Monday, February 26, 2007

A million miles from home

But happy!

...Half past four in the morning and looking out over the harbour. A half finished glass of water sits on the table, tell-tale signs of another night of excess down under. The city out there is blissfully unaware of the result from Cardiff. But, it matters not a jot. It's the win that counts. Didier Drogba grabbed both goals as Chelsea came from behind to win a Carling Cup final that ended in ugly scenes at the Millennium Stadium. Junior Walcott had given The Arsenal a lead after showing Ricardo Carvalho forged ID...

Full match report to follow when I wake up...


However, the Blues equalised when The Drog beat the infamous The Arsenal offside trap to slot home an equaliser and then with six minutes to go he headed in a powerful winner. A crappy brawl erupted between the sides late on that led to dismissals for Mikel Jon Obi, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor. It was an amusing climax to an intriguing final and cruel luck (yeah right!) on Arsenal's young side, who allegedly dominated for large spells in the last League Cup final in Cardiff.

Arsenal's outfield players had an average age of less than 21 but they showed few nerves in producing some wonderful football before eventually running out of steam. And they fell victim to the clinical finishing of Drogba, who scored his 27th and 28th goals of the season to again deny Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger a League Cup medal - which is a real shame!

The Blues had Petr Cech to thank in the 11th minute for a stunning save after Julio Baptista had drilled a shot through the legs of John Terry, who surprisingly overcame an ankle injury to play but ended the day in hospital. Chelsea failed to clear the resulting corner and Walcott exchanged passes with Abou Diaby and glided past Carvalho before keeping his cool to slot the ball past Cech.

The 17-year-old could not have chosen a more predictable time to score his first goal for the Gunners. Although the fact that he was actually allowed to play in a match sponsored by an Alcoholic beverage company, surely a blatant case of flouting the licencing laws, must have been a key factor in Lord Percy's half-hearted attempt to nobble him.

However, fear not stout hearted fellows! The Blues equalised in clinical fashion in the 20th minute. The Arsenal back line pushed up when Michael Ballack played a ball over the top for Drogba, who ran on to slip the ball under Manuel Almunia. It was a split decision given in favour of the attacking player but Wenger spent much of the opening half displaying his anger at a linesman's failure to flag. Well, lordy me! Arsene Wenger moaning again, whatever next.

Arsenal continued to run around a lot and apparently could have restored their lead just before half-time - but for a Lord Percy intervention to deny Jeremie Aliadiere. And the Gunners continued to look the more likely scorers after the break, or so the bloke from the BBC web site reckoned with Diaby denied by Cech and Fabregas shooting just the wrong side of the post.

The Blues lost skipper Terry midway through the half when he took a boot in the face from Diaby as he tried to finish off an Arjen Robben corner. Terry was knocked unconscious and the referee gave a goal-kick. Well, he is Chelsea you know. The brutal and clumsy assault fired up the boys (the things he does to get them going) and they finished strongly and Arsenal's young legs began to tire. All that aimless running around and pouting no doubt. Drogba had a shot saved by Almunia and Frank Lampard produced a dipping long-range shot that smacked against the bar.

In the 84th minute Robben's cross picked out Drogba and he headed past a stranded Almunia, having left the witless Senderos sprawling on the Millenium Stadium's turf for the umpteenth time. Sheva could have made the seven minutes of injury time more bearable but his drilled shot thundered back off the bar. The game ended in a bit of a tizz when Obi clashed with Toure and several players from each team, as well as both managers, got involved in an ugly scuffle. Referee Howard the Duck dished out three red cards to Toure, Adebayor and Obi as well as matching yellows to Fabregas and Super Frank. Over 11 minutes of added-on time was played before the final whistle was blown to hand the first major trophy of the season to Jose and the Boys. One down...

Chelsea: Cech, Diarra, Terry (Mikel 63), Carvalho, Bridge, Makelele (Robben 46), Lampard, Ballack, Essien, Shevchenko (Kalou 90), Drogba. Subs Not Used: Hilario, Ashley Cole.
Sent Off: Mikel (90).
Booked: Essien, Carvalho, Diarra, Lampard.
Goals: Drogba 20, 84.

Arsenal: Almunia, Hoyte, Toure, Senderos, Traore (Eboue 66), Walcott, Fabregas, Denilson, Diaby (Hleb 68), Aliadiere (Adebayor 80), Julio Baptista. Subs Not Used: Poom, Djourou.
Sent Off: Toure (90), Adebayor (90).
Booked: Denilson, Eboue, Fabregas.
Goals: Walcott 12.

Post script.
JT is fine in fact he was back at the stadium soon after the match having checked out of hospital. Flash was last heard of giving it large to all the Gooners and funnily enough the Arsenal fans I know seem all to have their mobiles switched off.

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