VIEW FROM THE SOUTH – BIRMINGHAM vs CHELSEA

Here is Bazza’s match report.

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I hope that everyone had a good Christmas and didn’t overindulge to the point that you missed this match as I nearly did although not on the grounds of ill health. The family had spent the festivities in darkest Essex at the home of my wife’s sister whom I have to say, in total contrast to my beloved, loves football and has a depth of understanding as demonstrated by the fact that she is actually a qualified referee! She supports Ipswich Town (I suppose someone has to) and my brother-in-law barracks for Crystal Palace and I often sympathise with him about this fact.

On Boxing Day morning having dragged my two lads kicking and screaming into the pre-noon part of the day (a serious diversion for them) we set off towards home intending to call in very briefly at my father-in-law’s place near Sevenoaks in order to take him in a Christmas lunch which was plated up and would slip into the microwave. Things did not go to plan and despite all good intentions, we got caught in traffic on the A12 because of a metallic disagreement between three cars which of course everybody, us included, had to slow right down and have a good gawk at! The M25 was full of cars off to the sales near Dartford and I forlornly watched the time tick rapidly towards kick off time. The final straw was being told on the radio that there was a tail back of several miles from intersection 4 to 8 making any prospect of getting home and seeing any of the game, out of the question.

Ordinarily I would have gone to the match but logistically it was going to be impossible but I felt cheated nevertheless and my mood darkened by the minute. “Never mind, you can watch what happens on MotD tonight” said Mrs Bazza. (Forgive her, she doesn’t understand!) “Can we not watch it at Granddad’s?” said my eldest lad. “He doesn’t have ESPN” I replied gloomily but I thought I would try and see if I could get a single game subscription or find a pub. We arrived at my father-in-law’s place five minutes before kick off. He greeted us with a smile and said “Hurry up boys, the game is about to start!” He explained that there had been a special offer of two months subscription for half price and so he had taken it; there is a God!

I suspect all of you bothering to read this drivel will have seen the game so I won’t bore you further with a detailed description but like many if someone had offered me a draw prior to the game I would have taken it without hesitation. Yes, Benitez’s goal should have stood, no we can have no complaints as it was a very tight call and we got away with a far more clear cut decision at Everton last week, yes we rode our luck and yes Joe Hart had the game of his life but make no mistake whether you are a partisan, neutral or Chelsea fan, Birmingham thoroughly deserved their point for their endeavour and spirit alone. Man of the match, goalkeeper, Joe Hart was awesome between the sticks and will have done his Wold Cup aspirations no harm with this performance. His save from Sturridge was nothing short of fantastic without getting carried away with hyperbole. Once again Scott Dann and Roger Johnson aided by Stephen Carr and Ridgewell on the flanks kept the megastars of Chelsea largely quiet and the biggest threat came from Alex whose aerial power caused Blues problems from set pieces all afternoon. His thirty yard drive from a free kick crashed against the crossbar in the first half and was the closest the London club came to scoring although they did have several clear chances to win the game which they spurned. Blues could have nicked this game as well but it would have been highway robbery had they done so. Seb Larsson whipped a brilliant free kick over the wall into the postage stamp only for Cech, who had his moments too, to save brilliantly whacking his head against the post in keeping it out. Thankfully the Czech international recovered and was probably thankful of the skullcap that has become his trademark in preventing another serious head injury. By the same measure Chelsea did not deserve to win this game and a draw was a fair and honourable result; if nothing else the main quality that this present Blues side has restored to the faithful at St Andrews is pride and I for one am proud to be a bluenose.

Stoke City next, a tough, uncompromising, determined team who are a formidable proposition at the Britannia stadium. Avoid defeat and Blues will set a new record of 11 league games without defeat in the top flight; a record that has stood since 1906-07! Apparently, we still got relegated that season which is why the quest for 40 points has to be and remains the primary objective. As Jimmy Greaves used to say “Funny old game in’it?”

KRO SOTV

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