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Villas-Boas vindicated after Lampard left out

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Phil McNulty | 06:48 UK time, Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Andre Villas-Boas was in the mood to take on all-comers at Stamford Bridge - whether it was tackling the task of leaving out a Chelsea icon or coming out swinging against his critics.

Villas-Boas spoke of "persecution" as he settled scores with his detractors in an outburst that was an entertaining, if arguably ill-timed, piece of theatre.

He had proved his courage as a manager and now it was time to confront another enemy after a 3-0 win over Valencia sealed qualification to the Champions League knockout phase.

And the 34-year-old's tactical and managerial bravery cannot be in question after he responded to the biggest game of his short Chelsea career by making the most important call of his time at Stamford Bridge.

Villas-Boas will have known the potential dangers of excluding Frank Lampard from a Champions League game, when fit and available, for the first time since September 2003.

If Chelsea had failed to get the result they needed against Valencia to reach the knockout phase - and failed with a man whose record of 20 goals in 81 games in the competition once had him labelled one of the "untouchables" by Jose Mourinho - then his team-sheet might just have had a P45 look about it.

And yet he had the guts to leave out Lampard, shaping an impressive new-look midfield and establishing the platform for Chelsea to move into the last 16 as Group E winners.

Villas-Boas was animated on the touchline during Chelsea's win over Valencia. Photo: AP

Villas-Boas was under pressure before kick-off but his response was ruthless, measured and just about perfect. All judgements were justified.

Make no mistake this was a huge move on Villas-Boas's part. He would have faced an inquisition had it gone wrong but he showed self-belief to make the first serious switch in Chelsea's established order - and was rewarded with his best night since arriving at Stamford Bridge last summer.

Villas-Boas showered Lampard with praise amid his taunting of those who questioned his position, but there was a look of the future about Chelsea's midfield and look of the past about their methods to earn victory.

The Portuguese insists his positive philosophy will never die, but this was a win built on old values. As one member of Chelsea's old guard could not even make it on as substitute, another was rolling back the years to stake a claim for a place in the future.

Didier Drogba, now 33, has looked a tired old beast this season, but in recent times has started to wake from his slumbers. Villas-Boas's decision to finally accept he is a better bet than Fernando Torres has helped - and on Tuesday he delivered a performance from his pomp.

The battering ram was back, along with the more subtle touches in among the carnage. Drogba scored twice, made another for Ramires and may just have had Chelsea's power-brokers thinking a two-year deal may not be such a bad idea after all.

This night, though, belonged to Villas-Boas. And he how he celebrated it, almost going into orbit when Ramires scored Chelsea's second before marching briskly into the press room for a scattergun attack on the media.

Villas-Boas has had plenty of pressure placed upon him, caused mostly by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's back story of a willingness to dispense with managers in short order.

He will not need a long memory to know that his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti was sacked 12 months after winning the double.

But he has also had plenty of sympathy in the media, including here it should be said. Many commentators were swift to point out the folly of not letting this clearly very able and emerging young coach last beyond the first few months of his tenure.

Perhaps it was anxiety? Perhaps it was relief? Villas-Boas cut the appearance of a man with plenty to get off his chest on Tuesday and most of it landed on those of us in the media. Indeed, when he finished stage one of his riposte laughter rippled around as the interpreter got to grips with the strength of the Chelsea manager's feelings.

In his defence he has had criticism so there was a measure of justification in his reaction - and if we cannot take it, we should not dish it out. He is allowed the right of reply and he ensured he took it in a very vocal, emphatic manner.

The problem for Villas-Boas is whether he has gone too early with his attack, with Premier League leaders Manchester City arriving at Stamford Bridge next Monday.

Nothing should be allowed to cast a cloud on this success, however, a win that will give him breathing space and stop the distress signals.

And while Lampard must never be written off, there was a fluidity, movement and structure about Chelsea that hinted at the first real signs of what Villas-Boas is trying to achieve. This team had a Villas-Boas stamp on it - all helped by getting his big decisions spot on.

Chelsea defended deeper, with captain John Terry immaculate and David Luiz much improved, while youngster Oriol Romeu, just 20, was so impressive in a midfield holding role. The boy from Barcelona has the desire to treat possession preciously in his genes, a lesson to the wasteful Jon Obi Mikel.

He allowed Ramires and Raul Meireles to play to their strengths while the width provided by Daniel Sturridge and the outstanding Juan Mata augmented the power of Drogba.

This meant that, while Chelsea had long periods without possession, when they did they used it to greater effect.

There was no mistaking what this victory meant to Villas-Boas, during or after the match. It concluded a satisfactory few days after the win at Newcastle United. He can be forgiven for revelling in the release of pressure that had built up.

He announced victory was "a slap in the face" to those who had questioned him at Chelsea. The questions may start again if they cannot make it three in a row against Manchester City - but this was a big night for Villas-Boas.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    I have no idea how a story has emerged out of this. You manage to turn any result into story of the week. Its obvious why you're sports editor due to this precious talent of yours Phil.

  • Comment number 2.

    Not a Chelsea fan but glad to see Villas-Boas win this one and silence (temporarily) his critics. Finishing top of the group was another bonus and they along with Arsenal can look forward to the draw knowing that Barca, Real, Bayern have been avoided.
    Tonight United will definitely go through as runners-up I think. I wouldn't discount City doing it either. Could be a very good week for English clubs in the CL.

  • Comment number 3.

    I am far from a Chelsea fan but I am glad it appears AVB will get a chance to acheive something. He surely needs to be given a couple of seasons before judgement is passed.
    Glad all the English clubs are still in European competition as this will only help Spurs in the league now they are effectively out of it.

  • Comment number 4.

    #1 : Phil reports on football - football is about games - this was the most high profile game of the season so far.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good win for Chelsea last night.Great to see AVB allow common sense prevail for once by abandoning the calamitous high line Chelsea defence has been playing.AVB must ensure there is no tactics reverse in this aspect.Winning games is more important than playing fantasy football.

  • Comment number 6.

    No doubt a good win for Chelsea. Not only they won the game but they played an impressive tactical game and credit must be given to them for doing just that when under pressure.

    I hope this result will be the turning point of the season as far as Chelsea is concerned as it will always be healthy for the PL when several teams are in a position to win the title come the last few weeks of the season.

    Last night was the day when AVB showed that he is a manager who believes in himself and stands by his decisions. Omitting Lampard and tactically changing few things on the pitch were brave decisions for a crucial game that Chelsea could not afford to lose, and for that you have to respect the young man.

    Well done Chelsea and good luck to both Manchester teams tonight.

  • Comment number 7.

    I am afraid I can't comment too much on last night's fluke win for Chelsea, as I didn't see the match because I was busy watching Barcelona's new-breed of breathtaking bravados blitz Belarussian belligerents, BATE Borisov, in a brisk and brutal fashion.

    I can only assume that valiant and vibrant Valencia were on the wrong-end of some poor officiating and that chancy Chelsea ate a huge slice of the luck cake.

    There is no other logical or rational explanation that would reasonably explicate how a team chock-a-block with over-the-hill English plodders could beat a sizzling, sparkling Spanish side who are at least two notches up from Chelsea, or any other EPL side, in the meritorious hierarchy of European club football.

  • Comment number 8.

    How there could be any talk of sacking an up-and-coming young manager like AVB is ridiculous.

    He needs to be given time to mould an ageing group of fading stars into the Chelsea team he wants. That cant be done in 6 or even 12 months.

    I am glad they got this result as I agree with ABJ_Football (post 6) that this will mark a turning point for Chelsea this season, and it will certainly be an indication to any doubters that AJB is the right man to lead Chelsea forward. Though a tough test awaits when they play Citeh.

    (Not a Chelsea fan btw, just airing my opinion)

  • Comment number 9.

    Soul patch, I can't work you out. Your only apparent interest is to read and comment on things that you have no interest in.

  • Comment number 10.

    9. At 09:17 7th Dec 2011, DerekTheWelshMole wrote:

    Soul patch, I can't work you out. Your only apparent interest is to read and comment on things that you have no interest in.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I am interested in a quality team like Valencia, but I opted for the Barcelona game because Chelsea just bore me to tears.

    I shall review the highlights to see just how many slices of the luck cake Chelsea ate last night. I'm guessing they must feel rather fat this morning!

  • Comment number 11.

    There is no other logical or rational explanation that would reasonably explicate how a team chock-a-block with over-the-hill English plodders could beat a sizzling, sparkling Spanish side who are at least two notches up from Chelsea, or any other EPL side, in the meritorious hierarchy of European club football.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    you obviously didnt see the match, but the only explanation i see is that Valencia are also rans in a two team league, that were completely dominated from start to finish. no real dubious officiating to note, just outplayed by plodders as you put it, dosnt say much for Valenthia or anyone else in the lar Ligar barring Barthelona and Real Madrith.

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.

    Morning...very interesting night on and off the pitch at Stamford Bridge.

    Let's start with the on-field questions. Has AVB finally pointed Chelsea in the right direction? Is Lampard's absence the beginning of the end of his wonderful career at Stamford Bridge?

    And should Chelsea offer Didier Drogba the two-year deal he wants?

    What did you think of Oriol Romeu? I thought he looked a real talent.

    Villas-Boas was in fighting mood afterwards, but was he right to challenge his critics now or should he have waited a bit longer? Man City await next week and a victory over the league leaders may have been a better platform.

    I've got no problem with his criticism. We dish it out - although I'm not sure I did http://goo.gl/X3bQR - and we have to take it, but time will tell if his timing was right.

    Let me hear all your Chelsea views here. Fire away.

  • Comment number 14.

    Why am i not surprised that there is a blog about VB and now he job is gonna be secure.

    Oh and soul Chelsea just owned Valncia lastnight, nothing at all to do with luck.

    They were strong all over the pitch and Valencia for all there good efforts and great passing and football skills just couldn't stand up to the power of a struglling top team in the Prem.

    Well there is always the Europa league for the Spanish sides, its important to them

  • Comment number 15.

    11. At 09:22 7th Dec 2011, The_Hacienda FAC51 wrote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Behave yourself.

    Valencia are clearly a better team than Chelsea, so I'm looking for a serious explanation as to how Chelsea managed to win the match last night.

    Of course, one of the great things about football is the potential for a David v Goliath upset, so maybe this was just one of those 1 out of 20 fluke results that defy explanation.

    Then again, I still favour the probability that Chelsea were gorging themselves on the luck cake and/or benefited from some poor refereeing decision.

    Of course, I can't expect an honest and objective view of last night's match from the slew of Basset Hounds who frequent this blog, as they'll just be parroting what Jamie Redknapp was telling them last night.

  • Comment number 16.

    Villas-Boas was in fighting mood afterwards, but was he right to challenge his critics now or should he have waited a bit longer?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    maybe, but it sort of creates that siege mentality that they always had under Jose, which is what they were sadly lacking. For me, when Drogba looks bothered, they are always in with a chance, Mata, Romeu were great as well. As a United fan, glad to see them get through, well done with backs against the wall.

  • Comment number 17.

    5. At 09:04 7th Dec 2011, Eze Chukwuemeka Ernest wrote:
    ... Winning games is more important than playing fantasy football.
    ======================================
    Is it? I always thought that footballers were paid to entertain.
    I remember Jack Charlton once saying, after one of his team's particular negative displays "I'm not paid to entertain Tottenham supporters".
    This is one reason why football crowds continue to diminish.
    The logical conclusion of this attitude is that crowds will only contain those few hundreds who don't enjoy football, only winning.

  • Comment number 18.

    #7 - Soul Patch

    Pipe down mate, your boring. 3-0 win screams luck doesn't it...why comment about Barca, the blog has nothing to do with them. Granted they are a very good team, brilliant observation, can't imagine any of us would have spotted that if it wasn't for you, cheers pal.

    #13 - Phil

    Agreed about Romeu, looks a class act.

  • Comment number 19.

    The improvement in Drogba in recent weeks, the real rise to prominence of Sturridge, and the brilliance of Mata really casts a shadow for me over Torres and Lampard's long-term futures. Both players cannot be considered guaranteed starters anymore, and I think AVB is vindicated in making these decisions to drop big names.

    Well played Chelsea last night, hope you get a draw or better against City Monday night!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Of course, I can't expect an honest and objective view of last night's match from the slew of Basset Hounds who frequent this blog, as they'll just be parroting what Jamie Redknapp was telling them last night.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    nah mate, online, its free and its not sky (some dire Fox Americans with half time on a fake pitch in the studio!!!) and i can turn the volume off.

    Valencia are clearly a better team than Chelsea, so I'm looking for a serious explanation as to how Chelsea managed to win the match last night. No they arent they were throughly beaten, you are either blind or void of logic.

    Then again, I still favour the probability that Chelsea were gorging themselves on the luck cake and/or benefited from some poor refereeing decision.
    yes of course luck of running the midfield, see point above and refer to post 12.

  • Comment number 21.

    I thought it would be a lot harder for Chelsea as Valencia are no mugs. Everything went right and had the early shot that hit the post gone in then it could have been so different. But it didn't and Chelsea looked pretty good. The bench is definitely the best place for Lampard, Malouda etc. Lampard lacks mobility and his passing has never been great. Malouda lacks work ethic. It was the strongest 11 Chelsea can currently put out. We've seen the likes of Newcastle and Liverpool recently working so hard whilst not having the best players. You can't win nowadays without total commitment and last night Chelsea were up for it.
    Now then if United don't get Apoel in the last 16 I'll show my backside on the town hall steps.
    I might say that Mata is as good as Silva which makes him the equal best player in the PL. You don't see a first touch that good in the PL these days. Both ex - Valencia.

  • Comment number 22.

    I well remember Valencia handing Chelsea a 1-1 thrashing at the Mestalla, only a couple of months ago.

    I also clearly remember Valencia shining and sparkling in many a domestic game, while Chelsea have looked like a team full of over-the-hill English plodders, whose only rare glimmer of class has come from former Valencia man, Juan Mata, and ex-Barca prodigy, Oriol Romeu.

  • Comment number 23.

    Chelsea won fair and square. Valencia had a few chances, and managed decent posession, but didn't do much with it. No poor refereeing decisions in the game at all. It was a decent win for Chelsea, but was it really worthy of a blog?

    I really do not think so. Villas-Boas's rant post match however is worthy of about ten!

  • Comment number 24.

    Now then if United don't get Apoel in the last 16 I'll show my backside on the town hall steps.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I was thinking that as well (well about United getting Apoel). I do have a feeling Chelsea will get Barca.....could see Sturridge giving their defence some problems.

  • Comment number 25.

    Patches is looking for excuses as the 3-0 result defies his logic that spanish sides are better than the english sides. He must be looking very dazed, dishevelled and confused watching valencia being outplayed by a better team.
    Should man utd, man city, or both qualify tonight, that will be more english clubs going through to the next round of CL. No doubt patches will have some other conspiracy theory to throw out. Or claim the number of spanish teams in the Europa League, where english sides field their reserves.

  • Comment number 26.

    Soul Patch is a shameless wum. Ignore him.

    I didn't watch the match last night, but I'm hoping this more towards Lampard not playing will also impact on the England team. We just need Barry to not get games at City and we may just have a chance of making a good impression at the Euros next year.

  • Comment number 27.

    btw BBC mods a tit is a bird, Blue Tits famously learned to break open the foil caps sealing bottles of milk that had been delivered to homes to get at the cream floating on top, which i thought was quite poignant to old Patchy.

  • Comment number 28.

    @ 22

    No praise for meireles? I am surprised why he hasn't had more games this season! Showed what a quality player he was last season, wrongfully cut from liverpool team due to average players like henderson & adam, and now sitting on the bench due to lamps and mikel. Very bizarre.

  • Comment number 29.

    24. At 09:39 7th Dec 2011, The_Hacienda FAC51 wrote:

    I was thinking that as well (well about United getting Apoel). I do have a feeling Chelsea will get Barca.....could see Sturridge giving their defence some problems.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Chelsea can't get Barca, because Leverkusen only drew last night.

    I agree, though, that knowing United's ''luck'' they will not only squeak a draw against Basel tonight but will also get the plum draw against the plucky Cypriots.

  • Comment number 30.

    Urgh! What a rubbish article. Full of contradictions and with a barely concealed contempt for the idea that the media have to put their knives away for a bit.

    Anyway, enough of that.

    Great performance from Chelsea. I think everyone played well. But, it is just one game in a long season. Let's indulge ourselves today and then move on to the next game.

    (Romeu in particular was excellent. Let's hope Barcelona have enough youngsters [as displayed last night] and we can keep him and maybe buy out the buy back clause.)

  • Comment number 31.

    @ 26

    LOL - The mobile barry and lamps in england midfield would certainly spell knock out at group stage. Barry will probably get a few games as hargreaves is injured, and toure will be at africa nations.

  • Comment number 32.

    #24 - The_Hacienda

    Would also love to see Chelsea vs Barca in the next round, Chelsea might get beat but would love to see Sturridge running at the likes of Puyol, Pique and Mascherano just to see them being sat down.

  • Comment number 33.

    @ 30

    Yeah it's interesting that they let him go but obviously stuck in a buy back clause in case he develops fairly quickly. Though unless they have plans to move busquets to a more forward role, I can't really see the need for another DM?

  • Comment number 34.

    32. At 09:45 7th Dec 2011, juanmatter wrote:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Chelsea and Barca both topped their groups, so they can't play in the next round!

    It's either Marseille, Napoli, Milan, Zenit, Ajax or Trabzonspor/Lille/CSKA for Chelsea in the next round.

  • Comment number 35.

    I like the way AVB and Jose express themselves in English when they are annoyed.

  • Comment number 36.

    Phil, Drogba is undoubtedly a top player, but he is past his best as has shown recently.

    He will of course score goals when played, but will he be consistent enough to warrent another 2 years at the top? I doubt it. A bumper payday in Dubai or Russia could well be on the cards.

    Despite his service to Chelsea over the last few years, it could be time to move on...

  • Comment number 37.

    Would also love to see Chelsea vs Barca in the next round, Chelsea might get beat but would love to see Sturridge running at the likes of Puyol, Pique and Mascherano just to see them being sat down.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    yeah but my mistake, pointed out by our Scottish afficianado of Spanish football pointed out, Leverkeusen only drew so Chelsea tops the group, so avoid that.

  • Comment number 38.

    AVB (as he's now referred to) cannot justifiably complain about being persecuted. His tactics and team selection last night was spot on but this hasn't been the case up to now.
    I feel he is being disingenuous when he accuses all insundry of persecuting Chelsea (doesn't that really mean him) and feel he is taking on a touch of mourinho to defend himself. Chelsea need to get better passers of the ball in MF and to an extent he did that last night. IMO Lampard's days have long since been over and but for a decent alternative so should John Terry's. Chelsea needed a root and branch overhaul about 5 yrs ago -but for rebuilding by the likes of Utd, Chelsea would never have won PL and FAC in 2010.
    there are still big weaknesses in their team/squad esp in central defence and full back and they need a creative force in MF like a thirsty person needs a drink. Think they'll go out in the QFs.

  • Comment number 39.

    #13 philmcnultybbcsport

    Villas-Boas was in fighting mood afterwards, but was he right to challenge his critics now or should he have waited a bit longer? Man City await next week and a victory over the league leaders may have been a better platform.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Don't talk rubbish Phil. As alluded to in your wildly inconsistent words in this blog, if Chelsea had not done the business last night, you would have been all over AVB acting as if he was already fired.

    You and your cohorts talk absolute rubbish most of the time, and it's absurdities are only heightened by the fact that I doubt you've ever pulled a football shirt on for anything more than a kick about with the kids.

    Stick to reporting rather than trying to foster your particularly romantic prose fuelled by the transparency of a hack's agenda.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 31, I did mean that they also would not get into the England squad as a result. I'm not sure if that was clear.

  • Comment number 41.

    Please god let Basle (Basel) win tonight

  • Comment number 42.

    Good result for Chelsea last night but the acid test comes on Monday night against City. I don't really think many people expected Valencia to be good enough to get a result last night and Chelsea's romp showed why. City will be a much tougher game though and should Chelsea lose, I can't help but feel they'll be painted as 'back to square one' by McNulty et al.

  • Comment number 43.

    #38 Redfootball

    IMO Lampard's days have long since been over and but for a decent alternative so should John Terry's. Chelsea needed a root and branch overhaul about 5 yrs ago -but for rebuilding by the likes of Utd, Chelsea would never have won PL and FAC in 2010.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Look, it's Chelsea's day in the sun, keep your negativity and one eyed nonsense to yourself.

    Five years ago! Pft!

  • Comment number 44.

    @ 40

    Yeah I know, I was laughing if they both got into the team. That is what most likely would happen! LOL

  • Comment number 45.

    26. HMMurdoch-you are so so right!
    If Lampard, Barry, terry or A. Cole play for england in Poland/Ukraine-we are doomed. You might as well play concrete posts they are so immobile.

  • Comment number 46.

    Anyway about this 'rant' Who makes threats about reporters at press conferences, who intimidates reporters, who walks out of press conferences. Only Lord Ferguson of Wilmslow. AVB is entertaining not boring like Ferguson so leave him alone

  • Comment number 47.

    34. At 09:48 7th Dec 2011, You wrote:

    It's either Marseille, Napoli, Milan, Zenit, Ajax or Trabzonspor/Lille/CSKA for Chelsea in the next round.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Actually, just to correct one of very rare mistakes, Lyon could still technically qualify second in their group, ahead of Ajax. As Ajax are playing Real Madrid tonight (certain Ajax loss) and Lyon are playing Dinamo Zagreb (likely Lyon win) - but Lyon still need to make up 7 goals in Goal Difference between themselves and Ajax.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ 42

    Yeah chelsea need to go for a midfield trio of ramires, romeu and meireles. I can't see lamps dominating city's strong midfield.
    Though should they lose, it will most likely be, "chelsea back to square one". Though to be fair to mcnulty, he like many other journalists, have to sensationalise news to get people to read it.

  • Comment number 49.

    @8 - You're right. But you have conveniently left out the one person whose opinion of the Chelsea manager and team that really counts. Roman Abramovich. Its his itchy trigger finger method of ownership of the club that has put doubt over AVB's future. His unwarranted firing of Mourinho and Ancellotti has demonstrated that he is not one to wait for a side to develop. He wants it all now.

  • Comment number 50.

    @ 47

    Predictions for the FC Basel v Man Utd and Bayern v Man City games tonight?

  • Comment number 51.

    AVB came into the league on the heels of managing a team with two prolific strikers (Hulk and Falcao) who won him many results on their own. He entered the season with Chelsea trying to play a system much like they played at Porto--very high up the field and positive. Trying to do this with the plodding Drogba (I'm talking about the way he looked the first month or two of the season) and a misfiring Torres meant that there was no way to paper over the cracks. It seems to me he's reverting to more of a Mourinho inspired style in these last few games...cautious defensively, but letting his flair players do their thing up front. I can't imagine this will be a good thing for Torres, but could mean Drogba regains some form since the striker in this systems needs to be able to hold up the ball, bring others into the game and occasionally try to score on his own.

  • Comment number 52.

    #50

    Basel 0 United 2. City 1 Bayern 2.

  • Comment number 53.

    Phil - you can't call Mikel wasteful. Season after season he has the most passes and the greatest accuracy, and is immensely strong on the ball. The negative perception of him has become something of an urban myth since he got caught in possession against Liverpool. I cannot recall a single other instance of that ever happening to him.

    Romeu looks a very good player, but he categorically does nothing Mikel doesn't or cannot do. He has benefited from Chelsea changing their system because of the way the oppo were targeting the holding midfielder (Arsenal, Liverpool, Genk away). If Mikel had started last night's game he would have shone in that system, and after he came on, Valencia completely vanished as a threat.

  • Comment number 54.

    Congratulations on your apparent promotion Phil (according to post @1). Although David Bond might be a little unhappy about it...

  • Comment number 55.

    Soul patch

    You keep harping on about Valencia being a couple of notches above Chelsea but why have they failed to beat Chelsea in the 2 meetings this season? They were taken apart last night by players who have more ability and clearly were showing more ambition.

    It seems you can’t take that an English side have blown away a top Spanish side in the CL and put it down to luck despite not even taking in the game which just goes to show your knowledge in football is very very shaky.

  • Comment number 56.

    #47 - Soul Patch

    "Actually, just to correct one of very rare mistakes".

    You might be in the minority thinking that. The mere mortals among us may disagree. The statement contains a mistake.

  • Comment number 57.

    Funny what you have mentioned on your second post Phil as I was going to talk about it in my earlier post. Yes I do agree that AVB was in a bullish mood last night and the ‘slap on the face’ comment was a bit harsh and maybe aggressive. But let us not forget that he is still a young man who manages one of the big clubs and working for a very demanding and ruthless club owner and the fact that he has been under a lot of pressure recently.

    I think he got carried away with his post match comment which was the classic ‘spur of the moment’ reaction. This is by no means defending AVB as the comment was impolite as he could have chosen different words to convey the same message, but let us give him the benefit of the doubt for being a reaction of a young man (manager) who has been hearing and reading doubts about his managerial abilities.

  • Comment number 58.

    50. At 09:58 7th Dec 2011, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:
    @ 47

    Predictions for the FC Basel v Man Utd and Bayern v Man City games tonight?
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basel 1 Manchester United 1 (Basel will dominate and they will make United look like ''The Filly and Firkin'' on a Sunday Morning, just like they did at Old Trafford. United will scrape a late equaliser - courtesy of some bizarre own-goal or debatable penalty)

    Manchester City 0 Bayern Munich 3 (Despite Bayern already qualifying, they just have too much class for a City side who have shown that they can sweep all before them in the uncompetitive EPL, yet get unstuck against any semblance of decent European opposition. )

  • Comment number 59.

    Basel 1 Manchester United 1 (Basel will dominate and they will make United look like ''The Filly and Firkin'' on a Sunday Morning, just like they did at Old Trafford. United will scrape a late equaliser - courtesy of some bizarre own-goal or debatable penalty)

    Manchester City 0 Bayern Munich 3 (Despite Bayern already qualifying, they just have too much class for a City side who have shown that they can sweep all before them in the uncompetitive EPL, yet get unstuck against any semblance of decent European opposition. )

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

    yeah ok my sweaty friend.

  • Comment number 60.

    55. At 10:02 7th Dec 2011, Bear_with_it wrote:

    You keep harping on about Valencia being a couple of notches above Chelsea but why have they failed to beat Chelsea in the 2 meetings this season?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Behave yourself.

    Valencia absolutely demolished Chelsea 1-1 earlier in the season. I shall have to peruse the highlights of last night's fluke result, before I can give you an accurate and thorough verdict on just how such a bizarre result occurred.

  • Comment number 61.

    The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa has the writing style of Brian Glanville, but the analytical skills of Katie Price. It's like reading an alternate reality version of The Sun where oafish rhetoric about English superiority has been replaced by admirably crafted, yet equally blinkered Anglophobia.

  • Comment number 62.

    @47
    Bayern are without Schweinsteiger, Kroos and Robben. Recovering from flu, Müller and Gomez are also a doubt for us. Bayern should be solid, the regular defense should play, as will Ribery and Man United-killer Ivica Olic, but it won't be a thing like the team that took Citeh apart early in the competition. That said, several players such as Tymoschuck, Pranjic, Petersen and Gustavo will be busting a gut to show our manager something. I'm looking for a good game from Tymo, but if Gomez is rested we won't be a great threat in the final third.

  • Comment number 63.

    #60 - Soul Patch.

    "Valencia absolutely demolished Chelsea 1-1 earlier in the season."

    That statement pretty much sums you up.

  • Comment number 64.

    #48 eduard_streltsov_ghost

    Though to be fair to mcnulty, he like many other journalists, have to sensationalise news to get people to read it.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    No they don't. In this instance, it is simply enough for the BBC to host the debate, we don't need anyone to provoke it as we are perfectly capable of debating the issues ourselves.

    Also, in terms of sensationalism, it is the hunt for this rather than just to report the story as it is that has got the media in to the trouble it is in right now. (See Leveson.)

  • Comment number 65.

    "Valencia absolutely demolished Chelsea 1-1 "

    Yeah thats a scoreline that reflects a demolishing job....

    I think it's you who needs to 'Behave himself' as you are making a total clown shoe of yourself on here today.

    Valencia got stuffed last night and are out of the CL so if that does not reflect how poor they are compared with Chelsea I don't know what else will.

    Deal with it Soul patch....

  • Comment number 66.

    Behave yourself.

    Valencia absolutely demolished Chelsea 1-1 earlier in the season. I shall have to peruse the highlights of last night's fluke result, before I can give you an accurate and thorough verdict on just how such a bizarre result occurred
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    my only explanation is that instead of thinking you are Superman, you are actually Bizarro, the complete polar opposite, and live on Htrae rather than earth, where everything is completely backward of reality. Just a theory.

  • Comment number 67.

    #62

    If United get through tonight i'm hoping we get Bayern in the next round as i've still got 11 Euro's on my Allianz Arena card!

  • Comment number 68.

    Aaaahhh, the Soul_Patch is out in force this morning! The 3rd best team in Spain beaten by the 4th best team in England and the 6th best team in Germany. For the second time in a matter of weeks, the 'sizzling, sensational, sparkling Spanish pros' fail to even score or draw against their 'pubmiership' counterparts. Dear oh dear, and this from the best and most competitive league in the world?! Still, at least Valencia can return to La Liga and the 18 team relegation battle that happens every year whilst the 2 team title race plays out to everyones boredom.
    Good result from Chelsea and nice to see them playing something close to their best. Still some way to go and still some big decisions for AVB to make re.the older players but this must represent progress as results when under pressure are a good sign.

  • Comment number 69.

    A piece of journalism that's not spouting vitriol against us for once? Not characteristic of you at all Phil

    Great win for us last night. Some great individual performers. "Liability" Luiz might care to let Soldado out of his back pocket soon. Cech, Drogba, Terry and Ivanovic were all very impressive too

    Romeu looks better every game, can't believe we agreed to that wretched buyback clause. Hopefully if he establishes himself as a first teamer at Chelsea and sees Mascherano and Busquets ahead of him at barca he'll wamt to stay at the Bridgge

    But I think the real difference for us this season is Mata. All the plaudts have been going to Silva but let' not forget Mata-4 goals and 9 assists already, has an almost telepathic understannding with our front line. far from his best last night yet still notched 2 assists. Wonderful player, and to think we nearly lost out on him to Spurs

    As for Lampard, it really does appear he's run his course. It's one of things that's impressed me about AVB, the fact that he is brave enough to drop big name under-performers, something Ancelotti never was. He still has a role to play, we need to be lookig to use him much as Unietd did with Scholes and Giggs

  • Comment number 70.

    #67. Too funny...and believe me, we were all just as surprised when Olic scored those goals as all of you! Would love a Bayern/United tie.

  • Comment number 71.

    no.67, Many people are hoping United get Bayern next. I've got a gut feeling about Bayern this year. Having said that my guts are often off. Does Schweinsteiger instil fear in all English fan's minds or, is it the name. Oh no his first name's Sebastian, forget that.

  • Comment number 72.

    @ 63
    The same way valencia demolished chelsea 0-3, and absolutely destroyed man utd last season 1-1 and 0-1!

    58.At 10:03 7th Dec 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    Basel 1 Manchester United 1
    Manchester City 0 Bayern Munich 3

    Based on your previous track record (paul the octopus you are not!!) the likely results are to be:
    Basel 0 Man Utd 4 (Rooney 2, Wellbeck 2)
    Man City 1 Bayern 0 (city play europa league as napoli comfotably cruise past the CL's pub side villareal).

  • Comment number 73.

    @69

    Completely agree that Lamps should now be looking to play the Giggs role. Comes on to either add some inspiration when we were down or use his experience to see out tight games.

    The days of him being the engine room for you lot is over i'm afraid. I'm glad Chelsea went through as i do enjoy seeing 3 or 4 English teams in the quarters year after year. I was not glad with Leverkusen's inability to see off Genk and top the group.

    This leaves our chances (beating Basle aside) of missing out on Madrid, Barca and Bayern slightly slimmer!!

  • Comment number 74.

    Bastian, that's more like it

  • Comment number 75.

    @7 Soul Patch - haha, loving the alliteration. Perhaps you could create one surrounding the Blue's beleaguered boss' current predicament?!

  • Comment number 76.

    #69 Terry and Lampard-true Blues brothers

    - Romeu - I noticed that Barcelona played alot of home grown youngsters last night. I think we want them to go to their first team otherwise with Romeu being just 20, he may want to go back in a couple of years to take over from the players you mention.

    - Mata - Lovely player. Reminds me of Zola, but with a bit more zip over the turf. Sturridge is looking almost as good though. He needs to look for a pass more often (moments last night and against Newcastle and Arsenal recently when he should not have gone for goal himself) but in his defence, he is a striker playing the role of a wideman so perhaps his natural instincts take over sometimes.

    - Lampard still has plenty to offer. He may not be a shoe in anymore but, as long as he accepts the reality of the situation, he'll play at Chelsea for another couple of years yet.

    Ancelotti - I've said it before and I'll say it again, if Ancelotti had played Sturridge last autumn when the other strikers were mis-firing, he might still be at Stamford Bridge now.

  • Comment number 77.

    Any doubts about the 2-3 in Germany?Fair result?or not....

  • Comment number 78.

    #71

    I don't really mind who United would get as at the moment I don't think we're good enough to win it regardless. That said, we have to actually get through first so professional performance tonight please. Then again, if we're not good enough to get at least a draw against Basel then we don't deserve to go through.

  • Comment number 79.

    10.At 09:20 7th Dec 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    I am interested in a quality team like Valencia, but I opted for the Barcelona game because Chelsea just bore me to tears.
    -----------------------------------------
    Then why comment on an article on the Chelsea game? You aren't in a position to comment as you were off watching Barcelona beat the Belarussian team that were so poor they finished behind Plzen in the group. Maybe Chelsea were lucky or maybe the plodders exposed the poor quality of the Spanish league beyond Barca and Real but you wouldn't know because you didn't watch it and therefore aren't in a position to comment. Oh and you also forgot to use the words 'pub-standard' in your comments.

  • Comment number 80.

    #68 - Just ignore him, soul_patch is a very English office drone from Northampton and has never been to a La Liga game in his life. Don't feed the troll.

  • Comment number 81.

    Exciting times for Chelsea with a trip to White Hart Lane on the 22nd of this month.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 70

    Bayern - Man Utd would look like an interesting tie. Schweinsteiger is a class act! We have to get past Basel, and the strikeforce of streller & frei with shaqiri pulling the strings!

  • Comment number 83.

    Ah Soul Patch, you do make me smile.

    I did watch the match, and Valencia - as they so often have done against English teams - had a good share of possession but were toothless in attack and Chelsea beat them quite easily in the end.

    Our Premier League, well, god knows it isn't perfect, but at least there are more than two teams that anyone gives a twopenny bit about - you can't say that of La Liga now can you.

  • Comment number 84.

    I wonder what will become of Torres if Sturridge is healthy and Drogba returns to form? Torres seems fit now, but there's something off in his head--not the same joy or imagination in his game...CFC supporters, does he need more time? Is the team really "too slow" to play with him, as he said earlier? Are the tactics wrong for him? Has the rest of the league figured him out? Has he just lost it? I just can't figure out what is next for him...time on the bench? On loan somewhere? Keep throwing him out there hoping he'll get on track?

  • Comment number 85.

    Phil "knee jerk reaction" McNulty at his best. He's already changed his mind about Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool based on a result here and there and now he's done the exact same with Chelsea. Last week it was crisis club, get rid of everyone, now it's the opposite based on one result against mediocre La Liga team.

    When can we get a decent blog writer who provides insight and in depth analysis rather than the drivel of an armchair fan who changes his hypebole based on weekly results?

  • Comment number 86.

    The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa - mate, i will have a pint of whatever you are on cos it must be AMAZING in you fantasy world :-)

  • Comment number 87.

    @78

    Agreed. Yeah if over two matches against Basle we only get 1 point then we absolutely deserve our spot in the Europa League.

    I keep harbouring this hope that we will turn it round over Christmas, Cleverley will return and Schneider (or someone) will come giving us some sort of energy in midfield. So by getting the Greeks we should at least give ourselves some time. to more up the gears.

  • Comment number 88.

    "I wonder what will become of Torres if Sturridge is healthy and Drogba returns to form? Torres seems fit now,"

    Drogba is 33 and he cannot play in every single match especially with midweek CL games....He has only shown up in 2 games this season, I understand he was back to his best last night but people need to realize it is impossible for Drogba to be the same player he was 2-3 years ago when he was in his pomp.

    Torres will get his chance but needs to grab it as there is only 1 space left for a central striker.

  • Comment number 89.

    * move up the gears even.

    But as you mentioned at present we having at a hope of winning the competition.

  • Comment number 90.

    @ 84
    I did hear from a friend who's a doctor specialising in tendons etc that he seemed to think torres has lost some of his pace and movement, mobility due to his operations on his ankle. In fact he "predicted" a decline in form following his injury and operation.
    I think an operation like that can certainly have lasting effects, he's not the first nor the last, remember redondo at milan? And topped with lack of confidence. Certainly a good explanation for his patchy form for last 18 months.

  • Comment number 91.

    #84 BayernUltra

    Although a price tag such as his does attract attention, I think he should be treated just as any other player.

    Talk of the team playing too slow is nonsense. Also, Torres himself isn't as bad as some would like to make out. His cameo at Newcastle, for example, something went wrong with his chance for a strike at goal, so he looked up and found someone else to score. That works, doesn't it?

    #85 PulpGrape

    We don't need a blogger at all. We need 606 where we can just talk among ourselves.

  • Comment number 92.

    If Bayern and United are to play, I'm glad it will take place until mid-February when both teams have a chance to heal and get back to full strength (Schweini, Hernandez, Rio, Vidic, Robben, etc.). FCBs and MANUs first choice teams are world class, and while the rest of their squads are decent I think everyone would like to see two great XI's fighting at full strength.

  • Comment number 93.

    Basel 1-1 Man U, City 2-3 Bayern

  • Comment number 94.

    @ 87

    I just prey we don't either pay over the odds for someone or make a "rush" buy. Once I head the anderson news last week, few on here were saying give pogba and morrison a chance. But having watched both v palace, while they looked promising, they need to go out on loan before they're thrown at the deep end.

  • Comment number 95.

    @76 MrBlueBurns

    Think our slump last season went deeper than that. Sturridge needs to improve his decision making, has to stop being so selfish and not to shoot at every opportunity. Don't get me wrong I've been very impressed with his contributions this season, he and clearly should have been playing last season but I think there is still room for improvement. Mata's first touch can be poor, but his final ball is class, and he's getting better, that assist for Drogs at the weekend was pure class

    You only have to compare to last season when we were stuck with Kalouda as our widemen! Doesn't bear thinking about

    Another player I'll mention who has gone rather un-noticed is Ramires, starting to add goals to his remarkable consistency

  • Comment number 96.

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

  • Comment number 97.

    @ 92

    It would be interesting to see how our "1st team" midfield plays. Bayern's team has grown in class and stature, so would be good to see how our team compares. I think def & attack we're both equally matched, but the class in central midfield bayern has obliterates anything we have.

  • Comment number 98.

    Phil, if Roman Abramobvich took over the BBC, how long would you keep your job?

    Would we measure it in hours, minutes or seconds?

  • Comment number 99.

    I don't know why you care anyway. You probably live in Brighton and were probably born in wales or Scotland, hence you bitterness and tediousness.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    oh no, cue some rant about xenephobia now......

  • Comment number 100.

    @91. Agreed. I don't think FT has been awful. He's been dreadfully unlucky--a few of his 'misses' have been absolutely bizarre--but he looks fit and certainly worries the opposition when he's on the pitch. He just looks a shadow of the player he was before the injury and I don't watch Chelsea enough to have an opinion about why that is.

 

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