Late blog today, I partially tore my Achilles tendon last Sunday and to accommodate my need to get a ride from my girlfriend I’ve changed my work schedule to four 10 hour shifts. Yes, I have Friday’s off and so I got to sleep in this morning and thus the late blog.
A late blog though isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, the late blog let’s me write about the story that Drogba’s stirring up the Chelsea supporters. First off, there isn’t a single dirty trick for Chelsea to pull that would surprise me in the least. But inciting the Chelsea supporters to be even worse than they already are is pretty low.
During the Carling Cup final, Cesc was pelted with celery every time he went to take a corner kick. At first it was just rib of celery or two and then they started chucking whole hearts of celery. Which culminated in this famous image:
I understand the celery thing, I really do. And I remember remarking last year that tossing the odd rib of celery at a player isn’t really that big of a deal. The problem only happens when things start to escalate, as they did in the photo above. Once fans start tossing out hearts of celery, or even whole celery plants, the only possible outcome is escalation. And the Arsenal supporters did promise to escalate this war of veggies by promising to hit Ashcole with whole fruit and veg on his return to Arsenal.
Fortunately, Wenger called for calm, the stadium stepped up searches and Cole wasn’t hit with vegetables. Because we all know that if Arsenal supporters were given the same leeway that Chelsea supporters seem to get and allowed to throw veggies at Cole, the next escalation would be peas… wrapped in a can. It was a very classy move by Arsenal to defuse the situation.
And now we’ve come full circle. Chelsea are in a serious shambles right now conceding 4 goals to bottom of the table Tottenham and with Avram Grant’s tactics being openly questioned by his players. Not only that, but Ashcole’s tackle and the squad’s subsequent ugly remonstration of Riley’s let off of a yellow card shows that there is a deep, deep trouble at Chelsea. And so, it’s natural for the players to grasp at straws and say things like:
William knows he is coming to the cauldron of Stamford Bridge, like with Ashley Cole [at Arsenal], he will be booed. But they are top players and I will need help from the crowd to unsettle William
I would think that Chelsea as a club would, right now, with all that is going on, want the players to bring a measure of calm and professionalism and workman attitude to the game. If the club wanted to do that, they might make a statement like this:
I want our fans to be behind our team and not to especially have resentment… He did well for the club for as long as he was here and ideally you want everybody who has played for you to be respected. What is over is over and you have to take a distance with that.
Those were the words of Arsene Wenger ahead of Cole’s return to Arsenal. He’s a classy guy that Wenger.
I would hope that Avram Grant would say something similar but Chelsea just don’t have the history of being a classy club. Chelsea are the kind of club that always puts winning ahead of everything else. They are the Floyd Landis of English football.
Sunday has all the potential to be the ugliest football match we have seen all season. I expect trouble in this match, Arsenal have seen a serious drop in form since Milan and will not be above hard tackles to regain that form. Chelsea, as I already mentioned, are in an absolute free fall and with the personalities on that team it’s a matter of “when” and not “if” they will start the pushing, shoving, yelling at the ref, dirty tackles, shirt pulling and all the other tactics they employ when they can’t win a match by playing football. If you add in that the FA, in a moment of sheer insanity, placed Mark Clattenburg (who has been disciplined publicly this season…TWICE) in charge of the match this thing is ready to explode.
Which makes Drogba stirring up the fans that much more reprehensible. The last thing this match needs is the supporters egging on the bad conduct — literally.
So, shame on you Drogba, and shame on you Chelsea for not calling for calm ahead of the storm.