My Debut on the Vital Football Network

Oh joy! I’ve finally made my debut on the Vital Chelsea site, a part of the Vital Football Network. 🙂

For the uninitiated, the Vital Football Network is one of the most respected football fan-sites on the Internet, which is managed by the fans themselves. It provides a platform for football fans all over the world to share their thoughts, discuss ideas and make their voices heard. I’ve been a member of this site for a long time and there were occasions when I had the urge to contribute something, but nothing materialized. In the wake of the painful defeat on Sunday, I finally made up my mind, wrote a piece and promptly dispatched it to the site editor. Over there, my moniker is ‘blueklaw’ and you can read the article here.

I must admit, the feeling of seeing my work published was amazing!

Yay!! 😀

Life Update!

It’s been 10 days since my last post, so it’s about time I took notice and did the needful. Let me tell you, there’s a lot that I can moan about right now, but being the level-headed, calm and thoughtful person that I am (stop sniggering there at the back), I’ve decided to just write a simple post that would remind the world that this blog ain’t dead. Yet.

The year started on a good note but things have soured just a little bit in the past few days. I’ve been too busy sorting out my real life this year, so the blog hasn’t received attention at all. Not a happy new year for the blog so far, then. 😉

My career path has taken a whole lot of twists and turns before I’ve even stepped out of my house. But at least I’ve been able to narrow down my choices, willingly or otherwise. Life’s definitely not fair. But like uncle Billy G. said, ‘Get used to it’. 😦

Anyways, today is the big match between Manchester United and Chelsea, so at least that will keep my mind occupied. And so will the light-hearted (not always) banter that usually follows a game of such magnitude. I’ll expect a more mature discussion with rival fans than the one that took place last time, which turned into a full-blown name-calling session.

Like I said, I’ve got a lot of things to sort out and get back on track. So I guess this will have to do for now.

Cheers everyone! 🙂

Burnt by Burnley!

bridgeChelsea 1-1 Burnley

Burnley win on penalties.

Ouch! This was not in the script. Not at all. In cup competitions there are instances of David slaying Goliath every now and then, but when that Goliath happens to be Chelsea FC, the earth is bound to shake a bit more than usual.

Didier Drogba, returning from injury, gave Chelsea the lead after being set up by Lampard. Frank Lampard himself had just come on in place of Belletti, who had gone off injured. Drogba celebrated his goal by tossing wads of cash into the crowd, like a crazy millionaire. Err, actually he just picked up a coin that had been thrown onto the pitch and tossed it back to its rightful owner among the 6000 Burnley supporters. And Didier can expect a call from the FA very soon.

With 20 minutes remaining, Ade Akinyibi equalized for Burnley. Both teams finished the game with 10 men. Franco Di Santo got injured and all 3 Chelsea substitutions had already been used. Burnley’s Steven Caldwell was sent off for picking up a second yelow card. Burnley held on to force a penalty shootout after the score remained at 1-1 after 120 minutes of football.

penalties

And what is it with Chelsea and penalties? I don’t remember us having won a penalty shootout in a million years! Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen saved Mikel’s shot in sudden death, sparking massive celebrations among the travelling fans.

save

So Chelsea suffer their third defeat under Mr.Scolari and are out of the Carling Cup. And something tells me, I might have jinxed this game by mentioning the giant-killing acts of the past season too many times in my preview. Oh well, at least now we can concentrate on the other 3 competitions and try to finish off games before they reach penalties. 😉

Chelsea vs Burnley – A Few Pre-Match Thoughts

It’s that time of the year when teams from the lower leagues are drawn against some of the biggest clubs in Europe, fighting for pride, glory and giant-killing honours. No, it’s not Football Manager time, it’s the Carling Cup!

Carling Cup

Chelsea are up against Burnley from the second tier of English football, who will no doubt be looking to do a Barnsley. After all, the giant-killers Barnsley beat Liverpool at Anfield and Chelsea as well, to reach the semi-finals of The FA Cup last year. Maybe Barnsley had Lady Luck tied up in the luggage compartment of their team bus, but that’s no excuse for taking a lower-league opponent lightly.

I’ll expect Mr. Scolari to field a strong team, with a mix of youth and experience. Drogba is likely to start after bidding farewell to the medical staff, who must be having their hands full these days. I hope Ivanovic starts as well; the poor lad hasn’t put a foot wrong and still can’t get a game! And please, oh please, give Di Santo some time on the pitch. Apart from these, I don’t expect wholesale changes to the Chelsea lineup.

As for the result, barring a calamity of gigantic proportions (a fancy phrase for complacency), we should win this one comfortably.

P.S. – Those who can’t watch the game on TV, tune into a stream of your choice from here.

Roma vs Chelsea – A Few Rants And The View From The Couch

UEFA Champions League

Anger is not an emotion I normally associate with a Chelsea defeat. Usually it’s bitter disappointment coupled with an unwavering optimism that we’ll bounce back stronger. However, the events that occured on matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League left me fuming. And it was not just because of the defeat or even the match entirely. Allow me to explain.

In India, the rights for Champions League matches are allotted to Ten Sports and Zee Sports. Now these two channels are like the poor cousins of ESPN-Star Sports, and have to survive on whatever little coverage of European football they are allowed to broadcast in the Indian subcontinent. And how grateful I am, that it’s only a ‘little’. The reasons for this are plenty – poor presentation, lousy commentators (barring a few times when Andy Gray & Martin Tyler commentate), ignorant TV pundits. The list goes on. But the biggest gripe is their shameful bias towards Liverpool and Manchester United. On matchdays, 90% of the time they’ll be showing live mgames of these two teams, while other matches are either delayed or shown Live on Zee Sports. Zee Sports being the poorer of the poor cousins, is not available on my Tata Sky DTH service and hardly any cable operator carries this channel.

So here I was, my DTH box connected to the PC, tuned in to Ten Sports, watching the pre-match scenes at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. They had earlier told us that Liverpool vs Atletico is on Zee Sports, so it was only logical to conclude that Ten Sports will be showing Roma vs Chelsea. You can imagine my surprise when the host informed the viewers, with a sheepish grin I may add, that there’s been a mistake and Roma vs Chelsea is on Zee Sports.

That wasn’t in the script!

Thankfully, I’d noticed a few days ago while channel-surfing, that my cable operator was carrying Zee Sports. I swiftly unplugged the DTH box from my PC and attached the cable wire in its place. A few minutes and adjustments later, I was all set for the match.

However, it just wasn’t going to be my day. At half-time, I left my chair to get myself some refreshments, hoping we’d be able to overturn the 1-0 deficit in the second half. When I returned, i was greeted by a black screen.

What the hell happened?? Arrrghhh!!!

As I switched to another channel, I feared the worst and thought that there must have been a power failure at the operator’s premises. That wasn’t the case. Other channels were there, only Zee Sports had gone missing!! Another channel scan yielded the same result. I’d been left stranded with a stupid cable connection that was of no use to me now.

As a last resort, I fired up my browser and went straight to Justin.tv, hoping they’d have a decent stream for the game. Guess what? They did. And what a stream it was. On my 256kbps connection, it was butter-smooth and re-buffered only 7-8 times during 45 minutes. If only the match had ended in our favour as well.

Dejection

So what are my views about the match?

  • First, we need a proper striker who won’t go missing in crucial matches. Anelka was nothing if not anonymous during the game.
  • A genuine pacy winger is a must-buy in January. Letting Robinho slip from under our noses feels worse with each bad result.
  • Mikel, who has been a revelation this season, had a poor game. First he sold Deco short with a pass, causing the Portuguese to foul Totti. The freekick led to the opening goal for Roma. Then, he lost the ball which led to another goal.

deco

  • Carvalho’s absence in the defence is telling. Alex does not offer the same pace and mobility as Carvalho does.
  • We lack a Plan-B. Sometimes we are too predictable – full-backs will go forward, swing in crosses into the box. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • The referee had a bad game. Deco’s second yellow was pretty harsh. The ref also missed a couple of dives from the Italian team.

This 3-1 loss is the worst defeat Chelsea have suffered under Scolari so far. That said, I still think we’ll top the group and make it comfortably into the last-16 of the Champions League. I just hope the next time it’s a European night, I don’t have to go through this kind of ordeal again. 😛

So, where were we?

It’s been a while. The blog stares at me with a disillusioned look in its eyes.

“You said you’re serious this time. You said you’d take good care of me. What happened to your promises?”

Without saying a word, I click on the ‘New Post’ button, as if overcome by a deep sense of guilt. Words usually don’t come easily, but this time it’s different…

A lot has happened since I last sat down to utter my frivolous thoughts on these pages. So what better way to reignite the flame, than by updating what’s happened in the past few weeks? Here we go, then:

  • In the world of football, or more accurately the Barclays Premier League, Chelsea sit pretty at the top with Liverpool hanging onto their blue coat-tails, separated only by goal-difference. At third are Arsenal Manchester United Manchester City…. Hull City!! No, that is NOT a typo.
  • The PC game FIFA 09 released in Europe with great fanfare, but was leaked onto the bit-torrent network at least 1 day before its official launch.
  • My days as a bored, employed but not yet called up graduate should be coming to an end soon. Yes!!
  • Speaking of bored, I learnt that the Internet is a great way to spend your time. Or rather, waste it.
  • The international break is quite a pain in the neck. No football on the telly.
  • My room has undergone a mini renovation of sorts.
  • My computer still loves me and refuses to let me stay away from it for more than an hour.

And all is well with the world! 🙂

Barclays Premier League Update – Week 4

Lampard scores to make it 2-1 to Chelsea.

My apologies for being horribly late. Now that you’ve forgiven me, let’s get on with it already:

● Liverpool beat an average-looking Manchester United 2-1.

● Arsenal hammered Blackburn Rovers by 4 goals to nil.

● Fulham edged Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in a relegation six-pointer.

● The madhouse that is Newcastle United crashed to a 1-2 home defeat at the hands of Hull City.

● Portsmouth defeated Middlesbrough by 2 goals to 1.

● West Bromwich Albion narrowly beat West Ham United by a scoreline of 3-2.

● Wigan Athletic drew 1-1 with Sunderland. Titus Bramble on the scoresheet… for Sunderland. Yup, own goal.

● Everton beat Stoke City 3-2.

● Tottenham Hotspur remain rooted to the foot of the table with a 1-2 home loss against Aston Villa.

● Manchester City were brought back to earth with a 1-3 humbling by Chelsea.

A quick look at the table:

Team standings after Week 3 of the Barclays Premier League 2008-09

Team standings after Week 4 of the Barclays Premier League 2008-09

So, Chelsea reminded the noveau-rich Manchester City that ‘one swallow does not a summer make’ and that it takes a ‘team’ to actually do the business on the pitch. The win was however marred by a stupid red card to John Terry, which has now been rescinded.

That’s it, then. Champions League updates shall follow after all groups have completed their first round of matches.

Another Chelsea wallpaper

Well, well, well! What a day it’s been. Not only did I post some of my old creations here, I also started and completed another wallpaper! Normally I take a long time to come up with an idea, and even longer to actually start working on it. But today everything fell into its place effortlessly and the result is here for all to see.

© Abhishek Pancholi

© Abhishek Pancholi

The photograph shows Frank Lampard celebrating his goal in the UEFA Champions League final in May 2008. Initially I had planned to write ‘Frank Lampard’ in the image, but forgot all about it during the actual Photoshopping.

So, what do you think? Not bad for a lazy sloth, eh? 😉

Found two more of my creations!

Yesterday I dug up an old sketch from my hard drive. Today I present to you, two wallpapers I created nearly a year ago using Photoshop. If you’re a Chelsea fan like me, you’ll love ’em!

The first one has been made using the pictures from Chelsea’s FA Cup victory over Manchester United in 2007.

© Abhishek Pancholi

© Abhishek Pancholi

The second one shows fans’ favourite, Joe Cole.

© Abhishek Pancholi

© Abhishek Pancholi

That’s it for now! You lot enjoy these and in the meantime I’ll see if I can find some other interesting stuff hidden away in some corner of my hard disk! 🙂

Barclays Premier League Update – Week 3

Juliano Belletti celebrates his goal against Tottenham

Juliano Belletti celebrates his goal against Tottenham

Okay, so I haven’t been able to post anything in midweek, not even about Paul Scholes’ shocking but utterly hilarious handball incident in the UEFA Super Cup. Call it my lack of interest or my laziness, but I just coud not get myself to post anything meaningful here. All that is about to change though, because the 3rd week of the Barclays Premier League has just ended. This weekend, 18 teams were in action while Manchester United were busy embarassing themselves in Monaco and hence their fixture has been moved to a later date.

A short and sweet wrap-up is right here:

● A stylish Arsenal team swept aside Newcastle United 3-0. Robin Van Persie scored 2 goals before he hobbled off, injured again.

● West Ham United thumped Blackburn Rovers 4-1.

● Yet another own-goal scored by a Middlesbrough player almost cost them two points, but Tuncay Sanli saved their skins with a late goal, as Boro beat Stoke City 2-1.

● Hull City were hammered 0-5 by… Wigan Athletic!!! Wigan’s new Egyptian recruit Zaki scored a brace in that one.

● Everton crashed to a 0-3 defeat at the hands of Portsmouth.

● Bolton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion played out a drab 0-0 draw.

● Aston Villa and Liverpool were also involved in a 0-0 borefest.

● The prodigal son returns… That’s what they’ll be thinking at Manchester City, as Shaun Wright-Philips returned from his misery at Chelsea and scored 2 goals to inflict a 3-0 defeat on Sunderland.

● Finally, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur drew 1-1, with both goals coming from defensive errors and mistakes.

A look at the table then:

Team standings after Week 3 of the Barclays Premier League 2008-09

Team standings after Week 3 of the Barclays Premier League 2008-09

So that’s about it, then. No change at the top, with Chelsea leading Liverpool on goal difference. Spurs get their first point of the season, so do West Brom. There’s an international break coming up for the World Cup qualifiers, so there’ll be some time before the next update.

Till then, I’ll be hoping to post something useful over here!