Chelsea 2 Southampton 0
FA Cup Semi Final, Sunday 22nd April 2018 15:00
Us: Big Willy gets the nod in goal. Nice, this is his competition after all. Still no place for Christensen, Emerson continues to deputise for Alonso. Fabregas trades places with Bakayoko and Little Willy and Hazard return at the expense of Pesto (whatever, autospell) and Morata. (Ouch)
Them: Ex-Blues Romeu and Champions League-winner Bertrand feature. Bared my teeth a bit at Shane Long. Then I saw Charlie Austin, started perving and didn’t get any further than that. I can’t hate them, but then I saw Mark Hughes’s face as he stole a living doing his pre-match interview and wanted to crush him like a flea wearing a Sp*rs shirt.
Sunshine at Wembley. Our last chance of silverware this season. And they owed us a good showing after the final last year. Conte had apparently told them to play like they’ve got fire in their eyes. Let’s hope that they don’t take it too literally and run around with them shut, clutching their face. Because that would be like… well like watching us for a lot of this season. First blood to Hazard after four minutes after a one-two with The Beard. He hit it so well and the keeper was done, but it just drifted wide. My beloved Charlie had a half chance at the other end before we burst forward on the break, led again by Eden. Ball goes out to Little Willy who cuts inside and you’re expecting him to bury it; but it cracked the bar. Good stuff so far. First ten minutes was all us. Great ball in from Fabregas on 11 but some good defending blocked it off from Hazard. On 12 it was The Beard trying to get a shot off after a great takedown but then tying himself up in knots. One way traffic.
And yet we hadn’t had a shot on target. And they began to come back into the game. But at least it hadn’t been a clusterf*ck of ineptitude like the opening spell against them a last week. Relatively easy save for Big Willy on 24, which at least let us know he wasn’t asleep. Hazard was bright, he got some good little exchanges with The Beard going. Rudi looked up for it at the back. Already some really nice touches from Emerson, but we really needed to make them pay. Half an hour had passed now. The longer it went on like this, the more likely we’d be to crap our pants and do something stupid, like concede just before half time.
Great corner (No I haven’t been sniffing glue) from us on 32, flicked on by Dave but then it skimmed across the box and there was no blue head to plant on it. Ball from Cesc on 38, horrible angle for The Beard who better that you would have hoped with making a shot of it, but it went wide and lay on the pitch screaming in frustration. Seconds later cross into the box from Emerson but Moses was lagging behind coming in on the back post and another half chance went begging. We had not conceded a single foul, that should tell you something about the domination in the first half. No added time either. Their service in to My Charlie and Long had been woeful. And yet behold how we are not winning. I’m not sulking yet. But if it’s still like this after an hour then expect this write up to get fighty.
And THE BEARD DOES IT AGAIN! Right from the kick off, Cesc ball in, Hazard pulls it over to the beautiful lump and he winds past FIVE of their team as they all trip over each other like bellends. 28 seconds of the half gone. On 47 Southampton were calling for a penalty but it was a great effort from Cesc, then a swift break, Hazard shot, just wide. More entertaining so far than the whole of the first half. On 53 We almost blew it, great ball from My Charlie through to that little git Long, whose first touch was about as subtle as Allardyce at a buffet table. But they did seem to have suddenly woken up, though I couldn’t help thinking that that means we are going to smash them on the break.
Until they tried to kill The Beard. And failed. They looked ready to crumble after play resumed. Needed to take advantage quick. Not what we usually do. Which is miss multiple opportunities, let it stay at 1-0 and then concede at a really awkward moment. Hughes attempted to look like he actually earns his money by getting Redmond and Tadic after an hour. Willian leaves for Bakayoko, shaking his head, slower than Bosingwa at his timewasting best and goes straight down the tunnel. Blues not happy. Booing. Conte’s trying to shore the midfield up but it’s gone down like a lead balloon tied to Charlie Adam’s ankle.
They came close from a corner on 67 and they looked like a different side now. If it goes wrong from here Antonio might as well rock up by the Osgood statue at the Bridge, pull his pants down and just wait for anyone involved with Chelsea to line up and boot him up the a*se. Because nobody will care about the logic in his substitution. And behold. 72 minutes. Somehow Big Willy goes over the line with the ball. But apparently My Charlie shoved him it over with his a*se. Oh to have been Caballero at that point. Refwatch: Martin Atkinson. He booked three players for fouls on Hazard. I don’t think I’ve seen a referee actually do his job like this, well, ever. After that goal/not goal for Austin they will think they just can’t get a break at the moment. (In the words of Frank Lampard, you might as well get the goalkeeper a VIP rope and a bouncer.) But I like to focus solely on the happy fact that Atkinson took a massive sh*t on Hughes’s weekend.
74 and Pesto came on for Cesc. Two minutes later a cross came in from Eden and a Southampton player somehow scooped it just onto the roof of the net. Then on 79 Morata finally got some pitch time, The Beard having done his job for the day. And fair play to Morata. Within a minute and a half, basically his first touch, goal. He needed that after Thursday. Dave doing what he does best, setting up his mate for a header.
They were almost back in it on 83 with a miracle shot from My Charlie, but he cracked the post, back up the other end and we nearly stung them on the counter but that Dutch bloke of theirs cleared it off the line after Morata scuffed his shot. By 85 he could have been on a hatrick, but let’s not split hairs. We’re going through comfortably. 86 minutes and Charlie had yet another effort at the other end. He was looking a very frustrated bunny now. Into the first of five minutes of added time we went. Loads of empty seats at the red end of Wembley now, and the fizz gone out of the game. Dutch bloke who cleared it off the line almost scored an own goal, but 2-0 it remained.
So: Chequebook Pulis at Wembley it is in the final. There were a few minutes, when Willian went off and they weren’t allowed a goal, when Antonio could have looked like a prize dickhead. But football sometimes turns on moments like this and today it turned in his favour to take him to his second consecutive FA Cup Final, which isn’t exactly sh*t is it? Giroud is unbeaten at Wembley. He says it’s like his garden. Overall we were the better side, but they could have put a spanner in the works several times throughout the course of it. I don’t want them to go down, it’s a good day out. We’re still in a position to salvage something from this season. I anticipate the price list for final tickets and the pitiful small amount of them available to actual fans with joy. At least our season now ends with a Wembley day out and not a 2000 mile round trip to the northeast.