That was the week that was …
Tuesday 31 January
Liverpool 1:1 Chelsea
A missed opportunity as Arsenal were losing to Watford and Tottenham could only manage a draw at bottom club Sunderland Diego Costa had a spot-kick chance to launch us eleven points clear but Mignolet produced a save. Usually missing a penalty for all the points would feel like a disappointment but the other results actually left us further clear at top. Will Diego’s missed pen, affect Chelsea’s title winning odds? Why not place a bet through ComeOn! and get a decent £20 bonus? Liverpool were lucky to get a point from this as they failed to really trouble our defence but they’ll bemoan our opener as Mignolet appeared to forget to pay attention while organising his wall. The ref blew his whistle and David Luiz was quickest to react, lashing in his free-kick while the Reds defence looked at each other.
Wednesday 1 February
Chelsea U18 4:0 Sheffield Wednesday U18
Chelsea qualified for the FA Youth Cup quarter-final for the eighth year in a row. Ike Ugbo, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi scored the goals on a rainy night in Hampshire.
Middlesbrough or Leicester City in the next round.
Branislav Ivanovic has officially left us for a permanent contract at Zenit St Petersburg. The big Serb has been with us for nearly a decade and has been there when we won two league championships, three FA Cups, a League cup and the cup with the big ears. He also scored the winner as we won the Uefa Cup and he will be missed.
He wrote his name into our history not only with that winner in the Uefa Cup final but, indelibly, by scoring two at Anfield in a European Cup quarter-final.
Oh, and to confound our usual predictions, our FA Cup match at Wolverhampton will be televised in the BT tea-time slot on Saturday 18 February.
Thursday 2 February
Frank Lampard is a player no more. Our record goal scorer has retired after a spell in New York at the age of 38 he is hanging up his boots. Frank’s achievements as a Chelsea player dwarf those of almost any other in our history and we cannot speak highly enough of him as a man and a professional. The word legend truly fits Frank Lampard.
Frank thanked the FA for a chance to pursue his coaching badges but we fear a comfy sofa and a chance to chin wag with Gary Neville beckons. At least there would finally be a Chelsea perspective in Sky’s presentation.
Ghana lost their semi-final tonight 2-0 to Cameroon and will limp into a third place play-off match. Cameroon will play Egypt and Mo Salah in the final.
Miro Muheim, the 18-year-old, development squad striker is on loan back in his home country as he joins FC Zurich in Switzerland.
Saturday 4 February
Chelsea 3:1 Arsenal
Comprehensive demolitions of local rivals are rarely as sweet as this as we blew Arsenal away. Marcos Alonso, Eden Hazard and a late present from Petr Cech to Cesc Fabregas summed up a totally dominant afternoon.
Their late consolation goal was a rare mistake by our hard working defence. And it was a consolation. You could see it on their faces at the end as they held up banners reading “Time to Go” with consoled expressions on their faces. They all looked consoled, warmed by the memory of that late strike as they slouched back to the tube and a journey home made all that little bit more bearable by Olivier Giroud’s poacher’s strike.
Eden Hazard, and those who saw it, will long remember his goal. He carried the ball from half way, shrugged off tackles and fouls, danced into the box and chipped in his finish. It was a class above anything else on show and will be goal of the season unless something astonishing happens.
Reading U18 0:2 Chelsea U18
Quietly building momentum, the academy side gained and eight point lead at the top of their section with three matches to go. Goals from George McEachran and Callum Hudson-Odoi ensured a 15-match unbeaten run continued.
We can win the southern section next week away at Leicester.
Bertrand Traore and Burkina Faso managed a third place finish in the Africa Cup of Nations tonight as they beat Ghana by the only goal.
Sunday 5 February
Chelsea U23 2:0 Reading U23
An own-goal gave us the lead and Ike Ugbo secured the win as the U23s maintain fourth place. Too many draws this term have dented out chances of glory but there are a lot of matches still to be played.
Cameroon won the Africa Cup of Nations with a late Gazza style goal that raised a few smiles.