GILES SMITH'S THURSDAY THOUGHTS
Fresh from the routine-busting watching of his team on a Thursday morning, supporter and columnist Giles Smith considers the latest events in the Far East…
So just to recap: third in the Premier League, through to the quarter-finals of the League Cup, hotly tipped to do well in the Europa League, and now just 90 minutes away from potentially being crowned as officially the best club side in the world in 2012.
Oh, and our misfiring striker has scored five goals in his last three games, albeit that this morning's shot in the 3-1 defeat of Monterey paused to take the inside leg measurement of a defender on its way into the net and may have been slightly diverted.
Still, however else you want to look at it, our club does continue to post surprising new definitions of the phrase 'in crisis'.
David Luiz in midfield? It brings to mind Sgt. Wilson in 'Dad's Army': 'Do you think that's wise, sir?' Except it obviously is wise. Against Monterey this morning, he was exceptional in that position.
Incidentally, I also happen to think David Luiz is a good centre back. People complain about him getting caught in possession or committing gaffes when scrambling back into position after a sortie into the opposition's half has gone slightly wrong, but they said the same about Frank Leboeuf and even Marcel Desailly. Gaffes are the price you pay for having a centre back who sees himself as something more than just the door on a meat-locker and wants to play the ball out of defence rather than leather it into the upper tier of the East Stand. It seems like a price worth paying to me.
Anyway, this new midfield role looks good, too. Indeed, once you got over the early shock of spotting his hair on the wrong side of the centre circle and the instinctive panic that rose at seeing him apparently on the walk-about to end all walk-abouts, it was pure, sit-back-and-marvel entertainment. The pass from David Luiz that Eden Hazard should probably have turned into a goal in the fifth minute was as good as any played from midfield by anyone in a Chelsea shirt in living memory.
As for the flicks, the backheels, the dribbles, the twists… well, maybe Gary Neville was right, after all, with his far too often quoted PlayStation analogy. Or at least partly right. What Neville failed to mention was that the 10-year-old holding the controller in David Luiz's case was one of those super-precocious ones who knows every move in the special skills manual - the triple elastico, the Rabona fake - and who is, as a consequence, mesmerisingly interesting to watch.
Apparently goal line technology was in use for this morning's match. A chip in the ball had been programmed to talk to a sensor around the goalposts, at the cost of however many thousands of pounds and however many years of research. But we wouldn't have known, of course, because it wasn't needed.
Fans of technology in action need to get ready for disappointment of this kind on a regular basis, though, because the fact is, goal line technology very rarely will be needed. This is the thing about disputed goal line calls: relative to the amount of football played, they almost never occur.
Going back to Geoff Hurst in the World Cup Final of 1966 and coming forward to Frank Lampard for England against Germany in 2010, via that one that Roy Carroll dropped about six feet behind the line at Old Trafford in that match against Spurs in 2005, it's possible to produce at best a handful of incidents of this nature that were of any consequence. Accordingly, whisper it around the FIFA and UEFA people, but wiring up the world's goals is a tremendous waste of time and money.
Not to mention the fact that football is guaranteed funnier for the possibility of incorrectly given goals (cf Juan Mata versus Spurs at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final, 2012) and will be a far less colourful place once that possibility has been removed. We say: de-chip the ball. The only goalline technology football needs is a fallible referee and his equally fallible assistants.
The atmosphere may well have been boiling in the stadium in Yokohama, for all I know, but it didn't seem that way for those of us watching on television. It might have been entirely to do with where the microphones were positioned, but the loudest thing at home, after the commentators, were the shouts of the players, as in a training ground match or a park game.
Nevertheless, from some far corner of a Japanese football stadium came - dimly audible, but clear all the same - the 16th-minute Roberto Di Matteo tribute. Some people really aren't letting this one rest, are they?