Nothing much really HAPPENED in the world of London football this weekend. Apart from a few notable exceptions, everything seemed to conform to type. It was as if everyone understood that their matches were just a sideshow, that the main event is taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday and it was their job just to warm us up and raise our anticipation for the imminent moments of truth that are drawing ever closer for Mourinho and Wenger.
A jaundiced point of view perhaps (let's put it down to a bad curry), but just look at how things worked out. In the Premiership, Arsenal rolled over Portsmouth with a hat-trick from Thierry Henry. They looked slick up front but, surprise surprise, rickety at the back. Spurs had the chance to show us all that not only are they playing nice attractive football again, but they can also win the tricky away games. They lost 1-0 at Southampton. Fulham and Charlton played out a comfortable exchange of pleasantries - "look, of course you'll stay up, don't worry about it", "thanks, you will too", "you're too kind, mid-table obscurity is nice isn't it?" - in a cosy 0-0 draw.
In the First, things were even more depressing. Millwall and QPR could both only draw at home in their games against Leeds and Reading respectively, whilst Watford lost at home to Coventry and West Ham capitulated to Preston North End...at home. Things can change, but none of these teams look like having a realistic chance of progressing through the play-offs. In the Third, Orient lost 1-0 away to Yeovil.
However, there were three teams who were able to provide a little bit of light relief. Brentford, who faced a possible hangover after the end of their recent Cup exploits and who have been leaking goals left, right and centre lately, got their promotion push off to a fine start with a 1-0 win at Colchester. Palace, who now have Southampton breathing down their necks in the fight against relegation, held out for a gutsy 0-0 draw against Manchester United with only ten men. Star of the show was that man Gabor Kiraly, who lept around in his trackie bottoms like Andy Pandy on a cocktail of six E's and a vat of horse steroids - nice work, we like it.
And finally there was Chelsea. At present, every bit of televised football punditry seems to go a little bit like this :
Presenter : "So then, another win for Chelsea, is the title race over?"
Pundit 1 : "I don't think so, I still think United have a chance."
Pundit 2 : "I have to agree, there's plenty more twists and turns in this one I reckon."
Yawn. Stop kidding yourselves please. Chelsea are too strong and they are not going to lose it now. The bookies should be paying out as we speak. The highlight of their win at Norwich City (in case you've never read them, please have a look at the lyrics to the greatest football song of all, as sung by Norwich supporters) had to be Chelsea's first goal, hammered into the net by the future of the England team, Mr. Joseph Cole. That one strike showed just how far Joe has progressed under Mourinho this season. He was strong, he was tenacious and most importantly, he was composed. Yep, Joe is very nearly ready.
Tomorrow night, he has a real chance to demonstrate just how well he is playing right now. Robben hasn't recovered in time, and the Barca stars are feeling confident about their chances in the second leg of the Champions League tie at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho is pulling out all the psychological stops again, but he needn't bother. For one, Frank Rijkaard is just too cool a cucumber, but more importantly, his team have got this one in the bag. Only the ref stopped Chelsea from getting their clean sheet at the Camp Nou and Londonist can't see them giving Pierluigi Collina any reason to get his red card out this time. Chelsea 2-0.
And Arsenal ? Maybe next year Arsene.