Monday 7 April
Chelsea U21 0:1 Liverpool U21
A night of toil and rain seemed to sap the strength of our U21s as Liverpool won by taking their chance when we had all of ours saved. The league is by no means over, we have an excellent chance of fourth at least and a place in the league play-offs.
Jose Mourinho was on form in his press conference. He confirmed that Samuel Eto’o wasn’t 100% but may be risked as we laugh in the face of the pressure. We are expected to go out was his message, so we play with no fear.
If only Chelsea fans were able to watch without fear, laugh as we sing, giggle without nerves. There would be fewer cardiac admissions at Hammersmith on match days.
Fulham booked their place in the FA Youth Cup final for the first time by beating Reading 3-2. A local derby if we get past Arsenal should bump up the crowds at the Cottage – they only had a couple of hundred for their semi.
Gus Poyet is looking back down as Sunderland fell apart at Spurs and now have little to a snow ball’s chance of avoiding the drop.
PS. late congratulations to Leicester City on their promotion back to the Premiership after their result on Friday and the weekend’s other results mean they will go up. We were all in short trousers the last time the Tigers were in the top flight – it was barbecue weather.
Tuesday 8 April
Chelsea 2:0 Paris St Germain
It couldn’t happen twice, could it? Two years ago we needed to overturn a 3-1 away defeat and well, you know… one cannot believe impossible things.
We started as a tangle of nerves – Gary Cahill thwacked though Lavezzi but the Italian was offside so no free-kick or card. We found it hard to settle we gained some possession but little penetration when, suddenly, Eden Hazard had to go off. Schürrle raced on to replace him and our movement up front sprang to life.
Oscar started to make progress down the left, Lampard thrashed the resulting free-kick goalwards and nearly in by a deflection. Salvatore Sirigu, in the Paris goal, was across in a flash.
Our goal when it came was Stoke City all over: Ivanovic’s long throw was touched on by Luiz and turned in by and unmarked Schürrle from eight yards. 1-0.
Paris looked stunned and struggled. From the next free-kick Gary Cahill, uncharacteristically, sliced the ball hopelessly wide.
We were not playing that well but PSG had come to defend their lead and so a kind of stalemate ensued as we created the better openings from the little clear possession we managed.
Half-time was a blessing – for the nerves and for the bladder.
The tension returned instantly the second period started but the side got back into their rhythm. Schürrle, looking to make a name for himself here, thrashed a shot against the bar from Eto’o’s pass, before Oscar wellied a free-kick off the same bit of wood.
Cech had to make him first save on the hour as a mis-hit free-kick looked to be going in. It was the best effort Paris had managed.
Demba Ba replaced Lampard and our football got back to the 19th century – well, you know what we mean.
The much touted Edison Cavani thrashed their best chance a hundred miles over the bar and as final half chances came and went. The ball started to ricochet around the box with Ba and Azpilicueta thrashing it and Demba Ba slid in, scooped, spooned, lofted, lobbed the ball and we swear it was going over, but somehow the net has caught it. 2-0 and proper pandemonium as every voice in west London sounded at once.
Jose Mourinho ran the length of the touchline – not to celebrate but to issue instructions because we’d ended up with three strikers on the pitch and five or six minutes to play. He had to dig on the player pile before unearthing Torres to shout his orders.
Alex menaced forwards to compound our problems and won himself a corner. The ball was cleared but as we filed out the ball was worked back in so quickly we looked lost. It was the best bit of football from the Parisians all night and the shot was low and hard and Cech got it round the post. As the second corner was cleared the whistle left the drained and delighted Stamford Bridge with a party to start.
A new song for Europe: We’ve done it before …
In the night’s other match in Germany Borussia Dortmund beat Real Madrid 2-0 but fell 3-2 on aggregate. They had a half a dozen clear chances to at least force extra-time but fell over their own bootstraps.
Wednesday 9 April
The hat for the semi-finals was completed with Bayern München beating hapless Manchester United and Barcelona, on, no hang on, Atlético Madrid beating Barça. Thibaut Courtois’ side easily dominated a blunt and unimaginative Barcelona. Our big Belgian stopper only had a handful of real saves to make.
The draw is on Friday.
Thursday 10 April
FA Youth Cup semi-final first leg
Chelsea 2:1 Arsenal
A dominant display this wasn’t but we showed enough, on coming back from a goal down, to suggest we might make the final again. Charlie Colkett and Alex Kiwomya provided the goals at a mild and reasonably busy Stamford Bridge.
Jose has been fined £8,000 and warned as to his future conduct by the lickspittle jobsworths at the FA’s panel of independent panel for hanging and lynching.
He is considering an appeal as soon as the self-serving written reasoning is published.
Friday 11 April
Atlético Madrid. Hearts were racing in the build up to the draw as Real’s ticket came out first you could almost hear the Chelsea contingent willing Munich’s out next. When that tie was drawn it could only be a perfect draw if we travel to Madrid in the first leg. Some times there really seems to be a higher football power dealing the cards – probably Fatty Foulke.
The last time we met Atlético we were thrashed hollow in the Uefa Super Cup. Although to be fair, that night we’d turned up for a friendly and they’d come to war.
Thibaut Courtois will be playing after Uefa laid down the law on clubs influencing the selection decisions of their opponents. It would be just the stage for Fernando Torres to repay another chunk of his fee in front of his boyhood club.
Late confirmation: the away leg will be on Tuesday 22 April at the Vincente Calderon with the return the next Wednesday. Our match with Sunderland has been shunted to Saturday 19 April at tea time
Saturday 12 April
Newcastle United U18 3:2 Chelsea U18
With FA Youth Cup semi-final games either side of this match we under eighteen in title only as our U16 team pushed Newcastle all the way the Geordie winner came very late after our equaliser. Goals from Isaac Christie-Davies and Kasey Palmer almost saw the younglings away with a point. We erm, contrived to miss a penalty in there as well but the least said the better.
Ike Ugbo warranted special praise from U16 manager Joe Edwards. Ugbo scored last week and his work and ability at this level – stepping up from U15 – were due praise.
Elsewhere, Arsenal needed extra-time and penalties to beat Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup. Wigan’s journey in the cup recently has been inspirational and it was a sorry way for all their hard work under two managers and two seasons to come to an end.
Sunday 13 April
Swansea City 0:1 Chelsea
Enough is, after all, just enough. After watching the thrilling 3-2 at Anfield which gave us a little breathing space to Manchester City but means we’ll have to win at Liverpool. The Lord Mayor’s show was well and truly over at the Liberty Stadium.
Thank the stars and clumsy Spanish defenders for Chico Flores. The blundering defender stopped Willian in a cynical fashion before upending Andre Schürrle for a second yellow and a bit of breathing space on the quarter-hour. Salah had flashed a decent, well, we say decent he was standing unmarked in front of goal, chance wide before Phil Dowd took an age to decide to book Flores for the second offence.
Strangely the incident seemed to have a bad effect on Andre Schürrle who didn’t look himself before being replaced at half-time. This was a rotated Chelsea after the emotional achievement in mid-week it was always going to take a bit to get going. Oscar and Eto’o on at the interval helped and it was a Barcelona-esque move that opened the scoring, oh hang on, actually Nemanja Matic flung the ball forward for Ba, who out-muscled the defender and powered his shot under the advancing ’keeper. 0-1.
We opened the defence plenty of times after that as Samuel Eto’o went on a crusade of missed chances – ending u with the ’keeper chasing him to edge of the box and him failing to find a colleague in front of the empty net.
Still, enough was enough and we stay in touch at the top with the showdown at Anfield coming after the first leg against Atletico. Our Spanish foe are now three points clear at the top after Barcelona lost away to – TV rental specialist of old – Granada.