Tuesday 21 September
Kakuta, Bruma, van Aanholt and Sturridge will start tomorrow night as Ancelotti announced that he wants to continue this season’s emphasis on opportunities for the young players.
It would, perhaps, be a step too far to put the reserves in against Newcastle United but it would be interesting.
Wednesday 22 September
Chelsea 3:4 Newcastle United
Roller coasters are usually calmer than this, the match was frantic, error strewn, and highly entertaining. Ultimately we get to congratulate Newcastle and trot out the line that the Carling Cup doesn’t mean anything much.
The start could not have been better, When Nile Ranger scuffed the ball, as Patrick van Aanholt closed down, it broke to Gaël Kakuta who reversed it for van Aanholt to smash into the net for his first senior goal. 1-0.
Chelsea had made changes, yet it was a strong team with Anelka, Benayoun and Ramires, Terry and Ferreira all starting. Newcastle made ten changes of their own.
The next significant action saw Kakuta hacked into the air by Ryan Taylor in what was a late and unnecessary challenge but the referee only waived yellow. Kakuta struggled on until half-time.
It took until the 27th minute for the first goal against at home since your father was in short trousers. Nile Ranger (a man named after a 50s comic book hero who never existed) converted a deep cross, from a fine passing move. 1-1. The first goal since Gabriel Agbonlahor scored in Villa’s 7-1 capitulation in March.
Things got worse as Ryan Taylor, who shouldn’t have been on the pitch, fired in a spectacular free-kick for 1-2. Well, he shot into the spot where young Ross Turnbull should have been standing. For some inexplicable reason our young keeper stood directly behind his wall to the left of the goal leaving half the net empty.
Newcastle were starting to dominate as Chelsea managed only one more scuffed Sturridge effort before the break.
Kakuta did well to last until half-time when he was replaced by Kalou, and Alex came on for JT in a planned swap. John Terry was the night’s only truly successful experiment as he reported no adverse reaction to his rib injury in the 45-minutes he played.
It was Ferreira who set up the third as he played a lazy, blind ball inside straight to Shola Ameobi who beat a struggling Turnbull from the edge of the box. 1-3.
Salomon Kalou latched on to a loose pass from Newcastle and hared off toward the box, only to pull up with a thigh pull and require a stretcher. Josh McEachran came on to replace the substitute.
Josh McEachran’s impact will be carefully nurtured by the club but tonight he kept the ball sprayed possession around, he simply had more time on the ball than anyone else on the pitch. It will be worth losing a Carling Cup tie to witness the development of a player like this. The force is strong in this one.
It was McEachran’s ball that Yossi Benayoun ran onto only to pull up lame with a calf. There was still half an hour to go with ten men, but Alex managed to hit a post after Bruma’s free-kick came back off the wall before the fight back started.
Van Aanholt fed Nicolas Anelka to stab the ball home first-time. 2-3.
Before Alex was hauled down in the box for a penalty that Anelka nonchalantly rolled into the corner before, it seemed, the ’keeper was ready. 3-3.
Nicolas then did brilliantly to keep the ball in wide and as he crossed Sturridge was pulled down in the box but Ferreira fired the ball back across goal but hit the far post.
It looked like we were going to have injury time in a fascinating contest but poor marking from a late corner gave Ameobi his second. 3-4.
There was still time for McEachran to fire a shot against the post
Sadly after Ryan Taylor’s second trip on van Aanholt Carlo Ancelotti waived the imaginary card toward the ref, and action he swiftly apologised for afterwards: “this is something from Italian football, maybe that’s the last time I will do that here and I’m sorry for that.”
Chelsea reserves 0:2 Fulham reserves
A scratch match against the usual suspects at Cobham and a chance for Jose Bosingwa to have a 45-minute run. It was a loosener too for the Steve Holland’s lads who have only had two fixtures so far this season. Sadly for Jose he was easily beaten as Fulham crossed for their first goal but we can forgive him for being rusty.
Friday 24 September
Roberto Mancini has made a few friends down here ahead of the weekend’s early clash at Eastlands. He said, without much provocation: “Chelsea are the best team in the Premier League at the moment, they are probably going to win the Premier League title easily.” We nearly spluttered coke down our nose – it isn’t often an opposition manager is that blunt but it is nice to hear someone say it.
Saturday 25 September
Manchester City 1:0 Chelsea
The 100% start grinds to a halt as City take the physical route to stopping us.
Injuries to Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou and Yossi Benayoun may have contributed but this lot beat us last year with the same level of aggression and until the referees stop them they will continue. At least their goal came from poor defending rather than handling or dodgy free-kicks.
Roberto Mancini’s expensively acquired side were so confident they played three holding midfielders to try to blunt our attacking threat. The tactic was simple: kick them up in the air. As Liverpool used to do and Internazionale did in last year’s Champion’s League, tackle through the back of players, hack and kick and shove until the referee stops you. Andre Marriner, today’s hapless whistler, let them get away with it all afternoon.
So much so that the debutant right-back Boyata first pulled back Drogba as he competed for a ball and then deliberately shoulder barged him. The second offence was as blatant as El-Hadji Diouf’s challenge on Mark Schwarzer last week. It seems referees have jumped back in time to the debate about barging and hacking when the games’ laws were being written. At least one of those challenges should have come with a penalty and a yellow card.
We created little in the first-half; Ivanovic, alarmingly out of position all afternoon, hit the bar from a corner but couldn’t force in the rebound and, well, that was it for whiffs of goal. City created nothing at all.
The game remained even until another act of violence robbed Ramires near their box and Tevez broke to score through the retreating Ashley Cole’s legs. 1-0.
Vincent Kompany made the tackle on Ramires and was later praised on Match of the Day for the solidity of his tackling but the one that led to the goal was assault. Yes he toe-poked the ball but he clattered the man from behind in the process. A clear free-kick. On MotD they highlighted another Kompany tackle late in the game as they praised his strength and concentration. The tackle was on Malouda on the edge of their box; Kompany clearly barges Florent over making no attempt to win the ball and when the Frenchman is down he is free to play on.
Didier Drogba was not impressed when he was substituted for Sturridge with a quarter of an hour left. Josh McEachran got a run for his Premiership debut; he looks better with each appearance.
The good news this afternoon came from the Emirates where Roberto Di Matteo’s West Brom sprang into a 0-3 lead before Arsenal pulled two back but still lost 2-3. So despite defeat we are still top of the table by four.
Chelsea youth 2:4 Southampton youth
Another Saturday morning, another crushing defeat, there were plenty of chances at both ends and some neat attacking on show but Southampton got the lucky breaks while Chelsea’s chances came and went. Bobby Devyne scored two in the second half to bring us back to 2-3 but a penalty sealed the points.
Sunday 26 September
Thank you Bolton, thank, thank you Bolton 2:2 Manchester United. We have had our first stumble and yet remain three points clear at the top.