Tuesday 1 November
Racing Genk 1:1 Chelsea
Another shower of shite evening. This was an unbalanced side that clearly assumed Genk would be as poor as they were at the Bridge. Lulled into a false sense of security we were stung in the second-half and nearly faultered.
Remember this is not a full-strength Belgian minnow but one depleted by injury and suspension.
Terry and Lampard were dropped for this evening with Luiz and Ivanovic in defence and Meireles coming into the midfield.
The game started at a snail’s pace and got slower. We enjoyed plenty of the ball but found no penetration, in fact the early play merely allowed Bosingwa to demonstrate how to get yourself out of position.
The nothing that was happening all over the pitch was interrupted by a goal. Ramires on the run, slipped the ball to Torres, accepted the return chip and fired in across the goalkeeper. 0-1.
Genk looked a little frightened for a while as we threatened to add more. Torres fired wide from twenty-yards before Meireles hit the bar with a rasper from outside the box. Three-points looked safe when Ashley Cole’s cross hit an arm and a generous referee thought handball. Luiz fired tamely and the ’keeper saved. Why is David Luiz taking penalties, you ask. Why, oh why, oh we don’t know.
For all our chances Genk were finding it easy to run through the middle of our defence. Their own inability to create and our desperate covering meant few actual threats but we didn’t look any more secure at the back than we did on Saturday lunchtime.
The second-half started with an invigorated Genk passing the ball through our midfield almost at will as Vossen, Camus and De Bruyne led us a merry dance. Their equaliser was well signposted; De Bruyne galloped through the space that Bosingwa is supposed to be guarding and found Vossen unmarked to scuff the ball into the net. 1-1
Suddenly we looked more urgent. Sturridge came on but for Anelka rather than the floundering Torres and Lampard replaces Ramires.
Far from a glamorous night in the Champions League this match started to resemble an unseemly Carling cup third-round.
Sturridge surged to the byline and crossed for Lampard to tap in. 1-2 hurraaahhhhh. Only somehow Frank’s foot didn’t connect and the ball skewed away.
There is just time for Malouda’s hooked shot to be cleared off the line, hit a defender and slide past the post. How that didn’t go in is on a par with how come Luiz takes penalties.
AVB tried to claim that we’d created a lot of chances, true, and that a draw was a good result away from home in Europe, sort of true. With Valencia beating Leverkusen in the night’s other match group E suddenly has a congested look.
You can almost feel the pressure building on the squad and you have to worry that a poor result at Blackburn could see the whole season unravel. It is eerily similar to last season when after a solid start we imploded on and off the field. Back then it was the self-imposed sacking Ray Wilkins and defeat at home to Sunderland; this year we have the self-imposed injury of the CPO vote and defeat at home to Arsenal. Last year though we managed to come back and almost snatch the league from under United’s noses. It will be a measure of our young coach should we need to, or be able to, do that again.
Oh, and thanks to everyone chanting about Anton Ferdinand, that kind of humour is not going to make the process of clearing your captain’s name any easier.
The crime rate in London must have dwindled to near zero as the financially stretched and undermanned Metropolitan police announce a formal investigation into the race row. As no evidence has come forward apart from the Sky clip you have to wonder what on earth the Met are looking for other than cheap publicity.
Hammersmith and Fulham council chose today to pipe up on the CPO. They put out a statement about planning options to keep Chelsea at Stamford Bridge at an increased capacity. See, voting no did achieve something.
Friday 4 November
Connor Clifford is on his way to Yeovil Town for a month. Having had a couple of successful loans with Plymouth and Notts County Connor will know the drill. He is far too classy for League One and will improve the Glovers rather weedy bottom place.
Saturday 5 November
Blackburn Rovers 0:1 Chelsea
I see no reason why gunpowder something should ever be something. Nobody is about to claim that victory over Blackburn means we’ll win anything this season but keeping a clean sheet will have gladdened the coaching staff, more so than the result.
AVB made a few unexpected changes to the team with Sturridge given the central role in attack and Bosingwa finally dropped in favour of Ivanovic.
Little had happened in the match before Sturridge just failed to bring down Malouda’s pass. Little else happened before our defence was caught high and square – by Blackburn Rovers remember, not Barcelona – and Yakubu flashed wide. In his effort to get back to cover Cole crashed into Petr Cech who needed six-minutes of treatment and ended with a couple of plugs stopping a nosebleed. Playing on with a broken nose – Cech is obviously going for John’s man-of-steel crown.
Blackburn were making things difficult and rhythm, as so often of late was hard to find. The stop start nature of the play meant a couple of long-range efforts was all either side had to show. Mata was particularly quiet. Then we had the penalty that wasn’t given, Of course, there is one almost every week – this time Sturridge raced clear and Christopher Samba bundled him over from behind. Perhaps we should drop the we never get a penalty theme as the players contrive to miss them anyway, sigh.
Ivanovic had a chance to impress at right-back when Martin Olsson broke down the left Ivanovic tracked him all the way and blocked the cross for a corner. Bosingwa would have been turned inside out and looking the other way when the cross went in.
The second-half started brighter. Torres came on for the excellent Malouda and it didn’t take a few minutes for Ivanovic to prove his worth out wide; he cut inside the defender and delivered a cross with the out side of his right foot for Lampard to dive low and head into the corner. 0-1.
Cech saved us form a quick equaliser when he parried Morton Gamst-Pedersen’s free-kick and then batted away Hanley’s follow-up.
Ramires had a busy afternoon but found time to hack one off the line. Oddly it would be Ivanovic who came closest to scoring for Rovers as his late header smashed onto the bar as we clung on at the end under remorseless pressure. Blackburn threw everything at us but didn’t find the cracks.
A certain Spanish striker should have wrapped it up at the end: Fernando Torres has clearly been thrown out of his stride by his red against Norwich and he finished this game with a simple chance that he volleyed over from three yards.
West Ham United youth 0:1 Chelsea youth
John Swift scored the goal but this was a great team effort as the youth team record only their third win of the season.
Todd Kane and Nathaniel Chalobah came into the defence but West Ham had their full FA youth cup side on the field and couldn’t break us down.
This is probably the first time this season we have seen real improvement at youth level. Long may it continue.
Also today the official website introduced us to Steve Frankham who takes over as chair of CPO again after a break of eight years. Steve will be up for election at the CPO AGM along with the rest of the board. It is possible that the AGM will be well attended this year.
Sadly Steve is another executive wedded to the phrase ‘going forward’. Ron Gourlay introduced it to the Chelsea lexicon and it seems to be catching, going forward. Why we can’t employ people who are aware of the experienced nature and direction of time and keep their phrases lighter. Why not ‘from now on’ or, if that doesn’t sound like your manhood fills your y-fronts, we could ‘plunge into the future’, ‘breast the tape of history’ or ‘edge Clio aside on our Olympian journey’. Anything but …
Sunday 6 November
Daniel Sturridge will spend the day trying to seem cool, keeping his dignity but when he knows nobody is looking, when he is locked in the bathroom, he’ll be dribbling the sponge past the bath mat, round the laundry basket and scoring off the inside of sink to make it 5-4 to England in the World Cup final in Brazil 2014. He has been named in Capello’s England squad.
So, gasp, has the captain John Terry despite not yet being proved innocent.