Dave Woodhall offers a predictable response to a predictable result.
Football can arouse every emotion imaginable, from the most soaring joy to the deepest gloom. What was particularly worrying about Villa’s defeat at Chelsea was that it was impossible for me to get particularly upset at ten to five on Saturday. Losing at Stamford Bridge is almost inevitable – two years ago it was humiliatingly, last season it was controversially. This time it was with an air of resignation.
There are about fifteen teams in the Premier League who know they’ll lose almost every time they play at Chelsea; the only difference between them is the amount of effort the home side will need to put in to get the three points. Villa are the type of team who Chelsea will beat without raising much of a sweat and most of the fifteen are in the same category.
We turned up still without Ron Vlaar and Christian Benteke, although last week’s virus casualties seemed to have recovered. The effort was there, but the ability clearly isn’t. Chelsea scored three goals, Villa scarcely got into their penalty area that many times. Whoever wins the league, and with just 32 games to go the title race is still thrillingly wide open between Chelsea and Manchester City, there will be plenty more afternoons like this – their supporters will see it as routine, their opponents will be resigned to it.
There’s no point in getting angry; it’s a fact of life in the Premier League. Villa’s entire side cost less than the reserve left-back Chelsea had on the bench. Randy Lerner, or a new owner, could spend another £100 million but in all probability the only difference it would make would be that Chelsea would have to work a bit harder to beat us, and if we ever did look like getting close to them they’d spend £200 million.
There was news on Sunday that Chelsea are looking to move temporarily to Twickenham while they build themselves a bigger stadium, so that their income can more easily comply with the FFP regulations that were supposed to make football competitive. At least they’re paying lip service to the idea of compliance – they could just as easily wave two fingers in the general direction of Michel Platini and write a cheque for any fine UEFA care to throw at them.
This is modern football, as depressing as it appears, and the only chance any club like Villa have got of competing at the top is for Chelsea and next week’s opponents Manchester City to go away and play with their new European friends. Until then we can hope that if everything goes our way, if our youngsters continue to improve, we hang onto our best players and make some astute signings, we might eventually finish seventh.
And that’s what every football supporter in the country should be getting upset about.