After nearly 2 months of no football, the EPL (that’s English Premier League, for those not in the know) begins anew next weekend. It’s customary curtain raiser, the FA Community Shield (used to be known as the Charity Shield) match was held at 1500GMT today at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. This match, which pits last season’s EPL champion against last season’s FA Cup champion, saw Chelsea’s Jose ‘Special One’ Mourinho renew his rivalry with Rafa Benitez of Liverpool.
Seeing there’s no live commentary to be broadcasted via Radio Five Live, I decided to accompany my True Blue fan friend Apu to watch the match at Beehive pub (if it sounded familiar, it’s the Arsenal supporter’s pub that I went to see the Arsenal-Barca Champions League Final match last May). Understandingly, the atmosphere at Beehive was not as lively as it was during the Arsenal game. Nevertheless, the pub had a fair number of patrons following the match. Arriving after the match started thus not getting good spots to see the big screen TV, Apu & I instead got comfortable seats at 1 end of the bar & watched the game via a small television there that was most of the time muted, while sipping our obligatory purchase drinks. We could make out the commentary that was coming from the wide screen TV on the other end.
Besides hoping for a good match, I was there to see Andriy Shevchenko & Michael Ballack in Chelsea colours for the 1st time as well as Liverpool’s new signings Craig Bellamy, Mark Gonzalez & Jermaine Pennant (Gooners will recall this bad boy who spent many of his younger years at Highbury). The scousers took the advantage early in match when John Arne Riise thundered a shot passed 2nd Blues goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini. Apu promptly attributed the goal to Cudicini’s lack of match sharpness since being demoted by the signing of Peter Cech seasons ago. The Blues suffered some more when Ballack was replaced by another new boy Salomon Kalou because of injury. The 1st half of the match ended evenly when Shevchenko showed his class by scoring the equalizer just before half time.
Midway through the 2nd half, Liverpool introduced Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso & Bellamy to strengthen their grip of a match that to me, they seemed to dictate since the 1st half. Soon afterwards, I went out to answer a call. As I returned, I heard a cheer from the other pub patron & quickly rushed inside thinking the Blues have scored, forgetting that Beehive IS an Arsenal supporter’s pub. :D Bellamy’s crossed was met by Peter Crouch who duly headed it into the net. This time, new England Skipper John Terry's poor defending is to be blamed.
Despite some late pressure by the Blues, a 2nd equalizer never came & the scousers claimed this year’s Community Shield. Apu consoled himself by saying Chelsea were being charitable, although the Special One didn’t seem like it as he never shook hands with Benitez after the match & appeared to be sulking all the way when he collected his loser’s medal.
For the record, I was actually cheering for the Blues (not because of Apu). To me, as long as the match doesn’t involve & the outcome doesn’t affect Arsenal, & to a lesser extent Real Madrid, I am happy to support any London based team. Now, we shall we whether like Chelsea last season, Liverpool can defy the curse of the FA Community Shield, where the winning team almost never wins that season’s EPL.
On a final note, I must say that from the 2 Adidas sponsored jerseys on display today, Chelsea’s look nicer (another score for the Blues from Mark - this WILL definitely be a rare thing). Don’t fancy the collar design of Liverpool’s jersey.
Till later, live long & prosper.