Tuesday 11 September
England 1:1 Ukraine
Not a bad night for England’s U21 side as they all got a game for the senior team. Old heads Lampard and Gerrard had contrasting evenings as the Chelsea man brought his international tally to 26 equalising from the spot after good work from Sturridge and Bertrand led to a handball in the box – the Liverpool captain showed all his maturity and experience by being, er, sent off.
To be fair the referee from Turkey called almost everything the wrong way all night and neither of Gerrard’s yellow cards actually looked to be an offence.
Branislav Ivanovic kept his scoring momentum going as Serbia knocked six past Wales in Novi Sad. This time he thrashed one in from the edge of the box
The FA will start John Terry’s racism hearing on Monday 24 September after struggling to round up enough kangaroos.
The Czech national side announced that Petr Cech will have elbow surgery next summer. Chelsea asked the Czech’s not to use him in friendlies as they try to manage the condition until then.
Thursday 13 September
QPR and Chelsea are in talks again about the handshakes, as rumours emerge that Ferdinand is threatening not to shake Ashley Cole’s hand as well. It can be frightening how mature grown-ups can be when they get round a table in high level talks.
Friday 14 September
Chelsea U21 1:4 Liverpool U21
Er, what can we say? We looked better in the second-half, er, doesn’t disguise the drubbing handed out by Liverpool at Griffin Park. Patrick Bamford got us back to 1-2 with only ten minutes left and everyone thought we’d be going for an equaliser – only it didn’t quite work out as planned.
The game was probably most notable for Marko Marin’s first appearance since injury in pre-season. The German wunderkind was replaced at half-time.
Saturday 15 September
Queens Park Rangers 0:0 Chelsea
We leave South Africa Road without a fair game, again. It is almost as if it were our bogey ground.
The pre-match grumbling about the handshakes proved that football is an irretrievable basket case. In a week where the Hillsborough fans were completely exonerated for their behaviour we had to witness one sulky child refuse the hand of two of his colleagues. It was probably worse that QPR’s captain Park Ji-sung also refused their hands. Ashley Cole crime was to stand in court and say the same as Ferdinand – that he hadn’t heard anything.
The football might have been a sideshow but for an incompetent ref – always at Loftus Road – first John Terry collapsed with Ryan Nelson rugby tackling him. Then Shaun Wright-Phillips brought down Eden Hazard from behind in the box for a clearer penalty. The ref, Andre Marriner, was probably on orders that there should be no controversy to keep the headlines free for the handshake deniers.
Torres and Hazard did have clear chances in the first-half but Rangers now have Julio Cesar in goal who pulled off a string of decent saves, including one late to deny Victor Moses a debut goal.
John Terry seemed to feel his knee toward the end but stayed on and there was time for Hazard to blaze over the bar to emphasise the stalemate.
Robert Di Matteo was positive about the chances we’d created and the defensive solidity when Terry and Cole were under such unusual pressure.
At least we don’t have to go there again soon.
Elsewhere, Manchester United fans warmed up for Liverpool with some tasteless songs about victims in beating hapless Wigan but City drew with Stoke. Arsenal look the most fluid of last season’s challengers as they battered Southampton 6-1.
Chelsea U18 2:1 Liverpool U18
At least one Chelsea side won this weekend and the academy side increased their win total to three from three. Second-half goals from Jordan Houghton and Alex Kiwomya sealed the win.