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A Satisfying Semi Triumph
Securing their third win in eight days (albeit two of them against struggling Southampton), Chelsea just might finish the season with a flourish and even lift more silverware. Antonio Conte and man of the match Eden Hazard certainly seem desperately keen to atone for the final flop last year and potentially end their Chelsea careers on a high. They will have the small matter of a date with sourpuss's Manchester Yawnited in four weeks' time, in what will be the third Wembley final between the two clubs. The recent death of Ray 'Butch' Wilkins will render the occasion all the more poignant, as the midfield maestro played with distinction for both clubs.
Chelsea did just enough to see off the surprisingly feeble challenge from Burnley in this Thursday night non-event, thereby consolidating our likely fifth position finish whilst also finally defeating a team that we have had considerable problems with in the recent past. One could almost have described Burnley as our bogey team, but the way we have been playing since January, everyone has become our bogey team.
Giroud Inspires Late Revival
It looked like another ritual defeat for struggling Chelsea, another bad day at the office for an impotent outfit. Then lo and behold, Monsieur Giroud reminded us why we bothered to buy him in the first place, cementing his reputation as a marvellous impact substitute. The Frenchman has now earned the right to get a starting place in the cup semi final next Sunday against the same opposition. Of course the challenge for Olivier is to play well (score more goals) as a starter. He may have a Tore Andre Flo/David Fairclough knack of scoring goals as a substitute, but can he do likewise as a regular starter?
Awful Finishing Is Simply Unacceptable
What is to be said that has not already been said in the last few months? The champions (they still are!) are impotent and toothless in front of goal. It would be no exaggeration to state that one-goal Chelsea are the worst team in their league at converting chances. Moreover the form since the turn of the year has been little more than that of relegation strugglers. I'm beginning to absolutely loathe this team and its supporters. The latter applaud when yet another effort goes narrowly wide, when there should be howls of derision and zero tolerance of forlorn attacks which lead to attempts that end up in the crowd and not in the net. One-goal Chelsea should never have let goal poacher Batshuayi go on loan and buy ineffective Giroud. I despair of Chelsea football team. I can only hope (or dream) that these overpaid, goal shy Muppets are saving their goals for the FA Cup semi final and final. In the meantime I am hoping that this dreadful team lose next Saturday at Southampton, as it might imperil the Premier League survival of Crystal Palace or toxic West Ham United.
Horrible, Inevitable Result
Well it did have to happen eventually! Oh well. Look out Europa League. Here comes Chelsea. The outgoing champions of England are I'm afraid going into decline. Having climbed to second in the league table before Christmas, Chelsea have been almost in free fall since the turn of the year, both struggling to score and struggling equally to keep clean sheets. With this double whammy, any team is going to be in difficulty - and so it has proved. It's true that the Blues could finish a car crash season with FA Cup glory, but many average teams have won the FA Cup, so any such success would not be an indicator of progress.
Chelsea achieved another cup triumph at Leicester City and in so doing progressed yet again to the FA Cup semi finals where they will take on Southampton for a place in the final. It was the forgotten men of Morata and cup specialist Pedro who scored the all-important goals. The latter headed home from a cross from the excellent Kante to record a depressingly rare goal from a Chelsea substitute. Earlier Alvaro Morata ran on to an exquisite through ball from Willian and delightfully stroked the ball beyond Schmeichel in an effort reminiscent of his less accurate attempt at Arsenic back in early January.
Chelsea actually played quite well, but they were given a dose of their own medicine. All too often in recent years, we have soaked up pressure and mugged opponents like Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenil with a few goals even though they dominated possession. This time around it was the Spanish league leaders who absorbed some considerable pressing from Chelsea, defended stoutly, keeping a clean sheet, and proving to be lethal when they ventured forward. It would be easy to blame Courtois for two or three of the goals, but he isn't the first goalkeeper to watch the ball slip through his outstretched legs. On another day maybe Tibo ought to have saved all three goals, but this doesn't disguise from the fact that the outgoing champions of England failed once more to score, when they clearly had to.
An Unimpressive Victory
The hosts took maximum points and avenged two defeats by Crystal Palace from the last twelve months, but this was a mediocre win against a mediocre team. The home team should have been out of sight by half time, but their recent goal shy shortcomings were in evidence once again. Giroud has become the latest culprit of missing gifted chances from close range. Such has been the car crash nature of this disintegrating season that our players will insist on hitting the woodwork. Whilst the supporters will applaud near misses, the grim truth is that you don't obtain any points from near misses or hitting the posts.
A Predictable Result
As expected, champions-elect Manchester City gave outgoing champions Chelsea the runaround, as the latter were treated to a footballing lesson. It's doubtful whether the slow learners of Chelsea Football Club will learn much from this ritual defeat. They certainly need to find a way of playing against teams that press our defenders. Reciprocating by pressing opposing defenders would be a start. Unfortunately Chelsea are firmly en route for next season's Europa League courtesy of a nonsense ploy of persisting with Hazard, Pedro, and Willian as the front three. Regrettably playing Hazard as a centre forward is as sensible as playing Charlie Cooke or Pat Nevin as the centre forward.
A Pitiful Setback
One-goal Chelsea came unstuck in Salford when they again failed to score many goals in a major match and consequently failed again to beat a major rival. Since these two teams last met, Chelsea have failed thrice to beat Arsenal, failed to defeat Liverfools, and failed to overcome Barcelona in a home match, scoring five goals in those five matches, averaging at a pitiable one goal per match. It is now looking increasingly unlikely that a goal-shy Chelsea will make the cut for next season's Champions League. Quite frankly, the competition would probably be better off without them.