Monday 28 November
Fulham reserves 2:2 Chelsea reserves
A glorious second-half from Dermot Drummy’s side saw the stiffs almost nick the match from 2-0 down.
We weren’t really at the races in the first period as Jamal Blackman had to make a save after only a minute. The let off lasted only another ten minutes as we gave them a free header from a cross. Their second was a little less embarrassing but left the team struggling.
The second-half was a completely different affair as Nat Chalobah started asserting himself and chances started to appear. Lalkovic crashed in a volley on the hour before Chalobah headed in a corner. Lucas Piazon was causing problems for the Fulham backline and he was tripped in the box just before the end. Lalkovic however blasted the spot-kick over the bar.
Tuesday 30 November
Chelsea 0:2 Liverpool
The scouse bad-taste-in-the-mouth came and plundered, again. A young Chelsea side could have few complaints in the end. Turnbull, Lukaku, Bertrand, Romeu and McEachran all started. Liverpool went with more recognised strength but included starts for Jay Spearing and Sebastian Coates
We’ll start, as the game should have done with a penalty. David Luiz ran forward accepted Josh McEachran’s backheel into the area where he was cut in two by a tackle from Coates. Given our luck in this area you can probably guess that instead of a spot-kick Luiz was booked.
That Luiz was pissed off was evident when he then pushed Andy Carroll in the back as he went for a cross.
When Dowd finally gave a penalty it was a strange one. Alex and Carroll went for a cross and as Alex jumped the ball hit his hand. Carroll appealed but to most it looked an accident. For five seconds the ref thought about it, his linesman’s view was obscured, and then pointed to the spot. If the referee saw a penalty offence why the delay?
Andy Carroll is such good value for money at £35m he smashed the ball straight down the middle and Turnbull, at £0m, saved with his legs.
This was a messy first-half with penalty claims about the only bright spots. Josh McEachran limped out to be replaced by Ramires. Florent Malouda went into the book followed by Ryan Bertrand for a foul he didn’t commit. Lukaku came in at leg-break height on the back of Lucas’s ankle only for Bertrand who made no contact to get the card. Not one of Phil Dowd’s best nights. Lukaku might be trouble with the FA in the morning.
We did muster one attack – no really, only one in 45-minutes – Bosingwa crossed and Lukaku’s flicked header sailed wide.
We did fashion a chance at the start of the second when Malouda knocked back a Lampard corner but Luiz couldn’t get past the blacking players on the line. And then we were behind: high-line at the back simple through ball to Bellamy he squares to Maxi and it is de ja vue all over again. Didn’t he do that last week? 0-1.
The defending is becoming comical.
It took five minutes for their second as Ramires was pulled up for a foul on Bellamy where he made no contact and cleanly won the ball, as we said Phil Dowd wasn’t watching the same game, but at the same time the ref wasn’t organising the Chelsea back line and allowing a free-header Martin Kelly heading in unchallenged. 0-2.
Mata and Anelka came on and the Frenchman had a one-on-one with Reina by the ’keeper did just enough to allow covering players to smother the chance. The rest of the match saw us with plenty of possession in front of the Liverpool defence but no way through.
Torres had another wretched night.
The list of clubs spending on agents puts us fourth behind Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham. Still, £6.5m doesn’t grow on trees.
Thursday 1 December
Sam Hutchinson has been given a one-and-half-year-contract. The 22-year-old youth team product had announced his retirement after successive knee problems but seven appearances for the reserves following a strong pre-season have earned him a second shot. You have to keep your fingers crossed he stays injury free. Sam was one of a handful that Jose Mourinho regarded as good enough during his time here, so Sam could be an excellent signing.
Friday 2 December
Conor Clifford scored his first senior goal for Yeovil in the cup tonight. Playing through midfield Conor made the score 0-2 to the league two side against Fleetwood Town but the hosts struck back o earn a replay.
Saturday 3 December
Newcastle United 0:3 Chelsea
Back to rollercoaster thrills and for once, in recent weeks, the right result.
Saturday morning kick-off times are rightly unpopular, trips to the other end of the country doubly so but the lift it gives the rest of the weekend shouldn’t be discounted.
Newcastle started the day a point and a place higher up the league, with one of the meanest defences. We started with fragile confidence and the way our luck has been going David Luiz could have been sent off four minutes into the match. Demba Ba was released down the middle and was upended by Luiz; the referee blew for a foul and waived a yellow card. For most commentators this was the clearest case of ‘denying a clear goal scoring opportunity’ they’d ever seen and clear favouritism towards Chelsea. As if we’ve seen much of that recently.
To be fair to the ref – aren’t we always – when watched back in slow motion the first thing you notice is that Ba is behind Luiz when the ball is played. The second thing you can see is that Luiz follows the ball not the man and the third that Ba has to come through Luiz to get the ball. The challenge looks clumsy but Ba was offside and tussling with Luiz as much as the other way round. That Petr Cech simply picks up the ball should have put to rest the red card argument.
From the moment the free-kick clattered into the wall Newcastle started to experience a wave of injustice and righteous indignation. Whether that contributed to their poor cover down their left is debateable.
First Sturridge ran down the right into the box and was clattered, penalty, obviously Mike Dean didn’t get the memo. Frank Lampard used to be safe as houses from the spot but in Tim Krul Newcastle have a fine goalkeeper and he tipped it onto the post.
The story of the rest of the half was one of Daniel Sturridge running riot, found by Lampard or the excellent Mata the young England international flew into the empty acres and should have had a hat-trick of assists. Instead he hit goalkeeper, post and side netting.
Mata set up a glorious chance for Drogba who fired wide and while Cech had to make a smart save from Ba the Geordies could only fashion half-chances, including the ball that smacked off the post rebounded to Terry whose clearance hit Luiz and Cech clawed the ball round the post for a corner. Phew.
The deadlock broke five minutes before the interval. Mata accepted a throw, jinked and crossed for Didier to do his thing with a towering headed into the top of the net. 0-1.
Newcastle started the second period with more effort but it took Drogba’s thumping header off the bar to present them with a chance. All the while we kept nearly breaking but not quite.
Lampard was replaced on the hour and looked really pissed off. Meireles replaced him.
Ramires, Mata, Drogba and Sturridge all had chances on the break that Krul dealt with or that went wide, while they had plenty of possession but post and bar were on our side for a change. It always looked as if we’d nick another on the counter and when substitute Torres was released down the inside left you expected him to score but after fluffing his lines he found his fellow sub Salomon Kalou who fired in off the despairing Krul. 0-2.
Daniel Sturridge had so many chances in this game it was fitting that he finished one of them. Dropping his shoulder after a run down the right he finally beat Krul. 0-3.
The score line might have been harsh on Newcastle but we richly deserved the points.
Up to fourth and we didn’t even have time to praise the performance of Oriol Romeu who looked the part in front of the defence.
AVB confirmed that both Alex and Nicolas Anelka have handed in transfer requests and can leave in January. Both have been marginalised in recent weeks. In the summer Bayern München made serious noises about taking Alex but will expect a knock down fee. It seems a waste but if the defender cannot adapt to AVB’s system then he’ll have to go. We will always have the memory of that thrashed free-kick against Arsenal.
Anelka is a different prospect; Sturridge has been shining so far this season but without threatening against the bigger teams. Nicolas Anelka would have been a useful player to have on the bench for the rest of the season.
They will both need to be replaced.
In the light of Frank Lampard’s clear displeasure at being substituted it seems our young manager has his work cut out to keep everyone pulling in the same direction.
Chelsea youth 2:0 Norwich City youth
Islam Feruz scored a couple of first-half goals to give the improving academy side another win. The second-half was more of s struggle but the defending and clean sheet will have encouraged Adi.
Sunday 4 December
The FA Cup third round draw presents us with Portsmouth at home. It will not be on the telly because, purely by chance, a plum draw pitted Manchesters United and City together. Would you believe it?