Monday 16 August
Nicolas Anelka is among the French players called in by their federation, to explain this summer’s behaviour. The naughty boys line up for their telling off tomorrow.
Ramires will wear the number seven on his back. The shirt has had many notable occupants over the years but has been vacant since Andriy Shevchenko left.
Tuesday 17 August
Fédération Française de Football has banned Anelka for 18 games for his part in the summer’s madness. Other players got off with shorter bans including five for Patrice Evra.
Mesut Özil has signed for Real Madrid, as if they didn’t already have a glut of midfielders. Chelsea’s status in Europe is still below the Spanish giants and the situation will not change until we win a European Cup.
Wednesday 18 August
Chelsea reserves 1:3 Blackburn Rovers reserves
Another reverse for the reserves but at least Franco Di Santo scored a goal to give him some confidence back. He picked up the ball on the edge of the box and went on a mazy dribble around defenders before poking in. We could have got more from the game, hitting the woodwork four times, but with Jason Roberts up front this Blackburn side had too much for us.
Nicolas Anelka has expressed his contempt for the French Federation and the 18-game ban he was handed yesterday. Speaking of the decision at a tribunal he chose not to attend he said: “This whole thing is a nonsense, to turn the page because Laurent Blanc needs to be able to work in peace.” He considers his international career over in any case and the decision was: “For me, this whole thing with the commission is an aberration, a masquerade to make sure they don’t lose face … They have punished a void, as Nicolas Anelka never existed in this pitiful and colourful affair. I repeat: the page with les Bleus was turned on 19 June when I was evicted from Knysna.”
Nicolas is right to an extent; the FFF was clearly stung by the events of the summer and unwilling to admit that the fault was theirs by not replacing an incompetent and clearly unpopular coach. Expect similar scenes at the FA after the next European Championships.
Thursday 19 August
Joe Cole is obviously trying too hard to impress his new team. Buzzing with energy tonight against Trabzonspor he set up Ryan Babel for the only goal, then he volunteered to take, and miss, a second-half penalty. Nobody can remember Joe ever taking a spot-kick before tonight and he’ll probably be at the back of the queue in future.
Friday 20 August
Sam Hutchinson has retired. It is terribly sad news for Sam who at 21 had a promising future in the game. Jose Mourinho first noted his talent and gave him a debut against Everton as an 18-year-old. Injury has held him back since then but he has managed three other first-team appearances, memorably setting up Frank Lampard against Stoke City last season.
The club clearly still have faith in Sam’s abilities because he will take on a mentoring role with the academy while he studies for his sports science degree and then moves on to take his coaching badges.
Meanwhile, Neymar signed an improved five-year deal with Santos. It looks like we had a near thing, as he is clearly a god botherer: “it was a complicated decision, very difficult. But God gave us the wisdom and power to make the best decision.” Ahem, given the odds against a Bronze Age superstition turning out to be true, what makes Brazilian footballers think the supreme creator of the universe, in fact the being who fixed the flat earth at the centre of the universe and ordered everything to revolve around it, this being of immense power has so much spare time he can intervene for the best with their contract negotiations.
Crystal Palace have given a contract to a gifted up-and-coming youngster called Edgar Davids.
Saturday 21 August
Wigan Athletic 0:6 Chelsea
There is a pleasing symmetry to this season’s arithmetic already, six last week and six this leaving us plus six on the field.
For the second weekend in a row the dominant scoreline does not tell the story of the game: Wigan were by far the better unit in the opening half hour as we floundered. Again Chelsea’s passing was slow and our approach play dithering as Wigan got men behind the ball and found our attacks easy to break up.
They certainly passed better than us but they rarely threatened. Ivanovic for Ferreira was the only change from last Saturday and the big Serb, so influential at right-back last season, had a rusty start giving away possession that resulted in a Figueroa shot, palmed away by Cech.
Rodallega then had a shot straight at Cech that resulted from a poor clearing header from John Terry.
The lack of cohesion lasted until our first meaningful attack just after the half hour when a flowing move, involving Essien and Drogba supplied Ashley Cole, who found Lampard in the box, his shot was parried but Malouda steamed into the box to clip the ball back into the net. 0-1.
There followed an interesting clash between JT and Charles N’Zogbia, Terry steamed in to break up a potential attack and as N’Zogbia followed through he appeared to plant his studs in John’s chest. The referee didn’t see the incident and JT didn’t make too much of it until later.
Just after half-time the flood gates opened, this time it all stemmed from a delightful ball from Obi John, who is probably feeling the pressure of a new defensive midfield signing, his fifty yard pass fed Anelka in to flash a shot from wide right of the box and inside the far stick. 0-2. Mikel picked up the acclaim from his colleagues for the pass.
The third was offside. Another poor touch from Ivanovic left Cech scrambling to clear but the ball up field found Malouda in space, Drogba knocked back the cross and Anelka, clearly standing behind two defenders and in front of just Kirkland headed in. 0-3.
John Terry was then booked for an innocuous late tackle on McCarthy and as Wigan broke it was McCarthy’s deflected shot that found the back of the net via an offside Boselli, given what had just happened at the other end they could feel hard done by.
The match went off the boil for twenty minutes after that, we probed but didn’t seem to have the appetite for another thrashing.
In fact JT seemed to have an appetite for revenge, as his first thudding tackle on N’Zogbia was followed by a niggly little trip. The referee didn’t see it.
Something woke Chelsea up, something as tame as Lampard cutting out a pass in midfield and passing to Drogba who slipped his marker and took the direct route to goal, as the defenders closed he slipped a sideways pass to Kalou and we had four. 0-4. Salomon cleaned Didier’s boot, as a mark of respect, in celebration.
Didier was just warming to his theme, Cole laid the ball back to him wide left and he ran around it to beat the defender and crossed for Kalou to glance a header inside the far post. 0-5.
That goal was on 90-minutes but there was still time for the substitutes to link for another. Drogba, who else, fired an immense cross-field ball to Anelka who fed Ferreira on the over-lap, he pulled back for Benayoun to slot his first in blue. 0-6.
While we should not get carried away, both these results have come while the side feels its way back to fitness and cohesion after a tiring summer. Half the squad look short of match sharpness and we have been extremely fortunate to come up against flaky opposition in our first two games. Stoke City will be more of a handful and will punish a sloppy opening if we offer them the chance.
Special mention has to go to the man-of-the-match, Didier Drogba, he was immense this afternoon and while he didn’t score he was our best defender, best midfielder, best winger and best creator. If Real Madrid want him the price should be £250m and half their first-team squad.
Carlo is clearly not getting carried away, if he seemed a little confused by Wigan’s tactics: “at three-nil down Wigan kept trying to win the game” said the bemused Italian. “It is impossible to think we are always going to score six goals in a game, this is not real football, this is PlayStation,” he added. Quite so.
Arsenal matched our six with the same score at home to ten-man Blackpool, to sit second in the table. Manchester United will have beat Fulham by nine to take the lead.
Chelsea youth 2:3 Manchester United youth
The academy side this year is much changed from the FA Youth Cup winning side of the last campaign. Much of that squad is over age now and replacements have come up from the scholars and schoolboys. So don’t expect instant miracles.
Today saw a youthful Chelsea side, they looked like midgets compared with United’s boys, get the better of an, often scruffy, first-half to forge a 2-0 lead. Milan Lalkovic and Philipp Prosenik grabbing the goals, in font of a healthy crowd.
We let them back in before the break and they found defensive slips presented first an equaliser and a late winner to take the spoils. But, as always, these games are not about results but player development and a young Chelsea side bossed most of this match. Joining the ranks of almost unpronounceable Chelsea youngsters is Boumesca Tue Na Bangna. It helps if you try an Italian accent.
Sunday 22 August
Interesting wind down in the pub saw first 6-0 become the scoreline of choice this weekend when Newcastle whopped Villa and the a fascinating match at the Cottage where Manchester United and Fulham were tied at one all in the 87th minute when everything happened at once. First United went ahead when the ball bobbled in from Hangeland’s shin. They were then gifted a ‘United’ penalty as the ball cannoned up off Duff’s knee and clipped his arm. They fluffed it by letting Nani, a man who still thinks he is Ronaldo, take the kick. Stockdale save the effort comfortably.
Hangeland was clearly the most determined man on the park as he headed in a late corner for 2-2.
The result leaves Chelsea two-points clear of the pack after two games.