Highs and Lows and Saying No
Monday 17 October
Chelsea reserves 2:3 Wolverhampton Wanderers reserves
Romelu Lukaku, Milan Lalkovic and Josh McEachran all played but Wolves were just too strong.
We started brightly with Lukaku thumping a 30-yarder and McEachran and Kaby Djalo linking superbly but … a slip by Chalobah and a long ball was 0-1. They made it 0-2 soon afterwards when Sam Vokes muscled a chance.
We were creating plenty of chances and Lalkovic’s clever step inside reduced the deficit only for Wolves to stream up the other end and make it 1-3.
The second-half was a topsy-turvy affair that could have seen any number of goals but we had to settle for Lukaku’s quick thinking.
Not a bad performance from a strong Chelsea side but when your opponents have a Welsh international and a character like Ronald Zubar – who played 98 times for Marseille – your defence had better be well drilled.
AVB is 34 today. No it doesn’t bear thinking about but if he is successful and lasts as long as the club hope he could be the last Chelsea manager any of us know.
Tuesday 18 October
The club have rejected an email sent by the Say No to CPO group. Supporters were asking for a new CPO scheme at any new stadium and some consultation over design and ticketing. Proposals, in an email to Bruce Buck, also suggested giving the board complete control of a move within three miles before 2030 as long as Abramovich was still in charge. No dice.
Wednesday 19 October
Chelsea 5:0 Racing Genk
It is hard to judge progress when your visitors have lost half a team through injury over the last few weeks but AVB will have seen plenty in this thrashing to build on.
Changes from the weekend saw Torres given a run while David Luiz gave John Terry a rest. Mata gave way for Malouda and Oriol Romeu started at the base of the midfield.
Racing Genk is, famously, a sport invented by Dr Seuss, probably, but they weren’t at the races tonight. Torres had already shinned a good chance onto the post before Meireles cracked the opener from outside the box. 1-0. Fernando clearly didn’t want to be left out so when Lampard found him in the box four minutes later he finished calmly. 2-0. Meireles was having fun in the midfield and when things did break down Romeu was mopping up assuredly.
Kevin De Bruyne was doing his best from their left but his colleagues didn’t appear to be on the same pitch as the youngster.
Torres then headed in the kind of chance he was hitting the ’keeper with all last season. 3-0.
Four came from a Malouda cross and Ivanovic rose highest, simple really. 4-0.
The night could have got a lot better but Chelsea seemed to declare on four and took the second-half as a training exercise.
Torres shot for his hat-trick was fumbled by the goalkeeper and Kalou knocks in the rebound, oddly failing to hit either post or bar. 5-0.
From then on the whole things winds down and the end is a very convincing performance against very poor opposition.
Saturday 22 October
Is it really fifteen years since Matthew Harding died in a helicopter accident? The anniversary today is a poignant reminder of how far we have come in that time. Matthew would have been delirious at the three league crowns, the five FA Cups and the jumbled assortment of League Cups, Charity Shields and even the odd European triumph we have managed since his death.
Sunday 23 October
Queens Park Rangers 1:0 Chelsea
Here we are again talking about a referee instead of a football match – step-forward Chris Foy – what, him again? – you’d have to establish motive and check betting patterns across a number of far-eastern markets to prove anything other than the man is an utter incompetent.
Chris Foy has a track record: last season we were starting to wobble when Sunderland arrived at Stamford Bridge. Chris Foy allowed them to kick us up in the air, ignored clear fouls committed underneath his nose, the last a huge and obvious shove in the back of Ashley Cole that led to their third goal; Foy was only happy when we’d lost. He has refereed Chelsea wins in the past but the game against Sunderland stood out last season as an injustice. He also has a case to answer when he sent off Alex in the Carling Cup tie in September; Alex’s offence that night was denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity with a clinical sliding tackle.
Once again a weaker side faced Chelsea and decided that every Chelsea player in possession would be barged, tripped, pushed and bundled off the ball. Foy waved play-on every time it happened. When QPR had the ball a miraculous change came over Foy and the slightest touch brought a free-kick. The Chelsea players were quickly riled by this, after all, they have suffered at the hands of this official before. Cole clearly seemed to know what was going on.
Foy was delighted to give QPR a penalty after Luiz bumped into Helguson. The fact that the forward would have been able to keep his feet and play on had he not thrown himself to the floor in comical fashion was lost on the cycloptic official. 1-0.
Encroaching at a penalty is only an offence when Chelsea play West Ham United.
The first of our own penalty appeals followed; David Luiz was trying to make a point because the contact on him was every bit as slight as that on Helguson and his dive every bit as comical.
Mata played an excellent ball over the defence for Lampard but there was a fraction too much weight. But everything we tried was frustrated by an extremely physical QPR; Ashley Cole was repeatedly mugged by two Hoops players without any protection.
Foy really got his chance to shine when Wright-Philips broke and Bosingwa tussled with him. The Portuguese right-back clearly pulled his man down but the incident was 30-yards from goal. Straight red-card blew any pretence that Foy was doing anything other than ensuring a one-sided contest.
To be quite clear, in all the football we have watched since the professional foul was deemed serious foul play in 1982 have we ever seen a red-card issued for a tackle 30-yards from goal. Chris Foy has set another benchmark, like Mike Dean’s interpretation of encroachment that afternoon at Upton Park, it is not one you will ever see enforced again.
Foy’s delight was complete when Drogba stretched to reach a ball with both feet and despite the fact he won the ball and his studs were not showing, Foy showed another straight red. Didier appeared to be reckless but given the frustrations of being kicked all over the park and with a referee intent on handing the advantage to your opponents a little excess is expected. Didier and Obi John had words as he left the pitch.
The contest should have been as good as over but QPR are so poor they couldn’t manage to score against nine-man Chelsea. If anything we were unlucky not to win.
Juan Mata played alone up front until he was barged off the ball and injured his shoulder, obviously no free-kick was given.
The second-half started well for Chelsea with Lampard finding a headed chance a weak shot before QPR remember that they can do no wrong and spring forward. As Lampard attempts to play clear he his cut in half by a tackle from Shaun Derry, obviously it is play on, until Derry trips Lampard again and finally we have a free-kick. Lampard squares up to Derry and both are booked. Note to Chris Foy you fail to do your job and tempers are going to flair.
Penalties keep not being given: Cole crosses from the left and Lampard is tugged. No penalty. Then Luiz is bundled over from a long throw, a penalty as clear as the nose on your face, no deal from Foy. Meireles is booked for dissent. Obviously Meireles didn’t call the ref a cheat because he is still on the pitch but this clown is getting beyond a joke.
We have to wait for the 76th minute for eleven-man QPR to muster a chance and that is shanked a mile over.
Ivanovic then plays the kind of football that made him our best right-back over the last two seasons: accepting Anelka’s layoff on the right his cross is perfect for Anelka but the header is straight at the ’keeper. David Luiz then bursts into the attack and bicycle-kicks Anelka’s return ball, only for Lampard to toe the effort over the bar.
Next up for the comedy of penalties was John Terry who was clearly pushed in the back as he jumped for a cross.
Petr Cech roved forward for the last gasp free-kick but Kenny in the QPR goal punches and that is time.
QPR secured their first Premiership home win wince 1996, next week they might actually win one they deserve to.
AVB confronted Foy as the teams left the field and will be in trouble from the FA for calling a cheat a cheat: “The referee was poor. Very, very poor. And it reflected in the result. I spoke to him at the end and I was very aggressive. I don’t care if he’s OK or not. Anyone can have a bad day but this was not a bad day for us: it was a good day for us but a bad day for the referee. Conspiracy theories can lead to bans and people calling us cry babies, so we’re not saying that. But it keeps happening.” Carlo Ancelotti was never fined for speaking his mind after results like this. Perhaps we will get better treatment from referees if they don’t think they can get away with it. After all, Ferguson never lets the threat of a pitiable FA fine stop him from having his say and we don’t remember Foy every letting teams muscle United out of a match.
After the match John Terry was accused of calling Anton Ferdinand a rude name but he explained the incident and the QPR defender has made no complaint.
The post-match fuss actually obscures what was a valiant second-half from a team determined not to give up despite the referee and the odds stacked against them and while QPR fans went singing into the night perhaps they should be reflecting in their team’s inability to score goals even in the most advantageous situation. Perhaps memories of this win will keep them warm in the Championship next season.