Merlin On The Chelsea Cup Clash
1. So now you've been beaten by the not so mighty local rivals, will you come out all guns blazing on Wednesday or have Chelsea got bigger fish to fry (if indeed there are any fish left)?
You sure know how to twist the knife Mr Fear. The wounds are still raw and weeping after losing to that lot from North London. However, as Mourinho often preaches, it’s not about worrying about this loss it’s about how you react and starting to put together another long unbeaten run. After the draw in the Nou Camp and the loss at White Hart Lane you could say we’ve had a dip in form. Not so! In both games we played some cracking football. Mourinho has already stated his intentions to try and win every competition although obviously the Premiership and Champions League are up there on a pedestal as our Holy Grail. Expect Chelsea to treat the game much like any other.
2. Do you think you'll field a strong team and do you as fans care about the Carling Cup or is it a distraction?
There is every likelihood that we will field a strong team. In the previous round at Blackburn, Mourinho showed his intent by making minimal changes. After all, the Carling Cup was the first trophy he won at Chelsea and it helped us to kick-on and claim the Premiership that season. There will be some changes, we already know Shevchenko will return from injury and Bridge, Cudicini and Geremi are likely to feature. However, they are all excellent players who will slot in effortlessly.
3. Do you think teams that field weakened sides cheat the competition and should face fines?
I think it’s disgusting. With a European place still at stake for the winners and less fashionable clubs seeking glamorous ties, there are often a lot of disappointed people who attend these games. The competitions reduced popularity, compared to the FA Cup, allows people to purchase tickets that perhaps wouldn’t be able to for Premiership games. Teams that field weakened sides soon change their tune when they get to the latter stages. Take Manchester United last season, they fielded depleted teams and then when winning it became the be-all and end-all of their season they celebrated as if they’d won the Champions League. Perhaps we should offer an opt out clause for those who besmirch the competition.
4. Do you think the foreign players in the team understand the importance of cup games to fans?
My views are somewhat divided. I think it depends upon the discipline in the dressing room. Cup cometitions, abroad, are not steeped in such tradition but a good English core in the dressing room can soon convince them of its importance. I’m sure John Terry would have had words to that effect to our newcomers this season.
5. What is your prediction for Wednesday apart from the sure-fire fact that we'll out sing you at Stamford Bridge?
We’ll see. With tickets at £20 there could be a lot of the older crowd in with the prawn sandwich brigade looking towards the Premiership for their corporate entertainment. As for the result, it’ll be long journey home through the traffic jams of London and then up the motorway.
With thanks to Merlin
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