Tuesday 1 January
Carlo Cudicini, late of this parish, has swapped the bench at White Hart Lane for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Thing will be different for Carlo from now on. He was widely believed to be the answer to our goalkeeper problem back in 2003 when little he did went wrong but Cech’s arrival effectively ended his Chelsea career overnight and he scuppered his chance at Spurs by riding and crashing a motorbike. The two broken wrists kept him out for nearly a year. We wish him well and hope he doesn’t miss London as he drives the drearily sunny streets of LA and San Francisco.
Wednesday 2 January
Chelsea 0:1 Queens Park Rangers
This one is solely down to the manager. With a tired squad after a host of matches he opted to shuffle his pack to an absurd extent and the experiment blew up in his face. Scratch any suggestion of him being lucky, he was as short-sighted as this at Liverpool which is why he couldn’t win the league there and never could here. He doesn’t realise that the FA Cup is plonked right at the beginning of January to rest your players. Sides hoping for a league challenge grin and bear it.
The changes he made unbalanced the side and his tactics have left us lumping aimless long balls in the direction of a striker who is shot. This defeat could well have come on Sunday up at Goodison but Benitez saved it for the home match against the weakest Premiership team in recent memory.
He should be sacked. This was unspeakably incompetent. We were four points behind the league leaders in November when Benitez was appointed – we are now fourteen points behind as this long-ball klutz has lost to both West ham and QPR. If losing at WBA is shameful enough to get a Chelsea manager sacked dropping ten points and losing to QPR should mean you never work above the third division again.
Demba Ba has been spotted around the place finalising a deal while Daniel Sturridge was unveiled at Anfield talking about joining a massive club. Hmm.
Thursday 3 January
Nathaniel Chalobah will be staying at Gianfranco Zola’s Watford for the rest of the season. Nat is only just 18 and his performances have been getting better and better over the first half of the term. Secure in his tackling and distribution Watford have blossomed as he has. We should be getting back in the summer a first-team ready player who is in a position to recommend a new head coach.
Friday 4 January
Demba Ba is the first in what could be a long line of the next Didier Drogba. The former Newcastle and West Ham striker has been trying to find a permanent home since arriving in acrimonious fashion form 1899 Hoffenheim just less than two years ago.
We would have been buying him after a successful spell at Stoke City but the medical they performed showed deal breaking problems with his knees. The problem was never specified and has not hampered him so far.
The relief on everyone’s face was clear, not only do we have a striker but a proper number 9 and £5m change from Daniel Sturridge.
John Terry has been asked to take a message down from a social media site after he said he was devastated that Frank Lampard was leaving. He later explained that he has no insider knowledge but was reacting to stories. He even called for the number 8 shirt to be retired in Franks honour.
Joe Cole has gone back to West Ham. The former Chelsea man struggled at Anfield with injury and form. We wish him well. The door opened for Joe because Yossi Benayoun returned to Chelsea after an unsuccessful loan to the ‘ammers. He was only really there for six games after a knee injury forced him back to Cobham for treatment.
Saturday 5 January
Southampton 1:5 Chelsea
Demba Ba knows how to make a first impression. It took Fernando Torres only 14 games to score his first, Demba had two by the hour but this all started as the shambles on Wednesday finished.
The players looking apathetic and unimaginative, it wasn’t really a surprise when Southampton stole a lead when a first time through-ball fed Jay Rodriguez. 1-0.
It was the kick up the backside we needed. Mata surged forward and a blizzard of passes left Hazard to set up Ba who slammed home the equaliser 1-1.
The match was heading for the break when the next chance fell to Moses, Cole cut the ball back to him but the control and shot in one movement were all his own. 1-2.
Into the second period and Ivanovic scored one of his commanding headers after Mata had recovered a half-cleared corner, 1-3, before Ba slotted his second after setting up the cross himself it was a move of power and grace and simplicity form Ba and Hazard. 1-4.
There was time at the end for Frank Lampard to accept an absurdly soft penalty – no, we will not stop complaining when we don’t get the decision – to go level with the great Kerry Dixon of all those winters past.
Ba’s performance hit all the notes in one game that Torres has failed to make in two years. He is a steal at £7.5m. Sadly none of our rivals went out. The biggest FA Cup shock was probably Cardiff City losing away to Macclesfield Town.
Conor Hunte had extended his deal to stay at the club after being noticed in the Victory Shield at U16 he has moved up the England order and was turning heads before signing a professional three-and-half-year deal.
Sunday 6 January
The draw for the FA Cup rewarded us with either Southend United and a trip to the seaside or Brentford and a trip to the, erm, there, not far. They replay next week.