Monday 22 November
Rumours that Carlo Ancelotti was prepared to quit at the weekend have been quashed. Carlo arrived at his press conference ahead of the MSK Zilina game with the words: “Surprise, eh?” and finished by asking if it would be safe for his to by a paper on Tuesday. The story that he called the LMA on Sunday about resigning turned out to be an exaggeration apparently they called him and, although he didn’t say, that was probably about Ray Wilkins.
As always, when talk came round to football, we learned some interesting stuff. Essien has a further problem with his toe and Obi John has an undefined injury that will keep him on the bench. Josh McEachran gets a start in the holding role although Ancelotti hinted that it will be more the architect role Andrea Pirlo filled for his Milan side. It is a great opportunity for the youngster to make his mark and will be watched keenly by everyone frustrated by Obi John’s crab like instincts.
Jeffrey Bruma will also start in place of Alex who will be rested ahead of the weekend’s trip to Newcastle.
Tuesday 23 November
Chelsea 2:1 MSK Zilina
Carlo Ancelotti served up the kids tonight and, after, an up and down evening, we finally clinched the group with five wins out of five.
There were starting places for Turnbull, Bruma, Van Aanholt, McEachran, Sturridge and Kakuta accompanied responsible grown-ups, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Ramires, Malouda and Drogba. There was a shaky start when Zilina, with their creditable noisy fans, looked organised and determined. Playing such a young side also meant a slightly disjointed Chelsea as it seems everyone needs a bit of adjusting especially Sturridge who realised the size of the stage and hogged the ball for large parts of the opening exchanges but without testing the ’keeper.
The visitors attacked with measured ambition until suddenly they’d taken the lead. They simply ran through the middle, Babatounde Bello and Robert Jez combining for the former to flick past the stranded Turnbull. 0-1.
Chelsea gradually upped the tempo but Zilina were well set out and extremely cautious after their goal.
Sturridge finally drew a save from their ’keeper after cutting in but he should have squared to Drogba. Malouda had a blast deflected but only behind for a corner as the home side dominated the ten minutes before the break.
Kalou came on at the start of the second-half and the full-backs played higher up and suddenly they couldn’t get out of gear and we pinned them back into their own penalty box. Allowing Kalou time for a cross and Sturridge to run on to score through the ’keeper’s legs. 1-1.
We continued to dominated but not work the goalkeeper until Didier Drogba ambled up a thrashed a free-kick at the net, It was swerving all over the place so you have to credit their ’keeper for pushing it onto the post. Suddenly Chelsea were wide awake with McEachran at the heart of every move and Van Aanholt prospering down the left, Kalou had provided the impetus and continued his positive runs. The attacks came in waves but they broke on the retreating Slovakians Patrick Van Aanholt obviously got frustrated because he lashed the hardest shot you’ll ever see from the edge of the area and cannoned it off the far post.
Nicolas Anelka replaced Daniel Sturridge to a well-deserved standing ovation and Nic was involved in the build-up to our second. His cross was headed on by Drogba for Malouda to steal the wrong side of the defender as the grown-ups decided to settle things at the death. 2-1. There was time for Jacob Mellis to make his debut, not sure he actually got to touch the ball but perhaps he doesn’t care.
After three league defeats in four Ancelotti sounded particularly positive about this outing. He acknowledged that if we play as we did in the first-half we’ll struggle: “If we play like that, winning the Champions League would be impossible. If we play like we did in the second half, we’ll have a chance.” Amen to that.
Wednesday 24 November
West Ham United reserves 1:2 Chelsea reserves
Freezing night for playing football but a young reserves side hung on after going a goal down after Billy Clifford’s handball and a man down after Jacob Mellis kicked out at an opponent and saw red making a memorable few days for the youngster.
Aziz Deen-Conteh wins the award for best sliding goalline clearance.
Thursday 25 November
Michael Woods has joined Notts County for a month and has been given permission to play in the FA Cup, Paul Ince’s County play Bournemouth on Saturday.
Saturday 27 November
Frank Arnesen has resigned from his post and will leave at the end of the season. Frank was controversially moved from Spurs five years ago has been broadly in charge of youth recruitment and the department for being caught on camera offering massive bun… [tread carefully, Ed] for discussing contracts with a young Middlesbrough midfielder’s agent.
It is not clear whether Frank is sincere when he talks of wanting to move on to other challenges or whether he is jumping off the sinking ship.
Jack Cork had a good afternoon scoring Burnley winner at the death as the home side beat Derby County 2-1. It is the Chelsea loanee’s second goal of this year’s spell.
Sunday 28 November
Newcastle United 1:1 Chelsea
At least this time we managed to equalise the comical early goal but it was a struggle and a game from which Newcastle were lucky to get a point. It leaves us two points behind Manchester United and floundering for form with just four points from the last 15.
The game couldn’t have started more absurdly. Firstly Taylor was allowed a free header and as Cech clawed away that effort, Shola Ameobi smacked the loose ball into the side netting: so, another afternoon of flapping and panic. What followed was almost farcical: Obi John surrendered possession, as his wobbly form continues, then as he tried to atone he stabbed a ball through for Andy Carroll to run onto. Alex beat the Newcastle Striker to the ball but then inexplicably poked the ball past the advancing Cech and Carroll had a tap-in. 0-1. It was worse than the stupid goal at Birmingham and further proof that we need reinforcements with January now only a month away.
The response from Chelsea, as last week, was to attack but for the umpteenth game in a row chances didn’t translate into goal. We had nearly forty minutes of pressing but not creating as a few lame corners appeared to be all we could muster. Didier Drogba managed a decent shpt and Alex had a header cleared off the line. Ashley Cole broke into the box and was felled by Cheik Tiote although Andy Marriner waved play-on. Relief finally came when Kalou danced clear of Newcastle defenders and had his shot kindly deflected beyond Tim Krul. 1-1.
The second-half offered more of the same as we dominated possession but Tim Krul dominated his box. After one Drogba shot the ball bobbled across the box begging to be tapped in and there was nobody there to oblige.
It was as if the relentless pressure at the other end affected Petr Cech in the head as he wandered out of his box on the hour but Ashley Cole was there to head Routledge’s effort off the line.
Malouda emerged as our player of the half but all the breaks came to nothing. Didier Drogba scores a cracking goal on the turn but there is Marriner to ensure we drop points, fecky little ref insists Drogba handled the ball as he brought the ball down. Some one explain to the whistling twit that it has to be deliberate the ball here clearly hit his hand not the other way round. We would point to Manchester City’s goal against us last season when Micah Richards handled a ball straight to Adebayor for their equaliser. In some way these things are supposed to equal out over the course of the season.
Kalou then had a glorious chance but stabbed it wide and all the pressure in the world wouldn’t give us a goal.
Carlo admitted his frustration that in the last five games we have managed just two goals.
The draw for the FA Cup presented us with Roy Keane’s Ipswich Town matches to be played second weekend of the new year. Liverpool play Manchester United in the, completely random, tie of the round.