Anorak

Anorak | Nil Satis

Nil Satis

by | 3rd, February 2005

‘IF Arsenal’s achievement of going through a whole Premiership season unbeaten was impressive, then so is Chelsea’s defensive record this year.

Nothing to cry about

The Blues have conceded just eight goals in 25 matches and Peter Cech hasn’t been beaten in the league since Thierry Henry’s quick free kick on December 12.

Last night, he had to save a first-half penalty from Paul Dickov to keep up that proud record and earn a 1-0 win for his side to put them 11 points clear of Manchester United.

As the final whistle sounded after a hard-fought encounter at Ewood Park, the players threw their shirts to the travelling supporters.

“It looked for all the world,” says the Times, “like a championship celebration for a club that has not achieved the feat for 50 years.”

However, once again an off-field spat has taken some of the sheen off a gritty performance.

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes was upset that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho didn’t shake his hand after the game.

“Everyone knows you have to be gracious in defeat,” he said afterwards, “but you have to be gracious in victory as well.”

For his part, Mourinho hit back by accusing Blackburn of trying to intimidate his team.

“It wasn’t a football game, it was a fight,” he said.

It’s small wonder that players niggle and cheat and dive and foul and whinge on the pitch when their managers do exactly the same off it.

Perhaps, the FA should follow the example of the ICC and impose swingeing fines (or even suspensions) for such after-match backchat.

There was no need for words after yesterday’s one-day international between England and South Africa, which ended in a tie.

But if one word was required, it would be ‘choke’ after the hosts somehow managed to fail to lose a game that was theirs for the taking.

The Telegraph says the ending could prove to be a career-defining moment for Kabir Ali, playing in only his third one-day international.

“His final over, which began with a waist-high no-ball, looked like it might be reminiscent of another World Cup debacle – the over that Jimmy Anderson bowled to Andy Bichel at Port Elizabeth two years ago.”

However, this is South Africa and not Australia and, with only three runs to get off the final six balls, they managed to get only two…and lose three wickets in the process.

All of which added lustre to a maiden century by “South Africa’s least favourite export” Kevin Pietersen.

The Telegraph said he reacted to reaching three figures “like a visiting goalscorer at Stamford Bridge”.

Not that anyone will remember what that looks like soon…’



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