St James’ Park


12.30pm, Saturday 21/11/20

Live on BT Sports


After yet another meddlesome international break, it’s back to Premiership action this weekend, as Frank Lampard brings his upwardly mobile Blues to an empty Gallowgate.


I have a slight dichotomous situation with this lot. I like and respect their manager, and appreciate the way they play the game. They’ve got some great players and currently have a half decent chance at a Title tilt.


It’s off the pitch where I become less of a fan. Largely due to the years of Ashley neglect, I’ve seen a rise in other Premiership kits at my kid’s footy training. Chelsea’s is just one of the shirts that some Geordie bairns are now kicking about in. Presumably, their parents neither realise or care that this is a club followed exclusively by a small but nauseatingly annoying rich clique from SW London, (Think, David Mellor) the rest being made up of mainly sketchy, boorish Brexit-y types from shite, southern Satellite towns. (Think of those lovely chaps racially abusing Raheem Sterling a couple of years back. That’s pretty much the dynamic.)

I recall, (through a lush alcohol induced haze) after last season’s joyous 1-0er a gang of them working themselves in the Blackie Boy. Middle aged men, clearly in hock to TK Maxx and from nowhere close to SW6, letting anyone who’d listen know that ‘Nooo-carsell’s a fackin shit hole.’ Look, every club’s got their ‘bells’, but there’s just too much collectively of the ‘nasty pastie’ about this bunch for me.


Now I’ve got that off me chest, let’s look ahead  to Saturday.  Following the meek surrender at St Mary’s, it’s hard to get up for this one. Add to that the fact that Chelsea are in decent form, banging the goals in, I think we can safely put this one in the file marked ‘Toughie Taylor.’  Their £47.5M Eric striker, Timo Werner is a particular concern. He has plundered eight in all competitions, and is beginning to look the ‘real deal.’ I think they’re a side more potent as an attacking force than defensively speaking. However, we’ve actually got to attack ourselves to test them and therein lies the problem.


What can Bruce do? Well, having thrown a bit of shade Rafa’s way in his early days here; suggesting that we’d forgotten how to attack, he then vaingloriously tried to be a bit more expansive. It didn’t really work, and recent times have seen something more akin to Rafa-ball from Steve. The problem here is, we are no longer the well drilled unit El Jefe presided over. Also, our most expansive attacking option looks to be a square peg in a round hole with this 3-5-1-1 (I think?) malarkey. St Max can’t play wing back and he looks lost in the current, more central role. So, what to do? One thing’s for sure. If you want the best out of Allan, you stick him back on the flanks.

Another problem is our main (make that, only) proper striker rated only 60-70% to make the match. I would be loathe to take a chance on him if his hamstring is still a bit suss, as we’re in a ‘world of hurt’ without him. However, Mr Bruce has ‘previous’ here.  Persevering with half fettled players never ends well, but I still expect him to be patched up and sent out.


I’m not sure which way Bruce will go tactically, but whatever, I don’t think it’ll be enough. This is definitely a game where a ‘radged up’ SJP would’ve been a help. The boys from Kings Rd have struggled at our place on more than one occasion. However, we’re outclassed & apart from the two squads & a few journos, there’ll be no one else there. Sorry, but I foresee a regulation 0-2 away win.


Be nice to be proved wrong. Again.


Nick Clark