What was your favourite Frank Lampard moment in a Chelsea shirt? Was it the swivelled volley against Bayern Munich? Perhaps it was the outrageous chip over Victor Valdes or the two goals against Aston Villa that made him the club’s all –time top goalscorer and guaranteed Champions League football for the club in the following season? Maybe it was the slide rule ball for Ramires’ goal against Barcelona, the emotionally charged penalty against Liverpool or the stupendous pass with the outside of his boot to tee up Didier Drogba in a 6-0 rout of Manchester City in 2009? Or maybe it was that magnificent, historic brace against Bolton Wanderers that delivered the Blues their first title for half a century?
Saturday 19th May was the greatest night in the history of Chelsea Football Club and gave all fans of the club the best day of their lives.
Five days later the glow burns as bright as ever and it is unlikely that this feeling will fade for months despite the legion of detractors queuing up to diminish the achievements of the new Champions of Europe. The manner of victory seems to have upset many who have bemoaned the fact that the defensive tactics adopted by Roberto Di Matteo ultimately prevailed over the fluid attacking football exhibited by Bayern Munich.
Just over two months ago when I started this blog I listed the three transfer targets that Chelsea should pursue in the summer if they were to continue in the vein of recent seasons and qualify for the Champions League.
At the time of writing that piece, Andre Villas-Boas was still at the helm and the club sat in the hallowed yet precarious position of fourth place in the Premier League. As we know, times have changed quite considerably since then and with Roberto Di Matteo taking the wheel Chelsea find themselves looking upwards from sixth position having been overtaken by Arsenal and Newcastle with Spurs still sitting in the Champions League places.
The reaction of the football world to the stricken Fabrice Muamba’s fight for life on the White Hart Lane pitch has seen the sport and its followers united in sympathy and respect for the Bolton Wanderers player.
Football fans are normally split along territorial, tribal lines with gloating and mocking frequently fermenting into insults and abuse yet the behaviour of the Tottenham fans on Saturday has been rightly commended. What is disturbing is that anyone is surprised. After all, each spectator was just a human being witnessing a fellow person struggling against the ultimate challenge and compassion, correctly and inevitably, supplanted cynicism among the 36,000 people present.
The soap opera continues at Chelsea as Andre Villas-Boas exits stage left.
Is there ever a dull season at Stamford Bridge? Even when the performances are drab and guileless the intrigue and subterfuge in the dressing room and corridors of power ensure that drama is at the heart of operations in SW6.
For some, Andre Villas-Boas’ team selection for Chelsea’s match against Napoli was a bold statement, an attempt to sweep out the rebellious stalwarts of a bygone era and replace them with the next wave of Chelsea stars who would recreate the club’s impressive record in the Champions League over the past decade.
After a 3-1 defeat littered with defensive errors and incohesion, nostalgia for the bygone era grew ever more palpable.
Chelsea step into the lions den when they play SSC Napoli in the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday night.
Waiting to pounce will be a formidable front three of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik roared on by 60,000 Neapolitans with the press pack waiting to pick over the bones of Andre Villas-Boas’ should the home side take a significant advantage from the first leg of this last 16 round of the Champions League.