Monday 18 October
Yossi Benayoun attempted to clear up the confusion over his injury; last week – in news we frankly couldn’t be bothered to report so bored were we by the international break – he spoke, or didn’t speak, to Israeli newspapers expressing his surprise that a large tear in his Achilles went unnoticed by Chelsea’s medical staff, only now he says he didn’t say anything of the kind. Hope that clears things up.
Meanwhile, training in Moscow reveals that Salomon Kalou is fit again and ready but Ramires has flown back to London for treatment to a knock on the ankle. Billy Clifford travelled and trained with the first-team on his 18th birthday, which is just about the coolest thing to do on your 18th even if it means a dry night and early to bed.
Both Essien and Bosingwa have been left at home, their joints are not to be risked on the artificial pitch.
Tuesday 19 October
Spartak Moscow 0:2 Chelsea
Good evening to everyone who skipped off work early to catch the 5.30 kick-off. This was a dominant expression of Chelsea’s desire to win this competition. Achieving three wins out of three and winning away at the group’s second seed stamped our authority on the group and for once might mean we qualify without jitters.
The first-half display was particularly good. Spartak started with decisive passing and forward thrusts but it was Salomon Kalou who fashioned the first chance, chest down on the edge of the area but horribly high and wide with the shot.
Kombarov then had space for a shot that was again fired high. Spartak pressure was growing but so too was Chelsea’s resilience. Ibson and Kombarov caused most of the problems and combined to feed Wellinton whose shot on the turn was well saved by Cech.
The noise from the 70,000 home fans was incredible and it took just twenty minutes for Yuri Zhirkov to take the wind out of their sails, latching onto a knockdown from a defender our sprightly Russian lashed an unstoppable first-time volley beyond the despairing dive of the ’keeper Dykan. 0-1.
Much has been made of the fact that Chelsea are returning to the scene of their greatest heartache, but Zhirkov was making his own return to the city where he made his name, across town at CSKA, this was his first goal for Chelsea. As for the commentator who said you couldn’t write the script we can only say, er, yes you can and that is why players scoring on their return is so common. Watch Rooney in his first appearance for Man City at Old Trafford.
We fashioned a few chances and a couple of corners before a poor back-pass set up Anelka only for a heavy touch to squirm the ball through to Dykan.
The next one on one was more decisive; Essien’s muscular run and pass sent Anelka clear and as he was closed down he managed to cut back and slot home while falling. 0-2.
The second-half saw Spartak more heavily involved with Aiden McGeady putting in the kind of performance that had the former Celtic winger linked to us a few years ago. However all the pressure was absorbed and the hosts were reduced to long shots and punts that Cech handled superbly. In fact, the Czech looked to be enjoying having a few to save for a change.
This was almost as efficient as Mourinho’s sides as Chelsea contained and countered. Moscow managed to get a foot in to most of the breaks to halt the momentum until late on when Kalou’s jinky run fed Essien but he fired wide.
The game closed out with Kakuta and McEachran taking their familiar roles but also had a place for Patrick van Aanholt to make his second Champions’ League outing.Those who never miss a match will have to add Hong Kong to their summer travels to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok as the pre-season tour to Asia has been extended to include the Barclays Asia trophy, a pot we have already won. We only vaguely remember beating Newcastle United on penalties to secure the 2003 title in Hong Kong. Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers as well as the winner of the Hong Kong first division make up the party. The Hong Kong first division is a small league with a lot of local derbies.
Wednesday 20 October
West Bromwich Albion reserves 4:5 Chelsea reserves
An incredible five goals for Fabio Borini dragged us back from a thrashing to earn all three points. West Brom raced into a 3-0 lead, Borini pulled two back before the break. Despite an equaliser West Brom moved 4-3 ahead until Borini completed his second-half hat-trick.
Thursday 21 October
John Battersby. Former club secretary has died at the ripe old of 94. John worked for the club until 1971 and was instrumental in the success of Ted Drake’s first championship winning side. He also moved mountains to get us into the inaugural European Cup. We were enrolled as founder members but the FA asked us to withdraw and the rest is a lack of history as the away fans chant. Another Chelsea servant sadly missed.
Didier Drogba has been training well this week after his virus but, once again, Frank Lampard needs more time to recover, Frank is apparently working hard and very frustrated.
Meanwhile in the courts Peter Kenyon and the club have won a massive kick in the teeth for those nice, well-balance, honest news hounds from The Daily Mail. It seems some witless hacks made up a story about Kenyon sacking Paul Smith, former business affairs director, because their girlfriends had a fight. Chelsea and Kenyon won costs and damages from Fleet Street’s least intelligent newspaper.
Friday 22 October
Billy Clifford has signed a loan deal with Plymouth Argyle until January. Last season’s youth cup winning captain is looking to gain experience at Home Park and might start on Saturday against Huddersfield.
We will be sporting Adidas gear for another eight years as the club and manufacturer sign a new deal worth £20m a year. The extension ups our income by some £8m a year, depending on performance, and puts us closer to Manchester United and Barcelona who are on around £23m.
Saturday 23 October
Chelsea 2:0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Phew, not many sides come to Stamford Bridge and match us toe to toe but Wolves came with the plan and the self belief, they left defeated because they couldn’t finish the chances they made.
The first few minutes Chelsea looked sloppy, you might say they were still on the plane back from Moscow, because we couldn’t get the ball off the visitors and couldn’t pass it to a blue shirt when we did.
Wolves conjured a couple of early corners before we managed a coherent move. When we did Bosingwa, back from months of knee problems, darted on to Anelka’s feed only for Hahnemann to turn round the post.
John Terry was then flagged offside as he broke through to head Drogba’s free-kick wide and the boys appeared to have woken themselves from the early torpor. Still passes were over-hit and breaks foundered on indecision but we have a quiet week back at the training ground to get the gears meshed for Blackburn away.
The visitors showed next as David Edwards sent a header straight at Cech, who said this was his busiest afternoon since he joined Chelsea, as Van Damme repeated the trick three minutes later.
From that header Chelsea broke with Zhirkov supplying Anelka, accepting the return and cutting back for Florent Malouda to smash home from ten yards. 1-0.
Floodgates, watersheds and tipping points were all mentioned in the next few moments but none of them arrived. We enjoyed far more possession but Wolves were getting in all the desperate blocks and tackles.
Anelka found the near side netting when he should have been shooting across a few minutes after the goal. Bosingwa was rampaging down his flank and fired another wide before big Didier had one blocked. Half-time arrived with Chelsea finally playing football but not putting the game to bed.
The second period opened with more Wolves possession and more penetration, as Stephen Hunt (rhymes with Berkeley Cunt) sought to improve his reputation at the Bridge by smashing an elbow into Bosingwa as they challenged for a header.
It was Hunt’s header that Essien cleared off the line and Matt Jarvis had a sneak shot that Cech watched all the way into his gloves.
Every break we tried ends in frustration – summed up by Michael Essien somehow managing to black an on target shot from Malouda.
Just after the hour Ivanovic spots Drogba in the clear but the big Ivorian cannot find a way round Hahnemann who blocks with his feet.
More frustration comes as Wolves constantly break up Chelsea’s normal passing authority until Salomon Kalou comes off the bench to deliver salvation, well the second goal.
Essien played the defence splitting pass and Kalou ran on to slot under the goalkeeper. 2-0. Game over as Wolves wilted steadily towards the end as their belief dissipated by the second goal.
Josh McEachran got the second biggest cheer of the afternoon and showed the usual range of good touches and sensible play.
“We didn’t play so well” was Carlos Ancelotti’s succinct description at the end. Mick McCarthy rightly spoke with pride in his players’ performance but at the end Chelsea sit five-points clear at the top of the table.
Sunday 24 October
Result this afternoon still leave us five-points clear as Manchester United won at Stoke and Arsenal beat City leaving the chasing pack all on 17 points. Arsenal pip both Manchester clubs on goal difference.