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A good week for Chelsea and Newcastle - 25/10/2003

A good week for Chelsea and Newcastle
He keeps on going
   Carlo Cudicini
   Alan Shearer
   Lee Clark
   Jesper Gronkjaer
   Damien Duff
   Claudio Ranieri
   Newcastle United

I was lucky enough to have seen both the Fulham – Newcastle, and Chelsea – Lazio games this week, and although there were quite different games, they were both very entertaining and ended with similarly positive results.

The game at Loftus Road was a throwback to a great, typically English, league game. Fulham started very well and Newcastle were all over the place for the first ten minutes, thereafter it was Newcastle who took the game by the scruff of the neck and played some wonderful football whilst showing depth of character that was very impressive. Some have doubted Bobby Robson’s side this season, but not me. Their progress up the table will continue, it may be gradual, but when it counts – in May – you’ll see them up there. Even at this early stage when they’ve had such a poor start, they’re only four points off fourth place!

Lee Bowyer had a very good game, possibly his best in the black and white stripes, but if one man ever stood out on a football pitch, it was Alan Shearer – he was immense. He may not have the speed and panache of Henry, Crespo, Van Nilstelrooy, but he has something else that makes him great. He does all the simple things so well, and when it comes to finishing off chances – is there anyone better? Just a word about an team mate of mine…Lee Clark. For second year running he scored against his boyhood idols and had the presence of mind to show his respect by not celebrating. He’s a Geordie through and through and a great lad.

Looking to the Champions League game, I must admit that when Lazio went 1-0 up, I thought they may be problems. Italian teams have a knack of sitting on leads, but credit to Claudio Ranieri, the tinkerer got it right. In taking off Veron, who wasn’t playing badly, he went from a diamond formation back to a 4-4-2. In using Duff and Gronkjaer as wingers, he gives the team a great deal of width and particularly with Gronkjaer, a great deal of pace.

With the disappointment of the Arsenal loss, it was an important to get a result in this game. Cudicini, in my opinion is an excellent keeper. Goalkeepers do go through difficult spells, and admittedly, Carlo isn’t having the best of times. Stick with him, I know the Chelsea staff rate him highly and sure that the recent mistakes will be forgotten soon.

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