Monday 23 December
Arsenal 0:0 Chelsea
To think some people had Sky installed especially for this … Mourinho got the boring nil all he came for and just like at Old Trafford may regret he didn’t push for a little bit more.
The team sheet looked a 4-3-3 but as play developed it was clearly 4-5-1 as Torres played up on his own and barely touched the ball. Willian and Hazard were supposed to support but neither looked in touch or form so Frank Lampard formed the bridge on his own – nearly scoring our only decent chance as Hazard chipped over the defence but the shot rebounded from the bar with their ’keeper beaten.
Arsenal flashed a shot wide with ten-minutes to go and that was that. Neither goalkeeper needed gloves except, perhaps, against the cold.
Mata sat frustrated on the bench watching the side he has regularly tormented earn a draw.
On the bright side Obi John played Ozil off the park, Gary Cahill and John Terry were dominant and so for a side that has looked ropey to say the least away from home from set pieces we can call tonight a huge improvement.
Wednesday 25 December
Yuletide greeting to all of you from everyone here.
Thursday 26 December
Chelsea 1:0 Swansea City
With all the feasting out of the way it is time again for sport and a, erm, well professional performance. On the day when the whole of the league played it was vital to get a win to keep in touch and win we did.
It was a rum afternoon with everyone looking a bit worse for the seasonal roast beast and stuffing the Bridge was unusually quiet but appreciative of the early invention and craft shown by Mata, Hazard and Oscar. They zipped around with menace and after Eden cut inside and lashed one of his shots across the ’keeper and in, possibly via a deflection the floodgates threatened to open. 1-0.
That they didn’t was a product of Samuel Eto’o’s wayward finishing and a complete lack of threat from South Wales. Honestly, they played as if they’d come for the exercise.
We started the second-half with a blitz as David Luiz punted long for Mata to scamper onto and the Spaniard’s cross was thumped goalward by Eto’o but found the Swans goalkeeper in good form. It was the best of a scratchy number of half chances. So the game passed into a comma and only flickered toward life when Frank came on with a hint of forward drive.
The three points lands us in third with Liverpool to come on Sunday. The Reds lost to Man City who rarely looked troubled while Arsenal hit the top again with a late win at West Ham. For statistics freaks the afternoon saw the bottom three all win away from home.
Sunday 29 December
Chelsea 2:1 Liverpool
This was a masterful display and a victory for those of us who have advocated Luiz in midfield. Jose made the bold and surprising move to put David Luiz in the holding role alongside Frank Lampard to cut out supply to Luis Suarez and it worked like a charm.
The afternoon did not start well with Eto’o cropping up with a forward’s challenge after just two-minutes. Many said it could have been straight red but they have not been watching much since Kevin Friend sent Wes Brown off for a clean tackle. The referees decided then the rules had changed.
We were punished from the free-kick as Suarez got goal-side of Ivanovic. With the defence static Martin Skrtel nipped the ball in. 0-1.
It was a shock to the crowd but the team seemed unaffected. Lampard found Eden Hazard whose low fizzed shot almost rebounded in from Skrtel but Glen Johnson cleared off the line. Frank took charge; first clearing up a dangerous cross at one end before curling in a free-kick at the other – Cahill headed wide.
Lucas got away with tripping Hazard in the box and for a while it appeared as if the ball refused to go in as Frank thwacked one for the top corner only for Mignolet to stick up a paw and deflect for a corner.
We were dominant but still behind. Liverpool could not get out of their own half.
Suddenly Oscar opened them up running at their exposed defence from a Hazard pass, a defender blocked but the ball fell back to Hazard who curled the ball in with a first time volley. 1-1.
Liverpool then suddenly remembered to play but Cahill was quick enough to turn the ball behind off the toe of Jordan Henderson and the danger passed.
The next action was decisive, Oscar wriggled free to turn Azpilicueta’s ball into the path of Samuel Eto’o his shot was just too strong for the wrong footed goalkeeper and we had a lead. 2-1.
Petr Cech did have to save a shot from Joe Allen but as Suarez clumsily let the rebound out for a goal-kick any danger from Liverpool drifted away for the half.
Obi John appeared for the second-half as Frank had a thigh problem. Most of our forward momentum went to the bench with him.
We relied on breaking through Liverpool’s midfield and almost increased our lead when Eto’o was released by Luiz but Mignolet saved.
Suarez had a volley from the edge of the area comfortably saved but Liverpool found a strong defensive side in control and apart from a wobbly save from a Glen Johnson shot and a couple of weak penalty appeals we never looked in danger.
Fernando Torres came on and wriggled past several half challenges but placed his shot too close to Mignolet and that was that.
We moved up behind Man City and Arsenal who both had streaky 1-0 wins and Liverpool fall from top at Christmas to not even top four. They have played seven of the top eight away from home so far but then we’ve played five of them away