Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Claudio's Too Crazy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Claudio's Too Crazy

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID MELLOR

THE PULSATING encounter between Chelsea and Arsenal was a good advertisement for the Premiership, though it's a shame it had to happen so soon. And it's not all over yet.

Of the four Arsenal-Chelsea games this season, the most exciting 45 minutes was when Chelsea threatened to take Arsenal apart at Highbury in the Cup. A repeat of that, plus a more competitive second-half, could create some different headlines to the ones most expect.

Claudio Ranieri will have been encouraged by his team's spirit - the first time they've lasted 90 minutes against the Gunners this season - and by the fans' support. But I am afraid I am still one of those who thinks he should go. He's done a great job in remoulding an ageing squad into a younger, more English one. But Chelsea haven't won anything under him and are unlikely to do so because of his ingrained eccentricity.

At one point in the second half against Fulham last Saturday, Chelsea's four midfielders were all playing out of position. Why? Search me. A game which Chelsea started looking as if they would win easily ended as an uneasy scramble.

Even against Arsenal, when every player gave their all, they weren't helped by some dodgy selections, one of which could have cost us the tie. Marcel Desailly is not what he was, and to break up the John Terry-William Gallas partnership to accommodate him never made much sense, and looked downright disastrous when a challenge on Patrick Vieira earned the captain an early bath.

There was a case for playing Scott Parker - but in place of Claude Makelele, not out on the right where his tough tackling went for nothing.

Similarly, to pay [pounds sterling]16.8 million for inform Hernan Crespo and not play him for three-quarters of the match doesn't make sense, while the man he replaced, Adrian Mutu, has almost lost his goalscoring touch. …

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