Monday 5 September
David Luiz’s watched from the bench as Brazil and Ghana threw a party at Craven Cottage, this was a friendly opportunity for everyone to show off and try their full repertoire of tricks and they did to the whooping delight of a packed house.
Tuesday 6 September
England 1:0 Wales
It is something of a surprise but this stumbling performance has put England on the verge of a trip to Poland and the Ukraine. We will get rolled up and shat out the other end if we play like this next summer. England were reduced to clinging on against a limited but ambitious Wales; Robert Ernshaw should have scored an equaliser for lork’s sake.
Frank Lampard was returned to the starting eleven and played like a man who doesn’t want to warm the bench but the game was slow and predictable with Wales content sitting behind the ball waiting for Gareth Bale to save them, while England struggled to break them down.
Juan Mata got 90-minutes as Spain brushed aside Liechtenstein. Fernando Torres didn’t even make the bench.
Florent Malouda had to watch as France laboured to a draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Branislav Ivanovic played as Serbia beat the Faroe Islands 3-1, and Romelu Lukaku came on as a late sub as Belgium beat the United States of America 1-0. Jurgen Klinsmann is now head coach of the US team. Obi John’s Nigeria were beat 3-1 in a friendly by Argentina, with Messi nicking the ball of Obi John’s toes for their third.
Under the senior squads Oriol Romeu played two games this week for Spain’s U19 both against Georgia. Nat Chalobah stepped up to England U20 to join Aziz Deen-Conteh. Marko Mitrovic made his debut for Sweden’s U19 and scored against Finland.
On the home front, Petr Cech is ready for action after missing only two games with a meniscus tear.
Thursday 8 September
With the international hiatus behind us we can concentrate on proper football. We had convinced ourselves that the Sunderland game was on ESPN but it appears we’re wrong so it off the South Lambeth Road’s excellent Portuguese cafés for brandy and pastel de nata and unashamedly biased commentators.
AVB confirmed a few things in his press conference; that Drogba is out until at least next weekend, that Torres and Lampard are not guaranteed a start and that Cech and David Luiz are ready after early season injury.
Saturday 10 September
Sunderland 1:2 Chelsea
This was as comfortable as away wins get, with Petr Cech back in goal, Raul Meireles and Juan Mata in a fresh midfield and Anelka and Sturridge preferred at the top we dominated. Mata in particular caught the eye with accurate passing and flicks performed at pace. If Chelsea had been a car stuck in second over the course of last season, perhaps Mata is the gear lever… you get the point.
While we are labouring points; Oriol Romeu made a late appearance as if to prove we have a bright future – well, the Carling Cup side is going to take some stopping.
Daniel Sturridge stole the headlines with an impish backheel that trickled and trickled and beat Wes Brown’s attempt to keep it out but the whole team cruised against a very limited bunch of Rokerites.
It almost started badly when a Sunderland free-kick was glanced wide by Nicklas Bendtner. But from the moment Juan Mata’s free-kick came back off the post, Sturridge crossed to Terry, who had two bites of a chance at the far-post finally side-footing in, 0-1, we didn’t look back.
For all the play we enjoyed we only had a couple of Anelka shots to tally before the break. What will have pleased the manager most was the way we swarmed round Sunderland with the ball and won it back time and again. Cech had one solitary shot to save in the opening 45.
The second-half was more of the same until Meireles threaded a ball from his own half to Sturridge running in behind Brown. 0-2.
We didn’t exactly switch off after that goal five minutes into the half but our dominance was such that we didn’t need to bust a gut.
Sunderland stole a goal right at the death when Ji Dong-Won popped up to score but the goal flattered the home side who had few supporters left in the ground to witness it. 1-2.
AVB was positive afterwards, the man seems to have a tiger stuck in his throat every time he speaks you have to dig the words out of the background growl but he seemed to be saying that Torres was being rotated not dropped and that Mata was a great player.
Coventry City youth 3:2 Chelsea youth
No scorers or details, even Coventry’s site said nothing more than that they’d won. Will up date as soon as you tube or the official site allows.