NOVEMBER 2008 REVISITED

By James Edwards
Dec 3rd, 2008

Saturday 1 November
Chelsea 5:0 Sunderland
Charming bloody weather but that is one on the way to a new home record, 86 to go. This was, despite the cold and wet, a fantastic afternoon with goals and chances coming out of our ears. Sunderland didn’t really have a chance, nor did they manage to get in the way. We are really quite good at the moment.
Alex opened proceedings with a tap in from a Joe Cole effort, the goal was our 1,000th since the premiership began. Anelka then tapped home two before the break to essentially finish things. At the start of the second-half Frank Lampard scored to make it a personal century of league goals, before Anelka bobbled one in off their ’keeper for his hat-trick.
Joe Cole really shone constantly tackling back and weaving passing patterns that, frankly, bemused Sunderland’s defenders. Didier Drogba made a cameo return and played for 30-minutes without any problems. We have to welcome Minerio who made his debut and note that Petr Cech kept his 100th clean sheet.
The only down side of the afternoon was Ashley Cole limping off on 36-minutes with a calf problem.
With Arsenal and Liverpool losing and United only scraping a win at home to Hull, this was a good day for the club, back on top of the Premier league after only a week off top spot.
Chelsea youth 3:0 Portsmouth youth
A first clean sheet will be the most important aspect of this result, as well as keeping a winning run going it looks like the youth team are finally starting to gel. Conor Clifford (left foot volley from the D), Nikki Ahamed (outside of his foot bending in from 25-yards) and the man Frank Nouble scored the second-half goals.

Sunday 2 November
Ashley will have a scan tomorrow on his calf ahead of possible surgery. The club have announced that the scouting network is going to be trimmed and refocused. What that means we will only find out in time but it looks like a cost cutting measure.

Monday 3 November
Chelsea reserves 0:2 Stoke City reserves
Second straight defeat for the stiffs but against a premiership first team. To be honest all the decent chances where Stoke’s we buffeted them at times but this was men against boys for most of the night.
Ashley will be out for ten days with his calf, which will delight everyone who thinks Wayne is the better attacking player. We have to sit on the fence in that debate, Bridge has always been good going forward but seems to have been rusty when called on recently, at the same time Cole has developed into the player we thought we’d bought when we signed him. Nice dilemma to have.
Bolton Wanderers are apparently interested in Jack Cork currently enjoying the struggles of Southampton, and we mean enjoying, they have a young side and a gifted Dutch manager, Jack will be learning far more from playing for them than he could have in the reserves. Meanwhile in other loan news, Michael Mancienne has helped Wolves to three straight wins by shoring up their once leaky defence.
Yes, we should be on our way to Rome but sadly we didn’t win Lotto this weekend, we’ll have to wait until next time.

Tuesday 4 November
Roma 3:1 Chelsea
Oh what a pile of shite; never watch matches at home on the television, the experience is always dimmed, less banter and nowhere to go to swear when things go wrong. Chelsea turned up expecting to play like the best team in the world (©Luciano Spalletti) and ended up playing like turnips.
We controlled the opening half-hour without suggesting that we could break through and then gifted them the opening goal by looking the other way from a free-kick. A sloppy pass from Obi Jon forced Deco into one of his less decorous tackles earning a yellow card. Pizarro passed wide to Cicinho he crossed for Panucci to tip it past Cech, all of this without a Chelsea player disturbing their efforts. Cech looked furious, the rest of the defence looked bemused.
The rest of the period saw no response from Chelsea, Joe Cole’s attempt to gift them a penalty apart, the second-half was only ten minutes old when Vucinic slammed home their second. Brighi had danced the ball in from the left without being closed down. Their third looked Obi Jon’s fault from the start, we had just started to look as if we meant it in trying to get a goal back when he lost the ball just outside their penalty area, Vucinic nicked it ahead of him and they chased together the length of the field, only for Obi to slide in instead of staying on his feet and Vucinic fooled Cech at his near post. Only travellers to Middlesbrough will remember a time when we were three down, but we did little to try to get it back and looked vulnerable on the break, couldn’t hold the ball up and created little apart from JT’s consolation goal.
Deco was in danger of a second card twice before his sending off but the offence for which he received his second card, that of taking a free-kick too quickly, appears to be only in the mind of the ref.
Drogba came on and looked rusty and the whole team couldn’t move up a gear. “We lost because Roma played better than us,” was Felipe Scolari’s simple summary.

Wednesday 5 November
Chelsea youth 4:1 Trinidad & Tobago youth
A comfortable start to the Newark international soccer tournament.
The youth team have been drawn against Manchester United in the youth cup. Kind of start at the top and work your way down.
“I’d already started to kick the ball when the referee told me to wait. I was already touching the ball, so there was nothing I could do … it was just crazy. What could I do?” Deco said of his sending off and you have to agree with him, a quick canvass of the internet suggests that nobody though taking a free-kick was a bookable offence.
JT’s take on the evening was that we will “get nowhere near the European Cup final” if we play like we did on Wednesday. He was unusually frank in his criticism of his team mates; “we sort of strolled in, thinking we were better than them, when clearly we’re not. We didn’t get going. Maybe that’s a kick up the backside we all needed”. We’ll find out on Sunday if it has made any difference.

Thursday 6 November
Chelsea youth 1:3 Mexico youth
Harsh result as we took the lead and played the better football only for all the luck to go their way. Good learning experience and a taste on tournament football.

Saturday 8 November
Paul Smith, you’ll remember him from the recent employment tribunal where he said Peter Kenyon made bonus offers to him while hung-over, this morning he turned up in a puff piece in the Times saying that he had moved on from his dismissal from Chelsea. Makes you wonder why he needs an 800-word feature to say no hard feelings.

Sunday 9 November
Blackburn Rovers 0:2 Chelsea
Have we become so adept at this kind of professional performance in grim weather that people will say it was expected? This certainly had all the elements of an upset, torrential rain leaving standing water deep enough for the ball to hold up, a determined Blackburn side who reorganised at the break and decided to pass the ball forward for a change.
What actually happened, on Big Phil’s 60th birthday, was an Anelka goal in each half and a comfortable 9th away win in a row.
Anelka got things off to a controversial start when he latched onto a stray back-pass only for Robinson to trip him as he sailed by. No penalty, the ref couldn’t see contact perhaps the linesman should have done, the conclusion of many in the Pineapple was that Robinson should have gone for deny a goal scoring opportunity.
Anelka, JT, Obi John (keeping his place ahead of the much touted Mineiro) and Lampard all had headers or shots turned round by the ’keeper in the next few minutes as Blackburn simply surrendered possession after each attack for us to start again. They had one chance which Cech saved well but lacked any ambition until the weather evened things up late in the half. In one move Bridge played the ball up the line and over ran it within feet as the ball simply stopped.
The weather started to ease by the interval and by then we were one up, José Bosingwa’s wayward beamer clipped Nicolas’s knees and trickled over the line. They shouted for hand-ball and off-side but it was neither and Robinson was so incensed he didn’t realise that the ball was trickling so slowly towards the goal he could reach back and stop it.
Nicolas’s second, and his sixth in three matches since I sold him from my fantasy team, was much classier, Malouda crossed in a Frank Lampard won another crunching 50/50 challenge, the ball skipped to Anelka who eased it over the advancing Robinson.
Before then Cech had a second save to make, but for all their improved possession in the second period, a result of Matt Derbyshire’s introduction, they didn’t really look like scoring and if they had we would have put money on us springing straight up the other end.
Frank Lampard played brilliantly today, two crunching tackles one lead to a chance the other a goal, two thumping shots from distance and a moment when he seemed almost to deliberately bounce the ball, from 20-yards out, in a puddle right in front of Robinson just for the fun of it.
Paul Ince lost his rag with Ray Wilkins after the match about some stray comments Ray made about Blackburn being physical. Ince was incensed when Wilkins said Blackburn would be aggressive, when in fact they turned out to rather gentle. Ray should watch that his pre-match platitudes done include lazy stereotypes like Blackburn will kick you up in the air, because they don’t play like that anymore as results against us, Man U and Arsenal this season have proved.
The morning’s news from the Observer, was sadly rubbished before it hit the newsstand, they said we were going to move to a 65/75,000 seat stadium in Battersea next to the power station. Now this would be more convenient for us, with no tube connection it would be a struggle to get folk to the game. The club said they were examining the redevelopment of the current site – bye-bye hotels – before considering a move.

Tuesday 11 November
Peter Kenyon has been speaking about the ‘line-by-line’ examination of Chelsea’s spending and was quite frank about how an economic down turn is going to hit football. Speaking about halving the scouting network he said the club were taking the suggestion from Fifa that clubs should adopt six-plus-five home grown talent to foreigners seriously. He added again that if Scolari wants a player he will have to sell but said January was not the time to do it.

Wednesday 12 November
Chelsea 1:1 Burnley (Burnley win 4:5 on penalties)
The players seem up for it at the weekend but come Tuesday the team are a bit disorientated, missing a few cogs. Midweek games may be becoming a trial, but you don’t want to hear the Bill saying: “I can confirm we are investigating the incident. An inquiry is being conducted by the football unit at Fulham police station. No one has been arrested.” At least it didn’t rain.
The match started with Drogba back and Ferreira, Ivanovic, Mineiro and Belletti all coming into the side; Bridge was captain. There were a few sticky moments early on as mistakes and poor passes offered Burnley encouragement. Among the slips were a few chances. Alex belted one of his free-kicks and Bridge should have done better from the rebound, Kalou had a one-on-one but the ’keeper nicked it of his toe. Things really changed when Frank Lampard came on after only 24-minutes as Juliano Belletti took a knock, Frank’s first job was the simple one of playing in Didier to score an accomplished goal.
Burnley equalised through Ade Akinbiyi after Cudicini could only palm Chris Eagles’s shot into the middle of his own penalty area. Brian Jensen in the Burnley goal was holding everything that came his way; one point blank from a Di Santo header.
Extra-time was a story of us playing on with ten-men after Di Santo went of injured, of chances going begging – how Alex didn’t score right at the end we’ll never know – or linesmen putting their oar in, until the inevitable loss on penalties.
It is now a psychological problem that we cannot seem to win a shootout, Bridge and Obi Jon had their penalties saved, while Cudicini did well to get close to a few he didn’t actually save any. It makes it almost exactly ten years since we beat Ipswich Town in a league cup quarter-final.
As if the result wasn’t bad enough Didier Drogba later apologised for throwing a coin back into the crowd, which is an idiotic thing to do and he will get at least a fine and possibly a ban for his stupidity. Jamie Carragher got three-matches a few years ago for the same offence.

Friday 14 November
Didier has been charged with violent conduct and will be banned for three matches, the coin thrower will be chased but not found.
Little mentioned has been Franco Di Santo’s injury which will keep him out for three weeks. With Drogba banned, we’d better hope nothing happens to Nicolas.
Miroslav Stoch, Michael Woods and Scott Sinclair have been called into the squad for the weekend. Because the regulars are dropping like flies, Petr Cech has joined Alex, Juliano Belletti, Franco Di Santo, Joe Cole, Ricardo Carvalho and Michael Essien. Ash and Michael Ballack are back but on the bench because they’ve not played in a few weeks. Another injury ravaged squad heads north on a mission to bounce back …
Meanwhile Nicolas Anelka and Frank Lampard received awards from Barclays bank, Frank as player of the month and Nic for being the first to reach 10 league goals.

Saturday 15 November
West Bromwich Albion 0:3 Chelsea
Another week, another record and another routine drubbing. (Ten away premiership wins in a row, a record – equalling Spurs 1959/60 side. Let’s think about this for a moment; we have set an undefeated home record of 86 games, ten in a row away from home, Cech’s premiership clean sheet record and Frank’s record of continuous service. Many of those records will be beaten only when your children grow up. Chelsea have become something else.) This time West Brom put up the brave fight in the opening period lost three quick goals and pressed as we eased off in the second-half.
With so many out injured Cudicini and Ivanovic started in defence and it was the back four that looked at sixes and sevens as West Brom, Ishmael Miller in particular, fed balls forward. Frank Lampard had our first clear chance after some slick one-touch football sent him clear but he hit the ’keeper. That we took the lead wasn’t unexpected but the source was; Jose Bosingwa simply belted one from the corner of the box with his left foot. Nicolas Anelka then popped in two quick, neat finishes and we had an unassailable lead at the break.
Nic could have had a hat-trick for the third week in a row, but the game had the air of a practice match toward the end. John Terry picked up a foot injury with could keep him out of England’s mid-week friendly.
Since this column took to boring you all with references to Michael Mancienne’s career, you will already have noticed we are about to say we told you so … Michael, currently on loan at Wolves, has been called up to the full England squad.
Chelsea youth 2:2 Norwich City youth
Two for Frank Nouble, as always, kept the younglings top of the league but it was little reward for the boys on their return from the US.

Monday 17 November
Didier has admitted the FA charge of chucking a coin into the crowd and will receive his sentence tomorrow. He will not get time off for good behaviour but we’ve managed with Nicolas so far.
John Terry will take part with England this week but Frank Lampard missed out with a rib injury picked up against West Brom.
Meanwhile fight fans will be pleased to learn that Stamford Bridge is interested in staging a David Haye fight against one of the Klitschkos.

Tuesday 18 November
Thank god for that, Didier has been banned for three games starting Saturday but this story has been the only one about Chelsea for a week, he admitted it from the start, the punishment is pretty automatic, it would only have been a story if he’d got a bigger ban than Carragher did.
As the coingate story fades away Jack Cork and Ryan Bertrand both made sub appearances in England U21 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic.

Wednesday 19 November
Germany 1:2 England
“We had no organisation, we lost too many balls; our passing game was bad, we were not aggressive, we did not cover well” a year ago that would have been the analysis of England’s performance, but tonight these words came from the German manager, Joachim Löw. If this carries on we’ll all start thinking we can win something.
John Terry put in a captain’s performance; taking responsibility for the mix up that led to Germany’s equaliser and then muscled his way forward to head the winner.
Capello named a young side with Gabriel Agbonlahor, Stewart Downing, and Michael Carrick all coming in and playing well, in an organised and dominant England performance. And to think, some said this was a waste of time.
David Mellor displayed more than his usual utter idiocy in the Substandard this evening, suggesting that Drogba should go. Not unusually he displayed his lack of knowledge by suggesting Scolari should stop experimenting by playing Didier and Nicolas Anelka together. He gets paid fortune for writing like this about the team he supposedly supports. Fulham can have him back.

Friday 21 November
Watch yourself out there this weekend because the courts have lost all sense of proportion. A Glasgow lad has been handed six months in chokey for running onto the pitch at Parkhead during the Celtic Manchester United game. Six months – six months for running onto the pitch, not hitting anyone, causing anyone any harm. John Murphy is 18, at any other time in history running on the pitch would be regarded as high-jinx and nothing more, he should have been banned from football for the rest of the season and put on a warning but the Sheriff, Linda Ruxton, overreacted on a massive scale. Clearly a hanging judge, Ruxton said she’d wanted to bang him up for nine months but the perisher had admitted the deed so she couldn’t be as harsh as she had wished.
Sheriff Ruxton has clearly lost her marbles in this case, unless she was always a sadist, she said the six months was for raising fears for the safety of the players. She has raised fears for the safety and liberty of football fans, is she going to hand herself in?

Saturday 22 November
Chelsea 0:0 Newcastle United
Another difficult home performance and, a Scolari said, two points lost not one won. There were some positives from the afternoon; the Coles, Ashley and Joe, were both back as was Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard recovered from the rib problem that kept him out of the game in Germany on Wednesday; the best news was that nobody capitalised on out slip, Liverpool drew at home with Fulham, Manchester United drew with Villa and Arsenal lost, meaning that none of the top five scored a single goal this weekend.
Joe Cole thought he had ten-minutes through the second-half but was flagged off, which he was by some distance. Apart from that, bundled, chance we didn’t have too many clear openings. Yet it could all have been so different if Frank’s header hadn’t been brilliantly saved by Shay Given right at the start.
We are starting to wonder which Chelsea is going to turn up each week, the one that dominates and scores threes and fives away, or the clumpers who struggle at home and in Europe?
Charlton Athletic youth 2:4 Chelsea youth
Some of the big boys stepped down from the reserves to pep up the youth squad and get a bit of match practice ahead of the youth cup game on Thursday. Fabio Borini, Jacob Mellis, Jacopo Sala and Daniel Philliskirk scored after we’d shipped an early goal.
The battle of the exes finished 1-0 as Jose Mourinho’s Inter beat Ranieri’s Juve to move further ahead at the top of Serie A.

Sunday 23 November
Frank Arnesen could be on his way out according to the latest from the Observer, the club rushed to rubbish rumours of a stadium move from the same paper earlier this month but haven’t issued a vote of confidence in Arnesen despite having all day to think about it. Frank didn’t help himself by telling the Danish paper Weekend Avisen: “The credit crisis has meant that Roman has hit the financial brakes, and asked us to cut deep. We have cut down significantly on scouts and other activities.”

Monday 24 November
West Bromwich Albion reserves 1:0 Chelsea reserves
Brendan Rodgers has been handed the Watford job much to everyone’s surprise. Not that Brendan hasn’t done a great job with our reserves, it is more that chairmen and board members don’t usually recognise talent from this level.
Brendan was with us for four years, first as academy director and then reserves coach. He’ll be missed the club have already said that his replacement will be an internal appointment.
The stiffs reacted to Brendan’s departure by losing to the Baggies, in their defence this was a weakened second string with the youth cup game later this week.

Tuesday 25 November
Scolari had his first huff as Chelsea boss this evening when asked about Didier Drogba’s alleged meeting with representatives from Inter. He was asked right at the end of the press conference and said bluntly that he had no knowledge of any meeting.

Wednesday 26 November
Bordeaux 1:1 Chelsea
Another rotten night on the continent means it is now more than a year since we won a game away from home in the Champions’ League. Nobody seemed up for it this evening, except the French players, who crashed into every tackle while the ref apparently looked elsewhere. It was difficult to find any rhythm but that doesn’t excuse them from trying.
The first-half was awful, we didn’t manage a shot on target. In fact the second-half was heading the same way until an instant pass from Lampard freed Anelka who dummied once, dummied twice and slotted the ball home. For ten-minutes after the goal we looked comfortable and could have done better with a few half-chances. Until Joe Cole was unlucky to concede a corner instead of winning a foul and they equalised from a free-header. It was the first goal scored from a corner since Scolari took over.
Poor play all round from Chelsea meant Bordeaux looked the more likely winners as another corner flashed across the box and was helped back in before we cleared.
Frank Lampard was then sent off for a dumb tackle as he tried to keep an attacking move going. He admitted himself afterwards that he knew the ref was in a card happy mood and he, therefore, shouldn’t have dived in.
Scolari was angry with their goal and jokingly said that he should go back to Brazil if we can’t beat Cluj at home in two weeks. He gives us a 75% chance of winning that game, we’d cut those odds to evens if we turn up with the same attitude.

Thursday 27 November
Manchester United youth 2:3 Chelsea youth
We have taken the mick out of Chelsea’s attempts to win this cup over the years but tonight the whole of the youth set-up can be proud of their achievement. This was a better win than the scoreline suggests, yes, they had chances but we always looked to have another gear.
Behind after only ten minutes Chelsea showed a great deal of maturity to forge if 1-2 half-time score with goals from the usual source of Gael Kakuta and Frank Nouble. Niclas Heimann in goal deserves a mention for a number of good stops before Fabio Borini scored with ten minutes to go which meant their second was consolation.
Meanwhile Liam Bridcutt, our reserve team captain, has become the first to tread the loan path to Brendan Rodgers’ Watford. He’ll be at Vicarage Road until the end of December.

Sunday 30 November
Chelsea 1:2 Arsenal
“I do not want three points, all I want is them to say sorry it was a mistake.” We start this report with Luiz Felipe’s measured words because our own fail us. Apologies to everyone in the Pineapple, many of whom have not heard swearing like that since the old sea dogs convention. The truth is that we were heading for a routine win when Robin van Persie collected the ball a yard offside and scored, he repeated the trick from a dodgy free-kick three minutes later (we know JT was booked for the challenge but his feet weren’t high and he won the ball and missed the player). But the killer was the offside goal or as Scolari said: “it is difficult to play for my team after this, because they lost their concentration. The offside killed my team. We lost because one goal was not a goal”.
We know the linesman has eyes in his head because he used them to raise a flag to Solomon Kalou’s run into the area as early as the fourth minute, replays showed Kalou on but it was close. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the defenders is clearly against the laws of the game but this linesman is a law unto himself. He subsequently flagged the Ivorian twice more in very close calls.
Johan Djourou put through his own goal after a Bosingwa cross to give us the lead but we created the clearer chances in the first-half, Cech did have saves to make but they were all relatively comfortable and any danger was dealt with calmly. Until …
Replays show van Persie off and, damningly for the official, also show the linesman looking along the line but keeping his flag down.
The collapse that followed was unfortunate and the lack of direction for the remaining half-hour a worrying reminder that once behind we find it very difficult to react.
Miroslav Stoch was the only bright spot in the afternoon, as the 19-year-old Slovakian made his debut for Deco with ten minutes left. While it was good to see Miroslav get his chance it is an indictment of our resources that there were no other options on the bench.
“When you are playing against Chelsea on their own ground and go 1-0 down, you know it’s going to be really difficult. To win the game in the end and the way we did it was great for the team. Today is not my day, it’s our day.” Robin van Persie. You have to say that van Persie on this preeningly self-congratulatory evidence is a more contemptible little shit than the master Ronaldo. Let’s just look at that statement again “the way we did it was great for the team,” so, it is great for the Arsenal team to be only able to get a result when the officials ignore the rules.
Southend United in the FA Cup third round, the Shrimpers and the Pensioners have only twice before crossed paths both of them in the FA Cup and the gang from Roots Hall lost both. It will be a good chance to check on Anthony Grant’s progress. Paul Furlong makes up the numbers in the Southend squad though he’s only made one appearance since joining in the summer.
After the game Richard Attenborough was made life president of the club to mark 60 years supporting the club

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