Monday 27 September
Chelsea reserves 3:1 Liverpool reserves
A confident win for the second string and a good 70-minute run for Jose Bosingwa. The preposterously young Nat Chalobah opened the scoring with a firm header from a corner and only determined scrambling in their goalmouth kept the score down.
Sadly, Milan Lalkovic pulled up with a hamstring tear and had to be replaced.
Fabio Borini scored our second on the break as Liverpool struggled to get any of the ball. Jonjo Shelvey will be convinced he made the right choice in joining Liverpool ahead of other Premiership sides with a more progressive youth strategy.
They pulled one back before the break when Jesus pounced on a poor clearance. We kid not – Jesus Fernandez clearly doesn’t know that Jesus is a goalkeeper’s name (we offer canonical proof from the graffiti that miraculously appeared overnight on Church posters saying “Jesus Saves” – but Peter Osgood nets the rebound. In fact, the over stretched self-proclaimed saviour was being beaten from all angles all over the country because in Leeds it was Billy Bremner celebrating at the messiah’s expense while in Manchester it was George Best).
We played the last twenty minutes with ten-men after substitutions and injuries left us short but we increased our lead through Adam Phillip before hanging on for the win.
Tuesday 28 September
Chelsea 2:0 Olympique de Marseille
A night of joy and frustration as Chelsea rattled off a dominant performance in the first-half only to find Marseille fighting for their lives in the second.
The win puts us back ahead of Spartak Moscow after their earlier 3-0 home win over hapless Zilina gave them six points. A measure of Marseille’s desperation for something out of the game is that they have zero points from two matches and need us to beat Moscow home and away to stand any chance of qualifying.
This game, therefore, had a lively opening as they scampered and harried but our use of the ball was of a different class. The goals were somewhat fortunate. John Terry will swear blind to his dying day that he scores with flicks like that in training all the time, but the static defender on the post helped as JT’ Zola impression gave us the lead from Kakuta’s corner. 1-0.
That was on seven minutes and for a brief while afterwards Malouda seemed to need to remind the watching French public, or at least the very vocal travelling fans, of his pedigree, in one delightful turn he beat one man before shrugging off a second and shooting over. The other senior Frenchman in our forward line, Nicolas Anelka, sprang onto a Kakuta pass but the ’keeper, Mandanda, saved well.
It seems Marseille fans are not fond of former PSG strikers because Nicolas got a roasting for each touch none more so when a penalty was awarded for hand-ball from Essien’s cross and the ref took his time organising the spectacle. To intense hisses and whistles Anelka strode forward and tucked the ball away without so much as a dive from their keeper. Twice in a week he has bamboozled the stopper. 2-0.
Almost immediately we should have had another penalty as Malouda beat two men before being bundled off the ball in the box. The extra official was probably looking the other way.
The urgency from Chelsea dried up after the penalty and Marseille had more possession and territory but rarely threatened.
Many spent half-time phoning bookies about 4-0 but the Chelsea that emerged after the break was dawdling and sloppy and the French champions pressed and harried as they had forgotten to do in the firs-half.
For all the loose play Petr Cech had a quiet evening and when called on did the simple things well. That said it was frustrating to watch the ball handed back so regularly. We had to wait until after the hour for a meaningful chance when a free-kick was awarded nearer half-way than goal and Alex decided a pile driver was the only option. The ball thwacked back off the post and Anelka found himself offside despatching the ball back in.
Essien also hit a post late on from the best passing move of the half and there was time, as Marseille ran out of puff for Obi John to pick up a pointless and petulant booking and Josh McEachran to make it two European appearances.
Wednesday 29 September
Marseille’s security chief Guy Cazadamont was hauled out of the ground last night. His complaint was that the Marseille stewards who travelled with the club were not being allowed to do their job by their local colleagues. He also alleged that travelling fans had banners confiscated and in some cases their tickets.
An official Chelsea spokesman later said: “bof”.
Thursday 30 September
Giuseppe Ancelotti passed away last night with Carlo at his side. Giuseppe was 87 and had been ill for some time, his funeral will be held on Saturday.
Friday 1 October
A statue of Peter Osgood has been unveiled by his wife Lynn today during a ceremony at the Bridge. In attendance was almost everyone you can think of from John Motson to Bobby Tambling, Roy Bentley to Tommy Docherty.
Philip Jackson’s 9ft bronze Peter Osgood in a 60s kit with a ball at his hip is a really good permanent tribute to our great number nine.
Ray Wilkins said he thought Carlo would attend on Sunday despite his bereavement and the funeral on Saturday. There comes a time when a guy needs the day off.
He added that our injured quartet, Lampard, Benayoun, Kalou and Bosingwa are all expected to be fit the other side of the international fortnight.
Saturday 2 October
Ipswich Town youth 0:0 Chelsea youth
The first point for the youth team in three matches suggests improvement and a clean sheet for the academy is an achievement but Ipswich seemed happy to defend and cede possession until Anton Rodgers was sent off for a second yellow and the home side stirred enough to force Blackman to push one effort onto the post.
Sunday 3 October
Chelsea 2:0 Arsenal
Another powerful and controlled Chelsea performance ran a juggernaut through Arsenal’s title ambition. For all the possession Arsenal enjoyed the telling fact is that Petr Cech only had one occasion to muddy his gloves.
The visitors started like a train with Chamakh flashing a header wide before Laurent Koscielny contrived to head over when it looked easier to head in. The big French defender didn’t jump for the ball and appeared to be turning his back on play as the ball ricocheted off his bonce.
It was a breathtaking start as Chelsea broke at the other end, Essien scampered forward, despite a trip, and fed Drogba who played Anelka in first time and ran onto the return on for Sagna to clear. The match was shaping into a classic. When Ramires was hacked down Didier Drogba wellied the free-kick, er, well over. On six minutes, Malouda beat a dozing defender to the ball but the instinctive lob was just over.
It seemed to be Arsenal’s turn as Arshavin was allowed to turn and lash in a shot that Cech had to turn round the post then Nasri dragged a shot wide shortly after.
It was breathtaking stuff,
Essien flicked a header wide before his pass sent Drogba clear of the defence only for his smashed a shot to be battered away from the near post by Fabianski.
Strength drove the next move as Essien and Ramires surged through the middle won tackles and shouldered aside opponents until Didier won a free-kick. The kick was quickly taken and the ball fell to Ramires to feed the rushing Ashley Cole, Drogba retreated to the near post just far enough to meet the driven cross with a pirouette flick of a back heel. Well, it was such a blur it was difficult to describe exactly what happened but that is our best shot off one post, across goal to nestle in the far corner. 1-0. Elvis goal celebrations should be limited to once a season.
Things fizzled toward half-time with just a couple of unpleasant tackles from Malouda, on his mate Sagna and Essien late on Diaby’s ankle and both after the words; “you rarely see a bad tackle from Chelsea these days”, tumbled from your parched lips.
The second period started with a shout for a penalty, well it looked so tame at the time it seemed preposterous that anyone would give it but Cech did seem to bring down Chamakh.
Arsenal actually dominated possession for the first ten-minute spell after the break. But apart from a couple of dangerous crosses and a Wilshire shot just wide they didn’t really threaten our scampering rearguard.
Anelka was then suddenly through with the ’keeper to beat after dithering at the back from Arsenal but he took it wide and couldn’t wrap his foot far enough round the ball to find anything but the side netting.
He almost atoned for the miss by setting up Ashley Cole but the run was adjudged offside but a linesman who seemed to be guessing.
Chamakh had a header wide before Anelka again breaking with menace was brought down twenty-five yards out. As Drogba places the ball everyone assumes he’ll take it but the portable howitzer that is Alex cannoned the ball through the wall and into the top corner with Fabianski flailing. 2-0.
Ashley Cole had a shot beaten away sometime after Essien should have done better with a one-on-one. Alex limped out at the end allowing Drogba a few minutes in one of his other roles at the club, namely our best defender, to add to his titles as best striker, header, crosser, corner taker, midfielder, back-heeler, winger, penalty-taker, left-back, right-back, groundsman and manager.
This has to be the best Arsenal performance of the season by some way and it only increased the pleasure of taking three points from them. It was also one of the best games played at Stamford Bridge it had almost everything.
Yet the best news for Chelsea has to be the performance of Ramires who blossomed this afternoon. Heavily criticised by some after last week’s performance at Man City he had woken up to the demands of the league and looks to be the asset we thought we were getting for our £18m. With Kalou, Bosingwa, Benayoun and Lampard all due back in a fortnight Chelsea look strong for the run up to Christmas. A four-point lead to take into the international wilderness isn’t too shabby either.
Confirmation that Liverpool lost at home to Blackpool came as a surprise to no-man.