The Final Push For the Double

        When Manchester United stumbled to a draw against bottom feeders Sunderland and Chelsea defeated Bolton Wanderers in a hard fought battle at the Reebok Stadium, the league championship was all but guaranteed for the Blues. But it wasn’t until Joe Cole ripped off his jersey in a fit of celebration that the boys from Stamford Bridge had secured their second straight Premiership title. Fans could finally exhale the collective breath they’d been holding since Manchester United went on their unprecedented win streak, pushing Chelsea to the brink and forcing their April 29th matchup to become more do-or-die than a walk in the park. Riding a rich vein of Premiership form into yesterday’s matchup with Manchester United, Chelsea destroyed their rivals 3-0 on the back of goals by William Gallas, Joe Cole, and Ricardo Carvalho. Their brilliant performance against the Mancs overshadowed the bitterness of last week’s FA Cup defeat. At the hands of Liverpool, Chelsea FC was denied their double bid, although it wasn’t for lack of effort. Jose Mourinho started a strange mix of players for the FA Cup semifinal, opting to choose no wingers and play Geremi in a midfield role. The strategy backfired and it wasn’t until Arjen Robben, Damien Duff, and Joe Cole were subbed into the game that
Chelsea mounted a comeback.
          Liverpool had already built up a 2-0 lead on the Blues, who uncharacteristically gave up a goal on an indirect free kick. The wall was simply too porous, and goalie Carlo Cuddicini was baffled by the laser beam strike from Reds’ Gabriel Risse. Chelsea looked confused when Liverpool man Luis Garcia put the scousers up 2-0, taking advantage of a defensive miscue and scoring with touch and finesse. That’s not to say that Luis Garcia isn’t a horrible diver and a cheat…

       Although Chelsea would mount a comeback, Joe Cole would ultimately squander a great equalizing opportunity in the last minute, firing the ball over the net from close range. Time expired in a 2-1 heartbreaker, the second time Liverpool has eliminated Chelsea from an elite knock-out tournament in two years. John Terry would go on to say that the Chelsea players didn’t say a word to each other throughout their entire return trip to London, but that their training sessions over the next week were full of optimism. The Premiership Title after all was still within their grasp, and could be clinched against
Manchester. Clinch they did, carrying the form that helped Chelsea defeat Bolton and Everton in the previous week, and allowing them to celebrate around Stamford Bridge with medals and trophy in tow. Jose Mourinho, in a display of gratitude to the Chelsea faithful, threw his medal into the stand for a lucky fan. Hernan Crespo cried, many wore funny hats, and the mood was ripe again despite the previous week's FA Cup defeat. Champions again.

         Results in their final two matches against Newcastle and Blackburn would have only boosted their points total, and their two goalless defeats had no bearing on their championship season.  

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