Monday 1 November
Wolverhampton Wanderers reserves 4:0 Chelsea reserves
Poor Jamal Blackman’s first taste of reserve football could have gone better, he was called up very late and was picking the ball out of the net after a minute of his debut. It got worse as Wolves racked up another two before the break and finished with a late penalty. Chelsea’s efforts, with Bruma, Van Aanholt and Kakuta all starting were disjointed at best. Remember last time out we conceded four but scored five, sadly Fabio Borini was missing through injury tonight.
Wednesday 3 November
Chelsea 4:1 Spartak Moscow
A comprehensive result and a second-half performance that merited it; Chelsea now need one point from the last two group games to top the group.
Spartak started the first-half in the same spirit they finished the game in Moscow: full of running and solid throughout the team when defending. Aiden McGeady had the evening’s first punt when he found space for a shot but not the curl to beat Cech or the post. Nicolas Anelka tried to show him how it is done at the other end and while his chance was much closer the ball still sailed wide.
The game was hotting up but the best we could muster was a string of erratic free-kicks and corners. Yuri Zhirkov started the rot, perhaps put off by the baying hoards from the East he hit the first defender time and again, so both Anelka and Drogba tried their luck and hit the first defender time and again.
A training ground routine should have produced more as our Alex met the ball from a free-kick but for once he scuffed his effort and Ivanovic was offside as he tried to backheel a goal. It looked like it was gong to be an attritional night.
At the other end Welliton tried to win a penalty with an elaborate dive but they fashioned few chances before Cech had to fling himself sideways to parry a thunderous shot from Spartak Alex.
When the ball finally squirmed across the box from a corner, Alex shinned it over the bar from a yard.
As the teams marched off at half-time Alex and Ibson swapped shirts. As this season has thrown up a number of ‘I’ve never seen that before’ moments perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised.
Chelsea came out ready for the second period, it took just four minutes for Kalou to open the door and Anelka to apply the finish. Anelka passed to Kalou who motored into the centre and a mass of defenders before slipping the ball sideways to Anelka who finished from a tight angle as the ’keeper over committed. 1-0.
We didn’t have to wait long for the next either as Chelsea’s tails went up and Didier Drogba twisted into the box round one defender and the tripped by the next. The Ivorian picked himself up and dispatched the penalty with the usual power. 2-0. Frank Lampard said afterwards that they’ll talk about who takes pens on his return. I could be a short conversation.
Three minutes later Didier is fouled off to the right of the box and Branislav Ivanovic heads in unopposed for his second in two games. 3-0.
Josh McEachran came on to play his usual tidy cameo but it was Zhirkov’s defence splitting pass to set Anelka galloping but Dykan in the Spartak goal hacked clear.
Kakuta and Sturridge joined the action and the young Frenchman chipped a wonderful cross for Sturridge to head wide.
Next came the moment that will piss off Petr Cech most. Welliton broke down the left and crossed for an offside Bazhenov to score. 3-1.
There was time for Sturridge’s break to feed Ramires in a must score situation but he contrived to side-foot the ball at the only defender in his way. No matter though as Ivanovic double his total goals for the club in two matches by slamming in the loose ball from an injury time corner. 4-1.
Friday 5 November
Frank Lampard will not take part on Sunday but Florent Malouda, who was expected to be out with an ankle knock will make it.
Michael Essien might also miss the game because his toe problem hasn’t gone away.
Carlo Ancelotti explained why we have been waiting so long for Frank: “Now he moved on and started to train, we’ve taken time to put him 100 percent fit, it was not an easy problem, this is the only reason. We don’t want to take a risk. I hope he will be ready against Sunderland.” Don’t hold your breath.
Saturday 6 November
Manchester United sneaked up to two-points behind with the latest of goals at home to Wolves. This week they actually won without the ref letting them off any yellow cards so perhaps they have turned their season round. Wanderers on recent form will be comfortable in the table come May. West Ham however probably will not after letting a two-goal lead slip at Birmingham.
Sunday 7 November
Liverpool 2:0 Chelsea
So Liverpool have been saving up for one big game this season and Chelsea walked into the blow. Having watched Arsenal trip up at home to a vibrant Newcastle United and digested the news that Didier Drogba was on the bench after another virus, most Chelsea fans viewed this as a routine win against spineless opponents. But it seems Liverpool have been harbouring a grudge.
There were a few positives in the second-half performance but they will not make up for the dithering first-half display.
We started with plenty of possession in our own half with no way of moving the ball beyond our own back line; Ivanovic to Terry to Alex to Cole and back again.
Not much really happened until they were one-nil up. Kuyt reversed the ball in to Torres’ path and Spanish forward brushed aside defenders and angled his shot across a collapsing Cech. 1-0. Torres has spent the last eight months looking like the maudlin tallow-faced runt suddenly has found his old power and speed and guess what, the afternoon we turn up.
Liverpool played with far more purpose and belief after the goal but that started to open the game up and Cole bombed down the left to cross for Kalou to head straight at Reina.
Zhirkov was booked for breaking up a Liverpool break with the slightest of touches. For the rest of the half Liverpool press and attack with growing confidence while we seem content to hoof aimless balls in the direction of the out numbered Anelka. Ian Porterfield could have shown them how to do it.
The second goal came crushingly close to half time, as we over committed forward Ashley Cole slipped, Meireles fed the ball to Torres who made Ivanovic look a chump before curling a perfect shot into the top corner. 2-0
Didier came on at the start of the second period, only for Jamie Carragher to climb all over the back of him, the ref, Howard Web, to prove where his sympathies were by awarding Liverpool the free-kick. It was a pattern repeated throughout the half.
We pressed and Liverpool collapsed back into their area but we couldn’t fashion chances. Drogba had a free-kick wasted wide before we finally threatened. Zhirkov had a shot well saved before Drogba wriggled free down the right and crossed for Malouda to head in, only for Reina to block as he scrambled across goal.
Liverpool were desperate for the rest of the half, they fouled and hacked and blocked and hoofed in a desperate attempt to hold on to what they had and the ref let them get away with most of it. Chelsea players should star falling down at the slightest touch like their Old Trafford counter parts. Referees don’t allow opponents to hack through United players as they do Chelsea’s. Perhaps being noble and staying on your feet is self-defeating. Manchester City did the same to us last month and the pattern for how to beat Chelsea away has been set.
Anelka smashed a fierce shot against the bar and as Drogba closes on the rebound Carragher gets a boot in. This is not our day.
Oddly, considering the kicking we’ve been getting it was Alex who was booked as he challenged for a 50/50 with Ngog late in the game. Obviously, if you loose the challenge you should be booked, half of Anfield wanted him sent off.
So another fcuked up away game drags to a halt with no goals scored. That is three of the last four games and it seems obvious that we need Frank Lampard and Michael Essien to regain their fitness but is is also clear that we need to go shopping for some cover.
West Ham United youth 3:2 Chelsea youth
A brave performance by the youth team with Jamal Blackman in goal playing a blinder.
Todd Kane gave us the lead with another long range strike but a couple of familiar defensive slips allowed the Hammers a 2-1 half-time lead. Ismail Seremba levelled up just after the break but all our second-half possession couldn’t swing the match and they won it on he break with ten minutes to go.