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West London success - 13/12/2003

West London success
Keeps on going
   Emile Heskey
   Alan Shearer
   Vladimir Smicer
   Claudio Ranieri
   Queens Park Rangers
   Newcastle United

In my opinion the fact that Chelsea only drew 1-1 away to Leeds - with the reaction of the media – just goes to show that as a team, they have really arrived. Leeds were very resilient and after they scored I knew it’d be a big test for the London side. However they kept their focus and belief and didn’t panic. The equaliser was well deserved and with the way Leeds played that day, I’d say it was a point won – not three lost.

The Besiktas game was a different experience, the build up to the game was intense and fans representing other Turkish clubs were present – I saw a few Galatasaray scarves as Turkish music was played over the loudspeakers and the atmosphere was whipped up.

We were sitting just behind the dugouts when the coins started raining down on the Chelsea guys. The Besiktas bench – a few yards away was untouched as the Chelsea bench sheltered behind their umbrellas.On the pitch Chelsea got it spot on. It annoys me when I hear the media complaining and questioning Ranieri’s selection/tactics policy. One guy was saying “Chelsea are top of the Premiership, progressing in the Champions League and he still tinkers” – but doesn’t he miss the point!!! He tinkers for a reason, assessing the opposition before turning out a specifically assembled team to win the game. On this occasion he saw that Besiktas played three at the back – as a result he stretched them by plying two wingers.  

 Looking at Newcastle’s draw at home to Liverpool last week, their strong second half performance possibly deserved more than the single point. I covered the game for Radio 5 Live – one man dominated – Shearer. I make notes on the play and seemed to be writing 'Shearer' every time I put pen to paper. His involvement is tremendous; both build up play and with creating chances for himself. Liverpool were disappointing and I was very surprised when they brought on Smicer for Pongolle as a straight swap and kept Heskey out on the wing. They must have been relieved to head back to Liverpool with their point.

 QPR are also flying in the league and now they’re through to the semi’s of the LDV Trophy. People might question the worth of the competition, but if a club can pull in £300,000 of extra income – it’s a worthy distraction from the league. Warren Barton’s not seeing much action at present, but the games will come thick and fast and QPR haven’t the biggest of squads – he should get another chance soon.  All told, it’s a very healthy time for West London football – QPR, Chelsea, and Fulham are all playing very well!!

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