Monday 6 December
Marcel Desailly has withdrawn from the ‘race’ to become manager of Ghana, which means he should be available for next weekend’s trip to Tottenham. He apparently applied three months ago and has been waiting ever since with no word. In frustration he has recommitted himself to his other business and broadcasting commitments, To which, as we say, he should add bringing his boots to Cobham as Branislav Ivanovic’s agent has been blasting his mouth off about how his client will be leaving if he is moved to right-back when Alex returns from injury.
Wednesday 8 December
Olympique de Marseille 1:0 Chelsea
A late goal spoiled Chelsea’s perfect group record as a strong starting XI fail to gel against a determined Marseille under Didier Deschamps.
The match started with a few half chances for the hosts all either scuffed or shanked until Mathieu Valbuena connected with one that cannoned back off the cross bar.
We got a hint on the quarter hour that European referees still have a blind spot for Chelsea penalties when Florent Malouda chased the ball into the box and was kicked up in the air by the particularly clumsy unit Souleymane Diawara. The Russian referee initially pointed to the spot but changed his decision to a corner after being reminded by his assistants that this was Chelsea. Flo was being a little bit theatrical on his way down but it was clearly a penalty.
The ever popular Gabriel Heinze then headed in a free-kick but was flagged for offside. Some commentators were convinced it was close but our own glasses are so deeply blue hued that we saw him off by a torso.
Salomon Kalou ran in from the left and was simply and cynically taken out by Souleymane Diawara and the referee linesman and fifth official all looked the other way. Can it be that Anders Frisk casts such a long shadow? Either way that should have been a second penalty and a second yellow for monsieur Diawara.
Level at the break and the only change after half-time saw Josh McEachran swap roles with Michael Essien so the experienced Ghanaian held the middle while the youngster got to rove forrard.
The youngster’s first act was to set Malouda away but the dolt decided to shoot instead of squaring to either of the unmarked Drogba or Kalou. It was turning into that kind of night.
Drogba was subbed by Sturridge on the hour but the move achieved little as the game started to drift. Jeffrey Bruma and Patrick Van Aanholt then both came on for Terry and Bosingwa, before Marseille suddenly scored. Taye Taiwo drifted into the box and his shot squirmed across to Brandao for a tap in. 1-0.
The last ten-minutes contained very little of any note and the match drifted to a close with nothing but taunts from the home fans and the usual hostility and missiles. They do really seem to get a kick out of beating us.
Earlier in the day Ray Wilkins confirmed that he was sacked halfway through a reserve game: “These things happen. You just have to accept it, because nothing should ever surprise you anymore in football.”
Saturday 11 December
Chelsea youth 5:1 Norwich City youth
Billy Clifford will remember this week, he travelled with the team to Marseille and then bagged a fine hat-trick on Saturday morning.
Todd Kane and Milan Lalkovic supplied the other goals as our prolific youth team created enough chances for a hat-trick each.
In the Premiership this afternoon Manchester City leapt to the top of the table with a 1-3 result against West Ham. You know the slump has come to something if we finish the weekend behind City.
Sunday 12 December
Tottenham Hotspur 1:1 Chelsea
The result remains a disappointment, when you get a penalty in injury time you want the points, but Carlo Ancelotti saw nothing but positives from this crunching derby.
Didier Drogba was relegated to the bench as Carlo tried something he described as ‘technical’. In essence technical involved trying to play Anelka as a lone target and as you’ve already guessed he wandered off from the first minute leaving no one up front.
The match started with another pathetically soft goal. They played the ball up to Defoe who was clearly offside, no matter, he was then allowed the freedom to roam and pass to Pavlyuchenko who turns and somehow the Chelsea defence melts away. 1-0.
Shortly after the goal Essien caught Gareth Bale with his studs and was lucky to get away without a card.
Despite falling behind, again, the Chelsea players responded positively and upped the pressure on the home defence, Salomon Kalou testing Gomes with three chances the first of which should have been a goal but the Spurs ’keeper saved well the second was flicked inches wide..
For all the gallant thrust of Spurs play Cech had nothing to do. Even when Defoe was sent clear John Terry just had to stand up to him to win possession and hurtle forward in the first of a few breaks from the back.
Anelka then has the ball in the back of the net but is flagged for offside. Hang on, they didn’t have flags half an hour ago when they scored. Nic was a bit more obvious.
Half-time brought the delayed introduction of Didier Drogba and almost complete domination. Alright, then, Spurs had the odd good forward move but Cech didn’t muddy hid gloves, whereas Gomes was constantly called on.
Didier started it with a 25-yard shot that Gomes turned round for a corner from which Palacios nearly heads the ball into his own net, another fine save from the Spurs stopper.
Just after the hour a ball over the top finds Drogba turning Dawson inside out and his shot is so powerful that Gomes can only help the ball into the net. 1-1. And a thrilling end to the game.
Assou-Ekotto slid in to prevent substitute Daniel Sturridge scoring into an empty net before Frank Lampard finally reappeared from keyhole surgery we were told would take two weeks back at the end of August.