Bridge on Troubled Water
It seems such a distant memory now. The 86 match unbeaten streak, the Special One that made it happen and the unbreakable fortress that was Stamford Bridge. Since then many have come, and the Russian at the top has culled them all. And so the task fell to another Portuguese, one who apprenticed under the Special One himself, one who is hardly a year older than his team's vice-captain, it fell on him to herald the team into a new era of success.
For the last five years, at this point in the season, Chelsea was at the top of the table, leading the pack. That's why, after twelve games, it's hard not to rub eyes in disbelief to find them all the way down in 5th place with the likes of Liverpool chopping at it's feet to try and plunge them further below. Our recent form has been less than inspiring. Three defeats out of the last five in the league, a draw away at lowly Genk in Belgium and returning home from Germany with our tails between out legs after losing to Leverkusen.
And so, we find ourselves, 9 points behind Manchester City (who at the moment of writing have a game in hand) and having a tough game against Valencia to win to qualify for the knockout rounds in the Champions League. We've lost every game with our contenders this season (yes, I'm being unbiased and not calling Liverpool and Arsenal irrelevant). But what's to blame for this? The team is built with a spine of champions, so why are we in such a dismal position?
Well, there are a number of reasons for this. The first thing is our defence. Whether it's John Terry's recent racist spat investigation messing up his head or something else, he's been terrible. I would go so far as to say he should be benched. I mean, after THAT (literal) slip-up against Arsenal, well that was just shocking. Yes he scored against Wolves, but that's Wolves and it's no good scoring if he can't keep the goals out. Not that his partner in the heart of defence is faring any better. David Luiz has very little positioning sense. The boy drives forward like a madman (he does look like Sideshow Bob after all), and then many a times is caught out, running back to do his actual job, defend. Ashley Cole isn't the same as he was a few years ago, as so deftly displayed by Glenn Johnson when he made Cole look like a schoolboy in L'pool's win over Chelsea. But that's not all. The problem of form moves throughout our formation. Florent Malouda hasn't been much to speak of this year, and John Obi Mikel looks like a child, making amateur mistakes.
And then there are the strikers. Excuse me while I sigh heavily at this. Fernando Torres shows glimpses of his class but most of the time, he's just bloody ineffective. Drogba's not much better though, as he consistently disappoints and sometimes comes off as plain stupid (red card challenge against QPR). They can't play together, they're not much better off as the lone striker, what are you supposed to do with them?
Andre Villas Boas is stubborn. He refuses to play Nicolas Anelka who could well be the solution to the striker crisis, instead announces that Anelka will be sold off in January. With Drogba not getting a contract extension, it seems like he'll be leaving as well. This is bad news indeed as that leaves us with striker options of misfiring Torres, clueless Kalou and Lukaku who is just plain useless. We need a striker in the January transfer window desperately. But back to AVB's stubbornness. Raul Meireles was brought in during the summer and can play anywhere in the centre midfield including as a defensive midfielder. Why not play him more often? Or play young Oriol Romeu, who so far seems an impressive capture from the Barcelona youth ranks. Why continue to trust the pair of Luiz and Terry instead of throwing Alex into the mix? Only Branislav Ivanovic has been decent in our defence.
But there are bright points to look over. Especially one Juan Mata. Possibly the signing of the summer, he's been just the creative spark Chelsea needed. He's made his mark on the league and has been probably our best player with his amazing sense of where his teammates are and masterful passing ability. Without him, we'd probably be languishing far below where we already are. On the other wing, Danny Sturridge has been another one to watch out for. He's got the flair, got the tricks, got the ability to finish goals, got pace, what more do you need? And then there's the saying that form is temporary but class is permanent. Super Frank Lampard displays this week-in week-out almost to spite Villas Boas for dropping him to the bench early in the season.
The season's not over. It's still a long way to go. After being worse off last year, we came in second. We're not out of it yet. But even if we win nothing this year, which is not unlikely, it's not a problem. Roman Abramovich has seemingly given his young manager time to rebuild the team to his liking. And exciting are hopefully ahead for the men in Blue. Hopefully.
Carefree since 1905.
Fight the Bite
Humble beginning hoping to achieve something greater
While most people take research papers as one of the many pains of education, Noryn Alam meant it when she took Malaria Research and Prevention as her senior project for the 12th grade at her school in North Carolina.
Noryn's family originates from a small village called Haturia in Shariatpur (www.haturia.com). Talking about her motivation, Noryn says, "As a child, my parents used to tell me stories about how in their childhood, they had to sleep under mosquito nets to prevent malaria. As a young child, I realised that many villagers in Bangladesh are not even properly aware of the dangers of malaria."
Noryn sold chocolates and candies and collected donations in addition to using her own savings to buy mosquito nets for disadvantaged people in Bangladesh. She wrote and designed a set of colouring books with a malaria-awareness story (Abod and Mosha) which involved the most advanced rural malaria prevention strategies, customised for the students of Haturia GK Model Primary School and the boys' orphanage. She also made an animated movie out of the colouring books which is available on YouTube.
Noryn raised money to buy school supplies like coloured pencils, coloured paper, notebooks, pencils, and children's books for distribution, along with self-designed T-shirts to promote her campaign.
Records of all events and activities Noryn is involved in USA and in Bangladesh can be seen at www.asakori.com. The YouTube video is here: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=qCVwaAyXiOc
Last week our topic was Tower. The entries were extremely disappointing, despite their numbers. We expected a little more creativity when it came to writing about topics such as this which can be interpreted in plenty of different ways. Next week, our topic shall be: Bus. Think different, folks. It can be anything from a bus ride, to some chance meeting, to a fighter pilot accidentally dropping a bomb on a bus. It can be funny, tragic, whatever. Make us stop and take notice.
Submissions need to be sent in to firstname.lastname@example.org before Sunday noon. Word limit is 500 words. Good luck!
No Hard Feelings
By Sthitadhee Panthadas
The newly born sunlight of the morning used to be unique in its sunny allure; stealing through our windows and the veranda, kissing the floor lovingly in greeting.
However, now something was amiss. Where was the sunlight, where was the wind that brushed my cheek, and where was the incessant rain that stormed the fortress and drove mercilessly into our room?
I smelled a rat, something was wrong. A monstrous and inordinate tower had been building up. Now it stood like an insipid, self-important, arrogant monstrosity, declaring its existence to the neighbourhood, shamelessly blocking fresh air and light. Now only heat permeated our house, despite the fact that the sun can not be visibly seen. The dampness bred the pungent stink of sweat which seeped through the air.
It can be distressing for an astronomy-loving creature, or even a human wishing to live in a habitable flat. At first the place only had a small number of people with little huts living around the building. I could really enjoy the morning and evening star, the Jupiter in the east just before sunrise especially in the summer time (very rare, took me three months to locate it). Slowly, signature pollution of Dhaka started ruining my stargazing. Then the tower was the final nail in the coffin of my hobby.
Now my banal insults and silent curses were useless. I could never change what had happened; no one can. It had this sombre grace while the sun, wind and even the ever black sky (these days stars are rare, too) were stigmatised by it.
Our peace loving souls had become a vague mimicry long before. People now think we do not need sunlight and the wind. However, they do not understand nature should not be replaced. You may feel like a million dollars now, but one day your personal kaleidoscope will make your eyes dewy for all the innocence lost.
But yes, I have come to terms with the tower. Eventually, we all do.