I made you some Superman you couldn’t be
On Tuesday night, Chelsea were 4-2 down at home to Ajax when they were awarded a penalty with over 20 minutes left to play. Ajax were simultaneously reduced to nine men. In over 20 minutes against those nine men at home, they scored just one more goal.
Over to you, Neil ‘Hyperbole’ Ashton of The Sun:
‘Chelsea recovered, summoning superhuman strength to level at 4-4 against the nine men of Ajax.’
‘Superhuman strength’ to score once against nine sodding men! What happened in the 2005 Champions League final if scoring one goal against nine men shows ‘superhuman strength’? The second coming? The Ascension?
‘You would have fancied Ajax holding on for a famous win if they had kept Daley Blind and Joel Veltman on for the full 90.’
Yep, you would have fancied the team winning 4-2 – who beat Real Madrid, Juventus and Tottenham away from home last season – to ‘hold on’ at Stamford Bridge for a ‘famous win’.
How do you sum up a 4-4 draw?
Extracts here from John Cross’ report in the Daily Mirror:
* ‘FRANK LAMPARD enjoyed some incredible Champions League nights, but few were as dramatic as this.’
* ‘Eight goals, an incredible Chelsea fightback, and two Ajax players sent off…’
* ‘The game got off to an incredible, breathless start with two goals in the first four minutes…’
* ‘It should have been game over. But, incredibly, Ajax fell apart…’
* ‘Azpilicueta thought he had won it after 78 minutes only for VAR to rule it out for a handball against Abraham and the incredible celebrations were cut short.’
* ‘Incredibly, when the final whistle went you could see Lampard’s disappointment…’
‘Frank Lampard opens up on half-time team talk that inspired Chelsea comeback’ – Daily Star.
‘What Frank Lampard told Chelsea players at half-time to inspire Ajax comeback’ – Metro
Yes, do tell us what Lampard said that inspired Chelsea to go 4-1 down ten minutes into the second half.
As yet entitled
The Sun’s miserable Mark Irwin has an opinion about Granit Xhaka and Unai Emery. Of course he does. And he’s not happy. Of course he’s not.
‘UNAI EMERY has thrown Granit Xhaka under the Arsenal bus by stripping him of the captain’s armband.’
Well he did tell the fans to ‘f*** off’.
‘No manager worth his salt should ever allow public opinion to dictate his team selections.
‘But that is exactly what Emery has done by caving in to the sick trolls on social media who have been so offended by someone giving them a taste of their own foul-mouthed medicine.’
Hmm. The slight flaw in this argument is that the ‘sick trolls’ who abused him online are unlikely to be the same people he told to ‘f*** off’.
‘Of course Xhaka was wrong to mouth “f*** off” to the supporters who booed him off the pitch during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace ten days ago.’
Good of you to recognise that, Mark.
‘He acknowledged as much with his thoughtfully worded statement last week, when he apologised for disrespecting the fans but explained the reasons behind his outburst.
‘Yet that was still not enough for some of the most entitled supporters in football.’
Yes. Because supporters of other clubs are famously happy to be told to ‘f*** off’.
‘David Moyes has defended his time in charge of Manchester United amid recent criticism from former defender Rio Ferdinand’ – MailOnline.
‘Amid’? ‘Recent’? Rio Ferdinand’s critical book was released in 2014.
‘Liverpool will play two cup competitions on two continents in less than 24 hours next month after the EFL agreed to their request to stage the Carabao Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa as originally scheduled,’ was The Guardian’s take on the story of Liverpool playing their Carabao Cup clash against Aston Villa on December 17 before the Club World Cup on December 18.
They said as much in their statement, saying: ‘The club would like to take this opportunity to underline that, while this is not an ideal scenario, it is an outcome which was arrived at with the best interests of the competition, our fellow clubs and ourselves as the sole motivating factor.
‘We would like to thank the EFL for their efforts to accommodate us and we can confirm alternative dates were discussed but, ultimately, none were considered suitable without compromising the scheduling of the competition itself or placing an undue strain on our playing staff.’
Jurgen Klopp then confirmed it was the club’s decision to play on that day, saying: “We had to make a decision, and we’ve made a decision now because all the other alternatives were more problems than solutions and didn’t work out. We said, that’s how we can do it as good as is possible for us.”
That seems very clear. This is not an ideal situation but this is Liverpool’s solution.
So quite why the Liverpool Echo are blaming anybody but Liverpool themselves for this situation is curious. Or at least it would be if they weren’t clearly trying to create a siege mentality. It’s Liverpool v The World, as ever.
‘A bad solution to a big, big mess. And, as much as Liverpool’s subsequent statement claims to the contrary, one that serves the best interests of absolutely nobody.
‘Not the Carabao Cup, which has been instantly undermined and in danger of being treated as something of a joke.
‘Not Aston Villa, a mouthwatering quarter-final tie transforming into a freakish oddity.
‘And certainly not Liverpool, who now face the onerous task of preparing for two games in two different competitions less than 24 hours and thousands of miles apart.
‘A logistical nightmare, it is the price of Liverpool’s ongoing success.’
Indeed. But as Liverpool and Klopp themselves have made clear, this is the best solution to a big mess.
‘The decision to play the Carabao Cup quarter-final the night before December 18’s FIFA Club World Cup semi-final in Qatar is frankly outrageous, a dismal dereliction of duty from the fixture planners.’
Well, the decision was Liverpool’s. Is it still ‘frankly outrageous’?
‘Win lots of games? Tough luck. Want to win every trophy you enter? All the best.’
Well yes. That’s how this sh*t works. It’s not the authorities’ job to find nonexistent gaps in the calendar. And it certainly seems like they tried to do exactly that but failed, with Liverpool then making the decision to go ahead as planned. As Klopp himself said: “The Club World Cup you play in only if you win the Champions League. That doesn’t happen in your life five million times, and that means we take the opportunity.”
So what were the EFL supposed to do to help Liverpool compete on every front?
‘It’s pointless considering any other alternatives that were open to the Football League such as having both Carabao Cup semi-finals as a one-off game at a neutral venue, solving the situation at a stroke. Not for the governing body the sensible option.’
Oh, they were supposed to change the format of a competition that is 60 years old, mid-season, just for Liverpool. Of course.
Recommended reading of the day
Barney Ronay on Chelsea
James McNicholas on William Saliba (£)