Monday 8 November
John is not happy: “We lost it in the first half. I just think the tempo was missing early on. We obviously knew Liverpool hadn’t had the best of starts, but they were up for it from the word go. We tried to take the sting out of the game but it backfired on us. That wasn’t a tactical thing, it just seemed to happen. The next thing we knew we were 2-0 down and by the time we got our game together in the second half, it was too little too late. We let it go too easily early on. It is frustrating and we need to look at it.”
Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou have been nominated for the African player of the year award. Didier has already won twice and Salomon was the young player of the year in 2009.
Tuesday 9 November
It is getting tiresome to type: “we’ve never known that to happen in football”, it keeps itself topical – Didier Drogba has had malaria. Carlo Ancelotti seemed content that the problem was dealt with and that the Ivorian will be fit for tomorrow’s games with Fulham but we don’t know when he contracted the disease.
Rumblings about a move to Earl’s Court have started up again. The old lady of London venues is being pulled down after the Olympics (yes, they really do need a venue that big for volleyball) and the site can be ours for a few hundred million Euro. The club published a quick rebuttal but the question remains how we are to compete under Uefa’s financial fair play rules. The club are worried they are being left behind by the capacity by new stadiums; West Ham will have 50,000 in the converted Olympic stadium, Spurs have planning permission. The simple truth is that if they pull down the hotels and build a football ground then we don’t need to move.
Wednesday 10 November
Chelsea 1:0 Fulham
Mark Hughes, Kevin Hitchcock, Eddie Niedzwiecki, Ray Lewington and Damien Duff all returned for the SW6 family reunion and left us the present of three points but the referee denied us the services of Michael Essien for the next three matches.
It was a strange old night, Fulham came but seemed content to sit deep, we managed a few early corners but little real pressure until suddenly on the half-hour we are one-nil up. The goal caused some controversy afterwards because Didier Drogba slipped and lay still in the box as Kalou crossed and Essien rose unchallenged for a simple headed finish. 1-0. Didier just got up and got on with it.
It could have been better than that as Kalou piled up chances only to be denied time and again. First he ran half the length of the pitch to shoot across goal, then in the second-half he wriggled his way into the box beat the advancing ’keeper only for the ball to be hacked off the line.
There was the, now traditional, ‘how did that not go in” moment when first Schwarzer saved in close from Essien, then he parried Kalou’s volley before the ball was pulled back for Essien to shin wide.
Having slept through much of the match Fulham seemed to wake and realise they could be playing for a point. Clint Dempsey thrashed a cracking thirty-yard shot only for Cech to paw it away for a corner.
Zoltan Gera then tried his luck with another long-range snap volley but Cech was equal to that.
The game dawdled to a halt and would have been an utterly routine win only for the ref to stick his oar in: Michael Essien received a straight red-card for a two-footed tackle on Clint Dempsey. Ordinarily you’d hold your hands up except for the fact that Michael didn’t so much jump into the challenge as hop and he completely missed the Fulham player instead his studs landed on the pitch. Michael is then banned for three-matches and all those meatheads who maintain Chelsea are a bunch of dirty bastards get more ammunition. Next time you are stuck at the public bar with that kind of red pond life you could ask them to name all of the players seriously injured playing against Chelsea in the last five years. Barring any industrial accidents, they should have enough fingers on one hand.
Thursday 11 November
Whatever happened to two-week’s notice? Ray Wilkins has been given the boot and in a charmless manner. There is Ray watching the reserve team friendly against Bayern Munich when he gets the call to go to Ron Gourlay’s office to be handed his cards.
Ray departs then with everyone’s sympathy and Ron looks a bit of a n insensitive girl’s hole. The club were spinning the move as ‘clinical’ but they forget that Ray was captain of this club at 18, played 179 games, scored 30 goals, has a 100% winning record as caretaker manager (from, er, two games) and is widely respected by both players and fans. If you have to sack someone of that standing you should have the decency to call him in for a meeting before he started work for the day.
Speculation about a replacement started immediately with a few Italian names bandied about but the perfect candidate is Steve Clarke who Wilkins replaced after he moved to West Ham back in September 2008.
Ray’s sudden departure robbed Josh McEachran of his news. The promising youngster has been promoted to the England U21 squad. It is quite a jump for a player who help the U17 team win the European Cup in the summer.
Chelsea reserves 4:0 Bayern München
Before Ray was given the hoof he at least got to see a decent half of football from a strong reserves side. Kakuta, Sturridge, Bruma and McEachran all played with Daniel grabbing two and Borini bagging a second-half brace. It could have been five but Patrick Van Aanholt’s shot stopped short of the line in a puddle, it was that wet, Jacopo Sala tapped in but was offside. The awful weather probably didn’t make the trip any easier for a youthful Bavarian side.
Friday 12 November
Frank Lampard has added an abductor tear to his recent cartilage tear and will miss another three weeks. With Essien out for the next three games we are about to discover how deep our squad is and speculation about January additions will grow.
Our FA Youth Cup defence starts away at Sunderland in a game to be played before Saturday 11 December.
Saturday 13 November
Chelsea youth 0:2 Fulham youth
Another very young side with four schoolboys were over powered by their elders from down the road.
The unbeatable Liverpool team that upped their game against us continued their fine form by collapsing at Stoke. While Manchester United slashed the gap at the top to three points by scraping a draw against Villa.
Sunday 14 November
Chelsea 0:3 Sunderland
That was the worst Chelsea performance in memory, you have to go back over a decade to find something as spineless and disorganised. A pissy referee certainly didn’t help but the team performed without fight or intelligence when either would have done.
With John Terry knackering himself yesterday Ancelotti opted to play three right-backs instead of a defence. Alright, Ivanovic frequently covers in the centre but Ferreira as centre-back. Steve Bruce knew he would have a good afternoon when he saw the team sheet.
To the action then and the opening exchanges were bitty, Sunderland came to press high up the pitch and stole a few balls. Their final ball was woeful to start with, almost as if they couldn’t believe the time and space they found.
Anelka sped on to a couple of through balls one he poked into the side netting and the second he met a fraction of a second after Craig Gordon in the Sunderland goal. There were howls but the ’keeper was there first.
Yuri Zhirkov scampered through the defence as if it wasn’t there but flashed his shot horribly wide. We should have had a penalty when Ivanovic struggled for a header at a corner with Michael Turner dragging him down by the neck. Obviously we have reached the stage of the season when referees have been instructed to keep the gap at the top of the table respectable by overlooking all fouls against Chelsea and hammering any blue indiscretion.
Danny Welbeck brought a fantastic save out of Petr Cech from an effortless free header before being set free one on one only for Cech to block with his legs. The home fans were starting to get nervous. Chelsea’s midfield was hopelessly lightweight with Zhirkov and Ramires hacked down or pushed off the ball time and again.
The next incident had the commentators fuming for a red card. Ramires was hacked off the ball from behind by Welbeck who ran on to Zenden’s pass. Ivanovic tripped him but Welbeck was 40 yards from goal and Ferreira was covering. So the fuss was for nothing.
The goal came from a typical bit of refereeing: Zhirkov had the ball on the edge of the Sunderland box, he was pushed off it by a defender. It is fair to say you can use your body but it is stretching a point to say you can push a player to the ground. They broke and set up first Welbeck and then Richardson before Onuoha came over all Lionel Messi and dribbled round a static defence and scuffed a lucky shot into the far corner. 0-1.
The second-half opened with a few loose passes to further frustrate the crowd and a goal for Sunderland as crisp passing left Ivanovic running in circles as the only defender and Gyan scored easily. 0-2.
As the half wore on it became clear that every Sunderland hack and push would go unpunished, Chelsea had no fight against a team intent on fouling and could not get any rhythm.
Malouda was substituted for Kalou when everyone could see that it was Ramires and Zhirkov who were struggling.
Shortly after Anelka was fed down the right and Titus Bramble hacked straight through his standing leg with his studs up. Commentators howling for a red, not a bit of it: Bramble receives a yellow while Michael Essien serves a three game ban for a tackle that didn’t make any contact.
Their last goal was a perfect summary of both teams performance (ours lax, Sunderland’s opportunistic) and the referee’s absurd attitude: Ashley Cole chased a ball back towards the corner and was fouled, pushed off balance, under pressure he kept his feet but then wafted the ball back toward Cech only to find Welbeck pouncing. 0-3. You could blamed Cole for not going to ground but he should have been awarded a free-kick and the situation should not have arisen.
Ancelotti made no excuses after the match and just said it was a performance without fight, he didn’t mention that shrinking the first team squad to 19 was probably a mistake. He should have had a go at the referee for failing to give us a penalty and for failing to protect our players.
We didn’t play well and should hold our hands up but Arsene Wenger is right, if footballers come up against thugs the thugs should not be allowed to kick them off the park.