Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Blue And Big Numbers

Any time I feel like dusting my keyboard and putting it to work, it seems to precipitate a Chelsea debacle. As with the last time of writing, Chelsea's season isn't by any means done. The result was frightening, however, and somewhat vindicated Jose's policy of keeping rotation to a minimum. The squad is still a work in progress, and a change in style will not come without a cost. That nearly the entire top half of the Premier League decided to sweat their cup ties was scant consolation. This is the second time the Blues have been hit for 4 this year and it's still January. By Chelsea standards, that is simply unacceptable.

Bradford City players are ecstatic after beating Chelsea in the FA Cup
The Bantams break into the Bridge and make away with the silver (Image credits: BBC)

Trust the team from Hogwarts to weave some magic in the FA Cup.

It was pleasing, then, to see Chelsea go into the weekend's big clash with wind in their sails following a huge semifinal victory on Tuesday night. The teams raised the level of the Capital One Cup and ensured it played out like a European Cup knockout tie. Mourinho certainly reacted like he had won one by the end of it. Liverpool have improved massively from the time the clubs met in the league and should be a major contender for top 4 once Sturridge returns.

Thibaut Courtois played a major part in Chelsea's Capital One Cup victory over Liverpool
The returning Thibaut Courtois played a major part in Chelsea's march to Wembley (Image credits: Daily Mail)

Chelsea didn't come away from the tie entirely unscathed - They face the prospect of playing City without Fabregas and could also be short on full back expertise as both Ivanovic and Luis are doubtful. Diego Costa might face a retrospective ban for his 'crimes'. That is a bridge that we will cross when we come to it, though.

For now, Chelsea can celebrate yet another date with Wembley, their second home.

If you've got this far wondering where the rest of the post's title is going to bear fruit, it is now. Some of my older patrons might recall a certain post I made about attempting to conquer the Fantasy Premier League world using data from the FPL API. As I was absorbed by the thug life work, I found it rather difficult to back up my initiative with anything substantial, but I should have something for everyone by this weekend.

In fact, I may have something for you right now. Dig in. It's rudimentary and I will sharpen things in the next few days, but it's a start and could be helpful given that the wildcard window will be closing by Feb 7.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Guess Who?

It's been a while, eh?

A few months of great personal change, long hours and a dash of laziness kept me from blogging all season, but a vacation filled with football discussion and a gift from Secret Santa nudged me towards picking up my pen... er, keyboard, again. There are few things that give me more joy than updating this little journal, something I hope to do more often now.

As of today, Chelsea are leading the Premier League and are yet to be knocked out of any competition. Yet, it feels like the world is ending. That is what being chewed up and spit out by Tottenham can do.

Kane applying the chokeslam (Image credits:

That was some performance from the hosts. Spurs surrendered the lead but banged in four without reply before you could say "Cahill". A delightful and devastating show of pressing and movement left Chelsea reeling and bereft of ideas, outplayed for the first time in months.

My excuse is that Tottenham are used to playing on Thursday nights.

I woke up and read that Steven Gerrard is leaving Liverpool, and felt very odd. He's the latest player to decide to effectively retire among the first generation of players I grew up watching.

Nobody taught me that I was supposed to be hating him and his team, so I quite enjoyed watching him play (Goodness knows how many days of my life I spent on Lampard vs Gerrard arguments though). Reading the news this morning made me think, once again, of the 'old' Premier League, the 'classic days' when van Nistelrooy, Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard did battle to win their teams supremacy among the 'Big Four'.

You know the player one instantly thinks about when his team's name is mentioned? He was one of them. Gerrard is a player that defined Liverpool for several years and emerged as one of the icons of the Premier League. His team's only hope when nothing seemed possible, a real-life Roy of the Rovers. Even as player after player left, he chose to stay and fight. And what fights some of them were.

The league title remained agonizingly out of his reach, but it doesn't matter. He's had a decorated career at one of football's revered clubs, inspiring them to several famous victories and leaving an indelible mark in the minds of a generation of supporters, Liverpool and otherwise. One of the greatest players of his generation.

What a hit, son. What a hit.