The biggest game of the season is upon us, so it only seems right that I get Den from The Chelsea Blog to answer some questions for us.
Scott the Red: Six months ago, Chelsea were six points clear of United. Are you proud of your current position after spending some time 5th in the league or frustrated your team threw away the lead in the first place?
Chelsea Den: Where you are in the table that early in the season counts for nothing really. We had a blistering start, which is just as well really or we could be in real trouble now. As it is, from falling 15 points behind United, when points really matter we’ve managed to get into the position where we’re now just 3 behind. Of course I’d have preferred us not to play like muppets for months on end mid-season but credit to the lads for not bending over and giving it to United on a plate like Arsenal.
STR: Are you surprised by Chelsea’s meltdown earlier in the season?
CD: Yes and no. We did have a very strong start to the season but in the few games before the true meltdown started, the signs were already there. That poor form creeping in came just ahead of Wilkins’ departure, which was ultimately the reason given in the press for our woeful form. Maybe some of the players bought into that and excused themselves for not putting in the effort but with Drogba suffering some pretty long-term effects from his bout of malaria, Lampard struggling to comeback from his injury and Essien morphing into a very un-Essien like player, we just didn’t have anything going for us.
STR: Talking more recently, once the meltdown was over, United had it fairly easy against you in the Champions League. Do you think the emotion of it all got to Terry and co.?
CD: No, but I think not getting a penalty against you in the first leg might. Who knows where their heads were over those two games? I don’t really have an explanation for it but surely if they were so desperate to atone for Moscow they’d have put in a bit more effort when they had the chance?
STR: After beating you, we had even easier games against Schalke, before booking our place in the European Cup final for the third time in three years. Do you think United can beat Barcelona in the final?
CD: Depends whether you mean in a fist-fight or football? Unfortunately I’d have to say they probably can, whether they will or not is another matter. As we saw against Real, Barca can really get under your skin, break the play up with the odd Platoon audition here and there, then turn on the style for a split second to wrap up a game.
STR: Chelsea keep getting quite close but never quite making it. Do you think you will ever win the Champions League?
CD: In my lifetime? Who knows? The momentum was there in 2008 and if ever we could do it, I thought that was the chance. Now I try not to concentrate on what we can and can’t do in the Champions League because I’d lose the will to live.
STR: Roman Abramovich has spent £100m to improve the team this season and half of that went on Fernando Torres. What a waste of money?
You reckon? Maybe he hasn’t had the immediate impact Chelsea had hoped for in terms of goals but if nothing else, his signing has seen a turnaround in Drogba’s form and that certainly hasn’t done us any harm. Maybe signing a player like Torres in January, when we’ve already got Drogba wasn’t the best idea in terms of getting value for money but I think we’ll see his true value next season. Besides, if he comes on and scores the winner Sunday, he’d be worth every penny.
STR: I reckon one goal is a shoddy return for a £50m player, certainly, and you don’t spend that amount of money to improve the form of someone else. However, Torres scored two goals against Chelsea in Liverpool 2-0 win earlier in the season. If we win the league by 3 or less points the Chelsea fans won’t resent him for helping us win the title, will they?
CD: I think they’d have to be clutching at straws if they did. If United win the title it’ll be because we were shit for months, not just one game.
STR: I’ll certainly be thanking him on here, as you could imagine. Anyway, in our last league meeting, your players and manager admitted that Chelsea shouldn’t have had a penalty and Luiz should have been sent off. Are you confident that officials will help you beat us again?
CD: Bearing in mind the FA have decided it’s United’s turn to be allocated the twelfth man this time, confidence isn’t a word I’d use going into this game.
STR: You’re surely not talking about the ref who helped Chelsea win the FA Cup last season are you? I’m sure Webb would be offended to see his work has gone unappreciated by your fans! As usual, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.