Robbed by the blind
'Tis the season to be jolly?
Well, not after being robbed of a point by the worst piece of officiating we've seen since Graham Poll lost count at the World Cup. Offside, you say - well you'd be right. Unfortunately the incompetent imbecile supposedly assisting the referee decided that rather than do his job he'd help the team in blue by failing to point out that Salomon Kalou was a mile offside we he slotted home Chelsea's winner with less than five minutes to go. I had hoped that leaving writing this report for two days might have given me a sense of rationalism and perspective, but no, I still think it was an abominable decision which saw us royally screwed over at a ground which has been a miserable hunting ground for us for years.
On the plus side, we played much better than we had done at home to Derby or away to Wigan, and performed with as much fight as Joey Barton in a Liverpool McDonalds. Needless to say a midfield of Butt, Faye and Smith still lacks the creativity that we need to really begin to improve as a side, but Butt in particular enjoyed a strong performance, involved all over the park, and forcing home our equaliser after Michael Essien had given Chelsea a first half lead. Butt it was who, moments previously had almost scored a spectacular own goal, hammering a Cheslea cross goalwards, only for Given to save well.
Shay, as always, enjoyed a good game between the sticks and was unlucky to be on the losing side, undone by a deflection which left him prone as Essien scored their first, and exposed by the shocking decision of the linesman.
Up front, it was heartening to see Owen return from the bench, and he may well get more of a game against Man City - hopefully accompanied by Viduka in a 4-4-2 formation. Of course, with the transfer window upon us, it will be interesting to see whether Allardyce persists in his seemingly preferred 4-5-1/4-3-3 in which case I would anticipate our number 10 looking for a new place to land his helicopter.
Other reports: BBC, Guardian