With two away games played in the past week and some crucial matches on the horizon, former Chelsea star Pat Nevin has plenty consider in this week’s column…
Sunday left a sour taste in the mouth as we had to swallow the disappointment of dropping two points with the final touch of the ball. To drop them in the 97th minute was hard to take, but maybe it is worth remembering Liverpool played well in spells and certainly on another day could have scored enough to win the game.
Painful though it was it might turn out to be a decent point come the end of the season. Away games to Fulham and Liverpool are far from easy and maybe four points out of six is not as bad as it felt on Sunday night. As long as we can beat Swansea at home on Sunday we are still in the driving seat even if the contest with Arsenal and Spurs is worryingly close.
Of course other events hogged the headlines, but this time I intend to leave the entire Suarez situation to the authorities. The club hasn’t attempted to make capital, so neither will I on this page. This week under difficult circumstances I think it has been rather overlooked in parts of the press that Branislav Ivanovic did not whinge on about the incident and certainly doesn’t want to press any charges.
Rewind back a week further and consider David Luiz’s reaction after the two-footed tackle on his back by Sergio Aguero at Wembley. Afterwards David refused to make a fuss, there was something honourable about that stance.
Let others in authority make the decision instead of trying to make things worse for someone, even if he has made a bad and potentially dangerous error of judgement. I know I was the target of some pretty rough treatment in my career, but I never really thought it was my place to mix it. It appears a bit old fashioned when the culture is to demand retribution on a personal level, usually via social media at the injustice of it all. I just wish those who are particularly quick to be morally outraged when they feel a Chelsea player has stepped out of line, would be as quick and fulsome in their praise when obviously honourable behaviour is displayed.
It was probably hoping for a bit much for John Terry to be praised, or even get noticed for trying to give one of the goals he scored at Fulham to his team mate Fernando Torres. A selfless act to help a team mate to reach a total that he is desperate to reach is not exactly common in the game and I thought worthy of far more attention than anyone I heard giving it.
This coming Thursday still has great significance to the club as the team travels to Basel to keep the hope of at least one piece of silverware alive this season. This will not be easy, then again few of the Europa League games have been straightforward this term.
One of the oldest clichés in European football is that if you play the away leg first, all you want is to still be in the tie at the end of the evening. I have no idea what team Rafa will start with, but I hope it is a sturdy group, maybe to the point of being overtly defensive. It is not often I wish for a dull game but a boring draw would suit me just fine on this occasion leaving the fireworks for a week later. Basel tend not to lose at home, so it may well have to be about containment. We will see what happens, but the main thing is to come back as fresh as possible with hopefully no injuries and a freshness in the legs for the Swansea game.
So with the good and forgiving nature of the players openly on show, if not necessarily always being noticed, here is another suggestion. Mark Clattenburg is refereeing the Blues for the first time since the situation earlier in the season. Now I am not suggesting we applaud his every decision, but if he could just be treated like any other referee coming down for any other game it would give those desperate to have a go at the club absolutely nowhere to go. Boy am I on goody two shoes mode this week or what?
The games are coming thick and fast but even so it is almost impossible now for us supporting the team not to sneak a little glance a little further ahead to the visit of Spurs on 8 May. It will almost certainly have some significant bearing on the final league positions and who plays in which European tournaments next season. The players and the club itself however can’t afford to do that of course, one game at a time etc etc.
Personally I get the feeling that our vastly better goal difference over Spurs may end up being important, but who knows, it is impossible to predict and that is why it is as exciting an end to the season most clubs could hope for. For us well I reckon it is just another season when compared to the last few, Chelsea don’t do boring even if we wouldn’t mind it now and again.
Last week I asked which player has played the most combined games for Fulham and Chelsea since the war. Actually it was pretty difficult this one, made obvious by the variety of answers that came in. Some thought Damien Duff (over 200), Ray Lewington (over 250), John Dempsey (over 300) or even Gordon Davies (over 400). In actual fact it was the great Roy Bentley who had over 500 combined appearances for both clubs. Only one winner and of the surprisingly very few who got it right this week it is Carolyn Cheyney from Suffolk.
So this week to have a chance of winning a Champions League review DVD signed by one of the players, could you tell me which Chelsea player was born in the town/city of Diadema? Answers to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The lucky winner as ever will be chosen at random by a fully paid-up member of the David Luiz fan club. Which reminds me, what a goal down at Craven Cottage by the man. Now if that is not in the top three for goal of the season on the TV stations, I really will think there is an agenda towards the club and my forgiveness will be tested.