Tuesday 21 October
Chelsea 6:0 NK Maribor
The processional nature of this thumping win will have pleased Mourinho the injury to Loic Remy will not have. With Diego Costa sidelined and now Remy out with a groin problem it looks like Didier Drogba will have to serve for the next few matches.
He looked to be getting his sharpness back this evening. Already one up after Loic Remy curled in an effort from John Terry’s defence splitting pass, 1-0, Didier looked to test out his game against the group’s Slovenian whipping boys.
He started with a penalty after a harsh handball decision, 2-0, he said afterwards that his last goal for us had been a penalty and so it was fitting that he get back in the groove with one.
The third came from a move Didier couldn’t have kept up with: from Maribor’s first corner Drogba cleared to Eden Hazard, who scampered off up the pitch with youngsters like Fabregas in support, Eden flipped the ball to the Spaniard who crossed first time to find John Terry had raced the length of the field on 33-year-old pins to tap home. 3-0. The sheer gob-smacking-ness of Terry’s run is only now sinking in.
Eden Hazard has been selfless in allowing Drogba the penalty, he had set up Terry’s strike and spent the second period on the prowl for one himself. He fluffed his lines when collecting a one-two with Drogba and looked to have over elaborated again when not shooting first time when Filipe Luis danced into the box and found him in front of goal. Thankfully his control and shot diverted in off the defender. 4-0.
Maribor had time to miss a penalty of their own when Matic bundled one of them to the ground in his enthusiasm.
But we picked ourselves up and won one of our own, when Ivanovic tumbled from a push in the box. Hazard this time tucked away the chance. 5-0.
Nathan Ake came on and Dominic Solanke joined him to make his senior bow. The whole academy must have been as pleased as, especially as Dominic grew into his short performance and started to look at home.
Not to be outdone Ake provided the pass of the night to free Hazard to twist once and then twice before deciding to thrash a shot in. 6-0.
In there with everything else that happened Oscar looked dangerous and Willian worked like a trooper and had one thunder back off the bar. Kurt Zouma again looked the part in defence and generally everything in the garden was rosy.
Elsewhere, Roberto Di Matteo and Shalke got the world’s most unjust late penalty to beat Sporting 4-3 on a night when most of the matches had at least six or seven goals.
Chelsea U19 2:0 NK Maribor U19
This was harder than you’d expect. Jeremie Boga scored two in the first-half but determined opposition and a blustery wind did not help the spectacle. We remain 100% in the group.
Wednesday 22 October
Today marks the 18th anniversary of Matthew Harding’s death in a helicopter accident. Matthew always brings a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye as his money kick started the era we have all been enjoying. You just have to remember the 18 years before he became involved to contrast the impact he had around the place.
Ron Gourlay is going forward. The club announced that Ron is leaving after ten years – the last five as chief executive. Marina Granovskaia will take his place until a new appointment is made.
Ron was in charge of the club as we won the European Cup but was also at the helm for the stadium farrago. We wish him well with the next step of his career.
Thursday 23 October
Diego Costa has not only got a hamstring problem, he has just been released from hospital following a stomach bug he picked up on international duty. It is a first on us and probably means the langoustine are off the menu during Spain trips from now on.
Friday 24 October
As the clocks go back this weekend and the nights draw in, wind whistles through your bones and your gout starts playing up, spare a thought for the academy coaches who are struggling to run a training camp in, er, Jamaica… buggers and jammy doesn’t really do it justice.
Saturday 25 October
West Ham United finally did us a favour: they hung on to beat Manchester City 2-1 and have given us the chance for a big lead at the top. Southampton are sticking to our heels with another win.
Sunday 26 October
Manchester United 1:1 Chelsea
It feels a bit like a defeat. After weathering the storm of everything United could throw at us it was down to the referee to even things up and make sure we don’t run away with the league before Christmas.
Didier Drogba started as Costa and Remy failed to make the bench and we started well. A flurry of early corners came to naught but the realisation that Phil Dowd was going to give us nothing sank in when first Terry and then Ivanovic where hauled to the ground at a corner. No penalty. It does seem to be becoming a theme.
United managed a couple of half chances, one through ball to Van Persie needed Courtois to smother but they didn’t look like scoring.
The pattern of the first-half seemed to involve them man marking through the middle and hoping for a break.
The break came when Eden Hazard squirreled through the middle played a perfect one-two with Drogba only to find de Gea on top form to save. It didn’t delay the lead long as Drogba – all 36-years-old of him – to power the corner in with his head. 0-1.
Manchester United have been struggling in defence this season and you could see why as Drogba (6ft 2) was marked by Rafael (5ft 8inches) at corners.
We controlled the half from that point on but crucially didn’t go after a second goal. The midfield held the ball turned down four or five chance to break in favour of smothering the game. What worked back in Jose’s first spell didn’t look solid this time as Dowd stepped in. First he booked Ivanovic after awarding a foul against him that didn’t exist. And he topped it off by sending him off for a clearly accidental tangle of legs with Di Maria. It gave United the chance to equalise with the last kick of the game. 1-1.
Phil Dowd is usually a clean ref but given that he booked every Chelsea player who committed a foul, failed to give us a penalty and sent off a player for two utterly absurd yellows, perhaps word has come down from on high that Chelsea find the league too easy this term and referees should ensure the others get a chance to catch up.
Jose didn’t say any of that afterwards he kept his mouth shut but he did mention that we are four points clear at the top and have visited both Manchester clubs.