The pitch was like a badly laid carpet on a polished floor so right from the off players were hitting the deck, with or without contact. It looked as though David Elleray in his last ever FA Cup match might have his work cut out but although it got heated, it never became outright filthy in the way that Manure currently try to kick Arsenal off the pitch. Ranieri, who's still forever tinkering, opted for three at the back and tried flooding their midfield with five players. It didn't work!
'Champions, champions, champions' 'We won the league, we won the league, we won the league, we won the league in Manchester, we won the league at Old Trafford, we won the league in Manchester' We had to defend early on but that didn't stop Toure getting forward. Ray did Lampard at the first opportunity, perhaps as a reminder to Eriksson. Kolo cleared when Stuart thought it should have been his and from Le Saux's corner Hasselbaink headed into the ground and it bounced over Taylor's bar in front of the travelling Gooners. Ray had our first attempt with a decent run and a low shot that went wide as he cut inside. Stanic with his crap haircut was made to look a monkey by Pires and our worse moment early on came when Vieira clattered into Lauren and laid him out, the kindly Harrow school teacher in charge awarded us a free kick. 'And it's Arsenal, Arsenal F C, they're by far the greatest team the world has ever seen'
The match was rather bitty but we seemed to get it together with some brilliant play coming out from defence that ended with Wiltord being caught offside. 'Have you ever seen Chelsea win the league, have you ever seen Chelsea win the league, have you ever seen Chelsea, ever seen Chelsea, ever seen Chelsea win the league - have you feck!' Stanic went over the top on Sylvain and picked up the games first yellow card, that didn't stop his antics and he was lucky not to get a second later on when he blatantly took out Pires. Cygan looked the part tonight and broke up a Hasselbaink break before Stuart saved low from Lampard. 'Vieira ooh, oooh, Vieira woo, ooh-ooh-ooh, he comes from Senegal and plays for Arsenal, Vieira' 'Champions, champions, champions, champions' 'That song, you'll never sing that song, you'll never sing that song'
A fine cross by Lauren was shortly followed by some fine one-twos by Wiltord, Edu and Pires down our left. 'Big fat big fat Frank, big fat big fat Frank, big fat big fat Frank, big fat Frankie Lampard' 'One team in London, there's only one team in London, one team in London, there's only One team in London' Twenty four minutes gone and we broke with Wiltord, Jeffers took players away with a right to left run and Sylv slipped the ball to Pat in the right hand channel. Pat hit in a low killer cross with Sylv and Franny in place to tap home but Terry intervened and hit the ball home with his right instead of clearing with his left. 0-1 Arsenal, a fabulous break and from then on we never looked back. 'Ooooh Arsene Wenger's Magic he wears a magic hat and when he saw the double he said I'm having that! Ooooh Arsene Wenger's Magic he wears a magic hat and when he saw the double he said I'm having that!
Chelsea hit back with a deflected free kick from Hasselbaink that was beautifully tipped over by Taylor. Wiltord did well after we lost possession cheaply, but in the main we were controlling things well with Pat in imperial mode bossing the match and having his second brilliant game of the week. Stanic fouled Pires yet again and when Hasselbaink broke fast on their left Cygan tripped him and was booked. Another Chelsea break saw Hasselbaink hit a crap cross-field pass straight out of play. Our second goal was similar to the first. Pat picked the ball up deep and ran straight down the middle at the heart of the Chelsea defence. Once more Franny made a left to right run dragging players with him that made space for Wiltord in the right-hand channel. Pat's pass was perfect as was Wiltord's execution. 0-2 Arsenal, and did we celebrate or what? 'You can stick your blue flag up your arse' 'Oo to, oo to be, oo to be a Gooner!'
Chelsea gave up on a back three and replaced Stanic with Gronkjaer. Campbell beat Hasselbaink with ease. 'Sol's a Gooner der, der, der, dut, Sol's a Gooner der, der, der, dut' 'Oh Rocky Rocky, Rocky Rocky Rocky Rocastle' 'Fox in the box, fox in the box, fox in the box, fox in the box!' 'Double, double, double, Sol Campbell has won the double, while the Scum at the lane have won feck-all again Sol Campbell has won the double' A deflected cross from Chelsea saw Taylor unable to catch and thus concede a corner. More brilliance from Pat followed. Manu needed to foul Franny to stop him, he then tripped Edu and shortly after that he and Franny were at it and giving it the old Eskimo nose rubbing routine just prior to Elleray's lecture on nose rubbing at the Bridge. Pascal was doing his job well, Sol was in charge and our full backs were holding up well. Two minutes of added time saw Manu volley wide and end a half that had been scrappy but absolutely wonderful for Gooners. No half time repeats of our goals on their two-bob apology for a screen, so what is the point of it? Every time I looked up for a time-check they seemed to be posing a 'what happened next' question. As if we cared!
Stuart had a fine game apart from one suicidal throw out and Arsenal were by now playing a classic game of keep-ball. Pires had a cross headed clear before Gudjohnsen replaced Petit. From the noise in the Matthew Harding Stand it was obvious that Arsenal's subs were warming up 'We love you Freddie because you've got red hair' 'Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry' Arsenal broke but Jeffers was offside, next up was a big move which saw Ray sling in a wicked cross with Franny and Sylv bearing down on goal. Chelsea hit the back of our net but the flag was up and Stuart having heard the whistle had let it go. TV shots later showed this offside decision to be somewhat marginal. An over hit back pass by Edu was fired at Cygan who failed to control it, Hasselbaink latched onto it so Pascal pulled him back. His second yellow card resulted and we were down to ten men with sixty-six minutes gone. 'One Tony Adams, there's only one Tony Adams'
I have to say I was expecting Gilberto to arrive on the scene but it was Gio who replaced Jeffers and Kolo moved to partner Sol. It was all being played in our half and with Gio laying on the deck injured things could have been better. We hung on though and with seventy-four minutes gone Freddie and Thierry replaced Rob and Sylvain. Thierry lost possession but Sol tidied up. We had the occasional break but not much more than that. At one point Lauren cleared off the line and it bounced off Stuart for a corner. The pressure on our goal was maintained and one ball slung in from their left saw Terry head home despite Gallas being both offside and interfering with play, but the lino bottled it and so it was 1-2. We didn't need that with only ten men.
Once more Pat lead by example and one solo where it seemed like he was being chased by half of their team typified his efforts. He looked knackered but was ploughing on regardless; he'd been well supported though with Edu sitting in well and Ray giving it full throttle from start to finish. Lauren picked up a yellow for time wasting, which ironically seemed to spur him on. He picked up a nothing ball wide right with nothing on, only two up in support and eight blue shirts back. So he went on a bit of a run, and on a bit further, till he cut inside, made his own space and drilled in a left foot shot past Cudicini at the near post. 1-3 Arsenal with eight minutes to play. 'Who are yer? Who are yer? Who are yer? Who are yer?' 'Ten men, we've only got ten we've only got ten men, we 've only got ten men' 'Ten men, we only need ten men, we only need ten men, we only need ten men'
Parlour did really well and Henry won a corner with three to go. Edu cleared from Hasselbaink. 'Just a shit team in Fulham, you're just a shit team in Fulham, shit team in Fulham, you're just a shit team in Fulham' 'Silverware, oh silverware, you ain't got no silverware, from Wemberlee to anywhere you ain't got no silverware' Kolo blocked, Lauren hacked clear - anywhere would do. 'Come to see the Champions, you only come to see the Champions' 'Are you Tottnum in disguise' Three minutes added time during which a rocket of a free kick from Hasselbaink was well saved by Stuart as was the follow up shot. Even Cudicini went up as far as the halfway line but it didn't help. We were off to another F A Cup semi-final.
Very few of Chelsea's current fans were born when they last won the league and not even I wasn't born when Chelsea last beat Arsenal in the Cup, long may it continue. Great to shut the lippy so-and-so's up again wasn't it? The only target they deliberately hit all night was with cigarette lighters and the word is that 'Bic disposable lighters' will be their next season's sponsors.