Continuing my series on pictures of ex-Chelsea players in Chelsea gear... - Mike Hewitt
Fought this day, at this hour, at WAGNH Towers, the Battle of the League Cup Preview. Additional minor CRISIS alert - this match is NOT televised (live) in the USA.
Oh, you should've seen it. The horror of it all. So much blood. And bits. And gore. If there had been rivers, they would have run red. Were they not dammed by the mountains upon mountains of bodies, of course. So much blood. And then some more over there and even more over here. This landscape, a land of ten thousand indescribable scarlet lakes greeted me when I emerged from the smoldering ruins of WAGNH Towers.
Four hours was all it took. Maybe five. Certainly not more than five. It felt like five hundred though. It was every man, woman, and Kevin Kostka for himself and there was not a single second of respite. Sweat and electrons. Fists and fire.
Hunger Preview-writing-duty Games, WAGNH style. To the winner go 700 words.
I should've seen the signs. Lamin testing his hallucinogenic toxins yesterday. Stephen always muttering about homemade ciders. How could I have known that was code for molotov cocktails?! With Graham the Grey off on a secret mission and Tim last seen walking the Earth like Caine, there was nobody left to hold down the beastly Chelsea Offside Balrog. And all over a piddly little preview. One that is not even a one-off since there will be a second leg in a fortnight. Oh no...please don't make us fight again!
Wait. Wait! Something...something's...off? This is not quite right. Has it always been this hot? This can't be normal. I feel...eternal? Oh. Oh! Oh no. Yeah. Ah. Crap. Well. Hell. I guess that's why I'm writing this preview. Stupid Balrog.
Chelsea: It's a League Cup semifinal once again for Chelsea - we ain't got no eleven League Cup semifinals! Ho hum. A chance at a fifth League Cup - we ain't go no third most all time League Cup wins! Ho hum.
Yeah, so it is just the League Cup. It may carry the word capital and the number one along with it this year, but it's still just small fry in the Cup landscape. Appropriately enough, it has seen a fair number of crazy matches this year - a 5-4 here, a 7-5 there - perhaps a reflection of teams' letting loose and not necessarily worrying about proper footballing results. How else could we explain a League Two side like Bradford City making it all the way to the semifinals and then having the audacity to spank their Premiership opponents 3-1 in the first leg!
Fortunately for the Chelsea boys in Blue, the second semifinal task does not involve the possibility of gross underestimation. Swansea City are a known quantity. And so having made it to within three matches of a Cup win, Chelsea are almost within touching distance of silverware. This is more than winnable. Even with Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel away in Africa, this is more than winnable. Even with John Terry and Petr Cech (and Oriol Romeu) sidelined, this is more than winnable.
Swansea City: It's been a meteoric rise up the pyramid for Swansea in this new millennium and now they get to contest a major (it's all relative) semifinal for the first time in 48 years. If Michael Laudrup's side needed anything more beyond that motivation, they can also draw confidence from having lost just twice in the last 15 - a run that started with a 3-1 victory at Anfield in the League Cup 4th Round. And while they've won just six of those same 15, their ability to fight for draws will serve them well in a two-legged cup final that does have a half-implemented away goals rule (just another thing that doesn't quite make sense about this random two-legged stage of an otherwise single-elimination Cup).
Any doubts that the Swans may have from two draws on the trot (and just one win in the last six - all within the context of the aforementioned 15 of course) will probably be erased by the returns of leading scorer Michu, club captain Ashley Williams, and Chelsea-killer Pablo Hernandez to the starting lineup. All three were rested for the weekend draw with Arsenal. Laudrup's priorites are clear.
Date/Time: Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 19:45 GMT; 2:45 P.M. EST; Jan. 10, 1:15 A.M. IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
TV Information: Sky Sports 1 (UK); none (USA); TEN Action (India)