3 May 2005
In the streets of Chelsea, Premiership Champions
It was 50 years coming, but Chelsea finally won the Premiership title on Saturday night. And rather than complaining about how they had to buy an entirely new team to do it, or bemoaning their sometimes negative football, I wish them all the best. They were clearly the best team for the better part of the year. Their success was built, not merely on a bottomless wallet, but also on strong management from Mourinho; superb defence, most notably from John Terry and Petr Cech; a strong midfield who can track back but also generate drive and score goals; and a very creative attack. Joe Cole, for example, has blossomed into an inventive and exciting player for both Chelsea and England.
So my beloved Gunners have no doubt being beaten by the better team this year, and there’s no shame in that. And being such a good loser, I thought we’d head down to Fulham Road, Chelsea on Saturday night to absorb some of the premiership-winning atmosphere. I have to admit, when I went to Stamford Bridge to see Chelsea thump Pompey earlier this season, there was a distinct lack of atmosphere, as if Chelsea were already too used to winning. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case this time. Instead there was a great deal of singing and merriment, every second person advertising Fly Emirates or waving a blue and white flag. Every car horn blared and every glass and voice was raised, except those that had been thrown in the middle of the road to be crushed by cars. Glasses, I mean, not voices. The vocal throng didn’t seem to have a huge repertoire, but at least most of it was clean and good-spirited, which was lucky considering Jonathan and Joanna were with me, and I was resplendent in red and white!
I was amused when the crowd outside a pub started singing “Are you watching Arsenal?” There’s a certain comfort in the fact that even as the new champions, Chelsea fans still seem to measure their success by comparison with their illustrious North London neighbours.