Sunderland 0 Norwich City 0
Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0
The word zero will not appear in this little column, except for once. And since I would hate to be accused of re-writing one of my previous columns as Rick Reilly has been accused doing (allegedly) with his old SI columns over at ESPN, I will speak no more about the number that shall not be mentioned.
In soccer, scores are nill-nill, like the Sunderland/Norwich tilt and the Arsenal/Chelsea derby from yesterday. IN tennis, 40-0 = 40-love. And in baseball, hockey, the NFL and so on, a shutout is, say 19-nothing (more on this in a moment).
Of course, I like using nill for everything these days, much to the consternation of my pals in whatever pub whose doors I happen to darken on the day. The Green Bay Packers win 26-0 for example, and you can bet ALL of your mother-in-law’s money that I’m calling it 26-nill. And for the record, the last time that happened was Oct0ber 18th 2009 at Lambeau Field over the hapless Detroit Lions ((who went on to finish the season 2-14, a sparkling recovery from their 0-16 2008 season, yes?)). Also for the record, it’s the last time the Packers kept a clean sheet (( we won’t go into that)) of any sort.
So that’s a little bit about the number that shall not be mentioned.
As for the matches this past Saturday at The Stadium of Light, and Monday’s London derby at The Emirates, there is at least one person I can think of that would be thoroughly pleased with the results. That would be the great Italian World Cup hero of 2006, Fabio Cannavaro who believed that the perfect soccer match ends 0-0, because their were no errors.
Cannavaro would have been especially pleased by Chelsea’s performance against Arsenal on Monday. Jose Mourinho set Chelsea up with a defensive strategy and formation that smothered and confounded the Arsenal stalwarts, Giroud, Özil, Ramsey, and especially skipper Michael Arteta who by the middle of the 2nd half was a bewildered lost soul very much like the man I saw at the Tropicana in Vegas, wandering around in his khaki suit, white shirt, from blackjack table to blackjack table throwing down $100 on a hand, only to lose, and then wander off to another table. Then again, Arteta was hard done by Mikel John Obi, whose studs up tackle of Arteta might have won Mikel a red card on any other day. The Gooners surely howled for one.
I was glad to see that Chelsea finally showing some mental toughness as I’ve been honking about on here all season about Chelsea’s lack on mental toughness. They showed that toughness and discipline on the day and held their defensive line. They also defended set-pieces with the effectiveness that they should have showing all along. The Gooners also taunted us with chants of Boring, Boring Chelsea…
From start, Chelsea was going to take the Jose 1.0 route for offense…attack on the counter. And it was good that the threat was there. But it was not good to see that all that threat came for naught. I was not because Arsenal defended us as well as we defended Arsenal. It was the same problem of closing the deal that I’ve been railing on all season. Our mids are not making good decisions out there. Willian especially had a perfect opportunity to set up either Hazard or Torres for an easy score….but his pass to Hazard was slightly behind, and in the split second that Hazard had to slow to pick up the ball, it was too late to flick in on to Torres who was clear on goal. It’s the little crap like that that Chelsea needs to clear up. We’ve got too much talent to allow that happen. Mental toughness. Onward.
On Saturday over at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, it was a defensive battle of attrition highlighted mostly by the same lack of finishing on Norwich’s part that Chelsea has been guilty of this season. Norwich has more talent than Sunderland and this should have been 2-0 Norwich win. But it’s been confounding to me all season, and I wonder now if Chris Hughton, who’s perhaps the nicest and most decent man in the Prem is the right man for the job at Norwich. His conservative tactics seem out of sync with the talent at his disposal. I know Van Wolfswinkel has been out injured, but even so, with Hooper, Redmond, Fer, Snodgrass and Elmander out there, the match with Sunderland was one that at worst, my Canaries should have won at the death.
Buffalo 19 Miami 0
I know I promised not to mention the NFL on this blog, so I will not say much about this 19-nothing result other than that Buffalo scored 10 too many points. That I’m bitterly disappointed that this wasn’t played in a horrible blizzard with 20-30 inches of snow roaring in off of Lake Erie. And that Miami wasn’t held to under 100 total yards.
The touchdown in the 2nd quarter, and one of the three field goals in the 4th quarter should be expunged from the record. Instead of viciously cold and blinding snowstorm, the game played under a cloudy ski and the temperature was 41º.
I will say this, Buffalo almost held Miami to under 100 total yards…103 total yards for Miami.
But really now….who even watched this dreadful shite?
Only the player’s mothers would have wanted to watch. And I’m sure that even they would have averted their eyes from this and hung their heads in shame.
There. Enough about the insufferable National Football League.
Normally, this is the point were I crack a(nother) and cue up some smooth music. But since I’m suffering from a cold and having a beer is absolute the last thing I want to do at the moment, why don’t y’all go have one for me. Let me recommend a fine Rutland Bitter from The Grainstore Brewery in Oakham, County Rutland UK. And when I’m fit and able, I will join you.
Consider that a warning.