it's been: Welbeck scores at Old Trafford to beat Man U in the FA Cup. Two days later, Chelsea are dumped from the Champions League when they fail to defend a lead—twice—at Stamford Bridge. Good things happen in threes, they say. The way things are going, I should go and place a rather large bet on something.

Now, I know what some Chelsea fans would say should they stumble across this piece: "when's the last time Arsenal won anything? You lost 1-3 to AS Monaco. Wenger's a specialist in failure." And so on. They have a point, to an extent. Um, we did win the FA Cup 10 months ago, but fair play is deserved: congratulations on winning the League Cup. I mean it, honest Injun. Yes, we lost to AS Monaco, and this might be merely a matter of scheduling, but as it stands, we're still alive in the Champions League. Yes, it's a bit touch-and-go, but I'll take that over the dreadful finality of knowing that you're out on your arses, as you at Chelsea are. As far as how this might impact the Prem, I could care less. Yes, Chelsea now have two, four, or six fewer matches to play and can now well and truly focus on winning the Prem. However, when you have the best players that money can rent, shouldn't you be able to guarantee such a success as the minimum standard for success, rather than the potential byproduct of failure elsewhere?

Yes, I know I should mind my manners, what with a visit from Chelsea looming at the end of April. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. I'd abandoned all hope of winning the Prem a while back. Let me know when you've spent enough to go undefeated for a full season.

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