Tuesday 31 March
Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois both helped Belgium to a nervous 0-1 win against Israel that would have been happier but for Vincent Kompany was sent off for a second yellow card.
England drew one each with Italy but Gary Cahill wasn’t playing. It was the first England team without a Chelsea player in it since, well, we can’t really remember.
Cesc Fábregas will have been proud to captain his country but disappointed by the 2-0 reverse to the Dutch.
Thursday 2 April
Bristol Academy 0:4 Chelsea
The women march on as the excellent Ji Yo-Sun opened proceedings and Gemma Davidson and a brace from Drew Spence completed the scoring.
Saturday 4 April
Chelsea 2:1 Stoke City
We march on but those fans left alive are the stronger for the stress and anxiety around the place. Today it was Charlie Adam who brought out the nerves with a goal in a million but we bounced back.
Stoke are always awkward buggers and proved so again as we dominated possession and territory and they smuggled away all of our best efforts until Fábregas was wiped out of the box on the turn and a minor miracle happened – a penalty was awarded.
Eden Hazard rolled the ball down the middle 1-0.
What followed was astonishing. Hazard was hacked down from behind on the edge of the Stoke box but the ref inexplicably waved play-on, the ball fell to Charlie Adam who blootered the ball 60-metres down field and in. 1-1. Courtois was off his line and struggled back to get a hand to the ball but we will all be watching that again and again over the next few years.
Jose brought on Diego Costa at the start of the second half to unsettle the visitors but all he did was unsettle his hamstring and he limped off looking like he’ll miss most of the end of the season.
It was then good for moral that Loic Remy scored after Willian pounced on a loose throw from the ’keeper and Hazard found the Frenchman in front of the open goal.
We held on with only the one minor scare and climbed seven points clear as City play on Monday Arsenal and Manchester United both climbed above them.
Chelsea U18 1:3 Middlesbrough U18
The play-off picture is looking poor after a third straight defeat for the youngsters. Tammy Abraham’s late penalty couldn’t disguise a tonking. There is work to do for Joe Edwards and his crew.