Report: Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal, Carabao Cup 1/2F 1st Leg

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Starting XI: Ospina, Chambers, Mustafi, Holding, Bellerin, Xhaka, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles, Welbeck, Iwobi, Lacazette

Subs: Macey, Mavropanos, Mertesacker, Nelson, Elneny, Walcott, Sanchez

__

Arsenal put the misery of their FA Cup exit to one side to secure a creditable 0-0 draw with Chelsea in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge.

The home side had the better chances in an entertaining and high-intensity encounter but the Gunners held firm to protect a confidence-building clean sheet. The two sides go head-to-head again in two weeks time to decide who’ll go to Wembley at the end of February.

First half

Tight, scrappy, fast. The first half was a typically English affair. There were chances at each end, but you sensed at the same time that both sides were holding back a little. Not wholly unexpected from a first leg showdown.

Chelsea were the better side in the opening stages and threatened early when Morata hit the side-netting with a toe poke inside two minutes. The Spain international was the target for much of the home side’s play with Hazard and Fabregas both attempting long lofted balls over the Gunners defence in his direction. Mustafi, restored to the starting lineup, did well to snaffle the threat, albeit illegally a couple of times.

In response, Arsenal spent a disproportionately large amount of time playing the ball across their own penalty box. To keep everyone’s nerves on edge they occasionally got Ospina involved with the odd under-hit pass. It was tough to tell if we were playing with assurance or fire.

The Gunners were controlled in the midfield with Wilshere, captain for the night, pulling the strings. It was the England international’s vision that created our first chance, his scooped ball over the Chelsea backline finding Lacazette’s well-timed run. On the angle, from the edge of the box, the Frenchman attempted an ambitious effort that flew over. He should have tested the keeper at least.

Xhaka took a bad free-kick, a bad corner and Hazard out a couple of times. It was amazing that he lasted until the second half before getting booked.

Back came Chelsea. Maitland-Niles who looked decent on the ball was twice caught by darting runs by Moses. On the first occasion, the Nigerian wing-back forced a fumbled save from Ospina, on the second he hit the Colombian’s near post.

Iwobi, starting the game despite being fined for partying less than 48 hours before the defeat to Nottingham Forest, forced Courtois into a save a couple of minutes before half time. The ball was parried to Maitland-Niles who nipped in front of Moses and went down. Penalty? Martin Atkinson deferred to the Video Assistant Referee, being used for only the second time ever in English football, who decided it was a goal-kick.

The best chance of the half came just moments before the break as Fabregas’s head connected with an Azpilicueta cross to force Ospina into a decent stop.

Second half

The home side came out determined to tighten the screw. Concerted pressure created a chance for Christensen inside a minute. He headed over under pressure from Mustafi.

Arsenal didn’t help themselves. Despite being under the cosh they repeatedly tried to play their way out of tight spaces. Chelsea kept winning the ball back quickly and in the final third.

Wilshere’s night came to a premature end before the hour mark. An attempt to block a Drinkwater cross seemed to jar his ankle and he was replaced by Elneny. Given how well he’d been playing it was a real blow.

Arsenal were just about holding on at this point. Ospina parried a shot from the edge of the box. Next Morata slipped an effort under the keeper but couldn’t squeeze the ball inside the post. More chances to the Blues. Mustafi deflected a shot over the bar and Christensen missed another header, this time from a corner with Ospina flailing.

The only thing that stemmed the Blue tide for a few moments was another substitution as Alexis Sanchez, rumoured to be the subject of a £20 million bid from Manchester City, replaced Lacazette. It looked like we might be forced into another change when Chambers twisted his knee. After treatment, he came back on.

Arsenal began to come out of the shell in the final 20 minutes. Iwobi made a nice run through the centre of the park but then panicked when it came to shoot. He barely even made contact with the ball. Welbeck also managed a nice spin in the box but his shot was closed down at close quarters.

Chelsea still had bite and the better of the chances as the game reached its conclusion.

Ospina fielded a couple of long range efforts. Holding had to be sharp to block Hazard, who’d escaped a Mustafi lunge, and Xhaka deflected a Fabregas cross into Ospina’s near post and out for a corner. Referee Atkinson again chatted to the VAR as he checked whether Welbeck had taken out the ex-Gunner in the build-up.

They were nervous moments for Arsene Wenger who was sitting in the press box because of his touchline ban. Thankfully, we managed to hold tight to secure a second 0-0 draw at the Bridge of the season.

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goongot
goongot

Alex iwobi has no effingg vision to be playing the no.10 role. But his close control and good use of body can make him a great asset in xhaka role

Santori
Santori

Exactly. He’s too far forward. He can’t see that high up but if he was deeper, he gets a better move. He’s made some very telling passes from deeper.

Plus he’s generally strong on the ball with good physique and close control.

Also unlike Ramsey (or Granit) he can turn with the ball which he often does receiving quickly and then facing the opponents.

With Jack injured, one of the better back ups sold, we should strongly consider Iwobi in a deeper role.

Elneny is mediocre and often times soft.

mrnkrm
mrnkrm

i would play AMN in xhaka’s position.

Jean Ralphio
Jean Ralphio

I think he would be better on the right wing for now. No one in the team bar Ozil can beat Xhaka when it comes to long range passing. We all get angry with Xhaka for not playing the DM role well and now we want Iwobi there? Quick on the ground passing and exchanging is what he is good at. He had a decent if unspectacular game and while his defending was better this game he still has a lot of improving to do on that front. His close control and bursting forward ability is great to watch. That said, his form isn’t great at the moment.

Jack
Jack

What a great refereeing performance. And I say that because he didn’t give any penalties against us.

Third+Plebeian
Third+Plebeian

Actually, it was good refereeing tonight. Also, I like VAR. Doesn’t take much time, and you feel less aggrieved by the call / non-call. Worked pretty seamlessly, I thought.

Santori
Santori

Fussy with sweet nothings.

Dave
Dave

I know this game was a bit of a dead rubber and all, but VAR really takes some of the stress out of watching the game. The EPL desperately needs it.

Fatgooner
Fatgooner

I’m not too sure about that.

They haven’t thought VAR through properly. What if it WAS a penalty but we had scored immediately after the foul? Would the ref have disallowed our goal then awarded the penalty?

That could cause a riot.

How far should the ref go back? Shouldn’t he have stopped play to check immediately after the “foul”? Waiting for a natural stoppage is surely a mistake.

Tonight the ref got an easy game. But I fear for the future.

TeeCee
TeeCee

Same as without VAR. A decent ref will wait a few seconds before blowing the whistle. If it ends up going in, it’s a goal and a booking for the offence. If it doesn’t, it’s a penalty and a booking for the offence.

Some refs will still blow immediately so they can preen themselves in self importance over their lightning reactions, sometimes disallowing a perfectly good goal in the process.

VAR will never make a decent ref out of a Mike Dean, but it may well save us from their more glaring cockups.

Too Drunk To Be Offside
Too Drunk To Be Offside

Yes no penalties was a bit of a surprise. Its almost as if this ref is not a c*nt. Hard to believe that such refs still exist.

Its too much to say that winning this mickey mouse cup will salvage this disaster of a season, but it will make it a teeny tiny bit less sh!t. Same goes for Wenger, of course he needs to leave, but needing to leave with a trophy, even if it is the mickey mouse cup, is teeny tiny bit better than needing to leave without winning a trophy.

I will say this though that I want Wenger to win this trophy this season. That way he would have lifted every domestic trophy in England atleast once. Would complete his domestic trophy record.

Then he should leave for PSG or Barca or Real Madrid, and win the UCL.

Jimbo1
Jimbo1

Win the Europa League then retire.

Del
Del

I doubt psg, barca or madrid would want him now!

Spanish Gooner
Spanish Gooner

Why would PSG or Madrid want him? Both of those ships have sailed. I suspect he’d do very well taking over an Auxerre or a Nice where he could bring through some youth and focus on the league away from the spotlight. I think Arsène needs a fresh start as much as Arsenal do, and I think he would be invigorated by the new challenge

myrtle
myrtle

He quite clearly has his eyes on the French national job after this Summer – and why not, their best crop in a generation – I would wish him well.

Twisted cuntloks
Twisted cuntloks

A better defensive display. If this mind set was on show against Forest, we wouldn’t be out of the cup.

Wenger should consider taking over the French national team after the world cup. Much more suited to him now but I doubt he has the balls for it after being on easy street for the past 10 years…

Jsergio
Jsergio

wait…so we can defend? I’m confused.

Third+Plebeian
Third+Plebeian

Yes, when the entire midfield doesn’t go charging up the field, leaving two CB’s exposed, yes, indeed, you can defend. Helped having a back three, with AMN’s speed and endurance a big factor as well. He was everywhere, and his timely challenge / block on Hazard (with Mustafi scrambling) was outstanding.

Santori
Santori

That’s the thing. The midfield needs to learn discipline and awareness.

They have not previously been tracking runners into our box.

Granted the back 3 need to improve their individual game but many of the goals conceded the midfield were culpable.

Back 3 did better today. Holding and Chambers much calmer and Mustafi had some crucial blocks.

Ospina’s weakness is he doesn’t command his box as strong as he should but some good saves. He has good reactions.

goonerbynature
goonerbynature

Absolutely take that

SB Still
SB Still

Gritty performance.

Wilshere is the big loss of the night, hope it’s nothing too serious.

Iwobi seems to be finding some form. Ospina still gives me the heebie jeebies!

We can steal it in the 2nd leg.

Santori
Santori

Don’t worry, we sold our best back up Coquelin (Admittedly 12m is a decent price)

We have a mediocre player in Elneny to back up or we can risk AMN or Willock like we did Holding and Chambers before they demonstrate return on potential.

And we won’t go into market to get anyone other than a 21yr old we need to put back out on loan because he has to adapt to league.

…and there’s Ramsey, he isn’t injury prone much.

my name is bob
my name is bob

Boring but at least we can finish them off at the Emirates.
COYG

Santori
Santori

No teeth second half.

Wenger will probably buy some young 21yr old to replace Alexis and the fellow will need time to adapt to the league. And we have clueless Welbeck and one trick pony Walcott. They are Plan C.

Spanish Gooner
Spanish Gooner

A youngster is exactly what we need to replace Alexis. There is nobody of his quality that we can buy so we either have to buy a second tier player who is ready now or a top tier youngster who will come good in a couple of seasons

mrnkrm
mrnkrm

And by the time he comes good, he’ll be agitating for a move to a richer club.

Axedsoul
Axedsoul

You don’t take off your record signing striker if you want to score goals. How difficult is that to understand? I mean isn’t he always gonna be the one with the highest chances of scoring a goal?
That being said, taking away a point at Stamford is always a good result. Hope we beat them at the reverse fixture now. COYG!
Hope Wilshere didn’t take a serious knock. It’s always a sign of worry to see him limping off the pitch.

Goonerest Gooner
Goonerest Gooner

No points dude, t’was a cup game tonight

Santori
Santori

Arsenal recipe for success :

Sell all our best back ups – Gabriel, Coquelin

Keep all our mediocre players – Walcott, Welbeck, Elneny, Debuchy

Rely on unproven young players – Holding, Chambers (possibly AMN and Willock in midfield) before they show delivery on promise.

Rely on injury prone players in midfield – Ramsey, Jack

Sell all our best assets for nothing – Alexis, Ozil

Rely on “world Class” striker Lacazette to deliver hardly any goals but relegate Giroud to Plan B because we have Welbeck.

Don’t buy proven players from market.

Buy young 21yr old players who need time to adapt to league and have to go on loan.

Great.

caligunner
caligunner

Elneny- check
Mahrez- I can’t believe you couldn’t sneak something in here.

GoonerKR
GoonerKR

FFS can he not play a£55m striker for full 90 minutes?

Jack
Jack

Not when that striker isn’t getting a sniff

Spanish Gooner
Spanish Gooner

So put Alexis on for Iwobi whose confidence looks shot to bits. And give him some service. If we can’t get the ball to the striker in decent positions it doesn’t matter who we have upfront

Fan
Fan

Wasn’t happening for him today. Fully behind trying a different option.

SharpasFc
SharpasFc

I think AW likes to use reverse psychology. Most managers will play their strikers in the hope it will help with their confidence but AW benches his strikers and thinks they will play for their place….before I forget, a lot of what has happened at the club is because of Alexis and his need to be the start attraction.

Goons
Goons

When we can defend, we seem absolutely clueless in attack. Iwobi is such an average footballer, it’s appalling almost. Danny did nothing all game. Lacazette looked like he couldn’t give a rat’s ass as well. Disappointing from them.
Chelsea had their moments and could’ve probably put 3-4 past us, but they didn’t, fortunately.

Absolutely disheartening sometimes

BidOnLard
BidOnLard

I had promised myself not to watch this game. Oh, why on earth did I watch this game?… I feel numb.

COYG1001
COYG1001

Thought the team was well set up … played defense for a change. Feel for Wilshere, but thought ElNeny did well, too. Let’s bloody beat them at Emirates!

Simon
Simon

Good defensive performance by the whole team, especially please for Holding and Chambers – both of whom played very well.

ClockEndRider
ClockEndRider

As did AMN apart from one slip, which Smith couldn’t resist turning into an anti Arsenal dig about playing people out of position, the West Midlands wanker.

ramgooner
ramgooner

I think the key was communication and a keeper who is comfortable on the ball. I always felt Kos lacked the leadership skills to organize the defence. Mustafi has been a real leader in that sense.

Third+Plebeian
Third+Plebeian

Is there an away goals rule in the league cup?

OneBeatOff
OneBeatOff

Yes, and no. If tied at full-time, an extra 30 minutes is played. If still no goals, the away goals come into play…. as I understand it.

nelsonCOYG
nelsonCOYG

you understand correctly and get down voted, good job lads!

Stepanovs Defensive Masterclass
Stepanovs Defensive Masterclass

He just said if “no goals the away goals come into play”… think about it for a minute.

Goonerest Gooner
Goonerest Gooner

But that does make sense if YOU think about it. If it’s 1-1 after the first leg and the second leg finishes 0-0 after 90 mins, then 30 mins extra are played. If it’s still 0-0 then the away goal(s) counts.

Ealing
Ealing

So if Chelsea scores at the Emirates we need to win.

TeeCee
TeeCee

I suspect we need to win whether they score or not.
What did I get wrong?

TaariqT
TaariqT

Couldn’t ask for a better result with the team we played. Well done Lads!

On a side note i wanted to ask what you all think about where we can strengthen next season if Wenger stays

we just bought kolasinac at LB, Bellerin is supposedly the future RB, we just bought a greek player for $2m and have holding and chambers to replace per.

AMN will supposedly replace Xhaka if he can get there. Wilshere takes over Cazorlas spot if we offer him a new contract. and we won’t sell ramsey.

We just bought lacazette up top and ozil on the right. The only viable position to replace is Sanchez and i cant see wenger buying a top player in any other position.

Does this not scare anyone? i don’t think we’re doing enough to have TOP talent in each position yet wenger thinks we are fine

TaariqT
TaariqT

would anyone care to share some feedback instead of just down voting?

catbiscuits
catbiscuits

Well Ozil is leaving, there’s no indication that AMN is supposed to replace Xhaka, the Greek guy will probably go out on loan, Bellerin will have no cover and may agitate to leave, etc.

Besides that, I agree with your general concern that we might not strengthen adequately

Atom
Atom

strengthening with Wenger remaining is going to be extremely challenging. We’ll probably need to get up and coming players like Fekhir who don’t necessarily have a lot of interest from top clubs but where we can pay a lot higher wages than their current clubs. the main 2 issues we’ll have
1. likely no CL football. this can be overcome if players believe there is a viable plan to get back there – see Man U
2. no really established player or one with a lot of choice is going to want to come join with the huge uncertainty around Wenger. with past contracts it was always just a matter of when he would sign it. this time there’s genuine questioning whether he will even be offered another one

Wezza
Wezza

TaariqT, I actually think he will buy a big name player. I think we’ve got some good talent at the club but to lose Sanchez and potentially Ozil wouldn’t only leave us as fans frustrated if they weren’t replaced with quality but the players that are still there as well, hence you open the door to rival clubs taking them away.

kas
kas

Simple, what decent ambitious player would want to play for Whinger – zero

pedro
pedro

50m should buy you a player capable of playing 90 minutes

Gutted for Jack though, very harsh luck

Fatgooner
Fatgooner

Good result; rubbish performance.

We never looked like scoring which was worrying. Had they taken their chances we would be out now.

Lacazette hopeless.

PS: why can’t we take a decent free kick?

Dave
Dave

Can we get a VAR on this comment please?

Danger Mouse
Danger Mouse

Fatgooner!!!! You’re back!!!!

Santori
Santori

Today we rode our luck second half but we managed to put a better effort with the back 3. Much better from Chambers and HOlding and Mustafi with some important stops. Ospina still needs to command the box better but some important saves.

Our midfield looks lacking in option. Jack out injured, mediocre Elneny in. Granit in danger of not even meeting his only asset in long distance passing (Poor set piece delivery all day)

Not worried about losing Sanchez. He’s 29yrs and we aren’t City’s rival anyway. Better make some money now and at least do the business on one of the top assets trying to leave. Problem is do we buy ready made from market or penny pinch and bring in another 21yr old who need stime to develop/adapt to league?

No Mahrez, no Draxler. “Too expensive”

Up top, Welbeck is clueless.

We were OK first half but look toothless all second half. NO we don’t need any attacking assets to come in.

Well Chelsea look average. At least we had a bit of bottle chasing.

poobear
poobear

How many times do you need to have a whinge?

Third+Plebeian
Third+Plebeian

Really important not to lose this game. Clean sheet is an extra bonus. Good for Holding and Chambers.

Goons
Goons

Lacazette needs to start getting himself involved a lot more. I hope he ups his pressing game as well

PBM
PBM

He consistently makes smart darts into space and off defenders shoulders game after game but doesn’t get passed to. Instead we pass sideways and backwards. Must be doing his head in.

Goons
Goons

Yeah, what is with that?
We used to play some decent football atleast. We don’t even have that now.
Lacazette also probably needs someone playing right behind him instead of the two men either side from the looks of it.

nelsonCOYG
nelsonCOYG

Fekir and ozil would be my dream, with goretzka playing next to wilshere and ramsey.

Yagaru
Yagaru

Yeah, it’s hardly surprising Lacazzette’s struggling for goals right now. Like you say, he gets little to no service and his runs go unnoticed. When he does get a sniff he seems to snatch at it because he knows another chance isn’t coming along for a long time!

UpNorth
UpNorth

Take a draw anytime, but our defending is based on a no risk strategy and I think we’ll be punished home when we try to go forward. But pretty decent defending from the youngsters today.
Welbeck and Iwobi absolutely useless as usual.

Santori
Santori

VAR – Ref fussing about minor issues.

The obvious contentious one (AMN getting tripped up in the box) he doesn’t even bother to consult.

nelsonCOYG
nelsonCOYG

except he did….

caligunner
caligunner

I’m sorry but I’m conditioned to read about Mahrez or Elneny. I’m shocked

Leftie

Creditable, indeed! Considering who we had available for selection I say this is a solid result.

ClockEndRider
ClockEndRider

Could entirely understand that the bloke in the rug was moaning about not getting a pen at the end. After all as Dean recently showed, what have the facts got to do with it?

Adrian
Adrian

TBH better result than my expectation. Defensively we played well.
Hope to continue this performance in coming games.

Spanish Gooner
Spanish Gooner

I’m really worried about Lacazette. He seems to have lost a lot of confidence and his predatory direct play that made him a success early on in the season has disappeared. Of course, not subbing him off after 58 minutes every game and not changing his support cast every game might help, but who am I to question Wenger’s tactics?

SantiSandler
SantiSandler

I disagree, I think we just rarely seem to give him the kind of service he thrives on. We don’t look for the early release ball and that’s when he seems to time his runs the best. Plus even when Giroud is on the pitch our strikers often look starved for service this season. Missing Ozil really hurt us today.

Spanish Gooner
Spanish Gooner

That’s a very fair point SantiSandler

Walenaija
Walenaija

I think Lacasette need a ramsey to become succesful again. Since Ramsey injury, he had not scored.

beNZed
beNZed

Xhaka had a bloody good game.

Indian+Gooner
Indian+Gooner

Except for all those free kicks and the corners he took and all those reckless fouls being on a yellow card. I am not a Xhaka basher by any chance but to say he had bloody good game sounds like pure sarcasm to me.

Indian+Gooner
Indian+Gooner

Decent draw. Hopefully it is nothing serious with Jack. It would be such a shame if it is anything serious. Would be the end for him in an Arsenal shirt having worn the captain’s armband today ironically. Fingers crossed for the lad.

ramgooner
ramgooner

I think Welbeck should be a part time winger and a full time wing back. It’s not to late to make the switch. He’s still young.

Third+Plebeian
Third+Plebeian

You mean part time footballer?

SantiSandler
SantiSandler

If Jack is out for the next match and Ramsey still out I would love to see us try AMN and Xhaka in midfield next match

mrnkrm
mrnkrm

So who then fills in at left back?

I too wish to see AMN play CDM but at the moment it can’t happen. Plus wenger always prioritizes seniors – so in this case i’m pretty certain Elneny will replace Wilshere.

arsepedant
arsepedant

Job done. Nil-nil is a decent result to take back to the Emirates, especially with our being forced into quite a light squad due to all the injuries. Hopefully Jack is okay. We should have all of Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, and Ramsey back by the time we finish this tie.

I thought Jack was outstanding – MOTM, really – before he had to go off, and Iwobi was rather a lot better than his last few matches. Lacazette was short of service and snatched at his one chance when lobbing Courtois would have been a far better option. Sadly, Welbeck was rubbish; I have no idea how he starts even in a second XI. All of our defenders and wingbacks had great games.

alek
alek

good performance at last

Yagaru
Yagaru

Just shows how far we’ve fallen that that’s deemed a good performance. Good for this season maybe (and good in the context of that awful display against Forrest) but not good for the Arsenal we once were. We offered no attacking threat (never looked like scoring) and whilst we defended way better than we have for a long time, we still rode our luck a little. We desperately need to strengthen this window but I’m not optimistic that we will.

Highbury
Highbury

Few things-
1 – Thought the touch on AMN was a penalty. In fact, convinced it was. Was watching ESPN and the commentators made a good point (even though they made it unintentionally) – had he gone down straight away it would have been called. He tried to keep going, and couldn’t. No wonder players dive. Other aspect is the credibility of VAR – how is it not called after seeing the slow-motion replay?
2) Lacazette got poor service today. Should have done better with his big chance, but clearly needed someone with more vision in the final third. Solution (apparently): Replace him with the player that could, potentially, provide that vision. Maddening.
3) I think I might be seeing the game through a very negative lens at the moment, so feel free to disagree.

Original Paul
Original Paul

Enjoyed watching a team that all wanted to be part of it….. until Alexis came on.
New beginnings on the horizon hopefully. COYG.

Walenaija
Walenaija

Except that we were still that team when Alexis came on. Honestly no difference.

Fireman Sam
Fireman Sam

Happy with 0-0 at the bridge.

Let’s smash them at the Emirates! COYG!!

Riku
Riku

Arsenal starting line up cost about 160 million
Chelsea about 250 million

Paulo Cuntchops
Paulo Cuntchops

Wenger out!

Riku
Riku

Like a George graham team tonight play for clean sheet , which is whet iwobi and wellbeck bring to team. Like the less creative players in the later dsy George graham teams, selley, parlour,
Elneny who is solid, like a hillier but better who scores, Xhaka as paul Davis,etc…

Happy with clean sheets

Imo I think alex.lacezette- Nd walcott would play well together particular on the break . Also a Theo. Makes predictable runs, which is then easy for Alex.l. To get on his wave length and know where to stand and run to get on end of chances.

I AM ARSENAL
I AM ARSENAL

Alex iwobi is brilliant until he gets to the 18 yard box..Not saying much but cant say many played better than him other than Jack and Niles today.
You can See Wenger hated parking the bus..He would prefer expansive football ana defeat (man u) than a 0 0.

Ausdrexler
Ausdrexler

A decent outcome considering the team put out.
Now its back to the Emirates, field strongest possible team, and have a real crack at it in front of a vocal home crowd.
League Cup / Europa League double is nothing to scoff at!

Paulo Cuntchops
Paulo Cuntchops

Vocal home crowd? Not relly had one of those since Highbury have we.

LongRoadtoRuin
LongRoadtoRuin

I want to go out on a limb and say perhaps fans commenting on blogs do not know all that much about what top level management involves and don’t have any answers….and that we’ll probably see a few more flips and turns in Arsenal’s seasons and a fair few more knickers twisted in here before its all done.
p.s. i do not care what the trophy is called but if we (somehow) get past Chelsea and City on the way, it damn well means something to me