By Tim Harrison
Some Chelsea fans didn’t arrive until the second half of last weekend’s game at Swansea after a truck laden with eggs jackknifed on the M4. Before you ask, the air ambulance wasn’t scrambled.
In a way, the delayed fans were the lucky ones, as everyone else in the Liberty stadium had to sit through some woeful stuff. American import Matt Miazga was so poor he was, er, yanked off at halftime.
That was disappointing after a promising debut the previous weekend, but the match then lurched from bizarre to surreal as Jon Obi Mikel was given an emergency role in defence for 45 minutes… constantly reminding himself not to get stranded too far forward.
Before the game, workers from the threatened Port Talbot plant had been cheered around the pitch.
How Chelsea could have used some of that steel.
Asmir Begovic, supposedly trying to impress new gaffer Antonio Conte (watching from afar in Italy), was at his flappy, fumbling worst. Pato proved so bad an actor he could audition for Casualty, and only Ruben Loftus-Cheek offered any real spark or sparkle – so it was no surprise that he was substituted.
All that redeemed this forgettable 1-0 defeat was the slice of exquisite moist banana and walnut cake in the press room at halftime.
To be fair, things did improve in the second half – but there was still no real threat to the Swansea goal.
Infinitely more fun was the Chelsea youth team’s 4-1 aggregate drubbing of Blackburn the previous night. If Conte wants one simple tip for advancing any of this bright bunch of hopefuls, he need look no further than the busy, gifted Mukhtar Ali – a glorious influence in the U18s’ midfield. Now a two-leg FA Youth Cup final against Manchester City awaits.
So it’s apt that the first team host City this Saturday at the Bridge, with Diego Costa finally back from his naughty-boy suspension.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.