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ICYMI - Chelsea 4-0 PAOK Salonika - Easy Football.

Us : All our lot had been put through rigorous fitness testing after Saturday’s debacle, aside from Sarri, who it was rightly assumed by ...


Us: All our lot had been put through rigorous fitness testing after Saturday’s debacle, aside from Sarri, who it was rightly assumed by the medical team has the self-inflicted lung capacity of a fat, asthmatic squirrel panting his way up a particularly sizeable tree and so spared him.

Starts for CHO, (I don’t like acronyms, I’m just lazy) and for Ruben, and for Barkley, and Cahill. When was the last time we fielded that many Englishmen... *waits for some know it all to tell her it was last week*

Them: Salonika, did you know, was possibly the most pointless front you could have been sent to in WW1. Your chances of having a meaningful effect on the outcome was about as likely as Sam Allardyce or Steve Bruce getting back into one of their own match-worn shirts, and we only got dragged there because of the dastardly French obsessing over the place.

And so landed EasyJet FC, who were so orange it made my eyes hurt. There were some bizarre hairstyles on display from the visitors. The goalie has been watching a bit too much Vikings, their number nine too, unless he’s doing as really sh*t impression of Ibrahimovic. Either that or PAOK’s budget doesn’t extend to a communal Netflix subscription on their travels and they sit there playing with a set of clippers. Their fans were going to be whistling whenever we had the ball, it seemed. It’s was going to be a long night for them, especially after one of them fell over the ball in the opening minutes, thus demonstrating the unlikeliness that they were going to have much of an impact. 85% possession for us in the opening spell, but they were energetic and their fans thought this was the most exciting day ever, so hurrah, they’ve turned up, which was more than could be said for us last time out.

And then the spoilsport referee went and crapped on their parade after five minutes. Yes he was the last man but come on, show them some pity. The tackle was so slapstick we all laughed. The guy was the size of a tank, so the heartless official best sleep with one eye open. Still only half the size of the useless official on the goal line at the Shed End though, who shares a physique with Sutton United’s beloved keeper of recent FA Cup pie-eating fame. Willing to bet you could see the poor bugger from Space in his yellow attire, like some radioactive mutant Big Bird wielding a sh*t little stick.

Fabregas hit one just wide from that free kick, and there then began a long procession of chances. The Beard back-heeled one across the face of goal, but nobody was following it in; CHO struck just wide. The best effort so far came from a shot from Ruben which sailed just wide approaching the twenty minute mark, followed by a close header from Cahill. My companions tonight included The Old Man Who Lives in the Shoe (special alias, on account of the fact that every time I see him he has a new child) He’d had enough by this point and declared: “Let’s get some noise going” before demanding more volume from the Shed. 

In the meantime the deadlock was finally broken on 26 minutes. The Beard owed that well deserved goal entirely to some phenomenal ball control by Pedro Pony. A foul on Barkley went unpunished ludicrously a minute later, no doubt because the referee realised he had been an utter b*stard to the visitors and let them off, and then CHO cracked it off the bar. He was having a great spell on the left. Just as I typed “The Beard will be disappointed that he’s not on a hatrick” he banged another one in. Shoddy from the goalkeeper but he was hardly expecting that to be hit so well, so quickly.

And the procession continued: great play from CHO again, but I’m not sure how Pedro Pony didn’t score as a result of his efforts on 41. Had he stood there and let it bounce off of his nutsack it would have had more chance of going in than the attempt he fashioned on the fly. He was nonetheless, having a good game. I will also point out for the benefit of those slagging him off behind us, that Cahill had put in some timely blocks so far, and that Sarri would be mad if he didn’t notice, especially after the Luiz implosion at the weekend

God they didn’t ‘alf make a racket. More so than TOMWLITS who once got told by a woman in the corner of the Shed that they didn’t need his ilk shouting when they were trying to watch their football. They sang, they bounced, they sang some more. I will have that bloody tune going round my head for days. Apparently there were more of them outside ramming the gates trying to get in. In the stand, I was developing an irrational desire to headbutt anyone who refers to Christensen as “Andy.” Their penalty appeal from #74 was as ludicrous as the player’s hair. He looked like the result of a frantic drunken fumble between Willian and Luiz. Ruben so deserved a goal after doing his best impression of Eden on 55, but it was wide. “Andy” followed it up with a volley that was a lot closer than any of us expected it to be but the score stayed at two until CHO finally got his just reward for a prolific display on the hour mark and netted his first senior goal for the club. This may have been a makeshift lineup tonight, but it was notable that everyone celebrated every goal together and that none of them out there treated it like a dead rubber for us. 

The result safe, Ampadu came on for Zappacosta and Pedro Pony for Willian. In truth though, we settled into about second gear and stayed there for most of the rest of the game. To their credit, the Greeks never gave up at least having a go as the clock wound down and the rain fell, and their bonkers supporters kept on going till the end too. Morata was sent on for a soaking, must have done something to piss off the manager this week, and thus The Beard was denied the chance to take the match ball. The former scored with nearly his first touch, by which time the crowd at our end was more interested in watching nonsense unfold amongst the away fans beneath us. 

So: This run-out against a much weaker side, quickly reduced to ten men was never going to prove anything after the abysmal experience of the weekend. Crochet hook, nose, etc. But, the players that took to the field could not have given us anymore. They were clinical and they treated it like I wish the rest of the squad had treated that Wembley affair. So for that, thanks. Peanuts tho compared to the importance of the return of Ranieri to the Bridge this weekend, for which I’ll be blogging from Legends in NYC at the crack of dawn. 

The collection for the children who will spend this Christmas homeless and in a domestic violence shelter is going great guns, but every donation counts. You can PayPal donations to alexandra.churchill@hotmail.com, and they will go not only towards presents but towards much needed items for families and for the group home. If you are at a game (or Legends this weekend) I can collect donations in person - thank you to all those that shoved money into my hand tonight xx 

AC - A Girl Who Likes Balls - The Chelsea Blog.

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