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Chelsea v West Ham United

Filed: Saturday, 16th March 2013
By: Preview Percy

Next up we visit Stamford Bridge where our hosts will be Chelsea.

Kick-off is 4.00pm, though the Sunday time and date is a result of the hosts’ involvement in the “Really Important Until We Get Knocked Out Of It” Europa League rather than for any televisual reasons. Travel-wise, our end of the District line has replacement buses and the C2C trains are also being diverted to Liverpool Street. Check before you leave.

Our hosts currently lie in 4th spot with 52 points from 28 games. That’s two points behind Gareth Bale who sits in third spot, though the Pensioners do have a game in hand. Of their last six they’ve won three, drawn once and lost twice. The three wins were all at home against Arsenal (2-1), Wigan (4-1) and West Brom (1-0). The draw was a 2-2 share of the spoils away at Reading whilst the defeats came at Newcastle (3-2) and 2-0 at Manchester City.

Chelsea are of course a major source of laughter amongst the rest of the league. The source of such amusement can usually be traced back to the club’s owner, Roman Abrahamovic, the multi squillionaire whose funds all came from sources that are, no doubt, entirely legitimate and in no way shape or form dodgy. Having had a manager won (or more accurately, “purchased”) the so-called “Champions” League for him last term, he gave Di Matteo a full three months before handing him his P45. That was funny enough but what happened next was even dafter. In came Rafa Benitez, a man who could spot a conspiracy theory in a bowl of porridge. Benitez was given the not exactly confidence-inspiring title of “Interim Manager”. The fans took to Benitez in much the same manner as a rational and sane person might take to Piers Morgan: that is not at all. To be fair Benitez has never been one to help himself – some of his public pronouncements have you looking to see if there are men in white coats hanging around in the background waiting with his medication.

It must have been a weird transfer window over there. After all, the manager could hardly boast to potential new recruits of his plans for the next few years. Not that any manager working for Abrahamovic can ever really plan long-term but the “interim Manager” title is a bit of a giveaway.

They still managed to get one player in in the form of ex-Hammer Dember Ba, whose agents must now have enough money from their cut of signing-on fees to buy a reasonably sizeable island somewhere. Their income from loyalty bonuses is probably a bit less I’d guess. Ba has had a nice midweek rest having been ineligible for Chelsea in midweek having already played for the Geordies in the Europa Cup this season.

They’ve been missing their obnoxious skipper for a large chunk of the season. His ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand was followed by a damaged knee, an injury sustained on his return to action against Liverpool. To everyone outside Stamford Bridge Terry’s main contribution to the game has been to be the inspiration behind a million photoshop efforts following his ludicrous and sadly predictable appearance in full kit at the Champions League Final from which he had been suspended. Thus we have seen Terry winning the boat race, joining Neil Armstong on the moon, and picking up all sorts of gold medals during the Olympics. The latest effort saw him waving to the crowds in St Peters’ Square following the election of Pope Francis earlier this week. Meanwhile, if you ever needed proof that all the money in the world can’t buy class. The “Legend” poster that the club (not the fans, note) stuck up is still there. Teryy hasn’t been an automatic choice since his return to fitness, possibly due to a number of training ground “frank exchange of views” between him and Benitez.

Talking of classless, Frank Lampard is closing in on the goalscoring record held by Bobby Tambling, a player whose existence was previously a mystery to the vast majority of Chelsea supporters, what with him having plied his trade before 2003. One such chap in our local, The Swan And Superinjunction, whose allegiance to the Pensioners dates all the way back to the Champions League Final boats of remembering Bobby Tambourine. I recall a few years ago they wheeled out Tambling at half time and made the poor chap walk around the ground whilst the home support shrugged their shoulders. They know now of course, what with his name being featured every week as Lampard looks forward to a last big payday in the States. That’s if he finds the time in between evicting old ladies out on to the street.

They’re not exactly short of players to laugh at. Fernando Torres raises a smile at grounds up and down the country, not least on Merseyside where, having taken Daniel Sturridge off Chelsea’s hands in the last window, Liverpool probably think they have the better of the dealings between the two clubs. Torres got his first goal in 20 games in the midweek Europa Cup match against Steua Bucharest, though, as if to prove old habits die hard, he also missed a penalty. Our chums in Spain have finally twigged that Torres is not exactly in the form of his life and, having omitted him from the squads from recent friendlies , coach del Bosque (That’s Vincente del Bosque, not Derek Bosque) has left him out of the somewhat more serious matter of forthcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Finland & France.

Then of course there’s Ashley Cole. Whilst the Cole family (including exes) has some way to go before being quite as loathsome as that of his skipper (who can of course include drug dealers and shoplifters as well as racists amongst their number), if Wikipedia is to be believed Cole is also distantly related to Mariah Carey. To adapt the old phrase, to be connected to one talentless bimbo might be considered unfortunate. Two is just careless.

And so to us. The fixture list is as bonkers as Benitez at the moment and, being of advanced years I’m struggling to remember our last match. The trip to Stoke was so long ago there was another Pope on the throne. The comment by one of the editors of this site that Sheffield United are to demand compensation following the election of an Argentinian to the top slot at the Vatican is probably wrong, though frankly one wouldn’t put it past them.

Where was I. Oh yes Stoke. Good win that one. Especially since we had to make two changes within the first ten minutes or so. Even better was the sight and sound of Tony Pulis doing his nut as a ref finally had the guts to stand up to his bunch of thugs. If only Mike Jones had had the same bottle as Jon Moss in the FA Cup a few years back.

Team news is that the break has allowed a bit more healing time for some of the injuries. Joe Cole will sit out the visit to where it all started to go wrong for him, the hamstring that saw him limp off at Stoke. Matt Taylor may also miss out, the horrific boot wrapped round his head causing him a major concussion. His presence in Sunday’s squad may depend on whether he can answer one of the standard questions doctors ask after a bang on the head, such as “what is the name of the current Pope”.

Mark Noble’s trapped nerve in his arm/elbow has apparently reacted well to treatment, though speaking from experience, trapped nerves can be a bit tricky. Then we have the skipper, suffering from a broken toe. Pleasingly there is no “metatarsal” nonsense from our down-to earth skipper; he has a broken toe, no more no less. Nolan might elect to play through the pain with the help of a painkilling jab or two, and a late fitness test is on the cards.

Obviously this will be a tough one. Their vast amounts of funds (all of which came from sources that are, no doubt, entirely legitimate and in no way shape or form dodgy, I can’t stress that enough) mean that they have a squad and a half. Mind you that didn’t do them too many favours in the reverse fixture where our second half performance was arguably our best 45 minutes this season. They’re not infallible though the smart money will be on a home win. However, none of us here at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered could ever be considered “smart” so I’ll be placing the £2.50 winnings we got from our bet on the new Pope (we stuck a few quid on it being a Catholic) on a 1-1 draw, prompting some more bonkers outpourings from Benitez.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met at Stamford BridgeLost 0-3 A result that flattered the home side as we failed to take advantage of a decent number of chances. Torres hadn’t scored in over 700 minutes since his move from the bindippers so it was sadly inevitable that he would break his duck against us, though it still took a slip from a defender in torrential rain to let the hapless Spaniard in. Meanwhile, dozens of Hammers went home richer having popped a few bob on Torres to score.

Referee: Michael Oliver. Last seen handling our 1-0 defeat at Reading. Frighteningly young ref who faces a late fitness test on a spot of acne before the match. May be replaced by one of the bigger boys if his mum thinks it’s too cold for him to be out.

Danger Man:Frank Lampard Junior. Ungrateful spoilt brat who will no doubt kiss the badge when he scores his statutory goal against us. The fact that David Mellor is also a Chelsea fan (this week) puts that into perspective.

Daft Fact Of The Week:Former Chelsea defender Paul Elliot was due to take on a £100,000 a year community role at Stamford Bridge. The job fell through after his recent indiscretion in using “racially unacceptable” language in a string of text messages between him and ex-Charlton defender Richard Rufus. Meanwhile they still have that banner up describing John Terry as a “legend”.

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.

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