Monday 21 November
Chelsea reserves 1:1 Swansea City reserves
Lucas Piazon made his debut at this level. Given the passing reputations of both these team you wouldn’t expect a static game but apart from their second-half penalty and Ryan Bertrand’s lever a few minutes later, there really wasn’t much in this match. It could be a symptom of the reserves having a month or so off twice so far this season; it can’t help their rhythm, confidence and preparation.
Jim Lewis died today aged 84. Jim earned a league winners medal with Chelsea in 1955 having signed as an amateur from Walthamstow Avenue three years before. 40 goals in 95 game for Chelsea mark him out as a prolific winger. He remained an amateur throughout his Chelsea career because he earned more than the maximum wage as a salesman.
Tuesday 22 November
Andre Villas-Boas will have to pay £12,000 for voicing his opinion of Chris Foy’s refereeing of our game at QPR. He has requested a written verdict from the independent disciplinary panel so he can decide whether the verdict infringes his freedom of speech, natural justice, or simply common sense.
Nicolas Anelka has been told he can leave the club in January. It might explain why he has featured so little in recent weeks; he didn’t even travel to Germany for tomorrow’s showdown with Leverkusen.
Wednesday 23 November
Bayer Leverkusen 2:1 Chelsea
Another late kick in the teeth – this is starting to become familiar – followed a generally positive display. AVB will come under more pressure and doesn’t really look any closer to solving the conundrum – if you defend a high line you need more cover in front of the defence.
David Luiz retained his place, Bosingwa played left-back (Ryan Bertrand will be delighted) as Ashley Cole is injured but the most significant aspect could be that Meireles came in for Obi Mikel and played a stormer.
For the most part the early exchanges were even; we got a few balls into their box but not bodies. They got to the edge of ours but not into it. David Luiz looked like he was obeying orders to be sensible and apart from a stray pass with his first touch looked solid.
Daniel Sturridge was tearing holes in the Leverkusen left flank almost finding Mata with one through ball and winning plenty of free-kicks as the German defence struggled.
The second-half started with a peach from Didier Drogba: Sturridge, who else, crossed to the Ivorian who held of a challenge and slotted the ball low into the corner. 0-1.
Lampard almost made it two but hit the goalkeeper, as Leverkusen’s response opened up the play. One flick of the outside of Lampard’s boot would have put in Sturridge but Didier was offside as he intercepted it.
Michael Ballack tried an overhead kick on the hour but Cech was equal to it and the follow-up point-lank header.
The tide appeared to be turning for the home side as Sturridge manage a rare shot but Meireles was suddenly working extremely hard to cover for the struggling Luiz. The Brazilian defender had been struggling on since a high boot caught him in the midriff. Alex replaced him on 70 minutes.
Only for an equaliser to appear from nothing; a simple through ball was reversed and headed in by Eren Derdiyok as the defence scampered back but failed to cover.
To prove that we are on a penalty blacklist as Didier Drogba is clearly hacked down under the nose of the officials. Nothing doing. It is getting really absurd that Chelsea players can be tripped, hacked, barged, and pushed we will never get a decision. Meireles was replace by Obi Mikel and we suddenly looked weaker and less effective.
Their winner was entirely predictable. A simple header with Alex floundering as Manuel Friedrich headed in. 2-1.
The defeat increases the pressure and means that barring a miraculous win for Genk in a fortnight means we cannot to the group. As it is we will need either a win or a 0-0 against Valencia just to progress. The chances of a 0-0 – ask a bookie.
Thursday 24 November
The club are actively pursuing the Battersea sight for a possible new stadium. A development company called Almacantar has been appointed to do our bidding on the 18-acre sight. Battersea is owned by Real Estate Opportunities but owes £300m to its creditors, Lloyds and the Irish National Asset Management Agency.
Michael Ballack put in tuppence yesterday after the game. Saying that Chelsea were not as mentally strong as before he said: “I don’t know what is going on in their squad now – I’m not at the training ground every day with them – but I played at Chelsea for four years and I know how quickly it can go. I had a few managers in that short time, and I know it is always difficult for the coach. Villas-Boas is young and has ambitions, and he is a good guy. He had success at his last team, Porto, too. At the moment it is not easy for any of them, but that is not just about the coach. It is about the players, too. They have to get themselves out of this situation.” Amen.
Friday 25 November
A quick word for the six Chelsea U16s who played some part for England as they won the victory shield as usual. Ola Aina, Aaron Hayden, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (captain for two matches), Connor Hunte, Charlie Colkett and striker Alex Kiwomya all played during this year’s tournament, which finished with a 2-4 win against Scotland tonight
Saturday 26 November
Chelsea 3:0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Thank you Wolves: if ever a team needed a comfortable afternoon it is this Chelsea side and from the opening few passes Wolves let us do our thing.
Oriol Romeu came into the side for a first league start and made up a midfield with Meireles and Ramires. The energy and pressing certainly improved from last week but given Wolves’ compliance it is difficult to judge the relative success of Chelsea. Ashley Cole returned to the line-up after recovering from an ankle problem that kept him out of the side that played Leverkusen.
Ramires started things rolling by nicking the ball in midfield breaking and having his shot turned round by Hennessey but from the resulting corner the visitors decided against marking John Terry who headed in 1-0.
The second came on the half hour, when Cole and Meireles combined to find Mata on the left; there was space aplenty all afternoon down the flanks. Mata stayed on his feet through a rough tackle and his cross found Sturridge ghosting into the box to volley home with his usual aplomb. 2-0.
Mata himself made it three before the break; Drogba’s shot was block and he fed Cole and the England left-back found Mata for a simple finish. 3-0.
Half-time Bovril hasn’t tasted so sweet for a few weeks but expectations of a bumper second period were too optimistic. We certainly had chances but Wolves started to come into the match more. Ebanks-Blake was a late first-half sub as Wolves reverted to 4-4-2 and the big lunk was causing problems by distracting the defence. Ward wriggled free to shoot wide six minutes after the break. Hennessey did brilliantly to keep out first Sturridge and then Mata but Cech had to reciprocate as first Matt Jarvis and then Ward threatened.
The clean sheet will have pleased the manager the most while we looked sloppier at the back second-half the nil we started with was still there at the end; a rare bird this term.
A further boost came from John Terry’s fifth booking of the season. He will serve his one-match suspension against Liverpool on Tuesday.
Other results will also have made the manager smile: Arsenal could only draw with Fulham while Newcastle and Manchester United shared a 1-1.
Sunday 27 November
The death of Gary Speed the Welsh manger has taken everyone by surprise. We can’t pretend to have loved the guy as an opponent especially when Leeds were winning the last first division title but as a person and manager he was impressive – turning Wales into a watchable team. For pity sake, if you feel suicidal phone the Samaritans.
Liverpool and Man City drew meaning we are now only ten points off the top of the table, see, there can be reasons for optimism even in the gloom.