Wednesday 28 December
Carlo Ancelotti is close to a new job in Paris. Our old boss has been biding his time but the opportunity a Paris St-Germain must have been too good to turn down. PSG are three-points clear at the top of the French league and are prepar
ed to replace the manager who got them there Antoine Kombouaré.
Florent Malouda has already been linked with a move to Paris in January
Saturday 31 December
Chelsea 1:3 Aston Villa
Great news before kick-off that Manchester United had lost at home to Blackburn Rovers obviously spurred Chelsea to slash the gap to the top of the table – er, Happy bloody New Year.
What is the point of beating Manchester City if you subsequently play like clowns. Nobody bothered to prepare for it so what is the point of reporting what happened during the game? Oh, yeah, work …
Chelsea started with the usual patchy defensive tactics, Ferreira replace Bosingwa but the trouble at right-back remains unaddressed five months into the season. Villa had not scored in five of their last seven games and missed both Bent and Heskey, so naturally they tore through us at will. Agbonlahor running into the gaping holes; even Steven Ireland looked classy, we were that bad.
Didier won and scored a penalty after 23 minutes. He managed to squeeze the shot in, just. 1-0. The goal was his 150th for the club and he celebrated like he was saying goodbye. Possibly because he has had an offer to go to China, possibly to twist the club’s arm on a new contract.
We then melted away at the back as the usual combination of incompetence; the defence was turned on its heels, Cech hesitated, Terry handled on the line, everyone stood still while Steven Ireland netted the rebound. 1-1. It was embarrassing.
We pressed in the second-half but the substitutions screwed us again. Lampard came on for Romeu and any cover our defence has went with the young Spaniard. As we pressed forward in the second-half we again substituted Daniel Sturridge. Torres did contrive a volley that hit the bar but was a spectator for the most part.
Villa carved us open at will at the back Agbonlahor ran through one on one with Cech but we got lucky with the save. The substitutions followed as AVB looked to shoot himself in the foot but bringing on the hapless Bosingwa with fifteen-minutes to go.
Their winner was a disgrace from front to back. Ciaran Clark was allowed an unimpeded run and Petrov literally walked through the middle of our defence to slot past Cech. 1-2. No defence, no challenge, no future. David Luiz was even looking the other way when the ball was played.
The third was more of the same only this time it was a rusty Frank Lampard playing the through ball for Ireland to run on, play in the substitute Bent and goodnight. 1-3. The boos at the end were thoroughly merited. To be presented with the chance to close the gap to the top and throw it away with another dreadful overall performance. The manager doesn’t seem to appreciate the problems his side have or if he does he doesn’t have the answer to them. Why does he persist in his defensive tactics when even limited sides like, Norwich, Villa and Fulham find it so easy to attack through them as if they were not there. Why persist with Bosingwa? Why ostracise Alex? What are you going to do about it?
Today’s only positive was that Sam Hutchinson was named on the bench for the first time since coming out of retirement.
Sunday 1 January
Nicolas Anelka has said his farewells and heads to China after today and, if you can stand the blaring music Sky Sports are eager to remind you that the transfer window is open – we haven’t signed anyone yet.
Monday 2 January
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1:2 Chelsea
So the new year gets off to a stuttering start but at least the result went the right way. The bad news is that we looked shaky at the back and could have lost another hectic match.
No Drogba or Sturridge because of injury meant Ramires running up the right and Torres in the middle. Reminders about how to start a match saw Chelsea fly out of the blocks. Mata lift one over, Lampard had the ball nicked off his toe and Ramires hit the side netting from a tight angle but we were getting forward.
Frank Lampard is not a dirty player and even with a helping of Chelsea bias, blue tinted spectacles and all he really should have been sent off. The ball had already gone when Lampard’s studs caught Adam Hammill half way up the tibia. Frank got away with a yellow.
The injustice seemed to spur Wolves as first a free-kick was headed onto the post, then another just wide before Doyle shot wide just before the break.
The second-half looked much the same as we failed to get much over half-way until Torres won a corner and the ball fell to Ramires who smashed it in to the roof of the net so hard everyone looked stunned. 0-1.
Suddenly we looked more comfortable as Torres tried to dribble through the middle and Mata had a crack deflected just over.
However, the spectre of the sickening equaliser is never far away this season and Jose Bosingwa is rarely far from the scene of the crime. This time he had his back to Fletcher who delivered the cross for Stephen Ward to level. 1-1.
The prospect of dropping nine points in little over a week was averted by a late, great, Frank Lampard burst into the box to hammer in Ashley Cole’s driven cross. 1-2.
We could well have flucked it from there as the defence scrambled and Cech pushed one over the bar with the last touch of the game.
On the loan front: Rhys Taylor has been loaned to Rotherham United until the end of the season. Rotherham are mid-table in league two and also have Jon Harley on loan from Notts County. Yes, that Jon Harley, the whippersnapper who excelled when Luca Vialli ruled the Bridge. It might shock to discover how old he is – look away now if you don’t want to feel any closer to death – 32.