Monday 9 January
Chelsea reserves 2:3 West Bromwich Albion reserves
Here is a novelty – a Chelsea reserve side packed with experience. Michael Essien playing a deep holding role, Gaël Kakuta and Patrick Van Aanholt back from loans we should have been unstoppable.
We started like a train, swarming all over West Brom winning free-kicks and pressing. Jacob Mellis gave us a lead that could have been three by half-time but sadly we went in level as the mouthful on the team sheet Lateef Elford-Alliyu proved a handful on the field running half the pitch to score.
We could have had a few more in the second before they caught us on the break when Chris Wood scored but we levelled when some of the old gang got back in the groove: substitute Billy Clifford fed Van Aanholt, to Lalkovic, level. That came with eight minutes left. Sadly West Brom have a secret substitute weapon called Adil Nabi who nicked in at the end.
Tuesday 10 January
Spare a thought for poor Paul Clement this morning as news breaks that he has been forced to take a job in Paris. Yes, Paul will be turning up for work with Carlo Ancelotti and Claude Makelele at Paris Saint-Germain for the foreseeable future. PSG’s owners appear to have no idea what they are doing; sacking a popular ex-player as manager, flashing money at a French club and expecting the Champions’ League to fall into their lap. Still, if they give us ten million for Florent Malouda and we’ll give them a break.
Arsenal have employed a bloke who looks like a fat version of Thierry Henry, only with a beard. It won’t last.
Lionel Messi has won the Ballon D’Or for the tenth straight year.
Wednesday 11 January
Norwich City youth 0:0 Chelsea youth
(Chelsea won 2-4 on penalties)
Too much to cover in a weekly diary but well worth a watch on-line; skip the first-half. Jamal Blackman deserves special mention after Norwich had wafted their first penalty he saved their second brilliantly down to his left and suddenly we were 0-3 up in the shoot-out and hosed. Spare a thought for Danny Pappoe who was returning from a knee problem that kept him since October and, with barely half-an-hour gone, he twisted it again and had to be subbed.
Thursday 12 January
Gaël Kakuta has finally got the switch he was looking for and will play for Dijon in the French first division. No official word on the Chelsea site or details of the loan but he will stay in France until the end of the season.
Swansea confirm that they have reached an agreement over Josh McEachran’s loan for the remainder of the season but there is no confirmation of when Josh will be allowed to leave with AVB certainly keeping McEachran ahead of Saturday’s home game with Sunderland.
Friday 13 January
Ben Gordon’s loan to Kilmarnock for the rest of the season has been confirmed. Ben was with Kilmarnock for a spell last season as well as time with Scunthorpe. This year he had a brief stint at Peterborough.
AVB conformed that the club has received a bid for Alex but refused to say that it was from Fulham or that it was only £2m.
He reiterated that Frank Lampard was still part of his plans; Manchester United had been linked with Frank as the papers resort to simply making this shit up in an otherwise slow transfer window.
Breaking newts … Gary Cahill is on his way to London … according to Sky Sports News … personal terms have been agreed … lunking defender to have medical tomorrow …
Breaking news II (voice over: If you thought breaking news couldn’t get more exciting, CFCnet pictures brings you breaking news II rise of the Ivory) … Coast, who beat Tunisia 2-0 in a friendly in Abu Dhabi. Salomon Kalou opened things up and Didier sealed them from the spot. The Elephants look strong enough on this showing to win the Africa Nations Cup, which means the boys will be away until the middle of February
Saturday 14 January
Chelsea 1:0 Sunderland
Our nerves can’t take much more of this: three times Sunderland flew through our defence in the last ten minutes. We could do nothing to stop them, we failed to defend, hold the ball, block, tackle anything really than just watch the Makems play round us. The sickening equaliser has become such a feature of the play that it was genuinely a surprise when they didn’t score and we somehow left with the points. But there were positives in that Torres looked to be getting back to his best – providing, arguably, the assist of the season – and the biggest cheer of the day for Michael Essien’s short cameo. You have to hope that Michael’s third serious knee problem means that he comes back bionic.
The game started with Stéphane Sessegnon waltzing forward unopposed but the chance went wide. Torres bouncy castle of a header was the best we’d managed before we exploded out of nowhere again: Meireles had a shot blocked and we eventually worked the ball out to Mata on the right – what happened next could have been goal of the season – Torres’ Spun off the back of the defence and executed a perfect scissors kick with such power that the ball to smacked off the bar and in off Lampard. 1-0.
Surely we would go on and rack up a cricket score of blistering goals? Er, no, this was the same performance as the previous five – we were unable to score more than one, never appeared to dominate, never looked in control at the back and we had our opponent’s wastefulness to thank for a clean sheet.
We didn’t create too many more chances in the first-half Torres had a header blocked; Ashley Cole tried to sneak on in as everyone anticipated a cross. It was Sunderland who came closest when Sessegnon fed Bendtner who dragged just wide. Torres almost repeated the exact move at the other end but half-time saw us with just a slender lead.
Phil Dowd had a quiet game until it came to giving penalties. First Torres was bundled over in the box around the hour, then Cole was accused of barging Bendtner in the back and it is hard to argue and then Torres, again, cuts inside a defender into the box and is clearly flattened by a defender’s knee; nothing doing for Dowd, who booked Fernando for diving. Meireles then tried to chip Mignolet in the Sunderland goal but the ’keeper was just quick enough to cover back.
We didn’t really have control of the rest of the match and were overwhelmed at the end when Bendtner missed the last offering from a frazzled defence.
Frank Lampard’s goal is his 181st and moves him just 12 behind Kerry Dixon and 21 behind Bobby Tambling’s 202.
That is not the only positive – Essien’s back and will require a few games for the old bullishness to return, Gary Cahill passed his medical and agreed personal terms so he is pretty much in the bag and Fernando Torres is starting to look like the player who started the season.