Monday 14 March
Chelsea reserves 7:2 Blackpool reserves
The oddest thing – you get a man sent off within ten minutes and go 0-1 down to a penalty and then, obviously, you bounce back to win 7-2 …
This was as strong as our reserves get with Borini continuing his fine comeback from injury and Ryan Bertrand back at the back.
The penalty had everyone confused. The ball was in play but nowhere near danger when suddenly Danny Pappoe tangled with Sergei Kornilenko and the linesman is flagging and it is a penalty and a red card. 0-1. The response from our very young reserve side should make every Chelsea fan proud.
Blackpool had their own problems with Matt Gilks limping out of his first game back from injury after another five minutes so the Seasiders had to replace their goalkeeper.
Adam Phillip equalised after Billy Clifford cut the ball back to him in the box. 1-1.
Milan Lalkovic then set Fabio on his way for an assured finish. 2-1. Chelsea looked like scoring from every attack but the third had to wait for the half hour when Lalkovic’s cross was met with a perfect diving header into his own net, step forward Chris Basham. 3-1.
A quick goal back at the start of the second-half might have raised hopes for the visitors (3-2) but Milan Lalkovic had other ideas and slalomed through half their team to make it 4-2.
Adam Phillip broke away to extend the lead after more good work from Lalkovic. 5-2. A length of the field move then saw Borini feed Adam Phillip who rounded the ’keeper for 6-2.
Todd Kane completed their misery with another skip round the ’keeper for 7-2.
Just imagine the replacement ‘keeper, Elliot Tarney, must have thought his luck was in coming on 0-1up and against ten-men.
Tuesday 15 March
Connor Clifford has extended his loan at Notts County until the end of the season. So far he has made six appearances in the Magpies’ struggle against relegation back to the basement.
Curious rumours are coming out of the England camp that suggest John Terry might be given the armband back on a permanent basis. After the shoddy way he was stripped of the captaincy last year and the abrupt slap down he received in the summer the move comes as a surprise.
Alex has returned from Brazil and was out training with the team today. Carlo didn’t think he would be ready for tomorrow but hinted that he might play against Man City.
Wednesday 16 March
Chelsea 0:0 Copenhagen
Well, we cruise through again, Copenhagen proved very limited opposition, full of energy and passing but devoid of threat. The bad news is that, after a weekend off the 4-4-2 doesn’t look much better than it did last week.
Torres was ‘rested’ for this tie with Drogba eager to prove a point it looked as if we’d storm into the semi-finals. Sadly nothing quiet gelled and 27 chances couldn’t yield a goal.
We started brightly enough with Cole given freedom down the left to pick out Lampard’s run but the ball skewed wide, before he snuck behind their defence only to find the side netting when a square-ball would have given us the lead.
The away fans were in fine voice, although ‘can you hear the Chelsea sing …’ was a little bit cheeky. Zhirkov managed to welly wide when found by Cole after the best move of the half before one of theirs tripped himself just outside the box and N’Doye slapped it against an upright with Cech moving the wrong way.
FCK’s shirts remind most of a bunch of pink highlighter pens fresh out of the cupboard while the goalie looks like an orange one that was lost behind the photocopier for six months.
Early in the second-half Anelka is clean through but wants a touch and a defender slides in to block then from the corner the ball pings around until Obi John of all people headed onto the bar.
Torres appeared after 70 minutes and almost made an immediate impact as he cut inside to shoot but the ’keeper was equal to it despite a slight deflection.
From then on things tapered off as the visitor’s realised they were out and we fumbled around truing to create openings. The Danes were disappointing, they were good enough to hold Barcelona but needing goals tonight they simply didn’t threaten. Chelsea’s system created chances but not goals but the worrying thing is that the midfield four couldn’t keep possession well enough against limited opposition. Manchester City on Sunday suddenly looks a difficult game.
Thursday 17 March
Fabio Borini will play out the season with Brendand Rodgers at Swansea City. The prolific Italian striker has recovered from shoulder surgery this season is a great prospect and will fit in well with Rodgers and his old teammate Scott Sinclair.
Man City, Liverpool and Rangers all left the Europa League on the same night. What will ITV 4 and Channel Five do on a cold Thursday nights from now on?
Friday 18 March
Another glamorous European night played here in blighty. This time the square heads at Uefa handed us Manchester United as the premier European competition will be played out in Salford. Uefa must think we are mugs; we have played English opposition in every season we have progressed this far since Abramovich arrived. The witless bureaucrats seem particularly determined to avoid an all English or all Spanish final; while Spurs have drawn Real Madrid the winners of that tie will play Barcelona in the semi-final.
The up side of our pairing with the tiresome hoard from the home counties is that we’ll play Internazionale or Shalke 04 in the semis if we beat them.
Dates for ties are at home on Wednesday 6 April and away on Tuesday 12 April.
Saturday 19 March
Chelsea youth 3:1 Milton Keynes youth
Bright and breezy youth team performance with an early 25-yard screamer from Danny Stenning in the first-half. Lewis Baker restored the lead after the break and Walter Figueira completed the scoring with a header. There could have been more but Dermot Drummy was content with the performance of another very young academy side.
John Terry has been confirmed as the permanent England captain after a week of damaging rumour and unnecessary confusion. Capello really is the worst of all possible worlds – first he strips his captain over stories that turn out to be untrue, then he installs a new captain who turns out to be an injury black spot, then he sacks his new captain by dropping hints to the media over the course of a week that he will but fails to tell him to his face or even call him. Engalnd have now lost two players over this farce, first Wayne Bridge chose to believe the News of the World over his ex and his best mate and now Capello has frozen out Rio Ferdinand. This from the manager who took Emile Heskey to South Africa and thought a rigid 4-4-2 would be enough to beat the world’s best.
Fabio Borini had a quiet start to his loan at Swansea, only scoring the two goals and linking well with Scott Sinclair in the Swans 3-2 home win over Nottingham Forest.
Arsenal were held again, this time by West Brom, but United fluked a win over Bolton with ten men.
Sunday 20 March
Chelsea 2:0 Manchester City
David Luiz, perseverance, hard work, and a spineless opponent give us a deserved victory that keeps the top of the table in view. The team sheet puzzled many, with Kalou and Torres up top, but City’s landed with a bomb: Carlos Tévez was missing. Not as in being hunted by Scotland Yard missing, more absent with a groin problem. Dzeko played on his own up front.
They started like a train, passing slickly, pressing and bringing the first shot in anger as the lumbering Yaya Toure turned like a ballerina and blasted a shot that Cech parried wide.
And that was it. That was all Manchester City came with, just that one shot. Terry and Luiz worked extremely hard and the pressing game with four in the middle looked to have worked out on the training ground but City with a £gazillion line up showed no ambition at all.
Instead it was up to us to open up a packed defence, often eight or nine men deep. Salomon Kalou made the most of a rare start worked his way into the box with his usual quick feet and always found a City leg or shoulder barge deprive him of the chance. The one time he did break free he ran into Ramires who was hunting the same ball.
In one glorious moment Kalou flicked the ball away from his marker, kept his feet on half-way and fed Torres but Kompany was closing down and you know the rest.
It wasn’t until just before the break that we actually tested Joe Hart. Malouda, having a subdued and ineffective day, actually got a cross in and Kalou controlled and turned but flopped the ball straight at the ’keeper.
To sum up the first=half: we are becoming Arsenal – plenty of possession but wedded to an obsessive desire to attack straight down the middle of the pitch. No wonder Torres is not scoring.
The second-half started much as the first ended, Chelsea attacking and City happy to defend. John Terry tangled with Dzeko and his knee got caught but being a man of steel he is up and running again within a minute.
Ivanovic was gifted a free header on the hour but the ball smacked into Vincent Kompany and looped out for a corner. After a couple of substitutions brought Anelka and Drogba into the fray we find Mr Luiz up on the right-wing, where else, and he is tripped for a free-kick, taken by Drogba straight onto the Brazilian’s head and into he corner. 1-0. The explosion of relief around the ground was enormous, this game looked nil-nil all afternoon.
City suddenly decided that attack was necessary and brought on Balotelli and Adam Johnson but their efforts were predictable and easily defended. That was until Ramires picked up the ball glided past two defenders into he box where he waited for Hart to commit and slammed the ball into the roof of the net. 2-0. Thank you very much.
The result lifts us into third and to within four points of Arsenal in second. We still need the two above us to slip but the title isn’t gone yet.
In the morning charmless chief executive Ron Gourlay stuck his size nines firmly in his gob by saying that whatever happened Carlo Ancelotti’s future will be decided in May. In a radio interview he actually gave the impression that he would take some small part in the decision rather than just doing what he is told.