Date:Monday April 16 2007
Congratulations to Chelsea, they JUST managed to see off Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup Semi Final! In the cold light of days I had a few questions for Merlin, editor of Vital Chelsea. This is what he had to say.
Firstly where was this match won and lost?
I think Lady Luck smiled on us on a couple of occasions. The first when Gamst should have headed in instead of heading wide and the second, in the very last minute, when John Terry almost ended the dream with that header. Apart from that, I think you gifted us the first half, you weren't at the races and we were allowed to stroll around keeping possession. In extra time you seemed as if you'd run out of steam almost as if you'd expected to finish us off in the second half. Once Ballack scored it was all over, you're heads dropped and Essien was unlucky not to make it three.
You were cruising for almost 45 minutes but we put you under pressure there after, were you worried at all?
Worried! I'm always worried. I belong to the old school who've witnessed too many defeats snatched form the jaws of victory. At 1-0 I was comfortable but Hughes must have really laid into your lot at half time because you played like men possessed, not letting us have any room or space. To be honest, the most worrying moment was the free kick on the edge of the area. If that had of gone in we'd have lost as there was so little time left.
Would you have had too many complaints if you had lost?
No! Like Mourinho said - you were all heroes. I'd have been miffed but I'd have taken it on the chin and wished you well in the final. It's only the likes of Liverpool and Spurs who constantly feel the vitriolic side of me. I can be a good loser. Hopefully, you can learn from the experience and come back stronger just like I hope we learned from our Champions League semi-final defeat to Liverpool two seasons ago.
Who made the difference for you in this match?
Petr Cech! If he hadn't of got injured at Reading we'd be well clear of Manchester United in the Premiership. He is the best in the world and some of his work yesterday was top class, he's never fazed and even had the calmness to kick the ball out when he landed awkwardly late into extra time. When I think back to some of the soft goals we conceded over the festive season I can only wonder - what if?
Which Rover do you think caused you the most problems?
A close run thing between Bentley and Gamst. We had trouble picking either up. Bentley has the ability to deliver telling crosses from dangerous positions and I'm sorry to say this but I think Gamst will go onto better things in the summer. However, don't let him ruin his career and go to Spurs!
Hypothetical I know, but with two top goalkeepers on display (I've made my views clear that I think Cech and Friedel are the best in the Premiership!) who do you think would have won on penalties?
It's funny you should say that, I was discussing it with a friend and we both agreed we're the sort of team that would miss more than we score whilst Friedel is exceptional at saving penalty kicks. In fact, perhaps we should have brought on Cudicini; he also has a remarkable penalty saving record. Therefore, I'd have gone for you 4-2 on penalties.
The moment right at the death when Cech put the ball out for a throw-in threatened to overshadow a great game, what were your HONEST thoughts on the Axe (Aaron Mokoena) not returning the ball? Would Chelsea have returned it if roles were reversed?
He should be banned for life, cheating sod! No seriously, we`d have done the same. Perhaps Cech should have gone down holding the ball or launched it miles up field. Mind you that was a bad tackle Mokoena did on Joe Cole in the first half of extra time. Is he trying to cripple all our team, one by one?
Will you go on and beat Manure in the Final now?
I hope so. I have this feeling our paths are destined to cross in the Champions League Final as well. What chance of United playing a few youngsters and saving themselves for Athens? I'm comfortable with us coping with their flair and I believe we'll grind them down and win by the odd goal.
Thanks to Merlin again for his honest and quality replies.
Keep a look out for answers I gave Merlin in a short post mortem interview shortly. They will appear on Vital Chelsea soon…
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Date:Monday April 16 2007
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