Tuesday 1 April
The Dutch FA are to investigate our links to Vitesse Arnhem after their former owner suggested that we had discouraged them from winning the Eredivisie and qualifying for the Champions League because of the rules regarding two sides qualifying with the same owners.
Merab Jordania, a former Vitesse shareholder made the comments to De Telegraaf and while we have had players on loan at the Dutch club there has never before been any inference that Abramovich owned the side just that he was friends with Alexander Chigrinsky the current owner.
Chelsea has not commented on the matter publicly but on the eve of our biggest game of the season the timing could not be worse.
And no, it is not, sadly, an international elaborate April Fools joke.
Talking of big games PSG have been claiming we are the overwhelming favourites for the tie despite their spending in recent seasons dwarfing that of the rest of European football.
Gianluca Vialli has been speaking about his love for Chelsea fans. Signed from Juventus in 1996 – yes, that long ago – Vialli managed us in a golden spell at the end of the Bates era and won the League, Cup Winners’ and FA cups as well as leading us to within minutes of the Champions League semi-final before Bernard Lambo … let it go … it was a long time ago …
Congratulations to Cesar Azpilicueta and his partner for bringing a baby daughter into the world on Monday and then travelling to Paris to play on Wednesday.
Wednesday 2 April
Paris St. Germane 3:1 Chelsea
A late strike suddenly turned this into a terrible result. We had settled for a 2-1 defeat and a chance to bring them back to the Bridge when Javier Pastore ran through a lackadaisical defence to, seemingly, put the tie beyond us.
Jose Mourinho took the unusual step of laying into the side for their failings. He criticised our strikers as inadequate by playing Andre Schürrle alone up front. He complained about individual mistakes that led to their goals.
The match started badly as we defended too deep allowing Ezequiel Lavezzi to volley in a John Terry clearing header. 1-0. Yes, him again.
We imposed ourselves on the match from that point on but for all the possession we didn’t trouble the goalkeeper until Oscar was tripped and the ref pointed for a penalty. Hazard tucked away the spot-kick to cement his place as our main taker. 1-1.
The second-half started poorly again as David Luiz gave away a clumsy free-kick and then as the defence panicked he bundled the ball past his own ’keeper. 2-1.
Torres came on but made little difference as suddenly PSG looked to put the tie beyond us. We looked like we’d done our bit and were happy with a one-goal deficit but as the clock ticked down we allowed Pastore to wriggle through a series of half-hearted challenges to beat Cech diving helplessly for a ball he could have kicked away at his near post. 3-1.
Ultimately what will worry Mourinho is our inability to create chances. Time and again in recent away matches we have broken but one of Oscar, Willian, Schürrle, Torres or Hazard has not seen the pass to free a colleague or has been too easily dispossessed.
Can we win the tie? Of course we can but to stop this lot scoring at the Bridge if we play this sloppily will be a challenge. Jose did acknowledge that we have only one option in the return net Tuesday: attack, attack, attack, attack, attack.
Friday 4 April
Stoke City U21 0:3 Chelsea U21
Another dominant performance and clean sheet move us up the table to fourth with two games in hand over leaders Liverpool who we play on Monday.
Andreas Christensen nodded us ahead after five minuets but it took until the hour for our dominance and Alex Kiwomya to extend our lead. Lewis Baker put the seal on the night right at the death.
Marco van Ginkel played 70-minutes on his road to recovery but looked very tired by the end of his stint.
Fernando Torres has a future at Chelsea Jose stressed at is press conference. He has left out Demba Ba, called Samuel Eto’o old and left Torres out for Andre Schürrle on Wednesday. The rumour that Jose is planning a summer sale are getting louder.
Some have been grumbling that our season is effectively over and Adidas seem to agree as they revealed next season’s home kit today. Jumping the gun by six matches and a stirring European comeback Adidas plumped for a forever blue tagline. Whisper it but it actually looks quite good for an Adidas shirt. We await the awful black away shirt with low and lessening enthusiasm.
Saturday 5 April
Chelsea 3:0 Stoke City
Mark Hughes brought his Stoke to the Bridge with a plan but they never troubled the defence and Petr Cech kept his gloves clean on a comfortable afternoon. Eyebrows were raised at the absence of both Oscar and Hazard but resting the pair for midweek proved a stroke of genius.
Having watched Man City gifted a soft penalty for minimal contact and then a clearly offside second against Southampton, unsurprisingly Chris Foy was the joke in charge of that farce, it was a surprise then as Torres was bundled to the floor without a penalty.
We started slowly but as Torres, Ivanovic, Willian and Lampard all had efforts wide or saved the feel grew that rather than be frustrated we’d open the scoring sooner or later. Sooner as it turned out: Nemanja Matic burst into the box on the left and pulled the ball back for Salah to thwack it in off the ’keeper’s gloves. 1-0.
That would have to do at half-time as Ivanovic was adjudged offside when heading in a second.
We stormed the second period but it took Hazard’s appearance as a sub to wake the scoring his backheel to Salah in the box led to a penalty that Frank Lampard took and thankfully converted the rebound as Begovic saved. 2-0.
The third came as everyone was looking a bit tired as Willian stepped sideways to gain half a yard of space and curled a cracker into the top right-hand corner from the edge of the box. 3-0. The whole action looked too lazy to warrant a goal but Willian was a different class this afternoon.
Ashley Cole made a late bow on his return from injury.
Jose Mourinho did not look pleased throughout and is probably waiting until late on Tuesday night to show any emotion.