Monday 28 April
FA Youth Cup Final 1st leg
Fulham 3:2 Chelsea
Some uncharacteristically sloppy defending saw us slip 3-1 down from a lead supplied by Jay Dasilver. Charly Musonda thrashed us back into the game after we’d handed them goals from two corners and a fluky shot. With better defending we can still do them back at the Bridge next Monday.
Many in blue stood out in what was a dominant display for much of the night: Jake Clarke-Salter looked the part at the back and the midfield of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Charlie Colkett and Jordan Houghton dominated the game.
It could have been worse if their star man hadn’t lofted his Panenka penalty onto and over the bar. Ah, the chip down the middle, it looks so cool when it works.
Rui Faria has admitted his FA charge but Jose Mourinho has asked for a hearing into his, alleged, sarcasm towards Mike Dean. Since the charge was first announced Jose has been unusually quiet in press conferences. Saying: ”I can’t say the truth. I don’t feel free at all. If you want a better press conference, speak with the FA.”
Arsenal managed to beat Newcastle to all but secure fourth place.
PS no tubes for the Atlético match so it’s bus or shanks pony.
Tuesday 29 April
Bayern München 0:4 Real Madrid
Be careful what you wish for. Real taught Bayern a few lessons tonight. The main one being that you can’t defend like amateurs or hold a high line against sides that to break like Real break.
The really noticeable aspect of Real’s play was the number of men they played behind the ball and nobody mentioned parking anything.
Both John Terry and Eden Hazard will be fit for tomorrow night. Jose confirmed at the press conference that Samuel Eto’o is also ready to return.
Manchester City and PSG have failed Uefa’s financial fair play rules and, after all the blood, thunder from Uefa both will be told off. City lost over £100m more than was allowed in the accounting period and PSG came up with a backdated sponsorship wheeze. Both might face player restrictions in European competition at worst but it should make the transfer market a little bit more even this summer.
Chelsea U18 2:7 Tottenham Hotspur U18
After the week the academy have had it was a good result to get eleven players on the park. The was U15/16s against the big boys and it showed as Tottenham confirmed their first place in the league. George Brady’s two goals actually gave us the lead but we slipped to 3-2 down by the break and the older heads and legs told in the second-half.
Wednesday 30 April
Chelsea 1:3 Atlético Madrid
Aldershot feature in the he big news today as we are sending them our pitch and renewing the surface at Stamford Bridge … oh, and we threw away a semi-final with poor defending.
After smart work by Willian and then Azpilicueta had opened the door for Torres to score we looked in total control. 1-0.
But surprisingly sloppy defending allowed Madrid to stroke the ball around us without challenge. Ramires was slow to close Tiago’s cross, nobody challenged Juanfran’s pullback and the defence watched as Lopez shinned his chance into the turf but it bounced in for an away goal. 1-1.
We panicked – the side that had produced outstanding displays of patient controlled defensive solidity suddenly were not closing down, harrying, marking, clearing or functioning.
We all came into the ground to the news that Azpilicueta was starting in midfield with a scratch of the head. This was clearly a tactical ploy that would either unbalance the midfield or provide the extra defensive cover we needed. Sadly it did both. Ashley Cole at left-back had only Eden Hazard for cover on the left flank and Eden has been out for e few weeks and it showed.
Jose then brought on Samuel Eto’o but the striker’s first contribution was conceding a penalty. Well, the striker bought it, as Eto’o stuck out a leg to clear Diego Costa suddenly appeared to fall over it. It was calculated and killed the tie stone dead. 1-2.
Afterwards Jose – proving his critics wrong – admitted defeat with good grace. He clearly had not seen the penalty incident again. He also pointed to a string of saves made by a very good young Belgian goalkeeper who denied Terry and Luiz with incredible agility as well as Hazard late on with an outstretched boot. If only we had a ’keeper as good as that. That shouldn’t be taken as criticism of Schwarzer who wasn’t especially at fault but certainly didn’t have the commanding presence of the Belgian.
Ultimately, Mourinho, Chelsea and us, the support, stumbled at a familiar stage. With the players we had available this season we have progressed further than perhaps we thought possible. With Matic and Salah added next term, an extra year’s experience for Willian and possible new additions we could and perhaps should take the next step.
Congratulations have to go to Atlético Madrid who played us at our own game, just with a deal more confidence, fewer suspensions and fitter attacking options. Jose said: “We tried with honour and professionalism and we gave everything, but Atlético were mature and professional and they were in complete control.”
Thursday 1 May
Manchester City U21 1:1 Chelsea U21
(Chelsea win 4-5 on penalties)
For those gluttons for punishment Chelsea’s reserves served up a nervous tight two hours of football to qualify for the U21 league final. Islam Feruz gave us the lead and it looked to be enough on a night when Manchester City were competitive but not especially threatening. When they did get chances they found Jamal Blackman in superb form in the Chelsea goal.
The penalties were near flawless from a very confident young side. Details of the final will have to wait for Liverpool and Manchester United to decide who we face.
Dermot Drummy was pleased with the performance especially considering ten of the squad were on duty in the Youth Cup final on Monday.
Rui Faria has been handed a wholly proportionate six-game stadium ban and a £30,000 fine. Rui did react angrily to the absurd award of a penalty to Sunderland but then didn’t everyone.
The length of the ban and the size of the fine are disproportionate to the point of absurdity. But then the FA is making it clear that Chelsea will be punished wherever and whenever they choose.
Bella Guttmann is still hanging over Benfica but they drew with Juventus in Turin to qualify for the Uefa cup final in, er, Turin. They will play Sevilla who overcame Valencia after the hosts lead 3-0 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate only for an on loan QPR player, Stephane Mbia, to head an away goal five minutes into injury time. Marco Marin, often forgotten loanee of this parish, played the last twenty-minutes for Sevilla.
Juventus coach, Antonio Conte, even had the nerve to criticise Mark Clattenburg for failing to award a handball penalty and falling for Benfica’s spoiling tactics. We couldn’t possibly comment.
Friday 2 May
Jose was forced to readdress Atlético in his press conference but confirmed that he had been developing a different style of play until he started to realise that a top four finish was in jeopardy. The pragmatism people have been criticising for the last few weeks might not have beaten Madrid but has taken a side dumped out of the group stage last year to the semi-final this and one struggling to challenge in the league to one in second with two games ot go.
With new signings in the summer to make us stronger who knows how far he can take us?
He shrugged off Eden Hazard’s reported comments and praised the Belgian for becoming more of a team player, before suggesting that the process is not yet finished.
Manchester United’s U21 beat Liverpool to play us in the U21 final at a date and place that is yet to be fixed.
Saturday 3 May
Both Cardiff City and poor old Fulham drifted out of the Premiership today – no smirking at the back. Cardiff have been wretched since their change of manager and Fulham have been drooping since their change of ownership. Perhaps that Michael Jackson statue was their lucky talisman all along. It will be a shame not to have to stroll down through Fulham Palace Gardens for a few years.
They were both condemned to the drop by Sunderland’s win at Old Trafford. If only the Rokerites were playing Man City and Liverpool next.
But there might be day trips to the sea instead as Brighton and Hove Albion snuck into the last play-off position as Reading missed out. At the wrong end Doncaster Rovers tripped at the last as Birmingham City equalised in their match in the 93rd minute.
In the fourth division, Bristol Rovers lost and took the trapdoor to non-league along with Torquay.
Today was the end of the Football League season and so Nathanial Chalobah, Kenneth Omeruo, Todd Kane, George Saville, Milan Lalkovic and Sam Hutchinson all return from loan. Daniel Pappoe also returns after a loan at Kingstonian.
Josh McEachran and Patrick Bamford both have play-off matches ahead as McEachran’s Wigan face QPR and Bamford’s Derby play Brighton.
Sunday 4 May
Chelsea 0:0 Norwich City
And so it ends not with an etc … Eden Hazard was on the bench at the start as Norwich needing a win came to er, get a draw. It was absurd to watch them walking towards the exit without having a go. We knocked but couldn’t break down a packed defence for the umpteenth time this season.
Jose said afterwards that he had accepted the challenge of rebuilding Chelsea and that it would have been simple for him to accept “easy fairytales” by choosing a club with an established squad – could he be thinking somewhere in Bavaria – but that he loved Chelsea and was home.
It was a surprise that we didn’t crack the puzzle of how to beat sides determined to play for a point. Jose picked Demba Ba as if to prove that however many times you play the ball into his feet he will never be able to turn. Torres didn’t get much of a look and Oscar wasn’t even on the bench. There was no spark.
Rumours that Jose had a big rant at a few players at half-time are hardly a surprise; we would have had a few things to say. It was sad to see Ashley Cole in tears during what could well be his farewell lap of the track.
Ashley has not always been the most loved, there are many in football with tabloid minds, but he has been a great servant of Chelsea winning the European cup, the league, four FA Cups and a Uefa cup in the eight years he has been at the club.
The point against Norwich means we cannot be caught by Arsenal.
Atletico slipped to defeat away to mid-table Levante by 2-0 as they struggled to maintain their challenge. They still need four points but their last game is away to Barcelona now only three-points behind.