Monday 23 November
Chelsea reserves 1:2 Birmingham City reserves
A very disappointing display from the stiffs with Gael Kakuta, Nemanja Matic and Fabio Borini all playing but failing to impress as they had against Wolves. Borini did score but defensive shambles handed City the points.
Sad news that Derek Gibbs dies last week. Derek was a bit before our time (1955-60) he played for Orient after he left us in 1960 and then QPR.
Tuesday 24 November
The squad are in Portugal ahead of tomorrow’s game. Drogba, Carvalho and Ballack all travelled, as did Kakuta. Zhirkov could start.
It will of course be JT’s 300th game as captain.
Whatever happens tomorrow night we will be in the draw for the next round, the same cannot be said for Liverpool. The psychological effect on the Chelsea squad of not facing their whipping boys this year cannot yet be gauged.
Wednesday 25 November
FC Porto 0:1 Chelsea
Instead of dull perhaps we could describe this evening as workmanlike or professional. Nicolas Anelka’s goal – the third he has provided in three 1-0 wins – means we top group D and will face a team that finished runner-up in their group. That doesn’t necessarily mean easy: Barcelona and Madrid could both finish second in their pool.
Porto started this match far more brightly than they had the match at the Bridge. Fernando Belluschi had two spanking shots from distance in the first half one forced a save from Cech, who was agile enough to block the follow-up, the other crashed off the bar. Chelsea held plenty of possession but little threat in the first-half, Anelka had a shot turned round after quarter of an hour but it was the only threat.
Chelsea started the second period exerting even more control on possession but failing to create chances. Deco had a very odd night, hailed on his return to the club where he won his first European Cup medal, he played one pass from the edge of their box so wildly that it was picked up on half-way by an attacker.
Malouda by contrast swapped Saturday’s fun display with discipline and hard work. He is developing.
The goal was by far the best move of the match, Zhirkov fed Malouda and Anelka met the cross point-blank. It was his first goal in eight.
Talk afterwards couldn’t help but turn to the confidence engendered in the team by this result. Didier Drogba completing the full 90-minutes is a big boost ahead of Arsenal and a further pep comes from news that Frank Lampard trained yesterday without complications and could feature on Sunday.
Thursday 26 November
The ever-smiling Avram Grant has been appointed as manager of Portsmouth. Bookmakers should install him as favourite to lose his job next. Or are we being unfair? His first test will be against Manchester United, hang on, wasn’t his first game for us against them and, ahem, his last?
Let’s hope that he is a little more successful with his new charges.
Friday 27 November
Carlo has been speaking about staying in the Chelsea job until he is 70. Asked if he could bring managerial security to the Chelsea job he quipped he would like to stay for twenty-years.
Meanwhile John Terry has distanced himself from an email that was circulating in marketing departments offering his services to the highest bidder.
Sunday 29 November
Arsenal 0:3 Chelsea
That quiet feeling that we are too strong for Arsenal was borne out this afternoon, in putting the Gooners eleven points and ten goals off the leadership this amounted to an assassination of Arsenal’s title hopes and a crushing message to Old Trafford.Two goals from Didier Drogba and a panicked own-goal were enough to put paid to a side that is averaging three goals a game but couldn’t manage three shots on target against the strongest defence in the league.
Arsenal started brightly, bossing possession in the opening exchanges but for all the ball was in their sway they barely tested Petr Cech.
Barely twenty minutes in and Anelka broke through them and was hauled down by Barcary Sagna; no penalty but oddly no appeal from the Chelsea players.
We continued to find it difficult to get the ball back for the rest of the half but while Arsenal have monomaniacal regard for ball retention, we managed to create chances with the damn thing whenever we did have it.
There was a moment when the Coles over elaborated and Drogba was forced into a tame header. He was clearly asking Ashley why he didn’t and so in the next attack John Terry, bursting forward fed Ashley Cole, who crossed with his second touch and Drogba opened out his stance to direct the ball in off bar and post.
The second flowed through the same channel, Cole crossed only this time a jittery Thomas Vermaelen, frightened of Drogba appearing behind him, diverted the ball onto the exact spot on the post as the first goal, 0-2, and riotous dancing in the stands. It is a great shame that Arsenal do not play Lip up fatty every time they concede a goal. Many of those present in Blue would have burst.
Arsenal thought they had a goal back at the start of the second period; Drogba attempted a thirty-meter backpass forcing Cech to smother from Eduardo as Blues flooded back into the box Ivanovic blocked one effort before Eduardo kicked the ball out of Petr’s grasp and Ashavin bludgeoned the ball in true Sunday league style. The ref spotted about four infringements including hand ball and a foul on the ’keeper and decided to disallow the goal for the latter.
In their next attack John Terry slid in to clear off Eduardo’s toe and then Andrei Arshavin tried to nick the ball from Petr Cech as he picked up and that was that for Arsenal pressure.
At the other end Drogba’s ball in was chested on by Lampard and Almunia had to stretch to keep the score at two. From the resulting corner Vermaelen held John Terry down but again no penalty was given.
The game dragged on until Essien drove forward and was upended and Didier decided to finish Arsenal off from the free-kick, smashed into the far corner from the edge of the box.
Lip up fatty, ah lip up fatty for the reggae.
Earlier in the FA Cup third round draw as holders we were handed a home tie against Watford (again) and while we’ve beaten Watford on the way to the trophy in the past it would make a change to draw a more glamorous team. Kettering for example (or Leeds United) will travel to Old Trafford, while this weekend’s obliging hosts Arsenal go to Upton Park. Carlo Ancelotti has revealed that he hopes to meet Elton John at the Watford tie. Erm.