Tuesday 21 July
Chelsea 2:0 Internazionale Milano
This was, ultimately, a stroll in the Rose Bowl and with Inter about two weeks behind in fitness and conditioning work not a firm indication of where we stand but you know, deep down, that it will have stung Mourinho more painfully than losing to Manchester United in the Champions League last season.
Everyone on the tour has now had some part to play tonight Essien, Drogba and Kalou all started. Lampard was again at the head of a diamond midfield in what appears to be our plan-a for the season.
Didier Drogba opened things up when he controlled a ball twenty-five yards out and shot on the turn. Belec in the Inter goal will feel he should have done better. It was one-way traffic in the first-half. Drogba had two solid breaks into their box before he scored and Lampard had a couple of shots from distance but they failed to trouble Cech.
Second-half started in the same way a penalty for handball by Burdisso was converted by Lampard. Anelka and Frank had chances ot put us further ahead, even Mancienne had a shy from 30-yards and it wasn’t until right at the end that Turnbull had to make a save after Ibrahimovich’s free-kick crept round the wall.
There was even time for Franco DI Santo to fire over to continue his unlucky pre-season.
After the game several players took the opportunity to catch up with Jose Mourinho: “We spoke like normal, it was good to see him and everyone, his coaches Rui Faria and Silvino, so it has been a nice trip to LA,” Drogba said after the match.
Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with the commitment and work of the side and stated that Lampard will head a diamond this season: “This is the system we want to keep for all the season. It is a good system for all the players and it gives us the possibility to take control of the play. It works very well with an attacking midfielder between the lines and it worked very well for the right-back and left-back, they pushed forward a lot.” It seems Carlo had less time for any chummy reunion with Jose: “We didn’t meet because on the pitch was very busy. There will be another time to meet”. Like the Champions League semi-final next season, you read it here first.
The truly remarkable aspect of the game was a crowd of 81,224 all of whom took up the Mexican wave challenge despite the sweltering conditions.
Earlier today, Florent Malouda has signed a three-year extension to his contract
Wednesday 22 July
John Mikel Obi signed a five-year contract that means he will be with us until – forever – 2014. Didier Drogba has indicated that he will sign when he gets back to London on a deal that will see him at Chelsea until he needs hearing aids and bath chair.
Frank Nouble has joined West Ham United on a permanent contract. Frank is a very strong forward who had just made the step up from youth to reserves. He joins Franco Zola and Steve Clarke’s Hammers revolution. Tom Taiwo joined Carlisle United on loan.
Speaking after last night’s game Ancelotti indicated that Andriy Shevchenko’s future at the Bridge is far from certain: “I speak to Shevchenko every day and the situation is this: he’s with us until 31 August and then we take a decision together. I don’t know what will happen as the club has not received any offers”.
Friday 24 July
Chelsea 2:1 AC Milan
In Baltimore, Yuri Zhirkov’s paperwork finally went through and he was cleared to play for us in tonight’s match with AC Milan. Not many Chelsea players have made their debut in front of 71,203 people and it was arguably the young Russian’s game as he fitted into the system reasonably well, covered back when Cole was outnumbered and sprang forward to support attacks and scored the winner. Overall he made a favourable first impression even when the new diamond formation left the team looking too narrow.
Didier started where he left off against Milan’s city rivals two days ago thumping an opener from 30-meters with another Milanese goalkeeper struggling.
Almost immediately Milan surged through with Ashley Cole’s block preventing an equaliser. Zhirkov then pinged in his first cross but with just a little too much on it for Anelka.
Clarence Seedorf was showing some classy touches, one chip in particular bouncing to safety from the crossbar. It was Seedorf who scored five minutes before the break, lashing in from distance with Cech flailing.
The match was far more competitive than the stroll against Mourinho’s Inter, early in the second-half they hit the bar again, this time from a Ronaldinho free-kick and the lad Pato should have scored from the rebound.
Our winner came after a Shevchenko shot was blocked and Lampard’s effort eventually fell to Zhirkov who buried with a strong left-foot shot. Inzaghi nearly stole it at the end with only a flying Cech save preventing parity but, that said, Lamps fluffed one moment’s later that could have extended our lead.
The new away kit, as always, has its fans and detractors, we have had worse.
Sergio Tejera brief career at Chelsea has come to an end, he signed a permanent contract with Real Mallorca where he spent last season on loan. As always we wish him good luck and will try to follow his career.
Sunday 26 July
Chelsea 2:0 Club America
No Drogba pile driver to open proceedings and an altogether quieter game. We started with Hilario, Mancienne, Carvalho (c), Alex, Hutchinson; Essien; Sinclair, Malouda; Deco; Kalou, Sturridge. Bringing Shevchenko and Di Santo on at half-time replacing the front tow and Ivanovic, Ashley Cole, Pizarro on at the hour.
Enrique Esqueda tested Hilario in the Chelsea goal in the first-half while our best efforts came from a Kalou shot tipped onto a post and a Carvalho header that bounced down and onto the bar before being scrambled away.
The goals arrived late in the second-half with Franco Do Santo finally breaking his duck as he walked onto a Malouda cross to tap home. The last goal of our American tour belonged to Malouda himself after Di Santo skinned a defender and pulled back from the bye-line.
The crowd was a respectable 57,229 which makes a total audience of 274,945 American souls touched, at least, by Chelsea on this trip. It also means our first silverware under the new boss as we are officially the World Football Challenge winners.
With so many at the games and such good results the club will be pleased with the way this tour has gone. If it was only designed to put speed in tired limbs and gear up the tactical changes Ancelotti wants to bring then it was a complete success, however the number of Chelsea shirts in each stadium, the work done on youth coaching and the good humour of the whole thing is a bonus.
“Leaving Chelsea was never a possibility”, John Terry finally made the statement of the bleedin’ obvious that we all knew was coming and one that leaves a number of Sunday paper sports editors with egg on their faces. He said, quite clearly, that he was staying as captain of Chelsea and was convinced about the club’s ambition and direction under Ancelotti.
As to the delay in making his statement he said: “I know there has been comment that I should have made a statement earlier. However, throughout this period there have been numerous discussions between myself, the owner and the Chelsea Board and we all agreed that the timing of any statement would suit everyone involved in those talks, not any outside influences or agendas”, so there you have it.