When football becomes just

So, the so-called Battle of the Tukulas went the wrong way—from my selfish point of view. I would have obviously lived with a reverse set of results, winning at Wembley and losing at Anfield, but football can be just sometimes and you find yourself getting what you deserve. My Liverpool were poor until the last 30 minutes in the final while they were incredibly sensational on Tuesday night when they overwhelmed Chelsea.

I keep hearing fellow Liverpool fans suggesting that they were robbed of victory in the FA Cup final, but I fail to see where that is coming from. Chelsea started very well and were well worth their 2-0 lead. It was only after changes in the last half hour that the Reds played like a team with a desire to win the cup, and I agree with manager Kenny Dalglish and captain Steven Gerrard that they did enough only to force a draw.

It seems the claims of unfairness are coming in because of Andy Carroll’s effort that was adjudged as a save by Petr Cech and not the goal the striker felt he had scored. That was always going to be controversial whichever way it was called. I have seen similar attempts given before but I am not yet sure that the whole circumference of the ball had gone over the whole of the line as required by the laws of the game.

So, although I hate to say it, I think the Blues deserved their victory and 2-1 was a fair reflection because they were the better side for two thirds of the game while Merseysiders dominated the final third. I also think Liverpool got their just desserts at Anfield when they completely overrun the visitors. I am not sure if it was a matter of Chelsea switching off or the hosts showing what they are capable of.

I get the sense that Chelsea have taken a risky approach towards the end of the season when they have found themselves fighting on three fronts. They clearly have prioritised the cups and given the league cursory attention. If you look at Roberto di Matteo’s team selection against the Arsenal, Newcastle United and Liverpool, there are indications that the league was last on his list of priorities.

Which means the team’s only route to Champions League football is victory against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in next Saturday’s final. That is why I think their approach has been risky but that is one of di Matteo’s traits. He is not afraid to take a gamble and so far they have all paid off where it mattered. His team selection away to Napoli and his tactics against Barcelona were criticised but he ended up having the last laugh.

But before we know whether he will pull out another surprise, there is some business to be settled in the domestic leagues as the curtain falls on what has been an intriguing season. Manchester City, who top the English Premier League on goal difference, will be looking to claim their first league title in 44 years tomorrow and all they need is match whatever result neighbours United get away to Sunderland.

I will be watching the City-QPR match at Etihad Stadium because that is where the title will be decided. A win for the hosts and you don’t need to know the result at the Stadium of Light. That match will also help in deciding the final team to be relegated. A win or draw for the visitors then you know Bolton Wanderers have gone down. What an end!

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