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Realist Ancelotti relishes win

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Phil McNulty | 00:46 UK time, Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Roman Abramovich may not have completed his ascent to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro - but in Carlo Ancelotti he is convinced he has the man to lead Chelsea's march on Madrid.

And if Abramovich was given the choice between climbing a mountain in Tanzania or witnessing John Terry finally reach the highest point in European football, it is a fair bet Chelsea's owner would take a place on the Champions League winners' rostrum in The Bernabeu next May every time.

Ancelotti has proved he has the route map to successfully navigate the hazards of a tournament that has remained tantalisingly out of reach to Chelsea, despite Abramovich's mighty chequebook and the odd change of coach along the way.

And after a laboured win against Porto at a saturated Stamford Bridge, Ancelotti also demonstrated a firm grasp of the realities of Champions League combat.

The Champions League may offer many things but the element of surprise is very rarely one of them - at least not in the group stage.

And this is why Ancelotti, a splendidly laconic figure with a rapidly improving command of English, swept aside concerns about an unconvincing Chelsea performance and pointed a finger firmly in the direction of the victory. Never mind the quality feel the points.

ancelotti_blog.jpgChelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti gives advice to his side during the match against Porto

Ancelotti knows that Chelsea's passing was erratic. Ancelotti knows that Chelsea conceded too many chances to a game, but unexceptional, Porto side. Ancelotti knows Chelsea spent too much time ignoring his constant touchline pleas for width and crosses.

But Ancelotti also knows Chelsea won and that is the only rule in town when the curtain rises on the Champions League. It was not an easy night on a skidpan surface soaked by a deluge that descended on west London and caused the postponement of QPR's meeting with Crystal Palace only a few miles away at Loftus Road.

Chelsea, as they have a habit of doing, got the job done. It was winning ugly but who cares? Not Ancelotti, that is for sure.

And this is why, when the last few clubs remain in the tournament, you would not be risking your shirt if you had a small wager that Chelsea will be among them. They will provide as strong a challenge to favourites Barcelona as any of the Premier League contingent.

Ancelotti summed it up when he said: "Sometimes you have to win without playing well. This is another important thing for a team because it is impossible to play well all the time. Sometimes you have to show you can win with other characteristics."

Chelsea showed they can win without Didier Drogba, suspended after his meltdown at the end of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona last season.

It was a sanguine Drogba on the sidelines at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, glad-handing with fans and wearing a leather jacket that made it look like he was about to roar off down Fulham Broadway on his Harley Davidson at the final whistle.

Drogba was missed. How could he not be in his current form? Focused and content under Ancelotti, he is the powder Chelsea will keep dry until his suspension is served. He will be pivotal at the sharp end of the Champions League.

Chelsea compensated in the shape of Nicolas Anelka, who is making Stamford Bridge look more and more like a natural home these days. He scored the winner with an accomplished finish at the second attempt in the 48th minute and has created such an impression he even drew the description "a great player" from the normally guarded Ancelotti.

Ancelotti will know, as the realist, that Chelsea present an entirely different proposition to every club in Europe when they have Drogba fit and with his eyes on the prize. Anelka alone is a threat - Anelka and Drogba paired together is something entirely different.

If this was a night for simply getting the win and getting home, there were still gems for Chelsea and Ancelotti to cherish - and Ashley Cole's performance was chief among them.

Cole, it would appear, is not a prime candidate to win popularity polls with fans outside Stamford Bridge - but he is at the peak of his powers and gave another exemplary display. He stood firm when Porto applied late pressure and threatened to snatch an unlikely point.

He remains unchallenged as England's finest left-back and when you watch him at close quarters it is easy to see why. No-one comes close and he will provide those two crucial elements, experience and quality, as Fabio Capello attempts to win the World Cup in South Africa next summer.

ashley.jpgAshley Cole tackles Porto's Mariano Gonzalez during Tuesday's clash

The other good news came in the shape of a man who did not even get on the pitch against Porto - although it was not for the want of trying.

Joe Cole, on the bench for the first time since January after a knee injury, received a hero's reception from the Stamford Bridge crowd when he warmed up, and warmed up, and warmed up.

It was a wonderful cameo to see Cole fit and well and going through his full range of physical jerks in an attempt to persuade Ancelotti to give him a piece of the action. He was out of luck - this was a night for containment when changes were made not the stage for Cole's attacking flourishes - but he is raring to go.

It will not be long before this popular and gifted member of both the Chelsea and England squad is back pressing his claims for club and country. And the day cannot come soon enough.

Ancelotti will surely find good use for the imagination and enthusiasm Cole offers and Capello's gaze will also focus on his comeback. Joe Cole at his best must be on the plane to South Africa.

Chelsea will have better nights in the Champions League but Ancelotti will be happy to wait for these. The first group game is about the win and nothing else. Ancelotti the realist knows the rules of the Champions League and Chelsea applied them to the letter.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Let's not forget the last time Porto were on english soil they drew with Manchester united in what was an extremely scrappy affair!

  • Comment number 3.

    no mention of united though!
    Giggs in last match against spurs & scholes in this one confirm that the fire in united veterans is not dozed yet.

  • Comment number 4.

    And I am not a new member! Been here for 2-3 years.
    Beeb sometimes is so infuriating...

  • Comment number 5.

    Looking forward to Joe Cole coming back for England.

  • Comment number 6.

    Good game from Chelsea considering that the did not have Drogba and Bosingwa in the squad. The most important thing is that they got the three points which could prove vital in the group stages

  • Comment number 7.

    Last night was interesting.
    Chelsea, although they won, were far from convincing.
    Man U were also struggled a bit, but got the 3 points.
    Real Madrid showed their attacking potential, but once again have also highlighted their defensive weaknesses. Guess thay're going to have to play with the old Newcastle under Keegan (first time round) mentality ;)

    Could make for an interesting CL this year, but then again, it's only the first match, and 3 points is all that really matters at the moment.
    And you can't really judge anyones chances until the end of the group stages and the competition proper kicks off in february.
    Tonights games could also be interesting, but looking at it the pick has to be Barca-Inter, well thats the one i fancy anyway.

    So any thoughts on who the surprise qualifiers will be this year? there's always one unexpected progression from the group stages.

  • Comment number 8.

    With Drogba and Bosingwa sidelined its a relief to get 3 points from a side who were much better than they were given credit for prior to the game. It was hard work watching it, but as Ancelotti has said ,you cant play brilliant football every game.

  • Comment number 9.

    Despite our performance against a strong Porto side who can sell all their stars every year and pick up the cream of their league and South America, I think we are still the best English side with a chance to lift the UCL this year after the Spanish giants.

    Ronaldo good day for him two free kicks ManU will surely miss him on European nights esp. if they came up against a side like Porto. Some erratic passing on a heavy pitch and some desperate defending during the last third of the game.

    Kalou was poor but the wing backs and Cech were sensational. Varela and a couple of Porto guys are people to watch out in the future. Dragao is gonna be difficult but like always we'll get them on the counter.

  • Comment number 10.

    Do you take that much stick from everyone Phil,or why is there so much moderation all the time?Anyway,you do tend to ramble,you know?Where is an analysis of the team selection?The fact that while Ancelotti begged and begged,width was by and large washed away by the deluge?What does that say,is grasp of language the problem when a coach gets excited trying to pass on directions?What was your take on Kalou?Can Chelsea cope without Drogba and Anelka?That is a possibility with the looming transfer ban.Those are more pertinent questions than Abramovich's wish list.Why do you speak like you can read minds?Did you interview the stubbled one?Of course Mr Roman in Russia wants to win the Champions league,what overlord of any club doesn't?But its not a given that what Abramovich wants Abramovich gets.Its actually down to the gaffer and the players.He must get the best out of what is admittedly a fine batch of players.He has the ammunition.Lets see if his target practice is better than his English.

  • Comment number 11.

    joe cole. huge admirer of his talent. imagine what england could do with him fit and raring to go on the left flank this summer. truly unlucky and unfortunate that hes been having these injuries in the last couple of seasons, he is truly an asset when hes fit.

    http://wdkf.co.uk/

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    The weather conditions were pretty 'adverse' so it never was going to be an A1 game. Well done to both clubs for trying to play football. Anelka's goal was sublime, he reminds me of a shark the way he moves around the pitch..great player..great goal, well done 'Le Shark'

  • Comment number 14.

    A win is a win Phil. But do you not think that Ancelotti feels his side can acquire the points needed to qualify whilst affording to give the occasional rest to his star players. Surely his foresight is aimed at the whole season, consisting of an African Nations Cup for Drogba. I'm sure Ancelotti feels that a fresher 30 years + Drogba can make all the difference in the latter stages of the competition.

  • Comment number 15.

    Well put Phil.

    The game was nothing to get excited about but that was as much to do with the weather as anything. We know Chelsea can hold the ball better as they have demonstrated so far this season. Porto are a good side and will probably go through with Chelsea so it's a decent win.

    Also, with the likes of Bosingwa, Drogba and Cole not involved there are plenty of options.

    Once again though Phil, SORT OUT THE MODERATION! There is no reason that I can fathom why your blog must be pre-moderated when so many others (if not all) are pre-moderated. I have never received a sensible explanation as to why this is the case.

  • Comment number 16.

    A fairly spot on blog sir, Chelsea never really looked in serious danger, but were a shade lighter of thier recent form. However with the odd moment of flare and excitement it made for a more captivating game than i had anticipated. Especially on that zippy pitch, must have been hell to play on... Drogba was heavily missed as Porto's resiliant defence kept a strong line, his bullying play would have made a difference to the score i am sure... Kalou, still a long way off a finished striker and looking less likely to fill his potential, but as mentioned Cols was stoic in performance...

    Lets hope for more English wins tonight...

    Aldershot for the cup....

  • Comment number 17.

    #3 manucastle

    Phil was at the Chelsea game which is why he has blogged on that.

    As for Giggs and Scholes, Giggs' free kick on Saturday was wonderful. Scholes was not. I have not seen anything of last nights Man U match so I can't comment on that.

    Anyway, if it is accepted that Scholes and Giggs still have fire in their belly's, given their ages can we conclude that the supposed ageing Chelsea squad therefore have years ahead of them?

  • Comment number 18.

    It is just a fetish with football lovers across the spectrum, fans, media, critics, footy connoisseurs - just about everybody; to refer to Ashley Cole as Cashley Cole or Abramovich as a 'man with a fat cheque book', Chelsea's success as power of abominable; filthy lucre. One would think that money is only there to be despised, sneered at and shunned. one is never to dare make it and still aspire to be loved by the people who matter. There are other, many more fetishes that cloud or blinker one's judgment and taste.
    Ever since I saw an extraordinary piece of defence by Ashley Cole in the last World Cup I have rated him very high. It was the last line before the keeper and he ran back from an attacking position. My estimation of him as an attacking left back has steadily gone up and today I think he is perhaps the best of his ilk in the world. It has been Chelsea's gain and Arsenal's loss, the one that the latter should have cherished the most. If Chelsea is feared today, it is on account of its priceless assets like Drogba, Essien, Terry, Lampard and Ashley. I fear to contemplate if these could never be for sale.

  • Comment number 19.

    How boring was this game? Can anyone explain to my how Soloman Kalou is a Footy player?

  • Comment number 20.

    Over an hour and still awaiting moderation... To reiterate the feeling of MrBlueBurns @15... SORT IT OUT!

  • Comment number 21.

    Winning ugly, who cares ? Mourinho didn't care if he took a red card to win, Ancelotti doesn't mind winning ugly, maybe it's something the Arsenal learned to do ? But there's a hopeless romantic who who does care about winning ugly ? he wants to achieve great heights, can he ?

  • Comment number 22.

    4. At 08:16am on 16 Sep 2009, manucastle wrote:

    And I am not a new member! Been here for 2-3 years.
    Beeb sometimes is so infuriating...

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Agree totally mate. same problem here!

    Sort it out beeb!

  • Comment number 23.

    Champions League group stage = 6 warm up games for the big teams akin to the Carling Cup. I mean, Group H? Seriously you must be joking!

  • Comment number 24.

    It might have been hard work watching the match, but the weather meant we were never going to be watching a classic.The absence of Drogba and Bosingwa added to a test which was going to be hard against a side which was clearly far more accomplished than most pundits gave credit to before the match. In the circumstances I'll side with Ancelotti and say the 3 points are the only really important aspect for the Blues, apart from the irritating yellow cards for key players.

  • Comment number 25.

    No mention at all of the Salford man-child's pathetic little hissy-fit.

    And this is the fool we're pinning our World Cup hopes on?

    Comical.

  • Comment number 26.

    Phil, I am not surprised by the 1-0 win. Mr. Ancelotti is a Master at Italian style of football - Try n try till you score but do not concede!!!

    This is exactly what happened last night at Stamford. Lamps and Malouda missed plenty of chances. They were just above average. On other nights, Chelsea might play brilliantly but might still win only by a goal to nil. So, I believe this is all down to system and discipline Ancelotti wants them to play.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think you are underrating this Porto side Phil. Chelsea may not have been at their best but they gained 3 points in awkward conditions against a very good footballing side. Porto will feel aggrieved they didn't gain anything from a game in which they moved the ball very well and certainly matched Chelsea by and large. I was very surprised at their performance given the quality that has moved on this summer.
    As long as Chelsea keep their front line fit (as that's where they are lightest) they certainly have the strongest squad of the English sides. I actually think Arsenal could have an outside chance this year, whereas Man U and Liverpool lack enough quality IMO.

  • Comment number 29.

    Difficult to really comment on this. Chelsea were expected to win ugly and they did. Their brand of football is effective. And thats whats required to win the league. Maybe not the CL though.

  • Comment number 30.

    I really dislike Ashley Cole but has there been a better left back in the world since Roberto Carlos?

  • Comment number 31.

    Rubbish!!
    Carlo Ancelotti has done nothing yet and all this talk of him knowing how to scale Chelsea's yet unscaled mountains...blah blah blah..His face fits...is as simple as that!
    Grant took Chelsea to within a banana skin of winning the champions league and nobody remembers him cos he was an ugly git and not so attractive a character either.
    So lets just admit it, Carlo comes across as a really nice guy who is genuinely enjoying this job...he NEVER smiled with AC Milan...and his enthusiasm is winsome, I am sure he will get longer than Grant got, success or not...cos hes likeable!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Was it really necessary to devote an entire blog to a boring 1-0 Chelsea win? The way you're writing it was if they'd just won the first leg of the semi final.

  • Comment number 33.

    This has become a shambles! Two hours to moderate! Time for a re-think or better still, a explanation as to why it is this way in the first place. May as well delete the blog if you're not going to run it for the public that pay for it.

  • Comment number 34.

    Ancelotti is wise enough to know that at this stage of the competition it’s not about how you win it’s ensuring that you do win.

    Chelsea will sought to play the brand of football that will outclass teams as the Champions League progresses but at this early stage it’s all about getting the points on the board to move on whilst juggling domestic duties.

    http://sportales.com/soccer/chelsea-can-win-the-lottie-now/

  • Comment number 35.

    MrBlueBurns

    agree with the above poster about the moderation issue and also i also would like to confirm I am NOT A NEW MEMBER for the 6th time of stateing the same.

    as for the game 1-0 is as they say 1-0 which = 3 points

    I am however looking for a far more emphatic victory from the Arsenal
    perhaps i can then read some positives in the morning.

  • Comment number 36.

    Surely a blog on the Premier League's new finance plans would have been more interesting? Things like the first round of Champions League games should be left for the regular 606 boards. Both Chelsea and Man Utd played teams they were expected to beat, so where's the big analysis in that?

    Right, I'll find some chores to do to waste the 2 hours it takes for people to moderate these blogs.

  • Comment number 37.

    arrrrrrrgh! My 1st comment had only mentioned the fact that i was 1st & it was referred to mods.

  • Comment number 38.

    Not a great game, but has has been commented on in the press, the CL Group stages have become a procession in recent years. United and Chelsea were playing 2 of their tougher group games but still got through them with little discomfort and even rested a few players for the Manchester Derby at the weekend.

    I think there is a case for having another knock out round before the group stages (seeding all the big clubs so that they don't get knocked out and lose all their money), moving them further back in the competition to a "super 16" scenario. 4 groups of 4 teams would up the quality and provide genuine competition. Its all very well maximising the games played in order to get the cash in but so many group games at the moment resemble carling cup fixtures...

  • Comment number 39.

    What is the world comming to? Phil your are almost poetic. Stating the obvious to the oblivous is a great career. I am genuinely in Favour of deeper analysis. Anelka has done the rounds of the clubs but has been always recognised as a great Player. I don't think a team finishing top of their group with 2 games to spare, a la Capello needs Mr Cole. But I would wager you would have him in the team at the expense of who? Feeding balls to M Owen perhaps? In truth little can be judged about a team when conditions were as bad as they were last night. I would give my eye teeth to have your job. Any chance at all you could write less blogs but get a bit deeper into the ins and outs. This one makes nice reading and scans beautifully but you are not really saying a lot.

  • Comment number 40.

    Oh and can your get techies to change the message....
    "Where's my comment?All new members are pre-moderated initially, which means that there will be a short delay between when you post your comment and when it appears while one of our moderators checks it."

    Most people who post here are not new, so the message is wrong.

  • Comment number 41.

    This is a good result for Chelsea; Porto are always a tough side to beat and have a lot of experience in the competition.

    Even a 0-0 draw would have been just fine as it's not like the remaining 4 games against the other teams should cause Chelsea too much concern; chances are three wins and a draw will do it as Porto and Athletico will probably share some points as well.

    But they ground out a win. As a United supporter I'll possibly be one of the few to step forward and say that's a good thing (many will drearily attempt to make out Chelsea are boring or not capable of winning anything because of it).

    I must be a dying breed of people that still realise the Champion's League is more about defining a desirable pace and using it to get the points needed, rather than a spectacle of swashbuckling football where only dazzling 5-4 results count.

  • Comment number 42.

    why is the bloody moderation more than two hours behind...

    how hard can it be to read a paragraph, check it for any abusive, slandering, language and post it

    even a monkey could do this.

    i know this comment wont be posted but im gna send it anyway..

    with any luck, it will be posted before the champions league final in may.

  • Comment number 43.

    Cole is one of the best players in England, not just one of the best English players. I was always gutted that we never picked him up, because he is the best English creative midfielder. In the new Chelsea formation, he should get more of the action and i'd be delighted if he gets the same chance for England in the next couple of dead-qualifiers.

    Scholes was very sharp in his previous game, and the second yellow wasn't justified as Huddlestone did a Rivaldo and clutched his face after a simple 50:50 coming together. Notice how United have scored a higher percentage of free kicks already, as predicted before the start of the season. We won't be missing that side of Ronaldo for sure.

  • Comment number 44.

    did anyone notice how poor ballack has been playing this season? he seems to be being carried by essien and lampard.

  • Comment number 45.

    As a Chelsea fan I'm pleased with the performance and the 3 points. The conditions were ridiculous. Remember, the QPR match down the road was postponed. We still managed about 20 shots on goal which is convincing enough! The only thing I was disappointed with was that we were playing too many low balls which were being intercepted, but it's hard to adapt your game plan in those conditions.

    Don't see why Kalou has been getting stick for his performance. Apart from the goal, he had our best chance which was brilliantly saved, and his through ball for the Anelka goal was brilliant. He was always a threat.

    But yeah, it was a good result. In big games like this, I think it's better to just get the 3 points rather than play fancy football and not score

  • Comment number 46.

    Improvement alone will never do; it will take kalou a reincarnation to fill the shoes of Drogba. He dished out his usual stuff although his header on goal was indeed taken extremely well. The Porto keeper did a reflexive legerdemain to stretch and deflect it away to safety. Malouda is improving and has come on enough to safely aspire to be at Chelsea for long.
    My comment at #18, the last line should read as, 'I fear to contemplate if these should ever be for sale'.

  • Comment number 47.

    I'm rather proud of Porto being a lifetime fan. We put up a good fight last night.

    Every year we sell off our best players and have to rebuild a new team.

    Proud to mention that now and then again we capable of winning the European Cup/Champions League (1987 & 2004)

    See you at the Dragao...

  • Comment number 48.

    As I write this the last moderated comment is 10.33AM

    What is the point in having the comments section?

    Pathetic

  • Comment number 49.

    "an explanation as to why it is this way in the first place"

    Surely it can't be because he gets so much stick - much of it entirely warranted - that his fragile ego can't take it so he needs time to filter it out?

  • Comment number 50.

    This has become an absurdity. Last night you mentioned that a section of the lights went out at Stamford Bridge, and before I even read the line 'Chelsea are also in need of illumination', I'd already said it aloud twice. This happens repeatedly. I imagine your wife can see your moves coming five minutes ahead of time, which may account for the uninspired writing to begin with. Your compositional style consists of a string of cliches wrapped around inconsequential points. If you fear honest and open critique, you ought not to display yourself so openly and with such obvious contempt for your craft. The delay in moderation is both unprofessional and insulting.

  • Comment number 51.

    Apologies to all concerned for the delay in moderation. I will check why this has happened and get back to you, or ask someone to explain.

    Even though he did not play, how big a boost will it be for Chelsea and England to have Joe Cole back? I think this is great news for club and country.

    And do Chelsea fans out there really feel this is the season that you can win the Champions League? If so, what is the difference between this and other years?

  • Comment number 52.

    I believe that Chelsea will finally get their elusive Champion's League title this year. The team will be rabid for the title after being so controversially knocked out by Barcelona last year, and it looks like they are firing on all cylinders, even though they're not moving at top speed just yet. Drogba is in the finest form I have ever seen him, and Anelka looks like he's finally found somewhere where he can settle down and score goals week in, week out. Keep in mind that Michael Essien has been coming off the bench, and that players like Joe Cole and Yuri Zhirkov will return from injury as the competition goes on. Of the other favorites, I don't see Real as having the heart to win it, Barcelona is probably the heaviest favorite but I can't see any team winning the Champion's League twice in a row, and Manchester United look a ghost of their former selves.

  • Comment number 53.

    joe cole would only serve to imbalance a side that is generating a fine momentum, based around teamwork. i feel the greed of joe cole would set us back to England performances during the late sven/mclaren era

  • Comment number 54.

    Chelsea may not 've been convincing as one would expect, but the job was professionally done!that's the hullmark of champions. they may not be at their best but also remember that they played a graet team in porto, former champion's league winner. Also remember that this match was played under turrential down pour and that could be a factor as well. Porto put up a late fight back but chelsea held on for a valuable and moral boasting three points and also protected Anceloti's 100% record. Chelsea 're indeed a team to beat this season!

  • Comment number 55.

    Football fans care. Chelsea play ugly football. With their talent, they shouldn't have to. Whether they win the league or the CL, they will always be underachievers for the negative style of their game. Also, why is Chelsea always congratulating themselves -- 'heroic', 'great'? And they whine like crazy, on and off the pitch. Pathetic.

  • Comment number 56.

    One way to describe this article is 'stating the bleeding obvious'

    For example, talking about how important Drogba is or how Chelsea have a good chance of going far in the competition. Push the boat out a bit with your comments or opinions otherwise it's just boring!!!

    "Joe Cole at his absolute best must be on the plane to South Africa"

    Let's see a little bit more expertise with these articles

    Can you use your position as a respected journalist to dig beneath the surface of some of these debates and offer an insight into football clubs that most of us don't have the chance to see?

  • Comment number 57.

    I thought Porto did pretty well last night but they really lack a proper striker who can hold the ball up and poach goals. Chelsea's passing and movement this season has been outstanding but last night both were poor. Sure the weather did not help but the decision making by Kalou in particular was not good enough. Lampard, Ballack and Essien also had off nights whilst Malouda at least continued to work well with Ashley Cole.

    The group should not pose too many challenges unless too many injuries acrue. My only worry is that Chelsea have only named 23 senior plays in the CL squad because of the 4+4 rule. This could leave them short unless they can recall some of the young players out on loan.

  • Comment number 58.


    One of the most appalling pieces of sports journalism ever written.



  • Comment number 59.

    #51

    Phil, there is the need for pre-moderation to be addressed as well as the actual amount of time for the moderation.

    Anyway, there is nothing more or less really that says we think Chelsea will win the Champions League this season anymore than any previous season. Five semi-finals in six seasons. Apart from Monaco we have always been beaten by the eventual winners as well I think.

    As was being reported before yesterday's game though, an aberation from Ranieri, a ghost goal, a slipped penalty and a shocking refereeing display have all done for us.

    Perhaps there is little else that can go wrong and on that basis, it is our year? Don't believe it! I'll be the martians will land at half time and the match will be abandoned!

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    this one is much better than the pre champs league peice...

  • Comment number 62.

    60.

    Don't forget phones up the bottle.

  • Comment number 63.

    i noticed Phil asks

    " do Chelsea fans out there really feel this is the season that you can win the Champions League? If so, what is the difference between this and other years? "

    as the Chavs seem reluctant to come forward and stop sitting on the fence and as a Gooner and sort of loitering about here ( hehe) I thought i would provide the answer. The difference between this and last year is as follows: last year it was 2008 this year it is 2009 and i am one year older. hmmmmmm. and....

    No they wont ( big cheesy grin ) as the CL and PL Title is heading to North London and no I do not mean Man City or erm Spurs I am well aware of my topagraphy and neither of the latter mentioned come from London.

    In fact so confident am I of Arsenals triumph this year I placed a bet on the two finalist's Arsenal v R Madrid with Arsenal running out winners 5-2 despite playing most of the game with 9 men.

  • Comment number 64.

    Is it just me or does anyone else think Chelsea are light up front? What happens if Drogba and Anelka are injured at a crucial point of the season?

  • Comment number 65.

    Have faith, true blue

  • Comment number 66.

    #64 Juninho_1

    I would suggest that any team that lost players of the calibre of Drogba and Anelka up front would be 'light'!

    Anyway, this is why Sturridge for example should be given some playing time whilst we have that luxury rather than having to throw him in at the deep end in the event of a crisis.

  • Comment number 67.

    Ridiculous that Chelsea fans and the English press still claim they were robbed against Barca. The only stonewallers in the whole tie was the Pique handball and the Bosingwa/Henry in the first leg. When you play with a small team mentality you get small team results, hence no final appearance last year.

  • Comment number 68.

    #63

    CL and PL Title is heading to North London and no I do not mean Man City or erm Spurs I am well aware of my topagraphy and neither of the latter mentioned come from London.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    If you were that clued up on topography you'd probably realise that your club originated from Woolwich in South London, not North London, as Spurs did in the 'London Borough of Haringey'.

  • Comment number 69.

    Phil McNulty - BBC Sport at #51

    I'll take up you three point prod in reverse order.
    The biggest reason for Chelsea to have a better shot at the title this time is team bonding. I think it was triggered by that painful loss to Barca when Chelsea really had it won and some to spare. Unfortunately all they had to show for their bravest effort ever was suspension of two of its stars who are now licking their wounds on the touch line.

    But to return to team bonding; its a rare team which had aspersions cast on it that Drogba and Anelka could not play together, that the great Scolari could not get on with Drogba, and that Drogba was contemplating a move. The scenario changed dramatically with a somewhat sad departure of Scolari and serendipitous arrival of Guus Hiddink. The latter fact acted like a panacea and is being heartily emulated by the ambitious Ancelotti, happily with a measure of competence. Then there are some major rejoinings from long injury lay off. Ancelotti's acid test will be how he prepares to cope with ANC.

    Joe Cole is a rare talent and a hardworking one. The only lesson for him yet to be learnt is how to stay away from injury. His return to fitness is a great shot in the arm for Chelsea and I have little doubt Capello will be be very pleased about the developments. Of course all of us are eager to see Joe reiterate his talent on the pitch.

    Lastly you have some snails there in the moderation team. I'll not be too critical. No one knows the house rules quite like the moderators do. They may really have a tough job on hand. The speed and volume of posts that some blogs attract can be staggering at times. Today, to my mind, it is a bit too noticeable.

  • Comment number 70.

    Cole isn't a greedy player - he's the most technically gifted player in England, including Rooney.

    We need his craft, and hopefully the man who moved Kaka and Pirlo to their respective positions will see the absolute gem he has in Cole and make best use of him.

    How glorious it is for English football to be endowed with Ancellotti and Capello, to add to Wenger, Sir Alex and old 'arry.

  • Comment number 71.

    Before we tackle the posts, I have been told there was some technical work being done that resulted in a delay in moderation today. This has now been completed I understand so hopefully there will be no more hold-ups. Apologies once again because I understand your frustration.

    To davidgilmourthe3rd (if only rogerwatersthe1st would post) I cannot see Arsenal winning the Champions League. Some weaknesses have already been exposed this season and I think Chelsea are a much stronger all-round proposition.

    One poster questions how Chelsea would fare if Drogba and Anelka got injured. Fair point and it would not be good news, but the same applies to Manchester United if they lost Wayne Rooney and Liverpool if they lost Fernando Torres or Steven Gerrard.

    Talking of Chelsea's attacking resources, I spoke to a very well-respected Italian journalist at Stamford Bridge who shares Carlo Ancelotti's admiration for Italy under-19 striker Fabio Borini. Ancelotti believes the 18-year-old break into the first team this season.

    Are there any Chelsea fans out there who could tell us more about him?

  • Comment number 72.

    This could be Chelsea's year! Any Champions league win is a great result but the best teams know how to win ugly, to win when you are no playing at 100%

    Ashley Cole is the best left back in the world! (and i'm a Man United fan)

  • Comment number 73.

    I agree with a few posts abut Ancelotti, personally I believe he will EVENTUALLY become another Scholari, I don't understand this hype, all he's done is inherited Guus Hidink's mentality and success in his squad, he's literally done bugger all so far yet the media including this blog make light of his most pedestrian of achievemnts by beating Porto 1-0 at home (Did'nt Liverpool hammer them 4-1 at home in 2007 when they retained some star players too?). Are Chelsea seriously expected to keep him on if he does'nt win the CL with this suposed secret plan or guide to winning a CL and beating Barcalona rofl. As for the champions league, fair play Ancelotti wants boring 1-0 Italian footy, but that's never gonna work against an English team especially Liverpool who they will inevitably draw later on who will just rip them apart with Premier Legue style footy with plenty of width they clearly lacked last night.

  • Comment number 74.

    #71 Phil

    There is a delay in the moderation of your blog every day! Today was just a bit worse than usual.

    There is still the fundamental question of why your blog is pre-moderated whilst almost every other sports blog is post-moderated.

    If you or your moderators are unable to provide a proper answer to this question, can you please give me the contact details of who at the BBC I should direct my query to.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 75.

    Praise indeed for Ashley Cole from poster 72 as a Man Utd fan - and Patrice Evra must also be a contender for that crown.

    Cole has been in outstanding form this season, looking truly at home as a Chelsea player. He is one of the England players whose position is as good as guaranteed (or at least as it can be under Capello). Are there any others?

  • Comment number 76.

    #75 Phil

    Terry and Rio are guaranteed. Only fitness will be there undoing I feel.

    Right back? Probably Johnson but he's not 100% yet.

    Right wing? Lennon, Walcott, SWP, Beckham even Gerrard.

    Midfield? Barry/Hargreaves. Gerrard/Lampard (Carrick?)

    Left wing? J Cole/Gerrard (maybe Ashley Young or Milner)

    Up front? Rooney/Defoe, Heskey/Crouch/Cole

    Plenty of competition which is good to see.

    Anyway, answer my moderation queries, please!

  • Comment number 77.

    : joe strummer

    congrats on spotting the deliberate mistake well its all good fun and as they say some of us gooners are defo crazy

    Shine On

    and yes i agree about the serious flaws bit from Phil however I remain very optomistic.

    someone has too.

  • Comment number 78.

    To MrBlueBurns...moderation is not my area of expertise but I will try to answer your query. Some blogs (not just mine I should add) are pre-moderated because there is the risk they may provoke some fairly high-octane debate because of the subject matter involved, and the same rules on what can or cannot be printed apply to posters as well as writers. It is that simple really.

    I never delete posts myself unless they are very obviously breaking house rules, and as you know I am more than happy to engage in debate with those who disagree as well as agree with me. Hope this answer helps.

    And to shanklygates5...interesting point about Ancelotti being another Scolari. It is correct that Chelsea made a similarly impressive start under the Brazilian until his gameplan was comprehensively rumbled by Liverpool when they won at Stamford Bridge.

    Rafael Benitez simply laid out plans to stop Chelsea's full-backs attacking and they were sunk. Scolari had no Plan B.

    It seems to me that Ancelotti is more flexible tactically, trying the diamond formation in midfield and making sure Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka work in tandem in attack.

    And, most crucially, Drogba seems very much onside with this regime - something that was never the case under Scolari.

    Judgement must still be reserved to an extent, but I would suggest Ancelotti stands a better chance of survival than Big Phil. Good point though.

  • Comment number 79.

    #78 Phil

    Given the slightly risque nature of, say, Robbo's blog, I would suggest that has more potential for breaking house rules - and that's just the blog itself, nevermind the comments!

    Also, I can't see how blog rules are different to normal 606 rules. Therefore, no, your answer doesn't help one bit!

    Anyway, the Scolari/Ancelotti comparison does interest me. I have noticed how Ancelotti has been given praise for teh setup of the team when he is doing largely what may have been contributed greatly for Scolari's downfall, namely the use of attacking wing backs.

    I don't think the Liverpool match at Stamford Bridge was the rumble that you suggest since I recall that statistically Chelsea were well on top and Liverpool looked very unadventurous indeed! Also, I would very much critise players for not acting professionally, if indeed their attitude did lead to his downfall. We all have to work with people we don't necessarily get on with.

    There are subtler things at work and I have noticed a few people commenting on the speed that Chelsea move the ball this season compared to last season. It also helps having a largely fit squad and to that end Drogba wasn't around for parts of the Scolari reign and Essien was injured in August so we are perhaps comparing apples with pears here.

    The point is, from a reasoned point of view, the jury must remain out on Ancelotti until, say, late November when there is more substance on which to call upon. Last night was not really any sort of barometer given the conditions and the stage of that particular competition.

    Ok?

  • Comment number 80.

    Phil,

    What's with the praise for Benitez lately?

    Tipping him for the title; not singling him out for relying on Torres and Gerrard when the other top 4 teams do the same; correctly pointing out his tactical de-pantsing of Big Phil.

    Are you on pills?

    Or is this just a cunning plan to build him up only to comprehensively knock him down if he fails to lift the big prizes at the end of the season?

  • Comment number 81.

    Phil, you had the answer in your own post "It was not an easy night on a skidpan surface soaked by a deluge that descended on west London" and still you have to ask the question why?

    Try playing in that condition and see how many passes you complete.

    Probably, your point is that Chelsea should have abandoned their passing game for more direct and aerial football. And then you would have called it ugly too. Kudos!!

  • Comment number 82.

    @71
    Phil, good article, i'm a blue and i think you have got a good balanced view on Chelsea which is nice to read

    about Fabio Borini, he's been superb for the reserves in the last year, which he broke into very quickly after joining the academy from Bologna a few years a go

    scored his fair share of goals, and Chelsea organise several high profile reserve friendly's against some of the Euro giants, and Fabio impressed very much against AC Milan reserves, standing out from everyone on the day

    He is quick and finishes clinically, however he isn't the strongest yet, so this could be a problem in the premiership, but i think he could be useful off the bench in the group stages of the CL

    i compare Fabio Borini in the same mould as Fiorentinas young Serbian striker Stevan Jovetic, quick feet and moves well off the ball into dangerous areas and finishes very well

    i think he could be given good experience in a 4-3-2-1 as one of the 2 behind the lone striker

    watch this space!

  • Comment number 83.

    By the way, it looks like L'il Phil (K) has the smell of Manchester money back in his nostrils.

  • Comment number 84.

    And I have to say, I'm frankly amazed that there's been absolutely NO mention of Liverpool's incredible sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered.

    £80m over four years? That's a staggering piece of business by the club and its new MD, on a par (according to the OS, even bigger) than the world record-breaking deal done by Utd with Aon.

    Surely this is a more important story than an easy 3 points for Chelsea?

  • Comment number 85.

    I think he(Carlo Ancelotti) is quite sure of what he is doing with Chelsea both in the premier league and more in the champions league with more games to come. As for Ashley i think he is the best in his position and I also welcome J.Cole back to the fold. We missed him so much last season.

  • Comment number 86.

    Just watched Mourinho.

    What a plank.

    Needs a haircut too.

  • Comment number 87.

    As an aside, I've just watched 'Arry Redknapp condemning abuse-shouting nutters, with regards to the recent actions of Arsenal away fans at Man City.

    Surely if he thinks that way, he should stop allowing his picture to be used alongside his alleged column in The Sun?

  • Comment number 88.

    And, to get back onto the subject (sort of);

    Even that fat, talentless waste of space Chris Moyles managed to scale Kilimanjaro.

    How embarrassing that Uncle Roman passed out.

  • Comment number 89.

    I'm sorry that I seem to be the only one on here - everyone else must have been shouted for their tea.

  • Comment number 90.

    i dnt kn why we talk about a good play or not!!! If chelsea loose then ppl talk, if win they moarn about the play was not good etc...Y the help somebody just dnt appericiate the win...After all we were missing some key players ok thats not the ascuse..But at the same time it was raining heavily and the ground was wet so we should be proud that no one was injured or got hurt... We got the 3 points wht was needed..I proud of chelsea when they win and also when they loose this is the true sporting spirit a fan should have...Come on Guys !!! Enjoy the football instead of wasting time in talking bla bla bla...

  • Comment number 91.

    Nice blog Phil.

    The return of Joe Cole brings tidings of comfort and joy to his legion of admirers everywhere. Let us wish the dynamic footballer an injury free season ahead. Joe Cole is indeed a difference maker.





    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 92.

    As a Porto fan, i'm proud of the way they played in that game where the odds were definately stacked against them. The weather was poor, but then again it was poor for both teams not just one. I totally agree that winning is winning even when it's ugly, so Chelsea fans should take heart from the win instead of criticising the way it was achieved. Besides many teams in Portugal like their couterparts in Spain, tend to be "stubborn" teams that like to have more possession than their opponents, and that that usually poses a problem (although a very a minor one) for English teams, which don't quite play the same way and rely more on the counter attack. This is usually evident, especially against a team like Porto one of the top teams in Portugal, and Champions League regulars. So a tough perhaps "ugly" game is always to be expected when these two meet. But there's a saying in Portugal which sadly holds true for many Portuguese teams in the CL: "Quem nao marca, sofra" -Whomever fails to score,will concede. And that's exactly what happened to Porto, they failed to score despite great possession and some chances, and ended up conceding for their efforts. Hopefully the game in Portugal will be different, but until then, Porto find themselves in a very unfamiliar spot, at the bottom of their CL group looking up.

 

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