Monday 18 August
Burnley 1:3 Chelsea
The World Cup was a pleasant distraction, U18 and U21 matches are enthralling contests of future stars, even the first-team on tour in Europe had its moments but proper Chelsea football started again tonight with a bang.
We were a bit sleepy in the opening exchanges and allowed a crowd-bourn Burnley to snatch the lead when Oscar slipped and Scott Arfield volleyed in the resulting cross. 1-0.
The last time the Clarets were this high up they famously beat Manchester United 1-0 in their first game. This time Diego Costa snuffed out their dreams.
The goal came after a beautiful reverse ball sprang Ivanovic on the right and his shot took a deflection onto the post. Diego Costa thrashed the rebound in so hard your fillings rattled. 1-1.
Power was superseded by finesse moments later as Hazard, having a quiet night, dodged and skidded through the packed middle allowing Ivanovic to pick out Fábregas. The Spaniard clipped the ball first time onto the instep of the rushing Schürrle who finished in one movement. 1-2.
36 days ago Andre Schürrle was lifting the World Cup he has only been back in training a little over a week and here he was scoring possibly the team goal of the season after a 25-pass move.
Ivanovic powered in from another Fábregas corner to remind everyone that he is about the best right-back around. 1-3.
In between Diego was hauled down by a ’keeper’s glove for a clear penalty but instead of a spot-kick he earned a booking for simulation. The contact and penalty were clear but the linesman clearly didn’t want Burnley to lose too heavily on heir return to the top flight.
For their part Burnley were bright and threatening on the break. Their composure will grow in the coming months. That said they didn’t trouble Thibaut Courtois, new to the Chelsea goal, as the big Belgian dominated his area caught crosses for fun and finger-tipped away their best and only shot.
There was even a cameo from Didier Drogba who ha one chance to haul the ball out of the air but miscued the finish.
Commentators are going to tie themselves in knots if Oscar passes to Costa quite as often as they did tonight.
The second-half was very quiet as both sides tussled but cancelled each other. Chelsea did have gears to go through but settled for what we had.
Jose said afterwards that he hoped Cech would stay but the subtext seemed to suggest that Petr might be on his way if someone waves a cheque.
The really big question brought up by the opening weekend fixtures is just how long we are all going to keep cheering the vanishing spray.
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Josh McEachran announced his year-long loan to Vitesse in the morning. Josh has been the next big thing for an uncomfortable number of years and needs now to start imposing himself on games the way we all know he can.
Marco Marin has joined Fiorentina for the season and starts his campaign against Ashley Cole’s Roma. Cole tweeted a photo of himself watching us beat Burnley in a hotel room on his tod.
On loan Monday, Stipe Perica was confirmed at NAC Breda for another season after a successful stint there last season.
Saturday 23 August
Chelsea 2:0 Leicester City
A laboured first-half display seemed to be showing last season’s underestimation of lesser opponents. Jose will have been delighted that the one weapon brought to break the dam of defenders did his job again.
It was a poor first-half from a sluggish Chelsea with Matic often left as the sole midfielder but Leicester played their part; well organised and incisive they could have taken a lead. That they didn’t was down to a new boy making a huge impression already, Thibaut Courtois. There is a slight loyalty split for many as Petr Cech has been a huge figure in our recent history but this young Belgian commands what is now his penalty area with a greater presence than any goalkeeper we can remember. He takes high crosses with ease and has already pulled off several important stops.
No more so than in the second-half when David Nugent broke clear but Courtois stood tall and deflected the shot wide.
It was a turning point, Kasper Schmeichel had been saving everything we threw at his goal until Diego Costa chested down into space and fired in from point-blank. 1-0.
The relief was instant, Eden Hazard drifted past a few challenges and fired in via a deflection. 2-0. And we strolled toward the whistle with a happier and sunnier disposition. Didier Drogba came on to a hero’s reception but couldn’t find an extra goal, it will come as will more difficult matches but the transition of this team seems on its way.
Arsenal U18 5:1 Chelsea U18
A stern and harsh early lesson for the young blues, most are new to this level this season. Mukhtar Ali levelled thing up in the first-half and there was nothing so suggest we would implode but after two strikes early in the second we got caught looking for a way back in.
Sunday 24 August
Richard Attenborough died yesterday; he was 90. Dickie Attenborough had been a Chelsea fan since training with the team to prepare for his role as Pinkie in Brighton Rock back in the late 1940s. He dedicated himself to film, directing and acting, many causes and charities as well as Chelsea . He became a board member at the club in the1960s and Life President in 2003, he was elevated to the House of Lords by John Major in the 1990s and became Lord A to all at Chelsea.
The club said it all and for all of us when they wrote:
“His personality was woven into the tapestry of the club over seven decades. He was a consistent force for good at the club, even in dark times.”
He will be missed.
Chelsea U21 3:1 Norwich City U21
Jeremie Boga and Dominick Solanke put us two up at the break and Cameron King in the second-half made it two out of two for the reserves.
Chelsea Ladies 3:1 Birmingham
Ji So-Yun, Gilly Flaherty and Eni Aluko scored the goals that put us top of the Women’s Super League.