Monday 4 October
Arsène Wenger seems to be trapped in a miserable groundhog day. He described Arsenal as having Chelsea on the ropes for long periods of yesterday’s match: “We dominated this game” was his conclusion. He played the same tune last season when they lost to us and when they lost at Old Trafford.
Oddly, everyone else remembers a match during which Arsenal had plenty of the ball but we fashioned the clearer chances.
Last week we missed the reports that Didier Drogba travelled to Paris to attend the naming ceremony of his first semi-professional team, Levallois Sporting Club, the stadium is called, er, Le Stade Didier Drogba. His visit caused pandemonium in the small suburb, when he set up a goal in a small sided game he was swamped in celebration by all the kids from both teams.
The new stadium complex was possible because Levallois picked up a hefty sell-on fee when Chelsea paid £24m to Marseille for Didier’s signature six years ago.
Tuesday 5 October
Alex will miss Brazil’s friendlies against Iran and Ukraine with the thigh problem he picked up blasting in the second on Sunday. He might be out for as many as three weeks.
Meanwhile, Obi John will have the week off after the Nigerian FA was suspended by Fifa after government interference. Don’t ask about the details, they involve the old FA chairman being suspended, new FA members being unable to join the board and the sports ministry trying to start the new domestic season with the clubs that were relegated still in the top flight.
Wednesday 6 October
Yossi Benayoun has an Achilles tendon injury to go with his calf strain and it looks like he will be missing for a few weeks or even months yet.
Thursday 7 October
The Leaders in Football conference is back on at Stamford Bridge. Plenty is going on but it seems to be mostly a finish school for the rival World Cup bids.
Friday 8 October
Friday night is international night however difficult that is to get used to. Yuri Zhirkov was heavily involved in Russia’s 2-3 win in Dublin. 0-3 up a cruising the ref somehow decided Yuri had tripped Robbie Keane but the Irish resurgence stopped at two and Dick Advocaat’s side deservedly took the points.
Petr Cech had a clean sheet as the Czech Republic started their rebuilding by beating Scotland. Scotland made Petr’s life easier by declining to use any strikers. Serbia were well beaten at home by Estonia, Branislav Ivanovic watching three goals go in. The first game in charge for their new coach as well.
Under 21 action at Carrow Road and Ryan Bertrand and Michael Mancienne started with Daniel Sturridge and Jack Cork coming off the bench. Ryan was credited with an own goal in the 2-1 win.
The England U19 team are playing a qualification tournament in Belgium and the started with a 6-1 win over Albania. Josh McEachran, one of four players stepping up an age group, scored the opener.
Saturday 9 October
Chelsea youth 0:3 Arsenal youth
Three good first-half chances from Todd Kane, George Saville and Ismail Seremba were all well saved as Arsenal failed to threaten but he second-half was a different story. Chelsea started with four school boys but after more than holding their own three quick second-half goals undid all the hard work.
Florent Malouda’s France sneaked a couple of late goals to beat Romania 2-0 in Paris.
Sunday 10 October
John Terry appears to be out of England’s midweek match with Macedonia. His recurrent back problem has flared up again and with Alex missing for a few weeks we could see a very young back line against Villa.
England’s U19 side won 4-0 against Cyprus with Aziz Deen-Conteh playing the whole game at left-back.