All the talk was about John Terry scoring away from home last week against Burnley, but little did we know, he was scoring away at Wayne Bridge’s home all this while…
But in all seriousness, it was the stuff of champions – the cheating captain rising high to stick it in (the back of the net) when his team seemed almost destined to drop two more precious points. You can always count on Terry to *ahem* play at both ends of the field.
It sealed three wins out of three for Chelsea without their African stars, who could now return to the starting line-up against Hull City and more importantly, Arsenal at home next weekend.
If you think about it though, there never was any real pressure on the Blues even without the considerable talents of Drogba, Essien, Mikel and Kalou.
The fact is, their easiest run of fixtures in the whole season happened to be during the African Nations’ Cup, games which Carlo Ancelotti would have used to rotate his massive squad anyway. They had Burnley away, Birmingham and Sunderland at home, and everyone back in time for Arsenal at home. How convenient.
Still, there are no easy games in the Premier League (apart from Liverpool when Lucas is on the teamsheet, or Porstmouth when their players are half-dead from dehydration – their manager certainly looks like it – since the club can no longer afford Gatorade), and though I expected Chelsea to stroll through January, I totally did not expect them to do it so emphatically and with such character as shown against Burnley.
But I’m still gonna stick with my prediction that Chelsea have an uphill battle now despite being one-point clear at the top of the table with a game in hand. Here’s why.
They host Arsenal this weekend, who will be determined to avenge their crushing defeat by Chelsea at the Emirates earlier in the season, as well as their 3-1 humiliation by Manchester United and, of all people, Nani, last week.
Even if they whip Arsenal, which is completely possible after the Gunners were torn apart by United last week, Chelsea will still have massive games away to Everton, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool, not to mention a tricky home game against their conquerors Manchester City.
If you compare it with United’s remaining “big” matches – home games against Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea, plus a trip to Manchester City whom they’ve already beaten twice this season – Chelsea look to have the tougher run-in.
Plus, United are only just clicking into gear, especially their two 80s Michael Jackson lookalikes – Antonio Valencia and Nani. Valencia had a poor start to the season but he’s been justifying his 16 million pound price tag in the last couple of months, while Nani’s thrilling performances has had Soccernet’s Fifth Official wondering how Sir Alex managed to clone a non-flopping version of the Portuguese winger.
And then there’s Wayne Rooney. I’d like to believe that he read my article criticising his inconsistency and lack of “magic” to win games, so he’s trying to prove me wrong now. Who knows.
More importantly though, is the return of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, who less than a year ago were being acclaimed as the best defensive partnership in the world. They’ve started only like four matches together this year, and their lack of action should mean they would be fresher than Chelsea’s important yet overworked group of African players during the difficult last few months of the season.
Let’s not forget that while United have to deal with short-term injuries and suspensions, Chelsea still have to deal with captain/Mr. Chelsea/Mr. I-can-intimidate-referees-because-I’m-England-captain John Terry’s infidelity.
Trust me, we haven’t heard the last of Captain Courageous’ cheating. The UK tabloids will already have their shovels out waiting to scoop up all the dirt they can find, and it could get ugly.
Poor Wayne Bridge used to play for Chelsea, so he’d still have some buddies there who might find it hard to have the same level of respect for Terry now. Except Ashley Cole, maybe. He’s probably telling Terry: “It’s ok, mate. Cheryl forgave me, and your wife ain’t half as popular as she is! She’ll take you back, no questions asked!”
The funny thing is, this whole cheating business could eventually decide the outcome of what has been the closest, most topsy-turvy Premier League title race ever. For all the talk about the title being in the hands of Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas or a Chelsea’s band of returning African players, Wayne Bridge’s love life could be what tips the scales this season.
I hope I don’t jinx it, but considering all that, I really think United have a great chance of making it four titles on the trot now.
* SCORE UPDATE *
HULL CITY 1 – 1 CHELSEA
See what I told you guys? Chelsea are gonna have to slog for the rest of the season with tired old legs while United’s young attackers – Rooney, Nani and Valencia – are only just getting started.
If Arsenal win against Chelsea this weekend, they’ll be just TWO points away from the top and right back in the title race!
And if Manchester City win their two games in hand (which they should – they play Hull away and Bolton at home), they’d be eight points behind Chelsea. If Chelsea lose to Arsenal, and City win at Stoke, the deficit would be cut to five points with 13 games left – game on.
What a season!
Tell us what you think!