Monday 11 October
Ramires played an hour of Brazil’s 2-0 win against the Ukraine at Derby’s Pride Park.
Tuesday 12 October
England 0:0 Montenegro
Was that it? You wait a dreary week for an England game and they play like that? This column recommended sacking the great big Italian lunk in the summer and we stand by that. Once again Capello’s England side spluttered with little support for a front two and two deep lying central midfielders unable to support attacks. Wayne Rooney had to come back into his own half to get a touch. England should still have won after a myopic referee missed a clear hand-ball in the box and actually booked Ashley Young for being hacked down.
Firework night in Genoa as Branislav Ivanovic started at right-back for Serbia against Italy only for flares and fireworks to force an abandonment after nine minutes.
Petr Cech Czech’s beat Liechtenstein 2-0. France beat Luxembourg by the same scoreline. Yuri Zhirkov’s Russia won in Macedonia, 1-0/
Patrick van Aanholt’s Dutch U21 side didn’t make next year’s European championship in Denmark despite beating the Ukraine 2-0 but England did with Ryan Bertrand, Daniel Sturridge and Michael Mancienne all scrapping out the 0-0 away that mans the 2-1 win last week was good enough to qualify.
Wednesday 13 October
The club have confirmed that Yossi Benayoun will have surgery in Finland on his Achilles on Monday and will miss the next six-months.
Aziz Deen-Conteh and Josh McEachran both played as England U19 lost their final game in Belgium 2-1 to the hosts. England had a staggering number of shots on target. The Chelsea academy might have a look at Racing Club Genk’s young ’keeper Koen Casteels, who saved a first-half penalty and a host of other chances.
Friday 15 October
John Terry is expected to play as real football resumes tomorrow evening. Didier Drogba will not however as he has been down with a fever. Jose Bosingwa will be on the bench for the first time in nearly a year.
Villa Park has been a right off most seasons and with half a team still out few expect any miracles.
Saturday 16 October
Aston Villa 0:0 Chelsea
A positive result considering how low expectations were in the week leading up to this tie but Nicolas Anelka will be kicking himself that he didn’t steal a win.
The afternoon started brightly for Villa as Stephen Ireland lashed an early chance wide and then John Carew drew a fine save from Petr Cech.
In the first half hour Chelsea could boast nothing but a couple of decent runs from Ashley Cole and it didn’t get much better before half-time. Ivanovic had to be at his best to block another Ireland shot after which the optimists in Villa shirts asked for handball.
Yuri Zhirkov replaced the struggling Kakuta at half-time but it was Malouda who seemed to wake up and tortured Villa defence with simple strong running and forces his way across the box to produce a shot that actually stung Brad Friedel’s gloves. That said, clear chances were still few and far between. It wasn’t until nearly 70 minutes when Malouda fed Anelka for a curling effort that didn’t curl nearly enough.
Jose Bosingwa came on in a double substitution as he an Josh McEachran replaced Ramires and Ferreira.
That change was closely followed by our best chance to win it as Malouda’s corner was smacked against the post by Ivanovic header.
Villa also hit the woodwork with a header from a free-kick before Malouda and Terry’s hard work won possession for Cole to cross and Anelka headed down but too hard and the ball bounced onto the crossbar and away. It looked easier to score.
A late Villa chance came to Reo-Coker after he’d mugged young McEachran for the ball but the West Ham reject shinned his effort wide.
Afterwards Ancelotti praised Villa and declared it a good result: “In the second half we deserved to win but Villa played a good game too. We lost here last season so I am happy. Five points above Manchester United is not a bad place to be at this stage of the season.”
It was slightly odd to see Gérard Houllier back in football as Villa manager but he said nice things about a weakened Chelsea side: “we were under the cosh in the second. I must admit I was impressed by Chelsea’s power and movement; we did well to live with them.”
Earlier in the day United gave us all the encouragement needed by drawing at home to West Brom while Arsenal were streaky to win at home to Birmingham. All that we were last on Match of the Day.
The youth team failed to get to Norwich for their morning match so the game will be rearranged.