In theory, I should be in a fairly qualified position to pass comment on Chelsea’s visit to West Ham United on Saturday afternoon.
In advance of this article, I sat down to watch the Blues play Fulham on Wednesday night, but after a while I became entranced by the millions of dust particles slowly drifting around my living room and then gently settling like snow flakes on top of my telly. It was a fascinating sight.
Fearing I’d missed the boat, I later tuned into Match of the Day to catch up but those fools from the Beeb were at it again and forgot to transmit the West London derby.
I sat there for an hour and half waiting for it to appear and five minutes before the end, Southampton v Norwich came on.
Now I know the corporation have been under the hammer with Newsnight and Jimmy Savile but how could they have forgotten to broadcast the illuminating football of this season’s slick and stylish Chelsea production featuring the mercurial talents of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata?
The following morning I rushed out to buy a newspaper to find out the score. After all, even black print type set against a greying background couldn’t take any of the colour and charm away from a side that have been making Barcelona seem like Stoke.
As I turned to the sports pages, foaming at the mouth with some light french jazz playing softly in the background, I began to read: “Chelsea recorded their second 0-0 draw in the space of a few days under Raf….”
It’s no wonder a Chelsea fan has nailed himself to a wall in SW6 and it’s no wonder plenty are contemplating gouging their own eyes out at the prospect of enduring another 90 minutes against Big Sam Allardyce’s free-flowing ‘you score none we’ll bundle one in’ Hammers. Finally, I’ve found an excuse to do some early Christmas shopping.
To be fair to Rafa, he probably did need to drop his most creative player in favour of an extra full-back to complement the two anchor men and flat back four against a depleted Fulham at home and the Spaniard must be commended for turning David Luiz into something resembling a defender.
In a few weeks, he’ll probably have had the Dirk Kuyt effect on Fernando Torres with ‘El Nino’ putting in 7/10 performances as a workaholic right wing-back.
First up, it’s a trip east for the out-of-form European champions and a clash with West Ham which promises to be about as appetising as a horse manure sandwich with salt.
If you’re expecting plenty of goals in this one you’re either deluded or the bloke who was in Roman Abramovich’s ear convincing him Benitez was the right man for Chelsea and illustrating the point, bwin have it as 83/100 there are under 2.5 goals in the match.
The Blues have struggled to get shots on target, let alone score, in three hours of the painful reign from Spain and they’ll find it just as tough to register against a Hammers outfit that shut out Manchester City at Upton Park a few weeks back.
It’s only 19/10 for the 0-0 draw as a result and that score at half-time is well worth a look at 15/2. Although Chelsea have won five of their last six visits to this part of the capital, nothing is screaming out at me to back them at 19/20 for the win and by the same token, I don’t know whether the hosts will have enough to break down Rafa’s reinforced ranks at 14/5.
All being even, the draw at 12/5 looks a fair shout and aside from the insomniac’s dream of a 0-0, a 1-1 draw by full-time also looks well priced at 23/4.
If – like me – you can’t make up your mind what’s going to happen, then sitting on the fence isn’t a sin with bwin and you can have any team to win by one goal difference at 13/10 and a series of other punts are available which won’t make you a millionaire but will add a couple of quid to your accumulator.
I’m convinced the first half will be a total non-event, which is why the half-time draw is only 23/20, and it’s also the same price for there to be over 1.5 goals in the second half.
If you do fancy a winner eventually then I’d do it following it being all square at the break and West Ham are a lengthy 31/4 to edge it after the restart, with Chelsea 4/1 – and that’s where I’ll be laying my hat.