Blunt the Blades: Chelsea Look to Take Down Sheffield United

Chelsea head back to Stamford Bridge this Saturday for their home fixture against Sheffield United, a newly-promoted side whose nickname “The Blades” points to Sheffield’s glorious tradition of cutlery production. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea winger and ‘Merican extraordinaire, knows something about cutlery, or at least slicing and dicing defenders and eating them for breakfeast (see: brunch [see: afternoon tea]). Interesting fact about this game: In the last game, current manager Frank Lampard was actually on the field as Chelsea curtsied past Sheffield United 3-0. However, Frankie might not have played that well, as he he was subbed off for Michael Ballack, the Kaiser from Chemnitz, in minute 46. Chelsea look to continue their season-high win-streak of one, while The Blades look to rebound from a devastating loss against Leicester City that sees them already thinking about avoiding relegation to England’s U-14 sixth league.

All jokes aside, this is a wonderful opportunity for Chelsea to continue to gain confidence after their spirit-lifting performance last weekend against Norwich City. Chelsea have looked sharp at times this season, but have failed to look sharp for even a majority of a match.

This is also another opportunity for Frank Lampard to demonstrate how much (or how little) faith he has in Christian Pulisic, aka Cha Boi, aka the Pillager from PA. Pulisic played — no slicing or dicing around this fact — bad against Leicester City. He had many, many giveaways. Against Norwich he was much better. And with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Willian returning to fitness, it’s sort of now or never for Chour Boi. He needs to play well. He needs to impress.

Dare I say it, he kind of needs to score.

That is, of course, if he even starts.

He most likely will though, as Pedro is set to miss the Sheffield United match due to the same hamstring injury that caused him to miss out against Norwich.

 

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Huge 3 points🙌🏽 we keep going💙

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Pedro’s absence also might mean we see Ross Barkley again, which would be another fantastic opportunity for him to silence his league of doubters.

As far as strikers go, Tammy Abraham will undoubtedly start again.

As far as I go, I will probably not start. I’ve been playing well lately, but still haven’t recovered the speed and fitness I had when I was 13 and my club team won state in Washington State after I broke my leg. I haven’t talked to Frank yet (or ever), but I’m pretty sure he knows that were he to give me the nod I’d give it everything my 36-year-old heart has to offer. After all, one time when I was in line at Chipotle someone told me I looked like Xavi Alonso.

Luckily, Chelsea’s Saturday match is a little later in the day, which means I can actually watch it live provided I can figure out how to watch it on my phone. Which means at around 7:00am PDT I’ll be stirring on my boat, ready to test lung capacity as The Blues trot onto the field.

Can’t hardly wait.

 

Chelsea Extinguish Norwich City, David Luiz Punished for his Sins

Today’s match was emotional. All of the matches today were emotional. I just watched the highlights from the Manchester United vs. Crystal Palace game and watching Marcus Rashford miss that penalty made me want to curl into a ball and, rather than go sit in the corner, roll myself down a flight of stairs. The kid doesn’t miss penalties. If anyone else on Man U ever takes penalties instead of him, it will be a grave error.

But let’s talk about Chelsea! Let’s talk about Cha Boi: Christian Pulisic.

But first let’s talk about the match as a whole.

And then we’ll get to David Luiz, who famously abandoned his “beloved” Chelsea at the beginning of the season to join arch rivals Arsenal. I think there’s some sort of word that describes what happened to David Luiz in the match versus Liverpool today. I can’t quite remember what it is, but I feel like it rhymes with “kajarmah.”

Tammy Abraham looked like a roman candle that’s been dropped on the ground and is causing everyone to run for cover.

A few things I really liked about Chelsea’s starting lineup against Norwich City today. 1) Ross Barkley started. Has anyone noticed how Ross Barkley on the ball is something akin to rubbing your cheek against a 6,000 thread count Egyptian hand towel? I’ve seen few other people with such control. Such cheekiness. Such calmness. Granted, he did make a few bad decisions. He did have a few giveaways. But he also made a few decisions that were incredibly on point and will never be praised. Decisions like stopping his run and letting a defender fly by. And what about that run on the ball from the corner of the 18? The announcer compared him to Maradona. I just hope Barkley doesn’t have a drug problem.

And then there’s Mateo Kovacic, one of (at least) two wizards on the team with a Croatian passport. The guy is feral. He eats defenders for brunch. He spits them out. He picks his teeth with their tibias. I’ve seen few other players display such grit and grace.

The point I’m trying to make is this: Either Ross Barkley or Mateo Kovacic NEED TO START. FRANK, YOU HAVE GREATNESS AT YOUR DISPOSAL. DISPOSE OF IT. STOP PLAYING PEDRO FOREVER. Imagine N’golo Kante at midfield with Ross Barkley. Imagine Kovacic and Barkley and Kante all on the field at, dare I say it…. (actually I think I won’t, because Frank will never do it.)

(Side note: Kovacic actually grew up in Austria until he was 13. He was born in Linz Bosnian Croatian parents.)

Christian Pulisic, in his second straight Premier League start, played much better than he did last week against Leicester City. He had few giveaways, looked more comfortable on the ball, fought harder, and even had an assist.

He also had several goal scoring opportunities, including one where he freaked and deeked and made me feel like I was wearing diapers — but wasn’t able to finish. One question continues to loom: Can Christian Pulisic become comfortable with the physicality of the Premier League. Answer: (Spoken by several barristers in unison) Yay.

But it will take time. The Bundesliga is not the Premier League. Pulisic is not the biggest player in the world. When you get hit in the Premier League a lot of times a funny thing happens: The ref does nothing.

But he will adjust.

To barely pull of a win against a team that’s just been promoted doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but it also completely inspires confidence. Tammy Abraham looked like a roman candle that’s been dropped on the ground and is causing everyone to run for cover. Mason Mount was up to his usual tricks, i.e. scoring a goal that looked like it might occasion a hole in the back of the net, and the aforementioned Ross Barkley was a welcome addition to the lineup even though everyone seems to hate him for some reason. I don’t hate him. I might even love him.

As for David Luiz, I will leave you with this (for best viewing experience, make full screen, take a sniff of some smelling salts, and replay the first few seconds of the clip over and over):


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Showdown in East Anglia: Norwich City vs. Chelsea Preview

There was a time when one would’ve looked at a team with Christian Pulisic and N’golo Kante and Mason Mount and Willian and Olivier Giroud and thought: There is no way they could ever lose, or even draw, to a team like Norwich.

That was before the arrival to Norwich of Finland’s most ferocious hatrick scorer, Teemu Eino Antero Pukki. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You just googled Pukki and you thought, Dang, girl, he got them dead eyes. And yes, you’d be vaguely right. Pukki does have the kind of eyes that make you wonder if he might be a member of the undead. He’s also a prolific goal scorer, and possibly a barbarian. Last week against Newcastle he did that thing where you put the ball in the net, and he did it three times. So, like, Chelsea better mark him close.

As some of you may know, I actually studied Finnish at the University of Washington for a year and then did a brief study abroad in Finland in the summer of 2010 (?). There I met a Czech girl who didn’t break my heart. She might’ve just taken it in her hand and squeezed it until it stopped beating, but anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that Finland is a land of wonder and intrigue, and so the fact that Pukki doesn’t really have much elite level experience doesn’t matter. He’s living in a dream world.

Pukki does have the kind of eyes that make you wonder if he might be a member of the undead.

But okay, I’ve droned on far too long about a guy who probably won’t even score on Saturday. It’s time to talk about (hi-hat roll)….Cha Boi.

As I said in my previous post, Christian Pulisic did not play that well against Leicester City last weekEND. In fact, by my count (though my math is often shoddy) he had seven giveaways. Seven. Which means he’s doing what he does best, i.e. going right at people, though sometimes Pulisic literally tries to go right through people, and not always with the best results (i.e. Pogba against Man U).

Plus, and I may be going out on a quivering limb here, I think he was nervous.

We all know what it’s like to get nervous. You know when you’re standing next to a crowded dance floor and you so badly want to be out there dancing up close to that cute girl you saw when you walked in but you just can’t get your body to get out on the floor? Those are the kind of nerves I’m talking about. If you’re lucky, you have a friend who literally picks you up and drops you in the conga line, and hopefully that friend for Pulisic will be Frank Lampard. If Lampard shows some faith in Pulisic and starts him against Norwich, and if Pulisic plays well, it could bode nicely for the rest of the season. But if he doesn’t start Cha Boi, he’s basically saying, “I don’t know how to manage a football team and I’m also slightly terrified of Russian oligarchs.”

My prediction for the match? Pulisic will start. He’ll have less giveaways. He won’t score but he will contribute in some key buildups that lead to goals. Chelsea will win. They’ll hightail it out of there on the bus before Pukki decides to exact vengeance in the parking lot, and all will be well in East Anglia and also London and also on the A11 motorway which leads back to Stamford Bridge.

Anyway.

Go Blues. Go Pulisic.

Keep your guard up and go hard until your heart stops beating.

 

 

Chelsea vs. Man United Preview and The Importance of Ross Barkley

Remember that scene in Game of Thrones where Jon Snow is facing down all of Ramsey Bolton’s army, standing there with his sword, facing certain annihilation? I feel like that’s a bit like what Chelsea is facing against Manchester United in their first game of the Premiership this season, this Sunday at 8:30am United States west coast time. Why would I give you west coast time? Well, first of all because I love the west coast. Second of all because I live on the west coast. And third of all because I’m a mariner. Friends, I live on a sailboat. The sea is my companion. When I wake up I don’t think about Greenwich mean time. I think about the west coast. I think about bull kelp. And I also think about Cha Boi.

Speaking of Cha Boi, most media outlets seem to think that he will start on Sunday. Christian Pulisic, who just last year was struggling for minutes in the Bundesliga, will probably start on Sunday against, what, the biggest football team in existence? Is that hyperbole? Did the latte I just drink plummet through me like a javelin? Is border traffic going to be bad today? Am I going to have a nervous breakdown? What is so strange about most of these outlets putting CP in the starting lineup is a lot of them don’t put Ross Barkley in it. To which I say: Are you out of your mind? If I’m Frank Lampard I’m building my team around Ross Barkley. And Ngolo Kante. But Chelsea needs to find a leader, and Ross Barkley seems like he could be that guy. He needs to play. More than anything, he needs to feel appreciated. Let me tell you something: Cha Boi, as much as I love him, is not going to be that leader. Olivier Giroud is not going to be that leader. Neither is Willian or Ngolo Kante. Call me crazy, but it has to be Ross Barkley.

On a mildly related note, tickets to London are not that expensive. How much would it cost me to see Chelsea against a shitty team at Stamford Bridge? Fifty pounds? A hundred?

Also on a mildly related note: Romelu Lukaku apparently plays for Inter now.

And on a completely unrelated note: I saw a black bear yesterday.

What will be the key against Man U on Sunday? The defense, of course. David Luiz, in a bizarre move to Arsenal, is gone. Which means, going back to the comparison to Jon Snow in the Battle of the Bastards, there’s no more giant rushing in behind him ready to battle. Is it generous to call David Luiz a giant? I mean, he does sort of look like a goon. What’s with his hair? He looks like a poodle.

And Cha Boi got them boots of valerian steel…