In a day and age where health and safety stops you doing anything I'm surprised Stoke are allowed. Their thuggish brand of crap is both dangerous and very tedious to look at. The game itself I found quite dull. Maybe The performance against Barcelona spoilt me. If I hadn't seen such riches and all that. The atmosphere was flat. It really had the feel of a game we needed out the way.
Maybe I'd just had enough of Stoke. I was going about my business, driving around Islington, when I stumbled upon the Stoke team bus. I looked to the right and there, large as life, were Stoke. They were on the Market Road AstroTurf training. I pulled over and watched as Delap took throw in after throw in. He chucked the ball to Carew while bibbed defenders tried to get in the way. Then the coach decided to change it and they pumped the ball into the box from the floor. That was it. Depressing and 15 minutes was too much. Delap, as he was the nearest to the pavement, got a bit of abuse from some local kids. Shawcross was too far away! I like Delap! He could be useful to us this season. Cesc could grab his ears and lift him up to practise hoisting all those cups he will be presented with!
The most important thing about last night was the result. I'm starting to believe we can actually win this league. For me, it's the big one. It's the one that proves you are the best. The Champions League (Why is it called that? It's not a league. The Champions and a load of other teams who aren't champions generating a load of cash tournament would be a better, if less catchy, title for it.) proves you can beat randomly selected Europeans over two legs and then lose a final because your goalie gets sent off. It's all about what you do on the day. The Premier League is the one and we are well placed, very well placed.
To be honest we could've left after 10 minutes and missed very little. It's only a matter of time before people start leaving about then to miss the traffic. We would've missed Cesc limping off and Theo being carried off, two things we didn't want to see at the start of this marathon. Everything we do well seems to go through Cesc and he will be a huge miss. I know he is desperately disappointed about Sunday but in all honesty just get him fit for the Barcelona game. I know I've just said that's less important than ,say, Sunderland but we owe them one. To knock the arrogance out of them on their pitch would be it's own reward. It can be done!
Before the game a few of us were bemoaning Squillaci as this year's Silvestre. Defensively he probably is but last night he stuck it to us by being a match winner too. He looked delighted and we were delighted for him. He's had far more games than anyone expected and whatever you think of him, if Cesc lifts any pots this year Squillaci will have played his part. The same can be said about Bendtner. His has his critics and he might not be the best player we've ever seen but his own inflated self belief is his asset. He can miss 10 times and he never gives up. His head never drops and he stays confident. Another intelligent assist last night. He is playing his part.
So on to Wembley and the chance to change the phrase, 'Haven't won anything since 2005' to 'Only won the Carling Cup since 2005.' It's important to get this bunch a cup. They need a medal to push them onto bigger things. I went to Cardiff with my son the when we lost to the Chavs and he was given some good advise by his Godfather. 'Never take a cup final for granted. We may never get to go to another one so enjoy it. Look at Sheffield Wednesday!' Wise words.