Monday 23 August
Chelsea reserves 1:1 Everton reserves
Fabio Borini gave us the lead as a young blues side dominated Everton before a second-half equaliser undid all the good work. Everton arrived as part of the new reserve format that means the stiffs will play the usual regional league home and away but will also play all the club’s in the northern section either at home or away. It is a shame they didn’t think of a cup competition to add some spice but we’ll give the new system the benefit of the doubt.
Nat Chalobah at 15 did not look out of place in this company as he made a reserve debut as a holding midfielder. His range and accuracy where spot on most of the night in front of a small but lively crowd.
Tuesday 24 August
Nemanja Matić, Slobodan Rajković and young Croat ’keeper Matej Delac will spend the season at Vitesse Arnhem. The Dutch club are now owned by Merab Jordania who is, if you believe all the tattle, a friend of Roman Abramovic. Yes, we know he sounds like the kind of club Fulham would draw in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League
Wenesday 25 August
Spurs will join the Champions’ League party after beating Young Boys in comfortable fashion. Possibly quarter-final opponents and it would be typical of our luck to get a glamorous European tie up the Tottenham High Road.
Thursday 26 August
Group F this year with Olympique de Marseille, Spartak Moscow and the Slovakian champions MSK Zilina. It could be tricky Marseille are old foes and likely to bring a tear to the eye, Moscow holds a special place, albeit a frustrating one, in the club’s heart. Zilina we played right back at the start of Roman rule in a Champions’ League qualifier, there have been plenty of changes at the club since and Slovak football has been strong in the last couple of years.
Easy group draws were, as usual, handed to Manchester United and Arsenal; United will travel to Glasgow for an almighty barney with Rangers; Arsenal got the easiest of the lot with only Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga and Partizan Belgrade to stumble over.
Tottenham will have more fun with Inter, Werder Bremen, FC Twente. Actually Spurs seem to have a group about as easy as Arsenal’s, Twente have sold half the team that won the Dutch league last season, Bremen are strong but nothing to worry about and Inter are now managed by Rafael Benitez.
Michael Mancienne has rejoined Wolves on loan for the season with the withering comment: “It didn’t look like anything was going to happen with Chelsea and I want to play”. And good luck to him. It cannot be long before a permanent deal.
Saturday 28 August
Chelsea 2:0 Stoke City
Hands up everyone who really thought we’d win 6-0. Come on you know you did. If we won every game by the same score we’d amass 228 goals and a perfect 114 points. It is a little much to ask of even this squad.
In fact for long periods Chelsea seemed to be off the pace. Stoke came as a very organised defensive unit strung out across the middle and we kept charging straight into them. The success we had came from moving the ball wide but all too often we battered our heads against the centre and got few rewards.
That said a penalty after just ten minutes could have seen us on the road to another thumping. Only Frank Lampard, off the pace and ineffectual all afternoon, tapped the ball gently into Sorensen’s arms.
With the obvious determination from the Stoke players to avoid a humiliation and the ponderous passing from the home team it took an unusual route for us to break the deadlock. John Terry turned midfield provider when he won the ball on half-way and surged forward. Stoke hadn’t been briefed on what to do if a centre back approached so they backed off and watched as JT fed the ball through to Malouda on one of his diagonal runs and the Frenchman applied the finish. 1-0.
Ashley Cole played a blinder, it was a performance that would not have been flattered if his stunning volley from Drogba’s pass not cannoned back into play from the crossbar.
To go in with a lead was a relief as the Potters had better chances than us in the first 45 and, as the second period wore on, Drogba’s header straight at Sorensen aside, Stoke could sniff an equaliser. They pressed higher up and nearly got their reward when Chelsea’s defence backed off and allowed Glenn Whelan to smack a thirty-yard effort off the crossbar.
The second came after Didier Drogba’s huge up field punt was controlled by Anelka just in time to draw the foul from the goalkeeper. With Lampard off the field it fell to Didier to hit the penalty. 2-0.
And that was that really, Kalou had a late chance but having wriggled through the defence he couldn’t dig it out from under his feet. Our new number 7, Ramires, came on and looked like a pile of bones in a blue paper bag. They will have to work on him in the gym and, in the meantime encourage him not to stand next to Michael Essien or Didier Drogba; or Ashley Cole for that matter. His every touch was neat but what can you judge on half a dozen passes.
Ancelotti revealed that Frank Lampard will have groin surgery this week and will miss the internationals and that John Terry was probably out needing to rest calf and abductor strains. For once it seems the boring international break might work in our favour.
Sheffield Wednesday youth 0:0 Chelsea youth
A hard fought draw for the young Blues side will have pleased Dermot Drummy after shaky results for a very young academy side. We had the odd chance to snatch it as well, but the player building his reputation at the moment is goalkeeper Jamal Blackman.
Nat Chalobah has been away winning caps with England U17 this week.
Sunday 29 August
JT is definitely out of the week’s internationals but we are sure England can cope without him for the group G fixtures with Bulgaria and Switzerland.