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Chelsea Preview

Filed: Friday, 18th December 2009
By: Preview Percy

Previw Percy is still struggling with a nasty chest infection. We, however, still don't care. So we forced him to take a look at Sunday's match against Chelsea in between swigs of Veno's......

Next up we have, weather permitting, a Sunday 4pm kick-off against Chelsea.

The visitors are, of course currently top of the league having assured themselves of not being relegated by reaching the 40 point mark with what was, by all accounts, an unconvincing 2-1 home victory over Portsmouth. A few weeks ago the newspapers had virtually awarded the Premiership title to the Pensioners following their “men against boys” defeat of Arsenal. Since then their form has been a bit mixed. They went out of the League Cup on penalties following a 3-3 draw at Blackburn. That was followed by a 2-1 defeat at Man City, a 2-2 home draw at home to Cypriots Apoel Nicosia in a so-called Champions League tie and a bizarre 3-3 home draw with Everton. This led to the papers reverting to their original stance that the title was, after all, too close to call, and that the African Cup of Nations (why do I always want to type “soup” for that?) might have a detrimental effect on their bid for the title.

In goal is likely to be the skullcap-headed Petr Cech. Cech is someone else for whom the papers’ position seems to be a bit flexible. Not so long ago it seemed that it was a criminal offence to mention his name without shoehorning the words “best keeper in the world” somewhere into the sentence. However he has seemed less than infallible for quite some time now and a series of less than confident displays led to recent press speculation that Abrahamovic might get the “cech-book” (see what I did there?) out to purchase our own custodian Robert Green. Of whom more later.

In front of Cech will be shoplifter and drug dealer’s son, John Terry. Given his pedigree, it comes as little surprise that he’s been hawking his England captaincy around via a marketing company. Apparently he’s available for anyone who wants a “leader” to “promote their brand” – at, of course a price. Well those parents don’t bail themselves out of custody I suppose. Meanwhile, those of us who remember when the England captaincy was an honour rather than something from which to make a few extra bob merely shake our heads more in sorrow than anger.

Terry is, if one is willing to stretch a point somewhat, an ex-Hammer, having been with the club as a schoolboy before moving to Chelsea. Even at that level deep pockets count. There will, of course, be two players in the opposition squad with more tangible links to the Boleyn Ground. However, the respective receptions that will be given to Joe Cole and Frank Lampard Jr couldn’t be more different. Cole, who has always spoken warmly of his time at the club, will probably be afforded a decent round of applause whilst Lampard, who hasn’t, won’t.

Ghanaian Michael Essien will be missing this weekend, having picked up a hamstring injury that will keep him out until the January. Just in time for the African Cup Of Soup, I mean Nations. A potential “club v country” row in the making that one.

Up front Didier “The Diver” Drogba is generally considered by the papers to be a vital part of their quest for the Premiership. Or at least that’s the case since they decided that the title has, once more, become too close to call. Drogba is listed as “doubtful” for the fixture at time of writing, having missed the Pompey win with a back injury. He will, of course, have the extra day to recover though and this may be enough. Of course the Stamford Bridge medical staff is in uncharted territory here - they’re more used to him recovering from the most painful of knocks in a microsecond once play has stopped.

No less a threat up front will be Nicolas Anelka. Having spent much of his career doing a decent impersonation of a spoilt brat, he seems to have found his spiritual home at Stamford Bridge. Your correspondent recalls a time a few years back when the French striker was considering a move to Newcastle. Somebody well-connected with the Newcastle set-up in those (pre-Ashley) days told me of the non-wage demands made by Anelka – and various family members – in return for deigning to sign for the Geordies. Without going into detail, the list was astounding – a bit like Van Halen demanding bowls of M&Ms with all the brown ones taken out.

So what about us? Well the two (printable) words that leap to mind about Tuesday’s defeat up at Bolton are “oh dear”. However, I do think that some of the reaction to the defeat was just a little OTT in some quarters. Having played poorly for much of the match, we had found ourselves back in contention through Diamanti’s fine goal and, for a while, looked the more likely of the two sides to take the points. Unfortunately Rob Green chose that moment to have a brainstorm, the likes of which he seems to reserve exclusively for matches against Bolton. Green isn’t having the happiest of seasons at present, though, frankly, the way the midfield and defence are protecting him at the moment would make a nervous wreck of even the most confident of shot stoppers. The problem is that, throughout the team, when individual errors cost us a goal, the heads go down big time.

Of course when you’re down at the bottom things have a habit of going against you and Dyer’s injury falls into that category. Having shown some promising glimpses up at Birmingham of what we’ve been missing, there seemed to be a sad inevitability to his early departure from the Reebok. Dyer adds to an ever-increasing injury list that will include Cole, Behrami, Jiminez, Hines and, in all probability, Upson. On the bright side, if there is one, Noble will be available for selection following his suspension at the hands of the disgraceful Lee Mason. However, getting any sort of proper balance to a side geared up to the inclusion of particular players (for example Cole) seems to be an impossible task if those players are absent. We seem to be playing “Plan A” all the time with players not suited to the system. This might not have proved to be the problem it evidently is had we actually had a “Plan B” somewhere in the armoury. However, if we do have such a plan we’re keeping it well hidden at the moment.

As mentioned, Chelsea’s performance against Portsmouth wasn’t the greatest and, had we been approaching anything even vaguely resembling half-decent form, there might be some cause for optimism. However, such is the obvious lack of confidence within the side at the moment it would be a brave, or foolhardy, person who would risk the money for the kids’ Christmas presents on us getting anything out of this one. My prediction is therefore for a 3-0 defeat to send us into Christmas muttering “bah humbug”.

Enjoy the game – and have a good Christmas!

Last season: lost 0-1 – A Rob Green error hands Kalou the winner in a poor game.

Danger man: The fat one - usually comes back to haunt us. Drogba, if fit, will also need a decent ref to keep an eye on the diving. Unfortunately......

Referee: Mike Dean – The living embodiment of everything that is wrong with refereeing in the English game. We’ve managed to avoid this idiot so far this season. Last seen making a right pig’s ear of the 1-0 home win over Man City last season.

West Ham have to be a better side than they have proved so far his season … surely.

From a sports betting point of view the stats don’t tell a pretty story for West Ham fans this weekend. Chelsea have won eight of the last nine fixtures between these two and as such the 4/11 on extrabet about them winning the game seems interesting. However West Ham are a massive 7/1 to win on their own patch against a team who are not playing the quality of football that they were a month ago and are looking shaky on set pieces.

The general form in these games is for full-out attack from both teams and as such the Time of the 1st Match Goal on the sport spread betting market at extrabet is of interest at 36-39 minutes.

“Another hard game to call for punters but in a fixture with a history of goals in a season which is raining down big score lines, you couldn’t expect it to be 0-0,” says extrabet's Chris Shillington.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Tell it how it is Charley
04:21PM 18th Dec 2009
''If 'It'll Be Alright On The Night' was still running on TV I dare say they could use some of West Ham's defending this season as out takes, it really is that comical. I only saw pictures of the Bolton game but if you take the third goal it appeared Tomkins and Faubert were marking each other and forgot about marking the opposition allowing him to have a free goal scoring header.''

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