Reporter interviewing a figure glowing white:
“Mr Jesus, now you have returned to earth after 2,000 years can you please answer one question?”
“Of course my son.”
“Will Hiddink stay at Chelsea at the end of the season or return to his job with the Russian national side?”
Jesus looks up,
“They’re not ready…”
Monday 13 April
Bruce Buck said again that Hiddink is not staying on as manager. “There has been a lot of speculation about him staying. That will not be the case”, he told a fan’s forum, and for emphasis he added “There has been a lot of speculation about Hiddink staying, particularly as he has been doing a great job. It is purely a temporary role.” So that should be that.
Luton Town, struggling for so many months with a 30-point deduction finally succumb to their wounds and are relegated from the league. Fans from all clubs have been following their season and wishing them well. We hope they bounce back quickly.
Tuesday 14 April
Chelsea 4:4 Liverpool
Champions’ league quarter-finals don’t come more delicious than this; we toyed with scouse emotions expertly, feeding them enough line in the first-half to make them believe, only to snatch it away again in the second, the just when Liverpool thought it was finished we reeled out some more line before snapping them back and finishing them off. Perfect. Of course, it killed the nerves of everyone watching not just the Liverpool players.
Surprise team news for the night was that Gerrard wasn’t fit, as we expected Carvalho partners Alex in the middle, with Ivanovic holding his place.
We started appallingly; drifting off the play never with the pace, unable to find a simple pass. In fact the referee, by blowing up for every Liverpool foul, gave us all the rhythm and pace we had in the first-half.
Their opener, after Torres sliced the first chance high into the evening air, came from a comedy free-kick routine devised by the Chuckle Brothers. Aurelio lines up a free-kick out on the right, Cech stands too deep at the far post and from half a mile out Aurelio blasts the ball into the empty space with a bemused Cech scrambling. 0-1.
It gets worse ten-minutes later when Ivanovic holds Alonso who dives to make sure the ref notices and then scores from the spot; Cech guessed the wrong way. 0-2.
Our penalty luck is holding, Saturday not withstanding, as Ivanovic is then muscled over on their box but no award.
Nothing we try to do is working, Drogba was running hard up front but receiving nothing; free-kicks look to be our only chance as Cech and the defence flap and flail at anything coming their way. Ashley Cole has to head off the line just before the break to keep us in the match.
Hiddink later said there was anger at half-time. There was plenty in the stands but the first five-minutes of the second-half looked as desperate. Cech dashed out for a ball he was never going to get and, stranded, could only watch Aurelio’s cross drift wide.
Disorganised, skittish, afraid but when Anelka picked up the ball wide on the right touchline and drifted forward there appeared to be no danger, yet he whipped in a cross Drogba raced across the near-post touched it on and Reina fumbled over the line. 1-2.
Suddenly we were playing in Liverpool’s half, Drogba had a free-kick just wide with Reds screaming at the referee, who was just doing his job, as Lampard, Drogba and Alex all lined up at the next free-kick, only for Alex to thump one. Well, ‘thump’ doesn’t do it justice, not cracked, nor smashed, nothing comes close, just say it stayed hit. The net earned its keep just stopping the ball before the joyous faces celebrating in the Matthew Harding. 2-2.
Torres had a snap shot on the turn sail just wide but Chelsea believed and pressing high up the pitch ensured the ball broke to Ballack who fed Drogba who squared for Lampard. 3-2.
Lucas then profited from a deflection off Essien and we’ve seen deflected Liverpool goals at the Bridge before this season. 3-3.
Then a Riera cross to found Kuyt, who applied a firm header. 3-4.
More determined closing down high up the pitch by Drogba meant the ball broke for Anelka who fed Lampard who, with a sense of showmanship decided to bounce the ball off both posts before confirming, finally, our progress. 4-4.
There was still time for Essien to head another Liverpool effort off the line after a weak punch from Cech.
“Sometimes you lose your temper. But they reacted and they knew the first half was not OK … we were angry because we didn’t start as we planned and we know Liverpool are a good team tactically with very skilful players … tactically but also mentally we said to each other, that it was not the way we would start the second half. That’s why I like to work with this team, it reacts.” That last sentence might contain the secret of our success this season.
Barcelona in two-weeks, away leg first, so we will know what we have to do in the second. Let’s just hope we don’t need to keep a clean sheet.
Wednesday 15 April.
Manchester United and Arsenal will contest the other semi-final. So if we progress against Barcelona, we’ll have another all-England final. We could be wrong but since the Champions’ League started there have been seven all English ties and we have played in all of them. So Arsenal-Manchester United will be a first and another quiz question.
Saturday 18 April
Arsenal 1:2 Chelsea
1947-2009, Arsenal’s FA Cup run against us has, finally, come to an end and you can add another date to the end of this season. We will now play our ninth cup final and our second at the new Wembley.
The new place looked good in the sunshine this evening but its downfall so far has been the state of the pitch. Five players slipped over in the first three minutes and you knew it was going to be an exciting game. Thrills and spills.
Both sides started with nerves and slips and it almost cost Arsenal the lead, Fabianski came for Lampard’s long ball only for Drogba to head it past him, Gibbs, rushing back cleared for a corner.
Arsenal had a few probing movements but nothing to suggest they might score – until they scored. Anelka was slow to pick Gibb’s run, his cross found Walcott, whose shot deflected off Ashley Cole and in. Cech, who continued to look nervous, was wrong footed by the shot.
The goal didn’t seem to change the attitude of the team. Though when you have conceded eight in a week and still come back for the result we’d guess your confidence was in the right place.
Within a few minutes Malouda had a shot across the box and Didier scooped one high over the bar and far away.
Then on the half-hour, Malouda controls Lampard’s long pass perfectly drifts inside the defender to level the score at the near post. His second goal at Wembley, from the handful he’s scored for us. And, no, we don’t know what the celebration means, but it looked, for the world, a labia majora.
Anelka and Drogba combined to bully the ball back from the Arsenal defence only for Anelka’s crisp shot to come back off the bottom of the post.
We controlled the game until half-time but started to pick up inexplicable cards; Ivanovic on Van Persie and Ballack on Fabregas; although the seriousness of the contact in either case is debateable.
Arsenal started the second-half with a shot from Adebayor that flew high and wide. Then Lampard robbed Denilson only for Toure to cover his shot.
Walcott then crossed with Van Persie rushing in but the ball eluded him, Arsenal seemed stronger than they had at the end of the first and Malouda was lucky not to give a penalty away when he shoved Fabregas as the ball was going out for a corner. Van Persie lashed another good chance over, after Alex’s bicycle clearance.
Slowly, Chelsea started to reassert themselves, Lampard volleyed a Drogba cross just wide, before Silvestre clear handled in the box while tugging back Didier.
Drogba’s winner was another moment of long-ball brilliance. Lampard cleared and the big man suddenly found himself round their ‘keeper who’d charged out to meet him, and dispatched a bouncing ball into the empty net. Wembley here we come. Again.
Chelsea youth 4:0 MK Dons youth
A return to form for the youth team. Philliskirk (who had two other efforts struck off), Phillip and Lalkovic with two scored the goals against a Dons side run ragged by the end.
Elsewhere in football, Wolves will be back in the Premiership next season, Leicester will be back in the Championship.