Sunday, 15 April 2012

Goal-line technology: Mind over Mata?

Chelsea fans, I know your pain.

Is it just me...or is that actually in?
A gutsy performance, attacking quality, dogged defending and calm heads when the opposition lose theirs. In spite of having a relatively limited team, superior tactical nous and a greater ability to hold their nerve under pressure meant Chelsea were able to thump Tottenham 5-1 in today's second semi-final. 5-1, that's like a Manchester derby score. Yes, Chelsea rode their luck at many times during an absorbing tie, particularly moments into the second half, but they won the game and have an FA Cup final to look forward to. And yet...

All the talk will be about Juan Mata's "goal" after 49 minutes. First things first, what an absolutely terrible decision by referee Martin Atkinson. I usually stick up for referees when all around them are dishing out the criticism, like the Daily Mail on one of their "football is dying" crusades, but this was a terrible decision. Mata's shot from inside the area was blocked just in front of the line by a combination of Carlo Cudicini, Ledley King and John Terry. If ever proof was needed that Terry is not a racist, his touchy-feely grappling on the floor with King should prove the doubters wrong. The ball did not cross the line and yet Atkinson gave a goal. Why? Either he was incredibly bored or the sight of 25,000 bald Chelsea fans swayed him slightly. Of course, Atkinson's gaffe means two things:

Don't make me racist.
You wouldn't like me when I'm racist.

The debate about goal-line technology will rumble on and on. I love football and I love controversy. In fact, when pundits say "let's just hope for a nice clean game", I am tempted to ask about the location of their testicles and why they have misplaced them. However, this debate has gone on so long I find it so tedious. I don't give a crap whether goal-line technology is implemented or not, yes it should be, but there's not much we can do about it, other than say "England would have beaten Germany with goal-line technology. FACT.*"

* - not an actual fact.

Tottenham fans will moan for AGES about this. For God's sake, they still go on about that "goal" they were incorrectly not given at Old Trafford SEVEN YEARS AGO. They still go on about the dubious (but not ridiculous) decision to give Man United a penalty at Old Trafford, a penalty which saw United still 2-1 behind THREE YEARS AGO. They love a bloody good moan, and of course, so do I, but leave it out will you? Spurs, your self-imposed moniker of "unlucky club" is only because you have a tendency to bottle it on the biggest occasion.Take this season, despite Arsenal's worst start in over 1,000 years, they still look likely to finish behind the team they are the perennial bridesmaids to.

Is it just me or...nah it went in.
The game itself was terrible for thirty minutes. Then it suddenly burst into life with Tottenham twice going close before half-time, with Rafael Van der Vaart's cross hitting a post moments after John Terry blocked the Dutchman's header off the line. I don't know what it is about John Terry but he blocks a lot of shots on the line...for both teams in this game. Nevertheless, the game looked destined to be 0-0 at the break until a moment of magic from Didier Drogba. Under the cosh, Chelsea's tried and tested tactic of "whack it to Drogba" paid dividends as the Ivorian out-muscled Ledley King before flicking the ball round the defender with one foot and smashing it in from twenty yards from the other. It's the kind of goal that would make you say "say what?!" if someone had said something particularly interesting, bizarre or unfounded, and if you weren't (in all likelihood) middle-class. It didn't stop me saying it of course, but then I'm very different.

After Mata's incident, which I am trying to talk about as little as possible, Tottenham were incensed, so much so that their anger led to a goal back on the hour when Gareth Bale scored and all of a sudden, Chelsea looked vulnerable. Spurs pressed for an equaliser which, on balance, their play had merited. However, after replacing Van der Vaart with Jermaine Defoe, Tottenham's midfield was left more exposed than Rupert Murdoch, and Chelsea took advantage in psycho-killer, axe-murderer fashion.

Frank Lampard
Chelsea, second-best for much of the game, sensed their opportunity to strike. And strike they did through the impressive Ramires, before Frank Lampard added a fourth with a FIFA free kick (whack it as hard as you can and hope it dips. Other football games are available, but don't buy them, they're crap). Tottenham were left deflated, their injustice and frustration at their own profligacy leaving them flatter than Kate Moss in a sports bra. Florent Malouda, a player who I forgot was still alive, then added a fifth to compound Tottenham's misery. 5-1 was an entirely unjustified scoreline, but Chelsea are to be praised (yes, I'm praising Chelsea, God knows why) for their tenacity and ruthlessness when presented with an opportunity, helped by some outrageous luck.

Next up for the men in blue is a simpler task: Barcelona. For sixty minutes, a Tottenham side low on confidence and form made Chelsea look utterly ordinary. As a result, I dread to think what Lionel Messi will do to Gary Cahill or what Andres Iniesta will do to John Obi Mikel. But, as I've found to my cost this season, with European competition, you've got to be in it to win it. Of course, Chelsea won't win it, but they are in it, so they could. But they won't. However, with Drogba in such fine form and John Terry looking as impressive as ever, there is every chance they could sneak a positive result on Wednesday and take the tie to the Nou Camp. Where they will probably get hammered.

Can Drogba do it again?
As for Spurs, their sense of injustice and the public's sense of incredulity was summed up by some pretty loaded post-match questions, all centered around Mata's "goal". Where Spurs go from here is a mystery, but their own victim complex may just kick in to their detriment now and ruin a season which should have provided so much. They will feel hard-done by, and rightly so, but if they are looking at Mr Atkinson as the sole reason for their downfall, they are wrong.

Bring on the final between Chelsea and Liverpool, a match where I hope history will be made.

As the first match in football history where both teams lose.


  1. Really enjoy your posts mate. Have to agree that Atkinson had an absolute nightmare. I think Chelsea can get something tonight, as long as The Drog starts. He will terrorise the barca defence. I do however, see barca giving chelsea a hiding at the Nou.

  2. Sorry for the late reply!

    You were right with your prediction Gary, what do you think for tonight? Strange feeling Chelsea will scrape through on away goals but who knows!

  3. Heyyy Mate.. Wonderful posts. Read all of them at a stretch at work today which may help you to get a threat to stop writing from my boss! Anyways.. likes the impromptu way you write all ur post.. Keep writing. Btw..I too maintain a blog on sports. Check it out..n ur suggestions are always welcom.

  4. Thanks very much!

    Well that's the goal, annoy bosses all over the country with my witty nothings haha.

    Nice to know that my style is appreciated coz I always try and do something different to everyone else.

    Will check out your blog now, take care!

  5. I dared to dream that Chelsea would get through. But didn't realistically think it would happen. Definitely not in the circumstances they did!

    Struggling to see past the Germans for the final though.