From Romania to Romanies
Monday 11 March
Chelsea U21 0:1 Everton U21
For once this was not a case of men against boys as a strong Chelsea side went toe-to-toe and lost by a cracking single second-half strike.
It is the third straight loss at U21 for the Blues and chances of a post-season place are slipping.
Wednesday 13 March
April fools’ day will see the FA cup replay with United. We had initially snorted our tea down our nose at the news we’d be playing on a Monday lunchtime until we realised that April fools’ day is part of an obscure religious festival and therefore a public holiday anyway.
Thursday 14 March
Chelsea 3:1 Steaua Bucharest
Only just. After the second-half at Old Trafford the world tuned in to see that explosive and yet controlled trio of attacking gods destroy Bucharest, er and they did but not after an hour and a half of grind.
You never really know what you are going to get with Chelsea at the moment: poor play and clueless defending or momentous attacking and thrilling goalscoring, sometime within the same half.
So for Juan Mata’s goal we looked decisive – the young Spaniard drove forward, playing a one-two with Ramires before diving the ball in so powerfully the goalkeeper’s paw couldn’t stop it. 1-1.
Just before the break however, we looked clueless. Caught on the break a couple of time we’d had Petr Cech to thank for keeping us ahead but a Romanian corner just at the end of the half saw Cech only parry a shot onto the woodwork and Chiriches hammer home. 1-1.
Our contract dictates we make a crack about Chiriches being something that can be cleared up with a course of spectinomycin but we don’t have the energy right now.
The travelling hoards from the east actually had something to sing about, not that they’d have stopped anyway.
The second-half was more of the same; fluency was missing as Steaua fought for what they had. It took a powerful John Terry header, after a bit of shoving gave him all the space he needed, to restore the hope. 2-1.
But we were laying plans for the quarter-final draw while still behind on away goals.
Torres was the unlikely saviour as Hazard stepped over Mata’s ball and Torres controlled the ball onto his left and shot across the goalkeeper. 3-1.
Fernando then ran around like a man on a mission: first he thought he’d won a penalty, then he kicked in the kisser for a torrential nose bleed, until finally he grabbed the ball when Hazard was brought down but thwacked the penalty off the crossbar.
There were a couple of chances for the visitors as the game drew to a close and Steaua refused to give up but we closed the game out with ease.
Odd. If you’d asked anyone last Sunday at half-time if Chelsea would finish the week with purpose and direction would they have laughed or cried?
Just a word to the board about running a football club – the attendance was 28,817 – surely with two matches a week for the whole of the season you could have put up a few more discounted seats.
Friday 15 March
Another trip to Eastern Europe for the quarter-final: far eastern Europe in Kazan in Tatarstan – yes, where the sauce comes from. They have switched tie to Moscow before now and we await news that the game will be at the Luzhniki instead of
Todd Kane has gone back to Blackburn Rovers. The young right-back is captain of our U21s but hasn’t made the step up to first-team yet.
Sunday 17 March
Chelsea 2:0 West Ham United
This was Frank Lampard’s afternoon but another reminder of Eden Hazard’s awesome talent.
West Ham are always such charming visitors to Stamford Bridge – always on their best behaviour and minding their language. Who wouldn’t want them to avoid relegation for another season?
We started too brightly for the ‘ammers. The swarm of passes and movement seemed to bewilder our guests and it could have been a perfect start when Ba was laid in one-on-one with the ’keeper but found Jaaskelainen’s legs.
It was just a delay, after twenty minutes Hazard thumped in a shot that rebounded to him, via Ramires and his chipped pass was met by Frank Lampard’s head. 1-0.
200 goals for one club is an amazing achievement for any player but a midfielder it in incredible. Still he doesn’t have a new contract and West Ham fans were so eager to contribute they showered Frank with money as an instant reward for his long service.
People who book by credit card shouldn’t throw stones.
After the breakthrough we didn’t really look back. Andy Carroll did have the ball in the net but he clearly pushed David Luiz to get there.
Eden Hazard ran the rest of the afternoon as if sculpting a private work of art.
Half-time brought more good news as Fulham thrashed Tottenham 0-1, a win would, therefore, put us up to third.
Hazard sealed things with yet another audacious bit of skill exchanging passes with Mata he cut across the front of the box and picked a spot the ’keeper couldn’t reach. 2-0.
That was it really, we danced round them and if Demba Ba and Frank Lampard had brought their shooting boots this could have been a thrashing.
Don’t forget to visit our very own ticket exchange. Face value tickets from geniune match going fans.