Tuesday 18 September
John Terry is expected to play tomorrow night and Juan Mata is available. Juventus, for their part, have no injury concerns and can bring the side that won at the weekend.
Roberto Di Matteo gave the most long winded press conference in living memory as an interpreter repeated each of his replies in Italian. Imagine having someone on hand to translate all your school French or holiday Spanish back into English as you have to listen, probably just in your underwear and you’ll get the picture.
In the Champions League Real Madrid and Manchester City were expected to lay on a feast but if you were lucky enough to tune in for the last six minutes you got to see a game lurch from a dull 1-1 to a thrilling 3-2. Arsenal got away with a win in Montpellier.
Nat Chalobah made his debut on loan at Watford and was brought down for what looked a penalty but the ref waved away shouts as Gus Poyet’s Brighton and Hove etc held on for a 0-1 fourth win on the spin.
Down a division and Rohan Ince started his first game for Yeovil and Archange Nkumu made a late debut.
Connor Clifford is back from Portsmouth and Sam Walker has returned early from Bristol Rovers after their disastrous start to the season. Sam was not really at fault but carries the can for their defence.
Wednesday 19 September
Chelsea 2:2 Juventus
Ah, so near, so why don’t they close down and defend a bit quicker. Oscar shot us into a 2-0 lead in the first-half after one deflected shot he followed up with a sumptuous volley but we were not on our game at the back.
The night started with the trophy making an appearance on the pitch as we heard Zadok the Priest for the first time since 19.05.2012. The place was buzzing but we’d been warned that Juventus have not been beaten for 42 matches and we are a team in transition.
Both sides started on the front foot looking for openings that were not there and there were really no clear chances in the opening half-hour.
They had just blasted their clearest chance wide when Hazard cut in and fed Oscar who let fly from all of thirty meters. The ball looped up off Bonucci and beat the dive of Buffon. 1-0.
Oscar arrived somewhat under he radar after Hazard’s noisier arrival but announced himself with deadly intent two minutes later when Ashley Cole fed him the ball with a kind of “go on then, do that again”-ness about it and the young Brazilian did. He turned past two defenders and curled an effort into the top-right from twenty-yards. 2-0.
The buzz around the ground from those two strikes kind of made up for the pitiful number of chances we’d actually created.
There was disappointment too when we fell asleep and allowed Vidal a clear shot. 2-1.
The second period stated as the first had with the impressive Ramires just failing to head a Hazard cross. Then the little Belgian beat Barzagli into the box and was first pushed and then tripped but no penalty was awarded. Just like at the weekend really – referees think he gets too many penalties but he is tripped in the box every time, it isn’t his fault.
The game started to stagnate as the Italians had more of the ball but couldn’t penetrate until we’d taken off Ramires and Oscar had to leave the field with a slight knock and to a thunderous reception. After those two went we were neither solid or adventurous and the equaliser was a matter of time – Obi John sloppied the ball out to one of theirs and JT decided to play offside after the ball had been played, the finish was through Petr Cech’s legs. 2-2. Poor all round.
We could and should have won this one – a penalty to make it 3-1 would have helped – but the emergence of a talent like Oscar might just be worth the dropped points.
Elsewhere, Shakhtar beat Nordsjaelland 2-0 to go top of our group. Manchester United stumbled home 1-0 at home to Galatasaray and Barcelona needed two late goals to beat Spartak Moscow.
Thursday 20 September
John Obi Mikel has been forced to take down his twitter page because of racist remarks on it. It is not enough to simply condemn the idiots who would racially abuse one of their own players – after what has happened with a combination of John Terry and the Hillsborough report you’d have thought football fans around here would have grown up a bit and realised that there are more important things than results and the odd misplaced pass. We are assuming that the idiots involved didn’t abuse JT for his mistakes just picked on Mikel because of the colour of his skin.
Saturday 22 September
Chelsea 1:0 Stoke City
The relief at the end was palpable with our main rivals playing each other this weekend we needed a win to keep ourselves ahead and to take advantage of any slip-ups from those around us. That it was Ashley Cole on the end of a flick from Mata that wrong footed the defenders was the biggest jaw dropper of the weekend. My son hadn’t started school the last time he scored.
We lined up with Oscar retaining his place from the frenzy of Wednesday night and with John Terry and Frank Lampard both on the bench. Somehow this didn’t feel like a mistake as it had when Villas-Boas held them back a year ago.
We started brightly with Mata back pulling strings and tika-taka meaning Stoke couldn’t get possession. But there are flaws to the system that led to team battering their way through the middle time and again without seeking or finding any width. We looked a work in progress as passes went astray and possession was lost.
The one time it all clicked Mata dinked pass cut out the Stoke defence only for Torres to forget his lines: “Didier Drogba, he’d of scored that” makes such a change from a waste of money.
Stoke should have scored as well, Jonathan Walters thumped the bar with a header as the Terry free defence left two unmarked at a free-kick.
We improved after the break. The referee had been told to look the other way if we appealed for a penalty and even booked Oscar for simulation but the Brazilian kid picked himself up and hit the two best chances a little to close to Begovic.
It looked like another two points dropped before Ashley Cole strode forward fed the substitute Lampard and continued his run to dink Mata’s flick over Begovic like a natural. 1-0.
David Luiz signed a new five-year deal with us on Saturday before getting away with a savage looking tackle that brought only a yellow card.
Chelsea U18 3:1 Crystal Palace U18
The academy team is flourishing in the new league with four wins form four although we are not sure which bright spark decided to play all six home games in a row followed by all six away trips.
Goals today from John Swift, Jesse Starkey and Reece Mitchell sewed things up before a late consolation for the visitors.
On loan striker Romelu Lukaku scored again for West Bromwich Albion as Steve Clarke’s side beat Reading. It was the Belgian’s first start after impressing from the bench and his contribution help the Baggies up to third. Nathaniel Chalobah having impressed in his cameo earlier in the week started for Watford today and could have scored. Watford fans have reacted positively to the 17-year-old’s contribution as a defensive midfielder.
Sunday 23 September
“Representing and captaining my country is what I dreamed of as a boy and it has been a truly great honour. I have always given my all and it breaks my heart to make this decision.”
John Terry has been hounded out of the England team. He announced his international retirement tonight and made it clear that he expects to be found guilty by the FA’s independent panel tomorrow. That the FA pursued him to this extent suggests they have no other idea about actually tackling racism settling instead for rigging up scapegoats.
The decision to hound Terry for an incident he explained at the time and has been found not guilty of in court has cost the FA an England manager in Fabio Capello and the best defender they’ve had in a generation.
Roy Hodgson recently made it clear that he backed Terry and the Chelsea captain called him in advance to tell him of his decision.
The guilty verdict is tomorrow.
On the pitch: in the week Liverpool fans were exonerated, Manchester United get away with it. Here they were presented with ten-men to play as Jonjo Shelvey was carded in an incident where both players went into the tackle two footed and off the floor. Van Persie who scored the winner from the penalty spot after Antonio Valencia fell over a gust of wind was later only given yellow for his own ugly lunge.
Manchester City could only draw with Arsenal at home as the visitors looked the better side.